Mazlan – IOT came in many forms and names. Some are called – the Internet of Everything, Web of Things, Social Web of Things, Industrial Internet and some are simply called M2M. The word “Things” is defined in many ways too – it can be either an RFID, Smart Sensors, Smartphones, Laptops, Web Objects etc. But basically, IOT must have four main characteristics:
- Sensing device – extending the human sensing capability
- Communications – being bi-directional is better.
- Middleware/IoT platform – aggregating sensor data and managing devices
- Intelligence – The ability to derive insights and create new applications
Question – Is it a “must” for any sensors to be smart and has some form of intelligence?
Mazlan – In the early days of IOT, it was merely an RFID. The word “Internet of Things” was coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, executive director of MIT Auto-ID Centre. As technology progress and we see tremendous development in the area of microelectronics and miniaturization of Integrated Circuits and CPUs, the need for a decision no longer resides from a central location. Certain decisions can be made locally for faster response. Of course, due to cost constraints and keeping the cost down, only simple arithmetic logic is required on the sensors rather than a full computation.
For the end users like us, we wanted to find ways to automate many things especially the mundane tasks.
Question – How does IOT impact our everyday life?
Mazlan – For the end users like us, we wanted to find ways to automate many things, especially mundane tasks. Now just imagine this – do you wish that one day with a blink of an eye, you can capture photos and videos of what you see? Don’t you wish that the moment you wake up in the morning to your musical alarm with your favorite music, the alarm clock will tell what’s your schedule like at the office and the weather outside? And before you leave, your phone will tell you the condition of the traffic jam and recommends the best route to the office with the estimated time of arrival? When you leave the house, it will automatically trigger the security alarm and switch off the unnecessary electrical appliance to save energy. When you shop at the supermarket, the shopping list on your phone will also get notifications of the latest price of the items and shows the location of the item. These are some of the everyday tasks that can be automated through IOT. Things that have the relevant sensors will communicate with each other via the phone or any communication network. Intelligent software will learn your habits and location to give a more accurate recommendation.
Question– What you mentioned is the future, right? Any examples of today’s IOT?
Mazlan – There are quite a number of Kickstarter projects which are related to IOT and sensors. The sensors are deployed in the house for home security, plants that will tell you when to water them, control any home electrical appliance, and saves energy. For example, Smarthings have been commercialized successfully whereas new projects such as Plugaway and Ninja Sphere will be launched in 2014.
Recently an IOT-enabled Toothbrush (Kolibree) was launched at CES 2014 – it analyzes your brushing teeth habits and displays them on a mobile dashboard that you can readily access on your phone.
Question – In which areas do you think will become the killer apps for IOT?
Mazlan – Even though there are several wireless sensor networks and M2M applications being deployed by some industries and mobile telcos, I foresee there are three main areas that have created much interest and buzz in the IOT world. The first two killer applications are Smart Home for home safety (either personal, family or assets) and cost savings by reducing the electricity bill. These are two main factors for many new and small companies to offer IOT solutions such as controlling the doors, windows, personal items, electrical appliances, etc.
And the third killer app would be, Personal Health Monitoring. We have seen many activity trackers that are now wearable. Either on your wrist or body wear. People are very much health conscious – tracking their body weight, heartbeat, steps, calories eaten, exercises, etc. However, most of these apps are quite personal, whereby the data is only for the consumption of the user. What it needs in the near future is to connect to a health consultant who can analyze the data and give proper advice.
Question – How do you see IOT play the role in Smart City
Mazlan – What if sensors are attached to transport vehicles and being monitored centrally. The big data collected will be analyzed via predictive analytics and will be able to forecast congested areas. It will recommend the best routes to travel. However, a company called Waze made this application much easier – they utilize the GPS sensors in smartphones and encourage users to update the status of their travel – for example, if they see any accident, level of congestion, etc. The big data will be analyzed by the Waze analytic engine and recommend alternate routes. One of the wonderful things Waze collected is the ability to get the latest map – when a user encountered there is no road (maybe a newly built road) on the Waze map, he will use the application to create the road and this will get updated to the Waze database and thus other users will benefit it later.
Question – What are the main issues of IOT?
Mazlan – I see there are two issues that might slow down the adoption of IOT – First is the Security aspects. People are wondering if their camera and fridge are connected to the Net, will they be prone to being hacked? The second issue has been raised as a hot topic – Privacy? How do we protect the privacy of our data? Who are eligible to use that data?
About the Author:
Dr. Mazlan is ranked No. 20th Thought Leader in IoT by Onalytics Report – “The Internet of Things – Top 100 Thought Leaders” and ranked Top 100 in Smart Cities Top Experts by Agilence Authority Index May 2016. He is a public speaker at leading IoT events. You can get in touch with him on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.