Insight’s Martin Serrano: Nations should plan for the internet of things

25 Mar 2014

NUI Galway’s Insight Centre’s Dr Martin Serrano believes the value of the internet of things (IoT) to come is incalculable. That said, nations such as Ireland should prepare themselves for the rapid arrival and adoption of IoT technologies.

As Serrano, a research fellow at NUI’s Insight Centre (formerly DERI) sees it, the internet of things is a modern concept and marketing slogan to understand the world of everyday devices; ‘things’ working in collaboration, using the internet as a communication channel, to serve a specific goal or purpose for improving people’ lives in the form of new services.

The internet of things concept, first introduced a bit more than a decade ago, “is the technological realisation of the concept-idea that the immense world of physical electronic devices (appliances, smartphones, sensors) can be worldwide identified and can communicate with each other to exchange information using a common communication channel (internet) and universal language (semantics) and/or protocols for producing intelligent interactions and results in the form of applications or services (web services),” Serrano said.

Putting a value on the internet of things

Cisco estimates the internet of things generated US$613bn worth of global profits last year alone. But Serrano believes the economic impact smart technologies have in the market is immense and incalculable.

”If we consider all the electronic devices that have internet connection capacity (that were sold last year) are potentially components of the realisation of a worldwide internet of things (from a smartphone or tablet to a home appliance), just by this consideration, the worth estimations about IoT has been easily overtaken.”

Many countries are organising their efforts to secure an edge in the IoT economy. The UK is spending stg£45m on research and Ireland has mentioned its strategic importance in its latest jobs action plan.

For Ireland to keep its edge in the IoT, Serrano believes it needs to move fast.

“Every country has different necessities; likewise every society has a different way to adopt technology and as consequence see the return for investing in that particular technology.

“Prepared or not, in the internet of things, Ireland should plan for education and a rapid adoption on associated IoT technologies alike investing in the immersion of systems that can be easily adaptive to the evolution of the technology and the expansion of the offered services.

“By establishing national strategies to involve industry and academia, the internet of things solutions can be potentially developed to the extent that can be easily adopted.

“By focusing on the IoT, mobile development and the adaptation of IoT technology, the presence of the country in the generation of market-ready solutions about IoT can be potentially expanded.”

The race for the internet of things

The world of IoT is moving fast, Serrano points out. “Samsung with their smart home project, IBM/Ford last year and early this year AT&T with their connected car project too, however those systems work as isolated solutions incapable for sharing information to third parties for generating additional services.

“Would it not be great to have an IoT service provider that can gather data from worldwide distributed devices (sensors) to create a network of virtually linked systems offering enhanced capacity for processing data and generate intelligent services based on service information?

“Examples like the OpenIoT middleware can motivate the developments towards the realisation of open and market products and the future of enterprise solutions.”

Serrano’s advice to business leaders, employers and policy-makers keen to be part of this evolution of the internet and devices is to just get involved.

“Get involved in the evolution of the internet of things, either business or academic research groups; the race to find the killer service or killer application for the internet of things has just started.

“The solution to these searches can be in your own company’s requirements and the implemented solution can be the result of your development teams. Think of expanding your capacity and offer service openness and interoperability in your solutions. This is the way for an easy adoption in the every day more competitive industry market.”

Internet of things image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years