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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.

16 comments on “Internet of Things

  1. Taimoor Zubar
    February 17, 2011

    Great post Matteo! I really loved your ideas about how electronic devices need to be integrated and be connected over the internet. Just recently I was thinking on similar lines and was trying to find a way I could control the lights and fan of my room through my laptop or mobile via my wireless router. Once I am able to do that, I can control these remotely from anywhere in the world. I believe we shall see more integration of electronic devices very soon.

  2. AnalyzeThis
    February 17, 2011

    While I sincerely doubt that Twitter specifically will be integrated into home appliances, I do agree that we'll see Internet-aware appliances become commonplace within most of our lifetimes.

    Obviously, some appliances will benefit more from this trend than others: I doubt many people will care about what their Microwave is doing, or feel the need to send messages to it from work.

    As far as home devices go — besides PCs and TVs, which are very obvious things to hook up to and control via the Internet — I think the hottest “smart device” will involve home security.

    Yes, there are already solutions out there that let you monitor your home remotely via the Internet, but as this technology gets better, I think it'll be very common for the upper-middle class and above to have security systems that allow them to monitor their homes remotely.

    This is clearly useful. If the door on my house is opened unexpectedly while I'm on vacation, I'd want to get an alert about that and see what was going on.

  3. Jay_Bond
    February 17, 2011

     

    I agree that electronic communications with devices in your homes is clearly growing. There are many uses that can be valuable when you are away. Like your refrigerator letting you know what’s inside. Though I think the home security angle is the one I would be most likely to use. To be able to get direct feeds of what’s going on at your house, like video if you've installed cameras. Or notifications if doors or windows are opened, if the alarm is tripped, or your smoke detectors are set off.

    This is definitely the start to a future filled with more ease and peace of mind.

     

  4. itguyphil
    February 17, 2011

    I read somewhere that certain companies are developing smartphone apps to control thermostat temperature and lighting remotely. I can only imagine that this will lead to the 'running bathwater' remote control that Bill Gates boasted of having 10 years ago…

  5. Mr. Roques
    February 17, 2011

    I was lucky enough to listen to Vint Cerf talk about his house in California (among other things)… he said he started out wanting to know more about the condition of his wine cellar, after adding several devices and (I assume) thousands of dollars… he can, from anywhere in the World, check the temperature and humidity, increase or decrease either one, have video streams, automatic bottle count (categorized) and more… smart houses is definitely on its way.

  6. Mr. Roques
    February 17, 2011

    I also wanted to ask you about 2D… do you really think it'll beat wireless tags (RFID or NFC, etc). Why?

  7. Matteo Bertozzi
    February 18, 2011

    Dears, thx for sharing your opinion, stories and rumors heard on home electronics integration with Internet and social networks too.
    Not to say 2D will fully replace tags as RFID, but for example think about cash desk or promotional flyers;

    1) cash desk: to read bar code on packages and then start a transaction on ERP (stocks updating and financial transaction) is a complex mix of electronic components; similar functionalities are available using mobile phone with 2D code installed; while it reading 2D code it is doable to interact with ERP software using mobile Internet connection

    2) flyers: due to restricted area it is not easy to put inside a promotional flyer what you'd like to “broadcast”; 2D inside the flyer could allow to your mobile to reach via Internet new infos, new promotions or details (i.e. some video or more picture) of product which is hooking up your attention from the paper; it is a basic merge of paper and Internet or how reaching Internet from paper by mobile phones

    3) ads: did you ever try to send 2D code made by you instead of MMS message? It's very funny and quite cripted too!

    Let's go ahead gents, discussion is still open 😉
    Yrs Matteo

     

  8. tioluwa
    February 18, 2011

    This is plain futuristic thinking, but nowadays, the future could be just an idea away and we're already seeing some of those around already.

     

    Google's power meter already enables you monitor power consumption in your home via a google side bar. that's all it does now, but i bet in the near future we'll be seeing windows sidebar items that can remotely control home appliances, taskbar notifications on home status and all sorts of “funny” inovations.

    It's the age we're in and it can only get better.

    As for twitter, let's not rule it out, anything is possible these days.

  9. stochastic excursion
    February 18, 2011

    What about keeping an eye on things at home in person, and monitoring activities in the workplace over the net?  This is a reality for a lot of people already, and for people with multiple employers (also a growing demographic) it's a practical consideration. 

    Sometimes you got to get out of the house, and on long vacations, a nice household utilities dashboard for those on the go is a good idea.  If I'm going for a long walk, though, better to leave domestic concerns behind.

  10. SP
    February 18, 2011

    I agree twitter or any other social media networking (facebook) can be used for business communications. With the kind of dependance we have on internet it will rule the business decisions and strategies.

  11. ebabbo
    February 20, 2011

    While I was “processing” the article and taking in considerations opinions posted, I was feeling as following (two considerations):

    1) going ahead, it seems seversal electronics features are moving from hardware to software

    2) trusting above point, whole supply chain has to be re-design, for the fact numbers of physical components to carry out is going to decrease

    Is it a futuristic picture or not?

  12. Matteo Bertozzi
    February 21, 2011

    It's another point of view for processing the article, truly. It's not futuristic: as fact, FaceCash is working, shoppers (and buyers…) could transform cash desks using mobile phones. It's easy and convenient, features (or a part of them) are moving from hw to sw, the story starts again: how supply chain can “tune” itself to new DNA-era?

  13. I&E
    February 22, 2011

    In fact, it is very interesting and represents a wonderful application of Internet of Things (from our point of view). Unfortunately similar apps are still not available abroad. We were wondering, coming back to great MWC reports at EBN board for by Jennifer and Marc, if features mentioned will be available only in Western (we don't hope so)…

  14. hwong
    February 25, 2011

    Yes there are companies out there that design and manufacture application so that you can control your thermostats from your cell phone. The idea is great. You are about to get off of work and drive home in a cold winter. You turn your thermostat on remotely so that your home is warm by the time you get there. You also turn on the porch lights and kitchen remotely. Then while at home you use the app to check your energy usage. Before you go to bed, you turn on the music and turn off the light.

     

    That's the near future

  15. itguyphil
    February 25, 2011

    It shouldn't be too far. It's like remote start just over a lonnger medium.

  16. Mr. Roques
    March 10, 2011

    Is 2D mainly designed for marketing — such as QR codes, where you can send the users to a website by having them take a picture of a code? or is it mainly for supply management?

    Probably a combination of both, but what's driving it?

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