Car makers driving The Internet of Things (part 1 of 2)

September 28, 2011 - 1 Comment

Intelligent Cars

I don’t watch too much TV, but I did take some time this weekend between my honey-do’s and soccer transport tasks to keep up with bay area football – it was a good weekend for that.  As expected, there were plenty of car ads.   I was struck by how the high-end auto manufacturers are really focusing on “intelligent” cars – competing in fact.  Cars are now aware of their surroundings (obstacle sensing), aware of their driver (attention assist), able to call emergency assistance, making lots of decisions every second and richly communicating with its driver … or maybe more appropriately stated “passenger”:

These are really smart cars, and they are getting smarter.  It is foreseeable now to imagine automated driving making the driver a true passenger.

The Internet of Things

What this highlights is Manufacturers, and car-makers being early leaders, are “driving” the Internet of Things (IoT).  We know that to go from billions of devices to trillions of devices connected via internet technology, all sorts of sensors, drives, machines actuators and such will need to go online.  A car is full of them.  So are wind turbines, printing presses, jet-engines, robots, bottling/packaging machines, airplanes, trains…. the list is long.  And these are machines not only with a standard network port, but have standard networks on-board performing their critical functions.  Essentially, the IoT will be driven my manufacturers including standard networks into their products.

The value they get out of this drive is incredible.  Intelligent cars will revolutionize the way we drive – improved safety, increased efficiency even changing the experience from a mind-numbing task to a new found rest & relaxation period.  Clearly they are competing for customers based on these capabilities.  The same can be said for the other machines mentioned earlier.  The opportunity for manufacturers to supply services is a bigger opportunity:  new annuity-based revenue streams based on supplying on-going services and support for their products is the goal.  Customers in most cases will welcome the chance to rely on their supplier’s expertise and Service License Agreements (SLAs) to get a well-defined service rather than paying huge capital cost for the product and trying to achieve the operational efficiency on their own.  These values will drive the adoption of the IoT.

As with all the other “waves” of the Internet, evolving the standards is a key aspect to the adoption of the technology.  This is occurring in both the wired and wireless realms.  802.11N, RPL (Routing Protocol for Low power and Lossy Networks) and Precision Time Protocol are great examples of recent standards adopted that directly prepare for the IoT and particularly taking on the sensor and machine networking requirements.  By no means though are these the end of the line.  More on that later…

Stay tuned for “Car makers driving the Internet of Things, part 2” coming this Thursday!

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  1. Cars should be like this, electronic and clever, not clumpy and dangerous.