The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the world, connecting everyday objects and rapidly revolutionising each industry. In 2017, companies will start to feel the effect of this more. Gartner predicts that by the end of this year, there will be 8.4 billion connected devices in use worldwide, that's up 31% from last year alone.
These connected devices and 'things' will require stronger, faster and more accessible network connectivity to reach their full potential. Without this, the IoT would be like a racing car in pole position, trying to start on an empty tank. Here we examine connectivity trends and future gaze to help you understand where IoT and connected fleet technology might be heading.
Supercharging connectivity with 5G
5G was one of the hottest topics at this year's Mobile World Congress. Set to arrive in 2020, a good example of its power is a full HD movie will download in under 10 seconds, compared with minutes over 4G. It will deliver dramatically faster data speeds, revolutionise response times and supercharge connectivity. It's also set to fast track the IoT, with experts like The Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance predicting 5G will take development and business adoption to the next level.
This new world of connectivity will change the way we receive and exchange data forever. Imagine what connectivity like this will do for fleets? They will be able to send and transfer unparalleled amounts of data, from the front line to the back end to fully optimise operations. They will also be able to communicate and interact with data in real time, meaning performance insights can be applied immediately, enabling fleets and drivers to become vastly more efficient, as well as smarter and safer out on the roads.
Connecting with the stars
But 5G is only the beginning for creating a new standard for connectivity. In the future, advancements in space exploration and nanotechnology will pave the way for 24/7 satellite communication coverage. A decade ago, pioneers were launching communication satellites the size of houses. Now we can launch satellites the size of a shoe boxes, both quickly and cheaply into orbit to send and receive information back on earth.
Startups are paving the way in this space and investors are sitting up and taking notice. At the end of last year, OneWeb announced a $1.2bn fundraising round of investment to build a group of satellites to boost the world's internet access. For fleets, innovation like this will lead to a new communication medium, free from the constraints of traditional connectivity, like 4G and 5G.
Investments like this will also be crucial for bridging the communications gap to support IoT development. Fleets already engaging with sensors won't have to experience ongoing poor connections. In the future, companies will be able to launch satellites to support their connected devices out in the field. Once we bridge this communications gap, IoT adoption will grow as business confidence in the technology will increase.
Pushing the human brain to its limits
Exploring the possibilities of the human mind is equally as exciting and unchartered as the depths of space. Scientists have been debating for years how much of the human mind we actually use on a day-to-day basis.
Mark Zuckerberg and his team at Facebook are pushing this to the limit by trying to create new technologies for communicating with brain waves. At this stage the project is still top secret, the new research division, set up last year is aiming to develop "brain-computer interface" technology to fully connect the world.
If drivers had the ability to connect with the enterprise using untapped channels in the brain, the possibilities will be limitless. Reporting and transferring information in real-time will reach a new standard, from vehicle tracking, to road safety and customer interaction. While Facebook might not automatically connect with fleet management, research projects like this are a testament to how important connectivity will be for digital innovation.
Connectivity to match innovation
The age of the IoT has already been proclaimed, and this will open doors for a new world of opportunities for the way fleets communicate, exchange data and improve operations. As this technology develops, fleet-based businesses will require equally robust network connectivity to support it - whether it's the human mind, satellites or next generation networks. Having one platform to manage this will also be key to ensure that fleets can make the most of the IoT, to connect every part of the business to make the most of the new innovations coming down the line.