Sensors and connected peripherals to outpace smartphones and PCs

ABI Research has forecast that the installed base of active wireless connected devices will top 47 billion by 2021, which is more than double the current level.

Smartphones, PCs and other hub devices have historically comprised the majority of total active connections, with accessories (including smartphone and PC peripherals, residential smart home lighting and wearable devices) and sensor nodes (such as Bluetooth beacons, proximity sensors and other edge devices) making up the rest. In the near future however, the latter are expected to benefit the most from continued improvements to underlying IoT infrastructure.

“A 24.1 per cent CAGR through 2021 positions 2016 to be the first year that accessories and sensor nodes are in the majority, rising to more than 65 per cent of total active connections by the end of the forecast period,” said Ryan Martin, senior analyst at ABI Research.

“Now the critical question for companies is how to create a strategic framework that optimises 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.”

According to the research firm, the recent convergence of low-power wide area, short-range wireless and cellular networks represents a prime opportunity for the future of IoT enablement. While at present around 55 per cent of IoT connections can be attributed to the digital-first domain (the Internet of Digital), the emergence of low-power wide wide area and short-range wireless network technologies purpose-built for the IoT puts the physical-first domain (IoT) on track to account for active wireless connections in the next five years.

“Advances in mesh networking, location-aware ICs, and better utilisation of unlicensed spectrum are among the key ingredients driving wireless sensor network deployments, and in turn, the next generation of connected devices,” said ABI’s senior analyst.