Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
12/4/2013
10:56 AM
Daniel Castro
Daniel Castro
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Internet Of Things Meets Holiday Wish Lists

Lots of shiny, new, sensor-equipped "Internet things" are on gift lists this year, from phones to fridges. Start considering the practical applications now.

For years, the Internet of Things was a future engineers could only dream about, but the technology is fast becoming a reality, with huge ramifications for the economy and society.

The Internet is no longer just a network for people to communicate with other people. It's now a platform for networked devices to communicate with other devices: refrigerators with the electric utility, in-car navigation systems with roadway sensors, pacemakers with a computer in the doctor's office. This Internet of Things is enabled by a combination of technological advances, including low-cost sensors, low-power processors, and widespread wireless connectivity. It's creating a world that's alive with information.

As consumers head out to do their holiday shopping, an Internet of Things device might be on their list, sometimes without their realizing it. For the health-conscious, a variety of products such as FitBit activity sensors help people monitor their fitness levels. For the eco-friendly, there's the Nest thermostat, which learns users' preferences and schedules and then optimizes their homes' heating and cooling. Even those shopping for big-ticket items will find products and services with sensors and connectivity built-in -- cars with OnStar's emergency alert system, for example, or one of Whirlpool's smart appliances.

[ How connected will future vehicles be? Read 5 Ways Big Data Can Improve Your Car. ]

In the coming years, the Internet of Things will transform our world so that the ability to "know and control" is embedded in our homes, offices, vehicles, and cities. This transformation will have profound implications for addressing important social and economic issues.

Consider the impact the Internet of Things will have on energy. First, smart meters are building intelligence into the electric grid so that utilities can identify usage in real time, identify and repair network problems, and optimize energy production. Second, smart appliances combined with dynamic pricing of electricity let customers automatically reduce their energy usage during periods of peak demand, saving them money and reducing their environmental footprint. Third, the Internet of Things is unlocking the potential of renewable energy by letting consumers sell energy back to the grid, and by creating more efficient wind turbines and solar panels optimized based on weather conditions.

As the technology advances, we must ask this question: Will the government make or break the Internet of Things? Al Gore didn't invent the Internet, but the US government has had an important role in its formation, with early years at DARPA, and continued development, including recent efforts by the FCC to expand access to broadband. But bad public policies can undermine new technologies as well.

Although private-sector innovation is responsible for most of the devices that comprise the Internet of Things, policymakers will determine how these devices and related technologies are regulated and whether government agencies are early adopters. Just as important as the devices themselves will be the software layer that collects and processes the data generated by the Internet of Things. For example, a number of devices already let patients monitor their health conditions remotely, but this data must be standardized and integrated into electronic health records. And communications between vehicles on the road might serve one purpose for drivers, another purpose for an insurance company, and yet a third purpose for city planners -- requiring novel legal arrangements for data sharing.

Given the magnitude of the economic impact the Internet of Things will have, consumers and policymakers must start paying attention now. Fortunately, many of them can start learning with the devices they receive this holiday season.

Interop Las Vegas, March 31 - April 4, 2014 brings together thousands of technology professionals to discover the most current and cutting-edge technology innovations and strategies to drive their organizations' success, including BYOD security, the latest cloud and virtualization technologies, SDN, the Internet of Things, Apple in the enterprise, and more. Attend educational sessions in eight tracks, hear inspirational and industry-centric keynotes, and visit an Expo Floor that brings over 350 top vendors together. Register for Interop Las Vegas with Discount Code MPIWK for $200 off Total Access and Conference Passes.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
<<   <   Page 2 / 2
Lorna Garey
50%
50%
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
12/4/2013 | 11:49:50 AM
Re: Internet of Blood, Sweat & Tears
Doug, You understand the implications of Nike having all that data on you. The vast majority of people do not. They haven't thought through the concept of entities from the local utility to appliance vendors knowing a LOT about their habits. Who else thinks that's a privacy bomb that will dwarf the NSA revelations once Joe Consumer gloms on to it?
D. Henschen
50%
50%
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
12/4/2013 | 11:23:05 AM
Internet of Blood, Sweat & Tears
I have amassed close to four years worth of running data using various Nike+ devices. It started with the Nike+ Sportband pedometer (since repleced with NikeFule band). That captured pace, distance, time, calories burned, and -- if I was wearing a heart monitor sensor from Polar -- heart rate. Then I bought the Nike+ Sportwatch with built-in GPS. So for the last year or so, all my runs are mapped, including elevation, lat/lon, satellite view/map view, etc. In each diary entry you can make comments about the run; indicate street, trail, track, treadmill or beach; choose from five weather conditions, and a five-grade scale on how you felt.

After four years this adds up to a tremendous amount of data just for me, and Nike is storing it all for free. As of August 2013, more than 18 million people were using Nike+ to track fitness. Now that's big data!
<<   <   Page 2 / 2
The Business of Going Digital
The Business of Going Digital
Digital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - July10, 2014
When selecting servers to support analytics, consider data center capacity, storage, and computational intensity.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join InformationWeek’s Lorna Garey and Mike Healey, president of Yeoman Technology Group, an engineering and research firm focused on maximizing technology investments, to discuss the right way to go digital.
Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.