Ideas, insights and inspirations.

Almost two decades ago, I attended a lecture by an Internet engineering pioneer, Scott Bradner, justifying the Internet’s implementation of IPv6 (an IP address scheme capable of assigning an astronomical number of addresses per every square inch of our planet’s surface) to prepare for a massively connected world. I remember him offering pacemakers and toasters connected to the Internet as examples of what to expect. Two decades ago this talk solidified in my mind the then nascent Internet’s promise, to become the Internet of Things. That was twenty years ago. And yet, my toaster is still not connected to the Internet and the world has yet to adopt IPv6, limiting us to IPv4’s modest 20 or so addresses per square mile. Many people think the Internet of Things is approaching quickly, but I wonder why it isn’t already here? Today, the Things market is about $30 billion, so the Internet of Things must have arrived for someone. Until recently, industries … Continue reading

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I bet I can explain all the talk about the Internet of things (IoT) and the phrase “smarter planet” in a few short paragraphs. Thirty years ago, I co-oped at GE. Our goal was to improve the efficiency of a fluorescent lighting assembly line. We implemented a four-step process: Step 1: Install Sensors: we installed 200 tiny sensors at 200 different stages of the assembly line; the sensors detected whether the fluorescent tube on the assembly line was defect free or not. Step 2: Network the Sensors: we created a local area network that enabled connectivity between the sensors. Step 3: Let Sensors Share Intelligence: our sensors sent a signal to the next stage of the assembly line telling it whether the fluorescent tube was still defect free or not. If the signal said the tube had gone bad, it told the assembly line to do nothing to it and let the tube move on. On the last step of the … Continue reading

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