Top IoT Trends Shaping the Industry [2020/2021]

A couple of years ago, the Internet of Things was a buzzword symbolizing a futuristic technology to most people. However, IoT trends 2019 showed that this technology was already here, and here to stay.

To date, the Internet of Things has matured enough to have an impact on numerous areas of our technological and social life. And since IoT is still in development, the discussion of current trends in IoT is a hot topic, especially for companies that can leverage these trends to grow their business. Let’s start.

Internet-of-Things-trends-2020-2021

1. 5G Connectivity

IoT systems actually exist due to wireless connectivity, which is their essential part. The more reliable the connectivity is, the better the performance that the connected devices demonstrate.

5G connectivity implementation is among the top IoT trends 2020 because it can help realize the full potential of Internet of Things ecosystems.

Initially launched in 2018, the superior fifth-generation standard of mobile connectivity, 5G, is currently going mainstream, promising the following advantages for IoT solutions:

  • Low latency
  • High speed
  • Ubiquitous coverage

This will enable companies to offer new services, especially those based on real-time data processing from numerous sensors and devices.

5G-powered Internet of Things infrastructures can ensure reliable performance and operational efficiency of numerous devices.

5G networks deployed across industries allow enterprises to increase the number of connected devices in their business processes and leverage value. For instance, IoT and 5G coupled together are contributing to the digital transformation in municipalities, healthcare, logistics, manufacturing and other areas.

Particularly, 5G can contribute to the development of remote surgery or machinery functioning in hazardous conditions.

2. Edge Computing

Another pillar for the Internet of Things is cloud computing. However, cloud computing has significant drawbacks such as low bandwidth and possible latency, which may cause issues, especially when real-time data processing is critical. This is why numerous companies are currently investing in edge computing technology.

What is edge computing and why is it beneficial for IoT? Let’s find out.

With cloud computing, data collected from sensors and devices has to travel to the central cloud server to be processed and then sent back to the source of information. As a rule, it travels over long distances and may cause delays.

With edge computing, information gathered by a device is processed directly on that device without being sent to other places. This has become possible due to the increased computing capabilities of modern devices.

Edge computing is decentralized: data collected on devices (on the edge) is not sent to the central server but is processed on these very devices.

Such an approach provides significant bandwidth savings and can ensure better privacy compliance.

Edge computing has much in common with fog computing — another decentralized approach to data processing. The difference is that in fog computing, data is shifted from sensors and devices to fog nodes and processors. These are located closer to end users than cloud servers, e.g. in IoT gateways or LAN networks.

Improved accuracy and speed of data transfer provided by edge and fog computing make more and more companies turn to these technologies. Thus, fog and edge computing for IoT are moving to the forefront in 2020 and further.

3. AI, Big Data and Advanced Data Analytics

For efficient business management, it’s not enough to simply collect information; it’s highly important to thoroughly analyze collected data and make proper data-based decisions.

The increasing number of internet-connected devices is generating tons of complex raw information, and its analysis has become a true challenge for traditional processing techniques. As an example, connected vehicles or manufacturing robots produce terabytes of statistics that require further processing, without which such information is useless.

Only AI-driven analytical solutions have the power to aggregate these huge amounts of information, refine it in real time and draw effective insights. Hence, today’s IoT is inconceivable without advanced data analytics powered by AI algorithms and Big Data technology.

The confluence of artificial intelligence and Big Data is among the top emerging trends in IoT that can provide better outcomes for the industry and transform the way people work.

Moreover, close integration of artificial intelligence, Big Data and smart devices will contribute significantly to protection against security threats.

4. Blockchain

Data security within IoT systems is a critical issue that requires a reliable solution. As of now, blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, seems to be the most suitable tool to ensure proper data protection.

Blockchain is more often looked upon in the context of the Internet of Things data security.

IoT applications are distributed systems in their essence, which is why blockchain technology is a perfect fit for them. Designed for solutions that involve interactions between numerous components, blockchain ensures that accomplished transactions are safely recorded in immutable chains and can be shared across the system without the possibility of alteration.

It has become the norm for financial institutions to protect their operations with the help of blockchain. At the same time, blockchain is currently among the top Internet of Things trends due to its ability to ensure data protection through encryption techniques and peer-to-peer communication without intermediaries.

5. Digital Twins

As the consequence of increased blockchain implementation in IoT solutions, digital twin technology is growing in popularity and becoming one of the main IoT market trends.

Digital twins are virtual analogs of real objects or processes, possessing identical features and functioning the same as their real-life versions.

The reason why blockchain provides a sufficient basis for the functioning of digital twins is in the core attributes of this technology:

  • Auditability
  • Immutability
  • No intermediaries

These features are highly beneficial for digital twins, as they allow the secure transmission of valuable data between virtual and real worlds.

The aim of developing digital copies of physical objects is to make experiments by modeling certain conditions (including emergencies), monitor the behavior of objects and predict the outcome.

Such experiments are extremely useful for the Industrial Internet of Things. For instance, using virtual copies of connected equipment at manufacturing enterprises, you can simulate various situations, predicting positive and negative outcomes. Thus, you can prevent accidents and improve the operational efficiency of physical equipment while it remains intact.

Industrial IoT systems can particularly benefit from digital twins.

Digital twins are likely to become a fundamental pillar for smart manufacturing in the near future.

6. Predictive Maintenance

The concept of predictive maintenance is relevant for IoT solutions both in industrial enterprises and in people’s private lives, which is why this technology will receive increasing investments in the coming years.

How does predictive maintenance work?

  • In industrial equipment, numerous sensors monitor the status of its components, transmitting data to AI-driven software that can analyze it and predict when malfunctions or even failure may occur. Thus, technicians are warned in advance and can replace components before they break down.
  • In smart homes, sensors take all facilities under their control, including electricity, water supply and heating. If problems are detected, such as water leaks or electrical shorts, house owners are warned via an application so that they can quickly take preventive actions.

Predictive maintenance is one of the most powerful emerging trends in Industrial IoT (IIoT).

Benefits:

  • Downtime reduction
  • Costs savings
  • Smooth functioning of equipment
  • Safer working conditions
  • Prevention of serious incidents and damages

Predictive maintenance programs are becoming widely used in manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, healthcare and other areas of IoT application.

7. Widespread Applications of IoT Solutions

The number of IoT adoption use cases is increasing across various sectors in 2020.

Smart Homes

Two main reasons to implement Internet of Things solutions in homes are convenience and security.

The convenience is provided by the ability of the users to control home appliances remotely via voice assistants or mobile applications, even when they are not at home. Thus, residents can turn lights on and off, open and close windows, set necessary air and water heating temperatures, start the coffee machine on the way home and much more. Additionally, smart home sensors can detect when home appliances are malfunctioning and alert owners.

Smart locks, cameras and motion detection systems guarantee home security, allowing owners to monitor the environment from anywhere.

Home automation with IoT-based devices helps save energy, and eliminate emergencies and intrusions.

Smart Cities

Life in densely populated urban areas is being significantly improved by the Internet of Things, which is turning cities into smart city environments.

The following are some of the widely used IoT tech applications in smart cities:

  • Street lights with sensors collect data about pedestrian and vehicle traffic and optimize energy management.
  • Parking lots equipped with sensors detecting parked cars and identifying empty spaces send information to target mobile apps, allowing drivers to quickly park and minimize traffic jams.
  • Waste management systems comprise sensors located in garbage containers that monitor their fill levels and centralized software that optimizes routes for garbage trucks, making them more cost efficient.
  • Noise monitoring systems control sound levels in various parts of the city and warn about exceeding the limits.

The list is infinite, and numerous other monitoring systems are contributing to the development of smart cities.

Smart Factories

The proliferation of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is considered one of the top IoT technology trends because it automates and optimizes numerous processes at manufacturing enterprises.

Industrial robots and predictive maintenance, together with energy and enterprise asset management based on connected sensors and AI-driven software, are being widely implemented at factories, creating a huge sector of smart manufacturing.

Digital Health

Healthcare is another sector that is experiencing huge investments in digitalization. IoT implementation in healthcare has transformed into an independent branch — the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), which is part of the general concept of digital health.

Robotic surgery machines, medical wearables, smart diagnostic tools, monitoring systems to supervise patients and control storage conditions in laboratories — these are some of the technological use cases that have become popular in hospitals around the world.

Smart Retail

The retail industry is also becoming smart with the help of IoT innovations.

  • GPS sensors on trucks ensure supply chain control.
  • Sensors in warehouses monitor storage conditions.
  • NFC (Near Field Communication) technology is used for contactless payments in stores.
  • Voice and image recognition applications collect data on customer behavior to optimize the layout of products on shelves.

Smart Logistics

Connected vehicles have become the norm in logistics.

The combination of sensors, GPS, artificial intelligence and advanced analytics enables transportation companies to monitor the location of their trucks and control working and rest conditions for drivers.

Analytical software helps logistics specialists plan optimized routes, while technical specialists can use predictive maintenance to ensure the fleet is in working condition.

Join the IoT World

In this article, we’ve compiled seven trends shaping the Internet of Things business landscape. They prove that this is a flourishing period for IoT.

An increasing number of business leaders, convinced of the benefits the technology can bring, are eager to implement smart internet-connected solutions in their processes. Are you among them? SaM Solutions will become your reliable IoT partner. Contact us for a consultation.

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About the author

Natallia Sakovich
Natallia Sakovich

A copywriter at SaM Solutions, Natallia is devoted to her motto — to write simply and clearly about complicated things. Backed up with a 5-year experience in copywriting, she creates informative but exciting articles on high technologies.