By: Gopa Periyaden, COO, Mobiveil
From Ubiquitous Computing to Ubiquitous Storage, we now are firmly marching toward Ubiquitous Connectivity. This marathon chase started somewhere in the late 1980s when we had revolutionary products like V-phone and email inside Digital Equipment Corporation VAX machines. Those days of client-server architectures, one client PC machine node from a Sacramento, Calif., office could “call” another PC machine node in Bangalore, India, and have a real-time conversation –– using a keyboard without voice, of course. The PC node to back-to-back connected VAX machines over a leased satellite link was through 1200/2400 baud dial-up modems.
“That proof of concept” is now a full-fledged product of Ubiquitous Connectivity. If you ask someone about the need to connect, the response will be a full bouquet of options from voice, data, video, bandwidth, Quality of Service and other value-added services. Video conferencing is no longer a nuisance but an affordable corporate travel alternative that can save millions of travel dollars in big corporations and stretch the investment dollars in a start-up experiment.
This is just the tip of the ice berg. These scenarios only assumed humans. Through a complete paradigm shift, a new technology trend is to build systems and devices looking to bring intelligence onto devices sitting on the final edge.
As Ubiquitous Connectivity creates constant messaging and data transmission, it will lead to several additional innovations on video compression, bandwidth management, smart Storage and better utilization of computing resources. Today, a couple of billion smart phone CPUs during the nighttime are in sleep mode idling. Can these connected idling CPUs be rented on an Uber model for CPU time to do data mining or searching of a Bitcoin? The possibilities are endless.
Connected IoTtT (Internet of Things that Think)
The earliest of connected Internet of Things that Think (IoTtT) was the burglar alarm! From those early days, consider the possible scenarios now: GPS based transit inventory tracking system over LoRa or related Industrial IoT technology is an efficiency multiplier. Such tracking advances supply chain management with greater efficiency to substantially improve productivity. Systems onboard sensors attached to pallets or materials themselves are providing real-time data about consignment status or monitoring the driving behavior of the vehicle with lower operating costs.
The trick is to be able to identify these billions and soon trillions of devices uniquely, have an IP address or equivalent for cell phones, thermostats, refrigerators, cameras, car chargers and even athletic shoes.
The Three-Tier Architecture of Connected IoTtT
The connected IoTtT is not a monolithic structure. Instead, it is distributed geographically as well as technically through a three-tier architecture.
More than 25-billion sensors and smart devices are considered connected IoTtT, each with a user interface. An example is the Android/IOS/Tizen/Firmware loop based smart device. Embedded low-memory footprint devices and sensors require programming expertise and incorporate security in small footprint.
These devices use a service Edge Gateway or Hub to aggregate sensor data and communication with the cloud that need well-defined application programming interfaces (APIs) toward upstream cloud or downstream sensors.
A cloud computing application analyzes big data streams.
Caption: The connected IoTtT has a three-tier architecture including the user interface, cloud server and tracking capabilities.
Smart and Connected
IoTtT devices are connected and smart, with applications as diverse as home, travel convenience and healthcare.
Ubiquitous Connectivity along with various sensor-based implementations provides a wider solution to even static lights to be smarter. With a wider installation base, these smart lights also provide a plethora of opportunities to expand the city infrastructure to be more agile and safe with environmental monitoring, traffic management, surveillance and much more. With smartness built into the lighting system, gone are the days when we needed to turn on or turn off the lights. The lighting systems can think and detect the presence of people or look at the ambiance to determine the intensity at which it needs to operate.
Smart Charging and Parking
In the last couple of decades, we were familiar with the analogous way of obtaining the number of parking spaces available in dedicated malls and city centers. With Ubiquitous Connectivity, smart sensing and GPS, parking is evolving to where we will plan a trip before starting out based on parking availability, book parking in advance and reach our destination without hassle.
Smart Charging for electric vehicles is even more exiting. Automatic authentication at charging points using Vehicle Identification Numbers, cell phones and other unique identifiers securely is a huge opportunity. On top of it, differentiating services at a charging station will be available, such as time-controlled versus tariff-controlled charging. Beyond this, tariff will be controlled based on the type of energy used, including renewable energy or conventional energy with and without government rebates. The possibilities are endless.
Over the past five years or so, home automation hardware –– thermostats, remote garage openers, surveillance cameras, for instance –– is converging. These devices now can think and be aware of their owners’ presence or absence. When heavier machines in homes can start cost-effectively processing information, they will be capable of sending an alert when the lint should be cleaned in the dryer or when milk is low in the refrigerator.
Fitbit revolutionized the health care with a plethora of sensors easily adapted to monitor day-to-day activity. From there, the healthcare system leapfrogged to a higher dimension. With Ubiquitous Connectivity and precise data, preventive health care is becoming a more prevalent solution.
Challenges of Security of Collected Content in a Small Footprint
As connectivity is managed by devices and completely unattended equipment, it is bringing up a new set of security challenges with many severe consequences. It has been demonstrated that rogue software can hack an unattended, unsecured mobile device in less than five seconds.
The second challenge is the ever-rising need for cost-effective data storage, data retrieval, data security and data retirement or data destruction. The data security business will become larger and more complex than the determining monetary policies of large economies.
Another important problem to solve is making sense of the mountain of data and intelligent decisions in real time. Interlinked causal factors include the “context,” often embedded deep in the IoT connected ecosystem. Next-generation data mining companies founded today extract that causality (“why?”) and are making the right decisions related to the business impact or client alert.
We’re seeing other new challenges at a human level as well. Thirty years ago, when I first landed in Silicon Valley, it took more than two weeks for a letter to reach my parents’ home in Asia. Today, I can’t keep track of the number of messages, phone calls, photo images and amateur videos exchanged between these two homes on two different continents. Everything is just a WhatsApp message away!
It is almost as if we cannot be offline and surrendered all level of individual off time. That’s the price of Ubiquitous Connectivity.