How Mobile Technology Has Evolved Into the IoT World

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How Mobile Technology Has Evolved Into the IoT World

Tue, 06/15/2021 - 12:00

Of all the major tech innovations to reshape the world over the past few decades, one of the biggest has been the rise of internet of things (IoT) devices. 

As the number of IoT devices has grown — and both consumers and businesses have adopted the tech — mobile technology has had to evolve fast to keep up.

These are the most significant changes that mobile technology designers have made to meet the needs of IoT technology in the consumer and business worlds — and how all mobile device users are likely to benefit.

High Speeds and Improved Reliability With 5G

The most significant impact of the IoT revolution has likely been on the direction of 5G, the next generation of cell network technology. 

5G, the successor to 4G, comes with a number of changes made specifically to manage the growing number of IoT devices.

For example, new tech called massive MI/MO (or massive multiple input/multiple output) vastly increases the number of antennas attached to each cell tower. This makes it easier for a large number of devices to connect to the same tower without impacting the overall performance of the area network.

Average 5G speeds are also around 5 to 100 times faster than what you would get with 4G — making it a great fit for IoT devices that need to transfer a lot of data.

All of these changes were made to help cell networks keep up with the growing number of mobile devices that rely on network data. These devices are connecting to the same towers and transferring massive amounts of information. This both makes it harder for everyone to get a strong connection and reduces the practicality of large-scale IoT fleets.

The benefits of 5G aren’t exclusive to businesses and individuals that use IoT tech, even though they’ll likely see the most significant performance improvements. 

Everyone who uses a mobile device will notice the faster speeds that 5G offers. They may also notice they have an easier time connecting to the network, even in densely-populated areas with large numbers of devices clustered around cell towers.

These upgrades could benefit both consumers and businesses in a variety of ways. Better connectivity makes internet and cell network connections more reliable. 

This means that both customers and businesses can count on SMS text messages to come through, even if the local cell tower is handling a massive number of devices. For businesses that rely on effective SMS text message marketing, this upgrade could have major benefits.

Reduced Latency for Critical Devices With Edge Computing

Smart devices, in order to keep hardware costs low, aren’t typically that powerful. Instead, they rely on the cloud to do any necessary heavy lifting. Many devices rely on AI algorithms, for example, to intelligently control lighting, adjust building airflow or even help a robot navigate on its own. 

These devices sometimes gather data then send it to the cloud for processing. There, computing work can be handled quickly by the large amounts of processing power available. 

The analysis or completed work can then be sent back to the device, which will put it into practice — adjusting lighting, building temperature or robot direction. 

This approach solves the processing power problem that many mobile and smart devices can have. It does create a new challenge, however.

Centralized data centers can be extremely far away from an end device. Every time the device has to communicate with a centralized cloud server, it could be stuck waiting for more than 50 or 100 milliseconds. This isn’t very long — but for devices that depend on real-time analysis, even a 100 millisecond delay can have serious consequences. 

To cut down on latency, it’s possible to shift work away from the cloud and to edge nodes — smaller, less powerful server clusters that are closer to end users. These edge nodes can handle simpler calculations that are still too complicated for edge devices, but aren’t complex enough that they need to be sent to the cloud. 

This can help to reduce the time that IoT and mobile devices spend waiting for an answer, improving performance and reducing device lag.

This approach is most useful for IoT and smart devices that can’t handle even the slightest bit of latency. Self-driving cars and surgical robots, for example, need extremely low latency on certain calculations in order to perform safely. 

The benefits of edge computing may also be passed on to mobile devices in general. Every mobile device — from smartphones to consumer IoT tech to sophisticated smart robots — can use edge computing to reduce latency when processing can’t be handled on-device. 

As edge computing becomes a more commonly offered service from networks and IT service providers, it may not be unusual for apps or smart home appliances to start offloading some of their processing work to edge nodes, helping to improve performance.

New IoT Chipsets for Cutting-Edge Smart Technologies

Hardware manufacturers have had to work hard to create tech that can handle the high demands of new IoT devices

For example, Qualcomm, a manufacturer of wireless telecommunication hardware, recently announced a line of seven new IoT chipsets, designed to power next-gen IoT devices. 

(Qualcomm is also known for manufacturing many of the 5G chips that new phones need to connect to the 5G network.)

These chips come with a range of features to support some of the cutting-edge IoT applications in retail, warehousing and heavy industry. 

In addition to being faster than previous chips, some of the most advanced chipsets in the line include AI-powered technology and image processing support for up to seven cameras at the same time. This tech will allow a single chip to power a device outfitted with many different cameras recording different things. 

This kind of power could be useful in smart stores, which use a combination of shelf weight sensors, motion sensors and smart cameras to track what items customers pick up. This allows customers to grab what they need and go without having to check out — the system tracks what they took and bills them for it accordingly once they leave the store. 

Mobile Tech Will Continue to Innovate for IoT

Over the next few years, mobile technology will continue to develop as IoT devices become more complex. Upgrades to edge nodes, new IoT chipsets and advanced AI algorithms will all help to make IoT devices even more practical. 

Soon, it may not be unusual for businesses to use large numbers of IoT devices to streamline warehouses, make retail stores “smart” or intelligently control a building’s HVAC system.