Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

The ABCs of the Internet of Things

Patrick Thibodeau | May 7, 2014
What it is, how it works and why it may not succeed

Here's how you investigate. Via a mobile app, you get two one-time codes to unlock your front door, one for your neighbor and another for a plumber. When the door is unlocked, a text alert tells you who entered. Having knowledge of the condition of your home may be a big driver of IoT adoption.

How will IoT sensors work in public spaces?

Take parking. Cities are embedding sensors in on-street parking spaces from a company called Streetline that can detect if a car is parked in one. Drivers looking for a parking space use the company's mobile app, which lets them know when a space becomes available. Streetline has also added sound level and surface temperature sensors to help cities determine the best times to apply salt and use noise sensors to ensure compliance with ordinances.

In the public arena, a smartphone can double as a sensor. In Boston, as people drive down a road, the phone's accelerometer sensor will keep track of bumps. An accelerometer can tell up from down, but more precisely it measures acceleration. All it took to turn a smartphone into a road condition monitoring tool, was an app that used its existing sensor in a new way.

Do you want your bathroom scale to talk to your refrigerator?

The IoT opens up a lot of opportunity for creative app writers. Let's start with a smart refrigerator. You buy your groceries online and have them delivered to your home. It has now become advantageous for grocers and food product makers to add RFID tags to their products. The refrigerator knows what is inside via weight-sensitive shelves and expiration dates. It can also help you keep a grocery list, automate orders and provide nutritional information.

For instance, let's say you decide to take a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream out of the freezer. When that happens, a connected wireless speaker announces, loudly: "Please reconsider this selection. As requested, here is your most recent weight and BMI." The wireless speaker is reporting data collected from your bathroom scale. The scale was never designed to communicate with a refrigerator, but an app writer made it so by linking data from the scale and fridge. This scale-fridge-speaker combination may seem silly, but here's the point: In the IoT, app writers now have the ability to connect seemingly disparate things to create new types of functionality.

How do IoT devices communicate?

An IoT device will have a radio that can send and receive wireless communications. IoT wireless protocols are designed to accomplish some basic services: Operate on low power, use low bandwidth and work on a mesh network. Some work on the 2.4 GHz band, which is also used by Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and the sub-GHz range. The sub-GHz frequencies, including 868 and 915 MHz bands, may have the advantage of less interference.

 

Previous Page  1  2  3  4  5  6  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.