Recent events in Boston, Delft, and Wuxi gave researcher Stephen Miles a global view of issues and developments in the Internet of Things.
As a researcher who has been affiliated for almost a decade with the Auto ID Labs at MIT where the phrase "Internet of Things" was coined, I have an acute interest in bringing IoT technologies and applications to market. As a new blogger on this site, I aim to share a global perspective on IoT developments and roadblocks with the objective of identifying opportunities for collaboration.
One such opportunity arose last fall at the request of GS1.org, the worldwide bar code association, and VICS.org, the Standards Data Organization working with clothing retailers such as Macys in deploying RFID logistics systems using serialized RFID garment labels for managing style/color/size inventory matrices. Joe Andraski, chief executive of VICS, asked the question: "What do we do with all this data?"
To help address the question, we organized the 2012 MIT Auto-ID Labs Big Data Conference. One conclusion from the conference was that serialization may provide a key to unlocking big-data, by linking uniquely identified objects in an Internet of Things to enterprise applications context.
In a related MIT Sloan School conference last fall, Professor Erik Brynjolfsson likened the development of big-data tools to the discovery of micro-organisms using the microscope by Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoe in the 16th century in Delft. In the new Vermeer Museum in Delft, exhibits demonstrate how the painter used the mechanisms for manipulating light in microscopy to create new ways to portray the world in his paintings, such as light reflected from a mirror, refracted from a window, or the play of shadows on a wall, as can be seen in paintings such as the "Woman in Blue." Indeed, the level of granularity with which we can "see" things that are happening in the world is unprecedented.
This message was reinforced in a visit to Holland for a meeting of the European Commission's Cassandra Project in which I participate. The purpose of the Cassandra Project is to define protocols for exchanging metadata about levels of risk associated with inbound cargo as shipments cross jurisdictions. In 2011, European Commission customs processed 36 million pre-arrival cargo declarations, 140 million import declarations, 96 million export declarations and 9 million transit declarations.
These figures represent an average of 8.9 declarations per second handled by the Member States' customs administrations. In this scenario, serialized shipping container identifiers such as the GS-1 SSCC and GTIN are critical enablers for tracking and exchanging data about individual containers across shared business processes.
On this same trip, I continued on to China to speak at 2012 IEEE IoT Conference in Wuxi -- the city where they are building an Institute of the Internet of Things. There, together with colleagues from around the world, we discussed the need for a wide range of specifications. As one example, Bosch proposes a bus architecture for smart energy management in the home, similar to their pioneering work in the CAN bus for the car.
The industry is seeking Application Programming Interfaces for sensors and robots so that developers can access these data sources about things via the Internet. A book I co-edited looked at interface requirements for telemetry applications using ISO18000-6c RFID. I am open to ideas as to what is still needed and which organizations need to come together to create breakthrough IoT opportunities.
ó Stephen Miles is a Research Affiliate and Consultant at the MIT Auto-ID Labs.