This next chapter of the Internet of Things involves connecting the connected.

Johannesburg - We’ve flipped through the pages of the figurative Internet of Things (IoT) book many times, with each page catapulting us further into the world of the future. 

The plot is thickening, as the IoT building blocks, which are made up of connected devices, people and even our beloved pets, accelerate the development of the Internet of Everything.

Our perception of connectivity has shifted so drastically, that we’ve only just begun to realise that the Internet of Things goes further than a connected fridge, sensor-embedded lightbulbs or even the presence of Alexa in the home. 

The next extraordinary stage of IoT involves connecting the connected. We now look forward to ecosystems (cars, homes and cities) of connected things working together to create this IoT world.

This next chapter of our journey will act as a guide – one that will connect all the IoT dots to shed some light on this detailed picture. As much as our connected devices have enabled the enhancement of our way of life, their purpose extends a little further. 

These smart devices are collecting and analysing data based on our interactions with them - a process referred to as machine learning. 

Household IoT things, such as Alexa or even Google Assistant, have an element of self-improvement, as they discover new ways to integrate themselves into the lives of their users (this is not as scary as it sounds). 

The information gathered by these devices and sent to the cloud for analysis, serves the purpose of furthering the intimacy between user and device.

Through machine learning, smart home devices such as Alexa can not only live in our homes, but can also exist on our smartphones, to connect us to our homes when we’re at work, as well as live in our smart cars. 

This integration will create a seamless experience with a personal touch; the root of which will stem from the data we feed into the devices we interact with on a daily basis.

The security aspect of a connected future runs a lot deeper than ensuring that your Facebook account is hack-proof. 

At the very core of our IoT world lies the need to barricade our data and devices from potential threats, all of which can be achieved. 

Our masterfully crafted journey goes further than surface-level security measures applied to our smart devices. We’re looking at the application of impenetrable security measures to the software applications installed on these devices, as well as securing the network connections that link our devices to the internet.

We can’t mention networks without mentioning NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT). This Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) further unlocks the capabilities of the Internet of Things by allowing devices to communicate in areas where radio infiltration has not previously been possible. 

NB-IoT will supercharge communication and lead to longer-lasting battery life. In the long run, this will work exceptionally well for mass distributed devices across wide geographical footprints as well as devices located deep within urban infrastructure.

Essentially, we’re looking at a “super” network for our devices to connect to. The rollout of NB-IoT will allow us to fully utilise sensors and devices such as smart water and electricity metering, personal devices that measure health, trackers and even connected cities using smart traffic lights.

In short, we as a society are nowhere near ready to put down the book of the Internet of Things, especially when we’re in the midst of an exciting transition from science fiction to reality. 

When it comes to connecting IoT ecosystems; we’re now asking “when”, and not so much “how”.

* Deon Liebenberg is Managing Executive: Internet of Things, Vodacom.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media