Latest report suggests IoT devices will number 46bn by 2021

22 Dec 2016

Photoelectric sensor installed on line conveyor in factory. Image: MOLPIX/Shutterstock

How many internet of things devices there will actually be in five or six years’ time remains to be seen, but the latest estimate suggests it will be 46bn by 2021.

It has been hard to pinpoint exactly how many internet of things (IoT) devices will be surrounding us by the turn of the next decade, but based on previous estimates, it will be on a scale of a multitude of billions.

Or at least this would seem to be the case for the vast majority of industry predictions. However, some other reports have taken a far more reserved approach, describing the optimistic numbers as “a triumph of hope over reality”.

Yet just before we enter 2017, Juniper Research has released its latest insight into where our increasingly connected world is going, with a report entitled The Internet of Things: Consumer, Industrial & Public Services 2016-2021.

The biggest figure to take away from it suggests that by 2021, the number of IoT devices will triple to reach 46bn units, as hardware costs diminish to reach the ideal price of below $1 per device.

When it comes to who will benefit most from this number of devices, Juniper Research pinpoints industrial and public services, with an annual device number growth of 24pc annually.

Yet aside from the many potential benefits this number of devices will bring, the analysts also warn that providers and end users will face “tremendous challenges” in deploying it.

Warnings of potential dangers

“The platform landscape is flourishing”, said research author Steffen Sorrell.

“However, analytics and database systems are, for the most part, not architected to handle the Big Data 2.0 era that the IoT brings.”

The Mirai botnet attack in September this year particularly highlighted the extreme caution people must take when considering bringing IoT devices into a business, particularly if they are poorly secured.

In the medium term, the report warns that personal data theft, corporate data theft and physical asset damage will be the key targets for hackers.

It goes on to warn that the consumer market – from connected refrigerators to home alarm systems – are significantly behind in keeping up with security, and could become a prime target for the previously mentioned hackers.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic