With the global IoT market expected to more than triple in size to an estimated $188bn in 2027, according to research firm Total Telecom, new IoT innovations will bring convenience and efficiency to daily lives across the US and globally. However, this unprecedented use of connected devices - from fitness trackers to smart household appliances to smart toys - also brings potential safety hazards.
On Friday 25 June, TIC Council hosted a webinar exploring the role of the independent TIC sector in driving forward safety, security, and reliability of connected devices.
Set against the recent publication of the TIC Council-commissioned study into the Value of the Testing, Inspection and Certification Sector, the expert panel discussed how the TIC sector provides valuable input when implementing a ‘security by design’ or ‘safety by design’ approach, contributing expertise to how hardware, software, and firmware are designed from the ground up to function safely and securely.
The event opened with an overarching introduction from Karin Athanas, Executive Director, TIC Council Americas, who moderated the discussion. Athanas referenced the growing number of connected devices that can be found in the typical home, often without consumers truly understanding the full extent of smart capabilities or being fully confident in the safety and security of their home devices.
Athanas introduced Patricia Adair, Director, Risk Management Group, Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC). Adair was invited to share her views on the safety of IoT devices and the CPSC’s work in evaluating safety concerns around new and emerging technologies. Adair highlighted how voluntary standards, supported by a wide cohort of traditional and non-traditional stakeholders, including the TIC sector, are a critical facet in collectively tackling safety concerns regarding connected devices.
Next up was Don Mays, Chief Safety & Quality Officer, Samsung Electronics America, Inc. who shared some of his insights serving as chair of the ASTM International committee which addresses consumer products and recently published a critical standard for IoT-enabled consumer devices.
Mays welcomed the webinar as an opportunity to highlight the issues around connected products, particularly given consumers’ fears and worries around safety. Mays detailed how ASTM took the initiative in anticipating hazards and risks that could potentially exist given the continuing expansion of IoT products in the home. Mays set out that moving forward, ASTM will identify issues that resonate with consumers and refine its standards accordingly, including working with TIC Council members to provide critical insight as technologies continue to develop.
Focusing on the TIC Council-commissioned study into the Value of the Testing, Inspection and Certification Sector, the report’s authors, Jeffrey Weiss, Partner and Co-Lead, International Trade Policy & Negotiations, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, and John Spicer, Director, Europe Economics, noted the wider impact of connected devices on the daily lives of consumers around the globe.
Weiss commented that as the authors were examining case studies to highlight in the report, he was struck by the importance of implementing TIC sector services which “can and should be built into the entire process of product design and manufacturing”, leading to a positive benefit in improved health and safety for consumers.
Spicer detailed the methodology in how the report has brought into sharp focus the role that TIC services have played in cost savings, reducing injuries and increasing market size. Additionally, Spicer highlighted how the contributions of the TIC sector to the ASTM International standards process in the case of its recently published standard on IoT consumer devices, resulted in a faster-to-market publication timeline.
Travis Norton, Director, Global Technical Service, Bureau Veritas, rounded off the contributions through his insights on the standards development process. Norton highlighted the fundamental necessity in drafting new and refreshed voluntary standards given that “we often discover that existing standards are inadequate to cover the range of new innovations and capabilities.” Norton later acknowledged the crucial role that TIC Council members played in working with organisations such as the CPSC and ASTM in bringing forward updated standards which have fundamentally improved the safe functioning of connected devices.
In drawing attention to the countless devices and appliances being updated and redesigned to incorporate IoT functionality, the event shone a light on the multiple risks faced by both consumers and policymakers in ensuring that these devices are safe, secure, and reliable. Given that the IoT consumer device market will only continue to expand and grow as technologies evolve, the event concluded with a pertinent reflection of the critical role that standards and third-party TIC validation plays in prioritising the health, safety, and consumer confidence of connected device users across the globe.
To watch the recorded version of the webinar in full, click here.
The presentation that accompanied the webinar is available to view here.
For a list of upcoming TIC Council webinars, see our list of webinars.
To read the Value of TIC report, click here.
About TIC Council
TIC Council is a global association representing over 90 international independent third-party testing, inspection, certification, and verification organizations. The industry represents an estimated one million employees across the world with annual sales of approximately USD 200 billion.