How IoT and 5G will leap humanity into the future

IoT and 5G

The Internet of Things (IoT) is on rise. Connected devices are set to increase from 700 million to 3.2 billion by 2023, according to numbers by titan telecom manufacturer, Huawei. And with it comes endless technological possibilities that will rock modern society as we know it.

This is great news for the IoT market, as it unleashes a never-ending variety of products and services that will usher humanity into the next era. Throughout this journey, telecom operators have slowly begun transforming their new business opportunities accordingly.

They have already been successful in connecting phones, tablets, and other devices; however, connecting vehicles, machinery, robots, sensors, and consumer electronics will require even broader business models.

To this day, LTE is considered the most popular and most-used network with speeds reaching up to 100 megabits per second. LTE is primarily designed and optimized for smartphones, whereas 5G will champion the comprehensive changes in digitalization, society, and the economy to pioneer IoT.

Different from LTE, 5G will reach new dimensions of communication, since the data throughout the new network would reach up to 20 gigabits per second and allow shorter response times.

“With 5G, it will also be possible to transmit data in real time. This means that 100 billion mobile devices around the world would be accessible at the same time. In other words, a connection density of approximately one million devices per square kilometer,” according to a report by Swedish Telecom giant, Ericsson.

There are a number of advancements that have already started to surface with the slow emergence and rollout of 5G to date; while most of them literally haven’t been discovered or invented yet, here’s a list of industries that will shape humanity’s newest technological landscape.

Smart factories

One cannot talk about 5G without mentioning Industry 4.0.

The extreme speeds and low-latency of 5G will allow manufacturers to completely overhaul their operations into smart factories that are able to greatly improve quality control by identifying defected products faster.

While in the renewable energy sector, IoT sensors and machinery in coordination with Artificial Intelligence (AI) are skyrocketing productivity via advanced and more accurate weather forecasts and analysis.

In addition, due to the introduction of AI, mechanisms are able to adjust and control themselves depending on varied weather patterns. In parallel, smart grids will be able to distribute and control energy more efficiently, which in turn minimizes downtime and energy expenses. 

All of this is possible on a network with minimal time lag, while maintenance will become more precise and efficient due to data collection and lower latency.

Supply chain management

Usually, supply chain management demands a lot of manual supervision from transportation to warehousing, as well as the movements inside of it. 5G will allow this procedure of tracking and tracing of shipments to be reduced to numbers on a screen.

An example of this is for perishable products, where AI will allow remote monitoring of temperature and humidity, while also providing inventory disposition, location, and re-routing in real time with 5G enabled IoT trackers.

The retail industry reimagined

Currently, personalization is at the heart of the retail industry, and 5G will only amplify it further.

“An AI-powered fitting room with a screen could suggest similar outfits and matching accessories at the touch of a button. The customers will also be able to speak to the sales clerk and ask for other products instead of awkwardly shouting over the door,” a study by US-based management consulting firm, Mckinsey & Company, stated.

In parallel, IoT-enabled smart shelves can automate inventory management. “They can provide real-time inventory data, build Omni-channel customer relationships, and dynamically adjust prices depending on demand,” the study added.

The smart city race

Currently, IoT is exclusive in our homes and commercial buildings; but all that is going to change very soon and expand toward entire cities with a focus on public departments such as water, electricity, gas, waste management, traffic monitoring, and even environmental services.

An example of this is the Spanish city of Barcelona, that started to deploy IoT technologies across its urban systems back in 2012. The following year, the local government reported a 62 percent increase in WiFi hotspots with a distance of 100 meters.

The city’s smart waste management system was able to optimize collection routes via smart bins that monitor waste levels placed by households within the area. This impact even reached the transportation sector that introduced digitized bus stops and parking lots. Some of the amenities introduced were real time bus tracking, USB charging stations, and free WiFi.

“The city embedded the vehicle parking spots with sensor systems that has helped reduce congestion and emissions significantly. The street lights have motion sensors to conserve energy. They remain dim and only brighten up when they pick up motion. The lamp posts also provide free internet and collect air quality data of the city,” a report by Barcelona-based Ziggurat Global Institute of Technology said.

“For watering of parks, the city uses sensors to monitor rain and humidity and determine how much water it requires. A system of remotely controlled electro valves delivers that quantity of water across the city,” the report added.

Autonomous vehicles

Massive data exchange is needed to successfully reach complete driving autonomy.

One has to factor in tracking temperature, traffic, weather, and GPS location, information about pedestrians and street fixtures to be able to pull it off. While IoT enabled sensors and devices will collect data, the 5G network will ensure efficient transfer of these to the vehicles with no latency.

Revolutionizing the healthcare industry

Telemedicine, or remote medicine is gaining massive traction already; a study by Market Research Future predicts telemedicine to grow by 16.5 percent from 2017 to 2023.

Besides the ability to send massive lumps of data from MRIs and PET scans, at the snap of a finger, the 5G network will work wonders with people who have limited access to medical facilities.

This will allow patients with chronic illnesses and discharged diagnosis to be remotely monitored with the help of IoT-powered wearable electronics. This will not only provide mobility to patients, but free up vital hospital resources, as well as relieving doctors who are still able to remotely monitor patients in real-time.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will broaden the scope of research as well as increase experiments to bring remote surgeries through 5G-enabled robotics and machines to achieve the most concise results.

Realistically speaking, most service providers won’t be able to rollout 5G networks to the global public until 2025–2030. However, companies far and wide are laying the ground work for the next step in human advancement before competition settles in.

It’s no longer a countdown at this point, but starting to knock on our door.