It’s 2021 and the consumer adoption of IoT products is advancing at breakneck speed. Specifically, we are seeing the rise of next-generation gadgets and new IoT trends, which in turn are built on advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), 5G networks, machine learning (ML) and other cutting-edge technologies. While embracing the new year, let’s take a look into some of the defining IoT technology trends which are highly likely to shape the world in the future.
1. Contactless Consumer Products
While all of us are hoping that the previous year’s lockdown episodes become a distant memory, the contactless era has just begun. Many consumer product companies are rushing to announce consumer IoT products which minimize the touching of objects. It’s no doubt a safety measure that keeps in mind any future pandemic.
LG will have a 55-inch transparent OLED television set which will serve as a partition in restaurants and subways. Bosch will have a contactless solution to detect human skin temperature using AI and intelligent video analytics, and there will be further developments in contactless retail, such as Amazon’s invisible payments.
2. AI Chipsets
The AI chipsets in the IoT market is a disruptive trend, which will make your laptops and PCs smarter than before. There’s much that can be achieved: for example, if no user presence is detected, the laptop dims automatically. Among many other players, Intel is launching its “Clover Falls” Companion chip during CES 2021, and we will keep an eye on this venture. Apart from computing, these smart chips have other applications – such as face recognition, gesture recognition, etc. – used in smart healthcare applications.
3. Smart Wearables and “Hearables”
Presently, some of the best product ideas capturing the consumer imagination are in the smart wearables and hearables segment. From smart glasses, which use augmented reality (AR), to assistive hearing solutions, which cut through noise in a music concert clearly, quite a few solutions are being launched this year. Conceivably, a child born in the future would wonder how the human race survived so long without all these vision and hearing enhancements.
4. IoT and Location Services
We all have smartphones that can track our locations, but the stakes are getting bigger in 2021. From Tesla’s in-car gaming opportunities in driverless vehicles to UPS and FedEx sensors and software that can track COVID-19 vaccines, location-powered products and services will remain a major draw this year.
Other applications of location tracking will cover the industries, such as supply chain and intelligent transportation systems (ITS). It will be interesting to know what the privacy implications of so much location awareness are and how these smart solution companies aim to comply with GDPR and other data-privacy requirements.
5. Blockchain Integration with IoT
This year we will be exposed to a new variant of IoT devices that can communicate with the crypto blockchains. This new development is taking place while keeping in mind the security concerns and challenges in IoT. We all know that insecure IoT devices are an easy target for cyber-criminals and a big concern for consumers.
Blockchain technologies have the potential to be a game-changer in this context, as they are essentially tamper-proof because of their encrypted status, and they feature a “distributed ledger” mechanism, which means there is no central server that can be hacked easily.
6. Autonomous Vehicles
If autonomous vehicles are the future of driving, then 2021 is the year the thing is going to “literally” race ahead. Indy Autonomous Challenge is the world’s first race competition for driverless vehicles and will be conducted live during CES 2021. At the same time, a number of AV companies are bringing their offerings, including robotaxis, virtual tractors by John Deere, driverless delivery vehicles, and more. Do you enjoy driving? In that case, be prepared for a future where humans behind the wheels will become old-fashioned.
7. Connected Home Gadgets
This year we will be looking forward to a range of connected home appliances which augment the connected home lifestyle. For example, Schneider Electric is going to launch “Acti9 Active,” which provides proactive warning of electric faults, the risk of fire, and energy consumption at home. LG will introduce a “knock-knock” fridge, which comes with ultraviolet cleaning and voice control and a patented InstaView technology.
While these are the big consumer brands, we are going to see a lot of interesting offerings this year, such as smart bath and kitchen appliances, electric toothbrushes, and beauty and grooming products. The rising trend of connected home products becoming an integral part of our lives will continue to grow.
8. Connected Healthcare
Digital healthcare has been a major IoT development for the last few years. This year the trend will grow further with the onset of a large number of connected healthcare solutions from AI-enabled wash basins to portable MR imaging systems and from wearable biosensors to virtual care stations. Critical healthcare decision-making will ride on the latest technology advances in healthcare.
One of the key litmus tests of emerging healthcare solutions will be how effective they are in ensuring COVID-19 vaccine distribution. We will be looking forward to keeping track of new ideas.
9. Ultra-Low Power Devices and Edge Computing
An edge computing approach is one of the best ways to improve the response time of transporting data in IoT devices in far-flung networks while eliminating packet delays, latency, jitters, and image freezing. The only way to do that is through low-power IoT devices. We have previously covered many low-powered IoT sensors and associated technologies, such as ZigBee, Z-wave, 6LowPan, and LoRaWan.
This year we can expect the coming together of edge computing with low-powered devices as the technology will come full circle in next-generation smart products.
The above covers some of the trends in IoT which we will come across this year. Many of them will change our lifestyles forever. Are you aware of any IoT trends that are going to make a big impact in the near future? Do share your ideas with us in the comments.