Technologies of connectivity and the Internet of Things have developed rapidly in the last five years, and the rise of the connected device market is not in doubt where the specialist consultancies are concerned. These very rapid developments are attracting the interest of industrialists, users and the public authorities. But beyond a number of quantitative projections, there are few studies offering systemic foresight thinking on possible developments in this sector.
Based on this finding, Futuribles International has carried out a six-month foresight study aimed at unscrambling possible developments in the connected device sector and the Internet of Things (IoT) between now and 2025.
As a result of this work, the experts identified a trend scenario and two possible ‘breaks’ from it described below.
Massive Uptake but Uncertainties over Security
The move towards increasingly mobile uses of cyberspace, particularly by way of smartphones and tablets, laid the ground for the development of the Internet of Things.
In 2016, this is still in its infancy and the first connected devices are often more of the order of gimmicks (the Apple Watch, for example) than useful objects. However, current developments hint at some promising perspectives. Thus, with a time horizon of 2025, this scenario is characterized by a substantial uptake of connected devices in uses that are both industrial and personal. However, uncertainties linked to security and the respect for privacy could slow down their integration into daily life.
In this scenario, the industrial uses of the IoT develop very substantially by 2025. In keeping with plans for the reindustrialization of Western economies (of the Industrie 4.0 type), connected data and devices (3D printers, collaborative robots etc.) are at the heart of the new models of production.
Apart from the industrial control systems of the SCADA type, which are already highly developed in some fields (transport, factories etc.), the new uses of the IoT in the industrial world enable responses to be found to many demands for quality, productivity, control and responsiveness.
The Industries of the Future
Since the end of the 2000s, we have seen a burgeoning of national plans for re-dynamizing industrial sectors in the Western countries (USA, Germany, France, Italy, UK).
Japan was a pioneer of this during the 2000s, but has since been overtaken by the USA, whose Advanced Manufacturing Partnership plan of 2011 looks to be the most substantial in terms of funding (1.5 billion dollars for the first tranche).
In Europe the different national plans fall within the general framework of the Factory of the Future initiative, which was launched by the European Union to bring together community programmes and investment relating to industry (FRDP, Framework Research and Development Programme Horizon 2020). Germany has been the leader in this and, with its Industrie 4.0 plan, remains so, but other countries such as France (‘Industrie du futur’), Italy, (‘Fabbrica del futuro’) and the UK (High Value Catapult Manufacturing) are also very committed to this goal of industrial transformation.
Data, big-data technologies and connected industrial devices are at the heart of all these plans. The transformation of production by the intensified use of robotics technology can only be achieved if this is seen in a context of digital interconnection through the Internet of Things. The French Industrie du futur plan (formerly known as ’34 Plans for New Industrial France’) regards the ‘virtualization of the factory and connected devices’ as one of its three industrial pillars, alongside ‘additive manufacturing’ and ‘augmented reality.’
Uses by Private Individuals
The uses of connected devices and the Internet also continue to develop for private individuals in different sectors.