14 Sep

EPIQ Blog: The Internet of Things

IoT is everywhere. The ability to connect "things" to computers produces enormous amounts of data at a speed and scale that is difficult to fathom. All of this information cascades into the realm of artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics where data can turn into informed decisions.

This next-step in the internet story will lead to real-life innovations and efficiencies gained in healthcare, energy production and distribution, business and consumer consumption behavior, agriculture, travel, entertainment and the list goes on. "Wearables" such as the FitBit watch, iWatch by Apple or Google Glass glasses are good examples of the most obvious IoT available now, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. What does the future look like? The following is from the Chinese smartphone maker Huawei:

"Power companies read meters through tele-metering systems instead of visiting houses; doctors remotely monitor the conditions of their patients 24/7 by having the patients use devices at home instead of requiring the patients to stay at hospital; vehicle-mounted terminals automatically display the nearest parking space; sensors in smart homes turn off utilities, close windows, monitor security, and report to homeowners in real time. These are scenarios that only existed in science fiction previously. With the coming of age of the Internet of Things, however, they are becoming a reality."

 

The possibilities are fun to dream about, but at EPIQ we cannot help but ponder the economic implications and areas for potential investment. What companies are best positioned to take advantage of this technological paradigm shift? Alphabet/Google is certainly at the forefront, particularly after its purchase of "smart home" company Nest in early 2014 and all of the research and development dedicated in the period since the acquisition. And how about an "old-fashioned" conglomerate like Berkshire Hathaway and the opportunity IoT will bring to business improvement with "predictive maintenance" on the many things they manufacture, build and service.

On the absolute other end of the market capitalization spectrum there is Minneapolis-based start-up Prevent Biometrics that has begun to beta-test a "smart mouth guard" for athletes that sends physical impact data in real-time back to a coach's or parent's cell phone. Gone are the days when Coach holds up three fingers and little Jimmy has a 1 in 5 chance of guessing the right answer.

It is only a matter of time before IoT pervades every aspect of human life and the subject is far beyond the depth and breadth of this blog. Should we be excited about this? Worried? Befuddled?

If you are any of these things, contact us for an invitation to our annual EPIQ Clambake, October 5th at the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis. Will Schnabel of IBM Watson, IoT Ecosystem Market Development will be our featured speaker.

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