The Internet of Things, or IoT for short, has become one of the most important technological trends in today’s world. IoT is not just one thing. It’s an umbrella term that describes any one of several types of “smart” devices. Why are they “smart”? Because they can connect to each other and to the internet and provide information to the Cloud—and to you—through connectivity. The rich future of IoT is still being imagined. Its current uses help humans solve problems that were once difficult to resolve but—thanks to IoT, are no longer.
How We Know IoT Will Keep Trending In 2021
Stats, surveys, and predictions all point to IoT blazing trails on into the future. Statista has gone on record as stating that connected devices will total over 30 billion this year and top 75 billion by 2025. Communication giant Ericsson released a 2015 report. IDC forecasts that spending on the IoT in 2022 would reach $1.2 trillion, and a projection from Bain & Company stated that later this year, the combined markets of the IoT, which would include IoT hardware, software, systems integration, and telecom and data services, would explode to roughly $520 billion. It’s easy to see why there is so much interest in the IoT today.
What Is Driving This Growth Pattern?
There are two main forces at play here. As the technology matures, the cost of manufacturing IoT devices drops. When the costs dip, a wider selection of IoT devices enters the consumer market. For example, who would have imagined home automation systems would become affordable for the average person in the past few years?
Another driver is the increasing power of the networks and technologies required to operate these systems. As technology evolves, so does the ability to add functionality to more and newer devices. Another way of looking at it is that as IoT devices become cheaper to buy and operate, it becomes easier to connect these devices to our home networks to do things for us that had to be done manually in the past.
Here is a look at six ways in which IoT will impact 2021 in a big way.
1 - 5G Internet
Technology is evolving, and one of the greatest innovations currently is 5G. In simple terms, 5G is stronger than 4G, G meaning generation. The 5th generation internet should be far more powerful and reach further than the 4th generation internet. The only thing holding up the progress of complete connectivity is how fast 5G is accepted and whether devices currently in use in specific settings will be compatible with the network. As for the IoT, 5G internet networks will help set off a wave of newer, more effective, and more powerful devices to connect to the system to make life easier.
2 - Home Security Systems
Just a few years ago, no one could have imagined using smart devices for more than starting a coffee machine in the morning or turning down the furnace in the evening to conserve energy. Now, 2ireless cameras, IoT-compatible devices including alarms, lights, and additional sensors keep your home or business secure when you are not on site. These connected devices enable you to use your smartphone to monitor your home or business, change settings remotely, and even view video captured by a security camera. Imagine doing all of this while on vacation soaking up the sun. It is possible and happening more and more frequently today.
3 - Growth of Voice-As-An-Interface
Giving voice commands to speakers, phones, and other devices that understand what you are requesting is becoming commonplace. Names such as Alexa, Siri, and Echo are well-known in circles that would traditionally not be considered tech-related. For example, you can ask Alexa to tune into your favorite radio station. Or you can have Siri help you surf the internet for online shopping. Your voice is now becoming part of the technology you use as an interface to communicate with smart devices. It won’t end there, either. Think of your voice as the remote control; that should help you envision the future.
4 - The Enabling Of Blockchain
Blockchain technology has yet to reach widespread acceptance. To understand blockchain, imagine a complete decentralization of data that can be accessed through connected devices. But now consider that the security offered by blockchain is superior in that it provides an unchangeable, historical record for any number of data events. What will push blockchain to change how we do business is how the input devices at the front end play a key role in the complete system. Without data being input into the blockchain, there is nothing to be secured or shared.
5 - Software as A Medical Device
Imagine wearing a medical device that tracks your condition and sends that information to a medical team located elsewhere to analyze, diagnose, and develop treatment plans. That’s already happening, with medical providers using connected devices identified simply as Software as A Medical Device or SaMD for short. These tools have improved the delivery of healthcare and increased the positive outcomes for countless patients. And things will only get better on this front. Software as a medical device has been increasing in prevalence for several years, according to this SaMD guide from Orthogonal.
6 - AI (Artificial Intelligence) Innovation
AI is not a new technology anymore but what has made it trending is how devices that use it can learn and create based on the information that is input into the database used by these devices. Essentially, AI programs and devices become intelligent enough to predict outcomes or navigate through potential scenarios and respond to them accurately. AI has most certainly moved beyond the assembly line and into mainstream settings, where it assists humans with projects that would otherwise take months or years to complete, as has been shown by AI applications in laboratory work and other medical fields.
The Internet of Things will continue to play a significant role in our futures as technology keeps changing. We’ve discussed six of the main trends to watch in 2021. As the IoT proves its utility and benefits in our world, it won’t overtake our societies, but it will enhance them—as long as we know how to best use it.