If anything, 5G has held the growth of the IoT back. Too many in the industry have said far too often that the success of the IoT depends on 5G. It clearly does not.
It turns out that the COVID-19 pandemic has given the IoT the boost that it needed. Juniper Research believes that IoT platform revenue will grow to $66 billion this year, up from $55 billion in 2019. The company also predicts that the pressures created by the pandemic will leave the IoT ‘market’ in good shape once it is over.
Many of the IoT use cases we are seeing taking off at the moment have been accelerated or boosted by current circumstances, and it is generally a crisis that triggers the faster adoption of technology.
The most widely adopted IoT service these days is thermal imaging using cameras that can assess temperatures very quickly, even in crowds. This is being used to help make the journey back to offices safer and is also being tested at stations and airports.
While taking someone’s temperature is not a failsafe way of telling whether someone has the virus, temperature is a good first indicator and that person can be side-lined for further, medical-grade, testing before being allowed to pass on his or her way.
Smart thermometers in glasses are enjoying a similar uptick.
In other arenas, too, the pandemic has provided a boost. Remote healthcare was lagging before the crisis, now remote diagnosis, monitoring, support and advice are areas that are benefiting both patients and health care workers.
Cleaning is another example. Cleaning robots are being used in more and more locations, from airports to stations, grocery stores and other retail locations.
When a crisis triggers greater technology uptake we do not settle back to the levels before the crisis struck. Once COVID-19 has been defeated, we will not put the robots back in the cleaning cupboard, or stop using thermal imaging where it makes sense to do so.
The business benefits of the technology will remain once the crisis has passed and increased use of the IoT in many areas will become part of the new normal.
And, yes, 5G will provide many extra, mainly enhanced, use cases for the IoT but it doesn’t need it to succeed.