Wireless IC shipments are estimated to increase by 54% in 2020, forecasts ABI Research. According to the forecast, the increase is due to surging Wi-Fi traffic, adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and emerging IoT applications.

Short-range wireless connectivity technologies such as ZigBee, Thread, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Z-Wave, Wi-Fi and NFC will continue to evolve to meet upcoming market demands. These include Bluetooth 5 and Bluetooth Mesh, the ZigBee Alliance’s dotdot language for the IoT, Wi-Fi HaLow, WiGig, Z-Wave security updates, and the growing number of devices adopting these technologies.

Bluetooth 5 updates will benefit wearables and other handheld devices that will feature quick data transfers, syncing and firmware updates, as well as low power consumption. Higher speeds will also lead to improvements in wireless audio applications. Mesh will become prominent in applications such as smart lighting control, building automation, and condition monitoring.

Wi-Fi is also expected to be prominent in years to come. The 802.11ax will focus on network efficiency improvements rather than simply boost peak speeds. The 60GHz WiGig (802.11ad) will be adopted for 4K streaming, docking and VR applications. The sub-1GHz HaLow standard (802.11ah) will play in low-power and wide range of IoT applications.

Wi-Fi chipsets using 802.11ax, WiGig, or HaLow technologies will make up 60% of all wireless IC shipments by 2021. However, WiGig and HaLow will face challenges creating a new ecosystem in different bands.

Z-Wave will continue to have a major advantage, allowing service providers and others to provide more advanced and manageable smart home solutions for early adopters and existing users. Updates of the S2 security framework and support from home security vendors will help secure and grow adoption of the technology.