Everyone has heard of the Internet of Things, but most people aren’t entirely sure what it means. With last month’s Rise and Design acting as a beginners’ guide to this year’s buzzword, we almost filled the room with over a hundred delegates, eager to know what this technology could do for them.
David Dunn of Sunderland Software City gave us a straightforward definition of the phrase; Internet of Things is simply utilising the potential for any physical object to the connected to the internet, and therefore to each other and to us. It’s not limited to the famous ‘Internet fridge’ (which, believe it or not, has been around for over ten years) but things as varied as medicine bottles, wind turbines and even cows. At the heart of it is data – data that is shared between devices to enable them and their users to make better, faster decisions. The rate at which devices are connecting to one another is increasing each year, and the biggest rise is in machine-to-machine interactions i.e. those which don’t involve or need a human interface. He then gave some examples of this technology and why it isn’t only amazing, but is also useful and can provide value to each and every one of us; Medicine bottles that can communicate with a doctor to let them know you’re taking your medication correctly, wind turbines that know when they need to be serviced, and yes, cows that can communicate with the farmer.
Pete Johnson from M-Connected than gave some fascinating examples of some of the objects he’s worked on. These include installing tracked devices on superyachts so the owners can keep track of their jet-skis, speedboats and helicopters – I’m sure we are all too familiar with that problem!
Dave Lloyd of Signacure Resilience then brought us all back down to earth with some sobering but necessary statistics about cybersecurity. As with all things internet related there is always the risk of undesired consequences, and as more things are connected, the opportunities for fraud, theft and just meddling increase,
Then Alistair MacDonald livened things up again with his stories and demonstrations of connecting the most unlikely things to the internet. From a trainset twenty years ago, which is still going strong, to a fundraising totaliser. Alistair ended Rise and Design with the audience laughing and in good spirits, and his presentation was definitely a talking point as the delegates began networking.
Our next Rise and Design is on Printable Electronics (and if you remember, Pete touched upon that in his talk – printable electronics can be invaluable to Internet of Things developers!). We’re holding it in NetPark, for those of you who are positioned further south of the North East, and there is an opportunity to go on a factory tour.