Four IoT Trends Driving Growth in 2022
Four major trends will drive growth for the Internet of Things in 2022. Daniel Cooley, CTO at Silicon Labs, shares his thoughts on what to expect.
The Internet of Things is here
The Internet of Things has come into its own. The technology is mature and the IoT ecosystem is thriving. Even during these challenging times, the market holds tremendous opportunity for the semiconductor industry. By 2023, global microcontroller shipments are expected to reach 30 billion units and show no signs of slowing down.
Silicon Labs set its sights on the IoT more than a decade ago. We invested in the technology. We integrated like-minded customers into the innovation process. And we rallied an ecosystem around what we saw as the incredible potential of smart, connected devices.
Today, the IoT has arrived in Smart Homes and increasingly in Smart Cities. New, innovative commercial and industrial IoT applications are driving businesses forward. Industries from retail to healthcare, energy to manufacturing are embracing the value of IoT to improve productivity, sustainability, and safety of operations.
New technology trends are accelerating the use cases, and the global market for IoT end-user solutions is expanding.
Four trends for 2022 and beyond
1) From isolated product to integrated lifecycle services
Companies have now finessed the product distribution process. With large-scale product deployments, the installed base is rapidly growing. Device makers and developers understand that long product lifecycle and great services are key to winning customers and maintaining this installed base.
They are moving away from the sale of isolated products to integrated product and service offering, which delivers continuous value while a product is in use. With the introduction of edge-to-cloud computing, IoT devices can continuously feed information about usage and condition back to the manufacturers, who can then utilize this data to deliver proactive maintenance and better product features. They are finally comfortable using insights, obtained post-deployment, to learn about the user and iterate product itself.
Device makers are adopting new ways to remotely and safely update devices in the field with the latest software and firmware. Over-the-Air programming allows manufacturers to push new software features and additional functionality out to an entire fleet of installed smart devices at once. But this calls for more advanced security services.
2) Advanced Security
Developers face a hard challenge driving innovation in IoT products for homes and mission-critical industries while securing them against ever-evolving cyberthreats. Trusted security hardware and software solutions are essential to their success.
Information Security teams seek to manage the device over its entire lifecycle. They want advanced security to the edge and to guarantee that the end-users’ private data will be handled with integrity at all times. They want roots of trust, secure code running on devices and secure boot.
At Silicon Labs, we recognize the need to integrate cybersecurity by design. In September 2021, we launched our Custom Part Manufacturing Service (CPMS), which allows makers to customize their Silicon Labs hardware (wireless SoCs, modules, MCUs) at the factory. These essentially function as a root of trust for the chip (and any device that uses it), allowing customers to provision their chips securely themselves before the chips even leave the factory. This way, customers have a footprint they can track throughout the entire chip’s journey.
The new services, which advocate the concept of ‘trust nothing, verify everything,’ provide robust authentication and verification processes - regardless of device location - to IoT products throughout their lifecycle. This offering stengthens our Secure Vault ™ technologies with additional first-of-its-kind custom injection of IoT device identity certificates. It prevents attackers from using connected products as network entry points. The offering also includes a dedicated long-term software development kit support service spanning up to 10 years of an IoT product’s lifecycle.
3) ML is going to happen
Advancements in machine learning (ML) are opening the doors to a profound new future. There are many benefits to be extracted from ML on the edge. An ML algorithm can train a model, evaluate its own performance, and make predictions, which is very exciting. This is a world where ML applications can be run on miniature devices that are used for a life-easing applications – from predictive maintenance, building automation and the provision of audio analytics to vision and motion detection for autonomous operations.
To cater to this, Silicon Labs is addressing the challenge of running ML models on wireless SoCs. We’re exploring applications where single chip solutions - that integrate ML and wireless connectivity - make the most sense. This will become a radical revolution for the IoT industry. In the next few years, it’s going to change everything.
4) Industry consolidation
We saw many silicon players enter this market and now it will go into consolidation phase.
Growth momentum in the IoT and semiconductor space will do two things: On the one hand, it will see companies significantly growing in value. Conversely, it will cause other players to fall out of the game. When the revenues get big, the budgets get even bigger, and this prevents new entrants from gaining a foothold - unless they can afford to pay their way in. Many will seek to improve their margins through merger and acquisitions to benefit from the resultant economies of scale.
Niche won’t win. IoT devices will not operate on one single protocol. The dominant players will have all the wireless options in their portfolio. At Silicon Labs, we spent the last decade putting ourselves in the position to support every wireless technology and with the recent release of Unify Software Development Kit (SDK), we will become a vital translator too. Unify SDK allows IoT cloud and platform developers to design capabilities into their devices so that they can interoperate across current and future wireless protocols. This will help companies to scale smart home, city, building and industry ecosystems with confidence.
This upcoming year will mark an inflection point for silicon providers. The tech is mature, the market is ripe. Soon there won’t be a single industry untouched by the virtues of IoT, edge, network tech – providing security remains top priority for all.