Third Wave Trend: The Internet of Everything
As CEO of Third Wave Technology I like to blog about the unstoppable trends and innovation that is rapidly changing the world sometimes called The Third Wave. Today I would like to dive deeper into one of the biggest trends in technology that is changing the way we live and will continue to have a tremendous impact over the next few years and well beyond.
THE UNSTOPPABLE IOE
While I am sure most people have heard about “The Internet of Things” (IOT) or “The Internet of Everything” (IOE) I am not sure how much the average person realizes the impact this trend will change our future for better, worse or both. This is not a trend in the hype cycle.
(Please note: I will reference the terms IOE/IOT/IoT interchangeably, there are to be taken as the same)
The IOE is the connectivity of billions of devices and sensors to the Internet or the connected world. This is literally the connection of everything from your house to cars, commercial buildings, cities, human sensors and even the earth as you will soon read. Enabling Machine to Machine communication (M2M) is allowing more intelligent decisions to be made with more and better information taken into account. The benefits are numerous from medical, automation, smarter cities, power and water savings and an endless possibility of ideas yet to be discovered.
Before I get into some examples of how the technology is being used currently and some future uses first, let’s talk about the sensors, which are making all this possible.
Let’s start with MEMS, which stands for Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems, these are extremely small sensors that can be as small as 1 micron! (Nanotechnology is another driving force in Third Wave trends.) To put that in perspective, a human hair is between 30-120 microns, and 25 microns is about the smallest size a human eye can even see. These sensors consists of a single circuit with a chip (CPU) and a sensor that can measure things like humidity, temperature, sound, motion, chemical composition, etc… The sensors can also transmit data to receivers that can then relay the recorded data to the Internet.
The size of MEMS allows them to easily be planted in or on the human body or in wearable technology which is also another major third wave trend.
Another sensor revolution factor is due to the massive popularity of the “Arduino” circuits and sensors. The release of circuit boards and sensors that are inexpensive, easy to acquire on-line and easy to use has brought the everyday hobbyist, inventor or “Maker” (another third wave trend) into the fold of innovators. It’s not just companies anymore which has expanded the universe of possible ideas.
In addition, the massive proliferation of smart phones, tablets and wearables have added to the availability and mobility of even more sensors around the world all capable of feeding data to the Internet for collection, aggregation and analysis.
Now to some of the applications for all these devices that are currently or soon to be in use:
- Currently tiny micro sensors are being implanted under the skin that connect to other sensors in the body through a wireless network that can analyze and transmit data to a smartphone and allow a doctor to track the most critical health indicators such as specific proteins in the blood. In addition, anonymously aggregating similar patient data will allow for better predictive outcomes for patients.
- IOE sensors are being placed in elevators to monitor the system and determine when maintenance is needed before the elevator breaks down, saving both money and inconveniencing busy buildings and stranded passengers.
- An IOE system that tracks vegetables from the ground to the market can warn of potential hazardous bacterial contamination.
- Cisco IBSG and the City of New York have launched an interactive platform that integrates information from open government programs, local businesses, and citizens to provide meaningful and powerful knowledge anytime, anywhere, on any device. In short, City24/7 delivers the information people need to know, where and when it helps them most.
- A Rio de Janeiro operations Center integrates information from multiple government agencies and private sources to improve city safety and incident response. With more than 50 city agencies connected, with integration of agencies’ pertinent data it is resulting in more cooperative and efficient relationships among city agencies.
- San Antonio Networked traffic light control system that provides synchronization of traffic lights is resulting in an estimated $2 billion savings from shorter commutes, lower fuel expenses, improved safety issues, and other factors.
- In Guayaquil, Ecuador 50 free Wi-Fi hotspots; eight connected kiosks (similar to ATM machines) are providing Internet access to residents for a telemedicine program that allows patients to receive remote diagnoses and treatment by specialists. Citizens with limited economic and physical mobility no longer need to travel across the city to see a specialist.
- Dubai Smart City Initiative includes plans to implement 100 programs and 1,000 Smart Services by 2015 across all government services, including transportation. The result will be reduced traffic fatalities from about 20-22 per 100,000 citizens in 2005 to fewer than 4 per 100,000.
- The Sleep Number 12x bed has just been announced that has a bunch of sensors built into the bed that can track your sleep patterns, relaying your sleepy-time data to a connected app that gives you a sleep score. It even comes with a button to gently lift your snoring partner a few degrees. The data can be used to improve and treat sleep patterns.
- Of course, the smart home is probably the furthest down the path of IOE with numerous systems on the market to control almost every aspect of your house from security, temperature, alerts, entertainment, lighting and energy consumption.
- First Wind and GE have added new sensors to measure temperature, wind speeds, location and pitch of the blades. They collect three to five times as much data as the sensors on turbines of a few years ago. The data is collected and analyzed by G.E. software, and the operation of each turbine can be tweaked for efficiency. For example, in very high winds, turbines across an entire farm are routinely shut down to prevent damage from rotating too fast. But more refined measurement of wind speeds might mean only a portion of the turbines need to be shut down. In wintry conditions, turbines can detect when they are icing up, and speed up or change pitch to knock off the ice.
- Royal Dutch Shell and Hewlett Packard are teaming up literally cover the entire planet with more than a trillion MEMS devices. Their program is called CeNSE which stands for “The Central Nervous System for the Earth.” Under the CeNSE program, the sensors will be placed under the ground. Each will be monitoring, detecting, and analyzing any seismic movement. Through their Augmented MEMS Fusion Engines they will communicate with each other inside HP’s on-site supercomputers and networking systems. They’ll work together seamlessly to identify the exact location of the sweet spots for each oil discovery. And which direction the oil is flowing. Because of this program, its estimated Shell can increase its production capabilities by a whopping 1000% – while cutting costs in half.
THE BUSINESS SIDE OF IOE
For me the technology is amazing but it’s just as much fun to talk about how it will impact business and economies.
The examples above were just a short list of IOE innovations which demonstrate the magnitude of this trend which Cisco CEO John Chambers estimates will be a $19 trillion dollar market. To put that market size in perspective, the entire US economy is worth about $16T! Cisco is going all in and totally restructuring the entire company around IOE. IBM is investing 1.8B a year and HP is making a $10B investment.
Apple has jumped in heavily with a commitment to home automation, health and the new iWatch which can monitor body conditions and relay them to the iPhone and to the Internet. Google has of course created its experimental Google glasses, purchased NEST Lab thermostats for $3.2B and Boston Dynamics a robotics company and of course their huge market share of Android devices that will play a role in the IOE.
Microsoft has been in the embedded market since early 2000 with Windows CE, Compacts, XP and now with Windows embedded OS, owning 68% of the Embedded OS market in 2009. In April it announced Azure Intelligent Systems Service (ISS), a cloud-based platform for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Gartner believes Azure ISS is the most integrated enterprise partner offering for heterogeneous IoT environments announced to date, but they cautioned that this is not a fully tested or realized product.
Not only are the big boys jumping in fully, but they are also investing in startups. For example Cisco has invested $150 million in IoT companies around the world including startups like Ayla Networks, Evrythng, and Alchemist Accelerator. Alchemist Accelerator, is focusing specifically on IoT startups through its accelerator program. No doubt we will be reading about big acquisitions from all the high tech giants as new startups provide the true innovation that only startups can. I believe they will start to be as common as the billion dollar apps we are all now astonished by in the current news.
There will also be a lot of money to be made at the sensor business level which is well underway thanks to the mobile explosion. The chip and sensor manufacturers are cleaning up with huge gains in the stock market. Companies like STM MicroElectronics which was the first company to reach the $1B in sales mark for MEMS. There are a host of other well positioned companies that will continue to benefit from the trend including Texas Instruments, Motorola (purchased by Google) and Invensense.
In closing, I would be remiss to not mention that the hard part of the IOE/IOT is analyzing all the data from all these devices stored in the cloud. This is where the Big Data trend comes into play. Since this is a topic all in itself I will leave this for another post.
The IOE trend is changing the world for better and worse like any technology. Please note in my posts I prefer to discuss the positive benefits but I am well aware of the dark side of the IOE as well.