The Top IoT Research Frontiers And Why They Matter

Internet of Things or IoT is nothing new. The idea of a future connected world is becoming a reality as everything from refrigerators to jet engines are connected to the Internet. In reality, of course, a lot of challenges still remain. The best way to learn what these are, is to look at academic research.

Eliko has its roots in academia but for the past 10+ years, our focus has been on commercial technology development or on close-to-market research projects. Still, we have a broad network of universities that we regularly work with and many of our forward-looking insights are a result of that collaboration.

So, it is fascinating to share the latest list of topics that the top 500 Internet of Things researchers focus on, compiled by The League of Scholars. The list represents the keywords that the researchers used when publishing their work. The top 500 researchers are defined based on their citations, the journal’s impact factor, industry collaboration, and public engagement.


Top 20 Internet of Things Research Frontiers


  • wireless sensor networks      30%
  • cloud computing          27%
  • big data 12%
  • ubiquitous computing 12%
  • distributed systems     10%
  • cyber-physical systems          9%
  • pervasive computing  8%
  • embedded systems    8%
  • mobile computing       8%
  • artificial intelligence    8%
  • machine learning        8%
  • security  7%
  • semantic web   7%
  • network security          6%
  • sensor networks          6%
  • wireless networks       6%
  • RFID          6%
  • smart cities       5%

Why Should You Care?


First off, the list gives a good overview of the real-life challenges of developing IoT solutions. Since novelty is always a key quality indicator in research, these focus areas have the potential to give new academic and practical knowledge. Secondly, this list also illustrates what topics are relevant for the industry. The top researchers are aware that funds (and topics) often come from the private sector, and align their work accordingly.


How to Collect Data Tops The List


More than a third of the Top 500 IoT researchers are working on wireless sensor networks. This appears both as nr 1 and nr 15 on the list. Combine this with cloud computing (27%) and you can see that most of the effort is still going on collecting rather than analyzing IoT data. Our experience with building complex systems combining communication technologies and sensors shows that real value-driven products include both good embedded systems knowledge and application-specific know-how. Clearly one cannot exist without the other, and this is what the emerging IoT research topics illustrate.


Rising Stars – AI and Machine Learning


Irrespective of the field, there is no IoT without intelligent decision-making on behalf of the devices. As can be seen from the list, both artificial intelligence and machine learning are important research topics. The ability of machines to make decisions depends on the quality of machine learning algorithms. At Eliko, we understand both of these terms as part of developing intelligent location systems. These research areas focusing on IoT decision-making will only gain more emphasis in the future. The application areas are everywhere but industrial manufacturing is one of the most promising fields in our experience.


In short, IoT can be sometimes a confusing term but it is made up of real embedded systems that need to collaborate and make intelligent decisions. A lot of challenges remain on how to collect the right data, how to communicate it, and most importantly, make sense of it in the end.


The list of research topics was originally published by the, an Industrial Internet of Things knowledge hub for the newest insights and news. Eliko is also a contributor to the