According to IDC, there will be 55.7 billion connected IoT devices by 2025. More companies are adopting smart devices for industrial use cases, the enterprise, the automotive sector, healthcare, and the smart home. As IoT continues to rapidly grow, what can we expect in 2023? Let’s take a look.
This year, we will see a growing demand for sustainability in consumer and industrial products. Europe is still ahead of the rest of the world in addressing this, but the U.S. and many other regions will also make major moves to catch up.
There are many ways to improve sustainability and reduce our impact on the environment. One method that will see a lot of traction is the adoption of energy harvesting to reduce or completely replace, the need for batteries in our connected devices. Every year billions of batteries are thrown away into landfills, so solving this problem will have a huge impact.
Although there are many different ways that connected devices can harvest energy, photovoltaic (PV) cell technology is likely to see the most adoption in the coming years. Connected devices, ranging from remote controls and wireless keyboards in the smart home to beacons and e-Badge readers in enterprise/industrial environments, will be powered by PV energy. In addition to the sustainability benefits of using PV technology to reduce battery waste, PV energy harvesting reduces maintenance time and costs – which are particularly important when it comes to large IoT deployments.
“Although there are many different ways that connected devices can harvest energy, photovoltaic (PV) cell technology is likely to see the most adoption in the coming years.”-Atmosic Technologies
Another trend on the horizon for the IoT industry in 2023 is Matter, a connectivity standard promising to help smart devices better communicate with each other. While Bluetooth is still the protocol of choice for lightweight communication, there are a number of protocols that sit on top of the highly reliable IEEE802.15.4 standard. One of the newer protocols leveraging 15.4 is Matter and if enough companies start adopting it we will likely see Matter become another key wireless protocol that connects our IoT devices and networks.
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (BT SiG) is also broadening Bluetooth’s capabilities for IoT applications in 2023 as more devices are adopting Bluetooth’s location services. Bluetooth’s Direction Finding, Angle-of-Arrival (AoA), and Angle-of-Departure (AoD) technologies promise to unleash new opportunities in retail stores, factories, warehouses, hospitals, and many other commercial and industrial environments.
Bluetooth AoA has become one of the most popular technologies for indoor positioning. Bluetooth AoA can calculate the direction and location of an object (the tag) through infrastructure devices, which are often referred to as the locator or receiver. This precise method of calculating location makes Bluetooth AoA systems more accurate than many other positioning technologies, as well as very power-efficient – something that is particularly important for deployments that have hundreds of thousands of trackable assets.
AoD is also becoming increasingly popular. In this case, the signals are transmitted from the infrastructure device and then the edge device calculates its position. This is possible because AoD applications often use smartphones to take advantage of the modern CPU resource available in the handheld device and the daily recharge provided by the smartphone owner. The just-in-time messaging allows commercial and retail facilities to further build out their customer loyalty programs with unique special offers and introduce point-of-interest wayfinding through their stores, which then also complements the industry-wide adoption of Electronic Shelf Labels (ESL) – another technology benefiting from the ultra-low power capabilities of Bluetooth.
The benefit of electronic signage is that updates can automatically be applied across one or all products and multiple stores at the press of a key. The caveat of this is that many of these devices need to be battery-operated, creating a logistical challenge when it comes time to swap out batteries for every ESL deployed, with most having been initially turned on at the same time. Implementing intelligent energy harvesting and wireless technologies in such fleets simplifies deployment, maintenance, and daily operation. Overall, energy harvesting reduces maintenance downtime and operating overhead, in addition to mitigating the ecological concerns of battery waste.
It’s exciting to see how technologies like energy harvesting and ESLs are contributing to a more sustainable IoT in 2023, helping the environment, and benefiting end-users at the same time. It is expected that the industry’s reliance on batteries will continue to decrease over the next year as sustainability continues to become a much larger priority for more product developers and their companies. New standards such as Matter and the continual investment in existing standards to meet the needs of the market (such as the addition of AoA and AoD to the Bluetooth protocol) will help drive continued innovation and bring new opportunities for the IoT market.