2020. It sounds so futuristic and yet, it is now!  Not all technology predictions come to pass but the well known BBC television program Tomorrow’s World got quite close in 1989.  Presenter Christine MacNulty reported ‘People will want all the benefits of modern technology but without all the cluttered and complex gadetry we have today.  They’ll want homes that work for them. By 2020, all of this will be possible. We’ll have things under control without all these knobs and buttons.’

Well, it seems that Christine was pretty spot on, but what do we think 2020 will really bring us?

Massive IoT, NB-IoT and Cat-M

NB-IoT (Narrow Band Internet of Things) will be coming into its own this year.  Up until recently, the cellular technology had only really made inroads in China, boosted by state support.  Hardware costs, 2G and 3G had hampered growth elsewhere. With 2G and 3G starting to take a backseat, people are ready to invest in the technology.  Customers want reasonably priced hardware and low data usage costs. In 2019 manufactures developed cheaper chipsets (groups of interdependent motherboard chips controlling data flow).  With lower costs, more companies have implemented this technology and the market is now ready for NB-IoT.

NB-IoT can co-exist with 2G, 3G and 4G mobile networks but as some of these start to be phased out, this LPWAN technology will ease the transition to 5G.  By 2025 it is predicted that NB-IoT and Cat-M will account for 52% of cellular IoT connections.

What’s so great about NB-IoT?

Apart from the aforementioned lower costs, it allows for power consumption to be reduced and supports 10-15 year battery life in use cases.  It excels in poor areas of coverage such as deep within buildings or underground. Designed for long range operation, it is suited to smart metering, assisting parking, lighting, automation and tracking, in short, NB-IoT meets the requirements for Massive IoT and we at Arkessa we are well placed to support the transition, with customer trials and deployments already live as we write.

Light Bulb Moments – connected lighting in 2020

In 2020 smart lighting will become steadily more popular in the connected home and wider world.  It’s important to remember that it isn’t just about clever light bulbs but more the solutions available when the technology is overlaid with other software.  Whether it be connecting lights with a smart sound system and creating the perfect kitchen disco, using an app on a mobile device to control lights at home when the house is unoccupied therefore boosting security or saving energy and lowering costs by using lighting in conjunction with sensors to ensure meeting rooms are only lit when in use, we can expect a lot from connected lighting this year.

Retail Re-defined

Retail is an exciting area of smart technology, with an emphasis on attracting customers and improving experience and security.  Some areas to look out for are:

Virtual, Augmented and Extended Reality – Imagine being able to shop for clothing without having to queue for a changing cubicle.  You won’t have to imagine for much longer, Consumers want it and it will come!

IKEA Place, an ARKit app is a popular AR technology allowing users to see how furniture will look in their own home.  Originally only available on iOS it can now be found on Android.

Recommendation Engines – Designed to suggest items you didn’t even know you needed!  The more data the algorithms collect, the better the recommendations.  Useful from streaming services to retail. Beneficial for retailers, handy for users.

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) – Increasing in use all the time, predictions suggest a $10.7B market by 2025.  In retail, they are particularly useful in order fulfillment. Excellent for reducing order processing times but also to make up for the shortfall in human employees.  Smart robots keep reliable and up to date stock data. Better for stock flow, making predictions, ordering and simplified stock taking.

Chat Bots – Frequently more common, this tech is popular, user friendly and reduces the strain on call centres and inboxes.

Other growing trends

The welfare of people, the planet and lowering carbon emissions is being driven by governing bodies and the public alike.  Businesses are waking up to the idea that the welfare of people is an investment, not a cost. Much of connected technology supports this, making it easier to provide a comfortable environment whilst also reducing costs and the negative impact on the planet.

Electronic Vehicles – In Europe alone, sales are predicted to rise by 35% this year!

Smart Healthcare – Wearables are truly disrupting the healthcare industry and it’s a trend that is set to continue.  At CES earlier this month, the Scanwatch from Withings was introduced.  Going beyond an ECG and AFib detection capability, it has the ability to detect sleep apnea and offers a VO2 Max feature.  Other wearables include smart earbuds, insoles and smart glasses.

Here at Arkessa we have no doubt that 2020 will prove to be interesting and significant.  To keep up to date, bookmark our blog and don’t forget to check out our Smart Lighting podcast, soon to be released.

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