By 2020, the number of connected devices will grow from 21 billion to 30 billion, further opening the door to economic growth and technological innovation. While the Internet of Things (IoT)-connected devices have gained popularity over the past several years, innovation in cellular connectivity has not completely caught up. However some of the world’s largest telecom companies have started to roll out 5G technology and manufacturers have started making 5G phones available to consumers. While it will increase data speeds on mobile devices, where 5G will truly have an impact is on IoT innovation.
The most recent iteration of cellular connectivity, 5G has high data speeds and lower latency (or response time). In a smartphone-dependent world, 5G will improve upon the 4G LTE technology that came before it, providing a faster, richer mobile communication experience, allowing smart devices across the board to communicate more efficiently.
Why is the rollout so fluid? According to Axios, wireless companies still need mid-band airwaves, which cover large areas. Carriers also need to continue to build out infrastructure, done by updating existing cellular towers and buying additional spectrum so they can handle increased communication between devices. While the rollout of 5G is imminent, it will take some time to function flawlessly.
The biggest impact 5G will have on the world isn’t download speeds for streaming movies – it’s shaping IoT innovation. According to Qualcomm, 5G could produce more than $12.3 trillion worth of goods and services by 2035. The technology’s high speeds and low latency will allow connected devices to work more seamlessly than ever before, leading the way for new products and services to be available in the global economy. While every industry will be impacted by IoT innovation, three major sectors in particular will experience rapid innovation as a result: automotive, manufacturing and healthcare. They have started to experience IoT innovation and 5G will propel it forward even further.
Automakers have been rolling out internet connected features in smart cars for years now, like voice controls and the ability to sync with Android Auto or Apple Car Play. It’s also no secret that big tech companies have poured money into research and development for self-driving cars. However, 5G will allow for mass adoption of connected technology in cars due to its low latency and stronger signals that can permeate current barriers, such as walls in parking garages and tunnels.
5G will open the door to further innovation in the auto industry that expands beyond the vehicle. IoT devices will allow cars, smart cities and service providers to share information about traffic and weather conditions, even down to when a traffic light will change from red to green. Going back to the vehicle itself, payment providers will be able to work with car manufacturers to include autopay features for drive through services or gas stations.
5G and IoT will revolutionize manufacturing, powering the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, which is, the convergence of operation, information and communication technologies. It will allow manufacturers to use connected devices further improve operations in both their factories and offices. Whether they’re using high-speed video to market products and train new employees, or connecting mobile robots to the assembly line, 5G’s faster download speeds will bring fewer issues like stalling or buffering.
As mentioned previously, 5G signals will better permeate concrete barriers, improving cellular connectivity indoors. This is crucial for large factories, as many employees use mobile devices to execute day-to-day operations. 5G will allow manufacturers to optimize large plants, allowing them to better use mobile devices to take product inventory and track machine maintenance. IoT connectivity will also bring robots and high quality video to the assembly line, allowing factory workers to control equipment remotely, analyze data more efficiently, and provide quality support from any location. Overall, innovation as a result of 5G and Industry 4.0 will help the manufacturing industry increase operational efficiencies across the board, ultimately boosting the bottom line.
From wearables to telemedicine, high-speed connectivity will change the way providers care for their patients. This was evident at the 2019 Mobile World Congress, where doctors used 5G technology to perform the first tele-monitored surgery between Fira Gran Via and Hospital Clinic de Barcelona. According to Mobile World Live, the low latency of 5G will allow doctors and other healthcare professionals to use high quality imagery to quickly draw incision points and point out potential problem areas in real time. Enhanced remote monitoring will also be able to help doctors who are monitoring patients through wearable devices. With wearables potentially decreasing hospital costs by 16 percent over the next five years, this will likely become a popular form of preventative care.
IoT innovations will also make it easier to send high quality images for examination. Right now, medical providers often struggle to send MRIs and other large files when a hospital has low bandwidth. A high-speed 5G network will help providers transport large data files of medical imagery, allowing patients to receive high quality care quickly. A network like this would also improve video conferencing, making telemedicine and remote translation more accessible. Telemedicine will allow doctors to see patients remotely, allowing people to get fast, quality care whether they’re in an urban metropolis or a rural area. Medical professionals will also be able to quickly treat patients that do not speak the same language as them by video conferencing a translator into an appointment, meaning doctors can treat patients no matter the language barrier.
Not only will 5G help the healthcare industry innovate patient care, but it also has the potential to help doctors and researchers discover new forms of treatment.
5G will make it easier for people to watch videos on their phones, but the power it has to be a catalyst in IoT innovation is the most exciting part of the technology becoming widely adopted. Connected devices have the power to change the world, whether they’re creating global economic growth, making smart cities a reality, or fostering innovation in medicine. While there’s still work to be done before its fully deployed, 5G will usher in a new era of innovation across industries.