We’re entering a new era of computing technology that many are calling the Internet of Things (IoT). Machine to machine, machine to infrastructure, machine to environment, the Internet of Everything, the Internet of Intelligent Things, intelligent systems—call it what you want, but it’s happening, and its potential is huge. (Many of my colleagues have written about it – here, here and here.)
Embedded processing is everywhere. At Freescale, we see the IoT as billions of smart, connected “things” (a sort of “universal global neural network” in the cloud) that will encompass every aspect of our lives, and its foundation is the intelligence that embedded processing provides. The IoT is comprised of smart machines interacting and communicating with other machines, objects, environments and infrastructures. As a result, huge volumes of data are being generated, and that data is being processed into useful actions that can “command and control” things to make our lives much easier and safer—and to reduce our impact on the environment.
There are countless examples of “smart things” – some new and some that have been around for awhile – that can leverage the IoT’s neural network. Maybe you’ve heard about the Google Car, a self-driving vehicle that may be available in the next five years. Volvo, Toyota and others have cars that park themselves. Behind this Jetsons‘ technology is a vision of safety, zero fatalities, efficiency and zero emissions. Smart roads and intelligent highways can advise your route and optimize traffic flows. In San Francisco and other cities, parking meters can tell your smartphone whether they are available.
We can now put grapevines online to monitor soil moisture and trunk diameter in vineyards, to control the amount of sugar in grapes and grapevine health. In the medical world, devices and services like Basis and FitBit help you take charge of monitoring your body’s performance with diagnostics, like a Formula 1 car, at every moment of the day and night – and they can coach you into better habits. We are also seeing home thermostats that can tell when you are getting near and make sure your home is a comfortable temperature when you arrive. The creativity of this new era is boundless, with amazing potential to improve our lives.
What does the IoT need to become a reality? In this white paper about the IoT, I partnered with Gary Atkinson from ARM, one of our technology partners, to answer that.
What you’ll discover is that the Internet of Things has been through a few cycles of expectation. The pervasiveness of embedded processing is already happening everywhere around us, with devices of all kinds incorporating new kinds of intelligence. Connecting those smart devices to the web has also started happening, although at a slower rate. The pieces of the technology puzzle are coming together to accommodate the Internet of Things sooner than most people expect. We all know it will be hugely disruptive to how we do business, creating a great opportunity for those who are ready to embrace it and can create innovative products and services to harness its potential. But, how many of us are truly ready?