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How IoT has become a fully-fledged reality

How IoT has become a fully-fledged reality

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Thomas John, Practice Leader – IoT, UST, outlines the latest IoT trends we can expect to see in 2022.

What IoT trends are you keeping an eye on for 2022?

Having started as a hyped futuristic technology, the Internet of Things (IoT) is now a fully-fledged reality. IoT solutions are already helping businesses with predictive maintenance, schedule maintenance and the collection of data – and in 2022 we will continue to see companies using IoT to enhance their operations.

Thomas John, Practice Leader – IoT, UST

For example, over the course of the pandemic we saw a significant increase in spending on various technologies ranging from 5G and Blockchain to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation; companies will continue to implement these alongside IoT to optimize their remote workforce in the on-going shift to hybrid working.

Given the numerous safety challenges that have arisen recently in the IoT domain, next year there is likely to be much attention placed on the security of devices and the data transferred. IoT-driven cyber tools will be a major focus in the efforts to combat cyberattacks which are increasingly common in IoT networks.

Integrations with data analytics and AI have enabled IoT solutions to help businesses improve their processes, boost earnings and reduce overheads, especially valuable during the difficult COVID-19 period. In 2022, we will see more integrated analytics being embedded into devices to decrease the low latency environment and improve performance.

Any sector specific trends?

From a sector perspective, I’ll be keeping an eye on IoT developments in the automotive industry, where solutions are increasingly improving transportation efficiency, creating a superior driving experience and offering advanced vehicle management capabilities. For example, through connected vehicle solutions, owners can remotely control their vehicle from the comfort of their own home. With Voice AI, owners can simply speak aloud to remotely lock or unlock vehicle doors, start or stop the engine and adjust the cabin temperature – to name a few possibilities.

In customer services, IoT technology will continue to increase the power of customer relationship management (CRM) systems – for instance, IoT devices can report problems to the customer desk even before the customer notices them.

We’re also seeing IoT innovation in the education sector where wearables are becoming a game changer. Students can use Virtual Reality (VR) headsets to explore three dimensional views of the human body, providing a more immersive and compelling learning experience. Additionally, wearables are improving student engagement and the quality of teacher-student communication.

On that note, the global wearable device market is estimated to reach US$87 billion in revenue by 2023. Which other industries are innovating in this area?

Today, wearable devices such as health trackers, Augmented Reality (AR) glasses, badges, lenses, bracelets, sensors and watches have tremendous business potential. Like any other new technology, wearables can transform businesses and lives for the better.

Wearables can impact business operations, decision making, and improve engagement with customers and employees. For instance, wearables can be used to detect fatigue and drowsiness of drivers in the automotive industry, while wearables like wrist bands, connected clothes and headwear are proving invaluable in the manufacturing sector.

The industry’s innovative use of wearables is improving efficiency and worker safety by providing real time data on machinery malfunctions and hazardous environments. Workers can also be trained on dangerous tasks through the use of AR glasses and wristbands.

In healthcare, we have entered the decade of IoT. The data obtained from IoT devices help healthcare, pharma and life science companies to make better decisions and gain a competitive advantage. Doctors receive patients’ real time data even if the patient is not at hospital and alerts if any deviations occur. Wearable devices are also used to monitor glucose levels, heart attacks, asthma, coagulation, depression, sleep and more.

In the retail industry, smart watches can help increase productivity by reducing the time and effort needed for processing payments. Wearables can enhance the in-store shopping experience, streamline instore communication and increase customer engagement – for example through retailers sending real time offers to customers in store.

AIoT holds vast untapped potential, where is it heading next?

IoT is empowered by three key technologies – AI, 5G and Big Data. The major segments where we will see significant advancements in AIoT specifically are agriculture, robotics, smart industry, autonomous vehicles, Smart Cities, home automation, retail and healthcare.

These advancements will be powered by the next generation of AIoT technologies, namely:

a) Edge Computing, where data is analyzed by the end device itself rather than on remote systems.
b) Voice AI, which we have already seen car manufacturers develop for in-car AI-based voice assistants.
c) Vision AI, which can – for example – enable security cameras to alert on possible threats in real time .

What are some of the challenges the IoT solutions industry is facing?

In my view, the main challenges the IoT industry is facing today are:

a) Security: IoT devices significantly expand the attack surface, meaning hackers can more easily penetrate security vulnerabilities.
b) Limited bandwidth: Bandwidth is an important factor that allows data to flow seamlessly from IoT devices to backend systems. It must be strong enough to support the trillions of data flowing from these devices; this has been improved recently by the arrival of narrow band IoT networks.
c) Customer experience: When customer expectations and product reality don’t match, this can result in system failures, orphaned technologies and lost productivity.

What kind of IoT projects UST has been leading?

UST has been developing products and prototypes as well as implementing projects for its customers in the IoT space, where we are particularly focused on retail, agriculture, automotive and manufacturing sectors. Voice AI and Vision AI are two areas that are gaining notable traction across these domains.

We have also been leveraging Digital Twins to enable our clients to sell a service alongside a product. Digital Twin systems provide constant data from equipment during its lifecycle, meaning companies can predict issues in the product ahead of a customer complaint. They can also engage the right engineer and charge customers more effectively, rather than on a fixed rate.

Lastly, UST is helping its retail customers with Electronic Shelf Labels (ESL), enabling them to incorporate automated solutions to reduce manual labor and operate efficiently. UST’s second edition ESL offering will have an energy harvesting solution to extend ESL battery lifetime or even make it energy autonomous, while allowing for new features that enable retailers to provide better customer service.

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