In 2019, the buzz around technology was all about the Internet of Things applied to industrial and commercial applications—with security and wearables being some of the significant technologies to deploy it. So, while we launch into a new decade, let’s look at those key technologies in 2019 and how they fared, and then take a look ahead at 2020.
These top technologies in 2019 will continue to have a major impact in 2020:
Security was a hot topic in 2019, while the buzz around the term “blockchain” faded. Blockchain, an approach to software coding used largely in Fintech to make systems less hackable, has become mainstream. The hottest area of concern regarding security seems to be in the industrial, commercial, and financial sectors—as it should be. Security is also important in the consumer arena, but, absent high-profile cases involving consumer IoT devices, there’s a concern that the focus on security may relax in this segment.
It should be anticipated that security will remain a major concern in 2020 and that the non-consumer segment will be the one driving demand for increased protection, particularly as it relates to edge based devices.
Dramatic growth was anticipated in Industrial IoT, aided by cloud-based solutions. In turn, such systems would help minimize time and expense for development of complex solutions involving data aggregation, analytics, and the driving of action-based responses.
Rather than a tidal wave of action in 2019, there was a steady growth in the deployment of innovative use of IoT in industrial and commercial applications. Areas like farming, piping, and power have seen innovative new developments. Expect this trend to continue in the coming year. The development and deployment of limited scope, targeted AI (artificial intelligence) based on data acquisition, analytics, and control will be a hot topic for more advances in 2020 and beyond.
Last year at this time, it was anticipated that the wearable category would continue to evolve but no earth-shattering breakthroughs would emerge in the coming year. This view has largely been validated in 2020. There’s incremental improvement in wearable devices, particularly as it relates to health monitoring, but the shakeout in the industry is in progress. Commoditization is underway and the market, while growing modestly, often focuses on the replacement and upgrading of existing products in the hands of consumers (Fig. 1).
In 2020, and beyond, the potential around wearables is to engage a new category of consumers. Specifically, as biometric sensing improves on wearable devices, expect to see a stronger push into health monitoring of those with chronic conditions or the elderly. The ultimate goal in all cases is to allow for wellness at the lowest cost location of caregiving—the home. Wearable technology is already more than “smart watches.” Expect, in the future, to see increased monitoring in various places on the body and the growth of systems that actively monitor and deliver medications to those with chronic conditions.
Looking ahead to 2020, these four technologies will make the most impact in the coming year and thereafter:
While it will still take several years before 5G becomes ubiquitous, cellular carriers are making a greater push around 5G and investing heavily in 5G infrastructure. 5G will be important in 2020 and more so in the upcoming years.
AI and AR
AI and AR (augmented reality) are already rolling out, and it will continue throughout 2020. A “tipping point” isn’t anticipated, but expect a steady increase in the types of intelligent things that will come out of data mining (i.e., data sciences) based on information from IoT and other devices as well as public and private web and social media data. The medical segment will be increasingly hot in this area.
Electric Vehicles (EVs)
There are already options for purchase of commercially available EVs. However, expect this trend to rapidly accelerate as more manufacturers release an increasing number of vehicles and vehicle types with all-electric power. However, the “800-lb. gorilla in the room” has to do with availability of high-speed charging stations and the distribution of high-power charging demand on the electric grid.
Much development is underway in this domain. However, the robots that you’ll see in 2020 and the near future are likely to be very application-specific (Fig. 2). Among the work in progress are applications involving routine, repeat operations in a narrow environment. Examples include warehouse and retail (cleaning, picking, stocking, etc.) and operations.
The roll out of these new technologies into consumer, commercial, health, and industrial markets will greatly impact how we design products in 2020. It will also lay the groundwork for devices still to come in the next decade that will be used by consumers and industry alike.
Mitch Maiman is President and Co-founder of Intelligent Product Solutions (IPS).