IOT Hype Begins to Fade

Consumer interest in smart home devices declined during the past year, indicating that Internet of Things technologies might be losing some of their luster.
Published: July 13, 2015

The Gartner Hype Cycle is a graphical representation of the maturation of new technologies as they transition from introduction to mass adoption. The cycle starts with a technology trigger, something that gets the world interested in a new technology or a set of technologies. The new technology receives a lot of media attention and quickly rises to the Peak of Inflated Expectations. All kinds of technology companies jump on board, saying they offer this hot new technology.

Inevitably, it turns out that the new technology is harder to deploy than expected and isn’t ready to be implemented on a large scale. The media that hyped the new technology as the solution to all business problems then turns negative and starts bashing the very technology it had been hyping just a few months prior. The technology thus enters the Trough of Disillusionment.

It appears that the Internet of Things (IoT) has passed the Peak of Inflated Expectations and is on the way down. Mary Catherine O’Connor, the editor of IOT Journal, reports in her current Editor’s Note that “consumer interest in smart home devices fell by 15 percent throughout the past year, according to the latest home automation report from Argus Group, a Silicon Valley market research firm.” That isn’t much, but consider that from August 2013 to August 2014, consumer interest soared by 140 percent (see Whither the Smart Home?).

This comes as no surprise. Gartner foretold it. When we launched IOT Journal in October 2014, in fact, I wrote an Editor’s Note of my own saying that I had misgivings about doing so: “There is a lot of hype about the Internet of Things, and that hype will fade, just as it did for RFID and eventually does for all new technologies” (see The Internet of Things Journal).

What’s causing the change in consumer attitudes? Data security is a big one. Hackers have cracked weak security in personal video cameras (see Is your Dropcam live feed being watched by someone else?), baby monitors (see 2 more wireless baby monitors hacked: Hackers remotely spied on babies and parents) and other home devices connected to the Internet. That’s led to such stories as “Your ‘smart’ home devices can easily be hacked.”

This is not to suggest that the Internet of Things is dead. Far from it. This is just the normal adoption curve for new technologies. IoT devices will climb out of the trough eventually, just as RFID has, as standards and security measures are put in place. In the meantime, RFID companies that were rebranding themselves as IoT firms will re-rebrand themselves as RFID businesses. That’s because RFID is developing a good reputation as retailers, manufacturers and transportation companies use it successfully.

I don’t know if RFID—the technology that connects, by far, the most things to Internet—will come to be seen as a major part of the IoT. For that matter, I don’t know if the term “IoT” will just fade away as more things become connected. What I do know is that RFID and other technologies will be used to connect trillions of items to the Internet so they can be identified, tracked and managed.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark’s opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor’s Note archive or RFID Connect.