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Sensor-tivity – going beyond the carpet

It was good to lift the bonnet on IoT and demystify some of the hype at The Implementing IoT ITP event at BT Centre.

Like Autonomous vehicles (the gradual move to connected hybrid vehicles with driver assist features rather than fully driverless solutions) with IoT we are seeing a gradual move to adopting the tech with some great use cases, as opposed to leaping off the cliff into a fully connected world.

So, for example, it may be smart sensor within our bins to indicate when they are full; allowing councils to deliver optimal collection schedules and vehicle routes as opposed to designing a ground-up ‘Smart City’.

‘It is not very smart if it is not connected’. So what is holding us back? – 60% of IoT projects do not move past proof-of-concept.

Stuart Higgins (Head of Smart Cities and IoT at Cisco Systems) point to three major factors:

Security – IoT devices open up additional vulnerability to the organisations network  – there is the publicised example where cybercriminals hacked an unnamed casino through its Internet-connected thermometer in an aquarium in the lobby of the casino – Hacker News

Complexity – the environments where we would like to add sensors are often harsh and poorly connected environments, particularly within heavy industry where the potential is significant.

Scalability – the sheer number of sensors / devices that need installing and maintaining makes scaling a real challenge.

Of particular interest was the ‘beyond the carpet’ element of IoT. In other words, outside of the office sensors are playing an increasing role in managing traffic flows and car parking. In this space I was particularly interested in the application of Edge Computing (Professor John Davies pointed to the advantages of reducing Network Traffic as well as reducing data privacy issues by sending only the data needed beyond the device level) and the growth in zero-touch devices (onboarding connection set-up and support built into the hardware).

I expect, like many other consumers, the active uptake of IoT is related to the complex market. In the home I am turning to different providers for music, lighting, heating, energy consumption and device repair monitoring. My car is connected to the maker from a diagnostics perspective, BUT my world does not feel connected yet. I suspect it is going to take one of the tech giants to own this space before this feels smart? I’d be keen to hear your thoughts, if you agree or disagree…

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