Infographic: A Consumer’s Eye View of the IoT

What consumers think of the Internet of Things, and how engineers can influence perception.

Scroll to the bottom for the full infographic. (Image courtesy of

Scroll to the bottom for the full infographic. (Image courtesy of

For Internet of Things (IoT) engineers, it can be easy to forget that many people still have a weak grasp of what the IoT is. For some, it’s just an enigma, one of those tech terms they never intend to understand. For others, it’s a buzzword that businesses use to make you buy their product. There are even those that, whether they understand it or not, view the IoT with suspicion and concern.

It’s through these half-truths and misconceptions that IoT engineers must wade if they hope to realize the full potential of the technology. To help you navigate these waters, has published an infographic that explores the IoT from a consumer’s point of view: What is it, where is it and why should I care?

Although IoT engineers already know these answers, there’s a clear benefit to understanding your customers and what they think of your technology. So without further ado, let’s take a consumer’s eye view of the IoT.

The IoT Consumer Numbers


First things first, let’s quantify the IoT confusion. We’ve written before about the 2016 Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) survey that revealed only 73 percent of U.S. consumers believe they’re knowledgeable in identifying IoT devices, a drop of 10 percent from the 2015 survey. This current infographic is even less generous, stating that 88 percent of survey respondents are “overwhelmed by the IoT’s impact or just don’t know the term at all.”

Even worse are those who are actively worried about the IoT, specifically with regards to data privacy and security. According to the infographic, 69 percent of U.S. citizens have this concern. The ISACA survey reports 77 percent, though that number reflects the lack of consumer confidence in IoT devices specifically enhanced with augmented reality.

To be fair to consumers, they have legitimate reasons to be concerned. For one, only one-third of IT and security professionals believe their organization is resilient to cyberattacks, enough to make anyone worry about the security of their personal data. And let’s not forget about the massive distributed denial-of-service attack last year that was enabled by insecure consumer IoT devices.

So this is lesson number one, and I’m sure you saw it coming: It’s up to IoT engineers and companies to nurture consumer trust in the IoT. The write-up accompanying the infographic gives an apt comparison to genetically modified organisms (GMOs): Despite a scientific consensus that GMO foods pose no risk to consumers, there remains widespread consumer mistrust. Now, keeping in mind the very real concerns of the IoT, you can see the uphill battle IoT engineers are facing.

Here’s what you can do: Make security priority number one in your IoT solutions. You don’t have to take on this burden yourself; you can partner with security experts, or hand off your security to the cloud. We’re also here to help. Read “IoT Security: How to Protect Connected Devices and the IoT Ecosystem” or “12 Tips to Convince Users Their IoT System Is Secure” to learn more about the issue.


Learn How the IoT Affects Your Everyday Life

 One of the examples of an industry that benefits from the IoT. (Image courtesy of

One of the examples of an industry that benefits from the IoT. (Image courtesy of

A large portion of the infographic covers several ways the IoT is used, along with specific examples to help readers understand the vast scope of the IoT. The infographic presents these use cases in an intelligent way, building up the reader’s idea of what the IoT is and what it can do for them. Here’s how it accomplishes that:

  • Environmental Monitoring: The infographic starts with this prototypical example of IoT utility. It’s easy to see how sensors can monitor environmental factors such as air or water quality and send the data off to be stored and analyzed. For example, the Array of Things project in Chicago includes several environmental sensors to monitor the health of the city.
  • Infrastructure Management: In a similar way, sensors can be used to monitor “infrastructures like bridges or railway tracks.” But now, instead of simply collecting data, the IoT can actively use this data to coordinate maintenance of the infrastructure.
  • Energy Management: In this example, consumers can start to imagine how the IoT can benefit them personally. Lighting and heating systems use energy, and energy costs money—connecting these systems to the Internet to control them intelligently as needed is a no-brainer.
  • Healthcare: Some readers may have a knee-jerk reaction to the idea of computers in charge of their health. But the infographic presents a simple example of how the IoT will help their health: prescription bottles with wireless chips that can remind them to take their medicine as needed. Starting small can help ease worried consumers into other IoT healthcare applications, such as baby health monitors.
  • Building Automation: Encompassing the above use cases, the infographic moves onto the idea of smart buildings. The reader can imagine the utility of automation in buildings. But again this is presented with a simple example: a connected fire extinguisher that can alert you if there’s a problem with it.
  • Transportation: Lastly, the infographic examines an aspect of the IoT that is already very present in out lives. It skirts over the concept of self-driving cars (and the associated IoT risks), instead leaving the reader with examples like smart parking, navigation systems and traffic control.

Now we arrive at lesson number two: Always consider how your customers will perceive your product. Will they look at it and immediately think of how it will improve their lives, or will they instead think of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey? It’s your job to design and market your products to attain the former reaction.

Ready or Not, Here IoT Come

 Lastly, the infographic makes it clear that the IoT is not a “someday” scenario. It’s happening right now, and it’s growing at an incredible rate. The infographic presents Cisco’s forecast that 50 billion devices will be on the IoT by 2020 (the high estimate), as well as Gartner’s prediction of 20.8 billion devices on the IoT by 2020 (the low end).

IoT engineers, especially Industrial IoT engineers, have, no doubt, already accepted this. But consumers may push back against the inevitability of the IoT if they haven’t been convinced to trust it, making your job harder in the long run. You don’t want to be the GMO engineer fighting the tide of uninformed public opinion.

So let’s sum up what IoT engineers are responsible for:

  1. Make security your number one priority in IoT solutions.
  2. Design and market your IoT products in a way that builds consumer confidence in the IoT.

These may be tall orders, but again, we’re here to help. Check out “Major Battlegrounds in the Internet of Things” to delve further into the IoT.

(Image courtesy of

(Image courtesy of

Written by

Michael Alba

Michael is a senior editor at He covers computer hardware, design software, electronics, and more. Michael holds a degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Alberta.