Wednesday, June 26, 2013

IoT has arrived in industry

Eight years from now I started with the Auto-ID Labs at ETH Zurich. Our mission statement has been "architecting the Internet of Things". The underlying principle was to build physical presences of physical objects, i.e. digital counterparts that would be linked to physical things through RFID, barcodes, or any other kinds of identifiers [1].
For specifying the architecture we investigated the application using RFID against anti-counterfeiting. We developed various mechanisms to verify the authenticity of a product based on its identifier, history of trace and physical fingerprints [2]. Simultaneously, we recognized the tremendous potential of not only linking supply-chain partners to the Internet of Things but to also develop new channels to consumers and to also captcollect crowd-sourced data from them [3]. While NFC technology has been not ready for this for a while we started with mobile barcode reader software first [4].
In addition to the Auto-ID Labs' research agenda of how to make things, products and objects part of the Internet, other communities, such as Web-of-Things researchers, have started exploring how to reuse existing web-standards, e.g. REST, or to expand to new standards, e.g. CoaP, in order to let addressing and communications with the Internet reaching out to more resource-constrained devices and sensors [5].
Meanwhile, governments (e.g. Germany and China) and industry have recognized the Internet of Things as a new paradigm for upgrading their sectors and products from mere physical objects to networked items coupled with services. Several terminologies, such as Industrial Internet [6], Internet of Things and Services, Social web of things, Internet of everything [7], describe attempts of occupying space in the emerging Internet of Things through proprietary and still mainly closed developments.
The success of the Internet was mainly based on the absence of interest of industrial partners in the early days, such that a few academics could set out the communication principles of TCP/IP which was designed to be open and flexible on future developments on the top in terms of new applications and from the bottom regarding new communication technologies and protocols.
The development of the Internet of Things, instead, is challenged various powerful players who aim at building their own platforms separat from others. Here, I believe in the evolution of developments as we could observe from the MNO's: today, all walled gardens have disappeared and mobile users can access the Internet regardless of their provider.
The power of the Internet of Things lies in the integration of information and sensor data of various sources, the re-use of the same sensor data for various applications, and the creativity of 3rd party developers as the app-store models have proven successful.
The Internet of Things has arrived in industry, I'm very excited about how the various players will manage their transformation from platform owner, hardware developers with long development cycles, and contracted partner networks to agile software developers that release beta-products and stay in a continuous dialogue with their customers.

At this point I'm very happy to hand-over the lead of the Auto-ID labs to Alexander Ilic. Alexander has a strong background in retail applications, investigating offerings of new services to retail clients via digital receipts (see cosibon). Simultaneously, I'm very happy for the opportunity to drive forward the development  of the Internet of Things in industry!

[1] D. Uckelmann, M. Harrison, & F. Michahelles(Eds.), Architecting the Internet of Things. Berlin, Germany: Springer. ISBN 978-3-642-19156-5
[2] Lehtonen, M.; Michahelles, F.; Fleisch, E. : Trust and Security in RFID-based Product Authentication Systems. IEEE Systems Journal, Special Issue on RFID Technology: Opportunities and Challenges, First Quarter of 2008.
[3] S. Karpischek, F. Michahelles, E. Fleisch, my2cents – enabling research on consumer-product interaction, to appear in Special Issue on "Smartphone Applications and Services for Pervasive Computing", Journal of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing - Springer, 2011, ISSN 1617-490,Doi: 10.1007/s00779-011-0426.
[4] F. von Reischach, S. Karpischek, R. Adelmann, F. Michahelles: Evaluation of 1D barcode scanning on mobile phones, Internet of Things 2010 Conference (IoT2010), Tokyo, Japan, November - December 2010

[5] Vlad Trifa, Dominique Guinard, Simon Mayer: Leveraging the Web for a Distributed Location-aware Infrastructure for the Real World.In: Erik Wilde, Cesare Pautasso (Eds.): REST: From Research to Practice. Springer, ISBN 978-1-4419-8302-2, pp. 381-400, New York, 2011
Peter C. Evans, Marco Annunziata: Industrial Internet, GE, Nov 26, 2012. [pdf]
[7] Dave Evans: The Internet of Everything, Whitepaper, Cisco, 2012.