Nalini Muppala

Analysis, observations, perspectives on mobile space

TIoT – Some Observations

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The-internet-of-things (TIoT) has been a buzz word for a while now. The idea of adding intelligence to devices and appliances around us and connecting them in a manner to help get our job done in an intelligent and intuitive manner is compelling. There are several hurdles to overcome.

What It Takes

I would broadly categorize the pieces of this puzzle into:

  • Equipping the device/appliance.
    • Brains for awareness of the self and the environment.
    • A means to connect to external world and exchange information.
    • Intelligence to adapt itself as instructed over the network.
  • An ecosystem for developers.
  • A compelling business proposition.

The technology to make the devices intelligent and connected have been around for a while: sensors and connectivity are ever more prevalent even in small form factor devices such as smartphones.

Mobile Or Not

As in any battle, there will be winners and losers. The consortium of cellular network operators would love to have all devices connected via their mobile networks. Vendors of connectivity solutions such as Wi-Fi, Zigbee would say the best means is to connect devices to a local network and then connect over the Internet. Each solution has its merits. One can foresee which solution will win in various scenarios by thinking through the lens of the job the user is trying to get done. For a home energy management system controlled by a connected thermostat, Wi-Fi is a good solution. Cellular connectivity for a thermostat would be an overkill. For a  scavenger robot winding its way through gutters, mobile network connectivity is fitting.

Going without mobile network connectivity will be beneficial in a couple of ways:

  • No monthly data service charges.
  • Device vendors can create products faster bypassing MNO’s adoption, approval process. Proof is no farther than this Engadget article: How an AT&T smartphone comes to life.
  • Device vendors can reach customers fast and direct. Case in point: Nest thermostat is sold directly and through Bestbuy.

What We Need

  • A zero configuration mechanism to add devices to a network. For home automation, Bonjour comes to mind. A mobile ad hoc network is due for things more mobile.
  • Intelligent software to process the data.
  • User interface. Smartphone, Tablets, or whatever comes next, are well placed to be the interface between the user and TIoT. Apps for individual devices is a good route.

 

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Written by Nalini Kumar Muppala

February 8, 2012 at 7:48 am

Posted in Theory

Tagged with ,

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