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Survey Highlights SRW Deployment Challenges and Need for Greater Education in Emerging IoT Applications

London, United Kingdom - 01 Aug 2017

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In a recent B2B technology survey of 455 U.S.-based companies in nine vertical markets, ABI Research finds that almost 70% of respondents currently have Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or other short-range wireless (SRW) communications technologies in operation, with the remainder set to deploy in the next 12 months. But there is still a need for SRW education and awareness that extends beyond smartphones and tablets into emerging IoT applications, such as asset tracking and sensor monitoring. 

“The consistent ranking of smartphones and tablets as the most innovative technologies might suggest limited knowledge of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies beyond the consumer electronics space. There is a need for greater education on how SRW solutions can be used in more advanced and valuable ways, such as asset tracking, indoor location, and wireless sensor networking, all the while aligning with the existing infrastructure,” says Andrew Zignani, Senior Analyst at ABI Research.

The survey demonstrates a growing shift toward connecting manufacturing equipment/devices and/or systems to the IS/IT network for remote monitoring using SRW solutions, with 85% currently deploying Wi-Fi and 75% deploying Bluetooth. While less than one third of companies surveyed deploy 802.15.4 solutions, more than 44% plan to deploy the technology in the future. This signifies potential growth for ZigBee, WirelessHART, and other mesh solutions in this space.

Organizations can leverage smartphones, tablets, and smart glasses as human-machine-interfaces to monitor and configure machines wirelessly. Alternatively, a more elaborate mesh network can transmit data to a central gateway and control system. Wireless devices save time by reducing the need for manual measurements. They also eliminate expensive human-machine interface (HMI) equipment, give workers greater flexibility, increase safety, and are ideal for hard-to-reach installations and hazardous environments.

In healthcare environments, survey respondents see mobile devices and consumer wearables as the main transformative technologies over the next five years. In contrast, respondents consider clinical-grade wearables, remote monitoring, home health monitoring, and asset tracking to be lower priority innovations, with only 2% seeing asset and resource tracking as the most important technology transformation. This is despite equipment misplacements being a key burden in healthcare environments.

Respondents cite the main SRW technology adoption barrier for healthcare, manufacturing, and retail environments to be aligning the technologies with the existing framework. Asset tracking and indoor location vendors are beginning to note this friction and trying to make it easier for infrastructure teams to buy into the idea by leveraging existing Bluetooth or Wi-Fi infrastructure, enabling much simpler deployment and reducing the burden on already constrained IT resources.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Industry Survey: Transformative Technology Adoption and Attitudes – Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and  Short-Range Wireless Connectivity report. This report is part of the company’s Wi-Fi, Bluetooth & Wireless Connectivity service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights.