The Internet of Things isn’t only about networked toasters anymore

2016-10-17 - By 

It was December 2008 and Twitter was barely two years old. At the time, many questioned the point of the 140-character messaging platform. Many still do.

But one doubting Thomas, stood out from the pack. Rather than just backstab the new social media tool in coffee shop conversations,Hans Scharler took action.

In a public demonstration highlighting the futility of Twitter, this American inventor and entrepreneur enabled his toaster to tweet.

You read right.

When Hans Scharler’s toaster is on, the @mytoaster Twitter handle tweets “Toasting.” When it’s done, it tweets “Done Toasting.” A small protest, yes. But a butterfly effect in the internet world. For it may have been this networked kitchen appliance, through it’s metaphorical wing flap, that created the hurricane of what is now called the “Internet of Things.”

And hurricane is no exaggeration. Today, the Internet of Things, or IoT, goes well beyond tweets regarding one’s breakfast status. In 2014, Google bought Nest, a home IoT collection of thermostats, smoke detectors, and other security systems, for an impressive $3.2 billion. That’s BILLION, with a “B.” And this storm is just growing. Research firm IDC believes that the global revenue for IoT will be $1.46 trillion by 2020. At that time it is estimated that somewhere between 25 to 200 billion devices will be connected within the IoT ecosystem.

“But hang on!” your internal monologue is screaming, “If IoT is this huge, why haven’t I heard of it before?”

Well, you have. The Internet of Things is sitting in your garage right now. Our cars, a “thing,” have been connected via the “internet” to other “things” for years now — although you took it all for granted. Jumping into the driver’s seat Monday morning, you overlooked the seamless link between your car stereo and smartphone.

On your journey to a client that same day, chances are you didn’t question the adjusted route based on real-time traffic alerts. And when you were headed home, and the car overheated, there’s a good chance that the requested emergency roadside assistance was triggered with a press of a button, or completely autonomously.

And that coffee you’re drinking? If you are sitting in Italy or Switzerland, then it may have been brought to you by IoT. Solair, an Italian company that was acquired this year by Microsoft for an undisclosed amount, has deployed its IoT cloud-based applications to help the Rancilio Group manage the coffee machines that it sells to hotels, restaurants and cafes. Through IoT, Rancilio manages coffee supplies, undertakes remote maintenance, and helps clients avoid sales losses through machine downtime. One hundred percent “thing”; zero percent human.

So where to next?

Well, globally there’s at least 88 publicly listed companies that are active in the IoT space. These companies include the obvious Cisco, Google, and IBM, but also lesser known firms like PTC, a company known for its design modelling software and product lifecycle management tools. PTC has also been snapping up smaller companies with existing capabilities within the Cloud service space and artificial intelligence (AI).

And it’s this trichotomy of IoT, Cloud and AI that allows for some very exciting products. TakeDRONEBOX, for example. Through IoT sensors, like the precision agriculture NDVI camera, crop harvests can be increased through better water and fertiliser management. And that’s just one application of the autonomous, self-charging drone.

IoT enabled thermal and high definition cameras expand the applications across asset inspection, emergency response, security, and even livestock management. And then there’s the myriad of other IoT sensors and actuators entering the market (see Figure 1, below). Once connected to the Cloud, these sensors open up a huge number of applications, as well a new field known as prescriptive analytics.

n short, prescriptive analytics combine hybrid data — a combination of structured (numbers, categories) and unstructured data (videos, images, sounds, texts) — with business rules to predict the future and to prescribe how to take advantage of this future scenario.

Hans Scharler’s IoT toaster, equipped with this computational power, would not only announce its current cooking status, but order the bread, jam and complementary orange juice in the previous week’s grocery order. It might also suggest a healthier option, based on a conversation it had with your IoT scales.

Original article here.

Posted In:  IoT

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