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Internet of Things

We need to restructure the DNA blocks of the electronics supply chain. Why? The evidence is piling up that a new world of electronics is dawning, and the supply chain must gear up to support this fascinating but intimidating future.

Twitter gave us the first hint of the power that could be unleashed on the world, but there were already indications from emerging hardware and software applications that the landscape is rapidly changing in ways that we do not yet comprehend. That means a greater need to research, anticipate, and prepare for challenges and opportunities ahead, the majority of which are being fostered by the electronics industry.

At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, OEMs and component suppliers demonstrated futuristic scenarios where consumers and companies use various electronics features, equipment, and software programs to control events and things in real-time: the “Internet of Things.”

At the MWC, I saw smart devices, mobile networks, and applications from developers that are laying fundamental building blocks for next-generation connectivity products. These components, not unlike human DNA, are the basic building parts for a future where more power to control equipment will shift down the line to homes and business functions. Discussions have tended to focus on questions about products (which ones are the best?) and win-win partnerships (what’s the strategy to move on with success?), but they have a tendency to be viewed as silo topics. They are not.

As I see it, there are two key areas, or electronics DNA blocks, for future expansion, and these should be explored urgently by companies in the electronics industry:

  • Home devices: Twitter can be used as a business communication tool, and tweeting could improve supply chain processes and have a major impact on critical events happening in our society. (See: To Tweet or Not To Tweet: That is the Question and Time & Distance Theory of Social Media.) So, how could we use these applications to manage or remotely control home devices?

    Rather than simply tweeting news, information, and random thoughts, perhaps we could use Twitter to send personal messages home to family members. For example, a message like “Welcome home, dear” could be sent home and appear on a connected PC or TV. While you are away, you could use Twitter to check on the status of a device at home, or maybe access or download a file stored on a home hard disk to eliminate the need to store it online.

    Free, user-friendly services like TweetmyPC, which already allow people to start, access, and shut down their home PCs remotely using their Twitter accounts, could potentially offer even more as the technology develops.

  • 2D code:
  • In the next evolution of barcodes, 2D code enables developers to increase the amount of information they can package and save in a compact space of one square inch, more or less. Several developer communities, including vendors like {complink 3847|Nokia Corp.}, provide free-of-charge, easy-to-install 2D code generators and readers for mobile connectivity apps. The installation is very simple and designed for cellular handsets. It grants the user a quick setup of 2D code reader and transactions. Basically, the reader allows the user to replace text messages with 2D pictures.

These examples are raising questions about how the electronics supply chain will have to be optimized to support new products.

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