Scalability comes not only in the number of devices becoming connected, but also the amount of data they generate. He pointed out that the Xively platform can support 868 billion messages from connected devices a day, compared with the 900 million tweets on Twitter, 4 billion Google searches and 17 billion Facebook messages that are sent each day.
In terms of support, the IoT gives businesses the chance to connect with their customers in a more personal way, Simon said.
"Relationships are at the heart of creating brand value," he said. "Your products can help forge intimate relationships with customers for you."
He pointed to several companies that are using the Xively to bring connectivity to an array of products, from printers and pet products to LED light bulbs and showerheads.
For his part, Diamandis said that advances in technology—particularly the creation of faster, cheaper computers—have played a key role across the globe in the rapid improvements in health care, education and life expectancy; the reduction in infant mortality; and the slowing growth of the global population.
"The incessant change in Moore's Law is transforming our world," Diamandis said, noting the observation in 1965 by Intel founder Gordon Moore that the number of transistors in chips would double every 18 to 24 months, leading to smaller, better and less expensive systems.
These systems are now driving the development of the IoT and such crucial technologies as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and robotics that will significantly change everything from health care and education to automobiles, energy and space exploration, he said.
This technology also is enabling more people to get into the game. Not that long ago, it cost $5 million to launch an Internet startup; it now costs about $5,000. Add in the 5 billion or so people around the world who will become connected over the next several years, and the promise of innovation is significant.
Diamandis took an expansive look at the future and urged those in the crowd to engage in "moonshots thinking." Instead of trying to improve things by 10 percent, people should look to improve them 10 times. That changes how they approach issues and can lead to important innovations. He said he currently is looking at three areas for his moonshots thinking, including health care—especially in increasing life expectancy—and expanding human access to resources, such as finding ways to tap into resources that can be found on asteroids that come close to Earth.
He also said that incentivizing entrepreneurs can help drive innovation. Xprize offers millions of dollars in prizes to people who can come up with ways to leverage technology to solve global problems. Over the years, the foundation and technology partners have offered prizes of $10 million or more to entrepreneurs and businesses to address private space flight, develop handheld devices that can help consumers diagnose medical issues in themselves and others, map the ocean floor, create a system that can sit on a rooftop and take the moisture out of the air to create drinkable water, and most recently, collect carbon emissions from industrial plants and turn it into something useful.
Other areas they're looking at range from artificial intelligence and transportation to cyber-security, he said.