Our world is changing faster than ever before. Driverless cars, virtual reality surgery, smart AI assistants — these innovations are no longer science fiction. Technology is evolving to meet our needs and rising to the challenges of our changing world. In particular, the internet of things has expanded immensely, enabling incredible innovation across industries. The past year was a pivotal one for IoT — we saw more applications of IoT come to market than ever before, with Gartner predicting there would be 8.4 billion connected “things” in use by the end of 2017, a 31% increase from 2016.
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Looking back on 2017, it’s clear revolutionary new applications of IoT changed our world and helped to improve existing technologies. IoT has had significant impact in industries like healthcare and transportation. Additionally, progress in low-power wide area network (LPWAN) technologies have created potential for connectivity for an entirely new class of objects and systems. While IoT’s impact is far reaching, there were several key developments in 2017 that point to the future of this dynamic technology.
Connectivity helped doctors change lives
IoT is enabling the next generation of healthcare. Since connectivity allows for mass data aggregation, medical professionals have access to more information and insights than ever before. We’ve witnessed the impact firsthand working with Ekso Bionics, a pioneer in wearable exoskeleton technology. Ekso Bionics created the world’s first FDA-cleared connected exoskeleton for rehabilitating patients with stroke and spinal cord injuries. By providing connectivity to Ekso Bionics’ EksoGT exoskeleton suit, patient data can be shared with medical professionals in real time, providing a more complete picture of patient progress. These insights allow therapists to make adjustments accordingly, making rehabilitation safer and more efficient.
These methods proved so successful that in 2017, the company saw a 30% year-on-year increase in utilization of the exoskeleton. Today, there are more than 180 rehabilitation institutions around the world using the EksoGT to help their patients get back on their feet sooner. As this technology advances in the next few years, wearable exoskeletons have extraordinary potential to change the lives of individuals with stroke and spinal injuries.
Our everyday everything got smarter
While many IoT discussions may center on consumer applications like smart lighting and thermostats, in 2017, the industry saw significant focus on LPWAN. Low-power wide area networks are an emerging, high-growth area of the IoT market, designed for low-cost application with low data usage. They are a particularly compelling network option for hard-to-reach-places, as they feature long battery life with low latency and can operate in remote areas. LPWAN offers great potential to connect everyday objects that have never before been connected, like parking spots and garbage cans.
Narrowband IoT is a leading LPWAN technology that has emerged as a driver of innovation in smart city development, an area that saw significant progress this past year. Cities around the world are connecting infrastructure like streetlights and parking lots. These systems provide better traffic control and improve safety. They can also help drive efficiency by keeping energy and maintenance costs low.
Plugging into the ride-sharing economy
We may be on the brink of the autonomous car era, but today, some of the most impactful change IoT is making on the transportation industry is in ride-sharing.
Last year, we partnered with Mobike, the world’s largest smart bicycle sharing service from China, to bring its innovative sharing service to Singapore as a first step outside of China. Each Mobike is equipped with a smart lock embedded with IoT SIM, enabling users to locate an available bike near them through a dedicated app. This is an important aspect of Mobike’s services since there are no dedicated racks for the bikes. Instead, riders can securely park in any authorized location in a city, and the bike is then found by the next rider thanks to its connectivity. Additionally, while the bike is in use, GPS tracks usage information transferred via IoT SIM, enabling the aggregation of transportation data. Mobike has been hugely successful, creating an alternative ride-sharing option that is convenient for users and environmentally beneficial for cities. Looking ahead, the data aggregated from the bikes could be used to better understand city transportation infrastructure.
IoT innovations changed the world in 2017 with progress in healthcare, transportation and LPWAN offerings. We’re excited to explore how these developments will set the course for IoT in 2018 and the years to come.
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