SECTIONS - Internet of Things
June 08, 2015

IoT, Analytics, Campers & Wearable Bananas

Interest in the Internet of Things has reached fever pitch. At the same time, however, the business cases around IoT are still being formulated. The good news is that there seems to be a realization as to the importance of analytics to IoT. In fact, some argue that IoT and analytics are essentially one and the same.

And when it comes to new business categories and technologies, there’s always a window of experimentation with business models before things really start to take off. And IoT as a category seems to be on the precipice of that phase. We’re all by now aware of the smart city concept in which everything from garbage receptacles to street lights, parking meters to roadways, have connected capabilities. Smart homes can allow us to remotely control our appliances, lighting, and thermostats, and our refrigerators may soon be able to order milk and eggs on their own. Connected commercial and consumer vehicles can collect information about and assess our driving habits and let interested parties know drivers’ whereabouts. M2M-connected agricultural and oil rig gear, energy systems, product lines, and the like can let us know how equipment is performing and whether it is or will soon be in need of a fix.

Smartwatches and fitness bands can track our heart rates, our sleep, our steps, can prompt us to move, and can even share such data with others for crowdsourced public health initiatives. Heck, even bananas are getting connected, as Kii CEO Masanari Arai explained in a recent Wearable Tech World article. Dole at February’s Tokyo Marathon implanted bananas with devices to “show each runner’s times, tweets, encouraging messages from friends and family, heart rate, and of course, when is the next time he/she needs to eat another banana.” But this required runners to strap the peels to their wrists after eating the fruit. (As author Dave Barry would say at this juncture: I am not making this up.)

The point is that not only does IoT have wide appeal (ha!), but it’s now appearing in a wide variety of real-life implementations – although we should mention that the Dole banana thing seemed to be solely for demonstration purposes. More importantly perhaps is the fact that IoT and analytics are becoming more closely aligned.

“IoT and analytics are almost synonymous at this point,” says Mike Hitmar, a product marketer for SAS, which creates business intelligence and analytics software. “Projects are being taken on with analytics in the forefront and not as an afterthought.”

Here is an example of how this has come into play for one customer of SAS. A global heavy truck manufacturer is collecting telematics data streaming off 60 components of its trucks to predict when components are likely to fail and when it makes sense to take steps to avoid that from happening. Hitmar says this company can now predict with 90 percent reliability failures up to 30 days in advance. That could allow the truck company to offer its customers 100 percent up time, so they never miss a delivery, says Hitmar, and it enables the company to better understand the characteristics of its trucks and reduce some recalls. However, Hitmar adds, putting the equipment and software into this company’s varied collection of vehicles will be a multiyear endeavor.

Hitmar likens where we are today with IoT to where the Internet was 20 or more years ago when it was a new idea to most people, and Internet entrepreneurs would “throw the spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks.” The good news, however, is that the Internet of Things will cement its position in communications in a much shorter time frame, Hitmar adds, saying it’ll be more like 5 to 10 years than 20 years. 

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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