A report out today has found that an increasing number of businesses are exploring the economic opportunities that will be created by the Internet of Things (IoT) concept.
The IoT revolution is set to come about as an increasing number of devices come online, from kitchen fridges to road signs. Objects such as these will include sensors that gather information which can then be transferred over the internet to a central computer system or another device.
The 32-page report — conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of Cambridge-based IoT chip designer, ARM — found that 75 percent of business leaders are actively researching opportunities set to come about through the IoT.
The report, titled The Internet of Things Business Index: A quiet revolution gathers pace, also found that 30 percent of business leaders feel that the IoT will unlock new revenue opportunities, while 29 percent believe it will inspire new working practices, and 23 percent believe it will eventually change the model of how they operate.
The study found that European businesses are ahead of their global counterparts in the research and planning phases of implementing IoT. Meanwhile, manufacturing is the leading sector when it comes to research and implementation of IoT technologies, driven in part by the need for real-time information to optimise productivity. One in four manufacturing companies already has a live IoT system in place.
“The self-stocking intelligent fridge is a step closer to becoming an everyday reality,” said James Chambers, editor of the report. “Conversations about IoT are clearly moving on. Two in five executives are now telling us that they discuss IoT regularly. Whether we will all end up wearing clothes connected to the internet remains to be seen – but it’s hard to think of any business that can’t be part of the IoT revolution.”
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From the Economist:
TAKE a vast windowless hall. Squeeze in hundreds of garish booths vying to produce the loudest and most obnoxious music possible. Then add thousands of busy people and bake at a high temperature for several days. Visiting a large conference or trade show can be an unpleasant experience, as Babbage can attest from many years of writing about technology. Precisely how unpleasant, though, no one has measured until now. At Google’s annual I/O conference for developers in San Francisco this week, scientists are finally trying to turn sharp elbows, raised voices and sweaty brows into cold, hard data.
The Data Sensing Lab, a project of O’Reilly Media, has deployed over 500 sensor motes at key locations around the Moscone West centre. Each phone-sized mote is a self-contained computer based on a cheap Arudino micro-controller and linked with low power ZigBee digital radios. Some measure temperature, pressure, noise, humidity and light levels. Others are tracking air quality, the motion of crowds or how many mobile phones are being used nearby. Together, they form a network producing over 4,000 streams of data that are uploaded to Google’s Cloud Platform software for analysis.
The network is an example of the “internet of things”, where physical objects are digitally interconnected and communicate without human intervention. At a shindig like I/O, this could one day mean rooms pre-emptively activating air conditioners when they detect delegates arriving, or organisers rating speakers by the level of mobile phone use during their presentations.
At the Google event, the Data Sensing Lab showed live visualisations of people flowing out of seminars and forming an eager cluster around a stand showcasing Google Glass wearable computers. It also highlighted the noisiest area (the keynote by Larry Page, Google’s co-founder) and the quietest (a pop-up shop selling Google-branded products). All the data will be made freely available online after the conference wraps up.
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From the Economist:
Adding sensors and other devices to bridges, tunnels and buildings can turn them into “smart structures” capable of sensing and, in some cases, even responding to problems.
ON AUGUST 1st 2007, as commuters were driving home from work on the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge near Minneapolis, it abruptly collapsed. Thirteen people died and over a hundred were injured. The bridge had opened in 1967 and had not been scheduled for replacement until 2020. What had gone wrong? In 2008 the National Transport Safety Board concluded that extra concrete, which had been added to the bridge over the years as the level of traffic increased, had helped cause the collapse. After an inspection in 2005 engineers had classified the bridge as “structurally deficient”, and repairs were planned. But many other bridges in the area were thought to be in an even worse condition, so the work was not prioritised, and the true state of the bridge became apparent only when it failed, with tragic results.
Such catastrophes are rare, but the Mississippi River Bridge highlights a wider problem: old infrastructure is often exposed to much greater loads than it was originally designed for. British trains routinely run on arched bridges dating back to the Victorian era, for example. Old structures can be rebuilt or reinforced, of course, but the standard approach to assessing their condition is regular inspections, and these may not be frequent or detailed enough to spot problems.
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