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    11 Trends to watch in 2019

    What’s new for 2019?

    The Internet of Things continues to come into its own. It's shed the vaguely sci-fi connotations that surrounded it at its inception to become a source of real-world applications with transformative potential.


    Here are some trends that should define the IoT space in the year ahead.

    Trend 1: Smart warehousing will garner more attention

    The IoT promises to transform warehousing and manufacturing operations within the next twenty years. With their emphasis on safety, keeping costs low costs, and operational efficiency, industrial applications are a natural fit.

    “A Smart Warehouse is automated and connected, meaning that it is data-driven,” writes logistics expert Stefan Karlöf. “The physical operation is integrated with the digital processes. The purpose is to cut the need for manual handling and increase the speed, quality, flexibility and efficiency of logistics processes.”

    Capabilities such as track & trace, sensor networks, and centralized lighting management will attract increased attention in 2019 as business look to super-streamline their warehouses and manufacturing enterprises.

    Trend 2: Healthcare IoT will continue to lead the pack.


    Ultra-low-power devices and wearable sensors are ready for prime time. In the upcoming year, long-running experimentation in healthcare will solidify the sector's status as a most promising space for IoT innovation.


    IoT in hospitals will continue to emerge as a particularly strong growth area. Like factories, hospitals—with their sprawlingly complex floor plans and expensive and often-portable equipment—are natural candidates for indoor navigation and track-and-trace technology. And they could profit from the sensitive bio-dynamic and personalized temperature and lighting control that IoT tech can enhance.


    Lighting whose behavior is triggered by health monitoring systems, as well as sensor-driven lighting that modulates to promote distinct environments conducive to healing, will also see wider use in healthcare.

    Trend 3: IoT will burgeon as a commuter technology.

    No, 2019 won't be the year self-driving cars take over the world. Apparently, the fully-automated driving future isn't as easy to realize as its boosters have suggested.


    On the other hand, 2019 will see IoT play a bigger role in personal transportation of all kinds. Automobile driver assist technology will improve, as it has in every recent model year, and connected sensors will play a bigger role in that development.


    Smart street lighting, meanwhile, will make roads safer for pedestrians, with pedestrian and automobile traffic patterns triggering lighting behaviors. Data-driven parking apps, enabled by sensors embedded in light poles, will cut down the time that drivers spend hunting for places to put their cars.


    IoT-driven technologies, including navigation and payment solutions, will make life easier for users of public transportation networks. In a world in which sensor tech can frictionlessly track commuters' movements, running a metro card through a turnstile will start to look more and more like yesterday's news.


    The IoT will also improve routing between multiple modes of transportation. Sure, the trains will run (more consistently) on time—but they'll also run in such a way as to optimize connections with buses, tramways, and even bicycles.

    Trend 4: IoT innovation will focus on interoperability.

    Interoperability doesn't mean that every single device needs to speak with every other device at all times. There will still be a role for different types of networks: some that prioritize peer-to-peer meshing and others that prioritize centralized control, for example.

    But without more attention to interoperability, billions of devices could require field service or replacement before the end of their useful lives.

    Finding the right stakeholder organization with which to collaborate on interoperability issues can be a challenge in itself. Trade groups can be moving targets, sometimes for the better, as when the Open Mobile Alliance SpecWorks group absorbed IoT standardization advocates IPSO Alliance, helping unify the important voices in standardization. Interoperability ought to improve as more attention is paid to open APIs, clearly delineated standards, and clearly articulated use cases.

    Trend 5: Smart city applications will take a big leap forward.

    Some of the world's largest cities have made long-term commitments to IoT-powered smart tech.

    On a 12-acre plot in Toronto's Quayside, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs is taking the latest stab at building a smart city from the ground up. Its plans discard almost every contemporary urban planning assumption in favor of self-maintaining sidewalks, buildings that can grow and shrink as occupancy needs change, and mixed-use spaces whose use is informed by data.

    “We find that cities could improve some key quality-of-life indicators by 10-30 percent—numbers that translate into lives saved, reduced crime, shorter commutes, a lower health burden, and carbon emissions averted," writes the McKinsey Global Institute in its “Smart Cities: Digital Solutions for a More Livable Future” report.

    And these enhancements won't show up only in our largest cities. The global market intelligence firm IDC predicts that smaller metro areas will clamor for smart city tech.

    “More than 30 percent of highly innovative Smart City projects will be tested in small cities of fewer than 200,000 inhabitants," IDC projects

    Trend 6: Consumer IoT innovation will come from the grinders, not the stars.

    As markets mature, the forces driving them can change. A few superstars (think Steve Jobs or Elon Musk) exert a major influence at the outset, but eventually a much larger and mostly anonymous group of contributors take the lead.


    IoT app development is reaching that point today. It's not the billionaire visionaries who are doing the bulk of the important work. Rather, it's the talented developers, part-time tinkerers, skilled but nameless tech-company technicians, and others who are finding innovative ways to add value to products and methods that already exist.


    The IoT is starting to blossom like the smartphone market blossomed a decade ago, when app stores hit the mainstream and the tinkers could really get on with their tinkering. App developer programs are beginning to appear, and these will make it possible for high-skill developers from a wide range of backgrounds to efficiently create new solutions that leverage the data and capabilities that IoT systems and platforms afford.

    Trend 7: In an anxious age, edge security will be key to IoT adoption.

    Enthusiasm for IoT is considerable. So is concern about the cybersecurity risks it brings.

    “In 2019, the security weaknesses of legacy systems will hinder the adoption of new technologies in one-third of cities, with the connection between new and old systems posing a major security risk," IDC predicts.

    At the edge, IoT devices can incorporate privacy-by-design mechanisms, including the encryption of all data at rest and in motion—and credential protection against even physical intrusion. In the cloud, IoT developers can tighten the authentication process governing device participation and data exchange, and ensure that all traffic between cloud resources and edge devices is fully authenticated and encrypted.

    Trend 8: Demand for IoT solutions to climate change will intensify

    IoT solutions have demonstrated legitimate potential to improve the quality and sustainability of human life, whether they're helping people boost agricultural yields or reduce resource consumption. As the climate change alarm bells get louder, so will grow public expectations for IoT-driven solutions to provide cleaner air and water and better resource efficiency.

    As the World Economic Forum points out, however, few IoT-powered green projects have seen large-scale deployment. The reason? Sustainability and climate change are at least as much about policy and political will as they are about technology.

    Look for more talk in 2019 about how IoT solutions can make fostering sustainability easy, or at least easier, and thus eliminate some of the politically perilous trade-offs that have killed so many green initiatives before they got off the ground.

    Trend 9: You'll hear more about data science and artificial intelligence in the IoT.

    IoT growth requires the input of more data from more connected systems. That fact is going to shift the spotlight from the capabilities of the IoT devices themselves to the ever-deeper pools of data they're creating.


    Combing through those pools of data at speed and scale requires heaps of formal discipline—and even more computing power. Data scientists and their AI assistants are going to have as much influence over the next transformative IoT project as the creators of its hardware and software will.

    Trend 10:  We’ll see a new focus on social issues, IoT governance, and user experience.

    Gartner urges organizations to evaluate the value—and the values—underlying all IoT projects. It urges a move away from ill-defined or tech-for-tech's-sake investments in favor of those geared towards concrete goals.

    "The majority of IoT projects should target financial payback in less than one year," Gartner writes. In other words: Don't necessarily try to change the world. Make people's daily lives incrementally better and the rest will take care of itself.

    The research organization also charges IT and business leaders to put social and user experience considerations front-and-center. That represents an important shift in tech culture, and in terms of how we consumers co-exist with tech.

    Trend 11: Soon it will be just “the Internet" again.

    Specialized terms and modifiers always have a shorter life than the bigger ideas they're meant to express.


    When every website became responsive and interactive instead of merely presenting a wall of text, we stopped calling it “Web 2.0" and went back to calling it “the web." When all cars switched to using unleaded gasoline, “unleaded" became the new “regular." And when all cars have electric motors in an assist or primary drive mode, we'll stop talking about “hybrid" cars and just call them “cars."


    In that spirit, the name “Internet of Things," with its futuristic edge, is nearing the end of its useful life. As IoT devices become part of the way we use technology every day, they won't need a special designation. They'll just be “things,” and we'll be surprised not when they are connected, but when they aren't.

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