11 Challenges Plaguing IoT Devices In 2021
From 13.4 billion in 2015, the number of connected devices across global IoT ecosystems increased to a staggering 38.5 billion in just 5 years. Thanks to the rise of home automation systems, connected surveillance devices, wearable tech such as fitness trackers, gaming and entertainment systems and the massive reach of the internet, IoT has only been on the rise for the last couple of years. Apart from bringing in precision operating standards and organizational results, IoT applications are offering elevated lifestyles and are empowering humans with insights and information they need to take charge of their concerns.
With statistics estimating the connecting of 152,200 devices every minute by the year 2025, IoT simply looks inevitable in our life. However, the technology is not without its set of challenges and concerns. IoT security remains the most crucial concern today with hackers finding new exploitations across connected devices, cloud solutions, and network systems.
Apart from security concerns though, every IoT ecosystem faces specific challenges with respect to its devices and operating systems. Several IoT devices and peripherals are tiny sensors or Raspberry Pi-enabled devices that are prone to physical and virtual challenges. For a long time, specialists who are part of IoT development projects have been plagued with such challenges to offer more efficient and durable IoT solutions to consumers.
That’s why shedding light on this seemed crucial. If you’re developing an IoT solution or looking to run an IoT-driven organization, understand the challenges we are going to explore and take precautionary actions respectively.
Let’s get started.
Operating Environment Concerns
By operating environment, we don’t mean a device’s operating system but the physical environment at which it is set up. From concerns on perpetual battery requirements to transmission challenges, there are several hindrances IoT devices face depending on the region or locality they are deployed in.
There are instances like extreme temperatures that could stall the device’s power or cause overheating issues, wear and tear of devices due to wind or just pedestrian activities, concerns in maintaining stable uptime for data transmission because of poor connectivity, device theft and more. All such practical concerns deter IoT systems from delivering their full performance.
Integration Concerns Between IoT Devices And Apps
While it might appear that the availability of numerous IoT devices and solutions are virtually connecting us, the reality is quite different. They are actually causing integration issues, hurdling data interoperability across devices and other ecosystems. Every solution comes with its own application that has distinct connectivity protocols and compatibility requirements with networks, routers, hotspots, smartphones and more.
Such discrepancies cause IoT solutions to disconnect frequently or cause integration issues with devices. So, consumers have to either wait for patches or fixes from developers or ensure they just stick to one brand of solutions for all their needs.
Manual Device Configuration
Consumers resort to advanced solutions to minimize manual intervention in setup and operations. The role of AI is to automatically configure, install and start working. However, a lot of IoT solutions today require manual configuration for set up. Some of the requirements are even technical in terms of specifying IP addresses, ports, security protocols and more.
As a brand, one cannot assume consumers know how to set up and run end-to-end IoT solutions by themselves. There is a steep learning curve involved that only gets more intense with changing demographics. For instance, an elderly couple ordering home surveillance solutions will need a specialist to come and set up the ecosystem at home.
Device Malfunctions Due To Connectivity Concerns
Connectivity is the sole powering system in IoT solutions. They are called connected devices for a reason. However, the lack of availability of the internet or connectivity concerns stemming from embedded systems and circuitry are some of the primary reasons for stalling performances in IoT devices. From signaling and communication issues among devices to concerns on presence detection, there are various instances that require constant supervision and fixing.
Inadequate Device Bandwidth
Like we mentioned, a majority of devices deployed in IoT infrastructure are tiny and designed for super-specific purposes. Their battery life, transmission range, capacity and bandwidth are all very low. However, as the number of devices connecting to an IoT environment increases or data generation due to consumer activity rises, the devices wouldn’t be able to function like they should to sustain the IoT development processes.
This disrupts services and processes such as data processing, transmission and delivery of results.
Even for larger devices with advanced capacity and capabilities, bandwidth is a concern because of increased consumer usage (consider video streaming services). For instance, if all the members of a family of four access a video streaming website from their respective devices and stream HD content, the quality and performance of the solution is going to stall. One probable solution for this is edge computing.
Design Specific Challenges
Designing the form factors of devices and balancing energy efficiency, stability, and performance at the same time continues to be one of the major plaguing concerns for designers. As the complexities of IoT ecosystems increase, designers have to pack in more performance and power into smaller devices to make them successful in the market. Smaller devices, enhanced battery life, increased processing capabilities, data storage and management, and seamless perpetual connectivity are some of the few factors designers should consider while coming up with devices for IoT infrastructure.
Lack Of Testing And Updating
One of the major concerns today is that the devices that are deployed by IoT companies are never revisited for updates or patches after they are installed or set up. This means that the security vulnerabilities are high as developers and designers have not updated devices to handle new ones.
Driven by competition, companies work with limited time to market to gain an initial wave of consumers and push sales. This also paves the way for limited tests and the roll out of substandard devices with loose security. Brands need to release airtight devices and revisit them frequently to push security updates and patches to ensure consumers and their data are always secured.
Lack Of Data Security
Data security, privacy and integrity are concepts that are still being studied by experts for optimization. Be part of any IoT community across the globe and you will not find a week without workshops and seminars on IoT data security. Data security is a crucial concern as devices transmit and communicate sensitive consumer data that could be even personal information about consumers.
In applications like healthcare, data could be electronic health records and details hackers could have access to. With IoT ecosystems coming with tons of device-specific vulnerabilities and the fact that hackers have to break in to just one device for full-fledged access, security and surveillance need to be amped up real soon. Compliances should be met and practices like deletion of sensitive data after a specific purpose is solved should be encouraged.
Outdated Software And OS
Similar to how security patches and updates are overlooked by businesses, the software and operating systems of devices are often ignored as well. This means that devices function with the same version of a particular software application or an operating system perpetually ever since their deployment. This not only complements the security concerns of the device like we discussed but results in slower performance, crashes and poor results.
For the uninitiated, several devices transmit data to other devices, servers, or apps without any encryption. This is similar to a letter without an envelope. Any intruder, middleman, or hacker will be able to effortlessly read the contents of the transmitted data. This is a major security loophole currently and businesses have to deploy encryption standards such as TSL or prefer private networks to send and receive data.
Lack Of IoT Administration
IoT administration refers to the enablement of relevant tools, infrastructure, operational protocols, workflows and standards, and more for optimized performances of devices and systems. Regardless of whether an IoT system is large or small, a network needs to be equipped with the right tech stack to effectively manage IoT solutions. This includes the availability of the right IoT talent pool such as IT professionals, cybersecurity experts, network engineers, and more, device access portals, IoT-specific design, IPv6 compatibility, decentralized admin systems, and more. A holistic approach is required to ensure IoT goals are met and results are achieved.
So, these were the IoT challenges and issues plaguing IoT devices today. Before any further advancements are made, it is essential to revisit our existing infrastructure and uncover loopholes and shortcomings to pave the way for a more transparent and trustable solution today.
What do you think?