Monday, March 1, 2010

The Internet of Things

The technorati have been talking about the "Internet of Things" for some time, but this week I seem to be reading about it in a few places. First, I received an invitation from the MIT/Stanford VLAB http://www.vlab.org/ to their panel on "The Internet of Things: Sensors Everywhere." Then I read McKinsey Quarterly's piece on the same topic: http://tinyurl.com/y9228ep

What is the Internet of Things? Sensors are being deployed for all kinds of reasons. RFID is meant to help manage the supply chain. Oil companies are deploying sensors for tank farm monitoring. Small cameras that are approximately the size of a pill can travel one's digestive tract and pinpoint abnormalities (I saw this in Japan almost five years ago - that is, I saw the camera at rest!). The Internet of Things is going to enable some amazing opportunities i.e., remote health care and some scary ones i.e., insurance companies could monitor how fast you drive daily vs. how many miles you drive per year.

This is an exciting area that will spawn exciting start-up companies. I invested in Apprion www.apprion.com a few years ago because I believed (and still do) that enabling the last part of the organization to become networked (the plant) was a great and potentially very profitable area for investment. The McKinsey article points to this new internet as what enabled Zipcar to lease cars optimally and do away with rental centers. It's an area worth understanding.

2 comments:

Precyse Technologies said...

Thank you for this post! Today, more and more objects are becoming embedded with sensor enabled wireless communication devices – a “cell phone” for assets – gaining the ability to communicate. The resulting information networks promise to create new business models, improve business processes, and reduce costs and risks. “In most organizations, information travels along familiar routes. Proprietary information is lodged in databases and analyzed in reports and then rises up the management chain. Information also originates externally—gathered from public sources, harvested from the Internet, or purchased from information suppliers. But the predictable pathways of information are changing: the physical world itself is becoming a type of information system. In what’s called the Internet of Things, sensors and actuators embedded in physical objects—from roadways to pacemakers—are linked through wired and wireless networks, often using the same Internet Protocol (IP) that connects the Internet. These networks churn out huge volumes of data that flow to computers for analysis. When objects can both sense the environment and communicate, they become tools for understanding complexity and responding to it swiftly. What’s revolutionary in all this is that these physical information systems are now beginning to be deployed, and some of them even work largely without human intervention.”

Precyse Technologies (http://www.precysetech.com)is delivering customers with asset network solutions today. Very much like the internet in its early days, these are typically closed-loop asset networks that enables high value assets, like engines or transmissions on an automotive manufacturing line, to communicate their location and status along the process, providing manufacturers with Real Time supply chain Visibility and the ability to exercise proactive, real time management. We see these asset networks expanding all the time, first from the OEM to the supplier, then to ports, vessels and eventually into a global information network that allows assets to communicate with computers and people – adding Anything to the familiar Anywhere, Anytime global communication backbone, making the internet of things a reality. Please feel free to contribute – we are always on the lookout for new ideas or cooperation to shape the future of the internet of things. Post your comments below or get in touch with us today!

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