Working for a company handling loads of data and transforming it into information, I’m particularly interested in anything emerging in this space. The Internet of Things (IoT) is not really new, but is it finally becoming real? There were 2 important news announced in the past few months:
HP (yes the same one I was bashing a couple of weeks ago for lack of innovation !) has announced that they’re close to deploy their first application for their Central Nervous System for the Earth, or CeNSE. Imagine billions of tiny and cheap sensitive detectors distributed in all things possible and imaginable from buildings, to objects, to bridge, to environmental space able to gather petabytes of data to detect infrastructure collapse, climate change, potential earthquakes, track hospital equipment etc. I’m confident some people will find less honorable applications for these data and there are some huge privacy concerns with billions of sensors capturing data, but I find the idea absolutely fascinating and I can’t start imagining what type of processing power they will need to make sense out of all these data!
My dearest and former company IBM has also been very active in the IoT with their smarter planet initiative launched in 2008 by Sam Palmisano when he outlined and lead dozens of initiatives to create smarter and interconnected system to solve problems such as traffic congestions, safer and greener buildings, energy efficient device etc. all with the help of better monitoring, connecting and analyzing system to understand their behavior and trigger appropriate actions. So far, there have been work around sensors, RFID tags, real-time messaging to gather data. Pretty much in line with what HP has been doing.
This week during Sensors Expo 2010, IBM has announced the availability of a new software to enable sensors to be connected to the Internet. It’s a free package called Mote Runner, that can link wirelessly applications running on PC and tiny sensors. It includes a simulation environment, a web dashboard based on Eclipse and its memory footprint is low enough to run on 64k !
Intel and other chips company have announced cheap chips that can basically connect every gadget you can think of, “talk to them” and trigger specific actions. It could be as simple as domotic type of application but also more interesting application such as healthcare alert application, climate monitoring etc. The fact that the IBM package is free open the door to a brand new world of connected device !
I can foresee a lot of startup jumping on the bangwagon such as Pachube which is already very advanced in the IoT.
I can’t imagine the amount of data we’ll have to deal with in the next 5-10 years. I’m all for it if applications can help us build a better world. But I can’t stop thinking of all the less than desirable side-effect these data can generate …