Category Archives: Internet of Things

Toyota Launches Automotive Edge Computing Consortium To Address Big Data From Connected and Self Driving Cars

The age of smart connected cars and autonomous vehicles brings with it a new challenge to the automotive industry: Big Data. Japanese auto manufacturer Toyota estimates that the data volume between vehicles and the cloud will reach 10 exabytes (10.7 billion Gigabytes) per month till the year 2025, which is approximately 10,000 times larger than the present volume. This sort of big data challenge calls for Edge Computing.

This challenge brought Toyota to team up with Japanese auto parts maker Denso Corp, Japanese telecoms NTT, Intel and Ericsson to form the Automotive Edge Computing Consortium which was announced a few days ago. This consortium will

develop an ecosystem for connected cars to support emerging services such as intelligent driving and transport, creating of maps with real-time data as well as driving assistance based on cloud computing.

The consortium will use Edge Computing and network design to accommodate automotive big data in a reasonable fashion between vehicles and the cloud.

Last March Toyota showed off its first autonomous test vehicle developed entirely by Toyota Research Institute, following GoogleTeslaUber and others in the race to disrupt transportation. Even consortium member Intel announced last week starting to build a fleet of fully autonomous (level 4 SAE) test cars, based on its acquisition of Mobileye earlier this year.

Toyota states its exploration of autonomous vehicles dates back as far as 2005. Now with edge computing architecture it can also face the associated big data challenge.

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Filed under Autonomous Car, Big Data, Cloud, Edge Computing, Internet of Things, IoT

Samsung Launches IoT Open Cloud and Artik IoT Platform

On last year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Samsung announced its new Smart Home Service, which was followed by the acquisition of SmartThings for smart home hub (you can read my coverage on both in this post). Then on this year’s CES conference Samsung reinforced the statements, stating that within five years all of its hardware will be able to connect to the Internet, and putting great emphasis on openness and vendor collaboration as the way to fulfill the IoT promise. On his keynote at CES2015, Samsung President and CEO Boo-Keun Yoon said that

Without this kind of openness, there won’t be an Internet of Things because the things will not fit together

Samsung has been pursuing openness by actively collaborating in several open standardization groups in the IoT field, such as Google’s Thread Group and the Open Interconnect Consortium, as well as investing in an open developer community. Samsung’s aforementioned acquisition SmartThings is also an open platform, compatible with several different smart home standards.

Now Samsung is taking it another step forward, with the recent announcement of SmartThings Open Cloud, a new open software and data aggregation cloud for the Internet of Things (IoT), which is coupled with Samsung’s SAMI architecture. The new platform promises to ease the lives of device manufacturers and developers when coming to innovate with connected devices and related applications.

In attempt to make it easier for developers to build IoT solutions, Samsung also recently launched Artik platform, with an initial suite of modules optimized for performance, battery life and small form-factor, to meet the typical range of IoT use cases. The modules come in different specs, with built-in sensors and hardware security, and supporting various communication protocols such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and the popular IoT protocol ZigBee. The Artik platform comes with development tools and open APIs that aim to ease the development. Samsung is initially opening the platform only to a limited group of developers as alpha users.

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Filed under Cloud, Internet of Things

Google’s Secret Android OS To Rule The Internet Of Things

See updates fresh from Google I/O conf added at the bottom

Google is reportedly developing a new operating system (OS) under the Android brand, aimed at running low-powered devices (as low as 64 or even 32 MB RAM), which are very common in today’s connected world. If the new operating system, code-named ‘Brillo’, gains similar traction as the Android brand, it may become the engine running the multitude of connected devices now looking for a common platform. Google may also offer it free of charge for OEMs to increase penetration.

This is not the first indication that Google wants to be the framework that drives the Internet of Things (IoT). Last year Google initiated the Thread Group, an open consortium of industry leaders which by now has over 80 members, with the goal of defining the communications protocol for the Internet of Things. Last month the Thread Group also partnered with the ZigBee Alliance, the alliance behind the popular ZigBee open wireless standard for IoT, to support interoperability and enable the ZigBee Cluster Library to run over Thread networks.

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Google also promotes IoT on the research front. Last December Google launched an open IoT research program called the “Open Web of Things”, to encourage research around burning topics in IoT such as security, privacy and protocols.

Another interesting angle that I bet Google will explore is the integration with its latest big data cloud offering to enable processing, storage and analytics of the massive amounts of data generated by the IoT, enhancing its cloud’s IoT solutions.

What exactly is the new ‘Brillo’ OS? How does it relate to the Thread Group’s protocol? How will that integrate with Google’s cloud offering? We’ll probably get more information in a couple of days at Google I/O conference.

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Update: Today at Google I/O conference we got the official announcement of Brillo OS. There wasn’t much more detail than the above, but one note was made on developer tools for voice commands, so people could “order” their devices with natural language. And here’s the developer website for Project Brillo.

More importantly, together with Brillo Google announced Weave, which seems like yet another standard for the common language of the Internet of Things. With Weave communications protocol, events can be defined by one device and followed by others to trigger custom actions. We’ll have to wait for the full detail on that, to understand how Weave is different from the multitude of other standards.

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Google Extends Its Internet of Things Strategy, Offers Open Research Grants

A few days ago Google announced the launch of the Open Web of Things, an open innovation and research program around the IoT. As part of the new initiative Google published a call for research proposals on IoT with focus on three main areas:

  1. user interface and application development
  2. privacy & security
  3. systems & protocols research

Google offers the elected participants grants, as well as access to hardware, software and systems from Google. Proposal submission is due next month and kick-off expected coming Spring.

Google has had a rough year 2014. Just this week JPMorgan lowered estimates for Google’s revenues, and shortly after Google stock hit a 52-week low. One of the main reasons for that is that Google’s traditional source of revenue, the web search ads, seems to shrink with the transition from desktop to mobile and related disruptors (such as Amazon and Facebook).

As traditional sources of revenue shrink, Google is investing in developing new sources of revenue, aligned with the emerging trends. Google has been promoting a clear strategy around the Internet of Things. Google’s strategy has several tiers, aimed at tackling IoT from several directions, both horizontally (standards, protocols) and vertically (by use cases).

Part of Google’s IoT strategy is done through internal development such as Google Glass devices and Google Now app.

Another significant part of Google’s IoT strategy is done through M&A, most notably the acquisition of smart thermostat manufacturer Nest, which subsequently acquired Dropcam and the “Smart Home” startup Revolv (and subsequently shut down Revolv’s product line in a somewhat controversial move).

Google also places significance in open collaboration with the community through open standardization such as the Thread Group open alliance and open projects such as the Physical Web.

It has been a hectic year for Google, with many changes and uncertainties, and transition into new areas. Google is betting on The Internet of Things as one of the future directions for the company, and has been investing seriously in that direction. It would be interesting to see what plan holds for 2015.

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Samsung shifts gear on IoT and the Smart Home and acquires SmartThings for $200M

Samsung has a clear interest in the Internet of Things and the Smart Home. With its vast range of consumer devices it is only natural for it to connect it all together and let you control it via your Galaxy smartphone, tablet or even smart watch (Gear).

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On CES2014 (Consumer Electronics Show) earlier this year Samsung shared its vision of One Service to Rule Them All, and introduced its new Smart Home service:

in a move that could change the home forever, Samsung announced a new Smart Home service that puts people in control of their devices and home appliances with one application that connects them all.

But how can you presume to control everything if you can’t talk the common language? This is where Samsung started exploring emerging standards. First Samsung teamed up with Intel, Dell and others to form the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), then When Google came with its own Thread Group initiative it jumped this wagon as well. As I stated on my last post, it is yet unclear how the different initiatives will relate to one another, so Samsung hedged its bets on the open standards front.

While standard bodies battle for domination, Samsung doesn’t wait and makes a parallel move on the platform front. In this $200M-worth move, Samsung announced acquiring SmartThings, a US-based start-up developing a smartphone app which enables users to monitor and control their domestic affairs even when they are out of their home. It is also an open platform, which encourages the developer community and device makes to create new applications and expand the range of uses and smart devices.

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Though the developer community is somewhat concerned by the impact of the acquisition on the platform’s openness, SmartThings founder and CEO Alex Hawkinson ensures in his blog that “SmartThings will remain SmartThings”. Judging from Samsung’s moves with open standards and open platforms (such as the data and sensor platforms for health monitoring), it seems like Samsung embraces openness as its main path for market penetration, which is a positive indication for the future of SmartThings.

Samsung seems to bet heavily on the Internet of Things and the Smart Home. David Eun, head of Samsung’s Open Innovation Center, said that “Connected devices have long been strategically important to Samsung” and that more investments, acquisitions and partnerships around the internet of things were planned. In this rate, we won’t have to wait long for their next move.

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Will the Internet of Things talk Googlish?

Things definitely change fast in the landscape of the Internet of Things. On my last blog post less than 2 weeks ago I discussed standardization efforts in IoT and covered the announcement of a new consortium called Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), led by Samsung, Intel, Dell and others.

And just a week later we got the new heavy gun in the field: Google announced, through its recently acquired company Nest, a new industry group called Thread, together with Samsung, ARM Holdings and others, to define the communications standard for the smart home. The new standard is said to solve reliability, security, power and compatibility issues for connecting products around the home.

Thread-Group

This announcement joins Microsoft’s announcement from beginning of this month about joining AllSeen Alliance as the 51st member, which was followed by last week’s announcement of 7 other new members, making AllSeen Alliance 58 members strong to date (on my last blog post earlier this month they were only 51, just think about it…).

Google’s new consortium joins other industry consortia. How do these different initiatives relate to one another? This question becomes even more interesting when noting that Samsung is a member of both OIC and Thread Group (see footnote), and that Apple’s list of HomeKit partners includes Broadcom (another member of OIC) and Haier (member of AllSeen Alliance).

It may be that in these early stages organizations are reluctant to bet on a single horse and distribute the risk across different consortia. It may also be that some of these initiatives are not really competitive but rather complementary. Reading through the statement of the new Thread Group seems that they target a new networking protocol (to supersede WiFi, Bluetooth and the likes) for IoT to be more energy-efficient and scalable, which may be complementary to the mandate declared by OIC which seems to deal with higher layers. But as statements are very high level and tend to change, we will have to patiently wait and see how it plays out.

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* Update: in a subsequent post I explored Samsung’s play in IoT in greater detail. read more here.

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The common language of the Internet of Things

On my last post I described the chronology of the Internet Of Things (IoT) since the early 1990s and until these days, and the drive for its evolution. On that post we’ve established the motivation and the $$ to invest in the IoT. So what is the next step?

Since the Internet of Things is all about enabling devices of various kinds to talk to each other, we need to have a common language for these devices to talk. This becomes more acute when when involving devices of different vendors and providers.

Do you remember the Internet in its early days? back then there were islands of isolated networks and we were missing a common language to enable them to talk between them. In the internet case the solution was the invent of Internet Protocol (IP), which standardized the communication “language” and addressing system (together with higher-level standards which followed such as TCP, UDP and HTTP). These open standards paved the way for the mass adoption of the internet and its worldwide spread. In fact, IP got caught up with its own success, with IPv4 (4th version of the protocol) nearing exhaustion of its address space, and mandating the inevitable switch to IPv6, through a sometimes-painful migration process (as many old systems were hard-wired to the IPv4 format).

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What is the “Internet Protocol” of the Internet Of Things?
This question drove the formation of a new standardization body which was announced yesterday and which is backed by a consortium of industry leaders such as Samsung, Intel and Dell. The new consortium, called Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), is said to focus on :

… delivering a specification, an open source implementation, and a certification program for wirelessly connecting devices.

oic-diagram

This initiative joins other initiatives in the area, most notably AllSeen Alliance which was founded in December and already has 51 members including LG Electronics, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Cisco another and others, and the newest member – Microsoft – which joined just earlier this month. During its Worldwide Developers Conference last month Apple also announced a similar initiative called HomeKit based on iOS devices. These initiatives are all aimed at standardizing the language in which devices will talk in the Internet of Things.

Standardization is an important step in maturing of any technology. Furthermore, open source standards, APIs, and reference implementations, have become a predominant part of the IT industry, and emerging technologies are now expected to provide them. An excellent example of that is Cloud Computing, which grew the open standards of OpenStack and CloudStack that are backed by impressive communities incorporating industry leader corporation, service integrators and individual contributors worldwide alike. Reviewing the recently-released statement of work by the OIC shows it is well aware of this expectation and is set to provide that.

Open standards and open source implementation is the right step for IoT. We should only hope that the communities grow and establish good collaboration between the members and between the different alliances (and avoid needless politics) so that they could put forth the right standard to meet the needs, and more importantly – adapt them to the changing needs in an agile manner for the benefit of all.

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* Update: in a subsequent post I cover a new IoT standardization initiative by Google. read more here.

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