Editorial: 10 predictions for the IoT in 2022

Ryan is an editor at TechForge Media with over a decade of experience covering the latest technology and interviewing leading industry figures. He can often be sighted at tech conferences with a strong coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other. If it's geeky, he’s probably into it. Find him on Twitter: @Gadget_Ry

As we begin wrapping up the year, it’s time to predict what the IoT industry will look like in 2022.

Seamlessly connected homes

“The US market has seen substantial year-over-year growth in the number of connected homes, and this is expected to continue in the years to come,” analysts from McKinsey said in a recent report.

“However, we’re still far from the vision of seamlessly connected homes.”

The emergence of Thread as a widely-backed standard could finally deliver seamless connected home experiences.

Apple, with its large userbase, is often a kingmaker for new technologies. It’s not often that Apple backs an open standard, but it’s chosen to do so with Thread. That support will likely drive meaningful adoption in 2022.

Vividh Siddha, President of Thread Group, believes that – to reach mass adoption – customers need easy-to-use, interoperable, and secure devices that instil a sense of trust.

Siddha expects the most popular smart home products over the coming year will be security-focused, like cameras and door locks. This will be followed by smart thermostats, speakers, and TVs.

Digital transformation

Remote/hybrid working is here to stay and companies will increasingly embrace it as ensuring business continuity in uncertain times, boosting staff happiness, providing a wider talent pool, reducing costs, and more.

Smart companies will either maintain or downsize physical offices and invest more in making spaces intelligent for a reduced number of occupants. This could mean the ability to book workspaces/rooms, automate temperature checks, increase security, and reduce the energy consumption of unoccupied spaces.

More companies will make digital twins of their office spaces and dip their toes into shifting operations into the metaverse.

Selfridges is one such early example. The iconic department store recently launched a virtual city alongside designer Charli Cohen. Visitors can shop for physical garments in addition to digital versions that can be used across more than 300 other virtual platforms.

Telcos will use the IoT to their advantage

Telecoms providers will use the IoT to differentiate their offerings from competitors.

Service bundles will increasingly come with devices such as smart displays, lights, and speakers to entice potential customers over rival packages.

Telcos operating both broadband and mobile networks will use this to their advantage. Such telcos are in a position to offer a guaranteed service whereby if a broadband outage occurs then a mobile network will be used to prevent downtime—offering peace of mind to consumers, especially for security products.

Many consumers will have experienced a lacklustre connected home experience through poor WiFi coverage. Telcos can advertise mesh systems as a cure for such frustrations.

Security-focus

Following a year of high-profile breaches of IoT devices, manufacturers are expected to finally put security at the top of their agendas.

Security breaches have put individuals at risk and led to botnets of compromised devices that have conducted record-breaking DDoS attacks.

Manufacturers that don’t make security a core focus will be penalised as new laws come into force around the world that aim to get a grip on the issue.

The UK, for example, recently introduced the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure (PSTI) bill.

PSTI bans the use of default passwords, requires manufacturers to let consumers know how long a product will receive updates, provide a specific contact for reporting vulnerabilities, and more.

Increased malfunctions

Despite a welcome focus on security improvements, rapid adoption of the IoT will naturally lead to increased malfunctions.

Consumers may blame their telco provider for the issues which could increase customer churn without a robust plan in place to counter.

Telcos would do well to provide assistance to customers in rectifying any problems as they occur. Using network insights and automation could turn what could be a negative experience for a customer into a positive one by offering assistance proactively as it’s detected rather than waiting for a frustrated customer to seek out support.

“2022 is shaping up to be one of the most active for the connected home market, but to become a leader or maintain marketshare in this category, telcos and ISPs will need to take personalisation and the customer experience to the next level,” commented Amir Kotler, CEO of Veego.

“Doing this will require better acquaintance with next-generation AI platforms designed to significantly reduce service calls and deliver the best service possible for customers.”

Deeper personalisation

Continuing on with the data theme, insights from IoT devices allow for deep personalisation.

Data is already being used for personalised marketing and recommending new products and services that are more likely to interest a specific customer. We expect that to increase going into 2022, but we’ll also increasingly see data used for improving day-to-day experiences.

Real-time data from IoT devices can be used to customise apps. For example, if you were just playing music on a smart speaker, an app could display recommendations for what to play next, display a social account for that artist, or a news feed for that specific genre.

Building back better

The need to “build back better” from the pandemic is often said by politicians, but early indications suggest that it’s more than just another soundbite.

Steven Hegenderfer, Senior Director of Developer Ecosystems at Semtech, said:

“With President Biden’s infrastructure plan, we are sure to see a major investment in smart cities and smart municipalities. In conjunction with that, there will be a massive surge in the expansion of the Internet of Things.

When it comes to infrastructure, many think of roads and bridges, but it’s much more holistic. There are utilities, electricity, and gas to consider, all of which have come to rely on IoT technologies.

We anticipate massive growth in many of these technologies, not just LoRaWAN. In fact, this surge has already begun. For example, the city of San Jose, California, has partnered with a blockchain-based provider to extend the city’s broadband access. In exchange, the city is now hosting and expanding its peer-to-peer IoT network infrastructure.”

LoRaWAN will remain appealing for many smart city deployments for its long-range – meaning fewer repeaters and gateways – and support for a wide variety of applications. The technology is also robust against interference and LoRaWAN sensors use less energy than most equivalents.

Real-time patient monitoring

The past couple of years has seen an increased focus on the healthcare industry. From scientists creating life-saving vaccines, to the heroic frontline workers tirelessly risking their own lives to keep us healthy.

However, it’s no secret that the pandemic brought almost every healthcare system in the world to its knees. 

Screenings and treatments for other illnesses such as cancers were cancelled or had to be pushed back to cope with the demand. In the UK, a survey found that a third of NHS trust leaders estimate that it will take 3-5 years to clear the backlog of patients following the pandemic.

We can hope the worst of COVID-19 is behind us, but it’s only a matter of time before another pandemic hits. Taking notes from this pandemic and using technology to address inefficiencies will not only help us to prepare us for the next, but also reduce the day-to-day demand on healthcare workers and improve patient care.

One of the main problems during the peaks of the pandemic was the lack of hospital beds. In 2022, we’ll likely see increased use of Real-Time Patient Monitoring (RPM) systems to allow patients to be monitored remotely in the comfort of their own homes.

Smarter health devices

Patients will also have access to more connected devices that will enable them to monitor their conditions.

For example, around 422 million people around the world have diabetes and 1.5 million deaths are attributed to the condition every year. Current monitoring requires manually taking a blood sample from a finger prick, potentially several times per day.

The next-generation Apple Watch is expected to feature a glucose monitor that can keep a check on levels in a non-invasive manner. For type-one diabetics, wearable insulin pumps will likely gain increased adoption in 2022.

Such connected devices will change the lives of people living with such conditions and provide early warnings of irregularities before they turn into something more sinister. The ECG feature on an increasing number of smartwatches already helps to detect heart conditions prior to a potentially deadly or life-changing problem.

All of the data from these devices can be collected to give doctors much deeper insight into an individual’s health over time. We’re all unique and a doctor can’t feasibly see us every day, so these devices help with remote monitoring and show changes over time that can be vital for a critical diagnosis.

Growth in ‘brownfield’ industries

“Brownfield” industries with legacy, standalone machines and processes – such as in manufacturing and utilities – will continue to drive IoT growth in 2022.

Such industries have large install bases of machines they will be reluctant to replace but want to take advantage of the IoT’s benefits. New solutions are becoming available to retrofit legacy equipment.

“These industries have long been looking at developing IoT solutions, and most are prototyping now. The goal is to get data to flow between large manufacturing machines that have been operating for decades to improve the manufacturing processes,” commented Hegenderfer.

“They need to find a way to work with the equipment they already have. Manufacturers also want to keep their data on-premise, which is why I envision LoRa and LoRaWAN technologies being used for brownfield opportunities.”

In 2022, we’ll likely see more of such prototypes move into production.

Want to learn more about the IoT from industry leaders? Check out IoT Tech Expo. The next events in the series will be held in Santa Clara on 11-12 May 2022, Amsterdam on 20-21 September 2022, and London on 1-2 December 2022.

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