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How quickly is IoT growth producing a trillion-node network?

Take a look at how the number of 'smart' objects, devices and other connected things is growing, with profound expansions into areas that affect supply chain management.

The explosion of IoT growth and IIoT growth is bringing huge numbers of connected devices into the global network...

of the Internet. As part of the Internet of Things and Industrial Internet of Things, literally billions of sensors are feeding data from appliances, machines, buildings, containers and myriad devices. Many of these also receive data and instructions from computers and other devices. IoT growth and its attendant spread of Internet connectivity have required the development of new ways to handle this big data. That growth even required a redefinition of the Internet addressing format to accommodate more connections (nodes).

Cisco, Intel and others -- including the United Nations -- estimate the number of objects connected to the Internet in 2006 at about 2 billion. Today, that number is about 7 billion, which is roughly the same number as the world population. About 5 billion of these connected devices are cell phones, tablets and computers. The rest are smart, connected "objects." By 2020, the number of connected objects and devices is expected to grow to 200 billion -- about 26 connected things for every living human being on earth. According to Intel, just over 40% are and will be in business and manufacturing for supply chain visibility, equipment control and robotics. Another 30% will be used in health monitoring, recordkeeping and pharmaceutical safeguards. The rest will include such uses as retail inventory tracking, smartphone purchasing, biometric and facial recognition for locks, and other sensor applications. Connected sensors will make almost everything "smart" -- from smart appliances to smart homes, from smart cars to smart roadways, smart buildings to smart cities -- and will create a national and global interconnected society.

Given the current and projected IoT growth rates -- an exponential increase from 2006 to 2020 -- it won't take that long for the global network of connected objects to grow to 1 trillion, just five times the projected population in 2020. Thus, the "trillion-node network" is less than a decade away.  

Next Steps

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This was last published in April 2016

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