8 Internet Of Things And UC Technologies You'll See In 10 Years

Looking Through The Crystal Ball

Think the Holodeck from "Star" Trek is purely science fiction? Can a factory operate 24/7 without any humans inside?

"You will see completely lights out factories for manufacturing," said Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Systems' IoT and Collaboration Technology Group. "You're going to see manufacturing technologies that are even easier to automate … that are really going to transform manufacturing."

Predicting the future of IoT and unified communications can be daunting, so CRN asked the experts what significant technologies advancements lie ahead as they collide to form a more efficient business world.

Lights Out Factories

IoT will lead to significant advancements in automation in the manufacturing sector. In 10 years, don't be surprised to see a factory operating and functioning properly without any humans inside.

"If you want to look out 10 years, there's very little that will happen in a factory that won't be automatable or be automated and you will see completely lights out factories for manufacturing," said Trollope. "You're going to see manufacturing technologies that are even easier to automate, like additive printing and additive manufacturing like 3-D printing, that are really going to transform manufacturing."

Micro-Manufacturing Factories

As more machines and new robots become connected through IoT, manufacturing has the ability to scale down so organizations can run "micro-manufacturing" facilities, said Trollope.

"Once you've built these robotic industrial things, you don't necessarily have to have them too big," he said. "So you can shrink and shrink them so they can be wherever you need them to be -- meaning the product doesn't have to travel as far to the consumer."

Meet Your New Digital Best Friend

A major change is approaching in the unified communications and collaboration space with the entrance of personal virtual assistants. Highly programmable virtual assistants will enter the market that will help employees find information, automatically set up appointments, scheduled reminders and even act on a person's behalf to marshal resources – similar to having your own personal chief of staff.

"Imagine it as all the tools in your tool belt today put together, but in a more automated, seamless, smarter way," said Chris Bottger, chief technology officer at IVCi, a Hauppauge, N.Y.-based solution provider. "So you wake up and this virtual assistance says, ’Good morning Chris, it's Monday. Here are the five calls you need to make today to these customers. Here are the three follow-ups from that. There's also a quote you need to do and here are your two most urgent emails this morning.' And it then tracks your progress throughout the day."

I nteractive Walls

The walls surrounding your office become the foundation for embedded displays such as large interactive white boards that will surround your workspace environment.

"With [Microsoft] Surface Hub, you're going to start seeing more reliance on interactive displays within meeting environments," said Joe Berger, collaboration practice manager for World Wide Technology, a $3 billion-plus solution provider ranked No. 12 on the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500 list. "Longer term, it's more augmented reality. Your starting to see on the consumer side – you see the Pokemon Go trend – I see that type of model taking off in businesses."

These interactive displays will have several UC functionalities such as videoconferencing.

Star Trek's Holodeck

A glimpse into the future of UC&C can be seen in the "Star Trek" Holodeck, where people can virtually walk into any space in the form of a hologram.

"If we were in a room 10 years from now, we would be able to bring in someone from any other place in the world and have them essentially show up almost like a hologram and have it be very realistic to all of us," said Cisco's Trollope. "It's no longer limited to a screen or a wall or a ’thing' – it's actually like transporting or teleporting people almost like the Holodeck from 'Star Trek.' That's going to happen and you can already see that begging with augmented reality."

Digitization Of Healthcare

IoT is the key to unlocking a tremendous amount of data and value in the health-care industry that can help save lives. With the majority of data currently unstructured or locked up in devices, hospitals and health facilities have yet to collect and combine massive amounts of data to greatly enhance visibility and predictability.

"In a 10-year period, we're going to see all the data about people and your history and medical history all being correlated to big data things in a way that respects privacy," said Trollope. "And it's not just health data, but environmental data – 'What were you exposed to and when? Did you have a stressful day that week?' All that kind of data will be accessible to the healthc-are professional. Digitization of health care will have huge, huge, huge benefits for our world."

Next-Gen Biotechnology

The vast amounts of data that becomes visible through IoT accelerates next-generation biotechnology.

"The whole gene therapy and all the next-gen biotech, [IoT] will be a dramatic influencer in changing the treatment options that people have," said Trollope. "Achieving big data in health care plus biotech, actually just transforms the way we think of diseases and how we treat them is going to dramatically change and that is, of course, driven by connectivity and systems."

IoT Combines With UC&C

Solution providers can already see today the shedding of proprietary technology with the rise of the cloud as interoperability capabilities become more crucial than ever for customers. IoT will further help monetize UC&C and the two will eventually blur together, according to experts.

"You're seeing elements of that already," said IVCi's Bottger. "Look at Cisco Spark -- I walk into a room and it knows who I am, where I am, by using technology coming from your smart device and sending that back to the physical system in the room."