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A 5G-connected world is just over the horizon. Now, it’s time to start contemplating how enhanced connectivity will impact – even revolutionise – the Internet of Things (IoT). According to Bain & Company2, IoT will be a marketplace worth over $300 billion by 2020.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what the Internet of Things actually is, how new 5G technologies will change the IoT industry, and the types of benefits that you, as a consumer, may enjoy.
In its simplest form, the Internet of Things is the concept of connecting any device to the internet, or to each other through the internet3. This doesn’t just include devices we currently think of as internet-connected technologies like mobile phones, computers, and tablets.
The IoT can also encompass washing machines, headphones, coffee makers, cars, refrigerators, wearable devices, and just about any other appliance you can think of. If it has an on and off switch, it can be connected.
And that’s just from an individual consumer perspective. In terms of industry, the IoT might include machine parts in a product assembly line, a jet engine, or even an oil rig drill deep in the earth.
Some estimate that by 2020, individuals, businesses, governments, and corporations will be using a total of 26 billion connected devices for all facets of work, play, and health.
The Internet of Things refers to the connected network of these devices. These connections can be between people, people and things, and thing and things.
On the one hand, a colossal network of internet-connected devices can sound scary or unpredictable. Imagine if a crucial operation was hacked by a malicious party – what would happen then? Or, on a smaller scale, as we begin to store more and more of our personal information on the internet, who else has access and what security measures are in place to protect our data?
These are valid questions. But, with technological advances – such as the 5G network – many of these fears and risks are predicted to be mitigated4.
Plus, the potential of the Internet of Things is too great to ignore. Imagine streamlined operations, more energy-efficient manufacturing, and more effective monitoring of our health and wellness.
As we’ve already mentioned, 5G technology will deliver a revolutionary combination of speed, energy efficiency, and responsiveness – and this is set to have a domino effect on the development of the Internet of Things.
5G will essentially unlock the full potential of leading trends in technology, becoming an enabler for the full spectrum of the IoT’s capability. Let’s take a look at how this may impact product development and use:
As 5G opens the door to new and exciting possibilities, a high level of planning, smart hiring, and thorough training will be key to the success of the next-gen IoT. That’s not to mention the flood of old, now redundant devices that will need to be responsibly recycled.
You might already be making use of first-gen IoT devices in your home – things like motion sensors, remotely monitored heating and cooling, and smart speakers.
In the next decade when the speed and reliability of 5G become the norm, you can expect to see a whole host of new and useful products enter the market.
These will attempt to enhance all facets of our day-to-day lives: safety, security, entertainment, health, transport, and more. You’ll soon be riding in self-driving cars5, programming your house to clean itself, your fridge will order produce when you’ve run out, and more.
There’s no doubt about it – the future is almost here. But before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s vital to consider the foundational actions that must happen first. After all, if we’re expecting 26 billion internet-connected devices in the next year or so, we need the infrastructure to support them.
Some of these foundation actions might include: