Is Your Business Ready for the Future of IoT in a 5G Era?

Is Your Business Ready for the Future of IoT in a 5G Era?
Alba Fuentes

As you read this, engineers worldwide are deploying 5G networks and Internet of Things (IoT) devices for entire cities. And large companies are using both technologies to create never-before-seen services, including smart traffic control tools and even healthcare sensors to win the battle against COVID-19. Below are just a few recent headlines:

So, if your answer to the title of this article is no, start considering the changes that the new generation of mobile communications will bring. Here, I will show you how big the impact of 5G will be on the IoT industry, why this technology will cause so many changes, and how you can exploit this market in its early stages.

What will the future of 5G look like?

“Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” -Albert Einstein

Imagine waking up to the dim light of the sun’s rays and the cold morning breeze. Although you closed the curtains last night, they opened slightly by themselves just before you woke up, as they’re connected to your smartwatch, which, based on its ability to track your sleep cycle, has calculated the best time for you to get sunlight.

After getting up and preparing for work, you leave your house, get in your car, close the doors, and relax. Your car does the driving while you read a report about the clients you’ll be meeting with today. You look out the window and, although many other vehicles are moving around, there are no traffic problems because they all move harmoniously in their own different directions.

When you arrive at your workplace, you realize you’re the first one in. So, you unlock the doors using your fingerprint, the lights come on, and you walk straight to your office. Your smartwatch connects with the company’s server, alerting it that you’re ready for work, and your virtual assistant notifies you aloud that your company is performing 20% ​​better at energy efficiency than other businesses in the area, and explains ways to reduce your power consumption even more.

After a long day of working on tasks, participating in meetings, and making sales calls, you decide to go home. As you travel down the dark road, you observe how the lights in the loneliest streets activate as your car drives down them. 

When you get home, your virtual assistant sends a report of your activity to your doctor, using the information it has collected from your wearables throughout the day. They include your smartwatch, which measured your heart rate; your shirt, which measured your sweat levels; your shoes, which captured the total steps you took; and your underpants, which recorded how many times you went to the bathroom. The report states that, overall, your health was great today.

Would you like to live in a future like this? We all would. The truth is that technology  advances as consumer expectations increase, and vice-versa. And, believe it or not, the dream of a hyper-connected world is already beginning to materialize by leaps and bounds. Let me show you how you can be a part of it.

Speed ​​and strength: The secret of the 5G-IoT future

Although 5G has many benefits, all those that apply to the IoT that we have seen so far depend on only two of them: low latency and stronger connection. The key to successfully entering the 5G-IoT market is understanding the three technologies that make these benefits possible. I’m about to show you the most mind-blowing of them.

Orthogonal frequency division multiplexing

“Obviously, the highest efficiency type is the one that can use existing material in the best way.” -Jawaharlal Nehru

When you make a call, the information is transmitted from your phone to a cellular radio tower through electromagnetic waves. Just as 4G allowed streaming and video calls thanks to its effective use of this resource, 5G uses a technique called orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM), which allows you to download Fallout 4 in seconds. To better understand how it works, let’s compare it with traditional FDM.

FDM allows several users to be connected to the same transceiver tower by separating signals with spaces between them to prevent interference. With OFDM, on the other hand, these signals overlap each other. Therefore, with the same bandwidth, much more information can be transmitted using OFDM than can be done using FDM. But how can interference between signals be avoided if they’re overlapping? 

It’s done by grouping them orthogonally. That is, when one user’s signal wave “goes down” until it reaches zero amplitude (and therefore has no effect), another user’s signal reaches its maximum point and, as it is the only one that affects the antenna, they don’t interfere with each other. 

But the frequency distribution is just the beginning; nothing compares to the next technology I’ll describe.

Multi-access edge computing (MEC)

MEC is an architectural model of networks that implement cloud computing capabilities in the final access points of the network, closer to the end user. Sound confusing? Let me explain.

Imagine that you wake up at 8:00 in the morning in a hotel room and you’re hungry. The hotel offers breakfast service, so you call reception and ask for breakfast to be delivered to your room. The receptionist sends an attendant who waits in the kitchen and, after receiving your breakfast, goes to the elevator, which they ride up to the 10th  floor, and make the long journey to the last room, where they deliver the food to you. By this time, you’re starving. While you have breakfast, you call your friend staying in a nearby hotel and he tells you that he also woke up at 8:00 but ate much earlier. Angry, you ask him how this is possible, and he explains that, at his hotel, there’s a cook on each floor with an electric metal cart that keeps food warm and ready to serve to order. So, while he ate, you starved.

In the same way your friend’s hotel benefited from extending part of its food services to all floors to reduce waiting time, moving some computing capacity from the public cloud closer to the user and end devices gives the data less distance to travel, so it can be processed in less time and give faster results. 

The next aspect of 5G I’ll discuss is one you’ll be able to see right in front of your house.

Massive MIMO

Multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) involves the use of many antennas to provide uniformly good service. 5G networks will use this technique massively. This is because low-frequency signals require larger antennas to be sent and received, while higher frequencies require smaller antennas. Thus, 5G’s quite high frequencies known as “millimeter waves” will transmit via very small antennas, which will allow installing many of them in a cell tower, enabling more users to be connected at the same time. But of course, there’s more to it than just many users.

Engineers will install small cell antennas to fill the gaps in coverage between base stations and users, saving the money they would otherwise spend building additional large towers. Each ministation will cover areas as small as half a city block. So in the future, we will probably see a lot of small towers that look like those in the image below:

This technology enables strong and uninterrupted connection in many areas, even along lonely highways. 

But why does the simple fact of reducing response time create so many new applications to the IoT? Let’s see.

How a URLLC-5G network will take the IoT to the next level

Up to this point, we have seen that 5G has the ability to offer what is known as ultra-reliable, low-latency capabilities (URLLC). That is, strong, fast-response connections that you can depend on for important use cases. What remains to be explained is what this has to do with the IoT.

To understand this, let me ask you: Was it difficult for you getting medical supplies in recent months? When the pandemic began, many businesses were unprepared for the increased demand for things like face masks and alcohol. The commodity supply chain is extremely complex, and keeping each sector coordinated and informed based on demand and inventory is challenging to say the least.

4G made it possible to implement software with algorithms that receive information from the endpoints of the supply chain, such as berths and small businesses. However, the software available today still does not react as quickly as we need during an emergency — not because of the quality of the code, but because it lacks specific information in real time.

It would be great if small businesses, carriers, large importers, and exporters were aware in real time of increases and decreases in public consumption and business stocks, which would enable them to act accordingly. But that’s a lot of information to receive and send in real time, don’t you think? This scenario is a good example of how 5G and IoT can work together for a deeper purpose.

5G will enable the use of IoT devices to monitor the supply chain through sensors on containers, ships, shelves, and even cash registers, creating a network of useful data that stakeholders around the world can easily read. Materials can be traced from source to production more efficiently, creating inventories that handle massive amounts of data in real time, minimizing lead time and shortages. But that’s not all.

5G can further connect the supply chain to provide the speed and bandwidth needed for artificial intelligence (AI) systems to monitor multiple data sources and protect the supply chain against disruptions such as natural disasters by automatically redirecting potential victims to alternative providers when emergencies occur. 

As the standards of good service evolve, 5G will make it possible to manage a large number of connected devices even more efficiently, as its performance has already been shown to provide unmatched reliability (99.999%) and extremely low latency (1 ms minimum). Others are already using this technology to create innovative IoT apps and make a lot of profit. 

Would you like to take this opportunity too? If so, let’s see how to get started.

How to enter the 5G IoT market

Mobile IoT apps are a growing trend. Nest, Blossom, and Whistle are just a few examples, and many developers are using modern frameworks like Node.js to create extraordinary results. For example, Skycatch used Node.js to create the backend and data processing components of smart drones examining the areas affected by the Nepal earthquake. But an obstacle prevents many from taking advantage of the potential of the IoT, even in places where 5G connections have already been implemented: the challenge of finding good developers capable of creating apps that work well with these technologies.

In fact, as the use of IoT and other technologies increases, the availability of development talent decreases. According to research by The App Association, there are 223,000 jobs available for software developers in the U.S. alone. Additionally, U.S. colleges and universities graduate fewer than 30,000 new computer specialists per year. At this rate, it will take almost eight years to fill the current vacant positions. With more than a million openings in programming expected in 2021, it’s time for app creators to seek talent beyond their locality to achieve their goals.

Finding the best developers isn’t easy. Fortunately, hiring an agency specializing in providing these resources enables you to avoid most (if not all) of the challenges, risks, and time you would need to assemble a team of engineers from scratch. The key points to keep in mind when choosing the right software company are:

Fluent communication: The only way to work efficiently is by communicating efficiently. A good talent provider should provide access to engineers who are fluent in English.

Standardized security protocols: When it comes to the IoT, cybersecurity is the top priority. The agency must follow the latest security protocols to keep all data and software products safe.

World-class software engineers: Working with international resource providers with a refined recruitment process gives you access to exceptional talent, who will build the best IoT technologies for you.

Time zone compatibility: Working in similar time zones is an advantage when it comes to scheduling meetings and managing cooperative workflows between internal and external teams.

Quality experience: References, past clients, and completed projects speak for themselves. All these resources will give you an idea of ​​the company’s performance and the quality of work you need to enter growing markets like the IoT.

By working with an experienced software agency, any organization can have immediate access to the best developers in the global marketplace and stop worrying about the cumbersome process of finding, hiring, and retaining talent. Regardless of the specialization you need — Node.js, Angular, or others — an industry leading resource provider will have the solution you need to boost your project. If you want to learn more about how to hire expert engineers and the benefits of adding exceptional resources to your team, drop us a line, and we will be happy to help.

5G will open a new world for developers, and BEON is prepared for it

The best way to predict the future is to create it, and 5G technology has opened up a whole new world of possibilities by achieving 99.999% reliability coupled with 1 ms latency, allowing us to build that future in ways we could never have imagined before.

At BEON Tech Studio, we’re prepared to lead that future, as we have already worked successfully in this field, including the development of platforms for smart TVs and interfaces for Apple Watches. Additionally, we continue to hire the best developers from across the continent, who use their extensive technical knowledge and constant learning to keep us and our clients at the forefront of the marketplace. We’re more than willing to help others make their ideas flourish using these new technologies as well.