IoT Trends To Drive Innovation For Business In 2020
The Internet of Things is actively shaping both the business and consumer worlds—and it's going to be a tough year for innovation departments of modern enterprises. Smart tech finds its way to every business domain there is—from retail to healthcare, from finances to logistics—and a missed opportunity strategically employed by a competitor can easily qualify as a long-term failure.
This was ascertained by the latest Internet of Things conferences attended by our team—such as IoT Tech Expo and DeveloperWeek, attended by our team in June and November 2018, respectively. What we saw there helped us to form a list of 9 IoT trends to keep an eye on; they may inspire your own business-driven tech innovation.
That said, sit back and enjoy the read. Even if you'd already encountered similar lists before—like Gartner's one—you will find quite a few curious observations here.
9 major Internet of Things trends for 2019-2020
- 1. IoT to be empowered by Artificial Intelligence
- 2. Continued rise of industrial IoT & digital twin technology
- 3. Complex IoT solutions to involve other innovations
- 4. Social, legal, and ethical issues to grow in importance
- 5. The ever-growing use of cloud IoT solutions
- 6. Edge computing to achieve momentum
- 7. The era of 5G is not that far away
- 8. LPWAN for IoT sensors
- 9. Voice-enabled Internet of Things: a shift from smart home to enterprise
Trend #1: IoT to be empowered by Artificial Intelligence
The Internet of Things has grown to a scale that exceeds the human population. With over 17B connected devices worldwide—the vast majority of them working off a single small processor and a thimble of memory—IoT has already become ubiquitous.
Just like computers, IoT devices can be used to collect data, but on a scale that has never been seen before. Marrying advanced Data Science consulting with the widespread use of these devices creates unique opportunities for data analysis and interpretation.
Consider a self-driving car that not only safely brings its passengers to their destination, but uses that transit data to accurately predict traffic patterns. This data could then be used to build more efficient roads and infrastructure in the future. Or imagine a factory that utilizes IoT-connected assembly lines to reduce the rate of manufacturing defects in the fabrication process.
Another example related to our own development experience is face and voice recognition that can be used for biometric verification in a variety of areas, including IoT.
With big names in technology developing AI for their IoT devices—from Amazon and Microsoft to Google and IBM—IoT devices are already heading in this direction.
AI integration into these devices will soon comprise the majority of the IoT market; everything from device security to big data acquisition will see huge benefits from AI and machine learning consulting services.
Trend #2: Continued rise of industrial IoT & digital twin technology
Smart manufacturing continues to see year-over-year growth, and is projected to continue growing at an exponential rate. An amalgamation of technologies are pushing this new techno-industrial revolution, and IoT plays a big part in making manufacturing more efficient, less risky, and more profitable. Industrial IoT trends bring enhanced efficiency and productivity through data integration and analysis in a way that isn't possible without an interconnected manufacturing process.
A good example from our experience is a steel factory that had the need to employ a tech solution that would prevent downtime and human health risks at the same time. It started as a concept that had yet to prove technically feasible, allowing engineers to keep an eye on factory operations and get data in real time from a number of sources using hands-free devices.
Another notion that is gaining popularity in the energy sphere is digital twin technology. Through its use, organizations can create a clear picture of how their IoT devices are interacting with the manufacturing process.
This gives keen businesses insight into how the life cycle of their machines operates, and allows them to predict changes that may be needed ahead of time. According to a Gartner survey, 48% of smart manufacturing adopters have made plans to make use of the digital twins concept.
Trend #3: Complex IoT solutions to involve other innovations
While technology impacts business and drives it forward, it's business that shapes the world of technology, giving it reasons for existence and practical application. Business concepts and solutions require sets of technologies seamlessly working together to achieve specific goals, and IoT is no exception. Here are several cases where it's successfully combined with other tech innovations.
Through the use of blockchain, data from potentially unsecured devices can be held to a high degree of accuracy. Working as a digital ledger for recorded information, blockchain distributes this data throughout devices connected to the chain, making malicious or accidental modification of data impossible. Utilizing this method, data acquired from blockchain IoT devices can be seen as reliable and secure.
Here is one of the promising business use cases for integration of IoT with blockchain – a solution for logistics and transportation that enables real-time delivery tracking. Our team implemented a demo based on Hyperledger technologies and Raspberry Pi. Watch the following video to learn all about it.
Generally, blockchain is already seeing use in a handful of IoT devices, with as many as 20% of devices predicted to have some form of blockchain service integrated into its data collection in 2019. It's not entirely clear what implementation of blockchain will find widespread use in IoT devices, with many different types of blockchain currently having potential uses in the sector. However, we can single out several basic questions about implementation of blockchain solutions:
• How do we integrate blockchain with other technologies in a seamless way?
• What are the actual benefits of storing data on blockchain?
• What data should be stored on and off blockchain?
• Should we opt for public or private blockchain?
• How do we achieve security and friendly UX?
• What additional system components are required?
Web Real-Time Communication is an open-source project that enables development and deployment of two-way communication between IoT products through a simple browser, without the need for special plugins or tools.
WebRTC is seeing widespread use, bringing features and functions that would otherwise require significant development time, effort, and auxiliary tools.
Amazon's newly developed Sensor and Alexa APIs utilize WebRTC to allow communication between the device and its user. Amazon is already making use of these APIs to connect cameras, doorbells, and Echo devices enabled by the Alexa voice assistant. Products like these are making smart home technologies easy to use and functional without extensive excessive effort.
Trend #4: Social, legal, and ethical issues to grow in importance
IoT devices are a largely unregulated new technology. As a burgeoning new way to apply information technology, IoT will inevitably find itself facing social and legal questions in the near future. This is particularly relevant for data collected by these devices, which may soon find itself falling under the umbrella of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This regulation regarding the handling of personal data and privacy in the European Union, the GDPR extends its reach beyond the European region. Any business that wants to successfully operate within the EU will need to comply with the guidelines laid out in its 88-page document.
In order to comply with any forthcoming GDPR regulations, IoT developers will need to take these questions and concerns into consideration when designing new products. Since so much of IoT device interaction is handled without an kind of GUI, where collected data goes, how it's handled, and who ultimately owns the rights to it are questions that will very soon need clear answers. Transparent disclosures on collected IoT data is very likely to be a part of future GDPR guidelines.
Security issues are essential when it comes to legal regulation of personal data. Development teams can ensure the required level of security and compliance on various levels, including data encryption, active consent, various means of verification and other mechanisms. Their goal is to collect data legitimately and keep its accessibility, processing, and storage to a minimum that is dictated by the software product.
While any new GDPR resolutions related to IoT devices are sure to make waves within the community, it's not something developers should shy away from. Customer privacy and clearly made intentions for collected data will give new adopters for the technology more confidence in purchasing IoT devices. Privacy and security is something that, until recently, has been a genuine concern for many investors looking into the tech. Standards and guidelines to govern these devices may be the extra nudge that wary adopters need to dive in.
This becomes even more poignant when infrastructure-critical IoT devices, like those used in many city utilities, are taken into consideration. When everything from dam controls to public transit is on the table for IoT implementations, the need for strong cybersecurity becomes readily apparent. It's already been demonstrated that vulnerabilities in these systems could cause huge problems without strong security being built-in to these devices.
California has already started implementing IoT-related security standards, the first law passing in September 2018. It sets security standards for devices sold in the state of California. As one of the primary markets for IoT manufacturing and sales, these regulations should help drive forward security standards for IoT devices. The new law will take effect on January 1, 2020.
Trend #5: The ever-growing use of cloud IoT solutions
Cloud solutions for IoT devices are also seeing a rise in popularity. It's not surprising that the 2018 IoT Developer survey found Amazon's AWS and Microsoft's Azure cloud services to be the top choices for cloud development of IoT products, especially the former. As two of the leading cloud service providers, Azure and AWS have the infrastructure, marketing, and accessibility demanded by the fast release of new IoT devices.
Microsoft announced its new Azure IoT Central platform in 2018, allowing for the secure communication between devices and the cloud. This new service will fill the need for what is essentially a software plug-and-play solution for connecting IoT firmware to the cloud. Microsoft will continue to invest in its IoT infrastructure, lobbying their clear support for the future of IoT and the potential it brings.
Trend #6: Edge computing to achieve momentum
When cloud computing isn't an option, edge computing is poised to step in. Always-on connectivity isn't a feasible solution in every scenario. Extremely mobile IoT devices or those that function far from the luxury of full network integration need a solution that can still handle data-processing, analysis, and execution.
In recent years the focus on edge computing has turned up early programs from Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, with a long list of others following suit. The ever-increasing demand for smart IoT technology has driven the advancement of these programs, highlighting the need for edge computational chips that can take the computing power of the cloud and bring it anywhere in a secure manner.
Amazon is already making a convincing case for edge computing solutions, with their AWS IoT Greengrass service giving developers the power to use the Lambda functions with edge devices. This lets developers perform machine learning and compute tasks within IoT devices.
Trend #7: The era of 5G is not that far away
5G standards offer even more potential for IoT devices, with mobile communication for embedded devices benefiting from the drastically reduced latency and reliability. Although 5G still remains pretty far from mainstream adoption, enterprises might consider undertaking this rather costly deployment endeavor—naturally, having a solid business plan at hand.
Reduced latency will let connected IoT devices send and receive data faster than ever before, allowing for the analysis and management of data to function at a level not possible on current 4G networks. The list of applications for the technology in embedded devices is long. Any application that needs rapid, no-compromises computing in as little time as possible will reap huge benefits from the technology. The transportation sector will undoubtedly find quick integration for 5G-enabled devices, as will organizations working on logistics or infrastructure.
Trend #8: LPWAN for IoT sensors
Advancements in the Low-Power Wide-Area Network (LPWAN) technology offer even more functionality for IoT devices. The extremely low power consumption and large effective range of LPWAN makes it an ideal solution from small devices that need a high operating lifespan in remote locations. Any device that can function with the low transmission rate of LPWAN, like small sensors, can see successful integration with LPWAN connectivity. Devices connected in this fashion are projected to number over a billion by 2023.
Trend #9: Voice-enabled Internet of Things: a shift from smart home to enterprise
Recent studies have shown that voice-enabled assistants continue to see market growth. Products that use these systems—such as Amazon's Echo Dot utilizing Alexa—are likely to be a driving force for smart home growth, with voice-assistant use on track to reach nearly 300M devices sold by 2023. Alexa integration continues to dominate the US market, but Google's competing Google Home is currently leading outside the US, showing real potential for further expansion.
These voice-assistant devices have other applications as well. Expanding beyond the home market, voice-assistant technology has applications in the industrial sector, utilizing hands-free control to rapidly track processes and lower the costs of maintenance and management. This kind of integration with the industrial IoT gives businesses an easy-to-use method of communication between devices and their end users.
Let's not forget about the connected worker concept, which involves extensive use of enterprise-focused wearables. Solutions for biometric authentication, already mentioned above, are also contributing to market growth, with these voice-assistant systems providing a convenient method of authentication for secure platforms. As a natural platform for the integration of biometric security, voice-assistant technology is already being used for these applications.
There's a lot more to the current and future trends being seen in IoT development. The few applications and innovations found here are just the beginning of what's possible with a truly inter-connected world, a future that isn't that far off when the inevitable wide adoption of IoT devices takes place. The use cases for these devices will only continue to grow and expand in the coming years. Organizations that can take advantage of the unique capabilities delivered by IoT devices will soon see even more features, functionality, and productivity from their IoT-connected ecosystems.
About the Author
Serge Koba is a Lead Solution Architect at MobiDev, PhD in IT with 10 years of software development experience in the spheres of Web, Mobile, IoT and Blockchain. Serge is an active speaker at international developer conferences and a blogger with a series of articles on Smart Home, custom IoT devices and robotics.
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