MITProfessionalX Course Diary – IOTx Internet of Things: Roadmap to a Connected World – Week 5 & Conclusion

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Week 5 of the MITProfessionalX IOTx Internet of Things: Roadmap to a Connected World course concluded with the Applications module, specifically:

Beyond IoT – Ubiquitous Sensing and Human Experience (Joe Paradiso)

    • Emerging Descriptive data standards for IoT and sensors
    • Immersive visualization of diverse sensor data using game engines (part of IoT’s ‘control panel’)
    • Wearable sensing for IoT (future user interfaces for IoT – new ways to control and interact with your environment)
    • Sensors and paradigms for seamless Interaction with the Built Environment (lighting, heating, etc.)
    • Smart Tools for IoT
    • Smart, sensate materials

Wireless Technologies for Indoor Localization, Smart Homes, and Smart Health (Dina Kitabi)

      • Smart health
      • Home automation
      • Location tracking

Smart Cities (Carlo Ratti)

      • The city as a cyber physical system
      • Principles of cybernetics: sensing and actuating
      • Collection of information: opportunistic sensing (a)
      • Collection of information: crowd sensing (b)
      • Collection of information: ad hoc sensing (c)
      • Response of the system: analytics and optimization
      • Response of the system: distributed action, people as intelligent actuators
      • Price of anarchy
      • Hacking the city: the risk for cyber attacks in centralized and distributed systems
      • Smart city equals Smart Citizens

The final module of the course (and the previous module) complemented, conveniently, much of what was revealed this week at Google I/O 2016 – Smart Homes, Smart Buildings and Smart Cities. The world is changing very quickly. Things will change in the near future as sensors become ubiquitous and the way we plug into them becomes more and more intimate. The sensors are already out there, piggybacking on the back of devices that are already in place. Sensors are getting cheaper, as the cost comes down everything becomes accessible and the ability to innovate will be widespread. At I/O this year, Google displayed its vision for a more ubiquitous and conversational way of interacting with technology. Its Assistant is chattier, answering natural language queries with a more human voice, and it’s found its way into several new Google products: the messenger Allo and the Echo-like speaker Home. Both are areas where other companies have a lead, but Google’s strength in AI gave these services some nice twists, doing things like automatically generating surprisingly specific reactions to photos. But you don’t have to have Google’s resources to able to play in this space, a RasPi or Arduino can get things going and as Profesor Sarma pointed out in his last slide ‘Just do it, thoughtfully. But do something.

  • Why? Because IoT is in your future, and IoT literacy is essential.
  • IoT is very personal to your company. You need to figure out how it will impact your business.

His roadmap, beyond the ‘walled gardens’ of NEST, HomeKit and Smart Hub is encouraging and his advice applies to all of us and our organisations.



‘Finally, over time, I think that what’s going to happen is we’re going to go to a three-tier architecture. You have the device, you have the cloud, and you have edge computing, if you need performance. And that’s really my prediction for where this world is going to go.
IoT is in the future. Devices you buy will be IoT-enabled. Your homes will be IoT enabled. And it’s going to become a competitive thing.
And so what you need is what I call IoT literacy. It’s a way of thinking, which is how do I instrument and take advantage of it because it is happening. Don’t fight it, in fact, try and win it.
Just imagine if you had fought the cell phone 10 years ago. If you didn’t use your iPhone, your Android phone, or your Microsoft phone. If you didn’t do text messaging. If you didn’t do scheduling on your phone. If you didn’t use Google Maps or Apple Maps, just imagine, you would have been at a disadvantage.
I would use the same thing. I mean if you have a factory that refuses to monitor valves using connectivity, compared to a company that has a factory that does. And if their insurance goes down, you’re at a disadvantage. So it is in your future. I predict it. And don’t fight it.
But it is very personal to you. What I mean by that is when we bring the technology in, let’s say a cell phone. The cell phone is very personal to me. I use it in a way that is different from even a close colleague of mine. For example, I may use certain features more than she does.
My wife and I use our cell phones subtly differently, but within our family we have a certain pattern. We know how to reach each other. We prefer text to a call. IoT is like that.

If your business is your family, you will adapt IoT to your business. Your business probably has an advantage– you do something different and it, gives you an advantage. So IoT has to wrap itself around that, so that you can use IoT to make the thing that makes you different more advantageous.
And so you have to figure out how to use it. Now, I’m not saying don’t work with consultants. But if you work with a consultant, work with a consultant who understands the process. The IT part of it will come later.

But if you start with the IT, you will put the cart before the horse. The IT will dictate what you should be doing as opposed to the process. So figure out your process and figure out precisely where IoT can help you, then let’s figure out the IT.

The next thing I recommend is build a real system and try and use it. I assure you the learnings will be fundamental. And it will give you a very gut-level, visceral IoT literacy that you will need.
And here’s the next thing– be ready to fail, be ready to iterate just as you would with math, just as you would with a new technique, just as you would if you, for example, decided to go buy a bike, and you’ve never ridden a bike. But you’ll figure it out. It’s the same thing. You got to learn to iterate because, again, this is going to be deep in your use, and you’ve got to figure out how this thing works.’

This has been an excellent course and the whole experience has enhanced my understanding of the Internet of Things, its technologies and applications. Taking the course has also prompted three important takeaways:

  • Updating our skills is critical, we must be constantly learning
  • We must get comfortable with change
  • If we don’t take heed of the first two points things could get tricky for ourselves and our organisations. – See Twelve ways to survive the race to irrelevance

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