Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent
December, 30th 2012
21:00
 

Paul Brody, Global Industry Leader, Electronics, IBM

By Paul Brody

People have been talking and writing about the “Internet of Things” for more than a decade. It’s the idea that at some point billions of electronic devices and sensors will be connected to the Internet in parallel to the hundreds of millions of people who have access to the Net. But, unlike so many of the whiz-bang technologies that are forever predicted but never arrive, such as flying cars and time machines, the Internet of Things is on the verge of becoming a reality.

So, what exactly is bringing the Internet of Things to fruition? A big factor is the plunging cost of connectivity, which is being driven by the emergence of Heterogeneous Networks (often referred to as “HetNets”). HetNets offer a way to increase the density and bandwidth available to mobile devices. 

To give you an idea of their potential scale, Free.fr, one of the world’s first HetNets, located in France, has more than 4 million WiFi hotspots connected to the  network and enjoys data transfer costs that are probably far below $1 per gigabyte. While the rise of HetNets is driven by insatiable consumer demand for smartphone bandwidth, the biggest impact will be felt when it becomes cost-effective to connect just about anything (cars, washing machines, vending machines, lights etc.) to the Internet. And, anyone who was inLas Vegas earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show knows that this type of ‘uber-connectivity’ is no longer just a pipe dream.

The second major factor driving the Internet of Things is the explosion of low-cost, smart, standardized sensor networks. Consumer hobbyists are leading the way here. Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects is hosting numerous sensor projects that are designed to enable consumers to rapidly deploy and utilize large numbers of sensors around the home and office.

Raspberry Pi is one of the most popular recent initiatives in this space. The company has created a credit card-sized computer that integrates with physical devices like TVs and keyboards to give users PC functionality, such as spreadsheets and word processing, without having to buy a computer. Designed for hobbyists, it starts at a mere $25.

Another interesting initiative is Sensordrone, a multi-sensor device for smartphones that was recently funded by Kickstarter that gives phones even more capabilities, like connecting to printers. In another development, Nokia pledged to push the envelope in terms of adding new and innovative sensors and geo-location capabilities to their phones.

Finally, all these devices and services are increasingly being stitched together with online services for better integration. A service that I think is very compelling is If This Then That (IFTTT) -an online web service integrator. It allows users to set triggers, such as when new tweets appear or photos are uploaded, and then match them to actions, such as sending an email with that information. Personally, I have more than 24 tasks running on IFTTT. The website is about a year old and until recently it focused purely on online services.

This is relevant to the Internet of Things because in the last few months, IFTTT has added “Channels” that connect to physical devices and it started with a home power management system. The result: integration of physical devices and virtual services across multiple providers for consumers. All of this with point and click simplicity. So, if you forgot to turn off the house lights before leaving, you can simply tweet them off. Similarly, you could control all the devices and gadgets in your house with a smartphone.

I showed this to one enterprise CIO who immediately instructed his staff to sign up and try the service to see how it can be applied in their own company.

When all these things come together, the result will be an Internet of Things that really works for consumers. And, as we have seen lately, where consumers go, enterprises follow.

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Check out Paul Brody’s blog on Electronics industry and follow him on Twitter.

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27 Comments
 
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4:10 am

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May 9, 2013
7:05 am

Even though we can connect “Internet of Things”, the cost of connectivity is still a concern in major number of countries.
And the connection is not available everywhere yet.
Why the Internet still is not available with (may be with satellite) everywhere? We use 3G/4G, but the cost is not inline with usage of connecting the “Internet of Things”.
For just reading offline on my Wifi-only phone, I use apps like PaperSpan (http://paperspan.com) , because Internet is still not available everwhere or it costs more.
I think, “Internet Everywhere” comes before “Connecting Internet of Things”.


Posted by: Timo
 
May 9, 2013
7:01 am

Even though we can connect “Internet of Things”, the cost of connectivity is still a concern in major number of countries.
And the connection is not available everywhere yet.

Why the Internet still is not available with (may be with satellite) everywhere? We use 3G/4G, but the cost is not inline with usage of connecting the “Internet of Things”.
For just reading on my Wifi-only phone, I use apps like PaperSpan (paperspan.com) , because Internet is still not available everwhere or it costs more.

I think, “Internet Everywhere” comes before “Connecting Internet of Things”.


Posted by: Timo
 
May 9, 2013
4:42 am

yes its a fact and we all know very well that how much internet is important for us, So i think nothing is matter when we see our work and its importance nether budget and nor price.


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Posted by: Lis McWalter
 
January 3, 2013
2:54 pm

Paul, IFTTT is interesting technology, but largely a very closed and limiting ecosystem (at present). We’ve built an IoT-focused platform that I think embodies and enables the full potential of connected things, systems, and people. Check it out at http://www.thingworx.com. Happy to show you sometime.


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January 2, 2013
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Posted by: alphonse
 
3 Trackbacks
 
October 2, 2013
9:15 am
January 16, 2013
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[...] The analyst firm Parks Associates forecasts that more than 8 billion devices will be connected to the home network by the end of 2015. The breakthrough that’s driving this mass adoption – cloud computing. Cloud is quickly becoming the common platform to connect these disparate devices into an “Internet of Things.” [...]


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January 7, 2013
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