The Internet of Things is becoming an increasingly prominent technology trend on the market. In 2020 consumers around the world bought 444.7 million wearable devices. The year-to-year growth of this market reached a smashing 28.4%. The COVID-19 has also increased the demand for IoT applications; this is mostly because of the new requirements posed by telemedicine for constant monitoring of patient’s health. Healthcare-related wearable devices are more widespread than ever.
IoT devices and sensors surround consumers in public spaces, offices, and private living spaces. Many of them come with a display module for easy operation. For example, if you’re using a wearable device, the chances are high that it’s equipped with an OLED display.
In this article, you can explore the most common display technologies used in IoT applications, which focus on three areas of interest: retail products, smart buildings, and industrial equipment. Read to learn which display technologies are top picks for supporting the innovative Internet of Things devices.
Let’s start with the basics: What is IoT?
The Internet of Things refers to a wired or wireless network used to connect devices that work autonomously. They collect, share, and process data on their own. IoT devices are also capable of interacting with their surroundings on the basis of data. Most importantly, they don’t even require any sort of human interaction to operate.
Today, you can find IoT devices across every industry from agriculture and manufacturing to transportation and medicine.
Smart buildings are the best use case for IoT. It’s a big network; controlling and maintaining every aspect of it is very complicated. However, with IoT, it’s easier to handle. Just consider all the smart devices installed to control lighting, thermostat, and other elements of the building. All these functions are integrated and controlled within one application, where users can download it on their smartphones and operate everything remotely.
Common display choices for three types of IoT applications
Retail IoT applications
The retail industry took advantage of the Internet of Things in many different ways. Some of the most popular solutions are monitoring systems used to track the shop space but also customer behavior within the brick and mortar locations. Such systems gather data that allow retailers to adjust product arrangements on shelves and help customers navigate around the store.
Another common solution for retail is electronic price tags that use electronic paper display solutions. Instead of relying on paper tags that need to be adjusted manually by employees, electronic information carriers allow automated content management. Prices and text can be changed immediately – all it takes is one click inside the central content management systems. This leads to greater efficiency and agility since prices can be adjusted in real-time based on demand.
Thanks to new display technologies such as e-paper, IoT devices, which can be implemented in retail spaces that are brightly lit and ensure excellent readability of the content from practically every direction. Electronic price tags are also energy efficient and need only a little power while the image is changing.
IoT devices can bring a lot of comfort and functionality to our homes, offices, and practically any building or infrastructure element. Some common examples are central heating management systems used to regulate the temperature level in every room right from the smartphone. A cleaning robot is a good example of IoT as well.
Most of the time, users can control smart building functionalities using centralized dashboard panels that are user-friendly and allow easy operation. That’s why so many companies are building IoT devices with LCD TFT displays that support different types of touch screen technologies.
The Internet of Things is a common presence across every industry. Here’s one example of an IoT device used in industrial settings: a portable measuring device that gathers data in real-time and sends it to a centralized database.
As you can imagine, the industrial environment demands that these devices can withstand harsh conditions. If they’re set to operate in production facilities, they might be exposed to all kinds of different factors like vibrations, extremely low or high temperatures, moisture, and water, dust, or interferences.
That’s why many industrial IoT devices take advantage of monochromatic OLED displays that offer great readability of content in both dark and light environments. In this case, the viewing direction doesn’t matter at all – this is another reason why the OLED displays offer excellent readability in production settings. Moreover, OLED can be used in a broad range of temperatures, and it operates well between -42°C and 80°C.
But let’s go back to the example of the portable measuring device. You might want to present complex data like figures and diagrams on it. In that case, an LCD TFT display might be a better choice as long as the parameters are properly adjusted. Manufacturers then need to place the electronic parts in enclosures of appropriate tightness to offer full protection against dust or moisture.
The future of IoT technologies
These three IoT solutions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the spread of this technology across public spaces, industrial settings, and our homes. That’s why IoT offers plenty of room for experimentation.
Manufacturers try more efficient and high-performing display options that support the functionality of these devices and deliver an optimal user experience. Keep an eye on the space because it’s going to give rise to a lot of exciting innovations in the next decade.
Chris Somers is the president of Melrose, which operates under two divisions. Melrose systems for manufacturing and supplying Man-machine interface assemblies like Display modules, Touch Screens, membrane switches & silicone rubber keypads. And Melrose NL for Industrial product identification, permanent equipment labels, and nameplates.