It has been a decade since the IoT first started to gain real traction, with Cisco being one of the first to champion the potential growth of the technology. In a report published in 2011, they noted the ‘birth’ of IoT to have been around 2008 or 2009, when the number of connected devices suddenly overtook the number of people. With this in mind, Cisco predicted that we would have 50 billion connected devices by 2020.
In 2010, China helped shape the direction things were heading in when Chinese premier Wen Jiabao became the first person at a government level to recognize the technology. At the same time, Apple engineers joined together to create the world’s first smart thermostat. The Nest Learning Thermostat became a landmark in the development of the IoT, marking the first time something of that nature had been powered by machine learning.
From this point onward, IoT began to gain steam. Over the next few years, Google acquired Nest and announced plans to put a self-driving car on the road within 12 months. The tech giant also partnered with Novartis to create contact lenses capable of measuring glucose levels. Before long, rival companies were also investing; Amazon released the Echo, an ambient device with voice control and soon afterwards, Mattel began producing IoT-enabled toys.
As IoT began to soar, the Global Standards Initiative event took place, with the aim of creating a unified approach to the development of IoT standards and to boost adoption. With its success came further uptake and soon, General Motors was investing in Lyft to create a network of self-driving cars that they hoped would eventually take over the roads. Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies began to focus their attention on the IoT in the hope of using blockchain to secure smart devices.
Key IoT Trends
Thanks to continued investment and interest in IoT, the technology can now be found across every industry. While the number of connected devices is yet to reach the level predicted by Cisco, we were approaching the 27 billion mark as 2019 drew to a close and it is now believed that 127 new devices are connected every second. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that technology leaders are still pushing to take it further and global consumers are looking to capitalize on the latest advancements in IoT technology.
IoT trends are predicted to include following developments:
The expansion of 5G networks
In 2020, the increase in the number of IoT devices is expected to go hand-in-hand with the continued deployment of 5G networks. This fifth generation of mobile technology delivers faster and more reliable connectivity than ever before, which is predicted to drive industries to further invest in IoT as its capabilities become more apparent and achievable.
Specifically, the merging of IoT and 5G is expected to have a significant impact on the development of mobile devices, wearables, medical devices and vehicles. In turn, many predict this coupling could fuel the development of the smart city and wider connected vehicle networks, while also transforming fundamental industries such as healthcare and manufacturing. Put simply, the pairing of IoT and 5G looks set to enable an entire ecosystem of fully connected, intelligent devices. Countries that have already invested heavily in 5G, such as technology leaders South Korea and China, are well-positioned to embrace this new way of living. In fact, Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul and Hong Kong are already leading the way, placing in the top ten smart cities in the world thanks to their levels of connectivity and investment in people and transportation.
The emergence of empowered edge computing in IoT
Edge computing is one of the major trends related to IoT in 2020. Edge nodes and gateways, when connected to IoT devices and systems, make it possible for them to reach various types of data centers with ease. Previously, IoT data was often affected by low bandwidth or latency when travelling long distances from the data center to the device. However, with the help of IoT, this problem is expected to be eliminated.
Empowered by edge computing technology, businesses that choose to invest are expected to enjoy the benefits of real-time insights for the very first time. For those who have already invested in the technology, this increase in popularity marks a turning point that could see early adopters benefiting significantly.
A boost in business spending on IoT
The ongoing development of IoT is expected to result in a boost in business spending as enterprises from every industry look to use the technology to enhance the customer experience. In fact, IoT is becoming so popular within the business world that industrial spending on the technology is predicted to outweigh consumer spending by the end of the year.
This increase in IoT spending is also predicted to focus more on software than hardware, which has been the largest purchase category so far. These predictions reflect the most recent data, which suggests that software-centric industries such as the consumer sector, healthcare and retail are expected to be the fastest growing sectors this year. This is great news for countries that prioritize these industries, including China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, all of which have systems in place to capitalize on the latest software developments.
Industries which will benefit from IoT
While it’s clear that the evolution of IoT affects all industries, these three main sectors are expected to benefit from IoT developments during 2020:
Healthcare is a fundamental industry that receives significant investment, regardless of global location. IoT is well-placed to meet the needs of the sector, offering solutions that can dramatically transform outcomes and reduce costs.
In 2020, IoT demand has been seen across many areas related to monitoring and optimization of services. For instance, many healthcare systems have invested in remote patient monitoring using wearable devices with built-in sensors, which allow for condition tracking. Similarly, mobile apps are being produced that link to IoT devices and enable disease prevention and vigilance.
IoT has also become popular in the area of daily operations. Specifically, IoT is being used to help with the management of medical equipment and the facilitation of customer services to provide a smoother experience for staff and patients alike.
The evolution of IoT in healthcare is expected to be particularly good news for countries across Asia, which have long been considered leaders in healthtech. In 2019, the total funding deployed into heathtech reached $5 billion, with China leading the charge with a 30% share of the continent’s ecosystem.
Sectors such as manufacturing are based around complex systems and processes that dictate the success of operations, both in and out of the factories. With the help if IoT, many key players in the industry are looking to uncover workflow inefficiencies and reduce costly issues that may slow production.
IoT is expected to transform three areas in particular this year, including the maintenance of the production process, the management of inventories and the analytics of industrial big data.
This trend towards automation in manufacturing is rapidly becoming recognized as Industry 4.0 — a concept that suggests the world is in the midst of its next industrial revolution. The cost efficiency and increase in productivity is expected to be particularly welcome in countries including China, Japan and South Korea, all of which are leaders in the sector and stand to benefit from the digitization of their operations.
The rate of IoT adoption in transportation is one of the highest seen across all industries. By investing in the latest technologies, companies within the sector can continually reduce the costs of shipping or transportation and increase operational efficiency, thus boosting their bottom line.
One of the ways IoT is expected to help the industry develop this year is by enabling predictive diagnoses and enhanced vehicle maintenance, which will ensure smooth running for many businesses. In addition, IoT is expected to allow for real-time cargo monitoring on an industrial scale and help deliver complete transportation telematics with advanced vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication.
Adoption of IoT is also allowing an evolution of the mobility industry, particularly in the case of electric mobility. Countries including China, Japan and South Korea, in particular, stand to benefit greatly from further investment, with all three demonstrating enough strength in their industry and market to enable them to capitalize.
IoT trends reflect the development of the reputation of the technology, which has played a crucial role in the emergence of a new industrial revolution. As spending increases, edge computing takes hold and 5G boosts the capabilities of IoT even further, businesses and consumers alike are now able to connect like never before. The world is increasingly looking to digitize and it’s the most fundamental industries, including healthcare, manufacturing and transportation, that look to be the focus of the next stage of IoT evolution.
With the infrastructure and ecosystems already in place to capitalize on this global overhaul, countries across Asia are set to profit from the current trend of embracing IoT as a new principal asset. By combining their strengths with these new opportunities for evolution, countries across the continent are well-placed to take the lead as the world enters a new era of connectivity.