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20

Oct

The internet of Things

"A man dressed up in a blue Armani tries to get to his BMW parked in a garage. He notices that some thugs were surrounding it. He smartly pulls out his cell phone and starts the car, emits toxic gas to distract the “bad guys” and then navigates the car toward himself. He gets in the car by remotely lowering the back window into the back seat and makes his getaway."

You might think I am narrating a scene from some James Bond movie... Bingo! But not all of it is science fiction anymore. Thanks to advances in mobile and cloud technology, we all – and not just the superheroes – are living in a world of “modern apps”. We can control appliances and devices, such as doors, lights, alarms, televisions and others through our mobile devices.

The Internet of Things

Welcome to the world of Internet of Things (IoT), a system where the “Internet is connected to the physical world via ubiquitous sensors”.

ABI Research estimates that more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things by 2020.

McKinsey Global Institute research supports that belief, estimating that the impact of the Internet of Things on the global economy might be as high as $11 trillion by 2025.

How does it affect me?

Although most people heard about the concept of IoT, many donot understand its far reaching capabilities. Internet of Things (IoT) is not just about Google glasses and self-driving cars.

IoT finds its use in our day to day life.

  • Monitoring of parking spaces in a mall
  • Monitoring an ageing family member remotely
  • Advance warning of landslide/earthquake
  • Car insurance quotes based on the driver’s driving habits

IoT has set foot almost everywhere. Owing to much higher affordability and simplicity through smartphone connectivity, the application of IoT in home automation has been increasing rapidly.

It is not just a concept anymore. IoT- based solutions can stretch the limit of human imagination. A Spanish company has even modeled a smart city of the future utilising IoT concepts.

Challenges

The IoT can be described as a vast number of connected systems that are coordinating and communicating with each other to benefit the society as a whole. By making machines smarter through advancements in communications, the IoT could solve problems in ways that were unimaginable in the past.

But at the same time, like every other digital revolution, IoT is not without its own challenges.

Precision, Performance & Power

IoT requires connectivity at high speed, ability to perform calculations to the level of nano-seconds to deliver a real-time impact. This requires reliable connectivity hardware that can perform at highest level of precision, but at the same time not limited by battery efficiencies.

Precision and performance could be vital in health and safety mechanisms where milliseconds can make a difference between life and death. For instance, the design of ABS and airbag systems in cars.

Some ground breaking work in the domain of IoT hardware has already started and the future looks promising.

The other aspect is generating more computational power using the same amount of chip space.

We all remember Moore’s law which states “computing power would double every year and a half”. Jonathan Koomey, a consulting professor at Stanford has added on to this theory by saying: “At a fixed computing load, the amount of battery you need will fall by a factor of two every year and a half”.

These efficiency improvements since the 60’s have given birth to laptops, smartphones and other mobile computing devices, with many such new devices yet to come. 

Common Standards:

In its simplest form, the IoT is a complex combination of hardware (such as sensors and actuators), and software. Although many IT industries have done some pioneering work in this space, they have ended up building an ecosystem of their own in the process where the devices can talk “only” to another device from the same manufacturer. For IoT to succeed, all devices need to speak a common language, which connects all the ’things’ and the cloud.

The good news is that everyone has now started to realize that. A number of industry groups are now trying to standardise how things connect and communicate. AllSeen Alliance and Industrial Internet Consortium are two such consortium of firms. Its members include all the big names in IT industry.

Security

In a rush to adopt IoT, often the security aspect is often overlooked. While the concept may be to connect your phone, your television, your heater to the internet so as to improve your living, the same poses a threat from hackers who can intrude into your personal life.

According to a research conducted by HP, almost 70% of the internet enabled devices in the market are vulnerable to security threats.

Unfortunately, there is no “silver bullet” that can prevent every possible cyber threat. However, the good news is that the IT security concepts that have evolved over the past 25 years can be just as effective for IoT.

Microsoft’s vision in IOT

Like every other IT giant, Microsoft has invested a great deal in the IOT space. In fact they have coined a new term “Internet of your things”.

 

 

Microsoft’s point of view is that instead of getting lost in the huge conglomeration of devices, think about it as the Internet of Your Things (things you use in your daily life). Focus on the right areas of your business that provide quick return.

Windows 10 & Microsoft Azure IoT Suite is an integrated offering that takes advantage of all the relevant Azure capabilities to help businesses connect, manage and analyse all of their “things.”

Aerocrine, a Swedish company which makes devices to monitor asthma patients is using Microsoft Azure to monitoring devices to diagnose and treat their disease effectively. Cloud based analytics solution allow them to do preventive maintenance.

Rockwell Automation has built new systems that leverage the Microsoft Azure IoT services to gather data from various capital assets to transform the petroleum supply chain. The efficiency of the process benefit the customers at the pump.

You can learn more about Microsoft’s approach to privacy and security in IoT by watching these presentations and sessions.  

The combination of cloud computing, IoT and big data will bring in plenty of novel inventions in coming months.

To stay ahead in the competitive market, companies and organizations must recognize the potential of the IoT and act soon. IoT is the next big thing and it’s happening, now!

Posted by: Sudeep Ghatak | 20 October 2015

Tags: Internet of Things, Internet of Everything, IoT, M2M


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