March 8, 2017

Internet of Things lends wings to photonics

					Internet of Things

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), by 2020, the Internet of Things will unleash global market potential of $1.29 trillion. Photonics is the enabler.

The Internet of Things is growing on a broad front: According to International Data Corporation (IDC), 13 billion “things” are connected today worldwide. This includes machines and systems in Industry 4.0, infrastructure, cars and other vehicles, as well as public and private building technology. Sensors that gather data and make it accessible on cloud platforms are even finding their way into technical textiles and clothing.

The variety of applications is growing rapidly. According to the U.S. market research company, no industry will be able to avoid the megatrend. By 2020, 30 billion objects will be integrated into the Internet of Things (IoT). The IDC analysts estimate the sales volume sparked off by this to be an annual $1.29 trillion. In 2016, the figure was $737 billion.

Hardware expenditure growing considerably

Based on new IDC figures, the biggest share of IoT investments are made in hardware (30.6%). Over the coming five years, the total will double to around $400 billion. In particular, there is increased demand for sensors and data connection solutions for the networked objects. In both areas, photonics is the enabler: It provides the necessary optical sensors in many different wavelength ranges, ensures fast optical data transfer, and provides extremely precise production and measurement technology for the underlying electronics.

According to IDC, investments in software make up around 25 percent of the market. Half of this is for application and embedded software. It runs on microprocessors that can only be as powerful and inexpensive as they are with the help of optical lithography and inspection methods. Without the performance explosion in chips announced in Moore’s Law, the Internet of Things would, at most, be a bold vision.

But, in actual fact, it is fast becoming reality. This is why companies and consultants world-wide are addressing the subject. Politicians have also recognized the strategic importance, as can be seen from a current white paper from several U.S. authorities.