Jumping on the Internet of Things (IoT) Band Wagon?

Jumping on the IoT band wagon
IoT and the Smart Home

There is a new “Band Wagon” out there and it’s not Big Data. If you were at this year’s CES Show this past week, it would have been impossible even with a “Las Vegas-size” hangover not to have heard the hype around the Internet of Things (IoT).  The Internet of Things includes anything and everything that is connected to the Internet and able to communicate and share information with other “smart” devices. This year as well as last it was about home appliances, fitness and health monitors, home security systems, Bluetooth enabled toothbrushes, sensors in shoes to monitor weight and mileage, thermostats that monitor humidity and sound, to kitchen utensils that can track and monitor the type of food you cook and eat.

If you ask me, all these devices and the IoT movement is both cool and creepy. Cool in the sense that networking technology has both matured and become affordable for devices to transmit data for companies to turn into actionable intelligence. IoT is creepy in the sense where do I really want someone monitoring what I cook or how many times I wake up and night?  Like other hype cycles or band wagons, there are different opinions as to the size of the IoT market.  Gartner expects it to include nearly 26 billion devices, with a “global economic value-add” of $1.9 trillion by 2020.  The question is whether the Internet of Things is truly transformational to our daily lives?  The answer to that really depends on being able to harness all that data into information. Just because my new IoT toothbrush can monitor and send data on how many times I brush my teeth, it doesn’t provide any color whether that makes me healthier or have a prettier smile :).

To help answer these questions, here are examples and potential use cases of leveraging all that Big Data from Small devices of the IoT world:

  • Mimo’s Smart Baby Monitor is aimed at helping to prevent SIDS, the Mimo monitor is a new kind of infant monitor that provides parents with real-time information about their baby’s breathing, skin temperature, body position, and activity level on their smartphones.
  • GlowCaps fit prescription bottles and via a wireless chip provide services that help people stick with their prescription regimen; from reminder messages, all the way to refill and doctor coordination.
  • BeClose offers a wearable alarm button and other discrete wireless sensors placed around the home, the BeClose system can track your loved one’s daily routine and give you peace of mind for their safety by alerting you to any serious disruptions detected in their normal schedule.
  • Postscapes provides technology a suite of sensors and web connectivity help save you time and resources by keeping plants fed based on their actual growing needs and conditions while automating much of the labor processes.
  • OnFarm solution combines real-time sensor data from soil moisture levels, weather forecasts, and pesticide usage from farming sites into a consolidated web dashboard. Farmers can use this data with advanced imaging and mapping information to spot crop issues and remotely monitor all of the farms assets and resource usage levels.
  • Banks and auto lenders are using cellular GPS units that report location and usage of financed cars in addition to locking the ignitions to prevent further movement in the case of default.
  • Sensors on farm equipment now provides real-time intelligence on how many hours trackers are used, the weather conditions to predict mechanical problems, and measuring the productivity of the farmer to predict trends in the commodity market.

I can see a number of other potential use cases for IoT including:

  • Health devices not only sending data but receiving data from other IoT devices to provide real time recommendations on workout routines based on weather data received from real-time weather sensors, food intake from kitchen devices, to nutritional information based on vitamins and medications consumed by the wearer.
  • Credit card banks leveraging their GPS tracking device data from auto loan customers to combine it with credit card data to deliver real-time offers on merchant promotions while on the road.
  • GPS tracking devices on hotel card keys to track where you go, eat, entertain to deliver more customized services and offers while one is on a business trip or vacation.
  • Boxing gloves transmitting the impact and force of a punch to monitor for athlete concussions.

What does this all mean?

The Internet of Things has changed the way we live and do business and will continue to shape the future hopefully in a positive way. Harnessing all of that Big Data from Small devices does not come easily. Every device that generates data sends it to some central system through WiFi or cellular network.  Once in that central system, it needs to be access, translated, transformed, cleansed, and standardized for business use with data from other systems that run the business.  For example:

  • Access, transform, and validate data from IoT with data generated from other business applications. Formats and values will be often different and change over time and needs to be rationalized and standardized for downstream business use. Otherwise, you end up with a bunch of Alphas and Numerics that make no sense.
  • Data quality and validation: Just because a sensor can send data, it does not mean it will send the right data or data that is right for a business user trying to make sense of it. GPS data requires accurate coordinate data. If any value is transmitted incorrectly, it is important to identify those errors; more importantly correct it so the business can take action.  This is especially important when combining like values (e.g. Weather status = Cold, Wet, Hot however the device is sending A,B, C)
  • Shared with other systems: Once your data is ready to be consumed by new and existing analytic applications, marketing systems, CRM, or your fraud surveillance systems, it needs to be available in in real-time if required, in the right format, and structure as required by those  applications and doing it in a way that is seamless, automated, and does not require heavy IT lifting.

In closing, IoT’s future is bright along with the additional insights gained from all that data.  Consider it Cool or Creepy one thing is for sure, the IoT band wagon is in full swing!

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