Sensors and Connected Peripherals to Outpace Smartphones and PCs

OYSTER BAY, NY — The installed base of active wireless connected devices will top 47 billion by 2021, more than double the current level, according to forecasts from ABI Research. Smartphones, PCs, and other “hub” devices historically commanded the leading share of total active connections, with accessories (including smartphone and PC peripherals, residential smart home lighting, and wearable devices) and sensor nodes (like Bluetooth beacons, proximity sensors, and other edge devices) rounding out the remainder. But moving forward, the latter will benefit most from continued improvements to underlying IoT infrastructure.

“A 24.1 percent CAGR through 2021 positions 2016 to be the first year that accessories and sensor nodes are in the majority, rising to more than 65 percent of total active connections by the end of the forecast period,” says Ryan Martin, senior analyst at ABI Research. “Now the critical question for companies is how to create a strategic framework that optimizes IoT solution ROI in concert with connected endpoint growth. Growth will be driven by a massive uptick in contextually aware IoT endpoints across retail, advertising and supply chain, smart home, and industrial IoT markets.”

Internet of Things Enablement
The recent convergence of low-power wide area, short-range wireless, and cellular networks represents a fertile territory for the future of IoT enablement. While today about 55 percent of IoT connections can be attributed to the digital-first domain (the Internet of Digital), the emergence of low-power wide-area and short-range wireless network technologies purpose-built for the IoT puts the physical-first domain (IoT) on track to account for 65 percent of active wireless connections in the next five years.

The incipient IoT playing field includes everything from newly-minted specifications for Bluetooth 5 to the designation of Wi-Fi HaLow (802.11ah), LTE Cat M (followed by NB-IoT), and LPWAN technologies, such as those from Ingenu, LoRa, SIGFOX, and Thread. “Advances in mesh networking, location-aware ICs, and better utilization of unlicensed spectrum are among the key ingredients driving wireless sensor network deployments, and, in turn, the next generation of connected devices.”

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