The Internet of Things at Robinson College in Cambridge
Yesterday I attended a forum on the Internet of Things (IoT) organised by BLN at Robinson
College, in Cambridge. The IoT is a concept that has been around for a while, but it is still a relevant one. Just
this month it was featured in a special report on Wired. And it’s not just me, more than 255 people flocked to Cambridge yesterday to hear from the multitude of interesting speakers at the conference.
So, what is the internet of things? Well, basically, it’s a mouse trap with
wi-fi connection. All jokes aside, the IoT is the concept of connecting all
things and persons, which could eventually translate into a future of smart cities, energy
efficient homes and data-driven traffic. The mouse trap example (from Andy Stanford-Clark, IBM Master Inventor, who actually made one at his home which he showed in his presentation) was a consistent theme throughout the day. Imagine you
have a mouse problem at home, in the world of the IoT, your mouse traps could send you an alert
through your wifi each time it catches a mouse (defined as “mouse event”). This would save you time when you go to look to see which trap has caught a mouse.
The mousetrap example may seem a bit extreme, but the IoT could be used to do some pretty amazing things. Imagine that your washing machine could send you an email advising
you when to turn it on based on your frequency of usage, the cost of
electricity and the sun and wind on your balcony at that moment. Sounds cool right? Welcome to the
Internet of Things!
Those were just a few examples of how a smart house could work,
but the concept can be extended to smart cities and even further. Of course this
is where “Big Data” really comes form: huge amounts of data coming from
different devices that can be combined with other data sources to make
prediction models to improve our daily lives. In order for this to work however, we will need a way to get this data from the web in a structured and useable way in order to feed it into the models. And where there is a need for data, import.io is there to provide a solution. Import io could normalize data direct from devices (solar panels, pollution reader, etc) so it can be combined with data from the web to
create the perfect dataset for prediction. It was great to see the excitement from people at the conference when they heard about our product.
The IoT is still has some major issues to resolve before we will be able to benefit from it’s true potential. The battery life on sensors
and devices has been a long standing issue. But there were plenty of others discussed yesterday, such as the
necessity for the data to be more consumer focused – talking only about saving energy won’t engage
many people, it needs to be fun – or the problem of making a long-life machine (like a fridge) integrate into the constantly changing environment of the internet.
Overall, the experience was really enjoyable: the panels discussions were interesting,
the speakers were excellent and there were plenty of interesting people who were full of ideas and projects
around our things and the future of connectivity.
by Ignacio Elola, Data Wrangler