“We humans have indeed always been adept at dovetailing our minds and skills to the shape of our current tools and aids. But when those tools and aids start dovetailing back — when our technologies actively, automatically, and continually tailor themselves to us, just as we do to them — then the line between tool and user becomes flimsy indeed.” - Andy Clark
A new radio-chip device could offer a cost effective solution to the capital-intensive hurdles preventing the proliferation of the Internet of Things.
Engineers at Stanford University have developed what’s been described as an “ant-sized radio” that could allow two-way communication between any electronic device. Capable of operating at 24 billion cycles per second the chip, which is one tenth the size of a WiFi antenna, costs only pennies to produce. While being small and inexpensive are certainly boons for this type of device, designers admit that one of its most appealing characteristics is that it needs no external power. In fact, according to Stanford, the new chip is so “energy efficient that it gathers all the power it needs from the same electromagnetic waves that carry signals to its receiving antenna – no batteries required.”
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Being able to control devices remotely could be key to achieving better personal energy efficiency and changing the way we interact with technology. In the distant future connected devices could also be a training ground for weak AI systems where domestic duties like making coffee and running the dishwasher could be triggered by actions like turning on the shower or dimming the lights for bed.
An analyst's view: The IoT can be characterised as an ever-expanding universe of connected things, and to guide companies through this system, identifying specific collaboration partners within a specific topic area is a wise starting point.
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IoT requires quicker application development platforms to address the growing requirements of enterprises in maximising the benefits in this market opportunity, and at the same time, IoT needs to be enabled by scalable application management platforms, handling the new volumes of data and applications.
To be able to handle these volumes of data, M2M and IoT service enablement and application platforms as well as associated databases and analytical tools will need to be highly scalable, and sufficiently agile and flexible to manage the heterogeneity in data types and structures.
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In reflecting the texture and attributes of IoT, ‘Subnets of Things’ will remain scalable, agile and flexible, constantly evolving and creating (or re-creating) new and exciting business relationships and partnerships between diverse set of stakeholders.
AT&T, Cisco, GE, IBM and Intel are the latest companies to band together with the aim of standardizing interoperability across smart machines and ultimately, drive adoption of an Internet of Things. Announced last week, the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) is a not-for-profit open membership group created to establish common frameworks for development of inter-connected digital and physical worlds.
While the notion of device-to-device communication holds great potential across a range of industries, with different manufacturers using different engineering standards, development has been slow-moving in the eyes of some.
Kolibree is announcing what it calls the world’s first connected electric toothbrush today. It sounds pretty weird, but Kolibree says it can analyze your brushing habits and display them on a mobile dashboard that you can access from your phone. The idea is to motivate you, or shame you, into brushing better.
Unlike a basic $35 baby-monitor, the $250 Owlet bootie and accompanying app can alert parents if anything serious has gone wrong, like if a kid stops breathing, or if his heart stops beating. That means no more unnecessary freakouts for the over-protective and inexperienced dad like Bruce, which leaves more time for him to do other dad things.
Executives at Robert Bosch and McKinsey experts discuss the technology-driven changes that promise to trigger a new industrial revolution. A McKinsey & Company article.
In manufacturing, the potential for cyber-physical systems to improve productivity in the production process and the supply chain is vast. Consider processes that govern themselves, where smart products can take corrective action to avoid damages and where individual parts are automatically replenished. Such technologies already exist and could drive what some German industry leaders call the fourth industrial revolution—following the steam engine, the conveyor belt, and the first phase of IT and automation technology. What opportunities and challenges lie ahead for manufacturers—and what will it take to win? To discuss the future of manufacturing, McKinsey’s Markus Löffler and Andreas Tschiesner recently sat down for a conversation with Siegfried Dais, deputy chairman of the board of management at German engineering company Robert Bosch GmbH, and Heinz Derenbach, CEO of Bosch Software Innovations GmbH.
Barry Eggers, an investor at Lightspeed Venture Partners, is trying to piece together growth opportunities in the emerging Internet of things, and while he can't be sure, he's got some ideas.
Data scientists, entrepreneurs, and IT analysts have great hopes for the Internet of things. One analyst recently declared 2014 to be the year when IT buyers focus more on the Internet of things.
In line with the much parroted software-is-eating-the-world logic, Eggers is betting that the control point will turn out to be in a person’s phone rather than on a separate, wholly new device for the home.
“The penetration of smartphones is pretty high,” he said. “… Why isn’t the control point just your mobile phone? It has all the radios in it that you need. It has all of the software you need.” It’s reasonable to think of them as a solid landing pad for all the data and analytics from the Internet of things devices a person owns or uses.
"The first IoT enabler is today’s multitude of network technologies. Wireless technologies such as ZigBee® or Bluetooth® LE allow remote sensors to join a network and provide further information about the state of the world. With IPv6 as the backbone, there are enough unique addresses (theoretically, there are 340 trillion trillion trillion) for everything on earth to have a unique address. Each person on earth could have zillions of sensors with unique addresses, and we would not exhaust our address space.
The second enabling technology for the IoT is increasingly capable silicon. But we need to face reality: this silicon has a cost. A device participating in the IoT needs to have a measurement component to interact with the real world and a communication component to share its information. Let’s consider the smart grid. To truly realize its full promise, grid sensors should make decisions based on collected data or take action based on a decision from the cloud. This much intelligence in distributed nodes comes with a cost.
About half of all medication prescribed in the United States is not taken as directed. Some have proposed stomach acid-activated microchips. CleverCap is a less sci-fi fix: a cap that fits on standard pill bottles.
It includes an alarm that tells patients when it’s time to take their medications and it only dispenses the prescribed amount. The device connects to the Internet to allow doctors and pharmaceuticals to monitor patients’ compliance. It connects via a mobile device or a Qualcomm Life hub called 2Net.
“[M]edication adherence information is more valuable for clinical and research purposes when analyzed in the context of synchronized remote-monitored vital signs,” said Moses Zonana, CEO of Compliance Meds.
While connected medical devices are popping up nearly by the day, no one knows how they will end up communicating with one another and with doctors and patients. That’s why 2Net scoops up with Wi-Fi and cellular data and offers a home hub and a mobile app software development kit, or SDK.
The Carbon War Room report asserts that “across many industries M2M technologies will reduce the amount of energy or fuel required to get the job done, lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions without constricting production, consumption or economic growth.”
The Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) agrees with Carbon War Room that ICT-enabled solutions could save 9.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) yearly by 2020.
GeSI estimates that automation of manufacturing plants could reduce GHG emissions by 0.72 GtCO2e. This would involve decreasing the use of human labor and increasing the use of machines controlled by M2M and related technologies. Such systems will be able to monitor and control equipment to reduce and optimize energy usage, and can even be used in maintenance and upkeep.
The group estimates that variable-speed motor systems can abate 0.53 GtCO2e globally, with particular focus on developing economies such as China. “Motor systems,” the report points out, “are at the heart of the industrial activity and consume the majority of electricity used by manufacturers worldwide.” Traditional motor systems operate at a continuous rate, even if the load varies. This creates inefficiencies that could be mitigated with technologies that sense a motor’s strain and adjust its speed dynamically. Such technologies will also provide a data stream that can give managers more information and control over use of energy in their operations.
A string of moves to add increasing levels of Bluetooth Smart Ready and Bluetooth Smart technology integration by leading OS providers like Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, and most recently, Google, sets the stage for an extraordinary increase in Bluetooth Smart devices. According to Bluetooth SIG, there was a year on year growth of more than 186% in the first half of 2013 alone.
This fall, Chicago will install a network of 40 sensors to discover how new data sets can inform decisions that make the city a better place to live. The Array of Things initiative will begin with devices being installed on light poles at the University of Chicago, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Argonne National laboratory, and will be expanded in the coming years to a system of 1,000 sensors that cover the city’s central business district.
Every 15 seconds, the sensors will collect and report data on temperature, humidity, carbon monoxide, vibration, light and sound. At this early stage, officials are imagining how this data might improve city walkability and how the network can connect with pedestrians’ phones via Bluetooth to create an even richer data set.
Networked objects are learning to anticipate our needs and orchestrate responses that deliver safety, efficiency, and convenience.
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Jen: This anticipatory alarm received information from the cloud regarding weather and traffic, but also from the car itself. The car could also push a message to the cloud that its gas level was low. The system would then anticipate that the driver might have to stop for gas and add that to the expected commute time.
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Tim: The vast majority of trips that we take in vehicles tend to be trips we’ve made before, but having that information, creating a profile or history in order to derive conclusions about what someone might be doing on a Tuesday at 5:30, provides useful information. If it’s aggregated and people opt in, that can beneficially impact the traffic load balancing. It could help create an efficient use of infrastructure and help the overall impact of transportation as it plays out.
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Jennifer Healey, research scientist at Intel, and Tim Plowman, embedded user experience lead with Intel Labs’ Experience Design team.
As the internet of things grows, we should consider what it could mean having all of these smart, networked home appliances in our lives. Italian product designer Simone Rebaudengo, currently a designer at Frog in Munich, played out an extreme scenario of this potential future in his project ‘Addicted Products.’
In this ‘real-fictional service’, networked toasters, which were connected both to the internet and to their peer toasters, were distributed among a group of hosts. The toasters were addicted to being used, and were aware of when toasters in their peer group were being used. If a toaster were feeling underused, it would act on that emotion, getting attention physically or through tweets. In extreme cases, the toaster would self-destruct or call DHL to be moved to a different host.
Researchers are wiring plants to harness their intelligence and use them as organic biosensors.
"Italian researchers are building a network of connected "cyborg" plants (plantborgs? cyplants? cyberflora?) to use as organic biosensors. The plants are embedded with a tiny electronic device to monitor things like pollution levels, overuse of chemicals, temperature, parasites, acid rain, and communicate the data through a wireless network back to the lab."
Here are some of the devices and applications that will be implemented at the consumer and civic level that we think will make the Internet of Things, or IOT, a critically important part of our daily lives:
Kitchen and home appliances such as refrigerators, washers and dryers, and coffee makers that can keep track of when the milk is out and let you know when the clothes are dry.
Lighting and heating products , including bulbs, thermostats, and air conditioners that maximize energy efficiency.
Safety and security monitoring devices such as baby and assisted living monitoring systems, smoke detectors, fire hydrants, cameras, sensor-equipped drawers and safes, and home alarm systems.
Health and fitness products that measure exercise, steps, sleep, weight, blood pressure, and other statistics.
Intelligent traffic management systems , including toll-taking operations, congestion penalties, and smart parking-space management.
Waste management systems , such as garbage cans and recycle bins with RFID tags that allow sanitation staff to see when garbage has been put out."Pay as you throw programs" are also likely to decrease garbage waste and increase recycling efforts.
Industrial uses , including Internet-managed assembly lines, connected factories, and warehouses, etc.
A Kickstarter project is trying to marry home automation and the Internet of Things. You'll want one.
Ninja Sphere acts as an intelligent "hub" that connects to the separate devices you already own and helps them communicate with your other home automation gadgets without asking you to pull out your phone unless absolutely necessary. It does this in part by knowing where objects like your phone or your pets are located in relation to you. When a sensor notices some activity--the dog's Internet-connected collar sends an alert, for example--the Ninja Sphere tries to determine what action to take next.
Since the sphere can keep tabs on virtually any object that you attached a smart tag to, the possibilities become quite intriguing. Place a Bluetooth-enabled smart tag on your jewelry box, for instance. The Ninja Sphere could then detect that the box of valuables is moving, while also sensing that none of the owners' smartphones are nearby. It would then alert you to a potential theft in progress (or at least that the five-year-old is playing dress up with mom's best baubles).
The underlying trick is indoor location sensing, a technology that is quietly being installed in places like the Apple Store because it's useful to know where its shoppers are located and how they navigate around products. Indoor GPS, as it's sometimes called, could also help you as a smartphone owner navigate an office building you've never visited before.
Iotera expects businesses to use its technology to track everything from tools on construction sites to workers in dangerous places like oil rigs. Or people might use it to keep an eye on their pets. Iotera’s founders say two companies (which it won’t name) are trying it out. One is using it to help parents monitor their children’s whereabouts, and the other is tracking company-owned devices.
[idea cofounder Ben Wild] handed me a sensor tag in a 3-D-printed case about the size of a small matchbox. If you clipped one to your dog’s collar, it would occasionally log Fido’s location and report it back to a small access point connected to the Internet. From there, it would be punted to Iotera’s servers, and then to a website or mobile app. Under what Wild calls “typical operating conditions,” the tag’s battery would last up to five months.
The former director of Apple's Siri is taking Samsung's version of the artificial intelligence system to the next level. Luc Julia, vice president and innovation fellow at Samsung's Open Innovation Center in Menlo Park, Calif., demonstrated SAMI (Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions), the Siri-like system central to Samsung's Internet of Things (IoT) strategy, at the MEMS Executive Congress 2013 in Napa, Calif., Nov. 7-8.
SAMI is an interactive artificial intelligence (AI) similar to Apple's Siri that Julia helped develop when at Apple. Samsung's SAMI, however, goes far beyond Apple's Siri by aggregating sensor data from all types and brands of IoT devices in the cloud. The open system will then allow Samsung ecosystem partners -- some financed by a $100 million accelerator fund -- to perform deep analytics on that data before sending smart advice back to users.
It won’t be long before wearing a device on your wrist is considered passé.
A San Jose-based company called NeuroSky is building sensors to detect your brain activity, so you can control things with your thoughts. The applications for this kind of technology are endless — and are best known in the gaming community – but the company raised an undisclosed sum today to push into the health and fitness market.
The funding comes from Softbank, a Japanese corporation, in a round that chief executive Stanley Yang describes as “strategic.” Neurosky has raised about $40 million since its inception in 2006.
The company builds the chips and software and strikes partnerships with device manufacturers. It has developed a complex set of algorithms that can track analog electrical brainwaves and turn them into digital measurements. This kind of technology is still nascent, but is referred to by futurists as “thought controlled computing.”
According to Cisco, there are an estimated 1.5 trillion things in the world (no mention of exactly how they counted those things, but let’s go with it) and approximately 8.7 billion, or 0.6%, were connected in 2012. The firm expects a 25% annualized decrease in price to connect between 2012 and 2020 and a matching 25% annualized increase in connectivity. That means we can expect 50 billion connected things by 2020, with 50% of those connections happening in the final three years of the decade.
We are surrounded by tiny, intelligent devices that capture data about how we live and what we do. Soon we'll be able to choreograph them to respond to our needs, solve our problems, and even save our lives.
Imagine a factory where every machine, every room, feeds back information to solve problems on the production line. Imagine a hotel room (like the ones at the Aria in Las Vegas) where the lights, the stereo, and the window shade are not just controlled from a central station but adjust to your preferences before you even walk in. Think of a gym where the machines know your workout as soon as you arrive, or a medical device that can point toward the closest defibrillator when you have a heart attack. Consider a hybrid car—like the new Ford Fusion—that can maximize energy efficiency by drawing down the battery as it nears a charging station.
There are few more appropriate guides to this impending future than Hawkinson, whose DC-based startup, SmartThings, has built what’s arguably the most advanced hub to tie connected objects together. At his house, more than 200 objects, from the garage door to the coffeemaker to his daughter’s trampoline, are all connected to his SmartThings system. His office can automatically text his wife when he leaves and tell his home A/C system to start powering up.
In this future, the intelligence once locked in our devices now flows into the universe of physical objects. Technologists have struggled to name this emerging phenomenon. Some have called it the Internet of Things or the Internet of Everything or the Industrial Internet—despite the fact that most of these devices aren’t actually on the Internet directly but instead communicate through simple wireless protocols. Other observers, paying homage to the stripped-down tech embedded in so many smart devices, are calling it the Sensor Revolution.
But here’s a better way to think about what we’re building: It’s the Programmable World. After all, what’s remarkable about this future isn’t the sensors, nor is it that all our sensors and objects and devices are linked together. It’s the fact that once we get enough of these objects onto our networks, they’re no longer one-off novelties or data sources but instead become a coherent system, a vast ensemble that can be choreographed, a body that can dance. Really, it’s the opposite of an “Internet,” a term that even today—in the era of the cloud and the app and the walled garden—connotes a peer-to-peer system in which each node is equally empowered. By contrast, these connected objects will act more like a swarm of drones, a distributed legion of bots, far-flung and sometimes even hidden from view but nevertheless coordinated as if they were a single giant machine.
For the Programmable World to reach its full potential, we need to pass through three stages. The first is simply the act of getting more devices onto the network—more sensors, more processors in everyday objects, more wireless hookups to extract data from the processors that already exist. The second is to make those devices rely on one another, coordinating their actions to carry out simple tasks without any human intervention. The third and final stage, once connected things become ubiquitous, is to understand them as a system to be programmed, a bona fide platform that can run software in much the same manner that a computer or smartphone can.
Once we get there, that system will transform the world of everyday objects into a designable environment, a playground for coders and engineers. It will change the whole way we think about the division between the virtual and the physical. This might sound like a scary encroachment of technology, but the Programmable World could actually let us put more of our gadgets away, automating activities we normally do by hand and putting intelligence from the cloud into everything we touch.
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