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SmartThings: Innovation over tradition -PART 1
By Gary Tang 2014-07-18
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SmartThings CTO Jeff Hagins argues that the Internet of Things (IoT) is not so much about connecting Things to the Internet, but using technology to solve problems that are so engrained in everyday life that the problems pass off as common sense. Enabling Internet connectivity in everyday devices is not meaningful in and of itself, Hagins said during his talk “Moving from Cloud Computing to Fog Computing,” at Computex 2014’s Technology Disruption Forum. “The Internet of Things is about challenging the status quo. It’s about rethinking, reexamining and reinventing how the physical world works; in order to do that, we have to connect things to the Internet.”

Hagins challenged the audience with various questions he said his company spends a lot of time examining, such as: “Why are lights controlled by a switch on the wall?” Flipping a switch on the wall is the way people have controlled lights for decades, but why hasn’t that changed as new technologies became available? Instead of a switch, the home could understand that the lights should go on when a person walks into a dark room.

Why do we need a thermostat on the wall to control the temperature in our home? “You’re not controlling the thermostat—the thermostat is controlling something else,” Hagins said. Hagins suggests that we might not actually need a thermostat on the wall since there are technologies available that allow us to wirelessly control the boiler, fans or furnace.

Why do doors have keys? Why do cars have steering wheels? Why are packages delivered by people? Why can’t office buildings turn off the lights when everyone has left? Why can’t a house detect when water is leaking out of the pipes or sink and simply turn the water off to prevent damages or disasters? Why does 33 percent of the food on this planet go to waste?

“People don’t necessarily think of these things as problems for IoT, but they are,” Hagins stressed. IoT will allow us to reinvent the physical world to solve problems like the aforementioned ones.

Hagins gives four main reasons as to why IoT is happening now: ubiquitous smartphones, lower manufacturing costs, cloud computing and big data analytics.

The ubiquity of smartphones is a main driver for IoT because it gives us a way to control our homes from anywhere. 15 years ago, if somebody came to the front door and pushed the doorbell, no one would have run to the home computer and logged into AOL to unlock the front door. Now it is possible for the homeowner to see who is at the front door and unlock it with a smartphone. “It has unlocked a use case that previously would not be possible,” he said.

Lower manufacturing costs allow device makers to put connectivity into objects where it was previously was not feasible. Cloud computing makes it feasible to decouple intelligence from devices. Big data analytics enables the processing of massive amounts of data to discover patterns. All of these are making now the right time to start reinventing the physical world.

*** SmartThings: Innovation over tradition -PART 2


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