Will the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to grow in 2020 or has it hit its peak?

Bruce Lancaster, CEO of Wilson Electronics, a manufacturer of cellphone boosters for both commercial and consumer use, said in a recent interview that IoT means different things to different people, but if you boil it down the basics — electronic devices communicating with each other wirelessly — he sees it as still going strong.

“The need to connect tons of devices across the world, I don’t think will die out,” Lancaster said.

But some IoT apps have become a bit of a fad.

“Light bulbs that can change colour at the sound of your voice, I think is waning in its popularity,” he offered as an example. “It spiked a few years ago.”

Meanwhile, security devices, such as connected surveillance cameras, and telematics, which collect diagnostic for such things as medical devices and automobiles, have also become more prevalent in the last few years.

“But there doesn’t have to be the flash, I guess you could say, that was there a few years ago,” Lancaster added.

As for a full-on smart home, it has failed to make great strides.

“Apple Home has tried to make a big play there,” he said. “They don’t talk about it much anymore … They’re still pushing it, right? But they haven’t gotten super strong.”

Other devices, such as Nest thermometers and Beko’s smart appliances, have been more popular.

However, an obstacle for IoT, in general, is a lack of a network standard for devices. They can connect via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, cellular, ZigBee, Z-Wave and so on.

To that end, Apple, Google, Amazon, ZigBee and others announced a joint partnership in December 2019 for “Project Connected Home over IP,” which aims to “to simplify development for manufacturers and increase compatibility for consumers.”

The first specification release will be for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with possible future support IP-bearing technologies, such as cellular and broadband.

Lancaster also expects Wi-Fi to be the “backbone” for connectivity between IoT devices going forward. But he also sees cellular as a standard continuing to grow, despite a fee likely being attached, especially when it comes to medical devices.

“People don’t want to spend three or $5 a month to be connected,” he said. “But if you have a heart monitor that’s keeping you alive and $3 a month is pretty much a no-brainer, right?”