The current reality of the “Internet of Things” is fairly chaotic. There are growing numbers of things that are connected, but these different things lack a common language, the necessary intelligence and the motivation to work together to do anything useful.
We may have connected refrigerators today, but until the refrigerator 1) knows that I am running low on milk, 2) knows that I don’t ever want to run out of milk, 3) knows how to reach out to the local grocery store and order (and pay for) a fresh gallon and 4) the grocery store has the ability to drop off the milk on the front porch early in the morning, the connectedness is not truly useful to me.
We have mostly tiny point solutions today. Clearly, this needs to change and I am certain that it will.
We have a group of Dell engineers that has been working closely with customers on “Internet of Things”-related projects and it has developed a perspective on how the “Internet of Things” will evolve. Here’s their roadmap:
1. Things will add storage capacity and become more intelligent
Currently, things may store a few bytes. However as these things need to become highly responsive, there will be a shift towards more powerful embedded processors and larger onboard systems memory. Reduced hardware costs make this feasible for a wide range of things. With more data at hand combined with more computing horsepower, the things will be able to become more mathematically intensive to identify patterns and create models and produce derived data, in addition to collecting raw data.
2. Things will become grouped into localized ‘Networks of Things’
Intelligence multiplies when things work together in a team. It makes sense to integrate the networks of things that have a common gravitational pull, such as a home, a manufacturing plant, a car or a neighborhood. Communication and decision rules become manageable within a small set of things, and this is where the capability for my refrigerator to receive a gallon of milk from the local grocery store becomes workable. These local networks will generate larger sets of higher-level data, which drives the next level…
3. A sky full of clouds will add rich context to data
Here’s where things start to sound like science fiction. Sets of localized Networks of Things, aka device nets, will connect to a variety of clouds and data can become organized at ever higher layers. Manufacturers can access these sets of clouds to pull in all their operational data to their data centers and analyze product and cross-product performance in a meaningful way. They also can have access to tangential data from other players in the cloud, which add rich context.
Through the use of high performance computing, more interesting questions can be asked and answered through the latest Big Data techniques.
For instance, in our milk/refrigerator/grocery store example, the dairy producers will suddenly have access to much more information than just how much milk is being sold at any point in time. They’ll understand what other products their customers are buying, the demographics of those buyers and the delivery and promotional offers for specific grocery stores in specific markets. The dairy producers can have a much broader and deeper understanding of the overall nutritional habits of their customers, and pick up on emerging trends in specific micro segments around demographics, locations, seasons, or life stages.
Like most engineering problems, the Internet of Things becomes a lot less chaotic when each step is methodically completed and logically connected to the following step. I believe there’s tremendous value for manufacturers who are willing to devote the resources and energy necessary for developing a technology plan and addressing each issue along the way.
As Michael Dell likes to say, “Technology is about enabling human potential.” As technology helps make our manufacturers smarter, we as consumers can look forward to a more convenient, safer and more interesting world.
‘Internet of Things’
Most manufacturers have been standing on the sidelines when it comes to the Internet of Things. Here are some reasons why they should get in the game.
- 1The ‘Internet of Things’ changes manufacturing
- 2How the ‘Internet of Things’ will change design
- 3Becoming customer-centric via ‘Internet of Things’
- 4Securing the ‘Internet of Things’
- 5How the ‘Internet of Things’ impacts the factory
- 6Future ‘Internet of Things’ — from device to sky