Internet Of Things: Are You Underestimating Video?
Whether you want an easier way to collect data or connect to customers, video is ready to play a bigger role.
The hype around the huge market opportunity known as the Internet of Things is giving short shrift to one basic source of data input: video.
Sure, there's a lot of anxiety about widespread video surveillance, but I'm talking here about the everyday, run-your-business kinds of video use, the kinds where privacy concerns aren't a factor. It's using video to look at machines your company owns, for example, or to interact with customers to provide better service.
Bill Ruh, vice president and global technology director at Internet of Things champion GE, calls video "the most underutilized sensor in the industrial market," and the story isn't much different in the consumer and customer service worlds. IT leaders must ask their business colleagues this simple question: Would it help if you could see that?
Think of video on two broad fronts. One is video as a sensor -- as an inspector, checking out equipment such as a railroad or a gas pipeline and using automated analysis of images to know when more in-depth human evaluation is needed.
The second video scenario is for ad-hoc collaboration, now that so many customers and employees are carrying high-quality video cameras with them all the time on their smartphones. Problems that have required a complicated text or voice description now can be captured in a 15-second "look at this" real-time or recorded video.
Here are examples of those two scenarios that we've written about recently.
Track inspections Union Pacific is doing a lot of experiments and implementations using video cameras as another type of sensor around its trains and tracks to bring in data for analysis. "I don't mean video as in YouTube," CIO Lynden Tennison says. "I mean leveraging video to make business decisions."
For example, a business problem for Union Pacific is how to inspect rail ties efficiently. Currently, inspectors physically travel along the tracks to look for rot or cracks in the wooden or concrete ties along thousands of miles of track. In
Chris Murphy is editor of InformationWeek and leader of its Strategic CIO community. He has been covering technology leadership and strategy issues for InformationWeek since 1999. Before that, he was editor of the Budapest Business Journal, a business newspaper in Hungary; ... View Full Bio
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