Is IoT Really Fulfilling Its Promise?

Article By : Nitin Dahad

While billions of devices are already connected, is the IoT fulfilling its true potential? How will 5G support its growth?

The internet of things (IoT) is often hyped up by device and network vendors as a solution for challenges in almost any industry today. And then 5G came along to work hand-in-hand with IoT to add even more improvements, whether it is simply for connectivity or for fast, near real-time response rates.

IoT and 5G WorldIn reality, if we measure where we are on the Gartner hype cycle, the IoT is probably somewhere between the trough of disillusionment and the slope of enlightenment. As the CEO at Verizon Business, Tami Erwin, said in a recent announcement, “The number of IoT devices is growing exponentially. The internet of things is changing the way businesses monitor devices and increasing the strategic business value of the data collected.”

Growth is definitely evident, and in the last year, it is apparent with the proliferation of connected devices and sensors for applications like remote health monitoring, diagnostics and care. Another area that has seen growth accelerated by the pandemic that started in 2020 is in factory automation, driven by staff numbers being reduced by various measures used to limit transmission of the virus and because of the implementation of distancing.

And in the last few days, Qualcomm launched a 5G modem chipset specifically optimized for industrial IoT, which will help companies achieve their visions of flexible manufacturing with the ability to easily reconfigure a wireless 5G connected factory floor.

So where are we with IoT? While billions of devices are already connected and enhancing many aspects of modern living, is the IoT fulfilling its true potential? And how will 5G support its growth?

EE Times has organized a conference next month to explore this topic with various companies in this ecosystem. The IoT & 5G World virtual conference takes place over three days from 22-24 June 2021, looking at the reality of where we are with IoT technologies, how the promise of IoT can be fulfilled on a wider scale. In this context, it will look at how 5G technologies can support more widespread adoption, whether it is for industrial automation, for healthcare and well-being, and many more, such as farming and agriculture.

We’ve split the program into three themes:

  • Day 1, 22 June 2021: The promise of IoT
  • Day 2, 23 June 2021: How 5G supports IoT
  • Day 3, 24 June 2021: Uses cases and security challenges

Day 1: The promise of IoT

Opening the first day, Adarsh Krishnan, research director at ABI Research, will look at the promise of massive IoT. He will highlight the various service revenue growth opportunities and market complexities across the massive IoT value chain including connectivity networks, data analytics, device and application platforms, and security. Massive IoT applications use IoT devices that operate with limited processing power, transport small amounts of sensor data infrequently, and are expected to operate in the field over long periods often with device autonomy of over 10 to 15 years. He’ll look at the vertical applications and use-cases in these IoT segments, with their distinct requirements catered to by an increasingly fragmented technology ecosystem.

This will be followed by two keynotes, one from Ron Martino, executive vice president and general manager of edge processing for NXP Semiconductors, and Mohamed Awad, vice president of the IoT business at Arm.

Awad will look at the IoT and compare its evolution with the smartphone revolution. He’ll make the case that to unleash the potential of IoT we need to enable the development, deployment, and monetization of IoT devices. This means industry needs to evolve technologies to meet market needs, make technology as accessible as possible, and prioritize the developer experience. He’ll discuss the challenges and opportunities for the IoT, exploring how Arm and its partners are removing the barriers to innovation and accelerating deployment.

Other talks include a talk from Siglent Technologies looking at enabling the empowered edge, and Microchip who will look at challenges faced by engineers in making IoT device smarter using AI, and how to enhance IoT devices with machine learning algorithms.

Rounding off the first day will be a live panel discussion which will explore what are the next steps for IoT to reach its full potential. This will explore aspects like deployment considerations, edge vs cloud data processing considerations, market fragmentation and compatibility challenges.

Day 2: How 5G supports IoT

In the opening talk for the second day, Antoine Bonnabel, technology & market analyst for RF devices and technology at Yole Développement will highlight the 5G approaches to enabling IoT connectivity, and how they will have to compete with the edge computing approach. 5G uses two different approaches for IoT connectivity: the use of public frequencies owned by mobile network operators (MNOs) and the use of private frequencies under license acquired by private companies in specific areas. Both approaches allow for deployments of private networks with dedicated infrastructure, one through network slicing and the other through locally deployed private infrastructure. Both now compete with edge computing for truly secure solutions at plant level. Bonnabel will present the general dynamics of each approach with their industrial chain specifics and expected market at component level.

This will be followed by keynotes from Tingfang Ji, senior director of engineering at Qualcomm, and Francesco Dantoni, distinguished member of technical staff and chief technologist for wireless infrastructure at Texas Instruments.

Dantoni will introduce the key technology trends, critical system parameters and performance requirements that drive the architecture choices for the integrated transceiver in 5G base stations to address the diverse requirements of the IoT. The speaker will present the signal chain of a highly flexible RF-sampling integrated transceiver that incorporates multi-GSPS high-performance data converters, enabling it to seamlessly scale across RF bandwidth and simultaneously support wideband and narrowband carriers.

These will be followed by talks from Renesas Electronics and TE Connectivity.

Renesas will look at deploying cellular connected IoT solutions at scale. The challenge of deploying cellular IoT starts when you connect your device to a carrier network. The speaker will explore how you manage your fleet of devices, how you make sure they connect and get updated properly, and how you deploy globally with different carriers, SIM cards and regulatory requirements. This session will explore some of the benefits of fully certified and tested cellular modules. Paired with an MVNO, certified modules reduce the risk for global certification and interoperability while providing robust capabilities to securely manage and update devices in the field. Utilizing the LTE Cat-M1 band, these devices can be fielded for longer periods of time at a fraction of the cost of higher bandwidth LTE.

TE Connectivity will look at key antenna considerations in designing a smart IoT ecosystem. As IoT ecosystems move to support high-density, low latency networks and incorporate various new features, there is pressure on antenna system design. The complexities of antenna system design and the availability of more frequency bands afforded by 5G have made choosing an antenna for a smart device that much more challenging. System designs cannot rely on plug-and-play options, but instead require more sophisticated planning and a holistic assessment of all connectivity requirements. The antennas must manage different redundancies and services while working clearly and independently from one another.

The day will conclude with a live panel discussion exploring if the role of 5G in IoT is overhyped. It will look at how and where 5G augments and accelerates IoT adoption, the role of network slicing in supporting IoT deployment, plus the role of mmWave 5G in IoT applications.

Day 3: Uses cases and security challenges

Opening a day of talks that looks at applications and security, Daniel Cooley, CTO of Silicon Labs will speak about how the IoT will not scale without trust. He will put the case that despite being the largest volume market in the world, the IoT is also the least secure and most vulnerable to attack from increasingly sophisticated hackers. In order for the IoT to realize its full potential, we must rethink security from the cloud to the end nodes.

Following the opening talk, we will have keynotes from Don Loomis, vice president for the micros, security & software division at Maxim Integrated, and Itay Sherman, CTO of Powermat Technologies.

Loomis will look at the technical approaches to defend and protect the IoT. He highlights that invaders remotely attack to extract private information from cameras, launch DDoS attacks, ransom people and organizations, and cripple nation-wide infrastructures. Despite numerous existing and proposed security standards, laws and guidelines, attacks are increasing. The price is steep with cybercrime expected to cost the world over $10 trillion annually by 2025. In this talk, he examines the challenges of securing IoT devices, and explores a significant piece of the puzzle: providing security at the circuit board level, no matter the compliance requirements.

Meanwhile, taking another perspective, Sherman will look at the marriage of data and wireless power, and its significance in medical and wearable IoT. He will look at current and future market trends related to power in this healthcare sector, and the main challenges today – such as battery life, portability, patient safety, and sanitation. He’ll then illustrate some solutions, with the different approaches when designing wireless power solutions for medical and wearable IoT devices, and delivering data over wireless power, combined with BLE.

This will be followed by a talk from Infineon Technologies, looking at delivering robust security from the node to the cloud. With a growing number of devices connecting to the internet, security must be established between hardware, cloud applications and servers, and finally users and services. The speaker will illustrate how PSoC 64 secure MCUs with ultra-low power PSoC 6 architecture integrated with an open-source IoT platform software deliver a secure solution that “just works”. The key is to provide a pre-established root-of-trust, isolated processing environments, and secure bootloader which enable secure boot, secure firmware updates, remote attestation, and secure provisioning provided secure programming facilities.

Closing out the conference will be a live panel discussion which will explore what IoT use cases have been accelerated by the pandemic. Health and wellness are clearly key areas that have benefited, but what about other applications. And even in health, what are the challenges to be addressed, from enabling medical grade technology, to data processing, privacy and latency?

Registration for the virtual three-day IoT & 5G World conference is free. Full details of the conference program and registration link can be found from the event home page.

This article was originally published on EE Times.

Nitin Dahad is a correspondent for EE Times, EE Times Europe and also Editor-in-Chief of With 35 years in the electronics industry, he’s had many different roles: from engineer to journalist, and from entrepreneur to startup mentor and government advisor. He was part of the startup team that launched 32-bit microprocessor company ARC International in the US in the late 1990s and took it public, and co-founder of The Chilli, which influenced much of the tech startup scene in the early 2000s. He’s also worked with many of the big names – including National Semiconductor, GEC Plessey Semiconductors, Dialog Semiconductor and Marconi Instruments.

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