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Logistics Apps Propelled by Industrial Internet of Things

Wireless technologies are adding new fuel to the emerging Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) market. As an example, ultra-wideband (UWB) indoor location technology that's used for logistics apps is ready for substantial market growth.

According to the latest market study by ABI Research, there's a significant emerging opportunity for the high-accuracy, low-cost ultra-wideband radio technology in industrial and IoT markets -- with total revenues to reach $15 billion by 2021.

“High-precision UWB technologies are nothing new, with companies like Time Domain, Ubisense and Zebra Technologies being long-established vendors in the RTLS/asset tracking market," said Patrick Connolly, principal analyst at ABI Research.

UWB Technology Market Development

ABI analysts believe that while it's true that UWB is able to perform well in challenging RF environments, the cost/accuracy trade-off previously limited this technology to very niche applications. But now startups are inventing new ways to cost effectively implement the technology without compromising on performance.

ABI Research uncovered several companies that it predicts will be very disruptive in this space. Decawave is a market catalyst, now shipping UWB ICs for less than $15 at scale. This opened the market to a host of startups working with the technology for the first time.

Partners Decawave and Quantitec are making significant progress with Bosch. Meanwhile, Nanotron offers a well-thought-out embedded location platform.

UWINLOC is another vendor that created a semi-passive UWB solution that can ultimately compete on price with passive RFID, while also providing similar benefits to an active technology through energy harvesting.

Outlook for Wireless Technology Applications

According to the ABI assessment, UWB will disrupt the existing market, it will also open up new opportunities around compliance, traceability, fleet management, pallet tracking, staff management, fulfillment, and inventory management.

The major competitive threat stems from Bluetooth, which also comes with a range of cost/accuracy trade-offs. But its major advantage is its easy integration with smartphones and industrial wearables.

"It is still very early," concludes Connolly. "But the ability to deliver consistently on the impressive pricing, accuracy, and performance parameters that vendors are touting today will be what really differentiates Bluetooth and UWB technologies from one another."

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