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The 5 Biggest Industries for the Internet of Things

Written by Keith Kohl
Posted November 23, 2016

Everything is connected.

Even things you don’t usually think of as particularly high-tech are connected nowadays.

And more importantly, everyone wants data on everything.

The ever-growing need for high-speed, high-efficiency work has made the Internet of Things (IoT) into the absolute behemoth it is today.

By far, the biggest market for connected devices is, without question, consumer electronics, which includes the connected device you probably have on you right now: a smartphone.

But these are just the beginning, and they’re small potatoes compared to what’s coming.

With that in mind, let me show you five major industries being revolutionized today, all thanks to the Internet of Things.

Health Care

Recently, we took a look at exactly how far connected health care technology will go in the future.

Will we all be cyborgs by the end of the decade? Not likely.

Right now, connected health care is zeroing in on the best ways to detect and prevent illness and disability. More than making us super strong or wiring the Internet straight to our brains, companies are looking for ways to collect data on how the body works in order to keep us healthy far into the future.

Even now, with smart health tech still in its infancy, people are living much longer than they were just within the last century.

In 1950, for example, life expectancy in the U.S. was just over 68 years.

By 2012, it rose to nearly 79 years.

Granted, that’s just the average estimate; many are living far beyond that life expectancy without ever having used a Fitbit.

Pharmaceutical companies are moving to integrate smart devices into regular health care. In coming years, these devices will become a part of us and improve our health more than ever before.

The wearable device market is expected to be worth $150 billion in the next 10 years, according to independent research firm IDTechEx.

Transportation

Smart cars are growing just as fast as carmakers can install the technology. It’s important to note that the term “smart car” doesn’t just mean cars that can connect to the Internet.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has defined six levels of autonomy from 0 to 5, and really anything with more than zero autonomy could be called a smart car. At level one, certain functions can be performed by the car, though the driver is still in full control.

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It’s not until level five that cars can truly drive themselves, and there’s not a single car at that level yet, not even the “learning” Tesla Model S.

Yet this tech will become commonplace soon enough, especially as the fully autonomous car movement really gets underway.

Of course, we’re not just talking about cars. Smart trucks are starting to sneak into news headlines, and smart buses are already being used in some areas.

And we’re looking at even more growth ahead...

Smart cars are expected to grow into a $600 million market by 2020, according to Juniper Research.

With every major carmaker in the world planning to have some level of autonomy achieved by then, there’s no telling how high it will go after that!

Oil and Gas

The wide range of industrial processes involved in producing both fossil fuels costs a lot of time and money being monitored and repaired by people. IoT-connected sensors would reduce these costs by monitoring the equipment 24/7.

Sensors would be able to keep drillers informed about production quantities, in addition to making sure maintenance is scheduled when needed.

They could even detect mechanical issues long before a problem occurs and shut the machine down to prevent it from breaking down itself!

Pipeline leaks could be detected early, and major spills like we’ve seen in recent years could be stopped before they start.

And this is just looking at the technology we have now. As the world pushes for ever-cleaner energy production, both oil and gas operations are facing major carbon restrictions.

One way IoT could help here is by gathering data on the amount of carbon produced, and eventually keeping tabs on the amount of carbon captured.

Granted, this could make carbon capture and removal methods more accurate and lead to cleaner operations for oil and gas.

Energy

The improvement of oil and gas processes is just one indirect way IoT will improve the energy markets.

Closer to home, smart devices are already being used that monitor and regulate everyday energy use. Thermostats can turn the heat off when you’re not home; sensors shut the lights of when no one is in the room.

And that’s just the small stuff. Worldwide, utilities have been using monitors to keep energy production levels in check for years. It’s how we know about things like peak hours, when the most people are draining energy from the grid.

Now, with smart monitors, it will be easier to predict when these peak times are and how much energy is actually used. This kind of data can make the transition to renewable energies like wind and solar much smoother.

Keep in mind that both energy sources are intermittent. The most likely scenario is that natural gas, the cleanest of the fossil fuels, will be the baseline backup for when renewables like these aren’t working at the capacity people need.

In the future, autonomous functions could very well take over energy production.

Security

Without question, the biggest gains will be made in digital security once the IoT revolution is in full swing.

And it’s no wonder why: with all of this data flying around, and all of this control being delegated to computers, security is going to be top priority.

Big Data companies like IBM are already taking the hint and bolstering their security services, ready to cater to new medical and industrial clients.

And it’s a good thing, too — there’s not a lot of time left to get ready!

A number of research firms have made predictions about the IoT market, with valuations ranging from $5.8 billion to nearly $900 billion in just the next few years.

Ericsson expects there to be about 28 billion connected devices on the market by 2021, up from 6 billion this year. Goldman Sachs expects we’ll reach that point by 2020, while Business Insider has projected 34 billion connected devices by then.

The one thing they all agree on: the IoT market is picking up, and that growth isn’t expected to stop anytime soon.

Until next time,

Keith Kohl Signature

Keith Kohl

follow basic@KeithKohl1 on Twitter

A true insider in the energy markets, Keith is one of few financial reporters to have visited the Alberta oil sands. His research has helped thousands of investors capitalize from the rapidly changing face of energy. Keith connects with hundreds of thousands of readers as the Managing Editor of Energy & Capital as well as Investment Director of Angel Publishing's Energy Investor. For years, Keith has been providing in-depth coverage of the Bakken, the Haynesville Shale, and the Marcellus natural gas formations — all ahead of the mainstream media. For more on Keith, go to his editor's page.

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