I first wrote about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things in 2004. Back then, industry analysts predicted that tens of billions of things would be connected to the Internet within five years. It didn’t happen.
Now the hype is back. The 50 billion things that were supposed to be connected by 2010 were merely postponed. The new projected arrival date is 2020.
Don’t get me wrong. The Internet of Things (IoT) is an exciting growth opportunity. (It’s also a misnomer, but that's a discussion for a future post.) The problem is that it is really many different opportunities, each of which will grow at its own pace. A few markets, such as asset tracking and automatic meter reading, have achieved considerable traction. Others, such as connected cars and smart homes, show great promise. And we all look forward to the day when sensors embedded in our clothing detect health problems in their earliest and most treatable stages.
We still have to learn how to find the value in oceans of data. As Francis daCosta suggests in his free Kindle book, Rethinking the Internet of Things, if we deploy enough wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure and temperature sensors then we may learn to predict precisely where the next tornado will form. The Internet of Things has many unknown unknowns.
Significant progress has been made over the past decade. We now have low-cost sensors, cloud-based services with global reach and big data analytics. What stands in the way of many promising applications (such as supply-chain management) is the dearth of ubiquitous, low-cost connectivity.
Expanding wireless options
Today’s wireless landscape presents a dilemma. Mobile and satellite networks have great coverage, but they weren’t designed for the IoT. New networks were designed from the ground up for IoT, but they don’t yet provide enough coverage.
One way around the problem is to adapt existing mobile phone and satellite networks to IoT needs. Based in North America, Aeris Communications and Kore serve as intermediaries between enterprises requiring broad geographical coverage and mobile operators. The two companies purchase wholesale data service from operators all over the world so that their customers only have to deal with one service provider. Aeris Communications’ platform provides 2G, 3G, and 4G connectivity, device management (such as provisioning and billing), and sensor data analytics. (Aeris’s CTO Syed Z. Hosain has also written a free e-book that provides an excellent introduction to the Internet of Things for business.) Kore pioneered M2M service rate plans, provides unified management of cellular and satellite network services in more than 180 countries, and serves customers using its PRiSMPro platform with redundant data centers in Atlanta and Las Vegas.
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