I was recently asked how to categorize the Internet of Things. IoT is so broad and multi-dimensional that I am not sure if there is one easy answer or set of categories. However, here is my current thinking…
1. IoT Hardware
A lot of the excitement in IoT and the maker community starts with the cheap, easily accessible hardware. Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone are the poster kids in the space. Now there are a ton of new hardware solutions be made available, ex Parallela (16 cores for $99) , Galileo from Intel
2. IoT Standards and Protocols
There is a lot of talk about IoT protocols and which one will win. It is too early and I agree not any one protocol will win. One thing I do know is that closed proprietary solutions are not going to win. We do need to work on having a common set of standards like CoAP, MQTT, Alljoyn, SensorML, etc Of course, we also need to make sure that we have open source implementations for these standards and protocols. That is why Eclipse IoT is so important for an Open IoT.
There will also be a lot of vertical standards that will be developed for IoT, like OneM2M, Continua, etc.
3. IoT Gateway Software
The typical IoT solution architecture will have some type of gateway solution that connect the sensors and actuators to the Internet. Eclipse Kura and Mihini are good examples of this but there are certainly others.
4. IoT Middleware
Companies like IBM, Axeda, Sierra Wireless, 2lemetry, ClearBlade, Microsoft, Eurotech, Thingworx, Litmus Automation and others are providing IoT platforms/middleware solutions. This is definitely an emerging space where all platforms are not equal. I expect to see a lot more startups and the big enterprise middleware vendors driving the innovation for IoT middleware.
5. IoT Databases
The amount of data generated by IoT solutions has the potential to be Huge Data, not just big data. AS pointed out by Matt Asay, the exists a massive opportunity in analyzing IoT data. Splunk seems to be the leader in this space but I expect a lot of innovation in this space.
6. IoT Solutions: IoT & Humans vs Industrial Internet
There are also a lot of industry specific and user-case specific IoT solutions. Tim O’Reilly wrote a recent article titled ‘The Internet of Things and Humans‘ which does a very nice job summarizing the human impact of IoT. In fact a lot of the hype for IoT is around wearables and home automation. Nest is the poster-child for IoT&H but you can’t go a week without finding another home automation solution being launched on kickstarter.
There is no doubt the human side of IoT will be important but I find the Industrial side to be a lot more compelling. SCADA systems like the London Tube system , Nespresso providing remote management of coffee machine, the work GE is doing for hospitals, aircrafts, etc. are the things are fascinating and exciting opportunities. This is also where a lot of the profits in IoT will be made.
In the last 6 months the activity/hype around IoT has exploded. It will be fun to watch how these categories emerge and merge in the next 1-2 years. Of course an Open IoT is what is needed for all this to be successful. Eclipse IoT will be an important part of the solution.