Internet of Things (IOT): Making the component industry think inside the box

April 09, 2014 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
The Internet of Things (IoT) vision that is emerging will result in homes, offices and cities becoming gradually interconnected. No single company owns the M2M (machine-to-machine) and the IoT concepts of course; so for this vision to develop and progress, close cooperation between companies from various backgrounds will be required. The IoT has rapidly achieved a high level of interest and excitement amongst entrepreneurs. The prevalence of smart phones, inexpensive computers and connectivity result in many business opportunities.

What will really happen when things, homes, offices and cities become smarter? We are likely to see radical alterations to the way we live: this could include a vacuum cleaner that starts cleaning on its own following receipt of a dust storm weather forecast… or a coffee maker that might order coffee itself after running out of a specific flavour. This may sound far-fetched, but the means to make these examples happen exist. A good way for the IoT idea to expand is to add “intelligence” to mainstream products in the form of microcontroller (MCU/MPU) and sensor; this will enable a sensing of the environment and the transmission of information for processing to the controller. We can foresee ‘things’ being fitted with an artificial brain linked to the Cloud, from where it would be controlled and multiple tasks assigned.

Another consequence is that the market will require far more smart chips than it currently does. In general, smart chips are divided into three categories: control, sensing and connectivity. Interestingly, each of these categories falls into a “Blue Ocean” (W. Chan Kim, 2005) type of definition with new demand created in what is an uncontested market space. Manufacturers that can support all three categories, like STMicroelectronics for instance, will lead the IoT era. These categories are expected to thrive in the future, with great volume and room to expand.

Figure 1: The Internet of Things will result in homes, offices and cities becoming gradually interconnected.

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