The ‘Internet of Things’, a term coined by Kevin Ashton in the year 1999, began gaining momentum over the last decade given to the recent advancements attributed by the human mind’s inquisitive nature and the need to widen the scope of technology beyond the confines of industrial use cases.
A report claims that by the year 2021, the world will witness an increase in the number of IoT devices by 35 billion. While IoT has found its potential in several industries such as infrastructure, military, consumer IoT has promised the most favourable growth for tech enthusiasts in the current decade.
Major players in the industry, Amazon, Google, and Apple, nurtured tech enthusiasts’ interest in bringing artificial intelligence to everyday life. Light fixtures, home appliances, home security systems, and even entertainment are integrated with IoT. To that end, it is interesting to note that Statista predicts the home IoT market to have a growth of $53.45 billion by 2022
The potential of cellular IoT in today’s connected world
Today, with increasing worldwide penetration of the Internet of Things (IoT) and fast-paced adoption of smartphones, cellular IoT has become one of the significant growth contributors for the smart home segment. When the tech giants created convivial smart assistants and other everyday devices for the smart home segment, they designed the cellular IoT to tap into the existing cellular technology to create a sensor-based communication line between the phone and the device.
As a result, the use of 2G/3G/4G increased multifold, with almost 3.5 Billion predicted cellular IoT connections in 2020. The growing number of internet users and the rising need to use voice-control technology is a testament to smart home devices’ evolving capabilities. With the emergence of 5G and advanced machine learning capabilities, cellular IoT showcases vast potential to penetrate the consumer IoT network.
IoT Use cases for your smart home
Deep diving further into how cellular IoT revolutionised the smart home segment, four use cases depict the true potential of smart devices in everyday life.
As our lives get busier by the day, the need for automation grew. Home automation is increasingly becoming popular as IoT allows devices to ‘interact’ with each other to create a ‘smart home.’ It has become common practice in households with smart assistants to use voice commands to control thermostats, electronic devices like coffee machines, and even larger appliances, including washers, refrigerators, and more. The growing popularity of IoT is not merely because of voice-command accessibility.
Automating daily tasks or creating routines has been the driving factor for the smart home concept. However, the range of devices that can be controlled is dependent on the control protocols. While WiFi is the most commonly used and popular form of IoT control, LTE-M is gaining momentum among tech fanatics for more advanced automation tasks such as sending alerts to purchase essentials based on consumption patterns. A simple and secure alternative to Wi-Fi, LTE-M is perfect for building a sustainable smart home solution that is cost-efficient and includes high connectivity capability.
Home security and monitoring
The growth of security devices holds a formidable place in the comprehensive list of IoT usability. Smart security systems are now the most promising component of the smart home segment. With the growing use of the internet, it is reported that given a choice, 56% of consumers would switch home security providers to monitor their home remotely using smartphones. Door locks, security cameras, doorbells, motion detectors, and facial scanners are some of the prominent smart devices used in establishing a home security system.
These devices leverage cellular IoT’s promising capabilities to detect anomalies, record data for future review. Using Zigbee or Z-wave technology, smart security systems establish wireless communication with the central hub and capitalises 4G cellular connectivity for instant access. Thanks to the highly secure and easy accessibility of security systems with smartphones, wireless smart home security is gaining momentum.
Smart utility metering
Considered a potential tool to reduce household energy consumption, home utility metering systems are gaining popularity to monitor a range of consumption metrics from electricity, gas, and water. According to a recent report, the smart meter market’s size is expected to be $12 billion by 2024. Interestingly, cellular communications have proven to provide reliable connectivity options for smart metering infrastructure through low latency in 4G LTE. As the reach of modern cellular networks expands, home utility metering is becoming easy and inexpensive to install.
Smart entertainment devices have infiltrated the entertainment segment as hobbyists, and other non-tech users shift towards voice-command operated devices to control their entertainment units right from playing music, opening streaming apps to interacting with other devices like smartphones to answer calls.
It is interesting to note that significant players in the audio system and TV industry, including Bose, Sonos and countless others have developed smart devices that include voice controls and smart apps to replace the traditional remote.
As smartphones play a pivotal role, VoLTE is also used to direct calls to smart entertainment devices, thus creating a newer need for smart entertainment units. Smart TVs, Bluetooth music devices, and wireless speakers have become the sector’s promising offerings as their Wi-Fi dependency is constantly diminishing. Smart assistants, including Alexa and Siri, have since evolved to make the hands-off technology work better. Media streaming devices such as Amazon Fire TV Stick and Apple’s Homepod are also gathering a fanbase for using NLP and voice recognition software to improve user experience.
Smart lighting system
Owing to the retail cost, smart lights were once a distant dream but no more. IoT powered lighting solutions allow users to control devices directly from their smartphones and other voice-command devices. Apart from the freedom to control lighting inside the house, these smart lights gain momentum as they are considered a source of clean energy.
Utilising cellular technology, including NB-IoT and other 5G compatible connectivity infrastructure, electronic companies worldwide cater to the growing need for smart solutions both from technology innovation and environmentally conscious standpoints.
Witnessing the gamut of offerings currently available in the smart home segment, a recent report states that smart-home technology will have a different landscape in the future with a market size of USD135.3 billion by 2025.
Some of the promising areas of smart home IoT include Artificial intelligence that can use data to understand a person’s habits and robotic appliances that will innovate to support the elderly. Having said that, it is interesting to draw a parallel to the usage of IoT between smart homes and smart cities, from security systems such as surveillance cameras to infrastructural automation like controlling traffic lights.
Tech giants, particularly mobile carriers and networking companies, are becoming increasingly interested in expanding their service scope to become more cellular IoT friendly. Interestingly, the passage of cellular IoT in the industry is gaining further momentum thanks to 5G and cellular enable sensors that have overtaken the need for WiFi to create smart devices. As cellular IoT bridges the gap between instant connectivity and automation, we are inching towards a fully ‘smart’ world.
Written by Ajit Thomas, Co-Founder & CMO, Cavli Wireless