Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

Scott Burnett, Director, Global Consumer Electronics, IBM

Scott Burnett, Director, Global Consumer Electronics, IBM

By Scott Burnett

Despite an impressive track record of pioneering technology, today’s consumer electronics industry finds itself in the throes of a of massive transformation, driven by the proliferation of Internet-enabled devices that offer new intelligence and connectivity rivaling the ubiquity of electricity.

The tectonic shift is compelling electronics companies to search for new and sustainable growth opportunities as they set course to ride the next wave of the Internet of Things. The solution for a growing number of companies lies in the increasing possibilities of data analytics and cloud computing.

With billions of people connected by nearly a trillion devices by 2015, untapped data will create a wealth of value that is just starting to be understood by both the consumer and those that make and sell devices and services. While building smart devices that connect to the Internet, consumer electronics companies are starting to consider devices that capture and convert that data into insights for action to deliver new experiences

As development continues, a service infrastructure to support those devices is starting to form, as well as new ways to build bridges to innovative services. For example, some consumer electronics companies are starting to employ cloud-based service delivery approaches that utilize mobile applications and analytics capabilities to bring new value to people. Others are rolling out devices already connected with a service delivery platform and that exploit new web development tools to help consumers realize the promise of a smarter home.

At the heart of this development is collaboration and a lot of it was on display at IFA in Berlin this week.

A good example is the Smart TV Alliance, which is a collaborative effort to build open solutions-based technologies that enhance the television viewing experience. Other technology solutions being demonstrated at IFA this week:

  • IBM and Texas Instruments explained how connecting appliances to the Internet can help manufacturers get closer to their customers and build a better consumer experience. Using the pervasive presence of WiFi networks in homes, for example, household appliances such as washing machines can be connected via the cloud to the manufacturer. There, Big Data techniques can be used to analyze the wealth of the data to make the appliances more reliable through predictive maintenance, such as alerting consumers when a filter needs to be cleaned or changed. Also, such information can help manufacturers better understand how the appliances are being used, to help improve the designs of the next generation;  
  • In a joint Smart Home project, Tatung, Shaspa and IBM showed how consumers can manage a variety of convenience, comfort and safety activities such as controlling security and lighting systems – using any mobile device capable of running the apps;
  • Silicon Valley start-up NexStep Inc. demonstrated a mobile solution that is making it easier for consumers to install and connect home devices while also helping them to solve technical with a few clicks.
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The shift in the consumer electronics industry is moving quickly. But manufacturers are responding with smarter devices and connectivity solutions that will not only improve the consumer experience, but establish a stronger connection between consumer and supplier.

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For more information about IBM solutions and services for the electronics industry please visit www.ibm.com/electronics, follow us on Twitter @IBM_Electronics, or join the conversations on LinkedIn: Smarter Electronics.

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A very interesting article to read. However, I would very much like to hear a professional opinion on the aspect of personal security and consumer benefits.

It is clearly beneficial to the producers and retailers to include cloud services in their products, but I fail to see the benefit of the individual in many instances. To stick with the instances explained above…cloud based lightning solutions? On paper, it sounds great, I could finally control the lights in the room for my presentation without needing an “assistant” to lower the brightness in the room!

In the real world, it generates a whole bunch of problems, which I have tried to summarized below:

1. How will these cloud solutions alter the bandwith usage of a site?

As these cloud solutions are highly reliant on the cloud (a.k.a. the Internet), what is the guarantee that the servers won’t overload when 2-300 people want to adjust the lights in their offices at the same time?

2. What security measures need to be implemented to avoid unauthorized entries?

Smartphones are highly susceptible to virus attacks and hackers as they don’t have an adequate defense against phising and malware. Cloud services create a huge attack surface on a company with hundreds of unprotected smartphones ready to be exploited for company ID’s and accesses.

3. Is the IT staff experienced and equipped to successfully react to an unauthorized entry?

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Every on-site IT department needs to have adequate processes to successfully withstand such aggression towards the company infrastructure, or there must be a centralized off-site reaction team, ready to intercept in case of such scenarios.

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