IoT is all about size. The challenge to miniaturize sensors and batteries is the biggest barrier to product development, and the newest IoT gadgets will continue to push the limits of size, performance, security, and battery life.
Despite these challenges, however, significant progress has been made. For example, Dutch chip maker NXP Semiconductors bought Texas-based Freescale for $11.8 billion earlier this year. Freescale’s new Kinetis chip measures as thin as a blade of grass and features built-in security, helping designers push the boundaries of functionality and integration. This chip has the ability to run an appliance-like device—for example, an automated glucose monitor for diabetes patients—and there’s even the possibility that it could be embedded in a stretchable electronic patch or implanted under the skin.
If this sounds too far-fetched, then consider that a few months ago, Freescale unveiled the world’s smallest single-chip module (SCM) for the IoT, which replaced a six-inch board with a device the size of a dime, and reduced the 100+ components required in the larger counterpart to just one.
Without power, devices cannot function. Without going smaller, devices cannot progress. As more players enter the field, the competition will increase and the available range of analog chips, microcontrollers, and other types of semiconductors will make a blade of grass look big.