Enabling the Internet of Things

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

How the Internet of Things Will Change Our Lives

Early last week, I wrote about the Internet of Things and the issues that may scuttle the dreams of investors, vendors, service providers  …and consumers. It is worth a bit more attention.

Part of the reason that the IoT has become a hot issue is that it is relatively easy to understand: If computing functionality is squeezed into every nook and cranny of our lives, great things are possible. It’s also easy to conceptualize the dangers. In other words, the big picture of IoT is easier to get one’s arms around than most technology.

That elegance of the vision can obscure the almost unbelievable complexity of the IoT and the great challenges involved in making it work. Writing at Network World, Iot-Inc. President Bruce Sinclair took on the challenging task of identifying what has to happen in order for the IoT not to become the Internet of Disappointments (IoD?). He writes that the industry is in its infancy and, so far, “is being addressed by System Integrators building custom code to connect disparate parts and by a new class of network meta-product known as the IoT Platform.”

Sinclair emailed executives at seven companies (the biggest names are Cisco and Silver Spring Networks). He got the executives’ take on security, sensor compatibility, analytics compatibility, application programming interfaces (APIs) and standards. The bottom line is that a tremendous amount of work must be done.

People are figuring out what needs to be done for the IoT to work. Leo Mirani at Quartz reported on an IBM research paper that looked at some of the challenges facing the IoT: cost, trust, longevity, utility and profitability.

The most interesting item on the list is longevity, which refers to the fact that many of the objects that the IoT seeks to incorporate are extremely rarely replaced. A refrigerator can last for years. A door handle essentially lasts forever. A person needs to be given a compelling reason to change it.

Of course, the challenges of the IoT are well known to people looking to make the dreams a reality. ARM Holdings, according to the IEEE Spectrum, has introduced a low-power operating system aimed at the IoT:

The operating system, called embed OS, is meant to resolve productivity problems that arise from fragmentation—where different devices in the so-called “Internet of things” (IoT) market run on a hodgepodge of different protocols. ARM is looking to consolidate those devices under a single software layer that's simple, secure, and free for all manufacturers to use.

Products along the same conceptual lines of easing the confusion of the IoT will be increasingly available. Can they do the job?

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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