ON World forecasts massive growth in shipment of wireless sensor networks


A new study conducted by IoT market intelligence firm ON World forecasts annual shipments of wireless sensor network chipsets to reach 3,4 billion by 2023 from 1 billion in 2018.

According to the study, wireless sensor networking has removed the barriers to entry for Internet of Things development and is a key differentiator for an increasing number of organisations.

Mareca Hatler, ON World’s director of research, said: “Today, organisations without an IoT strategy are at a significant competitive disadvantage.

“WSNs increase operational efficiency, scalability, asset visibility and provide new analytic insights into complex processes.”

Short range technologies such as 802.15.4, Bluetooth, WiFi and proprietary make up over 90% of today’s shipments but Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks including Sigfox, LoRa and NB-IoT growth rates are increasing faster.

Within the next five years, 3 in 5 wireless sensor network chipsets will be used for location related services including proximity sensing, as well as asset tracking and locating.

The study explores three wireless sensor network segments including wireless mesh sensor networks, location-aware personal area networks and low power wide area networks.

Wireless Mesh Sensor Networks

 Annual shipments are expected to increase by 560% over the next five years. With 500 million installed mesh devices, IEEE 802.15.4 has the largest share of the market today using protocols such as Zigbee, Thread, Wi-SUN, WirelessHART and ISA100 Wireless.

Bluetooth mesh developers are aggressively targeting smart homes and buildings, smart cities, retail, healthcare operations, as well as industrial and logistics applications.

Over the next five years, bluetooth low energy chipset shipments for sensor network markets will increase 3X faster than the overall bluetooth LE market.

Wireless mesh network protocols are provided by over half of the 67 low power wireless chipset and module suppliers ON World contacted and analysed for this report.

Innovations for wireless mesh sensor networks continue to grow, such as the network agnostic wireless mesh platform by CyanConnode, ultra-long range wireless mesh systems using LoRa by Chess Wire and decentralised, radio-agnostic wireless mesh networks by Wirepas.

 Location-Aware Personal Area Networks

By 2023, 2.5 billion cumulative personal area wearables devices such as fitness/health trackers and smartwatches will be sold worldwide.  These mobile PAN devices will increasingly be location aware using GPS and/or bluetooth beacons.

Bluetooth location services have emerged as one of the largest IoT developer opportunities in 2018.  IoT data analytics platforms such as IBM’s Watson IoT, Intel’s Retail Sensor Platform and GE Predix, are increasingly using bluetooth beacons for high-value enterprise applications such as retail point-of-interest messaging, real-time coupons, wayfinding, workflow optimisation and asset tracking.

Bluetooth beacons are used by retail chains and brands such as Macy’s, Lord & Taylor and Coca Cola; numerous sports/event venues such as the Mobile World Congress conference, Detroit Auto Show and Levi Stadium in San Francisco; and a growing number of commercial and industrial companies.

 Low Power Wide Area Networks

LPWA networks solve many of the challenges associated with wireless mesh sensor networks by creating multi-mile star networks where the complexity of the network and application reside on an in-premises or cloud network server.  LPWA networks such as LoRaWAN provide geolocation and roaming capabilities to complement or replace GPS, that lower service fees for tracking, locating and monitoring of people, animals, vehicles, bicycles and other mobile assets.

ON World’s analysis of nearly 100 LPWA network operators found that two-thirds provide networks such as Sigfox or LoRaWAN that use unlicensed spectrum.  However, the pace of activity for NB-IoT has accelerated over the past 18 months.

Today, 1 in 4 LPWA operators provide or are planning NB-IoT networks and there are over a dozen NB-IoT chipset suppliers from a small handful two years ago.