Short-range wireless connectivity solutions such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 802.15.4, and (UWB) Ultra-Wide-Band may not be ready for prime time in the industrial internet of Things (IoT) operations, but market-foresight advisory firm ABI Research sees a growing list use cases.
These applications include real-time location systems (RTLS) and asset tracking to industrial wearables, condition-based monitoring, augmented reality (AR), and robotics applications.
The industry, however, is still very much in a nascent market phase, according to the research firm.
“Companies are still investigating how wireless technologies can enable increased productivity; what technologies and platforms should be used; how to maximize ROI; and how to realize the true benefits of connected systems,” it said.
Though many projects are still in pilot phases or limited to small-scale deployments, which can be challenging to scale up to a whole factory floor and larger environments, ABI Research cited several projects that are promising.
These include the emerging Bluetooth condition monitoring solutions from ABB and BluVision, UWB based RTLS deployments from Zebra, Sewio, and Siemens.
There’s also the AR and VR deployments from GE, Boeing, and Honeywell, among others, which it believes demonstrate a growing momentum.
“Wireless technologies remain relatively small and continue to face several challenges,” said Andrew Zignani, Senior Analyst, ABI Research, in a news release.
“Wireless solution providers still need to convince industrial equipment providers and end customers that, despite the limitations of wireless technologies, they are worth investigating due to the enormous amounts of high-quality data and the additional value they can generate,” he added.
Zignani is of the opinion that industrial solution providers are beginning to come around to wireless solutions for condition-monitoring applications and can see the value of RTLS solutions.
“However, it is likely to be a long-term transformation rather than an overnight success story,” he said.
Nevertheless, he believes that wireless solution providers need to convince industrial equipment providers and end customers that, despite the limitations of wireless technologies, they are worth investigating due to the enormous amounts of high-quality data and the additional value they can generate.
“To be successful, short-range wireless technologies must build greater awareness, be easy to understand, implement, integrate, and manage, have robust security and reliability, all the while having a clear value proposition and benefits to end customers if they are to be successful and build scale,” he explained.