How the Internet of Things will create a jobs revolution

The Internet of Things industry is set to define the world over the next few years. Tech pundits believe that in the foreseeable future, we’ll be surrounded by internet-connected objects. From smart kettles to AI assistants, this technology will make us smarter and more productive – both at home and in the workplace.

According to Gartner, there’ll be 20.4 billion connected products in use by 2020, and spending in this lucrative industry reached an estimated $2 trillion in 2017. The research firm has named North America, Western Europe and Asia as regions where this technology will thrive the most. Last year alone, these continents made up 62 per cent of the IoT installed base.

There’s no denying the fact that IoT presents consumers and businesses with a unique and exciting opportunity. But at the same time, there’s been some worry, especially from an employment point-of-view – as more companies invest in IoT and automation strategies, many people fear that they’ll be out of jobs in the future.

However, there are plenty of industry pundits who believe that the Internet of Things will actually create a new breed of job opportunities. Not only are humans needed to make these technologies in the first place, but they’re also crucial in maintaining them. There’s an urgency for professionals who can ensure that connected systems don’t get out of control and become a security hazard, too. Here’s how IoT will result in an employment boost.


Security opportunities

While connected technologies offer lots of benefits, they can also be dangerous. Cyber crooks have already amassed millions of IoT devices to launch major cyber attacks, and there’s nothing stopping hackers from getting into driverless vehicles to cause serious harm to humans. As a result, there’s now a demand for IoT security professionals.

Glen Pearse, managing consultant of IT at Heat Recruitment, believes that the most noticeable change will be the number of security jobs created in the tech sector. “It’s a huge sector without including IoT, but the more connectivity we see across the globe, the more vulnerabilities come to light. In addition, we’re going to need far more developers to meet this demand – even though the current market for embedded developers is still remarkably niche,” he tells us.

However, he argues that there’ll be a serious skills crisis if academic institutions and companies are unable to create the right professionals. “To meet the requirement, more developers are going to need to pivot their skillset and move on to hardware coding using C and C++, for example, in addition to their current Full Stack experience. Until IoT becomes secure and, most of all stable, we will see a huge rise in consultancy services – including security analysts and security consultancy specialists,” he explains.


Data science bods

Pearse says there’ll be an increasing amount of companies that need employees with artificial intelligence and data science skills as well. He adds: “But developers are still reluctant to take the plunge into a full IoT skillset. It’s just too unpredictable an industry, but these skills eventually need to be brought in-house. Once the teething stages have been summited, and the right security or embedded specialists are in place, the sky’s the limit in terms of IoT jobs – it’s set to have the same impact as radio first did.”

Ian Hughes, an analyst at 451 Research, says there’ll be “obvious roles for hybrid hardware and software engineers”. However, as the number of connected devices grows in volume, businesses will have to deal with increasing masses of complex data. In order to keep on top of this influx of information, Hughes tells us that businesses will need to hire big data experts. Like Pearse, he believes that they’ll play a crucial role in the industry.

“IoT also increases the need for data scientist and security experts, [which] as our survey data already shows are short supply. As IoT architectures evolve to distributed computing and data storage patterns, richer technical skills will be required for build teams to configure those. As user interfaces adjust to represent full digital twins 3D design and data integration will also become more of a requirement,” he says.


Other roles

Although the Internet of Things sector is still in the early stages, investments and acquisitions are already commonplace. Analyst company IDC claims that spending on connected technology will reach $1.4 trillion by 2021. Tim Stone, venture partner director of IoT investment company Breed Reply, expects to see “IoT investor” roles increase in the foreseeable future. They’re responsible for finding innovative IoT start-ups and turning them into profitable enterprises.

“The role of the specialist IoT investor is going to grow and become more crucial over the coming years as the adoption and demand for IoT technology increases. More and more industries and sectors are switching on to the need for IoT to help create new business models and increase productivity. Start-ups, somewhat understandably, tend to initially work with traditional technology VCs, as they dominate the market,” he tells us.

Stone admits, though, that IoT is still a risky and challenging sector. The industry’s professionals will need to be self-starters who can master technology but also manage more business-oriented tasks. He concludes: “However, IoT has its own unique challenges and requires a different set of skills and experience than perhaps other technologies. In particular, being able to get to grips with the combination of data and analytics, AI and machine learning as well as in many cases developing devices. Importantly, success depends on being able to then commercialize the technology and as IoT companies start to generate revenue there are job roles created as a result, both at the tech level, such as data scientists, and at the business level, with sales and other critical roles.”

Josh Matteson, from American home services start-up Lula, says that “smart building maintenance” roles will crop up as the area evolves. “Within the next five years, we are going to see a whole new type of home maintenance. With everyone racing to become the household name in smart home devices, there is going to be a huge demand for smart home professionals,” he says.

“With the IoT making home connectivity a reality, the average homeowner may struggle to install the technology themselves. This will create a whole new set of jobs for smart home experts. Within this five-year time frame, smart homes will be considered less of a luxury, and more of a normal household concept. This will increase the number of questions, repairs, and installations.”

Over the next decade or so, it’ll be impossible for consumers and businesses to shy away from the Internet of Things. It couldn’t be clearer that the sector will define the way we live and work. Although the industry is still in its infancy, it’ll create so many opportunities – including new types of jobs. While these examples focus on design, security and investment in particular, we’ll likely see more advanced jobs come to fruition.

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The number one projector manufacturer in the world is already on 3rd gen AR glasses @epson

Super happy to see our Buddies at Epson Moverio getting so much positive attention. We’ve seen this product evolve over the years and it just keeps getting better. This team is unstoppable.


If you think about augmented reality beyond the smartphone, you’re probably thinking about something like Microsoft’s Hololens, or the Meta 2, or the much-hyped Magic Leap One. You might also think about smartglasses like Google Glass or the Vuzix Blade, or sports-focused products such as the Raptor, by Everysight.

You probably aren’t thinking of Epson.

Epson Moverio smartglasses

However, the company not only makes a smartglasses product, it has released functioning products that have been used by half a million people. And it’s set to vastly expand that number in the very near future.

“There are more people that visit museums in the U.S. than go to all sports events combined,” ARtGlass CEO Greg Werkheiser told me at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. “It’s a huge and competitive market.”

Werkheiser is referencing museums because that’s one of the key places where Epson has been delivering its augmented reality hardware: the Moverio AR platform, now in its third generation.

“We are the number one projector manufacturer in the world,” Epson’s head of augmented reality, Anna Jen, told me. “There are two mini projectors in each side of our smart glasses, and we have patents from the mid-1980’s on projectors being used as wearable glasses.”

If you’ve flown a drone with DJI’s first-person-view glasses, you’ve used Epson’s projectors inches from your eyes. If you’ve gone to a museum in Europe with an augmented audio/video tour adding detail, color, and history to the artifacts, you’ve used the company’s projectors as well.

Now ARtGlass CEO Werkheiser is bringing the technology to the U.S.

“After more than 500,000 actual users — 500,000 more than anyone else — we’re announcing our first iconic sites in the U.S.,” he told me. “You’ll be able to go to George Washinton’s house, stand where he stood, and a hologram of George Washington will welcome you.”

86 million people have visited Washington’s home since 1860, a Mount Vernon representative said.

Few have had the luxury of “meeting” Washington personally, however.

I tried the Moverio third-gen platform personally and was impressed with the weight (or lack thereof), the comfort, and the quality of the images that the smartglasses project into your eyeballs. Most head-mounted AR solutions I’ve tried, including a few at this year’s CES, have weak, limited color, hard-to-focus images that the device attempts to overlay onto your field of vision, and an uncomfortable reading position in the corner of your field of view.

Monocular, or single eye versions like the Google Glass, were particularly challenging for me.

“Monocular solutions have all kinds of problems,” Epson’s Jen told me when I asked her about them. “Reverse imaging is one of them … and also, most people are either right eye or left eye dominant … so big headaches could be coming your way if it’s on the wrong eye.”

Reverse imaging is exactly the problem I had with one of the monocular sport-oriented smartglasses products at CES.

Using the products at museums is a smart way to introduce a product into the market and get feedback about its shortcomings as well as its successes, which is where ARtGlass comes in. It’s also good business for cultural sites, which have a new experience to offer.

“People are staying 100% longer at exhibits now,” says Werkheiser, who cover the cost of content creation for museums and then collects a percentage of the rental income. “It’s a competitive market … if you go in Washington, DC, and see the same thing again and again, the incentive to bring people back is low. So there’s an increase in demand for differentiators.”

The actual devices have a battery life of four to six hours, which is good for a light, head-mounted device, and a 23-degree field of view. That’s not huge, but it is enough to get a large, full-color, very clear video or image.

It’s a trade-off, Epson’s Jen explains, saying that a wider field of view requires heavier optics and more battery life. Epson retails them for $799, but a commercial version with more capabilities will run buyers $1,399.

The augmented reality tours begin today at Highland, the historic home of President James Monroe, while the George Washington AR tours will launch in the spring.

John Koetsier is a journalist, analyst, and speaker. He analyzes and forecasts mobile trends for TUNE. Follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.