The Industrial IoT Gains Momentum




Held each January in Las Vegas, CES, or The Consumer Electronics Show, has always been the place to check out the latest high-tech gadgetry aimed at consumers – from 8K TVs to drones, autonomous cars, and wearable technology. CES 2016 boasted 3,800 exhibitors this year who unveiled about 20,000 new products to the 170,000 attendees of the show. But the biggest star of CES was the Internet of Things (IoT). It was widely reported that the technology enabling the IoT and smart homes has progressed to spawn even more devices, and movement toward greater compatibility and interoperability is starting to happen.

With the IoT, sensors and cameras are being embedded into everything – from clothes, to shoes to home appliances. With a smart connected home, your front door can automatically unlock as you approach, your lights, home temperature, and music can be remotely turned on and adjusted to your liking, and your fridge can tell you how much milk you have left.

But, beyond the consumer gadgets and gizmos, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) also made an appearance at CES this year – as a driving force behind standards, core technologies, and devices that can be used by both consumers and industry.

IoT Standards will be driven by Industry

Engineering.com reported on IoT trends at CES, and how the evolution of IoT standards is fueled by industry, not consumers. Engineers who want to design and build IoT gadgets will need to know about the Industrial IoT trends in order to stay ahead of the curve.

According to National Instrument’s (NI) Trend Watch data, engineers need to pay attention to industry trends, including: IoT standards that will grow out of industrial system integrations; growth of low-cost big data that will force intelligent sensors to perform data management and analytics; and the vast growth of IoT devices which will force IoT device testing to look at the architecture, not the device.

NI predicts that the utilities, manufacturing, and transportation industries will be pushing the IoT industry to consolidate much faster than the end consumer with a Fitbit and a smart fridge. The greatest IoT necessity lies in industry, and this will drive standardization.

Core Technologies will Span both the IoT and IIoT

Core technologies – such as efficient power sources and sensors – are important for both consumer and industrial devices.

For example, Paper Battery Company has created what is billed as the highest energy density super capacitor on the market. It lasts longer and is safer and more reliable than lithium ion batteries. This 12-person company won the CES’s Startup of the Year award last year, and in addition to its applications in consumer products such as wireless headphones and game controllers, the company’s Power Responder can also be used as the energy standard in industrial applications. Smart energy grids and medical devices are two of the potential industrial applications.

At CES attendees saw new sensors and the evolution of ways physical and virtual spaces interact. As sensors detect events or changes in their environment, a corresponding output feeds the IoT.  The IIoT connects the physical world – or sensors, devices and machines – with the Internet and everything starts becoming connected.

Cross-over Devices

Robots and drones are two examples of technological devices that can be adapted for either the consumer or the industrial market.

The robotics exhibit space at CES 2016 was increased by 71% over last year, and robots were front and center. For example, CHiP the robot dog from WowWee can play a game of catch with you. However, on the industrial side, robots have been used for all sorts of manufacturing applications for some time. When you add embedded sensors, more data is being reported back for better decision making and greater efficiencies. By enabling observation and monitoring in the digital domain, the Industrial IoT will deliver great leaps in productivity.

Drones were all the rage at CES with over 100 new drone models – including the first passenger drone. Although most were aimed at consumers, drones can also be used for many industrial applications including agriculture, surveying, aerial footage for movies and news, and package delivery, such as envisioned by Amazon.

Rate of Adoption

While the Internet of Things is certainly generating lots of interest and publicity, consumer adoption is not there yet. Forrester reports that only 7% of online adults in the US are using connected home devices, although, more than 50% are interested in using them.

On the industrial side, however, an ARC Advisory Group survey reports that 30% of respondents are already actively using IIoT tools or investing in projects (although 17% of those surveyed weren’t exactly sure what the IIoT was).  

Constellation Research reports that the Industrial Internet will generate over 500 zettabytes of data in 2019 – 49 times current cloud traffic. With all of this new information, industries will be transformed as they use this data to unleash new possibilities. As the IIoT continues to inhabit day-to-day life, it's no surprise that, 50% of major new business processes and systems will incorporate some element of the IoT by the year 2020, according to analysts at Gartner.

Conclusion

The Industrial Internet of Things does not stand on its own. As part of a $19 trillion IoT market (as estimated by Cisco), there are many cross-overs and interconnections with the consumer-based IoT as seen at CES 2016. 

The exciting thing is the opportunity that exists. Cisco reports that only 1% of the world’s devices are connected today. This creates opportunities for companies who want to create, manufacture, operate, and service products that are smart and connected.