The ‘thing’ about the Internet of Things (IoT) is that no matter which research you believe IoT is going to be big, very big – but no one can say exactly how big.
According to the mobile industry group GSMA, by 2020 there will be 24 billion “things” connected to the internet, of which half will be mobile devices. In contrast, the world’s population by 2020 will be around 8 billion. A different study by Cisco states that the number of devices connected to the Internet at 50 billion by 2020 or over 6 “Connected Devices” per person on this planet. Others talk about a trillion devices connected to the internet.
No matter how many connected things, we can be sure that the IoT promises a whole new world of possibilities. Some of these possibilities are already starting to emerge in areas such as manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, communications and retail, while others are yet to materialise. We can be sure that many of these future applications will be truly awesome and change our lives for the better. Interconnecting machines withdevices and humans so that everything and everyone becomes one vast always-on, reaI-time connected global ‘eco-system’ means we can look forward to an era of mind boggling optimised business and consumer user experiences, as well as major cost savings, increased productivity and profitability.
Making things happen in this fully-connected new world, which is limited only by the scope of one’s imagination, requires a big bold vision and the ability to ‘walk the walk’ – not just talk the talk
Kontron’s vision of the IoT already extends far beyond increased machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, and bringing data to the cloud. It’s built on enabling solutions which add intelligence to the networks of sensors used for gathering raw data from machines, objects and people; aggregating and analysing data in real-time so that it becomes meaningful and actionable; and transmitting it securely to those who need it over virtual, cloud and mobile infrastructures – instantaneously.
But the delivery of this ‘future of the future’ also demands a series of technological obstacles being overcome today. These include interoperability, connectivity, scalability, mobility and power efficiency considerations, not to mention security.
It is good for our customers to know that we are already up to the challenge. Our vision is based on our many years of practical experience in engineering embedded computer technology,enabling a diverse range of applications across multiple sectors. In fact we have begun rolling out the first of an extensive range of integrated hardware and software IoT ready controllers and platforms that are at the heart of some of the first IoT medical, transportation, industrial, communications and security solutions.
This positive progress is being aided by our close collaboration with other major global technology providers, and ‘think-tanks’ with Fortune 500 right down to start-up end customer organisations, which helps us better understand ‘real-world’ IoT requirements today. This means we can remain at the forefront of delivering the ‘connected’ building blocks that fit with their vision of the IoT as it takes shape over the coming months, years and decades.
Ambitious IoT application developments and Proof of Concept initiatives are well underway
In Malaysia, for example, Kontron embedded technology is delivering connected, real-time healthcare and precision farming solutions. Elsewhere we have pioneered medical kiosk applications featuring our COM Express Computer-on-Module and medical motherboard products for measuring patient vital signs for improved wellbeing while reducing medical facilities costs. Our KISS medical graphics server platform will also power systems in operating theatres that ensure extremely precise and non-invasive surgery.
For the Industrial IoT, where Kontron’s embedded technology has been active for many years in enabling machine automation, we are now helping manufacturers proactively monitor and act on machine data taken from their facilities around the world to carry out remote diagnostics and preventative maintenance. This minimises unplanned factory downtime and the associated revenue loss while also maximising productivity. In one factory application where Kontron is working with a major Cloud provider, vital machine failure alerts and error messages can be sent in real-time to field service personnel mobile phones, allowing them to be rapidly dispatched to the problem area with the right information. Our Industrial Computer Platform is ideal for use in factory automation systems such as this example and in other demanding industrial applications.
Furthermore, this usage model, which connects manufacturing equipment to humans outside the factory, can also be applied to a wide variety of other environments for preventing or solving a range of problems, or supporting new business models where machine data is of critical value to key stakeholders.
In rail transportation, Kontron provides a comprehensive line of operational computers that are proven and rugged. TRACe™ offers a flexible platform for integrators and system designers to easily customise and rapidly deploy specialised applications and new infrastructures for improving passenger safety, comfort and user experience. Similarly, in avionics, our ACE Flight™ is poised to become the ideal IoT platform for aircraft applications.
For carrier, cable and mobile communications service providers, Kontron IoT ready embedded and micro-server Cloud solutions are being deployed to boost their existing network infrastructure scalability and performance. This will allow them to roll out next generation interactive, multimedia services that offer new revenue generating opportunities, but without having to make major new ‘rip and replace’ network investments or replace existing on-premise consumer equipment such as set top boxes.
Security is the key to wide-scale IoT adoption
Security is the key to realising full-scale business and consumer adoption of this new super-connected era. Therefore Kontron is hard at work today advancing embedded device, network, cloud security levels and industry standards in order to deliver the increased peace of mind required for the future.
With some 66,000 malware programs uncovered every single day and connected device threats rising 20% year on year, you only have to consider the potential impact on future IoT-enabled mission critical systems controlling our national energy grid, traffic and transportation systems, not to mention medical and healthcare applications, to start appreciating the scale of the problem.
That’s why the key to IoT security is taking a holistic, complete platform approach, not one of piecemeal one which just looks at the device hardware or the operating system – it must encompass everything including the network stack and cloud conveying the data between devices, the communications middleware and the actual software applications. This way we can ensure the bullet-proof asset protection and information assurance increasingly expected by customers and equipment manufacturers.
Kontron is now following such a strategy in order to maximise security from infrastructure design to system management. This starts with a detailed end-to-end security assessment to first identify the parameters and potential risks associated with designing a particular IoT enabled device or system. It also includes the middleware and system management aspects. Throughout we closely follow and adhere to industry security standards and best practice and involve our third party technology partners and providers every step of the way.
As we head for the next IoT-inspired industrial revolution – bigger, more promising and disruptive than any before it – there is one thing of which we can be absolutely sure: Kontron’s determination and commitment to remaining at the IoT forefront and maximising its full potential by making it as secure as possible.
What are your thoughts on the IoT revolution and security – where is it leading and how can we make it even better?
For further information about Kontron IoT ready embedded solutions visit http://iot.kontron.com/