With the beginning of a new decade, the Internet of Things (IoT) is starting to be taken for granted. However, this perversely can be a good thing at both home and work, where IoT devices are becoming part of modern everyday life. What used to be a gimmick or ‘well-ahead of its time’, in other words, is now essential. That is why the technology story of 2020 will be very much the story of IoT and where it goes next. We may invest in IoT companies and be at the forefront of the market and its trends, but – just like everyone else – we have no magical crystal-ball, however, our experience of meeting with thousands of different early-stage IoT businesses across Europe, gives us the insight to make some confident predictions.
You must have at least one family member, colleague or friend who has a fitness device. These devices have taken off thanks to their IoT features, which allows people to compete with their peers and take control of their wellness regimes. We expect this phenomenon to continue to grow and spread throughout the wider wellness sector. Our investee FoodMarble, for instance, allows users to analyse which foods suit their digestion by breathing into the company’s pocket-sized device. We also expect to see the Healthcare sector, who have so far been slow to adopt, to start taking advantage of the benefits IoT can bring in cost reduction and health management.
2020 will be the year of the smart city. Cities across the globe are in a race to take advantage of the many benefits that come from sensors, analytics, data and the integration of these capabilities. All the things that turn a city smart. We’ve seen the rise of the Smart City first-hand thanks to our investee company AppyWay. AppyWay helps cities manage and monetise their kerbside and parking requirements, reducing congestion, carbon and costs. The impact of growing urbanisation, tight budgets, and the need to address the climate emergency mean cities are under pressure to become ever more efficient.
Expensive, disruptive and dangerous – cyber-attacks have become more prominent over recent years and that trend doesn’t look like it is slowing down. Key to the adoption of IoT is the trust of businesses and consumers in its security. The good news is that there are companies out there taking on this new and demanding landscape now. Sentryo, for example, a cyber security company offering protection to industrial operations and a Breed investee was this year acquired by Cisco, to roll out their product globally. Also RazorSecure which specialises in IoT cyber security for transport infrastructure, or uBirch utilising Blockchain to guarantee data security.
As mentioned at the top of our trends and predictions for 2020, Industrial IoT is increasingly becoming the norm, especially among businesses which operate in hyper-competitive environments. That is because B2B IoT devices and solutions can provide safety, productivity and energy enhancements. Two such examples are Senseye, which provides AI-enabled predictive maintenance solutions for industrial equipment, and Metron, which uses IoT and AI to provide real-time energy analysis for businesses so they can save on their energy costs and environmental impact. This is great news for Europe who are at the forefront of this market.
5G is here, with the roll-out continuing, as telecoms operators wrestle with how to speed this up. While consumers and businesses will find it easier and quicker to download everything from spreadsheets to media content, 5G will also accelerate the deployment of IoT as the improved network capability will allow more and more sensors to operate. 5G will mean the connecting of more machine-to-machine and IoT devices. With the deployment of intelligence like AI, and Edge computing architecture bringing everything closer to the user, 5G will mean the scaling up of IoT, and take the technology to the next level in 2020. Whilst talking about connectivity, perhaps we should not miss out the importance of LoRa networks which are now becoming popular for connecting IoT devices across distances up to ten miles. 2020 could well be the year, not only for 5G, but also for LoRa.