A paradigm shift in the role of the Internet of Things

In just a couple of years, the fifth-generation mobile network will be commercially available, promising better connections, faster speeds and lower latency, for those living in a hyper connected world. It’s processing power, for example, has the potential to move us to the ‘haptic web’, the vision of an internet world where the single touch of a sensor can be felt and intercepted by a computer running in the cloud.

5G is more than the next step in the evolution of connection however. It’s lightning fast speed, greater bandwidth and improved up-time have the potential to transform industries. With most countries aiming for full commercialisation by 2020, this connectivity has the potential to transform how businesses operate, from how they manage daily communications to smarter business applications and organic growth opportunities. It means a quasi-intelligent device or sensor-based system will soon be able to port previously onboard controlling intelligence to a cloud-born computer ecosystem. Imagine printers, televisions, fridge freezers and coffee machines all integrated into a global mesh network, able to instantly charge for services based on customer choices and consumption. 5G will be transformative for businesses in every sense of the word—and it’s got product designers brimming with anticipation of a new era in communications.

 Evolution of everyday tech in a post-5G suburban life

Faster speed, lower latency, and greater capacity could enable on-the-go, ultra-high-definition video, virtual reality, and other advanced applications. Even simple business applications such as conference calling have the potential to be made-over.

As it is, the bandwidth needed to support this type of technology has only become commercially viable in the past five years and has had limited geographic coverage.  But in the future, access to greater speeds, mobility and capacity will see this evolve even further, and we should expect a mass adoption of virtual reality technologies, both in the boardroom and outside it, which allow remote users to see and interact with each other as if they are in the same room.

But this isn’t everything. Outside of the office, 5G will be used in the future proliferation of smart cities, as well as self-driving vehicles and auto-piloted drone swarms with the potential to build new structures without scaffolding.  Faster connectivity will allow for the continuous connection that offers the potential for cars and robots to “talk” to each other and the streets; to influence how much streetlighting is provided for example. You could receive messaging from your local city council on the best quality air route into a city based on traffic conditions at any particular time of the day. And in healthcare, 5G will enable a host of new innovations such as remote robotic surgery and personalised medicine based on data from wearable health trackers. The ability to monitor health in this way could well have a major impact on the insurance sector, with the price of premiums dictated by customer lifestyles. The industrial-scale transfer of sensitive data to pervasive ecosystems means that IoT security will be a source of major investment in coming years.

 A new 5G cloud

While 5G networks will become increasingly important in keeping up with rising demand for connected devices, it will also provide the bandwidth and latency needed to improve enterprise cloud services. In the future, it’s likely that cloud technology will become stable enough to replace traditional data centers all together. This reliance on the cloud will also mean that manufacturers no longer need to include the processing elements and memory storage found in today’s devices – so hardware is destined to get more and more compact. The cost efficiencies for businesses could be huge, especially as devices will not have to undergo continual updates to keep pace.

 The everywhere SIM

While many businesses connect to the Internet via WiFi, it’s not without its problems. Next generation technology will soon enable 5G SIMs, meaning that IoT devices, from home security systems to smart mattresses, can connect without having to rely on WiFi. This will mark a new standard in device connectivity as businesses will be able to put a SIM in hardware that does not traditionally require one – cameras, laptops and printers for example – and be able to operate them straight away. The initial stages of this technology are already being seen, with ASUS launching its first eSIM tablet in February this year. As adoption becomes more widespread, the functionality of hardware will change once again, giving technology companies more reason to take a minimalist approach.

As well as practical improvements, eSIMs promise greater security and flexibility for increasingly mobile workforces, allowing for seamless connectivity wherever you’re working from. This will eventually mean that one user can operate across several different profiles at the same time, all using one device.

Conclusion

Not only does 5G promise to boost efficiency and unleash the potential of automation, but it will also enable us to explore developing technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality, which could lead to unparalleled levels of disruption. Set to reinvent the future of consumer-life and business, 5G promises to become the backbone of a hyper connected and hyper mobile world, responsible for a new wave of exciting innovation. Whether it’s an SME or international conglomerate, a self-driving car or AI in hospitals, access to fast speeds and low latency has the potential to see improvements at every level – from how businesses communicate, and how they connect with customers, to how everyday life is run across cities and public sectors. 

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By Michelle Janse van Vuuren, Marketing Director at Canon SA