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Top 10 IoT Trends to Watch Out For in 2020

Global statistics show IoT is a rapidly growing technology domain that started exceeding all expectations already in 2019 with 9,5bn connected devices globally. New predictions for 2025 anticipate as many as 28bn appliances in the network. As a company with deep expertise in Internet of Things Development, we keep our finger on the pulse of the latest dynamics and tendencies in the IoT market.

Waverley Software has helped customers from various industry sectors with home automation, energy analytics, robotics, and other solutions to leverage the benefits that the Internet of Things may bring. Based on our experience and the most recent developments in the technology world, we came up with this gist of Top Technology and Top Industry Trends for 2020 in the IoT domain you should definitely know about. Read on and we won’t let you miss a thing!

Top Tech Trends

5G Connectivity

The successor of 4G, the fifth-generation cellular network technology promises us greater bandwidth and higher download speeds thus becoming a decent substitute for traditional cable internet for laptop and desktop users as well as opening up a range of great new possibilities to the Internet of Things. With the data transfer speed up to 100 times higher than before, the expected device density increase to 25bn devices across the globe by 2025 will not pose an operational problem. Due to 5G, the network of connected devices will possess low data latency, always-on connectivity, and, potentially, the internet coverage in poorly served and unserved parts of the world. These prospects give way to the unlimited development of such consistency and safety-dependent solutions as driverless cars, real-time traffic control, drones for disaster recovery, remote surgery, and other mission-critical areas that require continuous and uninterrupted connection and robust data exchange.

Edge Computing

When computation and data storage are brought from the data centers to the network edge – the edge nodes – closest to the needed location (the end-users), we get shorter response time and save bandwidth. The application of edge computing considerably reduces the amount of data to be transmitted, the traffic, and the distance this data has to travel. Thus, edge computing operates on instant data as opposed to cloud computing which works on big data. Increased communication speed and operational efficiency allow a wide range of real-time applications such as self-driving cars, drone delivery, or face recognition algorithms for smart city, smart industry, and smart home solutions. Limitless possibilities for the IoT world appear when edge computing gets convergent with the AI and 5G technologies providing the devices with intelligence at the chip level.

Edge Computing

[By NoMore201 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82034067]

AI and ML

The more devices appear on the network, the more data gets generated by multiple resources. This means more complexities with data collection, processing, and analysis. With the implementation of the AI and ML algorithms, the connected devices can not only collect and transfer data but also work out and follow smart behavior patterns to optimize operations and processes. Intelligent IoT can provide a competitive advantage to companies with advanced analytical and predictive abilities, boosting their operational efficiency, improving risk management, increasing scalability, and eliminating money and time expenditure. Some examples of the AI-powered IoT implementations include smart robots equipped with sensors at production facilities, Tesla’s self-driving cars that can predict traffic circumstances, and smart thermostats relying on its users’ timetables and preferences.

Security and Data Regulations

Connected devices have proven to be one of the top network vulnerabilities as the least protected data source and the most exposed endpoint allowing malicious actors to easily penetrate the network. The increasing volumes of the collected and transferred data with high potential for data leakage also put the users’ privacy and sensitive information at risk. Both individual and corporate users have to take a responsible approach to the usage of connected devices.

Vulnerability scans, EDR tools, creating a dedicated wireless network are good ways to strengthen personal and business security perimeters. Blockchain and ML offer even more advanced security solutions for the IoT with powerful encryption capabilities and intelligent systems spotting suspicious behavior patterns. In terms of data privacy, governments realize the threats of omnichannel data collection, and they are working out the regulations to control the data consumption. GDPR and CCPA are some of the data ethics and privacy regulations already in force.

Digital Twins

These are the virtual copies of real-life objects or systems that can be run as simulations before the actual objects are developed and deployed. It allows the creators and inventors to virtually test and optimizes their products through a number of supposed scenarios. Small devices as well as large systems such as buildings or even entire cities may have digital twins. Digital twins use real-world information about the objects they copy to provide as accurate simulations as possible. As for the IoT application, the data are received from sensors placed on the original counterpart, and the simulation takes place in real-time. This technology niche looks pretty promising for manufacturing, automotive, and healthcare domains, offering to simulate production processes, project traffic conditions,  and predict patients’ physical state based on the variable data the system receives from the data sensors.

Top Industry Trends

Manufacturing and Agriculture

The manufacturing industry tops the list of the most popular areas for IoT applications. The agriculture sector is just gradually getting traction in the adoption of this innovative technology. But both benefit equally from the digitalization of production operations using sensors and connected devices. Among the most popular solutions, digitized factories install production floor monitoring, leverage augmented reality on the shop floor, automate the quality control process, control and manage their in-house and remote assets such as equipment and machinery, and track the workers’ safety and productivity levels with wearables. Smart farms already start to gain more from precision agricultural practices, digital greenhouses, livestock health monitoring, automated drones that can map fields and spray crops, and other devices collecting data about weather conditions, soil moisture, and chemical composition, etc. Altogether, with more data and control over each production step, manufacturers and farmers can make more informed decisions, reduce costs and operational downtime, take less effort to yield more high-quality products, improve asset maintenance practices, and enhance collaboration and safety strategies for workers.

Top 10 IoT Applications 2020

[source: https://iot-analytics.com/top-10-iot-applications-in-2020/]

Transportation and Supply Chain

Transportation and Mobility is the second largest IoT application area in 2020, having much in common with the Supply Chain domain. Both these branches greatly benefit from fleet management, vehicle diagnostics and monitoring, driver behavior tracking, route coordination, and condition analysis solutions the Internet of Things may offer. The adoption of autonomous and smart transport foresees increased vehicle uptime, less fuel consumption resulting in fewer emissions and lower environmental impact, enhanced driver, and passenger safety. In addition to motorized assets, with the help of connected devices, logistics companies can improve their state of affairs with real property such as warehouses, docks, and other premises, and re-engineer their operations. For example, with the condition and inventory monitoring at warehouses, it’s possible to avoid product losses, save on energy consumption for heating or conditioning, and easily keep track of every item. Outdoor sensors gathering the info about weather conditions help draw insights as to the best time for departures, arrivals, and (un)loading for weather-dependent locations and domains.

Energy, Buildings, Smart City

With a constantly growing world population that massively moves to live in big cities, develops housing, and heavily relies on energy resources in its daily routines, these areas are of the utmost importance for digitalization with the IoT.  Smart utilities and buildings equipped with sensors and connected devices allow collecting data about and then optimizing water and electricity consumption, waste disposal, and physical safety measures for the benefit of building owners and tenants. Connected traffic is giving us remote control over public transport, road conditions, traffic density. On a greater scale, with the implementation of smart cities, authorities may use a variety of data sources such as residential meters, traffic counters, cameras, and even lampposts to improve urban planning, transportation, and public safety in general. Innovative solutions for the energy sector collect and process the grid data and help in maintaining the assets and optimize energy generation, transmission, and distribution practices. A good use case example is a wind power forecasting solution for wind power stations figuring out which time slots will be the most productive.

Healthcare and Wearables

The current pandemic has shown how sensitive this domain is to emergency situations and compulsive isolation measures. Many patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, oncology, heart disease, and others have appeared under higher risk and become unable to visit their doctors whenever they need it. Online consultations, remote monitoring, digital diagnostics, and even remote treatment solutions found their vast applicability under these circumstances. Moreover, connected devices and wearables keep track of patients’ activity and vitals, transfer these data to their doctors and provide them with data-driven insights on patients’ health state in outpatient conditions. This is one more prospect for such healthcare branches as assisted living and elderly care as well as for other human activity domains relying heavily on people’s state of health and safety: sport, production, travel, emergency services, etc. Smart connected pacemakers, for example, not only help people with heart disease to live a fulfilling life, but also monitor their physical activities and vitals, and also provide battery info, to be used in the most optimal way possible.

Healthcare and Wearables

[source: https://unsplash.com/photos/sHAucwW08Fk]

Smart Home and Customer Assistance

We are gradually getting used to the presence of virtual assistants everywhere around us: from the mobile device, we use to the local shopping center or bank we visit. Virtual assistants can be presented in the form of a piece of hardware with audio and video interface we can talk to that recognizes our voice and face and fingerprints or this can be a chatbot application we interact with through typing. Their function is to check our identity, give access, perform an action (order pizza, for example), and help us find the necessary information or solve a problem, when it comes to customer support, for instance. Apart from that, we are getting surrounded by smart home appliances, from lightbulbs to entire heating and cooling systems, helping us optimize our living conditions and behaviors. Another IoT application can be found in brick and mortar stores that get digitized with customer tracking and engagement systems, smart vending machines, augmented reality solutions, entrance traffic analyzers – leveraging all the available means to drive customer engagement, simplify interaction and reduce human factor, collect as much data as possible to make better business decisions and predictions.

The areas of application for IoT are numerous and definitely not limited to the ones we described in this article. In total, more than 34 thousand startups employing IoT as their main technology are now up and running in the world, which is a 27% increase as compared to the previous year. With fresh ideas and some software development magic, more brilliant IoT projects may add up to this number to bring innovation and make this world an even safer and more comfortable place to live.

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