The Internet of Things is coming of age – visions are being transformed into tangible business models and products. Here, we take a look at the most important technology trends and IoT start-ups.
Figure: The landscape of IoT start-ups in 2018 (source: mattturck.com)
According to estimates, there are already 20 billion devices on the Internet of Things around the world today. By 2025, this figure is expected to have almost quadrupled. This rapid development is propelled by new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and advances in connectivity, keyword "5G", as well as new platforms and standards for developing IoT applications.
Furthermore, the performance of the hardware used by the Internet of Things keeps improving. These conditions provide the perfect environment for the Internet of Things to continue its rapid ascent.
Where is the IoT headed?
The hype that spurred on the Internet of Things has been left behind:What we are seeing now is a maturing process, with the market consolidating and differentiating. From our perspective, future development will be largely defined by new technologies:
The Internet of Things promises us "smart objects". To deliver these, it requires not only data, but also the capacity to form intelligent, automatic, real-time responses to data. This is where machine learning and artificial intelligence come into play for the commercial and industrial sphere of the IoT (the IIoT).
Many machines, assembly lines and platforms are already fitted with thousands of sensors. In future, every single sensor will become an "intelligent" unit within the network. This makes systems smarter, but also makes them more complex
At present, most IoT devices use conventional standard micro-controllers, which are generally based on ARM architecture. In the face of the IoT, however, the customary commands and memory architecture are increasingly found to be reaching their limits. This is why manufacturers are already starting to design their devices with AI functions.
An important driver of growth for software applications in IoT is a new generation of powerful microprocessors, known as "neural processors". For instance, these enable an IP-based video camera, originally designed for security applications, to analyze images for facial recognition. Within the retail sector, cameras could be used in stores to recognize and analyze customers' movement patterns or "busy periods".
Platforms provide the basis for scalable IoT applications and services. They also make it easier for small and medium-sized industrial companies to develop and offer such applications and services. The challenge lies in finding the right platform to meet specific needs. Today, there are more than 450 IoT platforms to choose from.
They are not all suited to every requirement. The good news, however, is that the market of platforms will consolidate, leaving those platforms that accommodate specific functions and application areas. Generic IoT platforms, which can connect "everything" with "everything" without demonstrating any clear advantage to companies and developers, will be forced to specialize.
A very clear trend within the IoT is the transition from centralized, cloud-based architectures to edge computing. Market researchers from Gartner see the future of the IoT in "unstructured" architectures that link together a wide spectrum of objects and services via a dynamic network. "Mesh architecture" facilitates more flexible, more intelligent and more responsive IoT systems. However, this does also mean that the complexity present in IoT systems will increase to begin with.
IoT start-ups: Evolution, not revolution
Around the world, new business models and products are emerging for increasingly specialist requirements in the Internet of Things. This has given rise to heavy differentiation in the IoT start-up landscape in recent years.
That is particularly true of IoT platforms, as well as of applications. What's more, the different segments have developed at varying rates. This is also the case when comparing B2B and B2C, with IoT having taken off far more quickly among businesses than it has among consumers.
The chart at the top of the page provides an overview of the scale and structure of the start-up market.
We will continue to monitor these developments and regularly report on exciting new start-ups and their business models via our blog.
Conclusion: Time for the next stage of development
The IoT market will continue to exhibit dynamic growth. The landscape of IoT start-ups and providers will continue to differentiate and consolidate.
The difficulty for developers and providers of IoT solutions is in laying the foundations for reliable applications. New technologies, platforms and standards for the development of applications are already enabling us to make IoT devices smarter and more powerful.
At Security and Safety Things, we assist developers in creating applications for IoT in the fields of security and "operations" and in monetizing globally through our digital marketplace, all on the basis of an open and standardized development platform.
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