Today was/is the day that Marty McFly arrived in the future. It was the world of October 15, 2015 that the time-travelling Deloreann from 1985 arrived to a world of hoverboards and Pepsi Perfect. And while there was a bit of science fiction in Back to the Future II, today’s world is argueably more advanced than the one envisioned by Hollywood and Steven Spielberg.
“They didn’t have cell phones,” noted Darrell M. West, vice president and director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institute as he kicked off a morning panel on the Internet of Things (IoT).
West was moderating a discussion that included AT&T’s head of mobility, Glenn Lurie; CTIA’s President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker; and John Villasenor, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institute in governance studies and the center for technology innovation.
Lurie pitched the IoT as nothing new for AT&T, noting that his company has been connecting devices for years now. He said that as the price of long-life, low-power sensors come down, we’ll be able to track and monitor just about anything from our smartphones.
“The smartphone is essentially just a piece of glass,” Lurie said. “It’s a window, and through that window we can view just about anything we want.”
Attwell Baker said that the industry is just now “scratching the surface” of what’s possible, noting the need for better security and more spectrum as the IoT evolves.
“The economic impact is huge…but the social impact is as important,” Attwell Baker said. “We need to ensure that the digital divide doesn’t grow even wider as we move forward.”
Villasenor stressed the need to ensure security for all the world’s connected devices.
“In the rush to connect things, sometimes that has overshadowed the need to secure them,” Villasenor said. “Cybersecurity is going to be a central portion to getting the IoT to do all of things it will be capable of doing.”
And while connecting the consumers of the future is indeed an interesting prospect, the panel agreed that the many verticles that will be impacted by connectivity, from healthcare to shipping, will significantly change society as a whole.
While we may not be zooming around on hoverboards, it’s safe to say that we are hyperconnected compared to those living in Spielberg’s Hill Valley of 2015. Now the question appears to be whether we have enough spectrum and security gurus to sustain our view of the reality of our present.
Filed Under: Infrastructure, IoT • IIoT • internet of things • Industry 4.0