Two Use Cases Show that IoT Can Make Money and Possibly Save the World

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    Data lake” is a metaphor, but at New York’s Lake George, it takes on a more literal meaning thanks to the Internet of Things and robotics technology.

    The Jefferson Project — a collaboration between IBM, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the local FUND for Lake George — is making this the “smartest lake” in the world, Ars Technica reports. And there are a lot of reasons to love this particular use case.

    First, it’s an environmental use case, meaning the sensors are being used to monitor the health of this lake. Sensors are strategically placed throughout the lake on floating, anchored platforms, which raise and lower the sensors so they can collect samples at all depths. They can measure temperature, pH, dissolved organic matter, algae, oxygen and conductivity, the piece notes. Sampling stations with sensors also collect samples where the large streams feed the lake.

    More sensors, called current profilers, are planned for the bottom of the lake. These are much more interesting than the standard sensors, according to the story.

    “These devices bounce acoustic waves off particles drifting by, using the slight Doppler shift of the returning waves to calculate velocities at various heights above the device,” Ars Technica reports. “For now, they will simply store data to be downloaded when they are retrieved, but they may run cables in the future to allow near real-time access.”

    Add up the flow of data from all these devices and you can see why this project brings “data lake” into reality.

    Here’s another reason I like this use case: It’s a test run for how to build IoT infrastructure, which is where IBM will benefit.

    It goes without saying that IBM is providing the data architecture and analytics systems to crunch the data. What’s more cutting edge, however, is IBM’s planned architecture, which will incorporate an embedded computing system on the sensors so that some of the analytics can run on the devices. IoT experts have long said that may be the best way to handle data with IoT architectures, but I believe this is the first actual use case I’ve encountered to push some of the data work into the node.

    It’s an approach that yields some serious data benefits, as IBM Distinguished Engineer Harry Kolar told Ars Technica.

    “We can actually work to put some of the analytics there,” Kolar said. “It increases the data availability, it increases the data integrity, the data quality, and it allows us to do some interesting things.”

    Internet of Things

    Finally, I like this use case because IBM is using open standards, which should make this easier for others to replicate.  

    If smart, innovative, environmentally friendly use cases don’t grab your attention, then try this article on Disney’s proprietary IoT project.

    Unlike a lot of IoT projects, which rely on stationary sensors, Disney has created its own wearable wristband. Rather than monitor heart rate, these bands are designed to help theme park visitors schedule their vacation.

    “Disney has always been in the industry of making people feel like they are escaping the stress of everyday life by transporting them to a world of magic and fun,” writes. “Every Disney movie has this theme, and it’s what the theme parks strive to do as well.”

    And it’s true. If you’ve ever been to Disney World or Disney Land, you’ve seen why people are willing to pay $100+ for tickets year after year. Frankly, I didn’t get it until I became a parent and realized Disney was the least stressful trip I’d ever taken with my children, thanks largely to Disney’s devotion to creating a magical, fun experience. The park is clean and efficient and if something goes wrong, Disney will more often than not make it right.

    So what I love about this particular use case is that Disney’s IoT project is all about its core business strategy.

    The Disney wearables and the Jefferson Project are very different use cases, with different goals and architectures, but they have one thing in common: Both show how the IoT can and will deliver real value.

    Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.

    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson is a freelance writer specializing in technology and business issues, including integration, health care IT, cloud and Big Data.

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