What is the Internet Of Things? The Magic Beyond Bracelets, Gadgets and Home Automation

The potential benefits from technologies associated with the Internet of Things (IOT) lies in the intersection of multiple capabilities. IOT's magic goes beyond just a simple application. Take wearable technologies - does the Nike Fuelband or the Fitbit represent our IOT aspirations? Home automation has been around for at least twenty years, so is scheduling the lights to turn on or off or a more programmable thermostat really IOT?

I recently tweeted

to suggest that IOT is becoming confusing because many applications that connect sensors to the internet are being included. Is that what we want?

I suggest no. The key word I home in on is "Things" - plural - so a single wearable or home with some level of data capture and intelligence is no more than several sensors, a cpu, and software.

IOT's Magic

The magic and innovation begins when we equate Internet in IOT with Intelligence and focus on multiple things - so IOT starts with
  • Many low cost sensors - Not just one or a few - hundred, thousands, millions++.
  • Big Data analytics - To process the raw and historical data from the sensors.
  • Feedback systems - So once intelligence is gathered, machines and people can act on it. Feedback systems can include algorithms that make changes, displays that alert people, or controllers that adjust physical systems.
  • Multiple automatons acting independantly and collaboratively - So not just one person with a fitbit, or one home that's automated.
The real magic is in these multiple automatons. For example, the 10th floor of my building probably has heating, fire, and lighting control systems on the floor. "Local intelligence" would be if the system sensed its occupants and recognized daily patterns to optimize lighting and heating of the floor. The building should sense this across all its floors and have better control the HVAC system based on demand, or better inform emergency personnel if a fire alarm is pulled. Regional orchestration is when information from neighboring buildings is shared between them and also with more centralized citywide systems.

This layering of intelligence and action requires architecture and planning. What information is shared? What scenarios are planned and programmed? How are displays configured to best drill into patterns and outliers? How should we develop these systems so that they are both simple, but also effective at improving life?

That is IOT.


1 comment:

  1. I feel that such technology would only increase burglar proficiency. Cold buildings equal low number of occupants...

    Just kidding of course. Fully agree that the IOTs is not yet where it needs to be. Big data is leading this push. Combining this with UX is not only necessary but vital to achieving truly 'smart economies' and cities


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