The Internet is swallowing up an increasing number of things. Besides the usual suspects, like computers or smartphones, this also includes things like refrigerators, air conditioners, and wearables — just to name a few. The trend to create an Internet-connected ecosystem of things is noticeable in almost every industry.
To realize how bright the future of the IoT industry is, just take a look at the numbers from these predictions published by IDC. They forecast that in 2025 there will be:
41.6 billion connected IoT devices (or things),
79.4 zettabytes (= 79.4 billion terabytes!) of data generated by these things.
That means that the CAGR of data created by IoT will be at 28.7% from 2018 to 2025.
We still have five more years to go, but things are getting more interesting all the time. That’s why we’ve prepared a list of 8 trends for you to watch in the months ahead — both current and newly emerging.
Trend #1: More AI
Voice User Interfaces
The real revolution is happening in modern, busy workplaces, where voice-enabled chatbots can accelerate workflow, and make it more efficient. Just like the Olivia chatbot assistant helps overloaded retail and restaurant managers with the hiring process by running background checks on candidates, auto-scheduling interviews, or sending onboarding documents. In the future, voice assistants will be conducting even more complex tasks — from ordering office supplies to taking notes during meetings.
The same has been happening in the retail industry. The most prominent players on the market, with Amazon and Google at the helm, have been advancing their conversational AI technology that enables voice shopping — a trend which, while still new, is growing at a steady pace. Moreover, it’s worth noting that Amazon has launched a Voice Interoperability Initiative, which allows users to interact with multiple voice services through a single speaker.
Did you know that AI could also power data analytics? Recently, it’s been used to help draw information out of pictures, voice recordings, and videos, to turn data into actionable insights. There have been many studies on this subject lately. For example, The Alan Turing Institute has launched a project that aims to create systems automating each stage of the data analytics process. It has the potential to improve the efficiency of data processing — crucial, e.g., for researchers, IT engineers, and governments.
Trend #2: Smart cities
Governments around the world are going to invest more in advanced IoT-enabled traffic management systems. The Valerann’s Smart Road Platform is a promising sign of this, which launched during CES 2020. An early version of the platform has already been implemented on British, American, and Israeli highways. It is a network of solar-powered sensors that gather data and use machine learning algorithms for real-time analysis. In general, it tracks driving patterns to provide risk alerts and precise navigation recommendations.
Sensors, cameras, thermal imaging, and alert systems are becoming a vital part of public spaces since they’ve been adopted by a growing number of agencies. The ecosystem of interconnected physical objects and software solutions will soon be used on an even bigger scale to help detect crime, prevent fires and accidents, and to keep citizens safe.
5G + edge computing
Processing a vast amount of data in busy urban centers requires that authorities leverage edge computing systems. And this will be possible the moment 5G is available city-wide, bringing along high bandwidth and dazzling speed.
Trend #3: Connected vehicles
IoT fleet management
We can also expect a massive acceleration in IoT-based tracking and managing of commercial vehicles. Companies will have access to better insights regarding not only the health of their fleet but also driver behavior. The global IoT fleet management market size is expected to have a CAGR of 21.0% during 2019–2025.
After some significant failures, everyone is aware of the fact that autonomous driving needs a lot of improvement. However, this doesn ’t make the topic any less exciting. The companies that have been continually investing in this technology (like Tesla or Ford) will have a lot to prove in the months and years to come.
Small cargo delivery
Here we have some promising projects to observe, such as urban delivery robots from Amazon, Starship robots delivering food on US college campuses, or Nuro/Udelv vehicles for transporting local goods. Similar projects will be popping up across the world, changing the delivery market.
Trend #4: Smart homes
Efforts are being made towards introducing systems to monitor the health and functionality of devices in smart homes, to predict problems before they occur, and to suggest individual solutions to avoid costly repairs. Some of these solutions already exist in coffee machines and air conditioning systems.
This type of system allows users to monitor different parts of a household remotely and receive notifications whenever something changes. It is, of course, widely adopted in home security solutions, but other areas will not fall behind. A smart fridge that sends notifications to your phone is an excellent example of this, and we can expect similar technologies in other appliances as well.
Sensor-controlled lights, shower time limits (like Showerguard), or smart thermostats connected to mobile devices are becoming more and more popular in modern eco-houses. Everything to save energy and reduce bills.
Trend #5: Healthcare
The global Internet of medical things is scaling up in record time. In 2017 it was worth $41 billion, while in 2022, it is expected to reach $158 billion. The main areas of interest for now are:
remote examination and diagnostics using intelligent devices (like Higo) — which is especially relevant these days in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic;
health monitoring — crucial for people who are sick (like glucose monitoring for people with diabetes from Eversense);
early warning systems — e.g., various medical alert systems that can call for help when something’s wrong.
Trend #6: Climate change
Alex Gluhak, head of technology at Digital Catapult, says that “IoT is the digital skin of our planet”. A skin that consists of sensors, devices, and software, of course. Since the global focus on reducing the carbon footprint of various processes is now stronger than ever, we can use that “skin” to:
The goal is to combat climate change and avoid natural disasters. But there is also one other issue, not directly related to climate but equally important. Using IoT early warning systems, experts and authorities can save lives with timely evacuations from areas prone to rockslides, e.g., the Norwegian fjords, where giant rocks falling into the water can cause massive tsunamis.
Trend #7: Next-generation digital twin technology
The digital twin market is projected to reach $35.8 billion in value by 2025 (now it’s worth nearly $4 billion). Digital replicas of physical assets that enable risk-free simulations will be used on a much broader scale. Companies are believed to develop accurate “what-if” scenarios so that they can better understand their own devices and systems, and use them most optimally. Digital twins will be used across a variety of sectors, including aircraft, automotive, and healthcare.
Trend #8: Augmented human
In the coming months, we will see further enhancements in technologies that help improve human performance through several interconnected devices. Some of them are already very popular, like Fitbit, Oura, or Apple Watch, which help people get on track with their health and fitness goals by monitoring workouts, sleep, daily activities, weight, and heart rate.
Companies will be further developing technologies that augment people’s capabilities so that they can notice things they weren’t able to notice before. This trend will slowly penetrate every industry, with manufacturing (see the latest edition of Google Glass) and automotive (see AR motorcycle helmets) at the helm.
Exciting yet challenging
However exciting all of these trends may seem, they will also bring some significant security challenges that both companies and authorities will have to face. The scale of this problem is enormous — in the first half of 2019 alone, Kaspersky detected 105 million attacks on IoT endpoints. It implies that securing connected devices will be the number one priority for the vast majority of companies operating within the IoT market. There are two main trends that we’ve noticed here:
Enabling security through blockchain-like technologies
These have some significant advantages: they are decentralized, have no administrator, and are based on cryptography algorithms.
Not updating firmware in legacy devices
For example, Sonos and Google decided to stop releasing updates for their legacy products. Within the context of a growing number of cyberattacks, it will be more important than ever to stop using devices beyond their end-of-life, as unsupported devices are pretty vulnerable to attacks.
As the IoT enters our everyday lives, these trends and challenges may pertain to your company as well. If you would like to learn more about IoT development or discuss your own IoT project in confidence — feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org