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Industry 4.0 - With 5G here, what's next for Internet of Things

Headless Commerce

[This journal entry is part of our Industry 4.0 experiences.]

With the rapid development and expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), many things have become a reality, such as connected vehicles, remote monitoring, and maintenance of devices and machines, digital healthcare, etc. However, one of the biggest challenges faced by this new technology is limited bandwidth. To overcome this limitation and reach its full potential, 5G is playing an important role by increasing bandwidth and making it easy for IoT to connect many devices. A forecast by Statista suggests that around 50 billion IoT devices will be used worldwide by 2030, including interconnected devices from smartphones to connected cars, cities, and homes. Meanwhile, 5G can help in improving wireless connection at higher data transfer speed, thus offering a better user experience across industries.

5G: A Game Changer for IoT

By providing better connectivity, 5G is transforming industries globally. The increasing use of high sensor density to gather data enables digitization of factories and productivity; 5G can handle the number of connected sensors and manage various connected devices at a time. With technological growth, 5G-enabled IoT connectivity will also create millions of jobs with digitization across industries to reach ultra-fast data transmission.

Earlier 5G applications have focused on high-speed industrial networking video broadcasting, mobile computing, and customer premise equipment; however, with the wide adoption of 5G.

It will be used to stream 3D videos and augmented reality for critical communication such as factory automation. With 5G IoT, industries can send necessary upgrades across all the networks without putting standby or freezing functionalities. With low latency, high speed, cost-effectiveness, handling large numbers of devices, and low energy consumption, 5G has emerged as the perfect enabler for IoT.

5G has led to better connectivity across healthcare as IoT devices can be used with 5G to monitor patients, get real-time data and recommend treatment for disease on time. With reduced latency and high speed offered by 5G, healthcare workers use IoT devices to monitor and treat patients remotely. With the increasing adoption of remote medical devices and procedures, it has become easy to share digital images in remote areas and perform robotic surgeries. , according to the research report from Market Research Future, with increasing demand for better medical services in rural areas with IoT and 5G, the telemedicine industry will likely witness a 16.5% CAG between 2017 to 2023.

With the new and unforeseen challenges brought due to the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare industries globally focus on adopting new technologies enabling remote monitoring and treatment of patients. This quick technology adoption has led to IoT and 5G technology that can play a crucial role in transforming healthcare and social care. Surveys conducted globally also support the use of 5G drone technology and remote-assisted surgery. , video consultations are considered more convenient than visiting a GP or doctor in person, especially during a pandemic. Telemedicine leads to more healthcare organizations and hospitals taking steps to increase IoT applications and become 5G connected.

Is 5G a Boon for the Industrial Internet of Things Market?

Much of the focus of 5G centers on the future of smartphones, self-driving cars, and drones. However, the role of 5G in the industrial Internet of Things is worth watching. With the capacity to handle additional networks, 5G can transform IIoT; for instance, it can enable video data processing leading to real-time testing of industrial mills or lathes. 5G can also result in more precise positioning of industrial robots and expanding their use cases. It can also enable remote monitoring and maintenance of wind farms, process manufacturing, and the oil and gas industry.

With the growing demand for high-speed data connection, companies are focusing on launching new products that can support IoT devices and the transition required for Industry 4.0. For instance, Qualcomm recently launched a 5G modem solution for 5G and IoT use cases in energy, agriculture, manufacturing, retail, mining, construction, and public venues. Schneider Electric, Bosch, Siemens, and Telit are working on 5G IoT modules using a modem by Qualcomm.

Real-time data sharing can be achieved using 5G in connected factories. 5G also increases robots’ pace in industries and manufacturing by increasing wireless control and data transfer between IIoT based controllers and robots. Although the manufacturing sector has maximum potential, the adoption of IoT in manufacturing is limited as large organizations are diverse and complex with geographically dispersed units that need more effort and time to bring it all together under IoT. Below are some of the challenges limiting IoT adoption in the manufacturing sector.

  • High cost of sensor installation and connectivity

  • Overcoming hardware incompatibility

  • Solving connectivity issues to automate and digitize entire operations

  • Ensuring data privacy and security

5G is boosting the growth of Industry 4.0. Leveraging 5G IIoT technology, sensors, automation, and robotics will help manufacturing sectors make decentralized and informed decisions, achieve process efficiency, and improve equipment efficiency and connectivity. 5G can also improve overall working conditions for factories by providing the speed, capacity, mobility, and reliability required to implement industrial IoT successfully.

5G IoT Accelerating the Growth of Connected Vehicles and Driverless Cars

Connected vehicles have gained immense popularity in recent years; with 5G technology achieving high-speed connectivity in advance, in-vehicle technology has become possible. Next-generation connected vehicles using technologically advanced IoT devices will likely witness the increasing demand for 5G connectivity to establish low-latency and ultra-fast communication between vehicle-to-customer (V2C) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V).

The majority of the connected vehicles offer GPS service; however, connecting the navigation system to a GPS network or smartphone to a car’s dashboard is not very exciting due to the slow connectivity speed. In the future, this can be solved using 5G, which establishes faster connectivity between smartphone or in-vehicle navigation systems to GPS and helps drivers to avoid traffic or any other disruption on the road and find new routes to reach GPS location on time.

Similar to connected cars, the autonomous vehicle market will likely witness robust growth in the coming years. These new vehicles will require a high-speed 5G connectivity to achieve lower latency and higher bandwidth. Allowing seamless vehicle-to-vehicle communication is one of the key features offered by 5G, enabling autonomous or driverless cars to share data and better connectivity, avoiding accidents and other mishaps.

The rise in bandwidth usage with more people working from home due to the pandemic has lead to the 5G rollout happening faster than other previous-generation technologies. This buildout of the 5G network can lay the groundwork for self-driving cars and improve IoT connectivity.

Supporting the 5G connectivity for IoT devices across industries, OQ Technology recently announced that it would launch the world’s first 5G IoT satellite. This satellite will provide global 5G IoT connectivity in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and America. OQ Technology plans to target the cellular IoT market, maritime, oil and gas, transportation, industry 4.0, drones, and driverless cars to monitor, control, and asset tracking in remote areas.

What to Expect in the 5G IoT Future?

IoT devices have become more affordable -- tags and sensors have become cheaper. Sensors are operating faster, using less power, resulting in better performance with more data and easy integration in the existing system without reprogramming. According to the study by DBS Group Research, IoT is likely to witness increasing adoption in Asia in the next 5-10 years. The research also suggests that by 2030, the adoption of IoT technology globally is expected to reach 100%.

Providing broad enablement for IoT use cases, 5G is likely to witness massive adoption in the coming years. Organizations worldwide are also planning to use 5G networks for IoT and to achieve operational efficiency. Currently, IoT technology is facing challenges in security issues and poor connections of nodes. It will further accelerate the adoption of 5G as it can bring reliability, mobility, scalability, and security required to provide seamless services using IoT devices.

With more devices becoming connected, the 5G network will rapidly adapt to support IoT devices. It is also expected that 5G will witness a massive growth in the transportation industry with the rise in connected and autonomous vehicles. 5G will enable driverless cars to send data, communicate with road sensors, traffic lights, and drones. 5G IoT will also play a crucial role in consumer electronics and transforming the way they are operated.

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