It’s a busy, sultry Monday morning traffic. In a hurry to reach the office, you forget to turn off your room’s AC. You don’t fret, instead, you reach out for your smartphone while sitting in your car, and turn the AC off. Also, while browsing through your factory operations app, you receive an alert about machine maintenance for your workshop supervisor and control room. This is a LIVE scenario where the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), robotics, and other new-age technologies have become part of our connected world – both at home and in the industry – and are now catalysed further, by the pandemic.
Industry 4.0, a decade-old concept, was first introduced by the government in Germany. Today, it has become a regular phenomenon. It entails building ‘intelligent factories’ where machines monitor and take decentralised production and maintenance decisions. This concept has now evolved further to ‘Society 5.0’, which refers to a technology-based human-centered society. Society 5.0 was first conceptualised by Japan and aspires to go beyond industrial transformation and create a ‘Super Smart Society’, where people can resolve various social challenges by incorporating technologies such as IoT, AI/ML, robotics, and big data into society.
Society 5.0 looks at converging cyberspace (virtual space) and physical space (real space); Japanese companies such as Panasonic and Hitachi, to name a few, are already following this model. Overall, Society 5.0 can be categorised into three broad areas: mobility, home, and business.
Mobility includes autonomous driving and fleet systems that use obstacle detection, external environment recognition, and energy-saving technologies including next-generation power devices, lithium-ion battery systems, and contactless power supply systems.
Society 5.0 aspires to create a ‘Super Smart Society’,
where people can resolve social challenges by incorporating IoT, AI/ML, big data, etc. into society.
Home includes home automation innovations such as smart appliances and lights, as well as sensing solutions such as facial recognition for entry control and detection of suspicious activities. It also includes technologies for lifestyle data analysis, and emotion recognition based on people’s behavior and activity information.
Lastly, the business comprises solutions embedded with cutting-edge technologies, including IoT, AI/ML, cloud/edge computing, and blockchain. These are aimed at optimising enterprise activities across sectors.
For India to achieve a trillion-dollar digital economy, the country needs to leverage these new-age technologies. According to a Zinnov report, India had 200-250 million connected devices by the end of 2019. The report estimates this number to jump tenfold and touch two billion devices in 2021. This signals the possibility of exponential market growth in the years to come. Presently, the IoT adoption among large enterprises stands at 35%, with Industry 4.0 or Smart Manufacturing and Connected Assets as the two most prominent categories cornering 20-25% of the total investments.
The IoT ecosystem
While the adoption of digital technologies has been on the agenda for many organisations, the pandemic has accelerated its pace across sectors. Digital transformation and adoption have gained speed while security has emerged as another top priority. Furthermore, change in consumer behavior has created a demand for automation (home and office), contactless technologies, and connected/IoT-enabled appliances. As a result, there’s a rise in demand for smart manufacturing, smart lifestyle, and smart societies.
With the advent of 5G, the demand for connected solutions is expected to rise further. Our syndicated research conducted in 2020 corroborates that nearly 81% of the consumers are comfortable spending extra on IoT-enabled products. Consumers are looking for IoT-based solutions that can connect all appliances and devices in the house on one single platform – lights, switches, fans, smart doors, refrigerators, TVs, air conditioners, washing machines, etc. Home automation as a service will enable businesses to provide a holistic smart living experience – comfortable (safe), convenient, and connected – to consumers.
Similarly, industrial automation opens new avenues of growth for enterprises. Data generated through these IoT-based platforms will help businesses recognise consumer patterns/behavior and share relevant information regarding predictive maintenance and warranty, to name a few. This, in turn, will optimise the overall supply chain, the lower the total cost of ownership, and, thus, create economies of scale.
The new digital normal
Driven by the availability of an enormous amount of data, rising smartphones adoption, and connectivity, the country is well on its way towards 100% digitalisation, faster than many developed and emerging economies. Progressive factors advancing this trend include the robust Indian IT/ITeS talent, diverse start-up ecosystem, Government of India’s strong intent towards digitalisation, development of digital infrastructure, and IoT Centers of Excellence.
An integrated effort by the government and the industry will further play a critical role in addressing the challenges of cybersecurity, standardisation for IoT devices, high-speed connectivity, and a skilled workforce, among others. At the same time, it will help create a sustainable and connected ecosystem that will take India a step closer to Society 5.0.
By Manish Misra, Chief Innovation Officer, Panasonic India