Recipe for IoT – Empowered Computers, Lots of Sensors, Lots of Data and Management of Human Factor Concerns

David Bay, Corporate Engineer

Given the relative immature status of RFID and internet technologies in 1999, I commend Mr. Ashton for recognizing the importance of such technologies as well as his identification of use cases enabled by their simultaneous use.

IoTIn a CY 2009 column (Reference B) in which Mr. Ashton provided additional commentary regarding his coining of IoT, my attention was drawn to the following:  “…we need to empower computers with their own means of gathering information, so they can see, hear and smell the world for themselves, in all its random glory…”  Profound!  As our world evolves into a morass of connected, smart and intelligent technologies, products, applications and services, including “lighting,” I submit that Mr. Ashton’s words are equally profound and applicable today.  His comments identify an approach which could help realize simpler, more user-friendly and ROI-justified IoT systems, applications and services, but we are not there yet.

Although the efficient, energy-reducing, highly-automated and task-saving IoT environments we’ve been reading about and expecting for the past ten years are beginning to take shape, I believe the complexity, implementation challenges and architectural/infrastructural difficulties of today’s IoT systems are such that their adoption rate and extent of proliferation will be constrained.  I believe we have not yet acted as confidently and broadly as we ought with respect to “…empowering computers…” (please refer to Mr. Ashton’s comments), largely because of insufficient, inaccurate and/or nonexistent “data.”  The roles and importance of “big data” are finally becoming clearer!  In addition to being the fuel which enables the IoT beast, I believe “big data” and properly-analyzed subsets of same will be enablers of reduced complexity, increased functionality and new business opportunities in future IoT systems, including those in/for “lighting.”

In fact, one can find IoT-like lighting applications and systems which took Mr. Ashton’s suggestions literally.  Examples include TERRALUX’s LEDSENSE LEDr which can “smell” (TERRALUX LEDSENSE), GE Current’s Lighting Fixtures enabled by ShotSpotter’s “hearing” technology to detect gunshots (GE Current/ShotSpotter), and Hubbell Lighting’s TOTUS Solutions which incorporate “seeing” (surveillance) technologies (Hubbell Lighting TOTUS Solutions).  Additionally one can find lamps equipped with “…empowered computers…”, including OSRAM/LEDVANCE’s LIGHTIFY (OSRAM/LEDVANCE LIGHTIFY) product and Philips’ Hue lamp (Philips Hue), both having capabilities to enable aspects of IoT-based home automation.  These technology-leading products, the companies providing them, and others striving to do likewise are among the IoT vanguard.

I am certain these companies will continue to advance IoT state-of-the-art in “lighting,” but I hope and expect their technology, product, application and service “scopes” will expand to include a larger, more inclusive definition of the IoT operating environment while focusing on the systematic elimination of complexities and difficulties found in today’s IoT systems.  Empowering computers and systems in the IoT environments with capable, secure and future-proof technologies, employing sensors to sense widely and securely while respecting privacy issues and getting on with sampling, collecting, managing, processing and analyzing “data” will yield handsomely regarding realization of simpler, more user-friendly, more capable IoT systems.  That said, I believe we must be more realistic regarding our IoT expectations and timelines.

Using CY 2015 US Census Bureau data (US Census Bureau Statistics), Pew Research Center estimates indicate Millennials comprise approximately 31 percent of the USA’s population, Gen X approximately 27 percent, Boomers approximately 31 percent and the Silent Generation approximately 11 percent. Speaking from personal experience, I am aware that there are many among both the Boomer and Silent generations, together totaling approximately 42 percent of our population, which have not transitioned, do not welcome and do not understand the “digitalized” world taking shape about them.  I see much less reluctance in Gen Xers and no reluctance to “digitalization” in Millennials.  Those younger than Millennials I believe will expect digitalization.  Why do I raise this point? Because I believe the technology and data aspects we will encounter while digitalizing our world will be no less important than managing the societal and human factor aspects of transitioning Boomers and the Silent Generation into the exciting new, digitalized and IoT-enhanced world we are evolving toward.

Exciting times with many opportunities lie ahead.  Enjoy the challenges!

For more information please visit www.ledvance.com.

Osram_DavidBayAbout the Author
David L. Bay, LC has worked for OSRAM SYLVANIA for more than 35 years, holding various R&D positions including electronics development engineer, light source development engineer, manager of electronic lighting product development, engineering director of Electronic Control Systems, Global Systems Coordinator, Research Manager for Low Pressure Discharge Products and his current position of Corporate Engineer in the Central Technology Research and Innovation organization. David holds twelve US patents, two internal trade secret awards and has been honored with two of the Company’s highest honors – The GTE/Leslie H. Warner Award and the OSRAM Star award. David holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), and the Optical Society of America (OSA). David is also a National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) EIT and is Lighting Certified (LC) by The National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions (NCQLP). 

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