Indiana’s IoT is Evolving Rapidly

Indiana’s IoT is Evolving Rapidly

To say there is a lot happening in the field of connectivity in Indiana would be a grossly oversimplified statement. There are truly groundbreaking things happening that could impact the future of all kinds of business and human activities.

The term “internet-of-things,” or IoT, is likely something you’ve heard about by now. It’s a simple term used to describe the way devices are connected to each other and to the internet. The simplicity ends there though. Much like the way assembly lines changed production, IoT is going to change just about everything about how we do things. It’s also going to have huge ramifications on related sectors including security, automated vehicles, infrastructure, the future of job tasks, innovation, and much more.

So where does Indiana stand in this arena? New insights from industry leaders and other stakeholders paints a picture of a robust future across the multifaceted industry of IoT. And currently across the state, many different organizations are rapidly making advances across very different aspects of the sector.


The Current State of Indiana’s IoT

Earlier this spring, an analysis of Indiana’s technology ecosystem was published by the Indiana IoT Lab, a Fishers-based organization that works as a hub for collaboration and development among industry partners. The group provides a framework and space for entrepreneurs, startups, and other public-private partners to bring new IoT solutions to market.

The Lab’s 2020 State of IoT report contained numerous short essays from company and community leaders that described many of their current and upcoming activities. About 30 companies and heads of several public entities participated. One of the most apparent things about these responses was the variety of developments taking place and the almost unified perspective about the direction of the industry. Namely, that it has nowhere to go but up.

“2020 is likely to be the breakout year for IoT as the value is being increasingly realized in many sectors including manufacturing, agriculture, and transportation, where Indiana is among the national leaders,” said Dr. Vinai Sundaram, founding CEO of SensorHound, Inc., an operations monitoring software firm.

State officials largely signaled their support of IoT innovation and agreed the next few years could bring about a lot of positive developments for Hoosiers.

Governor Eric Holcomb said, “In Indiana, we are growing the Internet of Things to continue to explore the ways technology can make life better for Hoosiers. We are developing ecosystems of tech-focused regional hubs in areas of the state that previously haven’t had access to such resources. We are embracing emerging technology such as 5G networks and so much more. Hoosier thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and global innovators have a lot in store for the future of IoT.”


5G – The Next Big Thing

One of the big topics you’ll come across in the IoT world these days is the forthcoming implementation of 5G networks. It’s a new kind of mobile internet network (the fifth such generation) that is intended to deliver much faster internet speeds and stronger signal reliability.

The impact of this will be huge. Research from Qualcomm, a California-based wireless technology development company, projected that “5G’s full economic effect will likely be realized across the globe by 2035 – supporting a wide range of industries and potentially enabling up to $2.1 trillion dollars in GDP growth.” It remains to be seen what Indiana’s share of that GDP growth will be, but if signals from the state’s tech community are any indication, it seems that Hoosier firms are aiming for a large portion.

Right now there are only a few areas of the state with 5G capabilities. Last summer, Indianapolis became one of only two cities at the time to have been selected to launch both AT&T and Verizon 5G broadband networks. Following the selection, a group of stakeholders established the Indiana 5G Zone in Indianapolis, which was the first zone of its kind.

Just this April, AT&T added multiple new areas of low-band 5G coverage, including Elkhart-Goshen, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Gary, and South Bend. Around the same time, Ohio-based Watch Communications said it was planning to deploy 5G in parts of its Indiana service areas.


What Can We Look Forward To?

The many experts featured in the 2020 State of IoT report commented on a range of things they’re looking forward to in the near future.

For example, Bill Soards, president of AT&T Indiana, said, “IoT has connected the unexpected – like beehives and atmospheric water generators – to improve daily life with smart solutions. We’re operating in a world where virtually anything can be connected to the internet.”

Soards went on to explain that experts are currently exploring how connectivity can improve areas such as precision agriculture, helping to take some of the guesswork out of farming. Now data from the soil can tell farmers exactly when and how much irrigation is needed for crops. IoT is also being used to improve weather monitoring, develop smart factories, and even improve processes in ordinary office settings.

Other experts discussed topics such as autonomous vehicles for both transportation and agriculture needs, artificial intelligence that could improve customer interactions, workplace safety, supply chain management, cybersecurity and cyberattack detection, informatics, analytics, and so much more.

Aerospace engineering is yet another area that will experience big changes with the advancement of IoT. Aaron Pierce, CEO of Pierce Aerospace, said that his company is working on a new technology called Flight Portal that can act as a digital license plate for vehicles in flight. This will be important for regulating the traffic of autonomous aircraft, which is projected to increase substantially as drones are become more commonly used for commerce.

“We look up and see the skies overhead on the verge of the biggest revolution in a century. Our new era and the drone challenges we address define modern commerce and presents an opportunity to mark [Indiana’s] place in history as the capital of unmanned aviation,” Pierce said.


More Connected than Ever

If anything can be taken away from the reporting on the current state of IoT, it’s that it won’t be very long at all before many of our daily devices become internet enabled. Indiana is uniquely positioned to capitalize on these developments. Increased efficiency and more information about our systems will have a major impact on numerous industries in our state and could be a major new driver of economic growth.

Category Cover Story, Features