Emerging Tech: Trends to Watch in 2019
Three top movements that will help shape the future of the Internet of Things.
At the beginning of each year, many headlines read similar to the one heading this article. There are predictions to contemplate, trends to watch, warnings to heed, and tips to act on or at least consider as businesses enter a brand-new year. In the IoT (Internet of Things), emerging trends range from autonomous “things” and AI (artificial intelligence) to immersive experiences powered by AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), blockchain, and quantum computing—and this is just scratching the surface.
In talking with industry experts at the end of last year, however, a few trends seemed to come up in conversations over and over again. The industry’s growing concern about cybersecurity and the potential impacts of security and privacy legislation, for instance, frequently make experts’ trends-to-watch lists. So, too, do 5G wireless connectivity and digital twins, which both present exciting opportunities in the realm of the IoT.
American investor and author Howard Marks once entitled a memo to Oaktree Capital clients “You Can’t Predict. You Can Prepare.” The 2001 memo pointed out that forecasts aren’t written in stone, but predictions can be a sort of starting point. Rather than just adding to the noise and hype, then, Connected World aims to help businesses not just predict but prepare for what may be coming in 2019 and beyond.
Trend 1: Cybersecurity and the Law
In 2019, the number of connected devices could reach more than 26 million, topping 30 billion by 2020. That’s a lot of devices, and it’s also a lot of potential endpoints for cybercriminals to exploit. This year, there was a fair bit of nefarious activity that affected millions of businesses and individuals. By some accounts, there were more than 53,000 incidents across the globe in just 12 months.
One question being asked in the IoT is how industry, government, and consumers can work together to achieve necessary levels of security and privacy as IoT adoption swells to levels never before seen.
Josh Corman, chief security officer of PTC, says a growing understanding of the importance of cybersecurity is leading to increased awareness of the risks of IoT deployments and expects recent proposed legislation and voluntary guidance will have an impact in the coming year. Such legislation includes the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017. The goal of this particular bill is, in part, to provide minimal cybersecurity operational standards for Internet-connected devices purchased by federal agencies.
Other legislation includes the DIGIT (Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things) Act, which would form a working group focused on identifying challenges and providing pro-IoT-growth recommendations to the government, and a few bills aimed at improving security.
For instance, the Securing the IoT Act of 2017 would require the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to establish cybersecurity standards that radio frequency equipment must meet throughout its lifecycle, the Cyber Shield Act of 2017, which would create a voluntary program to identify and promote IoT devices that meet industry-leading cybersecurity and data security standards, and the IoT Consumer Tips to Improve Personal Security Act of 2017, which would require the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to develop cybersecurity resources for consumer education and awareness regarding the purchase and use of IoT devices.
Peggy Smedley chats with Beverly Rider, senior vice president and chief commercial officer, Hitachi, about the path she took that ended up in the IoT (Internet of Things) and how her goal is to look at the IoT from a business-outcome perspective. She also discusses what is needed to foster an environment where you can make a mistake, why there is currently a competition for great talent, and how to show young women what possibilities are in the IoT. She also shares why some of her great passions—reading, cooking, gardening, and scrapbooking—are currently on hold.
…In 2019, the number of connected devices could reach more than 26 million, topping 30 billion by 2020…
AT&T and Cybersecurity:
Strategies for the Future
On the state level, California’s IoT security law SB-327, alongside the state’s privacy law AB-375, will also have ripple effects throughout the industry. “While the California bill doesn’t go into effect until January 2020, product designs will need to begin adapting to the new requirements immediately,” Corman explains. “This legislation will regulate manufacturers that sell devices in California to have security appropriate to the nature of the device. This will include such basic requirements as unique passwords for each device.”
The legislative efforts at state and federal levels, paired with regulatory actions outside of the U.S. (e.g., the U.K.’s Code of Practice for consumer IoT security), suggests significant action around a core set of common cybersecurity principles. “It is not a question of if, but rather of how soon and how well structured IoT regulation will be implemented,” Corman adds.
As to the question of how soon, Jeffrey Rosenthal, partner at Blank Rome, says by nature, the law moves slowly and will therefore never truly keep up with explosive IoT growth. However, this doesn’t mean legislation can’t also be effective in shaping future growth. “For instance, had California tethered its legislation to a particular technology, it would have basically been outdated upon enactment,” Rosenthal says. “But by placing the emphasis on whether security features are reasonable, California has done its best to ensure its law will keep pace with unforeseen IoT advancements in the coming years.”
Regulating the IoT requires legislators to confront two overlapping but often conflicting considerations: Does the legislation provide adequate protection to consumers, and does it place an undue burden on businesses and manufacturers? “Going forward, it will be interesting to see whether and to what extent California’s legislation strikes a proper balance between these competing interests,” Rosenthal says. “With its emphasis on reasonable security features, California’s legislation reflects the heightened privacy and security awareness now held by modern consumers. If this trend continues—and there is no sign it will not—there is a strong chance other states, and perhaps Congress, will follow California’s lead and enact similar IoT legislation.”
Cyber Staffing Is Still Lacking in IoT
If connected devices are going to surpass 26 billion in 2019, many IoT (Internet of Things) thought leaders are questioning whether various bodies can come together to ensure the right cybersecurity systems are in place to achieve the necessary levels of security and privacy.
AI, ML, IoT, and Emerging Tech
Cognitive technologies like machine learning and AI (artificial intelligence) certainly have proven to be an important part of the IoT (Internet of Things) sector because they can help make products and services smarter and, therefore, more valuable.
IoT and Emerging Tech in 2019
It’s 2019 and it’s time to delve right into the emerging technologies that are impacting the IoT (Internet of Things) in a big way: cybersecurity and legislation, 5G, and digital twins.
5G Opens up New IoT Possibilities
With the New Year comes many new challenges and many opportunities for the IoT (Internet of Things). There is no question that 2019 can be seen as the year of innovation, led by a world of 5G.
Trend 2: 5G
Meanwhile, standards creation will support the adoption of advanced wireless technologies like 5G, which are expected to play an important role in the IoT in the coming year. Christian Winkler of Siemens Corporate Technology says the upcoming networking standard 5G promises to be the solution for all kinds of IoT connectivity, especially wireless. “5G will support three dimensions of wireless connectivity—enhanced mobile broadband, which is the prime focus of the telco players, ultra-reliable low latency, and massive machine-type communications,” he says. “As 5G is a worldwide standard, the technology will gain high product volumes and so become a cost-efficient alternative for a bunch of specialized technologies used these days.”
5G, the next generation of cellular mobile communications, offers lower latency, higher data rates and higher bandwidth, and other benefits that will be very important for applications like remote surgery and autonomous vehicles. From enabling high-bandwidth smart-city solutions, connecting energy grids, and opening doors for autonomous fleets to simply making existing solutions better, 5G is an exciting, though potentially expensive, prospect.
The maturation of 5G may also boost the adoption of several other IoT trends, including AI, AR, and VR. James Lewis, senior vice president and director of the CSIS (Center for Strategic and Intl. Studies) Technology Policy Program, says: “Many of the bigger IoT developments will appear only after 5G networks become widespread; 5G will completely change the dynamic and pace. The combination of 5G and AI applications will connect and automate in ways we haven’t yet identified. It’s a new kind of app economy that will involve machines as well as people.”
5G will also play a role in the continued rise of edge computing. For instance, Gartner says 5G will provide the expanding edge-computing environment with more robust communication back to centralized services, and the research firm calls this phenomenon the “empowered edge.” 5G will therefore help drive the need for edge computing, an architecture that allows for faster data processing close to the source.
In the consumer realm, 5G will enable applications such as multi-user gaming, video conferencing (also helpful for enterprise applications), and distance learning, among others. In fact, Research and Markets suggests the 5G services market will grow from just under $54 billion in 2020 to more than $123 billion by 2025, thanks to the rising demand for ultra-low latency connectivity services, as well as the increasing use of connected IoT devices for both enterprise and consumer use cases.
Source: Research and Markets
Trend 3: Digital Twins
Michael Grieves, executive director of CAMID (Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design) at FIT (Florida Institute of Technology), points to three IoT technologies he expects to see more of in 2019 and beyond: sensors, cybersecurity, and AR. All three technologies, he says, are integral to having a digital twin of physical products.
“For the digital twin to be realizable of a physical product, we need to know what experiences the physical product is having. Therefore, we will need to sensor more things on the physical product itself,” Grieves says.
“With products that are sensored and communicating to their digital twin, cybersecurity is of paramount importance. While it is important that IoT-outward communications is not eavesdropped on, inward communication to IoT-enabled products where commands can be given to the product that will cause it to take some action, must be secure from tampering. The amount of damage that malicious communications giving destructive commands could do to everything from factory machines to autonomous vehicles is incalculable.”
Image courtesy of Michael Grieves
Digital Twin Growth
Further, AR helps merge digital twins with their physical counterparts. “Up until now, we have either worked with the digital twin or its physical counterpart,” Grieves explains. “Augmented reality lets us overlay digital twin information onto the physical counterpart. It will allow us to do such things as see the fuel flow in an engine or the heat levels of a pump. It will facilitate repair of physical products by walking the technician step-by-step through repair processes.”
A digital twin is a set of virtual information constructs that fully describes a potential or actual physical manufactured product. The idea is that any information that could be obtained from inspecting a physical manufactured product could also be obtained from its digital twin. The digital twin model, according to Grieves, consists of three main parts: the physical product, the virtual product (i.e., the digital twin), and the connection between the two. “(The) IoT is the mechanism that sensors the physical product and gives the digital twin the data it needs to understand what is happening with the physical product,” adds Grieves.
Gartner estimates that by 2020, there will be more than 20 billion connected things and digital twins will exist for billions of them. In fact, the digital twin market, according to WiseGuyReports.com, is accounted for $2.37 million in 2017 and is expected to reach $39.39 million by 2026 growing at a CAGR of 36.6% during the forecast period. This growth is thanks in part to digital twins’ relevance in so many different industries.
Digital twins provide the unique ability for manufacturers or other types of businesses to see how their products or physical assets are performing in the field. By visualizing products in use in realtime, engineers and other interested parties can gain critical information that can help them make better business decisions. “I don’t think I’ve come across a market in which the digital twin could not be useful,” says Grieves. “Industries such as aerospace, automotive, shipbuilding, heavy industrial equipment, oil rigs manufacturing, and a multitude of factory machines are just some of the digital twin examples that I’ve seen.”
In the future, there may be uses for digital twins that extend beyond virtual representations of inanimate objects like devices and machines. For instance, Grieves points to a paper that proposes the idea of creating digital twins of human children in order to track their physical and mental advancements. While this particular use case isn’t coming to fruition in 2019, it’s just one example of how digital twin technology is encouraging the same kind of innovative thinking that keeps driving the IoT to new heights. 2019, it seems, will be no exception.
The future is very bright and digital transformation is changing the way we think and conduct business. Today more than ever businesses need to prepare for their future and great technology can help smooth the path to success.