The Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to be the world’s fastest growing business sector in the next five to ten years and will be the market every industry wants a share in. According to IDC forecasts, a total of 212 billion devices will be connected to the IoT by 2020 and will create market revenue of up to US$7.1 trillion. In addition to the most popular wearable devices, IoT will also comprise elements such as “smart home,” “smart grid,” “smart healthcare,” “smart industry,” and even “smart city” and “smart life”.
The next stage is the Internet of Everything (IoE), also known as M2M (Machine-to-Machine) or MTC (Machine-Type Communication), which will consist of the realization of a network of machines and hardware terminals linked through wired, wireless or mobile communication technology with or without limited human-machine interaction, thus enabling communication among different types of machine (or hardware) and smart utilization through the linking of terminals over cloud platforms. For example, when smartphone users walk into a store, a detector will gather relevant information and send the users customized promotional information about the store. Refrigerators equipped with sensors will be able to detect the types and quantity of food they contain, notify users when quantities are running low, provide timely promotional information for nearby stores and even directly order foods for users. These scenarios fully illustrate the four components of the IoE: object, data, user, and information processing.
Building the IoT will be like constructing a global neuro-network system that needs a large quantity of sensors (e.g. MEMS, gyroscopes, and accelerometers), connectivity ICs (e.g. Bluetooth, WiFi, Zigbee, and NFC) and microcontrollers (MCUs). Long standby times for devices will make good energy management crucial; thus, power management integrated circuits (PMICs) will become increasingly important. In the next few decades, wireless communication technology and an improved network of sensor devices will facilitate human-to-human, human-to-object, and object-to-object communication and create an even more fluid IoT environment.