The Internet of Things and Unified Communications
This is the fourth of an eight-part weekly series of articles that leads up to the UC Summit 2012 that will take place May 6-9 in La Jolla, CA. See the UC Summit website for more details. Delivered by Samantha Kane of Kane-MacKay & Associates, a UCStrategies Expert.
I came across a term that I had not really understood or really looked into before and was curious to learn more about it, and that is the term “Internet of Things” or IoT. According to Wikipedia the term was first used by Kevin Ashton, a British technology pioneer, who co-founded the Auto ID Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The term Internet of Things, is described as “a system where the Internet is connected to the physical world via ubiquitous sensors.”¹
What sparked this interest in the term IoT, was an article published April 12, 2012 by cellular-news that states, “Today, an average person has at least 2 objects connected to the Internet and this is expected to grow to 7 by 2015 with 25 billion wirelessly connected devices globally. By 2020 that number could double to 50 billion. This means a possible future in which many everyday things are linked.”²
That’s a staggering number of devices currently connected and then to double! I started to think about some of the connections that I currently have, that are intelligent devices connected to the Internet and how Unified Communications plays a role in connecting to the physical world.
So how does this Internet of Things work? Some examples are already around us and we really may not have thought much about it. If you drive a car equipped with OnStar© you are already experiencing IoT. Each month a diagnostic report arrives via email to describe the current health condition of the car that will provide diagnostic information, maintenance information, current tire pressure and more. This information was provided by an on-board computing device, uploaded via satellite to an enterprise computing network, analyzed for pertinent information and content and provided to the end user via the Internet. Enterprise based UC using IoT.
If you spend any time travelling you are likely to have an app on your smartphone that, once set-up, will include flight details, hotel reservations and car rentals for any trip. Once created, the trip will automatically import the flight details and provide updates if there’s a flight delay or gate departure change using email updates and/or the Internet.
There is a lot going on in the background to bring this meaningful content to the consumer that involves Unified Communications, but what about other IoT applications that could be developed?
There are already devices that monitor heart rates and provide the medical profession with the current status of the individual. Soon they could also access the EMS system if the user suffered a heart attack by providing a SMS message to an ESInet based Next Generation 911 system providing the condition of the user, and by using GeoSpatial mapping, the GPS location. The Internet connected to the physical world via ubiquitous sensors.
There is a European group currently working on a portion of IoT called EBBITS (Enabling Business Based Internet of Things and Services). This project seeks to do “research in architecture, technologies and processes, which allow businesses to semantically integrate the Internet of Things into mainstream enterprise systems and support interoperable real-world, on-line end-to-end business applications.”³
The partners of EBBITS include The Fraunhofer Institute FIT (Institute for Applied Information Technology), CNet Svenska AB a leading software house, SAP a market leader in enterprise software, Comau a supplier of automation systems and services, The Technical University of Kosice, ISMB (Istituto Superiore Mario Boella) of Italy, TNM A/S a computer science statistics and IT deployment specialist, In-JeT ApS a wireless technology and network group and Intersoft a. s. a software company.
What’s exciting from a UC perspective is the stated project aims of its partners and that is to “integrate the Internet of Things into mainstream enterprise systems and support interoperable real-world, on-line end-to-end business applications.”
To learn more about EBBITS, a white paper is available for download entitled the EBBITS Project: An Interoperability platform for a Real-world populated Internet of Things domain at http://www.ebbits-project.eu/downloads/papers/znalosti11_ebbits_paper.pdf
The potential that the EBBITS project could have on the development of UC in the enterprise is significant and one worth watching. If UC Vendors do not take this opportunity to provide clients with this knowledge then you are not being considered the “Preferred Vendor” by your client!
¹ Source Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Ashton
² Source cellular-news http://www.cellular-news.com/story/53914.php
³ Source EBBITS http://www.EBBITS-project.eu/articles.php?article_id=1