IoT and hardware opportunities

01 Apr 2017
IoT has become the fastest technology growth market

IoT has become the fastest technology growth market

Not so long ago the Internet of Things (IoT) was a concept that was confined to sci-fi and children’s ideas about what the future would look like, writes Phil Simmonds, group managing director, EC Electronics.

Now it has become the fastest technology growth market, with Bain and Company predicting that by 2020 annual revenues could exceed $450 billion for the IoT vendors selling hardware and software.

No longer fiction, IoT is fact. Children of the 70s, 80s and 90s who dreamt that their homes would be controlled by intelligent robots, are now living in them. They may not have an actual robot cooking dinner and doing the ironing, but their devices are communicating with each other ensuring that heating is switched on, shopping ordered, and tradespeople let in when homeowners are out.

While the vast majority of IoT designs are for software apps, it’s hardware that enables apps, intelligence and connects to the cloud.

The heroes of IoT are the processors, sensors and communications chips that make it all happen. This is the technology that makes things smart. As such it’s an exciting time to be manufacturing hardware and technology products; there are many opportunities to get new products to market across a diverse range of industries.

Hardware challenges for IoT devices

In my opinion there are 4 key drivers that can make an IoT solution a success or a non-starter. I believe that increasingly these factors will determine the future of new products and the direction IoT takes.

They are:

Power: For IoT to include all ‘things’ it needs to tackle how those things are powered. When a thing relies on a wall socket or a battery that requires changing or recharging, its uses become limited. Low-power design, smart power management, wireless power transmission, energy harvesting and improved power efficiency are areas of interest that are seeing innovation and new developments.

Connectivity: Technology advances in communications have led to the proliferation of state-of-the-art mobile devices, and is driving IoT. High capacity, error-free transmission, high data-rates and low latencies are key factors in this success. Interoperability continues to be very important for communication chip manufacturers, and innovation in this field will continue as consumer demand increases.

Cost: For IoT to be fully adopted, costs will have to come down. Companies that wish to be part of this exciting device market will need to build supply chains that enable them to compete with other IoT challengers.

Size: Another key element of a successful IoT hardware solution is size – small is beautiful. Nokia may have relaunched the Nokia 3310, but the IoT market is measuring technologies in nanometres not metric bricks.

The Internet of Things is arguably going to be bigger than the mobile revolution, and hardware is what will enable entrepreneurs, tech start-ups and established manufactures get a slice of the action.

At EC Electronics we are very excited about the opportunities for getting IoT products to market competitively. We are doing our bit by introducing clients to top talent in electronics and mechanical design, helping them get their ideas into production and to market.

www.ecelectronics.co.uk