Internet of Things, 5G, and Cybersecurity Dominate CES 2019

This article originally appeared on All About Circuits by Gary Elinoff.

The IoT continues to evolve as we forge into 2019. Its promise of minimal latency may be one of the greatest forces driving the quick introduction of 5G. And, of course, IoT nodes governing critical military, medical, and industrial functions can’t be left unguarded. Thus the progress of the IoT, 5G connectivity, and cybersecurity depend on each for support and practicality.

Companies all over the world are stepping up to meet the demands for IoT innovations and infrastructure. Many of them are showcasing at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is just wrapping up in Las Vegas.

Let’s take a look at a couple of IoT-centric highlights from this week’s show.

Smart Cities Powered by 5G and the Internet of Things

Telecom giant, Sprint, has been investing heavily in smart cities, announcing two separate projects in southern US cities.

5G IoT Testing Hub: Peachtree Corners, Georgia

In another move focused on the development of smart cities, Sprint announced the creation of a new 5G IoT testing project. Peachtree Corners, Georgia will be the home of Sprint’s Curiosity Lab, a massive facility that will have a mile and a half of test track for autonomous vehicles.

While the IoT has made rapid advances on the factory floor and in remote monitoring, the high latency inherent in 4G networks has hindered the adaptation of IoT in “real-world” situations such as autonomous vehicles, where decisions have to be made in microseconds.

Sprint’s Curiosity program aims to bring together network intelligence, AI, and algorithms to create a distributed core IoT network and integrated operating system. It essentially separates traffic that can tolerate a bit of delay from signal from communications that can tolerate no latency at all, making it possible to further exploit the capabilities of 5G.

SIM Cards Not Required

On the hardware side of the IoT front, AT&T and Gemalto have teamed up to combine network connectivity and an IoT module in one package. The goal is to save space and reduce overall power requirement, essential for IoT applications and wearables

The Gemalto device, targeted at AT&T customers, integrates its embedded SIM (eSIM) inside the company’s Cinterion LTE-M EMS31 IoT module. It provides for added cybersecurity by being easily updateable with the latest protections against ever-evolving cybersecurity threats.

This device reflects several trends from 2018, including hardware design with an eye on cybersecurity and the seeming inevitability of embedded SIM ICs.

Dedicated IoT Satellites

Cubesats, AKA nanosats, are tiny space vehicles as small as one 10 centimeters square. They can be launched into low earth orbit (LEO) in swarms, and are orders of magnitude less expensive than traditional satellites, and have the potential of revolutionizing IoT availability worldwide.

While a good 10% of the Earth’s surface has cellular coverage, only 1% has coverage dedicated to IoT communications. Astrocast announced that the size of its fleet of tiny cubesats will be increased to 64 vehicles, making it possible for devices in remote areas of the world with poor communications infrastructure to enjoy full coverage for IoT devices.

Challenges for the IoT in 2019: Trust in Security

BlackBerry recently conducted a survey that raises some troubling questions about how the IoT’s meteoric rise in popularity is being received. According to a press release this week, BlackBerry reports that 80% of US, UK, and Canadian consumers “do not trust their current Internet-connected devices to secure their data and privacy.” And, not surprisingly, stated that in the future “they were more likely to choose a product or do business with a company that had a strong reputation for data security and privacy.”

The company used these survey results to springboard an announcement of new features for its security platform for IoT device manufacturers, BlackBerry Secure.

BlackBerry’s Alex Thurber predicted that “2019 will be the year consumers will begin to vote with their wallets and seek out products that promise a higher level of security and data privacy.”

It seems that much of the industry is on the same page, placing higher importance on ingrained security than in days gone by.

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