IoT in 2023: Fundamentals and Trends
1 Feb 2023
Have you heard of the term “interoperability”? Well, it’s basically what drives the speedy development of the Internet of Things or IoT, and it’s a big thing these days.
When you have a system or a product at home, at your workplace, in your farm or garden, or anywhere else that works with other systems and products without any restrictions or hindrances, and is future-proof, that’s when you know you are dealing with interoperability or interoperable technologies.
We can even go so far as to say that the goal of IoT is interoperability. That’s why consumers, businesses, and governments around the world are all implementing IoT technologies to reduce expenses and enhance convenience, efficiency, and productivity.
IoT can be found in any sector or walk of life. As a rule of thumb, we differentiate between:
- Agricultural IoT
- Healthcare IoT or the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
- Consumer IoT (CIoT)
- Industrial IoT (IIoT)
In 2023, the market is forecast to continue to undergo significant growth in all of these sectors. Moreover, new techniques and tools will be optimized in order to boost the interoperability of IoT, but more on this later.
Let’s first define IoT. What is it? Where does it come from? How does it work?
The Internet of Things or IoT is a system of interconnected or interrelated computing devices, digital or mechanical machines, objects, animals or people that have unique identifiers (UIDs) and can transfer data over a network without the need for human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
This is a well-known, perhaps a bit too technical, definition of IoT. Put simply, IoT refers to all objects and devices that are connected to the Internet.
Let’s trace the roots of the Internet of Things. ATMs are considered to be the very first IoT connected devices. However, there is another theory on this matter. They say that the first IoT device was a Coca Cola machine located at Carnegie Mellon University back in the early ‘80s. It allowed local programmers to check in advance whether there was coke available in the machine and even whether it was cold, and only then make the trip to buy a drink.
Despite the fact that there were internet-connected devices way before the 2000s, it was not until 1999 that the term Internet of Things came into use. It was coined by Kevin Ashton, the Executive Director of Auto-ID Labs at MIT at a presentation for Procter & Gamble. Over the years, the meaning of IoT expanded and evolved into what it is today.
How Does the Internet of Things Work?
There are a whole lot of processes going on in an IoT ecosystem. The latter is made up of web-enabled smart devices that use different embedded systems (processors, sensors, and communication hardware) to gather, send and act on the data they get from their environments.
The collected data is shared via an IoT gateway or any other edge device. These devices can also connect with other relevant devices and process and act on the data that they receive from one another. The whole process is carried out without human intervention. There are cases when people can also have their say in it though. For example, they can set up the device to get it started or give it instructions.
Nowadays, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) are also being used in IoT to improve the data collection process and make it even more dynamic.
Some Quick Stats
Did you know that starting from 2008, there are more IoT devices in the world than people? Well, here are a few more intriguing numbers that you might not be aware of:
- The IoT market revenue is expected to rise from $251.6 billion in 2020 to over $621 billion in 2030.
- There are more than 13 billion IoT connected devices worldwide as of 2022. This number is anticipated to increase up to 30 billion in 2030.
- By 2025, the IoT sector is forecast to see an incomparable raise in consumer spending on smart home products and services. We are speaking of numbers surpassing $170 billion with over 400 million households using smart home systems worldwide.
These are the latest predictions according to Statista. We won’t be surprised to see these numbers skyrocket in the near future considering the rapid pace at which IoT devices are creeping into every aspect of our lives.
IoT in Agriculture
Let’s now go back to where we started and break the Internet of Things down to its more specific use cases. First in our list is Agricultural IoT.
There are several reasons why the sector of agriculture needs a helping hand from modern technological advancements:
- The increasing number of world population also increases the need for more food. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, we will need to produce 70% more food in 2050.
- This, in its turn, results in shrinking agricultural lands and used up natural resources,
- Another issue is the declining agricultural labor.
As a result, farmers now need to implement alternative solutions and new approaches in order to enhance farm yield and improve the overall farming practices. While IoT solutions might not address these problems entirely, they can definitely lift a heavy burden off the shoulders of people who are facing any of the issues above.
There are a lot of benefits to agricultural IoT devices, starting from higher yields and profitability to the protection of the environment by reducing waste and boosting productivity.
Here are a few examples of IoT solutions used for agricultural purposes:
1. Agribots or Agriculture Robots
Agricultural robots help farms handle lots of complicated tasks more efficiently, saving both time and money. With the global labor shortage, these robots are here to decrease the need for manual work.
- Weeding robots identify the weeds through a digital image processing system and spray them with a small dose of herbicide thus allowing farmers to save on large amounts of pesticides which they would otherwise spread all over the farm.
- Machine navigation allows farmers to run and control tractors and heavy plowing equipment from home via GPS. These machines can self adjust when they find differences in terrains. You can check their location, work progress, and other movements on your smartphone from anywhere.
- Harvesting robots use computer vision to pick crops without causing any harm to the target fruit/vegetable or the tree. Such robots highly reduce the need for manual work thus addressing the issue of labor shortage. Moreover, these robots can work 24/7 unlike humans. They can also determine the stage of crop growth and pick them at the most appropriate time.
- Material handling robots can work side by side with humans and ease their daily work helping them be more productive and efficient. They can lift heavy stuff and even do plant spacing with utmost precision.
These robots are going to be optimized in the near future and come with more advanced features and functionalities that will transform the way farming is done globally.
Drones with sensors and cameras can come quite handy in agriculture. Farmers use them for imaging, mapping, and surveying lands. There are 2 types of drones: ground-based and aerial.
The former are used to investigate the fields on wheels, while the latter are flying robots, They both can be monitored and controlled remotely. The data collected from drone surveys can help understand the crop health, irrigation problems, planting or spraying needs, the state of the soil and field, plant count, yield prediction, and a lot more.
3. Remote Sensing
Sensors allow farmers to observe the fields without having to physically be there. These remote sensing solutions are placed around the farms for data collection. Afterwards, the gathered data is sent to analytical tools for further analysis. Farmers, then, act according to the received insights and set upon solving any detected issues.
There are sensors for different purposes:
- Crop monitoring displays any changes in light, humidity, temperature, size or shape.
- Sensors for checking weather conditions collect data about humidity, temperature, moisture precipitation, etc. This way farmers know the weather that is characteristic of the given field and cultivate accordingly.
- Soil quality sensors inform the farmer of such details as the drier parts of the farms, soil drainage capacity, acidity, etc.
IoT solutions in agriculture come with highly valuable benefits which help increase productivity and efficiency. The 24/7 monitoring allows farmers to solve issues early on and reduce risks by making smarter and more precise decisions on the timing of planting and harvesting. Not to mention the improved ROI that will simply be inevitable with all the reduction in expenses.
Healthcare IoT or The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
As you already guessed from the name, the Internet of Medical Things or IoMT refers to the implementation of devices and applications with Internet connectivity for healthcare purposes.
There is a wide range of IoMT devices out there:
- Smart thermometers and infusion pumps
- Devices for remote patient monitoring
- Personal emergency response systems
- Heart rate sensors and glucose monitors
- Ingestible sensors and cameras
- MRI machines
Since healthcare is essentially complex and multi-layered, so is the Internet of Medical Things. To help you get a grasp of it, here is a quick overview of the main types of IoMT:
- In-Home IoMT enables patients to send medical data from their home to their care provider or to a hospital. Remote patient monitoring mentioned above is one such example that allows a newly discharged patient to send blood pressure or oxygen saturation information to their doctor. Telehealth is also an example of in-home IoMT. We’ll touch upon this in more detail shortly.
- On-body IoMT presupposes the use of wearable medical devices that can be carried with anywhere. People can use these devices for either personal purposes or as an alternative means of remote patient monitoring.
- Community IoMT devices are used in a town or a wider area. For example, a mobility device can track a patient while they are in transit in a vehicle. Suppliers also use IoMT devices, such as sensors, to ensure the safe and quality shipping of healthcare goods and medical equipment.
- In-hospital IoMT devices help monitor the patients in the hospital as well as watch out for the quality of medical assets as time goes by.
IoMT solutions connect patients, doctors, and medical devices to optimize different healthcare procedures and monitoring operations. They also decrease the need for additional hospital visits thus cutting many unnecessary costs. IoMT technology enables faster and more precise diagnostics, tracking the patient’s vital signs very scrupulously.
Telehealth, Telemedicine, and Healthcare IoT: What Do They Have in Common?
To understand the relation between these 3 terms, let’s first define them separately.
Telehealth refers to the use of computers and mobile devices for accessing healthcare services remotely.
Telemedicine refers to specific use cases of technology which are remote diagnosis and patient monitoring.
Nowadays these two terms are mostly used interchangeably, while IoMT refers to the devices and tools that enable their smooth operation and functioning. Telehealth would simply be impossible with IoMT, and an internet connected medical device would be of no use without a telehealth strategy. The latter includes such processes as interpretation of the data collected from an IoMT device, diagnosis, treatment plan, therapy delivery, and patient monitoring. Depending on the given case, all of these can be done through AI/ML technologies, however, there will always be the need for a physician.
No matter how precise an IoMT technology gets, we are dealing with human life and human intervention can never be reduced to a null in healthcare. Doctors will always need to keep an eye on their patients and on how the IoMT devices work.
To give credit where credit is due, IoMT devices have surely caused drastic changes in the healthcare sector by highly improving numerous medical procedures for patients and doctors alike. Here are some of the main benefits:
- Personalized and more precise diagnosis and therapy thanks to in-depth tracking of a patient’s vital signs.
- Remote medical treatment without the need for long, frequent visits to the doctor’s office.
- More control for patients over their health via such devices as wearables and smart scales. The latter keep patients informed on their vitals without the need to visit a doctor for a checkup.
- IoMT devices ensure reduced costs for healthcare providers.
- Reduced need for human caregivers and improved patient monitoring, especially for patients with serious and chronic diseases.
- Optimized operations for healthcare providers through such technologies as robotic surgical aids and high-resolution digital imaging systems.
IoMT has some challenges to deal with (legal, technical, privacy, etc.) but over time, the best practices will be identified thus reducing the risks and making all the benefits of IoMT devices more visible to the naked eye.
Consumer IoT or CIoT
Another offspring of IoT is Consumer IoT (CIoT) which represents the vast number of consumer devices (smartphones, wearables, fashion items, and smart home appliances) that are connected to the Internet to collect and share data.
There are many use cases for Consumer IoT:
- Smart homes have a huge share in the Consumer IoT market. The smart home market revenue, as of January 2023 is $139.30 billion and keeps increasing exponentially. Smart home solutions include comprehensive home security systems, internet-enabled applications, energy management devices, room control, entertainment systems, and more. Security and energy management solutions are the most popular ones right now.
- Asset tracking is the next CIoT trend nowadays. It enables consumers to track their smartphones, cameras, keys, and pets, and even vulnerable family members (kids, the elderly).
- Smart wearables are also taking over the Consumer IoT market with tech innovations that will soon go beyond smartwatches and fitness trackers with no dependency on smartphones.
Personal physical IoT devices have already become an inseparable part of our daily lives. For one thing, the number of active households in the smart home market is expected to amount to 672.6 million users by 2027. This number will easily grow considering the upcoming innovative solutions that are still to be released in the market.
Industrial IoT or IIoT
The goal of Industrial Internet of Things or IIoT is to enhance and optimize manufacturing and industrial processes through smart sensors and actuators. Otherwise known as the industrial internet or Industry 4.0 (referring to the present state of industry as the 4th industrial revolution), IIoT uses smart machines and real-time analytics in combination with the data collected from the so-called “dumb machines” in order to improve the overall operations of the given system.
It goes without saying that IIoT devices also help save money, time, and boost productivity and efficiency ensuring quality control, sustainable practices, and supply chain traceability.
The main industries that implement IIoT solutions are as follows:
- Transportation and logistics
- Oil and gas
Here are a few quick examples of IIoT use cases:
1. Predictive Maintenance: Through IIoT sensors, organizations keep their workers informed about the maintenance needs of the machines. This way they avoid costly and unexpected breakdowns and unwanted repairs.
2. Location Tracking: This solution is especially helpful for logistics companies who want to track shipments and reroute drivers if need be.
3. Energy Optimization Solutions: IIoT solutions can be used in HVAC systems to minimize energy consumption. The Internet-powered sensors will detect the highest and lowest periods in energy use and adjust accordingly in order not to waste too much electricity.
Reduced maintenance costs, energy savings, reduced waste, workforce productivity, improved service - what more could one wish for?
Top 5 IoT Trends in 2023
Given the above, it’s no wonder that IoT technologies are already transforming the traditional approaches to agriculture, healthcare, home systems, and heavy industry. As a matter of fact, IoT opens many doors for business owners as well, giving them the opportunity to gain competitive and strategic advantage over their competitors.
The secret is in choosing the IoT technology that your business needs or having an experienced software partner develop a software solution for you that has just the right IoT elements in it to boost your business’ productivity and ROI.
Before you make up your mind on this, have a look at some of the trends that the Internet of Things brings with in 2023:
1. IoT-Based Mobile Applications
This one is a no-brainer. We already discussed so many IoT solutions above across various sectors that function via smartphones (for example, remote asset monitoring). There are 6.8 billion people around the world who own smartphones and the number keeps increasing daily. It would be logical to assume that these devices have no other way than to be one of the main channels for accessing the Internet of Things.
As a matter of fact, it is through mobile apps that the role of IoT is expanding at a faster pace than ever. IoT devices are best monitored and managed by means of a single mobile application on a device.
Of course, you can control your IoT device from your computer too but it will not provide you the efficiency that a mobile app comes with. Firstly because with a mobile app, you can access your IoT devices from anywhere, anytime. Everyone carries their mobile phones with them. Secondly, there are a lot of different useful and let’s say, IoT-friendly tools on smartphones such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other wireless technologies.
Some of the benefits of IoT Mobile Development are the following:
- Ease of access
- Improved efficiency
- Personalization and better customer experience through customer analytics
- New means of monetization - your tech team can create paid subscriptions for the advanced features of your mobile app
- Flexibility and cost effectiveness
- Competitive edge
You can build a wide variety of applications based on the use cases of IoT. Here are some examples:
- Manufacturing machine monitoring apps
- Asset tracking apps
- Human health and environmental factors tracking apps (via wearable devices)
- Logistics monitoring apps
- Remote sensing
Together with all the IoT investments, the number of IoT-based mobile apps is also expected to skyrocket in 2023 and the years to come. Make sure to use this long-standing trend to your advantage.
As of 2021, the number of IoT cyber attacks reached 1.51 billion, which is an increase from 639 million in 2020. The cost of cybercrime is expected to be $10.5 trillion by 2025. To make this number more meaningful, compare it with the cybercrime costs in 2015 - $3 trillion.
No matter how much time passes, security never “goes out of fashion”. Let’s call it a classic among all things technology. Ensuring that high-standard security measures are properly taken especially for IoT technologies, is of crucial importance.
As they say: “If it’s smart, it’s vulnerable.” There are billions of smart devices connected to the internet - it doesn’t get any more complicated than this; as far as security goes. It is definitely not easy to protect billions of users’ personal data or confidential business information. It’s actually quite overwhelming when you think about it.
As much convenience as IoT brings with itself, it also comes with many vulnerabilities that make it an attractive target for cyber criminals. Especially, in the post-COVID era that we live in, cyber attacks like phishing, breaching, and others are on the rise. This is why security is always trending. As long as there are security concerns, companies and businesses worldwide will always need to invest in optimizing their security measures.
In 2023, the EU will come with a new law according to which all smart devices will need to adhere to certain cybersecurity rules. Non-compliance will lead to a device ban. Threats will need to be reported to the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity within 24 hours.
As of the latest predictions, the IoT security market share will amount to $59 billion by 2029. That’s a huge number but it’s quite justified when you think about the scary amount of cybercrime out there. Don’t save on your security. Take all the needed measures. Do what it takes to keep your security as hack proof as possible.
3. IoT Web App Development
Web app development benefits from the Internet of Things as much as mobile app development. Using IoT in their web applications, companies can track and analyze users’ behavior, habits, likes and dislikes, and then use this data to scale their businesses.
Here are some benefits of using IoT in web app development:
- With the help of IoT, you can ensure a robust backend for your web app and take your time to focus on building a proper front end.
- You can add a chatbot to your web application to enhance customer support and experience.
- The Internet of Things will also help you improve your web app’s UI based on the collected user data.
It should be noted that IoT web development is quite complex since it requires working with a vast amount of data, vulnerable security, and complicated user interfaces. At the same time, IoT-enabled web applications come with improved network stability and scalability as opposed to regular web apps. The latter find it hard to work with large amounts of data without system delays, while IoT web applications transfer the data through cloud networks thus preventing possible breakdowns.
There is no doubt now that the IoT web app development sector will be booming in 2023. With its undeniable impact on numerous industries, IoT web app development will help businesses improve efficiency and lower expenses. A vivid example is the use of IoT-powered web apps in retail for better supply chain management, smart inventory monitoring, automated checkout, and a lot more.
4. IoT with AI and ML
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in IoT (AIoT) is definitely on a winning streak these days. These technologies help create more intelligent and responsive IoT systems thanks to the real-time analysis and processing of the data collected by smart devices.
Examples of AI- and ML-powered IoT devices are drones for cleaning the ocean, smart cameras for detecting early symptoms of dementia, and smart factories. Such big-player names as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are already implementing the features and functionalities of AI and ML in their IoT systems. Startups and SMEs are following suit. AI and ML are a good way to extract actual value out of the constantly increasing amounts of data that IoT devices keep storing.
Such projects as smart homes or smart cities have come to fruition and keep being optimized only thanks to the amalgamation of IoT and machine learning algorithms.
5. The Power of Voice: VUI for IoT
Voice user interfaces (VUI) are expected to rise both in supply and demand. We already have some well-established names - Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant - however, companies are now striving to create their own voice assistants to tighten the relationships with customers and boost customer loyalty by delivering better and more convenient services.
The use of voice to set up devices, change the settings, or give commands is already a well-accepted standard in many smart houses, factories, and will soon become an expected feature in cars, wearables, and other IoT devices as well.
Before you go…
“The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the internet did. Maybe even more so”, says Kevin Ashton, the very man who coined the term. We second this thought. Investing in IoT technologies is definitely going to be rewarding for businesses in essentially all verticals. It’s also going to contribute to a more sustainable world.
If you have any thoughts on implementing IoT in your business, be sure to drop us a note, and our team will gladly help you make the smart decisions for your smart technologies.