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In five to 10 years, what 'thing' will we look back and wish had IoT connectivity a long time ago?

In five to 10 years, what 'thing' will we look back and wish had IoT connectivity a long time ago?

Tech-enabled micro-manufacturing, health-focused wearables and industrial augmented reality are among the advancements members of Protocol's Braintrust anticipate within the IoT landscape.

Dr. Ron Marquardt

Vice President of Advanced Technologies and Innovation at T-Mobile

The story of the last decade plus has been anything that can be made available digitally, will be. And the story for the next decade plus will be anything that can be connected, will be. The implications of this are profound. Just like fast mobile networks transformed industries, the economy and our world in ways we couldn't imagine, connected-everything will do the same.

Wearables running on low-latency 5G networks will enable patients and doctors to identify patterns while monitoring vital signs, medication intake and more. On-demand drone and robotic delivery will take contactless shopping and the delivery economy to a whole new level. And devices such as augmented reality glasses will make tomorrow's "screen" the world around us. With scale and ingenuity there is literally no aspect of our lives that IoT will not touch a decade from now.

Beverly Rider

Chief Commercial Officer at Hitachi Global Social Innovation Business

Digitization is enabling industrial IoT and will drive significant advances in production efficiencies and enable new business models over the next five years. Because of global supply chain disruption caused by coronavirus, there is increased focus toward onshoring, which will radically affect the format of manufacturing and the end-to-end supply chain.

Infrastructure is expensive and will take years to build, but with micro-manufacturing plants, speed to market is achievable. Micro-plants can be purpose built around key technologies like 5G, edge computing, network slicing for mission-critical applications, lidar for worker safety, and autonomous machinery and robotics with integrated AI and predictive maintenance diagnostics.

Unified technology environments such as these will present an interesting proposition to smaller-scale product businesses that cannot afford their own facility or where retooling older plant infrastructure is too costly.

The manufacturing-as-a-service business model will create new revenue streams, optimize asset utilization, and increase ROI on plant investments. Blockchain will be leveraged to assign and track raw materials, inventory and finished goods, and enable financial transactions throughout the entire value chain.

Technology adoption is the gating factor to unlock the power of technologies, platforms and business models for manufacturing. Co-creating open-source solutions spurs innovation and adoption. A dynamic ecosystem of innovators, technologists and industry visionaries, and economic leaders will help create a robust triple bottom line.

Usman Shuja

Chief Commercial Officer at Honeywell Connected Enterprise

With COVID-19 bringing health habits and social interactions under a spotlight, I believe IoT-like tracking and measurement of people could be very productive and value additive.

Either embedded or wearable devices could monitor habits such as hand washing, not wearing mask, touching nose/mouth and other potential habits. It would be able to detect location and distance from potentially other infected people. It should also be able to detect health status (e.g. temperature).

At a macro level, government and health officials would be able to look at patterns, trends across cities and states to make predictions of regions of epidemic outbreak. The policies would be data-driven (very real time and predictive) in nature.

Yes, this seems invasion of privacy, but I feel in 10 years we will look back and wish we had put privacy ahead of public health.

Steve Dertien


Talking about connecting "things" typically involves assets or equipment. We will continue to do this, but over the next five years, we should strive to do more to connect our most valuable asset: our employees. Knowledge employees that primarily operate through a computer have a head start here, but we need to bring the same focus to frontline employees: the machine operators, the service technicians, and the production line managers.

Our goal should be to incorporate technology in a way that helps these frontline employees work productively, meet quality standards and operate safely. We need to provide them with tools to better analyze and resolve their day-by-day challenges and perform better. It's not unlike the way we equip professional athletes with all kinds of tools to help them perform at their best.

At PTC, we're seeing certain technologies beginning to play an important role in connecting employees to their jobs. Augmented reality is useful for remote expert guidance through video calls and AR annotations, connecting them with the foremost experts from anywhere. Combining AR with industrial IoT exposes equipment and process data for employees to take needed actions. Even spatial analytics are playing a role in keeping employees at safe distances in warehouses and factories.

We will continue to connect our equipment and assets, but the greatest gains will be seen by the companies that keep people at the center of this strategy. Together, connected people and connected things will have the most transformative effect on business.

Kiren Sekar

EVP, Products and Marketing at Samsara

We've already seen a preview of the IoT promise. In the next decade, I believe we will reflect back on how we could have leveraged sensors across many more "things" than we thought would be possible, and brought that data to bear on some of the most important problems facing our economy and society.

Beyond the next "smart device," the power of IoT lies in connecting many disparate devices, aggregating their data, and using AI to glean insights. This is the deeper promise of IoT: cheap sensors you can put on anything, ubiquitous connectivity, and software to transform big data into simple, actionable insights.

Connecting these myriad devices will create new experiences for consumers, but the biggest impact may well be in industrial operations.

Transportation and logistics, energy, manufacturing and agriculture: These industries make up 40% of U.S. GDP but have been historically overlooked by technologists. Our focus at Samsara is to bring the benefits of IoT to the industries that power our economy. We've already seen tremendous adoption of IoT across commercial fleets and industrial operations, where access to data has led to dramatic decreases in trucking accidents, reduced carbon emissions, and higher-quality service at a lower cost.

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