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Entries in InternetOfThings (5)


Internet of Things: "Basket of Remotes"

As I wrote here about Monday Note: Monday Note ". . . is a [weekly] newsletter covering the intersection of media and technology." Its principals are Frederic Filloux and Jean-Louis Gassee (a former senior executive of Apple). Some of their writing is too pedantic for my taste, but their perspectives are usually worthwhile (. . . and it's only a weekly).

More post-CES about the Internet of Things: this item in Monday Note nicely presents the difference between the industry and consumer domains of the IoT, and an interesting take on a problem with the latter -- too many, individual and unconnected controllers. 

Internet of Things: The “Basket of Remotes” Problem

Jan 12, 2014
By Jean-Louis Gassée

We count on WiFi and Bluetooth in our homes, but we don’t have appliances that provide self-description or reliable two-way communication. As a result, the Internet of Things for consumers is, in practice, a Basket of Remotes.

Last Friday, I participated in a tweetchat (#ibmceschat) arranged by friends at IBM. We discussed popular CES topics such as Wearables, Personal Data, Cable and Smart TV, and the Internet of Things. (I can’t help but note that Wikipedia’s disambiguation page bravely calls the IoT “a self-configuring wireless network between objects”. As we’ll see, the self-configuring part is still wishful thinking.)

At one point, the combined pressures of high-speed twittering and 140-characters brevity spurred me to blurt this:

A little bit of background before we rummage through the basket.

In practice, there are two Internets of Things: One version for Industry, and another for Consumers.
The Industrial IoT is alive and well. A gas refinery is a good example: Wired and wireless sensors monitor the environment, data is transmitted to control centers, actuators direct the flow of energy and other activities. And the entire system is managed by IT pros who have the skill, training, and culture — not to mention the staff — to oversee the (literal) myriad unseen devices that control complicated and dangerous processes.

The management of any large corporation’s energy, environment, and safety requires IT professionals whose raison d’être is the mastery of technology. (In my fantasy, I’d eavesdrop on Google’s hypergalactic control center, the corporate Internet of Things that manage the company’s 10 million servers…)

Things aren’t so rosy in the consumer realm.

Article continues at link -- basically, the home IoT is (currently) an unconnected mess. 




The Internet of Things at CES

Tim Bajarin has a follow-up to his trend predictions for CES in which he identifies the Internet of Things as another (perhaps overarching) trend. (Then there's Google's acquisition of Nest.) 

This piece presents a few nice vignettes illustrating the internet of things. 

The Big Theme of CES: The Internet of Everything

Given how this year's CES played out, 2014 likely marks an inflection point for the Internet of everything.

Tim Bajarin

In a column before CES I outlined 8 trends likely to come out of the show. But I omitted a key trend— the Internet of everything (IOE)—because it was implied throughout some of the trends listed. Having now digested the events of the show I should have called it out as a trend in its own right, because ultimately that became the true theme of this year's CES.

Click to enlarge

This became very clear to me during a meeting I had with the CEO of Cisco, John Chambers, where he outlined Cisco's thinking on IOE. Chambers predicts the impact of IOE in the public sector alone will be worth $4.6 trillion(!), and believes it will have a dramatic impact on everything from city planning to first responders and health. When I hear numbers in the trillions I become skeptical. However, when you look at the ultimate idea of what IOE is, these numbers could be on the mark.

The Internet of Everything has become a catchall phrase to describe adding connectivity and intelligence to just about every inanimate object and giving it specific functionality. At the show there was a crock-pot connected to the Internet, so that even if you are in Katmandu you could control when it came on and adjust the settings even if you are in Katmandu. Various car vendors introduced the next generation of connected cars; all referred them as part of IOE. Smart cars, smart appliances, smart watches; they gain the "smart" moniker in front of them as they become tied to the Internet and part of an ecosystem of software and services. Sleep Number even announced a smart bed that monitors sleep patterns.

Article continues at link. 



Internet of Things: Slow Coming

(See here for information about Monday Note.)

 The "internet of things" has been slow coming. . . 

Jean-Louis Gassee writes in Monday Note (November 24) about the sensible reasons for the delayed arrival of the "internet of things," despite (because of?) substantial hype. The reasons include 

  • It's invisible infrastructure, largely. There are relatively modest manifest, personal benefits in many use cases. 
  • Consumer concerns about licensing. ("Will [my toaster] stop toasting if I don't renew my subscription?"] 
  • Security and privacy concerns. 

The Internet of Things: Look, It Must Work

For twenty-five years, we’ve been promised a thoroughly connected world in which our “things” become smarter, safer and save energy. But progress doesn’t seem to match the glowing predictions.

The presentation is straightforward and enticing:

Picture this: A 25¢ smart chip inside a light-bulb socket. Networked through the 110V wires, it provides centralized on-off control and monitors the bulb’s “health” by constantly measuring electrical resistance. Imagine the benefits in a large office, with thousands, or even tens of thousands of fixtures. Energy is saved as lighting is now under central, constantly adaptable control. Maintenance is easier, pinpointed, less expensive: Bulbs are changed at precisely the right time, just before the filament burns out.

Now, add this magic chip to any and all appliances and visualize the enormity of the economic and ease-of-use benefits. This is no dream. . . we’re already working on agreements in energy-conscious Scandinavia.

When did this take place?

There is a one-word giveaway to this otherwise timeless pitch: filament. Incandescent lights have been regulated out of existence, replaced first by CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps — expensive and not so pleasant) and then by LEDs (still expensive, but much nicer).

The pitch, reproduced with a bit of license, took place in 1986. It’s from the business plan of a company called Echelon, the brainchild of Mike Markkula, Apple’s original angel investor and second CEO.

The idea seemed obvious, inevitable: The relentless physics of Moore’s Law would make chips smaller, more powerful, and less expensive. Connected to a central household brain, these chips would control everything from lightbulbs and door locks to furnaces and stoves. Our lives would be safer and easier. . . and we’d all conserve energy.

The idea expresses itself in variations of the core Home Automation concept, the breadth of which you can visualize by googling “home automation images”:

Continues at link.



Slow to Arrive: Internet of Things 

Brian Proffitt in ReadWrite on why the "internet of things" has been slow to take off -- 

What's Holding Up The Internet Of Things

Turns out our smart devices don't actually know that much about talking to one another, and that's a problem.

June 14, 2013

The Internet of Things - in which ordinary objects get smart and connected, making possible all sorts of new services - promises to give us smarter cities, fewer traffic jams, a cleaner environment and a Series victory for the Cubs. (OK, maybe not that last one.)

Trouble is, while lots of technologists and technophiles talk about the Internet of Things as if it were already here, there really isn't any such thing. Not in any true sense of the term.

To be sure, there are plenty of smart gadgets out there that are wired up and broadcasting data to other devices - home alarms, for instance. Cameras. Heat sensors and hydrometers. But as you might have already noticed, we're still a long way from the day when your refrigerator sees that you're out of milk and orders a new gallon, or when your suitcase checks your calendar for out-of-town meetings and makes sure your travel clothes have been washed and folded. 

Here's why.

The reasons are -- see the story for more -- 

  • No common communication protocol(s) 
  • Too many, separate subnetworks 
  • Too much variation in communication protocols 
  • There aren't necessarily incentives to communicate 

Wireless Connections (Internet of Things)

The "internet of things" is a common to many futures lists. It is 

. . . the general idea of things, especially everyday objects, that are readable, recognizable, locatable, addressable, and/or controllable via the Internet—whether via RFID, wireless LAN, wide-area network, or other means. Everyday objects includes not only the electronic devices we encounter everyday, and not only the products of higher technological development such as vehicles and equipment, but things that we do not ordinarily think of as electronic at all—such as food, clothing,and shelter; materials, parts, and subassemblies; commodities and luxury items; landmarks, boundaries, and monuments; and all the miscellany of commerce and culture. (Disruptive Civil Technologies: Six Technologies with Potential Impacts on US Interests out to 2025 -- Biogerontechnology, Energy Storage Materials, Biofuels and Bio-Based Chemicals, Clean Coal Technologies, Service Robotics, The Internet of Thinsgs; SRI Consulting Business Intelligence under the auspices of the (US) National Intelligence Council, April 2008) 

One prerequisite for the internet of things is embedding wireless network connections into the things. republishes an AP story covering some of the nuts and bolts of doing so.

Wireless connections creep into everyday things; Peter Svensson; February 27, 2013 

A car that tells your insurance company how you're driving. A bathroom scale that lets you chart your weight on the Web. And a meter that warns your air conditioner when electricity gets more expensive.

Welcome to the next phase of the wireless revolution.

The first wave of wireless was all about getting people to talk to each other on cellphones. The second will be getting things to talk to each other, with no humans in between. So-called machine-to-machine communication is getting a lot of buzz at this year's wireless trade show. Some experts believe these connections will outgrow the traditional phone business in less than a decade.

"I see a whole set of industries, from energy to cars to health to logistics and transportation, being totally redesigned," said Vittorio Colao, the CEO of Vodafone Group PLC, in a keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The British cellphone company has vast international interests, including its 45 percent ownership stake in Verizon Wireless.

Companies are promising that machine-to-machine, or M2M, technology will deliver all manner of services, from the prosaic to the world-changing. At U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc.'s booth here at the show, there's a coffeepot that can be ordered to start brewing from a tablet computer, or an Internet-connected alarm clock. A former president of Costa Rica is also at the show, talking about how M2M can save massive amounts of greenhouse gases by making energy use more efficient—enough to bring mankind halfway to the goal of halting global warming.

The M2M phenomenon is part of the larger drive to create an "Internet of Things" —a global network that not only links computers, tablets and phones but that connects everything from bikes to washing machines to thermostats. Machina Research, a British firm, believes there will be 12.5 billion "smart" connected devices, excluding phones, PCs and tablets, in the world in 2020, up from 1.3 billion today.

But how does this transformation happen, and who stands to profit?

First, the devices have to be able to connect. That's not a trivial undertaking, especially considering that people don't upgrade washing machines or renovate their homes as often as they change cellphones and PCs. One company at the show, a Los Angeles-based startup named Tethercell, has an ingenious solution for battery-powered devices: a "fake" AA battery that houses a smaller AAA battery in an electronic jacket. It can be placed in a battery compartment with other batteries. Within a distance of 80 feet, some smartphones and tablets can then signal the "battery" to turn the device on or off. For instance, parents whose kids have a lot of noisy toys can turn all of them off with touch of a single button. A fire alarm could send a text-message warning that its battery is running low, rather than blaring an audio signal.

Story continues at link 

Also, -- Tracking the Internet of Things, is a good resource.