May 20, 2015

Jumping on the IoT Bandwagon

IBM recently announced that it will invest $3 billion to form an IoT division within the company. The technology giant’s investment will be aimed at furthering numerous aspects of the IoT, including expanding its own ecosystem; developing new smart city projects; providing solutions for new and improved smart buildings; improving public safety through connected devices; and helping utilities operate more efficiently.

IBM is just one of the many players making a move in the IoT market. Telecom carriers like AT&T and equipment manufacturers like Alcatel-Lucent are staking out positions in the home automation and IoT enterprise spaces. Other technology giants like Oracle and Samsung are also investing heavily in jumping on the IoT bandwagon.

The race to IoT is on, with companies looking to capitalize on what research firm IDC believes will be a $7.1 trillion market by 2020.

The potential applications of IoT technology are nearly limitless. Here’s a preview of what our homes, cities and offices might look like five, 10 and 20 years down the road:

Wearables: You don’t have to be a technology buff to know about the wearable devices that hit the market in recent years. The media coverage and hype around the Apple Watch was almost impossible to avoid. However, wearable technology goes far beyond smart watches and fitness bands. For example, wearable healthcare products like glucose or cardiac monitors can help individuals monitor their health while also allowing healthcare providers to keep tabs on their patients’ vitals.

Smart meters: Smart meters have already been deployed in numerous countries around the world. The U.S. has more than 50 million connected meters in use, according to research from the Edison Foundation Institute for Electronic Innovation. This number will rise significantly over the next several years. For energy consumers, smart meters provide more precise, up-to-the-minute readings that make bills more accurate. Utility companies benefit by gaining the ability to collect usage information remotely—rather than sending a technician door to door to collect the data. We all benefit from the role that smart meters will play in the development of smarter, more sustainable cities.

Building automation solutions: If you’ve seen ads for smart thermostats that learn your temperature preferences and make adjustments accordingly, you are aware that home automation devices are already making their way into the mainstream. Over the next few years more lighting, fire detection, security and mechanical systems will be connected as well. The ability to automate and/or control these systems remotely is extremely advantageous to building owners and managers looking to improve operational efficiency and safety. Already, these facility owners and managers understand that smart systems can be retrofitted to existing structures in addition to being implemented in newer buildings. As such, the building automation and controls market is expected to grow to $55.48 billion by 2020, according to recent research from MarketsandMarkets.

How Do We Get There?

Of course, one of the prerequisites for the growth of connected devices is connectivity that can support IoT products. Not only do these devices require low cost and low power, they need secure and truly ubiquitous connectivity, even if not at high speed.

LTE brings security and ubiquity with future-proof service availability. LTE-MTC (machine-type communications) is further disrupting both cost and power consumption, making LTE viable and attractive for IoT applications

Altair is building upon the standard requirements for a robust and low power connectivity framework. We are furthering these advantages to enable years of battery life and cost of connectivity that is competitive with alternative wireless WAN technologies and even short range technologies like WiFi.

In short, our LTE chipsets are lowering the barrier to entry for device manufacturers. As the cost of manufacturing LTE IoT devices falls, even more players will jump on the IoT bandwagon, driving both competition and innovation. The cost savings will also be passed along to consumers, who will be more apt to purchase IoT devices.

The road to IoT will certainly be an exciting journey and we look forward to help pave the way for widespread adoption of IoT.