Industrial IoT is the most important tech scene you haven’t heard of

Artificial Intelligence, the technology Hollywood predicts might be the death of us all — has been around for ages. From fictional Skynet to Apple’s Siri, we’ve all been gawping at AI’s unstoppable rise. Recently, although the hype around AI has continued to build, it hasn’t been matched by real-world rollouts. The same happened after the initial buzz caused by the Internet of Things (IoT), the yawns of once excited investors grew ever more audible as pundits across the web started considering that the fad was coming to an end.

However, this couldn’t be more wrong. Sure, consumer IoT may have slowed down a bit — how many people really need ‘smart’ vacuum cleaners anyway? — but, in factories all over the world, Industrial IoT (IIoT) is booming. Whereas consumer IoT focuses on connecting your cell phone to a coffee maker, IIoT connects industrial equipment in factories, or monitors vehicle fleets, and so on.

According to a report from the bean counters at accountancy firm Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC), business leaders see AI and the IoT as phenomena worth investing in. Research from Gartner shows that the IoT is set to explode at an astonishing rate, globally, and predicts that one million IoT devices will be purchased and installed every hour by 2021. More importantly, IIoT will be blazing the trail — not its consumer predecessor.

Hive mind

Ok, so many consumers in the western world have a few IoT devices kicking about — big deal. The reality is that the majority of factories are now connected through the IoT in one way or another. This includes sensors to implement predictive maintenance techniques that keep machines running, or smart wearables for human overseers — as is the case of Airbus in France — to help them oversee production.

The number crunchers at PwC reckon that consumer-focused IoT — think smart houses, smart cars, and other stuff — only concerns itself, in an insular fashion, with the impact of consumer products. The size and scale of IIoT will dwarf the consumer market by magnitudes. They are not comparable. Sure, there will be a few billion consumer IoT devices, the aforementioned usual suspects, but the global growth curve for IIoT predicts 100 billion connected devices as the technology pervades the industrial sector.

IIoT will become the larger slice of pie, eclipsing consumer IoT in use and numbers. The benefits of these investments will flow on to consumers as factories and fleets become more cost efficient, lowering prices for everyone.

Read more at The Next Web.