IoT Evolution: Internet of Things Predictions for 2018


2018 is Likely to be the Year of IoT everywhere. The year in which the potential indicated by all of the M&A and partnership deals in the last 18 months is actualized, while the infrastructure buildouts become finally sophisticated enough to support IoT implementations in all industries. These are the thoughts of your friendly, neighborhood Editorial Director, but we know you’re here for more than our ramblings.

You want to hear your colleagues’ words and predictions for the next year. So let’s ask.

Cyber security
Javvad Malik, security advocate at AlienVault, sees the cybersecurity front going very hot.

“The debate around insecure IoT Devices will heat up. This year, we saw the devastation caused by Mirai and similar malware, which recruited many insecure IoT devices into a botnet to launch huge DDoS attacks. And the problem of insecure IoT devices will only worsen in 2018, as more and more manufacturers connect products to the internet. While some may be relatively harmless, such as a salt shaker that tracks your daily salt intake, others, such as smartwatches designed to protect children, could have more severe consequences if left vulnerable to attack. IoT devices lack security by design, and they also don’t offer the option to upgrade or apply patches. Additionally, many vendors choose convenience (e.g., using default credentials in their appliances) over implementing proper security measures, which is a flagrant violation of best practices in product development. Many vendors simply aren’t willing to put in the extra effort to ensure security unless it’s required. Perhaps 2018 will be the year we see governments around the world take an active role in IoT security and put pressure on these manufacturers to do the right thing for consumers.”

On the same general topic of cyber security, Guy Caspi, CEO of Deep Instinct, has pulled together some top predations heading into 2018.

“Increase of cybercrime epidemic: The global cybercrime epidemic is expected to double in the next two years; Zero day threats are growing at an exponential rate while APTs are no longer the only concern of nation state organizations. As hackers are becoming more sophisticated, cybercrime as a service will grow.

Preferred attack vectors are changing: We expect to see a continued change in hackers’ favorite attack vectors. The use of documents (Office, PDF and others) will not disappear but is expected to continue losing ground to other methods and attack surfaces – archive files containing malicious content, browser extensions, social media campaigns and cross platform attacks.

Ransomware sophistication and formats: The ransomware threat hasn’t reached its peak unfortunately. We are expected to see ransomware campaigns increasing their level and sophistication and evasiveness, especially with regards to lateral movement and infection capabilities. We also predict more ransomware families using other methods than file or disk encryption for extorting money – like doxing, data-wiping and machine/system lockdowns.

Fast growth in Non-Windows threat landscape: Threats to MacOS, iOS and Linux based end-points and servers will grow in number and complexity. We believe this will be the case both for state APTs and cyber-crime related campaigns.

Threat intelligence in real-time: Due to limited staff resources and expertise, more organizations will use threat intelligence services. However, in order to prevent attacks, these services will need to be provided in real-time.

Erick Dean, Product Director, IoT, Splunk, says the risk to IoT users is real, and 2018 will be the year of visibility into that.

“In 2018, security for IoT will be under heavy scrutiny. Cybersecurity risk will increase exponentially as people, processes and businesses continue to connect every part of our daily lives and our economy. We are looking into a future where attacks can be orchestrated not just from public networks, but from private devices such as a smartphone or a smart home. Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than 25 percent of identified attacks in enterprises will involve IoT, although IoT will account for less than 10 percent of IT security budgets. This gives businesses something to think about.

Industrial asset management, fleet management in transportation, inventory management and government security will be the hottest areas for IoT growth in 2018. With increasing connectivity between people, data and things, the public sector will begin embracing smart cities, where sensors and automation enhance the reliability of services, especially in the areas of safety and environment. IoT sensor data enables use cases including improved air quality, optimized traffic patterns, reduced safety incidents, traffic fire incident prediction, and improved citizen identity. I also expect transportation - airlines and airports in particular – will push boundaries in adopting IoT data. This industry will innovate using real-time airport, aircraft, weather-sensor and passenger information to improve operations and deliver better customer experiences.

Hitachi Vantara, offered the thoughts from ‎SVP, IoT Product & Engineering, Rich Rogers on how the IoT space will evolve in the coming year, especially in the Industrial IoT.

“2018 will be the year that IoT technologies rapidly accelerate the transformation of industrial factories into Software-defined Factories.  OEMs will begin to provide smart connected conveyor belts, air compressors, cutting machines, etc.  And, IoT technologies will begin to enable automation, orchestration and DevOps style operations.  Mobile monitoring and factory management will become increasing globalized – with IoT linking facilities with data insights from every location to drive better business decision forward.

2018 also will be the year that OEMs begin to bring agile software development principles and best practices into the hardware design and manufacturing process.  10 years ago, a typical software release would take 12 to 24 months.  Many software development teams now push code into production daily.  The pace of technology will accelerate, and hardware manufacturers will utilize incoming IoT data around how products are being deployed and consumed, regional needs and vertical industry insights to directly influence how products are being designed and manufactured in a more real-time manner.  Just-in-time manufacturing will not simply be which options that a vehicle needs, it will begin to influence the options themselves.

2018 will be the year that data centers begin to transform into fully autonomous operations.  IoT and AI will enable data center issues to be root-caused and resolved automatically by software.  Data center administrators will no longer be woken-up at night to troubleshoot outages.  Voice technologies will enable data center operators to monitor and manage their data centers from any location – be at the grocery store, gym or living room couch.   IT Infrastructure gear will be deployed & maintained autonomously – you simply stock new compute nodes and disk drives and robotics streamline the technology to the appropriate systems.”

Maciej Kranz, New York Times best-selling author of “Building the Internet of Things” and Cisco VP also offered a series of industrial-related predictions for the year ahead.

“IoT devices will converge with machine learning/artificial intelligence (AI), fog computing and blockchain technologies. This will help companies move from IoT initiatives that merely produce incremental gains, to those that create entirely new business models and revenue streams. This will allow companies to obtain greater value from their IoT investments and drive broader adoption.

We will see the rise of co-everything. The IoT will continue to drive the “co-economy” – or what I like to call, “co-everything” – model in 2018, with companies large and small co-innovating, co-developing and collaborating.

The customer will become a co-innovator. The customer will be at the very center of the new “co-everything” model, collaborating closely with partners and vendors to create solutions.

There will be an industry-wide, accelerated move to open standards, open architectures and interoperability. Vertical players will not only open up their architectures and become digitally focused, but also collaborate with horizontal players on open standards and interoperability for IoT.

IoT will become the key security domain. With more connections and convergence of IT and OT systems, cyberattacks will continue to rise. In 2018, organizations will finally begin to take IoT security seriously, investing in training for their workforces and incorporating security teams from the start of their IoT deployments.

Agriculture and Healthcare will emerge as top adopters of IoT technologies with the most innovative use cases. In agriculture, IoT will allow organizations to tackle challenges such as the lack of workers or qualified workers, access to water and food, and safety issues. The healthcare industry will also emerge as a leader in innovative IoT use cases, from accelerated drug testing to using IoT for remote patient monitoring and care.

Governments will become more aggressive in legislating IoT security, open systems and interoperability standards. This includes the enactment of the first IoT-specific regulations.

IoT will revolutionize data analytics. IoT will drive the shift from batch analytics based on static datasets to dynamic or real-time analytics, and streaming data using AI and machine learning.

China will solidify its spot as top IoT innovator and adopter. This is a result of China’s government’s robust IoT initiatives and investments (i.e. its IoT Special Fund), increasing maturity of the market and aggressive adoption of IoT technology.

The focus of IoT will move from driving efficiencies to creating new business value. Companies will use IoT to uncover new business opportunities, create new revenue streams, value propositions for customers and much more.

Edge and Fog
Sastry Malladi, CTO of FogHorn Systems sees the pace of IoT adoption at the edge accelerating.

“Momentum for edge analytics and edge intelligence in the IIoT will accelerate in 2018.

Almost every notable hardware vendor has a ruggedized line of products promoting edge processing. This indicates that the market is prime for Industrial IoT (IIoT) adoption. With technology giants announcing software stacks for the edge, there is little doubt that this momentum will only accelerate during 2018. Furthermore, traditional industries, like manufacturing, that have been struggling to showcase differentiated products, will now embrace edge analytics to drive new revenue streams and/or significant yield improvements for their customers.

Additionally, any industry with assets being digitized and making the leap toward connecting or instrumenting brownfield environments is well positioned to leverage the value of edge intelligence. Usually, the goal of these initiatives is to have deep business impact. This can be delivered by tapping into previously unknown or unrealized efficiencies and optimizations. Often these surprising insights are uncovered only through analytics and machine learning. Industries with often limited access to bandwidth, such as oil and gas, mining, fleet and other verticals, truly benefit from edge intelligence. What’s more, those that apply edge intelligence are able to benefit from real-time decisions, as well as insights from voluminous streaming sensor data.

Due to the current pain points in the IIoT space and the edge technology availability to address them, we expect to see increased interest in edge analytics/ML from oil andgas, energy, utilities, transportation and other sectors interested in revamping their IIoT value.

The year 2017 was about exploring IIoT and led to the explosion of proof of concepts and pilot implementations. While this trend will continue into 2018, we expect increased awareness about the business value edge technologies bring to the table. Companies that have been burned by the “Big Data Hype” – where data was collected but little was leveraged – will assess IIoT engagements and deployments for definitive ROI. As edge technologies pick up speed in proving business value, the adoption rate will exponentially rise to meet the demands of ever-increasing IoT applications.

IIoT is just now getting attention from the major technology players. If anything, 2018 will see more new products coming to market, and there will be more to choose from in terms of standards. The next year or two will see stronger alliances, unlikely partnerships and increased merger and acquisition activity as the large technology companies seek innovation inside and outside their organizations. As for standards, they will be driven by success of customers and patterns of scalable IIoT solutions.

Edge computing will reduce security vulnerabilities for IIoT assets.

While industries do recognize the impact of an IIoT security breach there is surprisingly little implementation of specific solutions. This stems from two emerging trends:

a) Traditional IT security vendors are still repositioning their existing products to address IIoT security concerns.

b) A number of new entrants are developing targeted security solutions that are specific to a layer in the stack, or a particular vertical.

This creates the expectation that, if and when an event occurs, these two classes of security solutions are sufficient enough. Often IoT deployments are considered greenfield and emerging, so these security breaches still seem very futuristic, even though they are happening now. Consequently, there is little acceleration to deploy security solutions, and most leaders seem to employ a wait-and-watch approach. The good news is major security threats, like WannaCry, Petya/Goldeneye and BadRabbit, do resurface IIoT security concerns during the regular news cycle. However, until security solutions are more targeted, and evoke trust, they may not help move the needle.

Dr. Spincer Koh of Gorilla Technology said he sees the edge and cloud being merged with AI in 2018.

“While enterprises have focused on the cloud and developing migration strategies, I believe a dramatic pivot is upon us, where the industry will look beyond the centralization of the cloud and embrace distributed processing for low-latency and real-time processing. Cloud computing will still have a role, but edge computing is coming and it’s going to be big.

However, for edge computing’s potential to be fully realized we will need serious processing power and storage, data analytics tools, machine learning and more. This is where AI comes into play. And as more devices become connected and AI coprocessors continue to proliferate, we will see AI move closer to the edge. As a result, a hybrid edge-cloud AI ecosystem will emerge, which will enable the majority of processing to take place at device-level. This is especially significant for IoT where latency and network congestion have been obstacles. 

So what does it all mean? For consumers, it means our driveless cars and drones will essentially be data centers on wheels, allowing us to truly interact with our digital realities in real-time. Whereas for enterprise, an entirely new way of programming, securing and storing data will be required and every aspect of the stack will be upended, creating major disruption as well as numerous opportunities across the board.

Serial entrepreneur, Marc Andreessen famously said, “software is eating the world.” While we software has redefined industries and economies, data services will be, in my opinion, one of the most fundament technological shifts in years to come. With the advent of IoT and hyper-connectivity, the increasing digitization of everything - unstructured data like video – and the marriage of AI and visual computing, we will soon tap into a rich vein of data not previously available to us.

New services will emerge capable of leveraging unstructured data from video and other key technologies such as facial recognition that enable law enforcement to identify a targeted assailant in a sea of a thousand travelers at an airport in three seconds. The same data stream can be used for an entirely different service, enabling airline carriers to identify and locate a passenger running late for their flight. The possibilities are endless.

Cybersecurity remains a big issue across the board. And with increased hyper-connectivity, every device with an IP address is a potential target. However, hackers aren’t limiting their sights to websites and business networks. Many government organizations and critical infrastructure providers will need to rethink security strategies in 2018 with the goal of achieving greater convergence between digital and physical security.

But, maintaining a defensive position will no longer be enough. We will need to collaborate across private and government databases - tapping multiple data streams from mobile, CCTV, IP and geo location information, as well as harnessing other emergent technologies, such as facial recognition and AI-powered edge computing to apprehend digital deviants.

Smart City
What’s coming up for Smart Cities? Dan Evans, Senior Director, Smart Cities at Silver Spring Networks, says 2018’s going to be a year in which Smart Cities learn to better leverage data to improve results.

“How will utilities think about smart cities in 2018?
Utilities don’t get enough credit in the industry for their leadership in building out smart cities and broader IoT use cases. Utilities have been playing a key role in powering their communities for over a century.

And over the past few years, we've seen more examples of this as utilities have been working with cities within their respective territories to enable new applications through the development of the smart grid and sharing access to that network infrastructure, such as when a water utility has asked a power utility to lease its network for enabling smart water meters.

It’s this “single network, multiple applications” concept that has always been our vision in helping utilities remain a key contributor in the communities they serve, through working with a variety of key city stakeholders. Now, more than ever, there are opportunities for utilities to take on 21st century challenges and help build out smart cities.

There are three key elements driving the industry’s transformation:

1) radical change in consumer power;

2) increase in distributed generation;

3) greater need for utility/city partnerships.

Utilities, in partnership with city and state government, have opportunities to ensure infrastructure is optimized for power grid generation, distribution and deliver to the end customers. This infrastructure can strengthen our communities through a horizontal network canopy model connected by other ‘things’ in our cities. This in turn may open up new revenue models for the unregulated arms of the utilities.

As utilities look beyond their core services (delivering energy to customers), many are finding smart lighting is the next logical application. In the U.S., many utilities manage or own a large percentage of the community street light assets. When an established smart grid network already exists, it can be leveraged to connect the street lights to enable enhanced energy savings and improved maintenance. This is just one obvious example of extending the network to support other applications.  There are many more applications being considered and developed which we will begin to see in 2018.

Beyond cities, state or national governments will have to step up to support smart city initiatives. Nationally, and regionally, utilities will be driven by business use cases, while cities will be driven by citizens public safety and quality of life benefits.

How are cities using data in their smart cities initiatives?
Connecting and correlating smart city data, across multiple use cases, will give cities and municipalities greater insights of how to make their city more efficient and resourceful. Similar to the smart grid, in order to connect a wide range of assets and infrastructure across a city, a robust, secure and scalable network platform is needed for smart cities to allow each asset or device to interact in real-time with the surrounding environment and adapt accordingly.

Once they have the data, cities and municipalities can apply advanced analytics to glean insights into where they have problems and how they can improve city services. With these insights, cities and municipalities can better understand what their citizens need, better manage city resources, improve operational efficiencies, deliver new services and strengthen community relationships. And the city doesn’t need to do this alone! There are many companies, big and small, who are dedicated to data analytics and “deep learning” and just thirsting for data sets to work on.

Building a smart city also requires partnership and collaboration across businesses, government, technology companies and even academia. As the number of sensors deployed across the city increases, so does the amount of data collected from the sensors. In order to make sense of all the raw data, and derive real, actionable events, there will need to be multiple parties contributing to the analysis and solution. Take Smart Parking as an example. Data collected by sensors in the streets or by cameras on poles, will indicate whether a parking space is occupied or available. This data needs to be distributed to multiple parties, including citizens or visitors who are seeking a parking spot and also a parking officer who is policing the parking spots to identify violators and issue tickets. The data could also be combined with traffic congestion data and way-finding signage to steer drivers away from, and around, the areas of highest congestion. This is just one example of how smart city data can benefit both the citizens and the city government.

Will 2018 be the year of the U.S. smart city? Are European cities ahead of the U.S. when it comes to IoT innovation?
This is like comparing apples and oranges. The European market works and operates differently to the U.S. market. However, I think the U.S. can benefit from taking a page from the European smart cities playbook. European cities are progressive in their use of technology, especially when it comes to energy savings and environmental benefits from reducing carbon footprint.

In 2017, the U.S. saw major developments and deployments on the smart city front, including leading cities like Chicago who are progressing on their major smart infrastructure plans to enable wireless controls on its street lighting assets across the Windy City.  This follows the smart lighting trend which we’ve seen in other U.S. cities such as Providence and Miami.

Beyond that, the smart city movement is a global trend. Especially as our world becomes more connected, cities aren’t only competing with each other regionally, but on a global stage. Especially in emerging markets, we are finding that there is just as much – if not more – significance on smart cities. For instance, according to Deloitte, the smart city market is expected to reach $1.2 trillion by 2019. But the U.S. shouldn't downplay its experience either. The U.S. has one of the most mature smart grid programs in the world, and as one of the first waves of the IoT, this expertise is crucial in being able to successfully deliver on any other future smart city service.”

Aaron Oosterbaan, IoT Architect & Product Development Manager at K4Connect, a mission-centered technology company creating solutions that serve and empower older adults and individuals living with disabilities, knows that with the growing older adult population, which is expected to make up close to 40 percent of the population by 2050, technology for older adults will need to match that growth with higher quality products.

In 2018, Aaron predicts:

“There will be a new generation of connected wearable devices that track our health. More than just heart rate, these wearables will track blood pressure, identify heart rhythm abnormalities, monitor sleep quality, respiration rate, metabolic rate, and more. The sensor technology is being driven by companies like Valencell, made into comfortable wearables by companies like Garmin, and integrated into monitoring platforms by companies like K4Connect.”

Dermot O’Shea, Co-CEO, Taoglas, looked into his crystal ball and gave us some insight into how the IoT will work at scale.

“Size matters, today more than ever. As IoT and other consumer devices such as wearables shrink to meet a “right sized” form factor for a variety of applications, the size of the components that go inside increasingly becoming an issue for device manufacturers. Without sacrificing performance and spectral efficiency, antennas for these devices need to see a big leap forward to help meet the demand of next-generation devices.

Laser Directed Structuring (LDS) technologies have started to make their way into wearable devices and consumer electronics. This technology allows antenna design to be molded or printed directly onto a 3D surface, thus virtually eliminating size requirements, in some cases, for antenna installation. We are starting to see leading wearable companies, and those looking to move into the wearable space, adopting LDS technologies to bring the type of unobtrusiveness and design aesthetic that has been historically limited by technical constraints.

5G quality will live or die by interference mitigation. As mobile operators forge ahead with their 5G plans, the difference in their levels of service is going to come down to the quality of something no bigger than your fingertip. As the world goes increasingly connected—and connected over the same frequencies of spectrum—interference will grow as volume of devices grow. 5G antennas are powerful, but fickle in terms of being able to propagate a signal more than a few hundred feet, in the best of conditions. Throw in buildings, vehicles and people, and the distance is shortened drastically, and the number of base stations needed to serve an area will need to grow. A lot of this real-time, high-accuracy promise gets washed away by poor antenna design. High-quality antennas are only half the battle—their oft-overlooked partners, high-quality filters, will better mitigate interference and differentiate carrier quality.

Smart Cities Will Mature in 2018. Smart cities will continue to benefit from a host of technologies, including high-precision location accuracy, autonomous technology and IoT.  As infrastructure becomes more connected, citizens will reap the rewards. Service calls will be made with high degrees of accuracy; lighting systems will aid safety efforts, parking systems will come of age. The cities with the cutting-edge technology and infrastructure will attract both people and big businesses. It was the likes of Google, Amazon and Bill Gates creating a buzz in 2017, but we will continue to see big players and up-and-coming innovators join the Smart City bandwagon in 2018.”

Jeff Kavanaugh, senior manufacturing partner at Infosys, had wide-ranging perspectives and prognostications to share.

“The pace of change has exceeded the rate of human capability to absorb – the cup is already full. In 2018, the real issue is how to increase the ability for people to understand the changes and their implications more clearly, and to take concrete actions to take advantage of the potential upside.

Internet of Things is moving into adolescence: connected devices will become smarter and more immersive, and expectations will increase to convert IoT data to insights and financial value. Also, algorithms and data visualization templates have evolved so that new use cases can take advantage of earlier ones. The exponential adoption of IoT will drive down sensor and acquisition costs, enabling more and more viable business cases that have previously been too expensive.

Machine learning and other buzzwords will move from exuberant novelty to the sobering realization that this is hard. Machine learning value is realized at the narrow use case level – meaning that each situation will be different, and that it is not general purpose “Alexa” AI that will simply respond to whatever question asked of it.

Much like ERP maturity raised expectations about foundational data consistency, robotic process automation will raise executive expectations about performance levels for repetitive processes. Companies will get better at scaling automation, moving from interesting proofs of concept to systemic enterprise processes that generate efficiency at scale.

Fast-moving technologies will influence colleges and universities to adopt greater computer programming and data analysis courses. However, universities must complement these with a focus on critical thinking and empathetic skills to meet the growing need of enduring skills in the digital world.

Convergeance, maturity and LoRa feature in the 2018 predictions of Jason Shepherd, Director, IoT Strategy & Partnerships for Dell Technologies.

We will see accelerated convergence of foundational IoT technology elements.
The trend is definitely snowballing based on the widespread motivation to partner, rapid adoption of open source tools like EdgeX Foundry for interoperability and increasing collaboration between key consortia efforts like the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), Open Fog Consortium and Edge Computing Consortium (ECC). The proliferation of IoT platforms will hit its peak in early 2018, followed by a fairly rapid decline. Leaders among the large horizontal technology platforms will start to emerge but companies of any size with laser focus on vertical-specific use cases and cat-herding business stakeholders will still see the most traction with customers. Investment and M&A activity will accelerate in areas like security, analytics and scalable domain-specific applications and will decline for generic IoT platforms. 

We will emerge from the “AOL stage of IoT” – i.e. simply getting things online – to advanced class involving powerful analytics and action.
All the free time developers gain from no longer reinventing foundational IoT elements can now be spent making it easier to practically apply Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in scale, enabling customers to move beyond simple monitoring to realizing the power of prescriptive analytics. Further, true AI leaders will emerge, separating themselves from the masses that use AI as a buzz word when they’re really just doing basic ML. In advanced class we will also direct our brain power to innovation in areas such as co-processing (e.g. via GPUs and FPGAs) to accelerate analytics in lower power envelopes, network and application virtualization/containerization and Time Sensitive Networking (TSN). All of the above will be increasingly leveraged to close the gap between OT and IT workloads in mission-critical applications and allow these workloads to be readily transportable across the compute continuum. Augmented Reality (AR) will find more practical applications in IoT use cases such as remote expert and guided field maintenance and blockchain will begin to see more widespread use in security, logistics and general transactions, getting beyond the hype and theory of 2017… but the real uptick for blockchain will be in 2019.

Customers will feel the burn of public cloud in droves. 
While consolidation of general IT infrastructure into the cloud has been a boon for organizations to cut cost, it can quickly become cost-prohibitive to pay every time you want to touch your own data for analytics. So, customers realizing the powerful benefits of sensor-driven analytics will increasingly move their workloads from the cloud to the core and edge, not only for the reasons of latency, security, privacy and network bandwidth that industry experts widely agree on, but also to minimize the total cost of the lifecycle of their data. AI and ML workloads will continue to shift towards the edge – even into sensors themselves – but the Core (e.g. localized micro-modular server clusters to full-blown on-premise IT data centers) will be tasked with the heaviest of real-time streaming analytics due to the responsiveness and reliability benefits from being on the same local area network as things and processes at the edge, compared to relying on a wide area network to the cloud. The bulk of Deep Learning will continue to be done in the cloud due to infinitely scalable compute but end users will leverage private cloud and increasingly the Core to perform deep learning in order to keep control over their data.

Dynamic orchestration of microservice workloads will be a foundational area for innovation.
This part of advanced class is called performing “analytics of the analytics” in order to dynamically optimize where and when compute and storage should occur in the edge to cloud continuum for optimal results and lowest overall cost. As part of this developers will increasingly realize the importance of microservices and decoupling “things” from applications (effectively OT and IT) as close to the edge as possible through the likes of the EdgeX framework. This decoupling enables API integration at any point from edge to cloud rather than only in the cloud – a practice which often conflicts with the desire to own your data throughout its lifecycle. A general benefit of decoupling “southbound” sensors from “northbound” applications is minimizing lock-in to any particular provider which is important to end customers in an inherently heterogeneous market. The EdgeX community is seeing end customers quote the framework into projects for this reason alone. Having the ability to integrate their respective stacks close to the point of data inception allows each provider to better control their own destiny compared to relying on another party to aggregate and potentially filter and charge for data access in their cloud. Net-net, how workloads are deployed will vary by use case and context but investing in loosely-coupled microservice architectures from edge to cloud will provide maximum flexibility compared to the plethora of monolithic cloud-centric IoT platforms we’ve seen to date.

LoRa will win the battle for LP-WAN connectivity. 
Large carriers are adopting LoRa to protect against losing connectivity business in general as they struggle with the underwhelming performance of NB-IoT despite the attractiveness of being able to leverage their existing infrastructure. While some still think of LP-WAN as relevant only for service providers to canvas smart cities, many end users are starting to leverage it to deploy private networks from fields to buildings as an alternative to wireless mesh protocols like ZigBee. Of course, given the unlicensed spectrum and super low bandwidth of LoRa it isn’t suited for mission-critical applications, however it’s super attractive to report simple status via battery-powered sensors due to its long range and low energy consumption (energy harvesting will soon kick things up a notch too).  Private LTE/cellular is also very interesting, especially for use cases in remote areas such as oil and gas and mining that need the higher bandwidth for streaming data wirelessly across local site operations that otherwise sip through a satellite connection to central command. In any event, as customers migrate workloads from the cloud to core and edge to get control of their own data many will also deploy and manage their own local wireless networks as carriers struggle to figure out pricing models that are attractive for connecting lots of things. All said, despite the emergence of winners like LoRa there won’t be a single wireless transport standard in the end – after all, we have WiFi, Bluetooth and cell in our phones for a reason.

New tools to simplify security in scale will emerge.
It’s important to recognize that adequate, well-proven tools exist to address foundational security needs today and the well-publicized breaches are generally the result of these tools being poorly implemented, if at all. In all cases, implementing security measures involves working with people that know what they’re doing and who practice defense in depth rather than promoting some single magical answer. We should be concerned but not paralyzed because the latter limits us from achieving value and risk getting left behind. Given the aforementioned convergence on the platform basics, developers can place more focus on tools to close key security usability gaps and in 2018 we’ll see more innovations to simplify the secure onboarding of devices and manage security certificates in scale. While gateways are the first line of defense for dumb sensors, another area ripe for innovation is extending root of trust to smart sensors at the very edge where data is first conceived. The resulting soup-to-nuts trust and providence throughout the data lifecycle is paramount to graduating to super-advanced class – selling your sensor data to unknown 3rd parties. Efforts like EdgeX are also important here because trust is built on common ground and open source is a highly effective way to achieve it across both public and private domains. Finally, as we get out of the party-of-one “PoC friend zone” and into deployment scale, end users will quickly learn to appreciate the importance of enterprise/industrial-grade hardware and remote manageability consoles. Raspberry Pi’s and CLI’s are great tools for prototyping but simply don’t cut it in the real world of scale.

Vivek Mohan, Director of Wireless IoT Products at Semtech, sees a connected food supply, lowered costs and better energy management in the next few months.

Energy harvesting
As people try to find more green and energy efficient methods, energy harvesting will be important in IoT, especially for low power technology.  Solar power, thermal energy, wind energy, salinity gradients, and kinetic energy captured, and stored for small, wireless autonomous devices, like those used in wearable electronics and wireless sensor networks will be important in the upcoming year as new cutting edge IoT technologies are developed.

Disposable IoT
As IoT become more mainstream, new types of use cases and applications appear that need low cost and low power solutions with the ease of one time usage. Disposable technologies is not a new concept (i.e. disposable cameras), but disposable technologies for IoT is. The concept of disposable IoT is in its infancy yet we are starting to see innovation in this area from large industries. The US Marine Corps has started testing single-use drones made of cardboard and inexpensive motors to deliver supply deliveries to combat troops. Tech companies have also announced a low cost, low power, green tag that can track real-time feedback.

Predicative maintenance
The field service industry is huge, encompassing 20 million field technicians in vans spread across the world, maintaining everything from hospital equipment to office elevators and heavy manufacturing machines. Maintaining can be a daunting and costly task so creating efficiencies and leveraging predicative maintenance is welcomed. IoT technology – sensors and real-time monitoring- can help organizations where exactly and when equipment needs to be adjusted or replaced.

Food and building safety
Keeping rodents and bugs (i.e. rats, mice and termites) away is critical when meeting food and building safety requirements. Leveraging sensors and IoT can monitor this so people are able to detect the rodents and bugs immediately. Currently, theirs is a trial with using sensors to detect termites in a building and how to use IoT technologies to prevent the spreading of termites.

Ken Briodagh is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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Editorial Director

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"Wireless Power-at-a-Distance" solutions provider Reach has successfully demonstrated how a unified mesh network and wireless power transfer (WPT) sys…

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New Wi-Fi 6 Module from Ezurio will Tackle Greater Connectivity for IIoT Applications

By: Alex Passett    6/17/2024

Ezurio (i.e. the rebranded name of the company known formerly as Laird Connectivity) has announced a new addition to its portfolio of Wi-Fi 6 modules:…

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