Technology Trends That Are Driving Internet of Things Markets

Within the next five years, billions of Internet connected wireless smart objects will be in use, according to global technology research firm ON World.

“Cloud services combined with smart mobile devices have created a new landscape of opportunities for service providers, manufacturers and developers,” says Mareca Hatler, ON World’s research director. “As demonstrated by dozens of cloud addressable wireless sensing systems shown at CES this year, a new generation of Internet connected systems is underway.”

The major technology trends that are driving Internet of Things (IoT) markets include the following:

IP Addressable Smart Objects
Cloud addressable smart objects are becoming widespread today through multi-billion dollar investments in the Smart Grid and rapid growth of IP based smart home services. IP enabled smart objects where any device has an IP address has simplified development and lowered costs for smart object networking. For example, WiFi enabled smart thermostats such as the Nest have become consumer “must-have” products. The soon-to-be ratified ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0 specification will enable large scale, end-to-end IP networks using different link layers.

Wireless Mesh Networking
Wireless mesh networking has provided for large scale, reliable wireless sensor networks that can operate on batteries for years. Within the next decade a billion smart meters are planned to be installed worldwide, many of which will benefit from wireless mesh networking. Other key markets that are being transformed by wireless mesh sensor networking include home and building controls, energy management, intelligent lighting systems, industrial automation and transportation/parking management.

Integration & Adaptability
Chipset designers are creating highly integrated low power wireless chipsets that lower costs and simplify product development. This is epitomized by dual mode Bluetooth 4.0 chips that support both Classic Bluetooth and the Bluetooth Smart. Other recent examples are GreenPeak’s dual stack ZigBee controller, TI’s processor that supports multiple ZigBee profiles and Accent’s SoC that provides processing, metrology and communications on a single chipset. Software defined radios are also emerging such as Greenvity’s SoC that combines ZigBee and HomePlug Green PHY.

Ultra Low Power Consumption
Chipset developers are also redefining the limits of wireless power consumption. Energy Micro’s radios and microcontrollers extend battery lifetimes by up to four times and EM Microelectronic and Toumaz provide RF devices that operate on <1 volt. ZigBee Green Power– an optional feature of the recently ratified ZigBee 2012 specification– lowers power consumption of ZigBee devices by 100 times so these can be easily powered with harvested energy.

Energy Harvesting
According to ON World’s recently published survey, battery-free wireless sensing and control is considered one of the most disruptive IoT innovation areas. EnOcean leads this market currently with over 1000 interoperable products and deployments in 250,000 buildings. With over a dozen ZigBee chipset suppliers that represent nearly 100 million shipped units this year, ZigBee Green Power will significantly increase the market potential for maintenance-free wireless sensors as well as energy harvesters.

Mobile Sensing
Mobile sensing solutions– mobile sensors combined with smartphone apps– will be the fastest growing IoT market over the next few years, driven primarily by the low energy variant of Bluetooth, or Bluetooth Smart. In fact, the number of Bluetooth Smart certified devices has already increased by 460% from last fall. Developers demonstrated dozens of mobile sensing and body area network systems at CES this year. Many of these focus on health and fitness such as activity trackers by BodyMedia, Fitbit and Withings as well as heart rate and performance monitors. Other mobile sensing innovations include the Tractive pet tracker, the HAPIFork, Netatmo’s Personal Weather Station and the Muse brain sensing headband.

ON World’s research reports cover global wireless sensor network markets including Smart Homes and Buildings, Energy Management, Advanced Metering, Lighting Controls and Health & Wellness. Report synopses and free executive summaries are available from: http://www.onworld.com/wsn

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