Elon Musk’s temporary expansion of Tesla’s battery life during Hurricane Dorian demonstrates the growing power of the Internet of Things (IoT).

As petrol stations were running dry across Florida, Tesla owners were treated to an additional 30 miles from a single charge. At the tap of a button in Palo Alto, Tesla was able to remove battery restrictions for customers known to be in the storm’s path, enabling them to access the full power of their vehicle’s battery. The upgrade, normally purchased for several thousand dollars, was downloaded to vehicles free of charge to allow them to travel further on a single charge for a limited period during the storm.

Vehicles are just one example of the growing IoT trend. As computer chips continue to become cheaper to produce, we will begin to see connectivity built in to the consumer products many of us use every day. Micro-chipped clothing could signal if clothing (and the owner) is in need of a wash, while also signalling to a washing machine how best to wash that item of clothing. Expanded connectivity will provide the consumer with additional functionally while providing the vendor with an opportunity to build a long-term consumer relationship and collect valuable IoT data.

Bain & Company predicts that total spending on IoT will reach $520bn by 2021. As the industrial giants (the likes of Siemens and Samsung) continue to look to M&A to expand their capabilities, we expect that IoT will continue to be a focus of UK M&A activity in 2020.