The Internet of Things, or IoT, is seen by many businesses as being a long term growth opportunity. The reason for this is clear: the Internet of Things is the name given to the technologies and services that will connect and interconnect a plethora of devices that are currently simply not connected to one another. IoT is the technology behind the next iteration of making our homes and other devices smart, in that they can anticipate our needs. By way of example, the technology may be used to optimise our home heating and cooling, transport routing and purchasing of foods using devices such as wearables, smartphones, home thermostats, our car, the refrigerator, coffee machine, oven or stove. For maximum efficiency, the information from our home smart products could be distributed and shared on a wider scale – changes in the weather, for example, will allow our smart homes to anticipate additional heating or cooling requirements. The interconnecting technology between these disparate devices – the networking technologies and software layers required – comes under the umbrella of the Internet of Things.
The technology is still at an early stage of development and there are many issues and potential issues that need to be resolved. These include everything from the security and privacy of our data through to establishing communication standards and the radios used to connect different devices. We have seen a large number of companies announcing products ready for the IoT, such as low power Wi-Fi and LTE modems, chipsets, to location beacons and operating systems. One of these businesses is MediaTek, the System-on-Chip manufacturer with its origins in building reference hardware designs. MediaTek has already invested significant capital into the Internet of Things and has expanded its IoT engineer team to two hundred. MediaTek, of course, is setting itself up to be one of the companies providing the necessary tools to allow devices to interconnect: to make reference to the California Gold Rush, the business is digging for gold, but is also making the picks and shovels for other businesses.
We have already seen some of MediaTek's investment. Over a year ago, it announced it was making a cloud based testing area available for IoT and wearable devices. In February this year the business announced the MT2511 bio sensor family, a series of components designed to work alongside MediaTek's existing portfolio of sensor and Internet of Things chips. The company has recently reiterated that it is increasing its efforts to expand into the Internet of Things and whilst it does not expect the division to contribute much to 2016 revenues (it is forecasting under 5% for this year), it expects IoT technologies to show "robust growth" in the next few years. In addition to the existing wearable / IoT products, MediaTek is expanding into smart home, location tracking and machine-to-machine communication applications.