Wireless • Last Updated 5/15/2024

Top IoT trends and use cases to watch in 2024

These 2023 IoT trends will launch IoT devices and software into the future. The Internet of Things is changing—is your business?

By Michael Bratschi

City overlaid with examples of IoT trends

IoT (Internet of Things) technology has quickly become a cornerstone for data collection, sharing and utilization.

Most people understand the “things” in Internet of Things to be sensors, devices, applications or anything that can be made more functional or useful by connecting it to the wider internet.

IDC expects global investment in IoT technology to reach $3.4 trillion by 2026, and the U.S. will be the largest geographic market at over $1 million—which accounts for nearly 35% of the total market.

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TechRepublic predicts that by 2025, more than 39.9 billion smart sensors and other IoT devices will be in use around the world.

In short, people already use IoT technology extensively, and they’re going to use IoT even more as the technology develops. There’s a lot to capitalize on. Here’s where IoT trends are headed in the upcoming year.

Artificial intelligence and IoT technology

Artificial intelligence (AI) and IoT technologies have been revolutionizing the way businesses and consumers interact with data. AI is the driving force behind this transformation. AI-enabled machines can understand, interpret and respond to data in a more efficient, accurate way than traditional methods. Consequently, data is becoming increasingly important for the development of advanced machine learning (ML) technologies that can process the vast amounts of data that IoT devices generate.

AI’s ability to understand and interpret data from IoT devices is transforming the way data is used. For example, Amazon uses AI to create predictive models that suggest products to customers based on their past purchases and browsing history. You can use AI-powered algorithms to detect anomalies in IoT data and trigger warnings when threats or risks are detected. By leveraging AI and IoT data, your business can gain insights into customer behavior and make more informed decisions.

The rapid growth of AI and IoT technology is creating an unprecedented demand for data. IBM found that the amount of data generated by IoT devices is expected to increase from 33 zettabytes in 2018 to 175 zettabytes by 2025. This huge increase in data is due to the increasing number of connected devices themselves, as well as the increasing capabilities of IoT sensors. As a result, businesses will need to develop sophisticated AI models that can process this wealth of data to take advantage of the potential of AI and IoT.

The combination of AI and IoT technologies is creating new opportunities for businesses to provide cutting-edge services and improve customer experiences. As businesses continue to leverage the capabilities of AI and IoT to gain insights from data, the demand for data will only increase. By positioning your business to take advantage of the potential of AI and IoT, you’ll be better positioned to capitalize on the opportunities of the future.

Edge connectivity and 5G

Edge connectivity and 5G are two of the most important trends to watch in the IoT space. Edge computing networks allow for the processing and storage of data closer to its source instead of relying on distant servers. And 5G networks offer higher speeds and lower latency than existing technologies. As 5G access has become more widely available, it’s made edge computing even more powerful, with near real-time data processing capabilities.

While cloud computing sends data back to a centralized location for processing, edge computing allows for processing and analysis in more locations. These data sources can include devices such as smartphones, IoT sensors, cameras and gateways. Sending data to the edge instead of to a central server means it can be processed at a lower latency for quicker response times.

At the core of edge connectivity and 5G-enabled IoT is the need for low-latency and high-throughput connections. 5G networks provide the ideal platform. They allow for a seamless transition between edge computing and cloud computing as needed. 5G also enables novel use cases such as autonomous vehicles, which require higher bandwidth and lower latency to process and analyze large amounts of data in real time. Moreover, 5G networks enable more secure connections between edge devices and remote servers.

5G networks are uniquely suited for IoT applications such as smart home devices, where low latency is essential for responding to user commands in an instant. According to a report from Deloitte, 5G networks have enabled a host of new use cases for IoT, such as providing virtual reality (VR) experiences, autonomous driving and high-speed, low-latency connections for applications such as gaming that require instantaneous decision-making.

The use of IoT in healthcare (often referred to as the Internet of Medical Things, or IoMT) is rapidly increasing due to its numerous benefits, which include:

  • Improved accuracy of diagnoses
  • Increased efficiency in workflow processes
  • Enhanced patient safety and satisfaction.

IoT healthcare solutions enable medical professionals to provide better care for their patients and create more efficient workflows for themselves. From remote patient monitoring to automated medication management, there are many possibilities for IoT in healthcare.

With the help of IoT-enabled devices, medical professionals can monitor vital signs and track patient data in real time, providing more accurate diagnoses and treatment plans. These devices can also be used to automate tasks like administering medication or scheduling appointments. Remote monitoring and automation allow medical professionals to focus on what really matters—providing quality care for their patients.

According to Straits Research, the global IoT healthcare market is projected to grow at a CAGR of nearly 20% between 2023–2031. As technology continues to evolve, we expect to see more innovative applications of IoT in healthcare that will further revolutionize this industry.

Wearable technology has been around for some time, but recent advances in engineering, cloud computing and big data analytics have made these devices more powerful, useful and accessible. Wearable IoT has already been pioneered by companies like Apple and Fitbit, but smartwatches were just the beginning of wearable technology.

Smartwatches allow you to access information, control your home environment and track your physical activity with relative ease. For example, recent versions of the Apple Watch are equipped with a variety of biometric sensors, including an ECG reader, that can be used to detect signs of potential heart issues.

In addition to smartwatches, sleep rings have become increasingly popular. Sleep rings collect data on user sleep patterns and provide feedback on sleep quality. The Oura Ring tracks heart rate, body temperature and breathing rate while you sleep, which allows you to understand the quality of your sleep each night.

Eyewear is another type of wearable IoT device that’s becoming more common. Google Glass, for example, is a wearable computer that integrates voice commands, augmented reality and remote assistance into one glasses-shaped device. The device can be used to deliver personalized notifications, navigate complex environments and access information in real time.

Finally, augmented and virtual realities (AR and VR) are becoming increasingly prevalent parts of the wearable IoT landscape. For example, Microsoft's HoloLens and the Meta Quest 2 Oculus are head-mounted displays that allow you to interact with virtual objects in a 3D space. These headsets can be used for both recreation and corporate training or meetings.

Beyond the typical health and lifestyle applications, new technologies have the potential to revolutionize areas like customer support, training and education, home automation and even equipment repair. For instance, AR could guide you through repairs that would ordinarily require you to mail your product back to the factory.

Supply and demand for IoT components and sensors are currently high. Amateur makers and tinkerers now have the opportunity to create projects and products to fit their needs for a fraction of the cost compared to when IoT first became popular. According to Electronics Sourcing, the average price of a sensor was a mere $0.33 USD in 2020, and is predicted to rise to $0.45 by the end of 2023.

One of the most popular hobbyist applications is the use of drones, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated and user-friendly. According to The Verge, the DJI Mavic Air 2 is one of the most popular drones on the market today. It offers 4K video recording capabilities, a three-axis gimbal and a three-mile range. In the future, hobbyist applications for drones are likely to become even more advanced, which will allow you to record aerial footage with greater precision and detail.

In addition to drones, 3D printing with IoT is another exciting IoT trend likely to gain traction in the next few years. 3D printing allows hobbyists or small business owners to create and customize objects for personal use or for sale. As technology advances, 3D printers will become faster and more affordable, meaning you can experiment with an even wider range of materials and designs.

Open-source hardware such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi, as well as open-source software such as Node-Red, have made it simple to get started on an IoT project for your home or business. Hobbyists and engineers can easily add cellular IoT capabilities to their projects just by adding a SIM card.

Small, home-built devices and direct-to-consumer brands can be a cost-efficient way to add cellular IoT connectivity to your products. The increasing availability of these devices makes it easier than ever to experiment and innovate with cellular IoT technology and gives small, independent creators more opportunities to create powerful solutions to real-world problems.

We can expect to see smart homes become increasingly popular as more people look for ways to automate aspects of their homes. Smart homes use IoT in the form of sensors to allow people to use digital assistants, automate lights and security systems and control appliances remotely. Below are a few examples of smart home integrations made possible through IoT.

Digital assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa or a Google Home, can carry out a variety of tasks—from playing music to ordering items online to controlling the lights in your home—to make your life easier. In the next few years, we predict these assistants will become even more sophisticated and capable of carrying out additional tasks.

Automated lights can be set to turn on and off at specific times, determine motion or light levels using sensors or integrate with a digital assistant. You can turn on lights as you enter your home, turn off an overhead light without leaving the couch or set lights to automatically turn off at a specific time of day. Automation like this helps conserve energy and can make it easier to remember to turn lights off when they aren’t needed.

Appliances—such as microwaves, refrigerators and washing machines—can be controlled remotely via app, or with a digital assistant. If you realize on the drive to work that you’ve forgotten to start your washing machine, you can start it from your office. Can’t remember if you have mayonnaise in the fridge while you’re grocery shopping? Check the contents of your fridge via an app.

Home security systems can monitor your home for intruders and alert you (or law enforcement) if a break-in is attempted. Smart systems use sensors to detect motion and sound and can be programmed to work in conjunction with digital assistants, making it easier to turn the alarm on and off. You can even use these systems to see exactly when and where your packages are delivered.

Overall, smart homes are becoming commonplace and will continue to be a major trend in the next few years. With the help of digital assistants, automated lights, appliances and security systems, you’ll be able to easily control and monitor your home—regardless of your current location—with the touch of a button, thanks to IoT.

From smart traffic lights to autonomous vehicles and connected logistics systems, you can use IoT technology to optimize nearly every aspect of transportation. By leveraging data collected from sensors and other sources, companies can gain insights into traffic patterns and driver behavior. Companies can then use these insights to make informed decisions about how best to manage their fleet.

Transportation- and vehicle-related IoT applications is one of the fastest-growing sectors of IoT. IoT-enabled devices can monitor traffic, detect accidents and provide real-time information about road conditions. Transportation crews can also use IoT solutions to collect data on road conditions which can then be used to plan better infrastructure investments or even predict future traffic patterns. These devices can help reduce congestion, improve safety and optimize routes for travelers.

Fleet management systems leverage IoT to provide deep insights across a large fleet of vehicles. Dispatchers can use data like location, fuel levels, dashcam video feeds and predictive maintenance alerts. This data can be streamed in real time from every vehicle in a fleet to a central dashboard or alerting system so organizations running large fleets can drive operational efficiency and safety.

Personal transportation devices like bike-share bicycles and electric scooters are now a popular sight in cities. SIM cards track the device’s location, so the rider is accurately charged for how long they’ve ridden or how far they’ve gone. Then, when the rider is done with the trip, they can leave the device for another person to use.

Much of the technology for smart cars and smart cities is already available. However, cellular IoT-enabled vehicles and city infrastructures could take smart cars to the next level with smart public transportation that uses citywide sensors and traffic data to create customized routes in real time for better fuel efficiency and shorter consumer ride times.

Industrial production was one of the first sectors to embrace IoT solutions. According to Precedence Research, it still dominates the IoT market. The most common IoT industrial solutions are deployed in manufacturing and production.

Industrial IoT solutions enable production machinery to operate more autonomously by detecting information that once had to be manually fed to the machine by a human operator. For example, IoT industrial solutions can automatically conduct quality control checks and schedule maintenance. In general, IoT enables humans to interact more safely with machinery. Adding mechanical pressure sensors to a machine, for example, can prevent it from causing injuries.

IoT industrial solutions can also improve efficiency and safety in other production facilities, like power plants. They can detect changes in operating parameters—like temperature, turbine speed and output—and then make automatic adjustments. The ability to detect these changes via an IoT sensor maximizes efficiency and reduces manual labor costs since it enables technicians to monitor equipment remotely.

Supply chain resilience

Supply chain resilience is a key focus of many businesses as they plan for the future. With the potential for disruptions due to geopolitical risks or pandemics, companies must be proactive in understanding, anticipating and reacting to potential supply chain shortages.

One way companies work to achieve greater supply chain resilience is by tracking inventory. This practice involves maintaining a backlog of components and inventory in order to be able to quickly respond to supply chain disruptions. Tracking sensors mounted on containers and pallets can allow companies to monitor the location of goods and shipments, which means they can better manage inventory and reduce losses.

Organizations can also use IoT technology to create predictive analytics models that anticipate customer orders or stock shortages. Companies can use these models to forecast demand, which allows them to better manage inventory and ensure orders are fulfilled in a timely manner. Additionally, predictive analytics can be used to identify potential problems in the supply chain, such as delivery delays, which enables companies to take proactive steps to mitigate them.

Finally, IoT technology can help companies better manage their resources by providing visibility into their energy usage. For example, using sensors to monitor energy use in manufacturing processes can help companies reduce energy consumption, resulting in cost savings.

This is far from an exhaustive list of IoT use cases, but it illustrates the potential of the Internet of Things. Cellular IoT devices offer more flexibility than traditional WiFi IoT equipment, and modern 5G and edge networks are capable enough that the connection isn’t restrictive.

The current IoT trends are indicative of a growing industry that’s just hitting its stride. As the technology improves and is deployed around the world, some of the focus will shift from developing and implementing IoT technology to refining the technology and finding new, secure ways to leverage IoT data.

It’s quite likely that cellular IoT could improve your business or be part of your next product. To learn more about IoT solutions across top industries, check out our IoT Solutions Explained blog post.

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