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A Tale of Smart Cities – Internet of Things

A Tale of Smart Cities – Internet of Things
October 28, 2030
6:45 am

The city of Technopolis is asleep.

Bob’s alarm clock starts ringing, its volume steadily rising. Even after an entire minute of relentless buzzing, Bob hasn’t budged. The clock then sends out signals to the thermostat, the drapes and the overhead lights. The room suddenly becomes chilly, the drapes open up and the lights shine bright.

Bob groans, “Shut up, you stupid thing”

The alarm is still blaring.

Shivering and agitated, Bob turns off the alarm clock. The noise stops, but it’s only after Bob gets out of bed and steps  onto the travellator, that everything else goes back to normal.

There’s a panel on the wall where Bob chooses his destination as ‘Bathroom 1’. Just before he steps into the bathroom, the lights in his bedroom go off and the lights in the bathroom go on. Every small thing contributes to energy saving.

He brushes, flosses and quickly checks his dental health rating. 8/10. Nice.

As is his habit, he steps on to the body analyzer. His heart rate is a little high, so soothing music starts playing in the bathroom. Due to his high BMI, the scale starts suggesting exercise and dietary changes. As usual, Bob cuts it off midway with a gesture. He’s turned off the ‘Report to Doctor’ feature permanently. Who cares about getting fat?
Now that the scale has measured his body temperature, Bob steps into the shower and taps a few buttons. A few minutes later, he’s soaped, shampooed and dried off. An efficient showering mechanism to reduce time and conserve water. Not to forget, the water is at exactly the right temperature. Brilliant, isn’t it?

He walks over to his wardrobe. It dispenses clothes according to the weather.

All dressed up, Bob goes to his kitchen. He gets his coffee from the machine and eats his toast in silence. He’s been living in Technopolis for so long that his previous lifestyle seems impossible now. Just last week, his toaster had detected a problem and sent a diagnostic report to the service center. Bob had received a message on his smartphone asking if he was willing to spend 20$ to fix the toaster. All he did was tap on ‘Yes’ and the payment was made, the toaster was fixed and Bob continued getting his toast every morning.

Cutting through his thoughts, an alarm starts ringing again. Time to go to work.

7:45 am

Hurriedly, he steps out of the house and activates the burglar alarm system. The thermostat, the lights and all other smart devices shut off. Quickly he gets into the backseat of his car, selects his destination and lies down. Bob’s always hated driving. Self-driving cars and traffic flow optimization are a boon. While wondering about why his clock woke him up early, Bob dozes off. He is oblivious to a different and longer route- a route that takes 15 minutes extra- taken by his car due to a faulty bridge on his usual route. Suddenly makes sense, doesn’t it? Anticipatory computing making life easy.

8:30 am

Bob reaches his office building and steps out of the car. His watch tells him the air quality is great. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions, low vehicular pollution and proper waste management for households and industries has resulted in a healthy environment. But due to advanced healthcare and increased life expectancy, the problem of overpopulation remained unsolved.

Bob enters the office building and notices everyone around him is wearing cotton shirts and shorts. “Darned global warming”, he mutters under his breath.

Quickly scanning his fingerprints, he takes the elevator up to his office and gets to work. Bob’s a builder. He and fellow architects spend the entire day working on their newest project- a 300 storied building. It’s in the final stages of completion. Using the HoloLens, the architects explain to him the exact structure of the building and the placement of all the sensors in the infrastructure integrity monitoring system. Every building is made keeping in mind that energy saving and water conservation are crucial.

7 pm

Bob’s ready to leave from work when his phone pings. It reminds him that his wife Betty is coming back in town tonight. Panicking for a moment, he checks his text messages. His phone has already sent Betty a sweet and loving message. Phew. Romance automated.

He goes to the airport to pick her up. She’s already waiting. The trakdot has made tracking luggage so easy. They go out for dinner and then head home.

10 pm

The house has pre-cooled to the right temperature.

Betty goes to bed and Bob plays on his Oculus Rift. Meanwhile, Bob’s car goes to the maintenance center for its monthly servicing.

11 pm

Oculus stops working when it senses that Bob’s eyes are getting strained. Quickly putting his phone on charge, Bob sleeps off.

That, folks, is just another day in the life of a smart city dweller.

Would you want to live like this? Which other IoT gadgets would you want to use? Comment below to let me know!

Note: This is a purely fictional (and perhaps a little far-fetched) story set in the future. The hyperlinks are only to show that similar devices exist in today’s world.

A Tale of Smart Cities – Internet of Things

Internet of Things: A Business Case

The Internet of things has an amazing potential to transform every industry, both locally and globally. Being the CEO or CFO of a business, you must have asked yourself about the prospect of investing in the internet of things at one point or another. Today, I hope you get your questions answered. Being responsible for smooth functioning of an organisation, you must take every decision objectively based on various factors like cost reduction, increase in efficiency, feasibility and return on investment.

After spending countless hours perusing a number of articles and case studies on IoT and thinking about IoT investment pitches, I have compiled a comprehensive list that tells you the need to move to a connected ecosystem. Whether you are a small business owner or the owner of a multi-billion dollar brand, I am positive that you will be able to find something in here that will make you think about an investment in IoT.

Small Businesses
Small Businesses typically range from 15 to 50 employees. Now the big question: Why would a small and medium size business owner need connected solutions?
Take for example a store that sells a variety of clothes. The business relies heavily on supply and demand. If for some reason, the sales of a product ‘A’ fall and that of product ‘B’ increase, the manager has to inform the supplier to maintain the inventory accordingly. The manual solution to this situation will unnecessarily draw in time resources and need a lot of paper work and never-ending phone calls at both ends. How about getting rid of all this hassle for once and for all? Imagine if the sensor placed on the sales register was able to deliver real-time updates to the supplier’s computer, the demands would be adjusted automatically. The supplier will come to know that he has to deliver 30 units of product ‘A’ and 60 units of product ‘B’ in the coming week. This automation eliminates the repeated phone calls to the supplier and reduces the risk of misinformation due to human error.

Heavy industries
Being the CEO or CFO of, say, a heavy industry comprising thousands of employees, you have to factor in several things like feasibility, cost-benefit ratio, return on investment, shareholder sentiment, employee orientation and more before planning to invest in IoT.
In such an industry, IoT can fuel growth by reducing complexity and making daily tasks automated. For example, if you are the CEO of a power company, you could make use of a smart grid to manage the supply. The use of a smart grid can enable easy bi-directional flow of electricity. You could tap into the electricity generated by a solar cell when in need. The use of self-healing networks will reduce pressure on electricians as you can roll-out sophisticated updates to remove a fault. Lastly, when the meters are online, demand management can be done in a more subtle way. Currently, if a client ‘A’ needs more power, you have to fire up the reserve generators to meet the requirement. There is a considerable time lag in this case.  But, if the meters of all your clients are online, you could flash a message on their television sets asking them to reduce consumption for a while or you could control it at your end and meet the requirement of client ‘A’ with no time lag.

Take the example of a car manufacturing company. Car makers like Tesla are proposing to make smart cars which will be made up of connected parts. Such connected parts would be easy to maintain and repair. If the air pressure in one tire is critically low, the driver gets an alert as it is connected before it bursts and leads to an accident. One major criteria in this business is the time spent by the car in the garage for repairs. If the car is made up of connected parts, a majority of its functions will be governed by software rather than hardware. So, for certain ‘repairs’, you could just send a software update to the car over the air and voila! This saves your cost of manual labor and retains customers better.
A certain car maker was able to achieve high standards of security while keeping costs at bay in its attempt to deliver connected devices. The connected car now costs 3-4 times less than that of ICEs to make.​

Another example can be the manufacturing industry where a lot still depends on manual labor. If the machines on the shop floor are not connected, it is difficult to contain losses due to failure or non-performance of a single machine. Before you come to know that a certain machine has malfunctioned, it is too late. On the shop floor, every second counts! Imagine a scenario where machines are connected to each other using sensors. Suppose a machine in middle malfunctions, it can relay the message to the machines immediately after it to stop or slow down work until it is back online. This saves precious money and reduces the risk of sub-standard products. Moreover, maintenance of connected machines is simpler than that or offline ones.
A reputed manufacturing firm was able to achieve over 5% efficiency improvements saving over $200,000 per year by adopting Internet of Things approach.

Infrastructure industry stands to benefit a lot from the internet of things. Think of a scenario where the roads are connected to traffic signals and cars. The sensors attached on the roads will be able to relay information to the cars that run on it, thus providing the driver with real-time updates of possible speed-breakers or potholes on the road. Drivers can also be alerted about possible accidents or sudden halts on the freeway that will reduce accidents and save costs (maybe save lives!). If roads are able to identify the number of cars on the road, they would be able to relay it to the traffic signals. Hence, traffic signal duration can be monitored dynamically rather than in a static fashion.
A similar ideology can be applied to structures like offshore oil drilling platforms where certain loose parts can cause the structure to dismantle and result in casualties. If the same structure was constructed using connected parts, the parts that became loose could communicate with the manufacturer or the operator relaying a distress signal for the same. A recent study assumed certain savings and penetration level for the Internet of Things to estimate around $500 billion in cost savings!

Apart from the above mentioned businesses, I think the government of a country has a role to play here too. The government will be able to lower production costs, increase citizen safety and maintain systematic logs for the same if the businesses go the IoT way. The government can make provisions to provide for certain incentives for businesses adopting the connected approach in their daily running.

In conclusion, I would like to say that investing in the Internet of Things is a safe bet. Like every other new avenue, internet of things also has a heavy investment cost associated with it. But, the benefits from the same can be realized in the long term. To give you further incentive, a recent study predicted that almost 82% of companies will have IoT applications implemented in some way or the other by 2017! (Source  )

So, this can be your opportunity to be a pioneer rather than becoming a follower!

I think I have been able to cover several scenarios to make you think about moving your business to a connected paradigm. If I have missed out any business or any aspect, or if you have any feedback/suggestions, please leave me a comment below.

SWOT Analysis of the Internet of Things

Analyzing the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats of the Internet of Things

The next big thing in the technology era, the Internet of Things has arrived and how! It brings along an array of connected devices that promise to make our lives easier and better.

It is a brand new wave of technology that has been touted as an epoch-making change by many. No wonder some of us are enthusiastic while some of us are a little anxious when it comes to the prospect of investing in IoT. So, to make decisions simple for both, the excited and the apprehensive lot, here is a comprehensive and unbiased SWOT analysis of the Internet of Things.


SWOT Analysis of IoT


  • The Internet of Things can be modelled to reduce costs: A very basic example of connected devices is their use at a factory floor where the production units are connected to the delivery and sales units. If a particular product of a brand is not faring well in the market, the sales counter machine can alert the production units to decrease or abruptly halt the production if need be. This way, devices which are connected can communicate to reduce costs significantly.
  • Environment Friendly: Connected devices can be modelled to bring down carbon emissions and hence help protect the environment. Smart cars, smart lights and smart homes limit energy usage and consequently, reduce emissions. A recent report by the Carbon War Room predicts that the Internet of Things can alleviate emissions by 19%. IoT and the M2M industry can increase its value to $1 trillion in the next few years.(Source )
  • Innovation: Innovation has successfully steered the technology industry towards the present pinnacle. The era of connecting devices to realize a smart ecosystem enables untold possibilities (read opportunities!). Situations like these sprout innovation and paradigm-shifting ideas. IoT is still in stages of infancy, but it is safe to say that great things can be expected from it in the near future.
  • Public Interest and Hype: In 2012, IoT debuted on the Garner Hype Cycle. In 2014, it overtook Big. This was the result of all the buzz generated by IoT and the attention it seized from consumers and vendors alike. Giants like Apple, Microsoft and Google are already in the race to make intelligent devices available to consumers. This ever increasing media hype and recurring headlines about IoT is just what the doctor ordered! IoT is being welcomed heartily and its acceptance in the future is bound to rise.
  • Ease of Use: Let’s not deny that all of us want to be glorified couch potatoes and control the devices around us with a single commence from a single place. The Internet of Things will be able to connect devices with each other enabling them to communicate. This reduces our work and improves the overall standard of living. So, we can hope to say goodbye to multiple remotes and switches soon.


  • Security: The most talked about drawback of connecting devices is their security and how it can be compromised by a small group of hackers. Recent activities of hackers trying to gain control over smart fridges is not doing any good to the reputation of IoT. However, there are attempts being made to revitalise security of such devices and to establish a common standard for the same.
  • Data Challenges: Every year, we produce data in exobytes. This data needs to be stored and analyzed for obtaining information about certain parameters. When all devices are connected, the amount of data collected will increase manyfold. Collection, analysis and storage of all that data is an arduous task and we need better infrastructure to manage the avalanche of data headed our way.
  • Massive Investments: Companies wishing to become early movers in the IoT market have to invest a lot of money to make connected devices. Apart from the production costs, there is a huge cost attached to the Research and Development of the products as well. This high cost might intimidate new market entrants. Companies need to stay poised to reap the benefits of such investments over time.
  • No Road Map: IoT is still in an infant stage. There is no clear road map, implying that there is no definite direction in which the development is moving. In such a scenario, the technology moves forward with innovation as and when it happens. As potential customers, we might find 10 variants for 1 gadget or maybe none for another. This sort of need-driven development will continue until the dust settles and certain standards are established for development of the internet of things.


  • Healthcare Applications: Paradigm-shifting to the field of personal healthcare is the agenda that is leading the revolution of connected devices. There are several opportunities for developers to innovate and make solutions to make our lives easier. Recent development of the Health Kit and Research Kit by Apple is just a step forward in the direction of improving healthcare. With so many ideas perking up every now and then and the state of current technology, anything is possible. As potential customers, this is a win-win situation for us.
  • Wearables: Smart watch, smart glass and smart clothes, all of them carry the ‘smart’ tag with them. Today, watches are able to record our daily activity, our workout routine and much more. Smart glasses are coming up to make everything around us interactive or into holograms. All this is leading us towards a time where everything we wear and hold can think for its own.
  • Infrastructure Management: The infrastructure management sector is another field that can make the most of IoT. Wearable devices like Google Glass and smart watches have already been deployed by off-shore drilling companies and construction companies. Microsoft’s Holo Lens promises to play a crucial role in the field of infrastructure.
  • Making computers more ubiquitous: Moore’s Law states that the size of computing microprocessors goes down by half every 18 months. This just goes to prove that developers are aiming to integrate computers in our lives in a very fine, intricate way such that we don’t feel them as separate entities. The recent flood of smart wearables aims to realize the dream to make computing completely ubiquitous among us.
  • Exciting investment opportunities: IoT brings with it an array of potential investment opportunities. I remember reading a piece by Dave Kelly that talked about how people who realized the potential of the smartphone and got on the smartphone bandwagon before the iPhone came out are now smiling their way to the bank. IoT has a huge upside potential for people looking to invest in chip making companies, solution making companies and more. It’s all uphill from here.


  • Vulnerability to hackers: When we think about hackers, we imagine really intelligent individuals working tirelessly on their Alienwares to bring down a website. Now, with connected devices in the picture, these hackers will be able to control your smart bulbs, garage, watches and even clothes! This open invitation to hackers to try to control every device around is a serious threat for IoT and it stands in the way of users shifting to connected devices.
  • Not Meeting People’s Expectations: A classic example to bring home this point can be the console game, Watchdogs. The game was previewed at a conference when it was in its early stages of development. People pinned hopes high expecting an open-world hacking game. But, what was delivered did not live up to the expectations, making it an average product after all. IoT here has reached the peak of it hype. People have realistic and over-the-top hopes from IoT. These exaggerated expectations are a threat to IoT if the products fail to live up to the user expectations.
  • Lack of demand due to high cost: Let’s face it, smart watches, glasses or even bulbs are not cheap. A pack of 3 smart bulbs is almost three times the cost of regular ones. It is great for us that companies are developing connected devices, but they will be of no use if the intended target audience is not able to afford them. Large selling prices is a very big threat looming over IoT and its growth.

I think it is only fair to say that IoT has its fair share of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Not all things about it are all good or all bad. But, we have to understand that the wave of connected devices is coming and we should be knowing about it as much as possible.

I hope the SWOT analysis done by me was up to the mark. If I have missed out any point, or if you have some feedback, drop me a comment below. If you liked the article, do share it on your social networks. Do check out our other articles that talk about the myths, obstacles and interesting facts about the Internet of Things.

Why can’t you play God just yet?- 7 Challenges in implementing the Internet of Things

7 Challenges in implementing the Internet of Things

There’s no doubt that the Internet of Things is a groundbreaking evolution. Talking refrigerators, intelligent thermostats, health monitors environmental sensors, clever cars, brainy bridges and what not- it’s all quite fascinating. But how are companies going to follow through with the tall promises they’ve made to us? No matter how badly we want things at the flick of a wand, in reality, most IoT projects have severe feasibility issues. In a survey conducted by Dimensional Research, it was found that 96% of the companies surveyed faced challenges with their IoT projects. After all, building revolutionary stuff comes with a generous share of obstacles.

I’ve put together a bunch of reasons why companies are having a tough time.

1. Data management

Sensors all around collect data which is stored, analyzed and then inferences are made accordingly. That’s basically how IoT works. As time goes on and the number of sensors increases, mountains of data start accumulating. A lot of it could be unwanted data. The lack of space and dearth of adequate analytical tools start eating away at the efficiency and quality of the technology. In the study mentioned earlier, another key finding was that only 8% of the companies surveyed are fully capturing and analyzing data in a timely fashion. To deal with the exponential rise in data volume, companies will have to come up with novel ways to store it and analyze it to their benefit. This analyzed data is what ultimately results in revenue generation or cost savings for the organization.

Certain systems need to be in place to react to changes in real time. According to Capgemini, 60% of all British companies in a recent study felt they were not in a position to process sensor date in real time. The real-time processing of data in particular is frequently an unsatisfactorily resolved problem, as are the integration, analysis, and visualization of data

2. Upfront Investments

Innovativeness comes at a cost. Enormous capital investments will be needed to acquire the necessary technological prowess for applications that generate a lot of data. Gathering so much data will be in vain if the company doesn’t possess the capabilities to convert that data into valuable insights and make the right decisions. However, the hard part isn’t crunching the data; it’s connecting all the systems needed to paint a complete picture. Integration is tougher than analysis.

3. Not getting along

 At the heart of IoT lies connectivity. Everything must be connected in some way. But companies use different platforms and tools and getting legacy software to work with new technology is easier said than done. Accenture believes that the main challenge lies in getting current technology up to speed to accommodate the Internet of Things. Regardless of how much smarter and inexpensive the sensors are becoming, the lack of standards, suitable protocols for data transfer, compatible middleware and need for upgradation are big roadblocks in taking IoT to the next level.

4. Sensor energy

For IoT to reach its full potential, sensors will need to be self-sustaining. Imagine changing batteries in billions of devices deployed across the planet and even into space. Obviously, this isn’t possible. What’s needed is a way for sensors to generate electricity from environmental elements (such as vibrations, light, or airflow).

5. New skill set needed

There is a lack of Big Data experts who are able to interpret sensor data. Data scientists are rare and in great demand. The future of IoT is a grand vision indeed. Using cloud computing, Big Data analysis and blazing fast hardware, we might be able to make what we want. Brilliant minds making deeply complex stuff that needs mad skills, utmost dedication and a lot of time to build. What will you do when your fridge acts up and stops reminding you to buy milk? You’re going to need some highly qualified and knowledgeable tech support, no? There might come a time when one of the fifty devices strapped to your body malfunctions and nobody has a clue as to how to fix it. We are building things which might go beyond our understanding. It’s difficult for companies to find people with the required expertise to work on such advanced projects and then manage the customer support too. Customer queries are becoming increasingly complex and customers expect quick response times.

6. Security

Devices are increasingly getting connected to the internet and to each other. This makes them vulnerable to malicious attacks, no matter how unlikely it seems. The main cause for concern is not every individual thing in the internet of things (although those are hard to secure too), it’s those cloud servers that hold a ton of data collected from the connected devices. They could contain an array of personal information as well as an organization’s confidential information. Even local hubs where data is temporarily stored are hackable.

It is paramount that companies include security features as the top priority rather than as an addendum. Security breaches could result in widespread loss of privacy and tremendous damage- in terms of money, reputation and customer loyalty.

It was revealed in the 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis report that the average consolidated total cost of a data breach is 3.8million USD. That’s a 23% increase since 2013. If implementing security mechanisms right now itself is so difficult, imagine the state of affairs when IoT reaches another level.

Organizations driving the IoT revolution have to find a way to make devices secure. After all, with great power, comes great responsibility.

7. Finding a killer application

This is another hiccup in developing IoT apps. A killer app becomes popular because you need it. A smartphone is unarguably the best example of a killer product. Think about how easily smartphones have carved a special place in our lives. Organizations are having a tough time coming up with something that will have people lining up and camping outside stores to buy it. A few years ago, one could have said that wearable devices might perhaps remain toys for the wealthy. But with all sorts of new startups coming up and the cost of hardware constantly decreasing, these devices are now quite affordable. But nothing has really gone viral yet. It’s going to be quite a challenge.

It is important to note that while barriers and challenges exist, they are not insurmountable. Given the benefits of IoT, companies will find a way to get these issues worked out. It is only a matter of time.

7 Challenges in implementing the Internet of Things

Stringent Requirements Needed for the Industrial Internet of Things

Sanjay Manney talks about the differences between consumer IoT and industrial Iot (IIot). He explains about the various points to keep in mind for IIoT like scalability, peer to peer operations, seriousness in face of a misstep and more.

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