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Innovation and the ‘Internet of Things’


Last week the Financial Times ran a great article, ’Welcome to the ‘Internet of Things’, by Chris Curran, leader of technology strategy and innovation for PwC.

The Internet of ThingsThe Internet of Things refers to a fast-growing and seemingly infinite eco-system of embedded devices in computers, cars, smartphones, appliances, - even clothing, books and toys – all connected to the Web and all producing data about who we are, where we are, and what we are doing.  For example:

  • A modern car may have as many as 200 sensors, measuring everything from engine performance to tire pressure. The data is collected and analyzed by on-board computers connected to the car’s internal network. The sensor data can be used to detect problems but also to give statistics on the use of the car.
  • Billboards along highways are equipped with sensors designed to assess how drivers fit consumer profiles and instantly change displayed advertising messages based on those assessments
  • Estimates are that there will be about 400 million wearable wireless sensors by 2014. These sensors will monitor blood pressure, heart rate, levels of hormones, blood components and more.
  • Pill-shaped micro-cameras can traverse our digestive track and detect issues and abnormalities
  • Livestock are being equipped with radio frequency identification tags (RFID) tracking their whereabouts, environment and activities

The Internet of Things delivers a ‘connected life’ with immediate access to data, media, communities and communications across a broad range of devices.  This connectivity and information brings a raft of benefits including increased efficiencies, targeted communications, improved safety and health, and more.  But it also brings a raft of challenges – not the least of which is: how can companies tap all that data to improve products and services.

 In his article, Curran rightly concludes:

The frontier of innovation in our world is filled with a seemingly endless supply of data. Whether it has to do with figuring out the damage in a reactor from only a satellite photo or it involves understanding the meaning of a story, the business models of the future depend on our ability to make sense of that increasing sea of unstructured data.

Organisations that understand how to use smart technologies, sensors and algorithms to refine that vast sea of data ore into insightful gold are winning in the marketplace. And their success will only grow with time.

Experts predict that the human-generated data being transported on the internet will be dwarfed by the data being generated by machines. According to the latest IDC Digital Universal Study, more than 1.8 zettabytes of information will be created and stored in 2011 alone.

Today, there are nine billion devices connected to the internet. By 2020, this will have increased to 24 billion, although some estimates place the number at 100 billion and a the World Wireless Research Forum predicts that there will as many as seven trillion networked devices by 2017.  The Yankee Group forecasts that consumers’ spending on the connected-life experience will total more than $972 billion in 2013.

So what does this mean for innovation?  It means entire industries are changing. The very way we learn, communicate and share is changing.

Last week, we wrote a post on Leveraging ‘Big Data’ to Drive Innovation.  The Internet of Things is just another – albeit considerable – source of data in a vast sea of information.  How will your engineers, scientists and researchers tap this information to improve efficiencies, minimize risk, accelerate product development and tune products to meet customers varying requirements?

Invention Machine’s Goldfire software is a purpose-built innovation intelligence platform that integrates Deep Semantics capabilities with proven innovation tools and methods, collaboration capabilities and access to rich technical content to: (1) Power breakthrough search experiences to deliver precisely relevant concepts. (2) Help innovation workers explore problems and their solutions. (3) Unlock the value hidden deep in internal and external knowledge sources to speed discovery and knowledge-enable decision making. (4) Stimulate idea generation and accelerate inventive problem solving.

Want to learn how Goldfire can help your organization leverage the wealth of product information inside and outside your four walls (including across 'Big Data' sets and the 'Internet of Things')?