Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Big-data for the internet of things

If you look at the future outlook of the technology industry you will notice that more and more analyst firms are talking about "the Internet of things". The Internet of things is the conceptual believe that in the future more and more devices will be connected to the Internet. This will include not only the devices that we currently connect to the Internet like workstations, smartphones, tablets and even audio equipment and television sets. In the conceptual idea of the "Internet of things" the idea is that we connect all electronic devices to the Internet. This will include your fridge, your washing machine, your lawn mower and even your light bulbs in your house.

The idea is that all devices should be able to communicate back in a calling-home principle and that you interact with them remotely. This is providing some great new opportunities for both the consumer as well as the producer of the equipment and others. Consumers will be able to interact differently with there equipment and will be more informed about things without the need to actively gather the information.  Producers will be receiving feeds of information about the use, mis-use and malfunctioning of the equipment they have sold and can use this to tweak new products more on real usage.

Some people will be in favor of such a "Internet if things" some will be against it. We will see legal battles on who is the owner of the data you send out via your device, questions around privacy and questions around liability. Whatever the outcome of those legal discussions we will see the "Internet of things" coming to out houses and we will start using it at some point.

The interesting part in the concept of the Internet of things is not purely the new products that will be developed and the new business opportunities that will arise from it. It will be for a large part about the new technologies that need to be developed to make the Internet of things work. If you keep a close watch on what is happening within the technology field you already see some things happening. Some of them are prerequisites for the Internet of things some are enablers and some are direct part of the concept.

One of the prerequisites for example is IPv6 a new version of the IP protocol. This is a new version of the protocol which allows more addresses to be assigned. For many Internet users this will be something they are not aware of however it is one of the prerequisites for the Internet of things.

A second movement in the technology industry is the rise of big-data. Not so much the rise of data itself however more the new way of how we handle the massive amounts of data. As we will be adding more and more devices to the Internet and they will be sending out data to consumers and to producers there will be the need of handling this vast amount of data in way that we can make sense of it. Having the option to handle vast amounts of data will be a key factor to success for businesses.

In the "past" big-data was the field of technology driven companies, companies like google, yahoo, Facebook and twitter where the early adopters and inventors of how to handle massive amounts of data. The new players in this field who need to beta grip on how the need to handle vast amounts of data will be companies who are not considered high-tech companies in the IT field. This will be for example companies who produce washing machines. Where in the past they needed to be experts in mostly mechanical and electric engineering ow they need to play there part in data handling.

If for example your washing machine starts calling back home to the producing company about all the sensor data it can produce this will be enormous. Think about sensor data of temperature, rounds per minute, water used, amount of clothing, menu selection by the user. All this data is of great importance to the producing company as they can turn the real world into a testing lab.

This provides a couple of challenges for such a company. How are they going to receive this information which is coming to them in a high velocity, how to store it, how to do analysis on the stored data and how are they going to get value out of it for both the company and the consumer.

Understanding how to handle big data coming for sensors and devices developed companies who normally are not into high-tech will be a key to success for those companies. The rise of the "Internet of things" will bring a rise in new technologies around data and within the need for experts in this field.
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