BOSTON – The Internet of Things is real, it’s in its infancy and it will be huge—there are just a few big hurdles yet to clear standards and security. That was the conclusion of three panelists speaking on the topic at DESIGN East here.
“There are a lot of areas that need to come together in standards, and we are not there yet,” said Ken Havens, a marketing manager for the systems design division of ARM.
Among competing standards groups like the IPSO Alliance, EnOcean and the Zigbee Alliance, “some of the walls are coming down around interoperability,” said Mark Grazier a product marketing manager for IoT at Texas Instruments who participates in all three groups.
“They are really starting to liaison with each other, and they quicker they do the faster this will move forward,” said Grazier.
Maturity of standards is also an issue, Grazier noted in a discussion with EE Times after the panel. For example, the Zigbee Alliance is working on IP support that IPSO already has, meanwhile IPSO is working on the breadth of support for specific device classed Zigbee has already created, he said.
Compliance with still-to-be defined security standards will also be a must, said Glenn Perry, general manager of the embedded software division at Mentor Graphics. In addition, software developers need to do a better job supporting the power-constrained client systems emerging in IoT, he said.
“There’s relatively little focus in the software development community on power optimization,” Perry said. “Software developers aren’t trained in hardware fundamentals, so the whole notion of measuring power is outside their scope and it’s a fairly complex problem,” he said.
The problem with many apps, "killer" or otherwise, is that a business needs customers now, not in the distant future, to justify investment. Many smart-building related ideas will no doubt be wonderful to have, but builders don't see these as making them more money. So those things have to be a consumer appeal, and be priced accordingly. And they have to work "out of the box", with no more programming than an iTunes playlist.
Security is also critical, of course, but hardware can provide that (currently at too high a cost...).
Good point @docdivakar...most people are perfectly happy with adjusting their thermostat when they get home not 30 mins before using their iPhone as M2M would enable...in fact there is some human in coming to a cold cottage and having to let the fire manually set...I can't imagine that that most my life activities like this would be per-programmed by me even if the technology was safe and reliable...Kris
The potential for security threats, unauthorized access of data, sabotage and tampering, etc., is indeed a serious issue that needs to be addressed whether it is a home area / enterprise networks. To that end, the business model for HAN's is evolving and it explains partly why many consumers are pushing back on adopting M2M nodes for lighting, energy monitoring, security, etc. The payback is simply not there for the investment needed so M2M connected homes are often viewed as luxuries.
How about an alarm system, home thermostat, or a sprinkler system? These are the kinds of things that would be useful to control and program with a PC. Right now many of them have tiny cryptic control panels in inconvenient locations.
As mentioned, security needs to be solid.
Given that malicious hackers could use IoT networking to access potentially dangerous devices -- perhaps setting them on fire remotely after disabling safety functions -- maybe "killer app" is not the best terminology.
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.