UPDATED 12:00 EST / MARCH 21 2014

Most influential countries for the Internet of Things

There are now millions of gadgets capable of connecting to the Internet, from mobile devices to automobiles, home appliances and even personal fitness trackers.  Despite its continuous growth, this sector of the industry is still in its early stages. According to a recent Forrester study, consumer interest in the smart home is high. That means we can expect more innovations to come in the near future.  The imposing question is, who is leading the Internet of Things for worldwide adoption?

globe throw

Most Influential Countries in the Internet of Things

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United States of America

It can’t be denied that the US is among at the forefront of the Internet of Things revolution.  With companies such as Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Ford, IBM and General Electric, as well as individuals and startups launching their IoT devices via crowdsourcing initiatives, accelerators and venture capital funds, the US is a gold mine for this rather promising sector.

Apple has been producing and selling mobile devices that allow users to connect with the Internet not only to access social media accounts, emails and files, but its portfolio of gadgets also has the ability to stream media to other entertainment devices. A leading brand in consumer electronics, Apple is a major influencer in the Internet of Things education and adoption as it expands its ecosystem.  Recent rumors indicate the company will be launching a wearable device this year, expected to come smart home-ready.

Broadcom and Intel are responsible for the internal components that allows mobile devices and IoT devices to connect to the Internet, helping to lay the foundation for this new market. But in establishing this necessary infrastructure, the right partners are paramount.  Ford recognizes this as it seeks out developers to enhance its car infotainment system, and is collaborating with Splunk for car analytics.

Broadening the infrastructure demands to span entire geographical regions, GE and IBM are working on creating connected cities for a better tomorrow.  GE is moving forward with the Industrial Internet, a sub-segment of the IoT, with various efforts in the healthcare industry, transportation, aeronautics, and even social media.  For IBM, it is using Internet connected devices, Big Data, and real-time analytics in its Smarter Cities initiative.

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South Korea

The Land of the Morning Calm is not easily pacified when it comes to technology advancements, and is taking the world by storm starting with Samsung, the country’s largest electronics giant.  Not only does Samsung produce mobile devices that compete with Apple’s offerings, it also produces other consumer electronics products such as home appliances that are able to connect to the Internet, including a WiFi-enabled refrigerator that displays news updates and weather forecasts, photos and synced Google Calendar agendas.

Another South Korean consumer electronics company that is investing in the Internet of Things is LG, which also delivers both mobile devices and home appliances that are able to connect to the internet.  AT CES 2014, LG unveiled new connected home appliances as well as HomeChat, a new feature that allows connected home appliances to communicate with their owners via the chat app Line.

LG's Smart Control for HomeChat

LG’s Smart Control for HomeChat

Not only that, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) developed a charging mat that allows online electric vehicles to charge while driving down the special road.  Currently, the charging road equipped with the wireless charging mat is 7.5 miles long and cost $4 million to build, and has already been used by Gumi busses, recently commissioned in South Korea.  Because building these charging roads are quite expensive, KAIST is also looking into putting these charging mats on waiting bus stops so the OLEVs can charge while onboarding for passengers.

South Korean automotive manufacturer Hyundai will not be left out in the IoT revolution with the CES announcement that, with the help of Covisint, the car maker will be able to deliver Google Glass integration to Hyundai Genesis owners. With this, drivers will be able to receive information right in front of their eyes, hopefully minimizing driver distractions.

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Germany

There are numerous German companies that are also making their mark in the Internet of Things.  Conductix-Wampfler is helping other countries in their efforts to promote cleaner air by providing the technology needed to wirelessly charge buses such as in the UK and Italy by providing the induction charger on the streets as well as the those installed in the buses.

Car manufacturers BMW and Mercedes-Benz are also leading the way to connect drivers and their cars to the Internet.  BMW has its ConnectedDrive platform that connects the car to the Internet allowing the driver or passenger to get directions, browse the web, and even get real-time information about the car’s system.  At CES 2014, BMW upped its ante by showing how Samsung’s Galaxy Gear seamlessly integrates with its ConnectedDrive Platform.

South Korea’s Hyundai isn’t the only one experimenting with Google Glass, as Mercedes-Benz was among the earliest to test the device in cars.  The German automaker is working on an app called  “Door-to-Door Navigation,” allowing the user to input their destination in Google Glass and connect the phone to the car so the data is transferred to the in-dash navigation system. When they reach their destination, they can simply disconnect their phone and all the navigation details are transferred back to Google Glass, switching to walking directions as needed.

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Japan

Japan is seen as one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, but it seems like things have been pretty quiet when it comes to the Internet of Things.  Though we don’t hear of trends like connected thermostats being all the rage in Japan, telecommunications companies in the country have supported efforts in the Internet of Things since the early 2000s.

Japan at night

Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) developed the u-Japan Policy early in 2004 to accelerate the realization of network access ubiquity, not only for users but also for smart devices.  Japan has been grinding out IoT applications slowly but steadily without the hype, unlike US and European countries wherein IoT gets plenty of buzz but not as much implementation.

Japan has more than 3.17 million individual IoT (SIM card) subscriptions, with NTT DoCoMo owning about half of those. Approximately 1.5 million users belong to the sectors of transportation, surveillance, remote payment (including vending machines), logistics assistance, and remote metering.  KDDI is focused on large-capacity IoT communications and has more than 1 million users in the transportation and logistics sectors through in-vehicle, small-scale, lightweight, and low-cost IoT communications services.  And SoftBank, the most recent entrant in IoT, has a little more than 250,000 subscriptions with products related to consumer electronics, a small number of elevator surveillance and vending machines.

Japan’s IoT market is expected to boom in sectors such as telemetering, transportation management, e-payment, surveillance, digital signage, and data backup, to deliver new areas of growth in Japan’s saturated mobile market.

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Denmark

In Denmark, The Alexandra Institute is leading the Internet of Things movement and last year, it co-founded the IoT Forum and holds the chair position of the forum.  The forum is backed by the EU Commission and 11 co-founding organizations.  The main objective of the forum is to create a community for all those interested in the IoT.  This will play a huge role in federating key actors to support the creation of open and integrated IoT environments.  The forum will be in charge of the annual IoT Week, as well as handle activities relating to the IoT ARM (Architectural Reference Model) and subsequent certification (ARM label).

Another objective of the forum is to generate knowledge about the domains of privacy and IoT ethics and to develop new business models for Internet of Things, focusing particularly on breaking down ‘silos’ across domains.  The forum will also be responsible for the Internet of Things Comic Book, a fun and creative way of informing people how the IoT will impact their lives.

feature image: Βethan via photopin cc
photo: lestaylorphoto via photopin cc

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