Global Sources
EE Times-India
Stay in touch with EE Times India
EE Times-India > RF/Microwave

IoT: Banking on promises that may never come to be

Posted: 09 May 2016     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:NimbeLink  IoT  Apple Watch  Fitbit  wearable 

The glut of applications that the Internet of Things (IoT) claims to enable and support in the future has yet to reach its peak. Right now, we should be asking ourselves whether we are still stuck on the hype, or if reality has started kicking in and begun telling us to wake up and smell the IoT-free coffee.

Our Silicon Valley bureau chief admits he doesn't want an Apple Watch or Fitbit and has the audacity to suggest that's not his problem, but the industry's.

I need to lose about eight pounds, I know how to do it and that worries me. I'm not worried about my health, I'm worried about the health of the Internet of Things, the next big thing the tech industry is banking on.

I'm worried the IoT is sitting on top of a stack of bad assumptions: Everything will be instrumented someday because having data about more things makes things better.

As a long time maven of the computer and semiconductor industries I usually buy into this first slide in the communal Powerpoint without thinking twice. Then I got to thinking about my weight.

I work out regularly, eat right, but lately I've spent too much time on my backside, writing about IoT and other things. A dumb mechanical scale at the YMCA told me this morning what my analogue unconnected mirror and my intuition have been telling me for a while, I'm about eight pounds overweight.

I know I need to eat a little less, especially the snacks I like at night, and work out a little harder and more often. I just need to do it.

Smartwatches not required

I didn't need an Apple Watch or a Fitbit or any other wearable device to tell me this. It's my body for heck sake, I know it better than a device does.

One reason I am completely uninterested in a smartwatch or fitness tracker is I don't want even five more minutes a day in front of a screen. In fact these days I measure my quality of life each day in part by the number of minutes away from a computer or smartphone or TV display. So please, don't give me another display and another app and social networking service to track!

I interviewed Scott Schwalbe, CEO of NimbeLink, a small provider of embedded cellular modems for machine-to-machine (M2M) aka IoT systems. He just started selling LTE Cat 1 modems, mainly for 2G users upgrading to a network that has a longer future ahead.

Cat 1 modems cost about as much as 2G ones and consume about the same power. They will mainly be used by existing 2G and 3G M2M users trying to get off legacy networks. Next-gen LTE Cat M modems promise lower prices and power consumption that could attract a new class of IoT users.

The new customers will "not be tech companies but more non-technical product companies wanting to [optimally] monitor or manage their businesses," Schwalbe said.

Empty promises from IoT?

That's when the little light went on. I wondered whether all these new IoT uses instrumenting all these things that never had microcontrollers and networks before are real, or just bad assumptions by overzealous tech marketers unaware of their blind spots.

How many of the great promises of IoT are like my weight problem, something for which no one really needs digital networked technology?

I recall a Berkeley professor telling me a couple years back the biggest problem with the IoT is you are trying to put digital networked technology where there is nothing today. That requires a lot of education and hope the promised ROI materialises.

I'm sure there are many wonderful applications ahead in IoT from smarter streetlights and parking lots to more productive farm fields. But I suspect there are a lot of those forecasted 50 trillion IoT nodes that, like an Apple Watch or Fitbit on my wrist, will never see the light of day.

- Rick Merritt
  EE Times

Comment on "IoT: Banking on promises that may ne..."
*  You can enter [0] more charecters.
*Verify code:


Visit Asia Webinars to learn about the latest in technology and get practical design tips.


Go to top             Connect on Facebook      Follow us on Twitter      Follow us on Orkut

Back to Top