Technology Trends 2016 – 5 trends shaping innovation in ICT – Ericsson

Combining sensory data with AI techniques enables the data from massive numbers of sensors to be merged and processed to create a higher-level view of a system.

Connected smart devices will change our lives in many ways. These range from simple services that open your garage door as your car approaches, for example, to radically new business opportunities involving services yet to be invented and markets yet to be discovered. Combined with intelligent handling of data, smart devices can boost the productivity and profitability of any business. But to enable the deployment of billions of smart devices, the cost of managing and monitoring them needs to be low. Evolving software and communications technology are shifting toward the creation of autonomous and self-managing devices.

The Internet of Things (IoT) means automation and intelligence in everything that is connected. This implies that a collective intuitive behavior among a wide range of devices for a wide range of applications is possible in the future. The connectivity allows objects to be sensed and actuated remotely, creating a bridge between the physical and digital world.

It’s the combination that triggers the effect

Beyond the physical devices embedded with processors, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity, it is the combination of sensory data and AI that enables more effective and accurate interactions. It is by merging data from a multitude of sensors that a superior baseline for intelligent processing is created. These are the common denominators that push IoT development further.

From a connectivity perspective, two distinct and different use cases emerge. One extreme is the massive machine-type communication (massive MTC) that can support millions of connected devices such as energy meters and logistics tracking. Here, we are looking at device battery lifetimes beyond 10 years and cost reduction in the order of 80 percent as well as 20dB better coverage compared with present state-of-the-art solutions.

The other extreme is the critical machine-type communication (critical MTC), which entails real-time control and automation of dynamic processes in various fields such as vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure, high-speed motion, and process control. Critical parameters to enable the performance required are network latency below milliseconds, ultra-high “five nines” (99.999 percent) reliability. The future network architecture needs to cater for both MTC scenarios.

Key technology advancements

The 2016 Ericsson Mobility Report predicts that there will be 28 billion connected devices by 2021. On the device side, the key technology driver is the evolution of sensors, actuators, processors, memories, and batteries. Beyond conventional electronics, we will see implementations of nanoscale technologies based on thin-film, graphene, and quantum sensors. We can expect any size and shape of device in the future.

Another emerging key technology is that of an advanced software toolbox leveraging advanced analytics, machine learning, and knowledge management with processing capabilities of real-time streaming data. Intelligent control logic is another interesting area. There is an increasing need for standardized platforms and software protocols. These will inevitably drive market consolidation, with massive cost savings and productivity gains as a result.

Effective connectivity and identity management are fundamental to the future network. These imply automated deployments, aggregated subscription management as well as embedded provisioning and control through the whole life span of the device.

What does this mean for the future role of networks?

IoT devices enable us to monitor sensors and automate a lot of processes. The added intelligence needed is a feature that will mainly be embedded in the network itself.

For IoT technology to live up to its promise and be applied on a massive scale throughout society, it must be built on a secure, global, telecom-grade network that is based on common standards. This will also ensure a healthy competitive and innovative ecosystem.

In terms of 5G, such an underlying network infrastructure is already in place – ready to show how well it is scaling and how its cost-efficiency properties support IoT applications. 5G offers both super-high bandwidth with ultra-low latency and extreme battery life for devices. By combining cloud intelligence with a powerful but energy-efficient wireless connection, even very simple and inexpensive devices can be made smart and generate great business value.