This week is Intel’s coming-out party for its consolidated Internet of Things effort. As you might expect, it is a comprehensive set of technologies. I say technologies because Intel is a parts vendor, not a solutions vendor, but with acquisitions like Wind River and McAfee, it has the capability to go deeper and stretch wider than any of the other parts vendors currently can at its level. However, this also means it needs partners like Dell to complete the effort.
While we often get caught up in wearable devices and the fun aspects of automation, it is the cost savings that typically justify the related deployment. For instance, this technology is now going into the buildings built by Rudin Management, one of the largest builders of large-scale projects in New York, resulting in a million dollars in savings over the worst winter New York has ever recorded.
Let’s talk about that this week.
IoT Implementation: It’s Not Rocket Science
The executive from Rudin Management said, “It’s not rocket science,” when talking about the implementation of the IoT solution based on Intel’s platform. Energy charges in New York are based on peak energy usage so a great deal of analysis goes into trying to flatten the peak. Rudin had a belief that battery systems that would charge during low-use times and discharge during high-use times could be effective but, without analytics, the systems stayed at peak too long for any reasonably sized building battery system to work. With analytics, however, Rudin found that loading on the systems dropped during lunch and earlier in the evening than it had previously thought. This allowed the firm to moderate the HVAC systems, allowing for a battery recharge period, which allowed them to significantly lower the power usage peak, which contributed significantly to the million-dollar savings.
With the analytics and working with tenants, Rudin has been able to drop energy usage by up to 60 percent, saving the tenants significant money, too. And complaints about rooms being too hot or cold have surprisingly been reduced as well because the systems anticipate loading from people and better maintain comfortable temperatures as a result.
Partners and Platform
Primary partners in this effort are AT&T, Cisco and IBM. This event is the launch of the Intel IoT Platform. Intel is one of the firms that is aggressively attempting to secure IoT networks, and one of the products it is announcing is the secure gateway. One of the biggest concerns surrounding the IoT is what happens if some hostile agent, internal or external, gets control over the related systems. As this technology expands to cover more than HVAC and begins to include water, site power, lights, physical and electronic security, windows (both opening and window coverings), elevators, escalators, moving walkways, and internal sensors, the ability to disrupt the business and cause injury becomes increase significantly.
At the heart of the IoT effort is the data analytics effort and Cloudera is the partner for Hadoop analytics. I’m highlighting the firm because it continues to come up as the company for this kind of work, and it has become more unusual not to see Cloudera at vendor events than to see it in attendance. This firm was almost unheard of until Tom Reilly took over as CEO and now, at least in this space, it is almost a household name. Keep an eye on this company, because it is clearly going places.
Analytics are incredibly important because it is these analytics that both identify security threats and identify the areas for cost reduction and system optimization.
IoT Solution Example
Siemens is working with smart parking and traffic management, Carvoyant is working with automotive, and Brivolabs is working with social access management. The end result will be the ability to automatically reserve a parking spot when heading to the Starbucks shop, which will have your favorite drink waiting for you when you arrive, while coworkers back at the office can ask you to pick them up a cup that will be automatically made and billed to them. (Clearly, I spend too much time at Starbucks.)
A large portion of Intel’s effort is with wearable devices, which basically supply a suite of sensors that monitor and report everything about you. Intel is doing this a bit differently. Its showcase watch has the display inside the wrist, and the head-mounted solutions include a set of earbuds that monitor your heart rate. This last is actually pretty interesting because the wrist-mounted sensors have proven to be relatively unreliable. While most of this initially is about exercise and health, you can see this migrate to physical security (access, as well as a wearable “OnStar” health and emergency function).
Wrapping Up: All Your Bases Are Belong to Us
That old saying out of a badly translated game message from years ago, All Your Bases Belong to Us, came to mind while watching Intel present with some of its partners. Intel intends to help instrument and analyze the world and it is making rather impressive progress. It does surprise me that in these efforts we often don’t see existing entrenched players like Echelon for industry or Smarthome (Insteon tied to Microsoft) for consumers. You’d think locking these companies in would massively speed adoption because they are already where Intel and others want to go. In any case, this was an impressive event, showcasing one of the biggest efforts to instrument the world. If successful, we’ll know more about our environment and ourselves than we likely ever wanted to know. The end result should be far less money wasted and far healthier people, if this is used beneficially. IoT is one of the things that showcases that the world in the next decade, when all of this stuff is solidly in place, will be very different from the world we see today.
One unique difference with Intel is that a major component of its presentation focused on privacy, because preserving that in the IoT world will be nearly impossible unless we sort it up front. Intel appears to be making every effort to do that.
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+