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The future of IoT-based asset tracking: new technologies and emerging trends 

This is the fifth article of the series: IoT-Based Asset Tracking. 

To wrap up this insightful series, we asked our engineers to give us an outlook of the future of IoT-based asset tracking. With terms like 5G and Edge computing buzzing around the industry, we called for the experts to clarify and give us an educated inference of where things are heading and how we can anticipate the trends and head start the market.  

Dive in with our experts’ insight, and explore their perspectives, questions, and answers in this resourceful series.   

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From a Power perspective: 

Special thanks to Paul Schmokel for his valuable collaboration 

As we’ve seen in this series, innovation for IoT, especially for asset tracking, starts and ends with power. No matter how fancy our ideas get, if we can’t power them on and keep them on for the ride ahead, little will we have to profit from our efforts. With that in mind, we’ll kick this article off with the future landscape on the side of power, considering the impact wide band gap technology could have on tomorrow’s designs.  

Wide Band Gap Demystified 

To understand the buzz around wide bad gap we need to dive into its properties and how these could be leveraged for truly transformational effects. Wide band gap technologies, such as silicon carbide and gallium nitride, offer several superior features. However, for what concerns the power perspective, there is one unique property that stands out the most: an enhanced withstand voltage capacity on a smaller wafer. What does this mean for performance? In short, lower resistance (RDS on), faster switching and reduced losses both in switching and conduction. But there’s more.  

Shrinking Power Supplies 

One of the most apparent marvels of wide band gap is how it enables miniaturization of power supplies. Think about laptops just a decade ago… power supplies were bulky behemoths that have now been shrunk to the size of a lighter thanks to innovations in switching frequency and the adoption of gallium nitride.  

The Asset Tracking Advantage 

Circling back to asset tracking, wide band gap technology becomes important as it is one of the main enablers of a clear trend in the industry: miniaturization. Asset tracking devices as well as the broader IoT sector are on their way to a mutual objective: becoming increasingly compact and optimizing power efficiency. For that reason, wide band gap is the present and immediate future of power solutions for IoT-based asset tracking. Because if we know one thing now, it is that the smaller our technology gets, the bigger we can innovate. There’s just so much more space to work with now!  

From a Wireless perspective: 

Special thanks to Rick Cartier for his valuable collaboration 

When we talk about connectivity and the future of wireless, 5G is always quick to come into the conversation. But what exactly is the role of 5G in defining (or redefining) the future of IoT-Based asset tracking? 

Streaming vs. Snapshot: The 5G Dilemma 

5G opens the possibility to stream applications as opposed to being limited to capturing as with previous technologies. However, this comes at a cost, and one that we have been working hard to tackle on the previous part of this article… power. Streaming through 5G is a power draining task, so the consideration becomes crucial. Yes, you can stream now, but does your asset tracking scenario need to stream or does the snapshot approach suffice? Again, raising the question that has been overarching throughout this article series: What you want vs what you need.  

5G and Real-Time Insight 

One of the main benefits of IoT for asset tracking is its ability to provide real-time information. However, with 5G, this is brought to the next level. 5Gs capacity to provide real-time data of events like, for example, an object being dropped, or a cabinet being opened is virtually instantaneous. Paired with the right sensors, this could include not only immediate data but real-time video as well. This will again trigger other implications, but at first glance, it offers interesting opportunities to understand not only the location of an asset, but its live state as well.  

Asset Tracking Evolves 

To summarize, 5G’s role in asset tracking could revolutionize the sector. Its extended possibilities to understand an asset’s condition and status could shift the sense of the application from a passive tracking format into an active asset monitoring strategy and all the doors this could open in various industries.  

From a Sensors perspective: 

Special thanks to John Stih for his valuable collaboration 

When it comes to sensors, a new era is being established by the integration of machine learning. This transformative technology is already reshaping the landscape of IoT-based asset tracking applications. How might tomorrow look like then? 

From Raw Data to Informed Insights 

The evolution of sensors has been marked by their ability to get smarter. In the past, for example, sensors were used in asset tracking to detect raw data of basic events such as drops or tilts. However, as higher output data rates become available the information becomes more specific, and now with the integration of machine learning algorithms, the interpretation becomes more accurate and insightful. Who’s to say how far those wits will go in the near future?  

Smart Sensors: Beyond Detection 

Today’s sensors are already setting a high standard for innovation. They can do much more than just identify an event happening, they can even tell us the details of it. It’s not just identifying a flat tire, but telling us exactly which one, or for example, sensors can easily detect irregularities in a water pump or a malfunctioning fan as well. This, again, means the evolution from raw data into informative insights enhances our understanding and interpretation of a system.  

The Power of Machine Learning 

Now when we pair this accuracy with machine learning on sensors, the results can be a game-changer. We’re talking about technologies that can identify patterns and anomalies and act swiftly and accordingly in crucial situations. For example, with the topic at hand, an impressive application is the detection of driver fatigue by tracking eye movement, ensuring drivers are focused on the road and preventing dangerous accidents.  

Wake-on-Motion and Power Efficiency 

Another interesting area of development for sensors is the wake-on-motion technology, which aims to conserve energy as sensors are only activated when there’s a relevant change in the environment. This, entangled with all other innovations could provide longer living, smarter sensors to enhance any project. 

This concludes our IoT-based asset tracking series. Do you have any IoT or Asset tracking projects you’d like to take to the next level?  

Send us an email and get in contact with our experts at Future Electronics to get personalized engineering support for all of your applications. 


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