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How IoT connectivity will tackle society’s biggest challenges

IoT is coming of age.

In recent years, the technologies behind IoT connectivity have powered new products, new market categories and new ideas while impacting business decisions, consumer behaviors and economic trends. And now, from health trackers to real-time video surveillance, IoT products and services are not just changing lives, they’re also gaining traction.

Now, as IoT technologies continue to break new ground, the opportunity to apply IoT-based solutions to some of society’s greatest challenges becomes more realistic. Consider how efficient transportation networks or smart factories might affect energy consumption, lower pollution levels and boost regional economies.

To better understand how IoT will revolutionize industries and markets and regions, it’s important to look at how the technologies not only power the IoT ecosystem but how they also work together to open doors to new possibilities.

Unleashing technology

Consider the value that three important connectivity technologies — cellular, short-range radio and positioning — provide on their own.

When it comes to device tracking or remote monitoring — perhaps a medical monitoring device or a smart streetlight — cellular technology is what allows data to be shared with a central location. But with a range of demands and use cases, the levels of cellular connectivity needed can vary based on a number of factors.

Short-range radio technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth may be widely recognized for their consumer applications, but the ability for these technologies to enhance digital experiences within defined physical locations — think corporate campuses, airport terminals or manufacturing facilities — can change the way IoT applications are adopted in the workplace or public venues.

Positioning technologies, which are most recognized for their impact on the advancement of autonomous vehicles initiatives, are a critical piece of the IoT equation. In large part, its importance is centered around the accuracy that it needs to deliver while taking into consideration that latency issues that must be tackled to deliver precise results.

Emphasis on reliability

As we’ve learned with other technology product categories, not all products are created equal. For any number of reasons, some products will be inferior to others and experiences could be sub-par. But it shouldn’t be because of the technology.

When it comes to the technology, reliability — the ability to access the device and get the data when it’s needed most — is key, no matter the product, the manufacturer or the vendor. A smart streetlight, for example, might only need to report data about its energy usage or illumination levels on monthly basis, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be able to transmit a maintenance issue outside of the pre-scheduled update window. Compare that to a heart-monitoring device that needs constant connectivity, not only to monitor the patient and transmit medical data but also to monitor the device’s power consumption.

Increasingly, issues like power management and security — elements that traditionally had been part of the device itself — are relegated to the technology, too. When the security technologies are implemented at the chip level, the device has the highest level of security and will generate the secure keys that are needed for the application.

What’s next

The demand for IoT solutions continues to grow, and along the way, it’s unveiling some unique problems that need to be solved, not necessarily by a single approach but more by a multi-pronged approach that includes custom solutions developed through a mixture of technologies. Perhaps the solution involves the need for more data, advanced sensor capabilities or enhanced machine learning. Perhaps it needs a combination of them.

That’s what’s important to remember about the next wave of IoT and the technologies that are powering it. As we’re able to introduce a greater range of IoT-powered solutions, solutions can be designed to address specific problems by implementing the right mixture of connectivity technologies.

When it comes to IoT, the limitations are shrinking while the opportunities continue to grow.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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