By: John Koon
On September 9-10, 2011, I attended a "visionary" conference at Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel, California. The theme was Internet-of-Things (IoT). The driving force behind this conference was National Semiconductors. There were demos of IoT appliances in different shapes and forms. You could check email in the kitchen as if you were using a tablet. Nothing happened in the next 10 years. On September 23, 2011, Texas Instrument announced the acquisition of National Semiconductors. IoT was new to me then. It was also a concept before its time. Actually the first time I heard about this concept was from Bill Gates of Microsoft. In a conference, he shared enthusiastically the idea of using software to control smart objects. The market would be great because billions of smart objects would be connected. (Google was a tiny unknown company at the time). He was partially right. Billions of things would be connected but not with Windows. He talked about smart refrigerator. In May this year, I saw Samsung advertising a smart, 36 inch, 4-door, French-door refrigerator equipped with Wi-Fi and an IoT camera inside to allow you to see how much milk you have left. (List price is over $5,000). So you can pick up a bottle of milk on your way home. Only time will tell if smart refrigerator is a smart concept or not.
Do you remember the dot com era? Venture capital companies were pouring money into dot com start-ups. The bubble burst. Most dot com companies failed. But a few succeeded.
Will IoT or Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) be another bubble? Most market research firms predict there will be multiple billions of things connected by 2020. You can monitor anything, anytime to get the best performance from your process with reduced costs. In a recent IoT conference, a speaker gave an illustration of the benefit of IIoT. When IIoT was applied in building an airplane, you could record and monitor the movement of a technician using a machine tool. Later on, analytic would be able to correlate the movement of the tool and quality of the workmanship. Enlightening.
If you are an enthusiast you will think of a million ways how IIoT can be used; better healthcare, preventive maintenance and monitoring your moving assets like a delivery truck. If you are a pessimist, you can think of a million ways how hackers will be able to exploit the weak points of an unsecured connection and there are lots of them. A person attending a medical conference asked, "What if a hacker disrupted the wireless pace maker worn by a head of a country?" Can you imagine when hackers take over the control of your connected car while you are driving? Worse, the outcome of an energy smart grid or nuclear plant being hacked would be disastrous!
It does not matter which side you are on, the IIoT revolution is a modern gold rush and is unstoppable.
Will you find gold IIoT? In this special edition, we will discuss the IIoT opportunities, and who are doing it. A report focus on Cisco will highlight their strategy. Finally, there will be articles from the IIoT experts covering various topics; smart energy, Fog computing, IIoT standard, software-defined radio, smart city, design ideas, case study and more.
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