Monday, December 5, 2011

MoMo #28 Mobile Internet of Things

The mobile monday switzerland, a community of mobile industry professionals, investigated the applications for Machine to Machine and the Internet of Things.
I in my opening talk I briefly talked about general concept of the Internet of Things of linking things to information.

The message I conveyed was to no longer focus top-down on general concepts of how to grass-root the Internet of Things but rather to explore its applications and let the architectures and concepts follow as an evolutionary process. Understanding the use of objects in daily routine and business processes should provide the starting point for Internet of Things research and developments.

Oliver Thyes from Swisscom gave several examples of Internet of Things services in Switzerland, e.g. Limmex - a watch with integrated wireless alarm upon a button press. He positioned Swisscom as the partner for businesses to manage Internet of Things services themselves as well as the billing of them coupled with security mechanisms. This again showed to me how mobile network operators seek in the Internet of Things to find a way out of the declining revenues of voice communication. However, instead of offering specific end to end services, e.g. track and traces of products or managed wireless sensor networks, these corporations still rely on the provision of very generic platforms providing bandwidth and billing of Internet of Things services.
Alexander Gellner from Ericsson looked on the Internet of Things from the perspective of a mobile network infrastructure provider. He was putting some predictions on display talking about several billions of devices being connected soon and of course finalized his presentation with Ericsson's prediction of 50 billions of devices. Assuming 50 billions running on SIM cards is ten times more than MNO's have today which probably would be an alternative to shrinking voice revenues. However, SIM connection will be only necessary in remote areas where no infrastructure is available.
Charles Upchurch from SilentSoft has reported about the practical challenges of sensing the status of oil tanks and assets in gas stations. He gave nice examples of how to build antennas and package devices to make them robust against water and frozen ice.
Philipp Bolliger
from Koubachi, monitoring the health of plants and giving care advices, took the opposite approach. He proposed to get rid of this central sensing units but rather to rely on infrastructure which has become standard indoors almost everywhere: wifi. Instead of instrumenting each sensor with SIM connection just connecting to allows for a much more cost efficient approach.

From this event I learned that the Internet of Things still is a term which is occupied by various stakeholders to market their existing products. The ultimate vision of an Internet of Things instrumenting the world with sensors for multiple purposes and allowing third parties to run new services upon this infrastructure has yet to be realized as an evolutionary process departing from the island solution as promoted today.

I'm also looking forward how this mobile monday event also representing the first Internet of Things Zurich Meetup will evolve and get established as a new platform for entrepreneurs, designers and everyone else interested in doing projects related to Internet of Things.