The internet of things, or IoT, is a trend popping up in tech dialogue with increasing regularity.
This is in no small part due to the work being put into the sector by industry giants like Intel, who are now jostling for positions at the forefront of the IoT market.
To find out how Intel's IoT strategy was shaping up and to hear more about the trend in general, we caught up with the company's IoT Marketing Director for EMEA, Rod O'Shea.
TechRadar Pro: How would you define IOT in under 10 words?
Rod O'Shea: Enabling better decisions through gathering and analysing data from new sources.
TRP: That's 11 but we'll let you off. What have been the biggest challenges you've met while evangelising IOT?
RO: IoT can conjure up images of sci-fi thrillers from Orwell's 1984 to the film Minority Report, but the reality is very different.
For example using intelligence to manage a smart grid of electricity, maximising power availability; using pressure sensors to quickly identify water leaks thus improving efficiency and maximising the resources available to us; looking at how hospital equipment is used and using that data to improve patient care. These are real tangible benefits to harnessing the power of the internet of things.
TRP: What steps has Intel taken to mitigate privacy fears associated with IoT?
RO: In devices like the Costa Coffee vending machine, which gather demographic data, that's all we gather – statistics. No personal data or imagery that could identify an individual is captured.
If you walk away and come back our analytics would register 2 individuals. Beyond that, stressing the benefits of the data gathered from IoT is really the key. For businesses, success has always been about making the best possible decisions on the information available.
IoT and big data strategies give businesses access to much more data on which to base their decisions, so for example, predictive maintenance means that you get maximum value from every piece of equipment a business is responsible for.
TRP: What is the level of concern regarding the security of IoT networks?
RO: There are genuine concerns. Intel takes security very seriously, building it into hardware and every level of software. Security considerations should be integral to any IoT implementation and Intel can help. Applications like whitelisting, in combination with other measures, mean you can effectively protect embedded devices.
Privacy is in some ways intrinsically linked to security. You need to make sure that private data remains private and secured. There is a wider conversation to be had on what value do we as society place on our data, and who should have access to what.
TRP: Your recent event in Swindon event coincided with the launch of Hypercat in the UK. What are your thoughts about these latest endeavours?
The IoT Ignition Labs Swindon opening was purely coincidental to the HyperCat launch. We are an active part of HyperCat Technology Strategy Board through the DISTANCE consortium, focused on the Internet of 'School' Things. Our Intel Collaborative Research Institute (ICRI) for sustainable connected cities is the driver for this program and looks at IoT solutions on an academic level.
We firmly believe any opportunity to make IoT deployment faster and easier is a step in the right direction.
TRP: Is the tech industry doing enough to promote open interoperability standards and common architectures?
RO: Interoperability will be key to the success of IoT. Intel was a founding member of the Industrial Internet Consortium earlier this year, and we've acquired Mashery and Aepona for API management to help with that interoperability.
Why will that be key? Because we won't wake up tomorrow to a new IoT enabled world. Deployments will take place over a period of time, but will need to connect to each other, so that systems can be extended over time.
TRP: Can you tell us more about Intel's efforts when it comes to the software ecosystem that's supposed to wrap around IoT?
Analytics is probably one of the most challenging aspects of IoT, and we have invested a significant amount into Cloudera, the leader in enterprise analytic data management, to create value through the power of big data analytics.
Intel also has wide breadth of the critical components, including middleware from Wind River and API management technologies (Apoena and Mashery), as well as a scalable compute architecture from device to cloud and from cost to performance optimized.
Additionally, security is key to the IoT which Intel delivers through software and services as well as comprehensive solutions that take advantage of hardware and software tied together.
TRP: Where do you see the IOT market by 2020?
RO: I think we'll be starting to see the benefits as we tackle some big problems in society.
Putting sensors into the homes of the elderly, for example, could help them to stay in their homes for longer, by ensuring that they are mobile, taking medications, eating hot meals.
We have a system like this on display in our IoT Ignition Lab in Swindon. The system highlights any exceptions, and appropriate action can then be taken. And I think that in the more commercial aspects of IoT, applications like predictive maintenance and fleet management will be commonplace, meaning that "Out of Order" notices are hopefully a thing of the past by 2020.