With some 16 billion active IoT devices predicted by 2021, society stands on the threshold of a momentous change in the ways we do business and organize our lives. However, this market will only develop its full potential if the devices flooding the market are perceived, by both manufacturers and consumers, to generate real, tangible benefits at the right functionality, quality and price. The move towards easily integrated IoT devices not only takes much of the hard work and unpredictability out of manufacturers’ operations but can also help them streamline their service offering and
find new ways of engaging with their customers. For manufacturers, the communication revolution means they no longer need to waste valuable time or resources trying to locate devices and also gives them access to copious data, which provides invaluable input on their sales and marketing efforts, improving products and after-sales support. For consumers, who are used to having instantaneous data about everything in their lives, from their cars and washing machines to their CCTV security systems, two factors are essential: cost and convenience.

Achievements 2016
u-blox has established its position as a leading supplier of positioning chips and modules on the strength of its unmatched research, development and technological expertise. But there is another element that has played a central role in our success: the company’s ability to match its product offering closely to the needs of specific markets.
The NEO-M8U, for example, the industry’s first untethered dead reckoning (UDR) module, addresses the needs of the automotive industry, both the first mount and after-market sectors, for a device that combines simple installation with leading positioning capability. Or, SARA-N2, a low-cost, low-power consumption module designed for a vast range of narrow-band IoT applications where whole-life cost is a critical factor. At the short-range end of the market, the Bluetooth-capable NINA-B1 has the ability to reliably track multiple mobile devices and equipment moving around in relatively confined spaces, such as factories or hospitals. As a result, tools and other equipment do not go missing and can be located instantaneously.

Future focus
At u-blox, we will be focusing on three prime areas as part of our drive to keep existing customers satisfied, to acquire new ones, and to secure a larger share of the market.

• Security
To help our customers to create secure products we are adopting a set of fundamental design principles across our product range. The security features will allow our components to ensure customers’ product and data integrity, and to resist malicious attacks from cyber hackers.

• Autonomous car
Autonomous vehicles require high-precision positioning as a critical component of multi-sensor systems. This calls for high-integrity data and continuously safe operation (ISO 26262). Autonomous vehicles will also communicate with each other and roadside infrastructure (V2X communication). In both these areas, u-blox is developing core technologies to meet market needs well into the future.

• Open platforms
Many u-blox products are designed to enable customers to host their applications within the module, saving cost and space, both which are critical to IoT success. To do this, u-blox provides the tools and software environments that make the process efficient. For ”big” applications, customers can incorporate their specific software into a Linux OS. “Small” applications can be developed and directly loaded onto the module, for example through the ARM mbed Device Platform.