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Op-Ed: From M2M To The Internet of Things - Viewpoints From Europe

By Dan Verhaeghe     Jul 7, 2011 in Technology
In a recent post, I featured M2M as one of the hottest trends in telecom, but it's only a trend in the wide scope of The Internet of Things.
That post can be read here.
M2M is loosely defined in my opinion as just one aspect of the Internet of Things as it is computers communicating with one another to perform tasks at hand, just as we use computers to communicate socially with one another, while another side is “smart objects” communicating with various forms of mobile media to devices and with each other. I touched on this some months ago that mobile media was enabling product or object media to occur.
IBM, in a 2009 video, shortly after they announced their ambitious vision to create a smarter planet said that 66% of products developed in the last year included embedded information technology.
While that number is likely higher today, we’re also beginning to see embedded information technology on real products, and consumers are quickly learning how to access them mainly through most widely understood open-source QR and NFC technologies, accessible through the download of an app.
The Internet of Things as some corporate viewpoints suggest is one that deals with the interconnectivity of massive networks of objects, and the number of interconnected objects in the next decade is often estimated in the billions.
Neelie Kroes, the Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda says: The stakes are high. The IoT is expected to connect 50 billion devices by 2020. That’s about six for each man, woman and child on the planet. The shift from an Internet of People to an Internet of Things will create unprecedented market opportunities.
It’s important to remember that those 50 billion interconnected objects will be in millions of different ecosystems, unlike the Internet which is one giant ecosystem accessible by all.
Kroes continues in saying: The IoT requires a new way of thinking about technology. As objects start to sense and communicate, they become tools to help us deal with complex or urgent situations. Applications like health monitoring, interconnected cars, and location-based services will bring benefits to users and society.
You can read more on the six page statement here which goes into how to gain consumer trust, addresses privacy concerns, and talks about standardization.
Budapest Presentation
Dr. Lara Srivastava, a Professor in Media and Communications at Webster University and involved with the World Bank in information development among other things did a presentation in Budapest on May 16th explains that they are four key enablers to The Internet of Things:
1) Tagging Things (NFC, QR Codes, Digital Watermarking, etc.)
2) Sensing Things (such as botanicals which is technology that reacts to moisture, smart textiles and smart pavement)
3) Shrinking Things (making products smaller, yet smarter)
4) Thinking Things (objects that access semantic web and open cloud data to customize things)
Lara says that we’ve always had sensors, and that we’ve been at pains for some time to make information processing smaller, faster and cheaper.
She continued in saying that convergence has long been the name of the game with wireless communication (RFID, GSM, 3G, WLAN, WiMAX, LTE) communication, product identification (barcodes, RFID), process control (sensor networks, home automation) and network interconnection (Ethernet, Internet, www, email)
Lara continued in saying that embedded intelligence (smart cities, homes, transportation, and beyond), real-time monitoring (medical applications and environmental management), augmented reality (real and virtual world seamlessness) and semantic information (where a smart web known as Web 3.0 could meet the Internet of Things) were the major complimentary technologies to look forward to.
You can watch the full video here:
Annual European Internet of Things Conference
Iskander Smit, the Strategy Director at recapped the annual European Internet of Things conference held in Brussels June 28-29, and of interest was Usman Haque.
Haque, the Founder and CEO of Pachube, a real-time open data web service for the Internet of Things, believes that the success of the Internet of Things will depend on open data such as various cloud networks. He suggests that the latter has already been proven through the much documented Japan earthquake and tsunami where people used radiation sensors and reported on levels which were much more effective than government reporting. If you remember, the Japanese government was criticized around the world for trying to make the nuclear disaster appear less serious than it actually was at first.
This bodes well for the potential of “social objects” as well that access a smarter web and open cloud data.
Haque further illustrated in a graph that different elements of mobile can work together to create a solution that goes beyond addressing the needs of different silos individually by integrating all together within the enterprise, as I’ve been quick to point out with recaps of both IT World’s MobiBiz Conference and the Mobile Marketing Association’s Toronto conference in the past few weeks.
Convergence is quickly becoming the name of the game in mobile.
Challenges Ahead, But Pieces Are Here
Smit quotes speaker Alexander Bassi: The Internet of Things is also triggering new questions on ownership and consumption….we grow into an access based economy, where IoT makes a pay-what-you-use system possible on an individual level. Something that triggers new challenges.
Perhaps the biggest challenge is privacy, as Smit himself gave a preview of the results of a research study outlining what should come as no surprise to anyone, that privacy was the biggest concern.
On the bright side though, respondents also saw lots of possibilities for a more efficient and comfortable life, like Pilgrim Beart, the co-founder of AlertMe showed through his energy bill reduction and home security monitoring platform.
Iskander Smit said that we have dual business models based on different combinations of objects and services in the Internet of Things. You can view his full presentation here.
While there are also potentially congested spectrums with new data infiltrating existing networks through connected objects and devices that worries most IT experts, it was suggested that spectrum sharing could solve that problem.
And yes, indeed, Rob van Kranenburg, an expert at the EU Commission on IoT, said that all the wagons are on track, but can use some extra boost to get them running.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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