The IoT industry has grown significantly over the last few years. According to research, in 2018, worldwide expenditure on IoT technology was $646 billion. This is projected to grow to $1 trillion in 2022. 

Fuelling this growth is a confluence of factors. On the one hand, the pandemic has driven a spike in demand for remote connectivity. While on the other hand, new communication technologies are enabling new opportunities for developers and device manufacturers.  

In this article, I’ll explore the five biggest trends shaping the future of IoT.  

5G Connectivity

With carriers around the world having been gradually rolling out 5G coverage over the last couple of years, almost 1 billion people are expected to have access to this by the end of 2022. For the average smartphone user, 5G promises an unprecedented experience compared to 4G, with huge files such as HD movies downloading in seconds.

However, when it comes to IoT devices, 5G promises to be a total game changer. The huge amount of data transmission and processing to and from remote devices that 5G enables will unlock the next generation of development among a wide range of IoT use cases. 

This includes large devices such as connected cars, trucks and heavy machinery. But it’s not just vehicles that will greatly benefit from 5G powered IoT, more delicate use cases will also be enabled. For example, remotely controlled medical procedures are now also a huge possibility as procedures can be performed on patients in remote parts of the world, by physicians based anywhere.   

Zero Latency

There is growing demand among enterprise use cases for zero latency in their IoT devices. Latency of just a few seconds can severely disrupt the user experience when it comes to applications such as facial ticketing, while making some industrial or medical use cases life threatening. 

We can look at Nielsen’s research into Latency and understand how it can connect to the future of IoT. Latency can affect user experience and the likelihood that users stay on your site. 

  • First, they mention the rule of 0.1 second is the response time limit for users to feel as though they are in complete control of what is happening on the screen. If an action takes longer than 0.1 seconds the response doesn’t feel instantaneous — instead, the user sees it as if the computer is playing a role in the selection.
  • Next, there is a window between 0.1 seconds but less than 1 second where it feels like the computer is causing the result to appear, but users stay focused on their current train of thought. Accordingly, for web usability, this means that new pages must display within 1 second for users to feel like they’re navigating freely. Any slower and you lose their attention and likelihood to navigate the page.
  • Finally, anything more than 10 seconds, and you lose the user’s flow. At this point you have broken the user’s interest in your site and they will likely leave. On average, page visits last about 30 seconds. Impatient behavior is rampant on the internet. Users must feel instantly gratified, or they’re out.

5G connectivity is helping to reduce latency, as are innovative ways to avoid cloud data relays. For example, the Nabto P2P based IoT platform only uses the cloud to mediate connections. Once connections have been mediated, traffic occurs between devices on the edge, without data passing via the cloud. This reduces latency to near zero, enabling use cases that need real time connectivity. 

Cybersecurity

Just as remote connectivity has soared throughout the pandemic, so have cyber attacks and data breaches. 

To counter this growing risk, IoT providers are putting more emphasis on securing data, such as via stronger authentication methods and zero-trust architecture. Hybrid clouds could also be an area that sees a big rise in interest among IoT device vendors this year, to prevent there being a single point of failure, should a cloud database be compromised.

Here at Nabto we also employ Public Key Authentication (PKI). PKI uses cryptographic keys to identify and authenticate peers instead of username and passwords. PKI ensures end-to-end confidentiality and integrity of the communication between two peers. Using cryptographic keys for authentication has the advantage of being practically impossible to bruteforce crack (they correspond to a very long, random password) and does not need the user to remember any code or password.

Healthcare

The pandemic has shifted attitudes and expectations when it comes to digital healthcare, with more and more people now choosing to access services via digital platforms.  

With IoT sensors having dropped significantly in price over the last few years, affordable remote health monitoring devices are now being manufactured at scale. For example, heart monitors can be attached to patients recovering at home after an operation, while smart contact lenses with built in sensors are now available so doctors can remotely monitor patients with diabetes.    

Many more developments in remote health monitoring, enabled by inexpensive IoT sensors, are expected to come to market throughout 2022. 

Supply Chain Management 

The global economy has recently been besieged by supply chain disruptions. To tackle this problem, manufacturers, retailers and logistics companies are turning to IoT enabled asset tracking solutions. 

IoT connected RFID tags, which are tiny all-in-one radio transmitters, transponders and receivers, are able to track the movement of any items they are attached to. This enables real time predictive analytics, which is helping businesses move items around more efficiently and order new stock long before existing inventory runs out. 

Looking ahead  

There are many more trends fuelling the exponential growth in IoT in 2022 and beyond. Inexpensive hardware, next generation connectivity and demand from consumers and businesses for new types of connected products will ensure the IoT industry continues to grow and expand into new markets and use cases. So prepare now for the mass adoption that is just around the corner.

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