IoT (Internet of Things) is a hot topic at the moment.
Every second company I talk to has it on its roadmap. The joint Industry/Government taskforce on Big Data has become a taskforce on Big Data and IoT. It is also high on the agenda of the research community and forms a large part of our research work in CONNECT, a Science Foundation Ireland research centre at Trinity College Dublin with partners at nine other academic institutions. A well-attended public talk entitled ‘Trends with Benefits: The Internet-of-Things Future’ at our offices in Westland Row demonstrated that it is increasingly on the minds of the wider community as well.
IoT is a catchy but misleading phrase though. It wrongly suggests that IoT is one technology. Far from it. IoT is the coming together of many different technologies:
– IoT involves the sensors embedded in things around us and the powering of these sensors so we can deploy and forget;
– IoT includes the radios that transmit data from the sensors as well as the different networks supporting the billions of connected things;
– IoT encompasses the data management and data processing needed to make meaning out of the massive amounts of information and also the security and privacy of both data and things.
It doesn’t stop there. IoT also demands a deep understanding of the verticals in which applications will be deployed: health, agriculture, energy, automotives, and smart cities. Clearly, it is a complex field. In addition, the IoT market itself is fragmented and the IoT business models remain unclear.
All of this makes it a particularly exciting challenge for Dublin. The right answers have yet to be found. There are big opportunities out there. There are niche markets to be developed. It¹s all to play for.
And Dublin has many of the ingredients to make that play. This city has an exceptionally strong ICT research base. It has companies from right across the IoT value chain. It has the Born-on-the-Internet giants. It already has startups in the IoT space, companies like Davra Networks, Shimmer and Pilot Photonics. In addition, we have a burgeoning maker, DIY electronics and hacker community. And we have supportive agencies.
The dots are there to be joined. At CONNECT, we are trying to do that by bringing together expertise from across all the relevant areas and then by making sure that research gets picked up by those who want to exploit it and take it further.
We also want to join the dots by moving beyond Dublin and blanketing Ireland in IoT infrastructure (LPWAN). We want to use this infrastructure as a catalyst for 200 new companies. Ireland is of a scale that is small enough to test, yet large enough to prove concepts that can be translated to mass markets beyond our shores.
We’ve adopted an open-door policy. Our message is simple: ‘If you have a good IoT idea, come talk to us’. We want to hear from entrepreneurs and budding startups. We want to help. We have the academic and commercial expertise and we are preparing a new suite of practical measures to assist IoT startups such as a monthly open house events and the prospect of dedicated office space.
IoT is at the top of the Gartner Hype Cycle right now. In the next phase we will see it plunge into the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’. It is then that the really productive solutions will emerge. Dublin is the right place to be for that rollercoaster ride.
Photograph: Robbie Reynolds for Conor McCabe Photography.