The internet of things (IoT) is not the future. IoT is already here today and it is definitely evident at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Throughout the conference and in many booths, companies are putting their focus on providing IoT solutions that bring together smart devices, gather data and make sense of it.
At Barcelona, ZTE Corporation signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Intel Corporation to jointly establish an innovation lab for research and development of future key IoT technologies including experimental verification, evaluation and development of related technologies.
Both companies have previously collaborated in other fields such as IoT access technologies, open-source collaboration and solution integration.
IDC forecasts that global spend on IoT will hit US$1.29 trillion by 2020. Coincidentally, that is the same time frame in which 5G networks are expected to be commercially deployed.
But it is no coincidence that telecommunications equipment provider ZTE is hard at work on IoT solutions on top of developing the 5G backbone that is required to facilitate communication between all these connected devices.
To this end, ZTE has developed its smart IoT operating system that provides intelligent capabilities for IoT terminals and acts as an IoT management platform.
As an ICT enabler for the IoT industry ZTE said it utilises solutions involving narrow band IoT (NB-IoT), LTE and various modules for smart devices and software to accelerate the development of sensor technologies.
ZTE has also formulated end-to-end security solutions to provide customers with security services for simultaneous planning, construction and operation. The company hopes to cooperate with partners to provide an overall solution for governments and enterprise customers.
ZTE senior vice president Jane Chen highlighted that ZTE’s IoT strategy moving forward focuses on four key areas: smart cities, smart homes, the industrial IoT and connected vehicles.
Cities are getting busier and smarter, so connected technologies that apply to traffic management, energy conservation and environmental monitoring are crucial.
Chen said ZTE has deployed its IoT solutions in over 140 cities in 40 countries globally. She stated that a wide variety of solutions using smart meters have helped optimise city infrastructure with smart street lighting, parking as well as water and air monitoring.
Some examples include the deployment of 20 thousand smart street lamps in Paris’ smart city project: the City of Light. These smart street lamps are outfitted with sensors that help manage its energy consumption and maintenance optimisation.
To help alleviate traffic jams in congested cities, ZTE has smart parking solutions that notify users where they can park their vehicle without having to search for hours on end for parking spots.
With its smart building and environmental monitoring, building managers would be able to better manage power distribution within the building.
Smart home solutions account for about 30% of IoT applications and requirements. To this end, ZTE has its future-oriented smart home solution called ZTE Alighting that acts as a control centre to help control interconnected smart home appliances device from anywhere in the home with just a smartphone.
Uses include regulating environmental control and monitoring one’s home remotely even from abroad. Wireless water leak detectors alert users of potential leaks while infrared motion sensors and audible as well as visual alarms help keep the home safe.
ZTE feels that security will be the primary use of connected devices as camera monitoring systems with motion detection can sense if there is an intruder in your home when you are out.
Connected vehicles will be another big area of IoT as cars and trucks get an upgrade to become smarter and safer. ZTE has worked with Chinese car maker Geely to make safer and better-maintained vehicles both for private and commercial use.
Chen described how smart sensors in a vehicle are constantly connected to a network and would be aware of the environment around it. The sensors would use weather reports to advise drivers to drive carefully if it rains or snows and would also report on potential engine problems before they happen.
“These sensors would be able to gather data on a driver’s driving habits which can be used by insurance companies to accurately price their premiums and incentivise drivers to adopt safer driving habits to enjoy greater savings,” said Chen.
The usage goes beyond end consumers with their cars and can be applied in fleet management for transport trucks hauling cargo around the country. Smart trucks would be able to monitor a driver’s driving habits and report if they are driving dangerously.
Admittedly, the IoT market is still in its very early stages and not many areas are profitable yet, said Chen. Many companies are still figuring out how they can take their solutions and go to market. This is where ZTE provides assistance to its customers, advising and supporting them as an end-to-end solutions provider.