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Internet of Things: How important is it?

Posted: 15 Jul 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Cisco? Internet of Things? connected home? WiFi?

Early in June at its Worldwide Developers' Conference, Apple unveiled what the company calls HomeKit, which reportedly helps users create and set up a specific "scene." With it, users can put the home network into "night mode" so that lighting throughout the home can be turned off and all locks turned on, and when "vacation mode" kicks in, lighting goes on and off randomly, sprinklers follow a schedule, and the motion sensor system is triggered.

Maybe there are brilliant ideas I haven't heard before. But come on, guys. Is this the best you can do to talk consumers into IoT nirvana? These scenarios are straight out of the old home-automation catalogue. They've been shopped around and recycled for years.

Richard Doherty, research director of the Envisioneering Group, however, has a slightly different take on credible home-front IoT ideas. According to him, even today, in many countries, there are attractive discounts for starting dishwashers during non-peak hours. In many areas, ensuring that your microwave, refrigerator and washing machine motors do NOT activate simultaneously enhances longer appliance life while preventing blown fuses and tripped circuit breakers. In addition, IoT will need "peace of mind" allowances. For example, IoT could let us know if Grandma opened the fridge this AM or used her bluetooth toothbrush. Also, IoT will also create insurance access. Did Rick walk his requisite one mile a day to earn his present insurance discount? Lastly, IoT offers public services. Are enabled air conditioners being throttled back 10 per cent for brownout prevention?

Doherty's points are an improvement on the usual stuff, and I do see some advancements in today's IoT ideas. Setting up home automation couldn't have become easier without IoT. But more important, it might even offer consumers some peace of mind, and a little more safety.

TI supports Apple's HomeKit

Texas Instruments supports Apple's HomeKit. (Source: Texas Instruments)

Another big IoT improvement over the old-fashioned home automation is that you can use your smartphone to control pretty much every home appliance. Your appliances are definitely getting chattier, with all those SMS alerts.

But this, I think, is a mixed bag. IHS' Morelli agrees. He envisions a future of consumers ignoring a flood of messages from their machines at home, just like they ignore voicemail now.

The IHS analyst foresees home-oriented IoT taking off over the next three to five years while a broader realm of IoT, in the infrastructure, will take another 10-15 years to get up and running.

Morelli acknowledged that the power of IoT gains significant importance when intelligent connectivity starts getting implemented in buildings, cities, cars and the infrastructure in general. Examples include traffic light management, routing first responder's vehicles faster, connections to hospital networks, funneling crowds to less crowded roads after a big sporting event, and forgoing payment at toll gates in special circumstances to ease traffic.

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