Internet of Things: still getting acquainted

2015. 09. 14.

The Internet of Things (IoT) may be a tech buzzword nowadays but many people still don’t know what it actually means. This is true for adult Hungarian Internet users as well: some of them have heard the phrase but don’t know the meaning, while others are aware of the specific solutions involved but do not yet connect them to the notion of IoT. Nevertheless, Internet users are open to the possibilities offered by IoT, and even though very few of them currently use such devices, 94% would like to try them, and 37% plan to buy an IoT device in the next five years. These are the conclusions of the latest research conducted by eNET and Telekom, titled “Report on the Internet Economy” and focused on the potential benefits of the Internet of Things.

But what is the Internet of Things?

The ’Internet of Things’ (‘IoT’ for short) involves everyday devices (such as household appliances, cars, utility meters, cash-registers etc.) that are connected to the Internet and can communicate with each other.

This is driven by a technology called M2M (machine-to-machine) communication, i.e. data flows between machines, without human intervention. It requires machines equipped with the technology (sensors and chips) necessary to be included in the communication system.

In an online survey conducted by eNET in July 2015, 78% of adult Hungarian Internet users claimed not to have heard about the term “Internet of Things”. But once they have acquainted themselves with the notion, 34% claimed to have heard about it. This indicates that many people are somewhat familiar with the opportunities offered by IoT, albeit rather vaguely. This is hardly surprising as new technologies often infiltrate our lives unnoticed: we use them without being aware of what they exactly are and how they work.

And what do Net users think about IoT?

Most Hungarian adult Internet users are open to IoT solutions: 28% would try any of them, and 66% are open to some of these technologies. About 37% plan to equip their homes with an IoT device in the next five years.

Even though most respondents are of the opinion that these solutions make life more comfortable (70%) and are useful (65%), 77% think that few people of average wealth can afford to buy such gadgets for their homes.

The favourite IoT solutions

Of the IoT solutions listed in the questionnaire, it’s the intelligent home security system that the respondents like most; it was rated 4.5 on a scale of 5. This device monitors the apartment when its owner is away, sending notifications of all unusual events, so that you always know what’s going on at home. As much as 68% of adult Internet users would try this product, and 18% are ready to buy it.

The second and third most popular solutions, both related to driving, are the following: an intelligent parking system that finds a free parking space for your car; and a smart car that senses the exact location and speed of the surrounding vehicles, pedestrians and objects in order to avoid accidents, and also provides information on traffic, including any congestion.

In addition to the above, the top five items include smart metering that analyse one’s gas and power consumption patterns and costs. The data are also transferred to the utility provider, which eliminates the need for meter reading. And finally, a smart home allows for controlling household appliances remotely, through the owner’s smartphone (e.g. regulating the heating or cooling system, drawing the blinds, turning on the lights etc.).

About one per cent of Internet users already have a smart home, an intelligent parking system or a smart meter, but more than 60% would like to try them. And one in 10 respondents would be ready to purchase these products if they could.

IoT in shops, factories… and even in cows!

The latest research by eNET also covers IoT used in business. The respondents were asked about solutions that they had heard about or already used at their workplace.

The most widely-known such solution is the online cash register that communicates with the tax authority’s systems. Two thirds of those surveyed have heard about these devices, and 7% have used them in their work.

Fleet tracking devices that monitor vehicles or staff equipped with mobile devices are known to 55% of the respondents, and their usage ratio is 4% among respondents.

In addition to the above, there are numerous exciting business solutions that few Internet users have used or even heard about. One example is a sensor planted in a cow’s stomach that provides information on the animal’s condition to farmers and veterinary surgeons, thus contributing the regulation of milk quality and yields. And industrial IoT solutions allows for the operation of an entire production line remotely, with even the smallest components signalling any deviation from the norm. This reduces unscheduled downtime and ensures predictable maintenance. Trade could also benefit from signalling devices that call customers’ attention to discounts, special offers or promoted products, or show which parts of a store is most and least frequented.

Internet of Things is just starting in Hungary

Even though 94% of Internet users are open to IoT solutions, very few Hungarians actually take advantage of such solutions; they are yet to proliferate. Networked intelligent devices that communicate with each other will presumably render everyday life easier and also transform the world of business. But that not only requires openness by users, business players must also be convinced that such developments are in their interest. That way, they will come up with more and increasingly cost-effective solutions that promote future online technologies.

eNET – Telekom