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Plug Into the Internet of Things

August 12, 2017

Plug Into the Internet of Things

The IoT market opportunity will be worth $4.3 trillion in 2024, rising from $800 billion last year, according to Machina Research. “What we are talking about with the Internet of Things is connecting lots and lots of devices and endpoints, things that otherwise wouldn’t necessarily historically have been connected,” says Machina Research founder and CEO Matt Hatton.

IoT departs from the traditional machine-to-machine connectivity that has powered industrial control systems in important ways, Hatton says. One is that, thanks to cheaper devices, connectivity and processes, IoT can scale higher, moving device networking beyond niche applications for monitoring and analyzing high-value production processes in real time. Another is the evolution of more refined software platforms and enhanced capabilities to tap into the data being generated by IoT devices. With the edge devices separate from the application, anyone can build apps for devices.

“The Internet of Things is all about data—taking data, building applications on it, enabling those apps and sharing the data between different applications,” he says.

At Home and Work

IoT’s widening presence is being felt in the home, with home-automation offerings that include solutions for monitoring, security and sheer convenience, for example. Take the Belkin WeMo line, which makes it possible to control home electronics from smartphones and tablets using IFTTT (If This Then That Technology), says Jason Dowty, technical support specialist at Ingram Micro. Users can set up recipes that connect together apps, websites and equipped devices.

That way, electronics plugged into a Wi-Fi-enabled WeMo Insight switch can respond to real-time commands sent from mobile devices or to custom schedules for turning those appliances on and off, Dowty explains. Or, the switch can be used with a WeMo Motion Kit that uses sensors to detect movement and can wirelessly send to a signal turn on the connected device, whether it’s a light or a coffee pot. Users also can get data about the energy being consumed by electronics plugged into WeMo switches to help them make decisions to reduce home energy bills.

IoT is becoming a fixture in work situations, where it’s helping streamline sectors such as fleet management by increasing delivery efficiencies, and in public spheres, where the first wave of smart cities are promoting more efficient use of resources and services, and providing new tools to support interaction among people, groups and places.

Juniper Research, for example, named Barcelona, Spain, the top Global Smart City for 2015, based on factors such as the use of smart grids, smart traffic management and smart street lighting. Cisco and Honeywell are among those manufacturers that are driving efforts to use solutions, such as IP cameras, connected LED street lighting, sensors, applications and Wi-Fi to bring city planners and other authorities the data they need to drive more efficient traffic flow, or save energy by turning lights on later depending on local weather conditions.

IoT hopes are riding high at all levels, as evidenced by efforts such as the SmartAmerica Challenge, which was launched to bring industry, academia and government together to show how the IoT can create jobs, new business opportunities and socioeconomic benefits to America. Last year, the Challenge demonstrated IoT projects in a variety of areas, including a transportation solution that integrates connected car services data with public transportation services data to reduce travel times and costs, and healthcare ideas such as automated safety alert and community awareness networks to protect vulnerable populations.

Your Role in the IoT

The vision of how the Internet of Things can affect people’s lives is limitless. But those that want to begin to realize that vision in what is still an emerging space are going to need help to get there. People, processes, data and infrastructure must be taken into account to bring relevancy and value to new networked connections, serving as the Internet-of-Everything foundation that enables the Internet of Things, Dowty says.

Hatton points out that there are still some holes to fill when it comes to processes, such as being able to effectively trade data across IoT devices and networks. “There’s a lot of fragmentation in this space, with different protocols and platforms, some that interoperate and some that don’t,” he says. IoT service marketplaces may emerge to create data exchanges to help on this front.

Solution providers also can help any entity— government, business or even private citizens— interested in exploiting the IoT for individual, business or personal benefits. You can get help to support these clients from Ingram Micro’s professional services and technical support teams, who can help in sourcing and verifying the compatibility of the various components that can be integrated into a solution.

Ingram Micro’s physical security team can help you select the right IP cameras and accessories as part of a smart traffic system, for instance. Ingram Micro’s wireless team can aid in designing the outdoor wireless network to accommodate the expected number of concurrent users at traffic stops, and Ingram Micro’s Professional Services team can handle jobs from wireless LAN site surveys to deployments. And if Ingram Micro itself can’t help you fulfill a requirement, the team can connect you with other partners through the IMLink network.

“A lot of hand-holding is associated with the Internet of Things, so the ability to help buyers navigate through that complexity, from the technical side and the implications to business models and processes, is a key thing,” Hatton says.