Profit Opportunities from Smart Connectivity
The term “Internet of Things” (IoT) was coined around the turn of the 21st century. The idea of machines communicating with one another over a network has been around for a while, but it wasn’t until advances in wireless technology in recent years that the idea has reached fuller fruition.
Even though we are still barely scratching the surface in terms of what IoT cando, in 2020 there were already about 30 billion active connected devices in the world. “Connected” means connected to the Internet.
All these devices are generating incredible amounts of data. It’s estimated that in 2018 some 2.5 quintillion bytes were generated per day. (One quintillion is a 1 followed by 18 zeroes.) Today, surely the data generation is far higher than that. Nearly all of the data has been generated in the last decade. With 5G set to proliferate, that trend will only accelerate.
Human Input Not Fully Necessary
Computers have typically depended on human involvement. For example, this article exists on the Internet because I wrote and uploaded it. And you are reading this article because you clicked on the link or opened your email.
But today, machines (digital devices) are catching up. They generate about 40% of data. Over time, as 5G proliferates, these machines will account for an increasingly bigger piece of the pie.
Using sensors and cameras, devices gather data and information about their users and about the world. Human users can certainly intervene and make use of the gathered data, but IoT devices can communicate with other connected devices and perform actions without human involvement.
A Few Real-World Examples
Currently, IoT applications are most common in manufacturing.
A network of sensors installed in the production plant collects data about the production process and interacts with software on the cloud to provide insights that help managers optimize efficiency and reduce costs. IoT also helps automation as the machines communicate with each other.
Modern cars today come with all kinds of computer chips and sensors installed. There are millions of cars on the road today connected to the cloud. These cars transmit loads of information back to the manufacturer’s servers.
The information provides insights into driver habits, status of the cars, and pretty much anything else about the car that you can think of. The data can be used to help authorities design better roads, predict when components may fail, or simply to improve the user’s entertainment experience in the vehicle.
Nowadays, smart home appliances are becoming more and more common. Smart lights and smart thermostats can automatically adjust settings based on changes in the environment according to user preferences and can interact with the user’s mobile devices. You can buy voice-based controllers that allow you to control any connected and compatible appliances without getting out of the comfort of your seat.
Entire Cities Becoming Smart
As 5G proliferates and enables faster and more reliable connectivity, entire cities will become smart. Over time, more and more people are moving into cities around the world. Today, about 56% of the world’s population live in cities. By 2040, that percentage is expected to increase to 65%. This is why many cities are implementing ways to make the city infrastructure function more efficiently and improve the quality of life for residents in everything from traffic management to security to waste collection.
Connected traffic lights and traffic signs can respond to real-time traffic conditions to adjust traffic patterns to reduce congestion. Sensors can send parking availability information to your car to help you find a parking space faster. Scanners can monitor streets for the occurrence of crime and automatically alert the police. Sensors installed in trash bins can direct trash collectors to only the bins that need emptying so they don’t need to check every one. The examples can go on and go.
For investors, though, not only can you look forward to technology bringing more convenience, but 5G opens up huge investment opportunities.
Editor’s Note: As our colleague Scott Chan just explained, the world is becoming increasingly connected. The IoT is really only getting started. Super-fast 5G wireless promises to make the world a truly inter-connected one, where potentially billions of devices and systems can seamlessly communicate with one another.
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