Thursday, January 23, 2014

IoT creates Challenges and Opportunities

Artilce by: Martin Bakal, WW Agile & Embedded Software Solution Offering Lead, Product Management + Design, IBM Rational Software
IoT creates Challenges and Opportunities

One of the big changes the electronics industry is facing is how and when to automatically collect data from ranges of devices and pass them to other machines. This is generally called M2M (Machine to Machine) and IoT (Internet of Things), I recently attended a talk on this subject. The link to a blog with the slides is located at

Overall session was very well attended and the speaker was by Peter Coffee from The general theme was that IoT/M2M is being used in many different ways today from finding pre-failure events to enhancing the experience with applications. Most of the issues involved in implementing this technology aren’t and there are companies that can support this type of implementation.

The biggest issue overall is trust. We have to trust the data will be used in our best interests. I personally see this all the time when I try to set my browser to not pass data back to servers, turn off GPS on my phone, etc. Do you want your TV, refrigerator, car, etc to be passing around information and the larger question is when/how does it benefit the end user?

In terms of building these smarter devices the general idea is to connect, measure, think and then act as needed.. To really accelerate the usefulness long term there are still some technical issues.
1)     We have to rethink networking. Our current packet metadata only includes where we are going not where we came from. There also is no concept on time stamping. This means apps only looking for proximity type data or time relevant( in nanoseconds) have to open the packet to act.
2)     Environments could be relaxed to allow lossy data – Data coming through could paint a picture without needing every packet and then falling behind
3)     Enable negotiation not just transactional data – When we here about stolen data in the news the primary issue is every source is trusted once something gets in the network and these types of devices open more holes. The systems need methods to require authentication internally.
4)     Need to connect to people not just add additional data and confuse them.
5)     Battery life – do we want smaller devices to chew their batteries just to pass this type of information around.
6)     Need to take a system of systems approach and understand what the architecture is and why we are building it, not just connect devices because we can. Connecting devices without a purpose just leads to cost with no benefit.

Overall the opportunity to gain more insights and respond quicker to events is huge and the changes will keep coming. This is especially true in the realm of fixing devices, monitoring the roads, etc. The larger issue is how quickly we are willing and able to make these changes and not disenfranchise people along the way.

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