In the past few weeks alone, the concept of “The Internet of Things” has been named as a top five trend of 2010 by ReadWriteWeb and has taken home the Cisco I-Prize, an award given to the global community in recognition of “the next major business opportunity”.
What is the “Internet of Things”? It’s when real-world objects are connected to the internet, often using sensors, barcodes and RFID tags. Implementations range from something mainstream like running web applications in a car, such as the new AppLink service slated to debut in Ford Fiestas next year, to complex web-connected sensors attached to physical devices that trigger feedback and actions.
Hewlett Packard Labs is working on a massive implementation of sensors that are similar to RFID tags with accelerometer and detectors for motion and vibration. They plan to use these sensors to monitor everything from structural strains to weather conditions. They will collect data in real-time and help businesses make better decisions.
Smaller grass roots efforts are also in play in this area thanks to solutions like Arduino, a hardware product and development environment that enables technically inclined individuals to create their own custom network of connected “things” and collect data. This solution can be used for anything from monitoring the levels and pH of an outdoor pool, to building custom robots. Our friends at Violet also have products in this realm but more geared toward a typical consumer. The Nabaztag is a connected rabbit that communicates through ambient signals, and the Mir:ror is an RFID reader that acts as a gateway to bridge the real and virtual worlds.
While HP’s global vision of installing over a trillion sensors across the globe may be far away, there are certainly some business opportunities in this area in the shorter term.