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6 IoT Predictions for 2021: What's Next?

By Devin Partida | Reviewed by Justin StoltzfusCheckmark | Last updated: December 2, 2020
Key Takeaways

What are the expert IoT predictions for 2021? Smarter homes, cities and workplaces as the internet of things gains ever more prominence.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will undoubtedly continue to play a significant role in society for the foreseeable future. Here are six 2021 IoT predictions for people to anticipate in the coming year.

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1. An Increase in IoT Remote Workforce Management Products


The COVID-19 pandemic arguably fueled corporate decisions to let employees work remotely. Many businesses permitted workers to start work-from-home arrangements to reduce virus transmission rates. However, some business leaders decided that people could telecommute permanently if desired.

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That shift will cause an increased dependence on IoT products for the remote workforce. For example, managers of manufacturing plants or data centers could receive alerts about possible issues from home, then determine if they need to visit the premises to deal with them. Such an advantage is crucial, particularly as many companies operate with fewer on-site staff members. (Read also: Cybersecurity Concerns Rise for Remote Work.)

The IoT could also play a vital role in training remote workforces. For example, products offered by ScanMarker allow people to slide a connected, pen-like tool across physical pages to quickly digitize the text. This lets companies continue relying on printed materials when needed, but efficiently distribute them to workers all over the world.

2. More IoT-Enabled Options for Smart Cities

Although some purpose-built smart cities exist, the more common trend is for existing locations to become progressively more connected. This allows residents to gradually see that the places where they live are more advanced.

One of the Internet of Things 2021 trends to expect involves giving people faster payment methods when using public transit. Some products combine fare collection and digital ticket creation into single solutions. Since many municipalities in the United States already acquired the licenses to use such offerings, the technology will likely become even more prominent in the next year.

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Relatedly, IoT solutions will likely help people reduce difficulties associated with finding places to park. A recent project in Madrid, Spain uses the IoT to monitor and predict occupancy levels for a hotel’s two-story parking area. The system can also differentiate between reserved spots and those open to all visitors.

3. Improving Driving and Autonomous Vehicles

Connected technologies have substantially changed how companies manage their vehicle fleets. Instead of relying on a maintenance technician’s handwritten notes about oil changes, a sensor could alert companies when it’s time to change the car’s fluids.

An estimated 48 billion devices will connect to the internet by 2021. Although some may involve autonomous vehicles, many will help companies track their drivers to deliver better service. A sensor might show that a delivery truck operator will soon encounter a slowdown due to construction work. Their manager could see such details on a dedicated interface, then advise the driver to change routes. (Read also: Are These Autonomous Vehicles Ready for Our World?)

Consumers will benefit from 2021 IoT automotive perks, too. For example, next year’s Mercedes-Benz S-Class will have an integration that lets drivers control their smart home tech from those vehicles. Another recent development at more than 11,500 Exxon and Mobil gas stations allows people to pay for their fuel using Amazon Alexa devices and commands.

4. The IoT Will Boost Predictive Maintenance

The IoT accelerated efforts to learn about equipment issues before problems cause unexpected shutdowns. It’s now commonplace for manufacturers to utilize IoT sensors in smart factories and receive warnings about impending failures.

Many of the Internet of Things 2021 innovations to look for will emphasize how there are even more predictive maintenance solutions than some people previously thought. For example, there’s a rising trend associated with connected climate control equipment. This could help heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professionals make more confident decisions about when to perform certain maintenance tasks or even see the state of a system before arriving to service it.

Another collaboratively developed system remotely monitors mining sites with IoT technology. It also utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to predict issues like cracks in equipment, letting operators respond proactively. As more companies branch out by providing precise preventive maintenance solutions, overall adoption rates and interest should rise.

5. The CHIP Standard Will Become a Reality

The Connected Home over Internet Protocol (CHIP) project aims to provide an application that allows seamless communication between different smart home products. If that happens, people could use IoT products from numerous brands without needing customized integrations first.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed progress for the forthcoming CHIP standard. That reality left people in the dark about when to realistically expect it.

Stacey Higginbotham reported in Stacey on IoT that although the CHIP standard could arrive in 2020, the more realistic expectation is that it will come in early 2021.

It’s still too early to say for sure what kind of impact it will have on smart home gadgets and how people use them. Even so, getting news about a timeline is enough to make people feel excited about what the future holds.

6.Market Enticements With Multipurpose Products

It’s also likely that 2021 IoT products will more frequently serve multiple purposes. This is not a wholly new trend, but it’s one that should gain momentum over the next year.

For example, a sensor-based device aimed at the K-12 education market gained attention last year. It detects sounds associated with vaping and bullying, letting purchasers reduce two kinds of undesirable behaviors at once.

Some just-released IoT products that manage the threat of COVID-19 transmission in workplaces facilitate contact tracing, plus emit sounds or vibrate when workers stand too close to colleagues.

Products like these that address more than one need should become in demand throughout 2021. Even when decision-makers feel excited about IoT investments, they’ll become more interested if offerings can simultaneously meet multiple needs.


An Exciting Year for IoT Advancements

These six predictions provide a sampling of how IoT products and tech will improve in 2021. Moves towards the integration of the products that aim to make the lives of consumers easier will continue. In homes and vehicles, at work and throughout cities, IoT will continue to gain footholds, as people become comfortable and familiar with the technology and it is incorporated into daily life in seamless ways. (Read also: Hacking the IoT: Vulnerabilities and Prevention Methods.)

The global pandemic has influenced product introduction timelines, causing some things to be fast-tracked, while others lose priority. Early adopters and tech experts are staying tuned to relevant projects underway to see what other progress may happen next year.

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Techopedia uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our content including peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, professional organizations, and governmental organizations.

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Written by Devin Partida | Editor-in-Chief for ReHack.com

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Devin Partida is the Editor-in-Chief for ReHack.com, and has had her freelance work featured in the official CES magazine, as well as various other tech publications. When she isn't writing about the latest tech, gadgets or cybersecurity trends, you can find her biking around the Golden Gate Bridge. To view Devin's full professional portfolio, please visit this page.

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