The Next Five Years: What to Expect from the Internet of Things

By DeVry University

The Internet of Things (IoT) is here – and booming. This high-tech product category, which features built-in computers that can function without human input, is expected to grow to 34 billion devices by the year 2020. GPS units and wearable fitness trackers are among the first examples, and technology is rapidly evolving.

Many wonder, “What’s next?” with the real possibility to incorporate IoT technology across industries like retail, healthcare and home automation within the next five years.

Home Automation

IoT is already making its presence with smart home devices. BI Intelligence predicts that the number of smart home devices will increase from 83 million devices in 2015 to 193 million devices by 2020[1], including appliances, safety/security systems, and energy equipment.

 Expect to see homes get smarter, with green home solutions becoming more common and cost-effective. Examples include smart thermostats, appliances and even sprinkler systems.

Smart Cars

Tech evolution drives transportation innovations. Connected cars already exist, and the trend will continue growing. Over 380 million connected cars will be on the road by 2021[1].

IoT will likely play a big role in the evolution of businesses, including the transportation sector. Smart car production will grow, and Wi-Fi in smart cars will enhance consumer experiences and even help drivers reserve parking spots. The IoT also offers a positive impact on commercial transportation by making it easier to monitor fuel tanks, connect endpoints and improve safety while streamlining manageability and simplifying operations.


We already have wearable technology. In the coming years IoT will transform the way patients and doctors communicate via technology that can read vital signs and monitor conditions. Forbes estimates that the Internet of Things healthcare advancements will reach $117 billion by 2020[1].

Remote patient monitoring can change the way we handle long-term illnesses. An IoT device belonging to a cardiac patient with an irregular heartbeat might alert their doctor of changes immediately.

Connected devices can monitor patients anywhere. The IoT for health can also create emergency notifications to send to doctors and complete patient charts based on data collected.

Virtual assisted living may transform senior housing by keeping citizens at home longer. Imagine a refrigerator that automatically reorders food, pill bottles that remind you to take and refill medications, and smart tracking devices that transmit information to your doctor.


Beacon technology is poised for growth in the next five years, reaching an estimated 400 million by 2020[1]. Beacons are sensors that pair with mobile apps to push advertisements to customers and monitor shoppers’ behaviors. For example:

●      Smart price tags changing prices based on demand and sales

●      Smartphones and wearable technology improving customer experience by scanning items and uploading product information, coupons and reviews

●      Smart shelves detecting low inventory

Tech Boosts Interconnectivity

As tech integration increases, the IoT is poised to create new ways to connect physical and digital worlds. While the IoT’s growth potential expands, it becomes increasingly important to foster tech competency to keep up with new developments.

Brought to you by DeVry University. In 1931, Herman DeVry founded a university that embraced technology.  Today, we are putting technology at the core of our business, tech and healthcare programs, to help prepare our students to solve tomorrow’s problems.