Results tagged “Internet of Things”

Why are smart devices still so stupid?

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Software application developers working with the kinds of embedded computing devices that we now class as citizens within the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) can be forgiven for getting somewhat confused.

The Internet of Things a.k.a

The trouble is, the Internet of Things is also known as:

• the Internet of Things That Matter (IoTTM)
• the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
• the Internet of Business (IoB)

The CWDN newsdesk has even seen a Revolutionize the IoT (RIoT) programme... and yes, we left the Z in deliberately.

Recent research from James Brehm & Associates has suggested that while 73 percent of enterprises are either experimenting with or implementing IoT solutions; connectivity, security and interoperability are making global scalability a challenge.

Stupidity factor


It almost begs the question: why are smart devices so stupid and failing to interconnect as they really should be by now given the degree to which we discuss the IoT.

To try to get some deeper insight, CWDN spoke to Rob Miller, head of energy at MWR InfoSecurity -- a firm known for its penetration testing, web application testing, vulnerability assessments, continuous security verifications, wireless security testing, firewall testing and so on.

"There are two races happening at the moment that are leading to security failures in IoT. The first is over which wireless protocol will become the de-facto standard in IoT. Developers and manufacturers of wireless protocols and hardware need to be clear not only what security features their solutions have, but also how to use them safely and where their limits are," said Miller.

He continues, "Any standards released for IoT will have to walk a tight line of staying broad enough so that they can be included by all IoT vendors, but strict enough that they still offer a level of effective measurements. Standards that try to cover all IoT from home automation alarms through to mass smart city monitoring solutions run the risk of producing rules so abstract that a developer could misinterpret them, or worse produce devices that tick every box without ever adding real security."

A call to action

How do we get out of this IoT mess (so that we don't end up building the Internet of Mess) then?

The smart money is on CATEGORISING EVERY ELEMENT of the IoT and understanding the component parts within it, for developers, architects, sysadmins and non-technical planners alike... it's almost like we need to break the IoT down into a list.

We will get there, but this discussion -- now -- is necessary.

Thingsee One, an IoT developer device

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Thingsee is a manufacturer of developer devices and platforms from Oulu (yes, it's a real place) in Finland.

The firm has announced the commercial availability of its Thingsee One device -- a 'smart' developer device for Internet of Things (IoT) application development.

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The CEO speaketh

"Thingsee allows a new range of developers to start building IoT products & services.You don't need to know C or C++. Just get the data you need using Thingsee One and build your applications server side with PHP, NodeJS or any other programming language," claims Pasi Jokinen, Thingsee's CEO.


Unlike other developer devices on the market, such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino, Thingsee One is ready for immediate use and is both weatherproof and impact resistant.

The unit has fully programmable sensors - including:

  • accelerometer,
  • magnetometer
  • humidity,
  • temperature and.
  • pressure sensors - plus,
  • extensive cellular connectivity.

Battery life lasts up to one year, or so we are told.

Thingsee One was first introduced to the market via a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign run in late 2014.

The manufacture of the device began in Finland in July this year.

Thingsee is also launching Thingsee Creator, a visual programming tool as a public beta -- Creator is supposed to enable the creation of prototypes and new practices in just minutes.

Thingsee One is currently used globally by multiple companies and project groups of differing sizes. For example, large companies like Cisco Systems are using Thingsee One for prototyping new IoT concepts, and smaller teams like have used the device to develop complex new applications.

The Internet of cardiovascular diagnostic Things

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Obviously the Internet of cardiovascular diagnostics Things (IocdT) is really just the IoT with a specific bent towards healthcare implementations -- but the question is, at what point do we start looking at wellbeing-focus software application development streams above and beyond the health benefits of, say, wearables like the Fitbit?


NOTE: No disrespect to Fitbit, even if my ex-beloved Fitbit One did indeed die a death after 18 months of constant use.

To reemphasise our initial point, if products like iHealth CardioLab exist (the first connected diagnostics system for the early detection of cardiovascular disease), then at what point can we start making these products (and their corresponding and supporting software applications) more accessible?

iHealth presents a wireless monitoring system that allows general practitioners to obtain a detailed cardiovascular assessment of patients in less than two minutes.

With two measuring modules simultaneously positioned on the arm and ankle, this device provides early detection of arterial disease by measuring blood pressure and calculating several cardiovascular markers such as ABI (Ankle Brachial Index).

Curative health to preventive

The tipping point here is... at what point can the healthcare focused IoT technologies that we use start (as this product sets out to do) anticipating many health problems so we can switch from curative health to preventive health?

"Because of the current differing medical procedures for measuring the ABI (should the doctor use the posterior tibial artery, anterior tibial artery or dorsalis pedis artery?), we decided to unify the results by introducing an oscillometric measuring system to standardize ABI and make it accessible to all physicians," says Uwe Diegel, CEO of iHealthLabs Europe.

"Easy to use, allowing for quick measurement - less than two minutes - with very low margins of error associated with handling errors, the iHealth CardioLab is aimed to be used as a prevention tool by general practitioners to detect problems before they translate into external events".

The app factor

To operate the iHealth CardioLab and other iHealth Pro devices, iHealth has created the iHealth Pro App, used on an Apple iPad -- iHealth Pro is intuitive to use and correlates the data from the iHealth CardioLab with other risk factors for a better overview of the patient's health.

The connection between the iHealth Pro App and the iHealth CardioLab is made by Bluetooth, allowing healthcare professionals to easily import the results of the patient and incorporate them in his medical records.

Internet of Things apocalypse, Now

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This is a guest post by Trevor Pott, professor emeritus of full-time nerdyness, systems administration, technology writing and consulting. Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada these days, Pott helps Silicon Valley start-ups better understand systems administrators and how to sell to them.

Safe definitions

First off, I think we need to define what mean when we talk about the Internet of Things.


Some people talk of sensors, others about "wearable computing/quantified self" technologies and still others about "home automation." I think that we can safely define "the Internet of Things" as the collection of computers - big and small, from sensors to satellites - that are largely unattended and/or unmanaged.

I think this is an important distinction.

A computer that receives regular management or is regularly used by a human is very likely to receive regular updates, to have its behaviour monitored and for compromises on those systems to be noticed. Unattended computers, however, are the "scut work" technological robots of our society. Largely ignored unless they break or we need something from them, they idle away for years without maintenance.

Here you could put sensors

From Google's Nest to the array of sensors making sure oil pipelines keep working. Baseband Management Controllers (BMCs) that provide lights out management to servers are in this category; they are their own separate computer from the larger unit they serve and yet the BMCs themselves are frequently ignored and left un-updated.

Throw in security cameras, ATMs, even the VoIP phones on your desk or the "public phones" that adorn your local airport and you begin to glimpse the barest fraction of what we're dealing with. There are hundreds of thousands of computers driving displays in cities all around the world. There are computers running - quite literally - planes and trains and automobiles.

A disaster with no realistic end

Wearables, iPods, even the army of computers in our cars are increasingly Internet connected (at least some of the time), and don't get the kind of "patch Tuesday" TLC we afford our primary systems. It's a disaster that has already happened, it will get worse, and I see no realistic end.

Internet of Things apocalypse, now

New standards, APIs, protocols and radio tricks aren't going to make the Internet of Things less of an accelerating security - and privacy - apocalypse. Like any "movement" in computing, the Internet of Things is here, now, today. It is largely a reclassification of that which was already occurring, but has not become enough of an issue - and an opportunity - to earn a cute moniker.

Literally thousands

There are literally tens of thousands of different models of device using thousands of APIs on hundreds of variants of the same 10 or so basic operating systems. Even if we stopped all development of new IoT computer systems tomorrow it would take us the next 50 or so years to find every installed unattended computer on the planet and secure it. And we're adding new computers at a rate that simply cannot be measured.

Future systems need a fundamental change in approach. We need to build our IoT devices with the idea in mind that they are compromised by default. We need to be adding in hard firewalls with application layer gateways and whitelisting the possible commands (and possibly origin points of those commands) that the onboard computers of our IoT equipment will eve process.

We need automated update systems, automated monitoring. We need a means to do all of this and more while still protecting the privacy of individuals and corporations. As scare as the idea of someone turning your 50,000 IPv6 lightbulbs into a botnet that can form a platform launching real attacks against your corporate network is, the privacy implications of having every aspect of our lives monitored is so very much worse.

1984 cometh in 2014

Imagine what insurance companies - or governments - would do if they could track everything you eat, everything you excrete, how much of what exercise you're getting, how much you pay attention when driving, how engaged you are when presented with various images/slogans/policies/pornography/"seditious materials" name it. Now consider that the technology to track all of that - and far, far more - not only already exists, much of it is in our homes and we don't even realise.

Smart TVs have already been caught spying on us . Many come with cameras, and the XBox is equipped with not only cameras, but enough sensors to detect if your heart goes pitter pat that little bit faster when presented with blondes, or with redheads.

Start putting it all together, add in the fact that we're all supposed to connect everything to "the cloud", using our online identities, and storing all our information with the IT megaliths from the privacy-averse United States of America and I suspect you'll be able to connect the dots. 20 years ago this would have been the stuff of dystopic science fiction. In fact, 15 years ago it would have been considered the ultimate in tinfoil hat paranoia.

Today, the panopticon is taking shape all around us. The only question that really remains is who will ultimately have access to the data; cyber criminals who only want your money, or corporations and governments who both desire a far more insidious and total level of control.

Early adopters

Nowhere in all of this do I see an out for the average man or woman. What are technologies embraced today only by a few "early adopters" will be mainstream in five years, socially mandatory in 10 and in all likelihood legally requisite in 25. Mark my words, we will look back on such gross social manipulation exercises as "think of the children" or "we need to fight the terrorists" with fondness. The quaint concepts of a more naive time.

We already live in a world where the average person cannot hope to defend their technological footprint against a targeted attack from even a mediocre cyber-criminal. A skilled practitioner of the arts can bowl over the defences of even trained professionals. We are adding millions, eventually billions of devices onto the internet to track our every move and we have just barely begun to think about how we might defend them.

If that isn't bad enough, our future is one in which we will be monitored 24/7, and if we aren't doing "our share" for society we will be penalised. Less tax breaks, higher insurance...who knows where that ends?

What can we do?

Short of refusing to participate altogether, we are facing the true end to privacy within our lifetimes. Not some .com airy-fairy concept that "the evil Google boogyman will see what you like and advertise at you." We're entering a world where anyone - criminal, corporation, government, spouse or more - with the motivation and skills will be able to tell what you are doing, how you're doing it, and to what degree you're enjoying it.

If you think I'm off my meds, remember that we can now use wifi to see through walls.

Imagine what I could do if I could log into an entire house full of wirelessly networked sensors and gizmos, all of which haven't been updated in years? How many things in your house have infrared sensors? Your phone has how many sensors? Do you ever turn your XBox off?

The NSA is watching Ceiling Cat watch you masturbate, and within our lifetimes this will be the new normal. How will we cope with that world? How will our society deal with the idea that we have no secrets?

Companies like Supermicro are starting to invest in technologies to defend the next generation of devices. It's a welcome gesture, but they are one company amongst many millions working on IoT devices. For every Supermicro out there doing yeoman's work on behalf of the little guy, there are 100 others who just don't care.

We cannot stop what is to come.

Human nature - our apathy, our greed, or feeling of collective impotence and need to shift blame - is what stands in the way. We are our own worst enemy and we will bring the panopticon upon ourselves. It won't "get better". We won't suddenly get a handle on technology and slowly reverse a surveillance state that will have proven so politically and financially valuable to so many. It's absurdly naive to even entertain the notion.

Our society will change to accept this as normal. Unlike some, I don't think it will be a grandiose humanising revolution that will cause us to suddenly embrace one another's differences. I think we will fracture, factionalise, become even more polarised and we will feel all the more helpless and out of control besides. We are sleepwalking into an era of voluntary servitude.

Criminals, corporations and our own governments will all have more "visibility" into our lives than our own spouses. And the only good the technologists of today can hope to do is to slow this inevitable future down. If we're particularly lucky, it will be the legacy we leave future generations, but not one we ourselves have to live through.

In the meantime and betweentime, do try to enjoy the benefits of the IoT technologies. They are niche - and will continue to be for some time - but benefits do exist. These benefits are the carrot hiding the rather dark and ominous stick.

-Trevor Pott

Are we confusing the Internet of Things with embedded, already?

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Surveys are the most important, most informative, most insightful and most expressive means of understanding what is going on inside the Information Technology industry -- right?


Well, let's assume that you are reading this because you're not fooled by manufactured un-spontaneous survey contrivance.

So the Internet of Things (IoT) is important and we need lots of surveys to assess its wider worth, correct?

Evans Data thinks so and has questioned 1,400 developers worldwide to find that 17 percent were already working on IoT-related applications... while 23 percent expected to begin projects by next January.

"We're still in the early stages of development for Internet of Things, even though forward-thinking companies like Cisco and IBM have been promoting and enabling development for an interconnected world for the last several years," said Janel Garvin, Evans chief executive.

But are we confusing the Internet of Things with embedded, already?

Evans perambulates loquaciously onward, "The technologies needed are now converging with cloud, big data, system embedded systems, real-time event processing, even cognitive computing combining to change the face of the technological landscape we live in, and developers are leading the way."

There, she said it -- she said "embedded", right there.

In so many places we see that this Internet of Things expression is simply used to convey that which we would normally refer to as embedded development.

Don't be fooled by the IT industry renaming already established conventions simply for the sake of spin...

... and (perhaps most of all) don't be fooled by analyst surveys.

IBM revs up automotive vehicle system M2M

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The car is dead -- the automotive vehicle system has arrived.

Well, our traditional view of the car is dead if we accept that the Internet of Things has made its way into the new breed of cloud-connected cars.

Cloud-connected cars, really?

Well, if you believe the messages coming out of software-focused firms like IBM and its introduction this week of IBM MessageSight, a new appliance designed to help manage and communicate with the billions of mobile devices and sensors found in "systems" such as:

1. automobiles,
2. traffic management systems,
3. smart buildings and...
4. household appliances.

According to IMS Research, there will be more than 22 billion web-connected devices by 2020.

These new devices will generate more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data every day, while every hour enough information is consumed by Internet traffic to fill seven million DVDs.

IBM sees IBM MessageSight being used in potential deployments like the Ford Evos concept car as pictured below.


Although this car will almost certainly never make it into production, Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president of Ford Research and Innovation has said that the Ford Evos car "gets to know you" the driver.

"[The Ford Evos] can act as a personal assistant to handle some of the usual routines of a daily commute. It could automatically play the same music or news programme that was just streaming at home, or heat or cool the interior to an ideal temperature before the driver gets in without having to be requested by predicting departure time based on his calendar," he said.

15 years of exploding sensors in an instrumented, interconnected and intelligent world...

Over the next 15 years, the number of machines and sensors connected to the Internet will explode.

Building on the Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) technology, IBM says that MessageSight is capable of supporting one million concurrent sensors or smart devices and can scale up to thirteen million messages per second.

"When we launched our Smarter Planet strategy nearly five years ago, our strategic belief was that the world was going to be profoundly changed as it became more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent. IBM MessageSight is a major technological step forward in continuing that strategy," said Marie Wieck, general manager, WebSphere, IBM.

Automated car servicing?

As an example, an automotive manufacturer can use IBM MessageSight to help manage the features and services of its automobiles. With thousands of sensors in each car, a dealer can now be notified when a "check engine" light turns on in a specific car. Based on the information transmitted by the engine sensor, the dealer could then notify the owner that there is a critical problem and they should get their car serviced immediately.

The truth is that vast majority of the 22 billion sensors will be found in devices that are mobile.

As a result, IBM MessageSight is designed to complement the firm's MobileFirst offerings -- introduced in February of this year, IBM MobileFirst is a collection of mobile enterprise software, services, cloud and analytics capabilities.

A core element of IBM MessageSight is its support of MQTT, which was recently proposed to become an OASIS standard, providing a lightweight messaging transport for communication in machine to machine (M2M) and mobile environments.

Sensors are often small in size, have low power and typically low communications bandwidth capabilities. MQTT can be used in conjunction with these devices. Its low power consumption, high performance and reliability allow real time updates that can be acted upon immediately.

New of this product announcement emerged during IBM's Impact 2013 conference and exhibition held in Las Vegas.

It's a small (M2M) world after all

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As we now develop a wide array of M2M implementations that help us build the so-called Internet of Things, the truth is that The Internet of Things is now the Internet of M2M Things.

NOTE: M2M technology supports wired or wireless communication between machines. M2M is used in telemetry, data collection, remote control, robotics, remote monitoring, status tracking, road traffic control, offsite diagnostics and even telemedicine.

Cisco has estimated that M2M communications arising as part of the Internet of Things (IoT for short) is going to "contribute significantly" to a six-fold increase in mobile data traffic by 2017.
M internet.png
CTO with M2M-specialist company Ciseco Miles Hodkinson blogs recently that his firm's technology was born out of an ambition to say "wireless is easier than wires".

"The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to be as revolutionary as steam power. The IoT provides the ability to digitally network the objects and systems around us that are not computers, phones or tablets; in essence everything else. Its potential goes far beyond the key applications we've been hearing about for years, the self-stocking fridge; the kettle that turns on as you arrive home; the lights or heating controlled from your phone. The real potential is in the creation of systems that have never been seen before. The IoT represents billions of man hours that could be replaced by self-aware products that simply 'do' rather than have to be used, and the fundamental cultural and social shift, when old methods are replaced by automation and autonomy, said Hodkinson.

M2M is everywhere

M2M is everywhere. The website exists as a developer community forum for embedded wireless and connected consumer devices. The graphic to the side of this blog shows you the range of M2M Developer Kits on offer today at and these come with test SIMs, developer tools and documented support.

M2M really is everywhere. The Indian city of New Delhi will play host to the Smart Device and Content 2013 conference later this March.

"The Indian smart device market is vibrant, with healthy competition and varied offerings in all segments of the market. The Indian telecommunications industry (which supports M2M communication) is one of the fastest growing in the world and India is projected to become the second largest telecom market globally."

M2M is honestly everywhere. The recent Mobile World Congress exhibition saw Ericsson and SAP sign an agreement to jointly market and sell cloud-based M2M solutions and services to enterprises via operators.

The firms suggest that enterprises have faced barriers toward the adoption of M2M solutions, such as lack of complete multi-industry end-to-end offerings and deficiency of suitable global coverage connectivity solutions that are needed by multinational enterprises.

A selection of M2M examples

These new solutions and services being offered as a result of this agreement are intended to help address business processes such as maintenance, remote service, inventory, logistics and road transport management, vending and customer experience management.

Co-CEO of SAP Jim Hagemann Snabe has bullishly stated that his firm will increase adoption of M2M solutions. "Enterprises will benefit from an offering that provides them with everything they need to connect to machines, and helps turn high volumes of data into real-time knowledge and decision-making," he said.

Ericsson chief Hans Vestberg is on the record saying that global M2M service revenue is estimated to reach more than £134 billion by 2017.

"The joint go-to-market model combines the assets of SAP, Ericsson and mobile operators, making it possible for enterprises to effectively connect their enterprise assets across multi-country operations with full integration to existing business processes, along with support for mobile and real-time scenarios," said the firms, in a press statement.

This means that a full end-to-end logistics solution should now also include an M2M connectivity consideration.

Because of M2M, The Internet of Things just became The Internet of Everything and so it's a small (M2M) world after all

Intel: 15 billion online toasters by 2015

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Despite a lowering of its financial forecast for the rest of 2012, Intel continues its mission to be seen as 'more than just a chipmaker' this month with events staged around the firm's IDF Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

New initiative launches include the firm's Intelligent Systems Framework, a set of connectivity and interoperability technologies designed to help us on the path towards the Internet of Things.

NOTE: The Internet of Things is a term commonly used to describe the growth of online connected intelligent devices in the form of everything from smartphones to kiosks and onward to televisions, cars, sensors/cameras and yes, even microwave ovens, fridges and toasters.

Intel predicts that over 15 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2015 and one third of these connected devices will be intelligent systems.

Scalable just got urgent

Actually, analyst firm IDC predicts the above and Intel agrees with them, but whatever... we're getting massively increasingly connected and so we need to provision for "scalable computing platforms" as a necessity.

Intel warns that today, the process for developing connected devices involves the use of proprietary components from a variety of manufacturers. "Often missing are the security and manageability features needed to protect and manage the network of devices that connects to each other and the cloud, generating massive amounts of data," said the company, in a press statement.

web wok.jpeg

The Intel Intelligent Systems Framework attempts to establish a set of recipes to reduce the development time for hardware and software integration for intelligent systems. The framework also seeks to address fragmentation in today's market by creating a standardised and open platform for the ecosystem that is actively building solutions.

Next steps will see us "unlocking data" from legacy environments where it is not necessarily analysed at the moment.

What will this give us?

If we achieve this connectivity of devices in the Internet of Things properly then manufacturing systems will become more self-aware and empowered by data relating to every machine's performance - and yes, your toaster will tell you when it needs replacing.

IBM's "new" Internet: full of toasters, earrings & electronic T-shirts

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Embedded software application development could be a significantly increasing trend for 2012 and onward if IBM's latest thinking is borne out in tangible product development.

This is the upshot of IBM's latest moves to produce what could effectively be a whole new Internet - or the "Internet of Things" as it is known. One made up of data and intercommunication exchanges between digitally empowered devices from fridges and toasters to cars, electronically intelligent sports clothing and plant pots.

So how will Big Blue do the do?

For a start, the company recently joined forces with Italian hardware architecture specialist Eurotech to donate a complete draft protocol for what it describes as a "asynchronous inter-device communication" to the Eclipse Foundation.

So just how many "connected devices" might we expect to see?

Estimates have hovered around truly massive predictions in the range of 24 billion electronically enabled machines (with Internet connectivity) by 2020.

This is where we start seeing RFID tags on cartons of milk that tell the fridge when they are out of date. The fridge then communicates with the "Household Shopping" application and this subsequently emails the user's PDA with a shopping list and so on...


How far do the possibilities extend here? RFID tags on earrings seems to be about the most off the wall application so far.

As part of this news, IBM is releasing Java and C versions of its MQTT technology as an open sourced Eclipse release under the codename Paho.

NOTE: MQTT stands for Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) protocol; essentially this is the machine-to-machine counterpart of HTTP.

As RedMonk analyst James Governor points out, the MQTT spec was actually already available, but pushing it forward to a fully blown open source release is a whole different ball game.

Governer writes, "IBM contributes plenty of code to projects like the Apache web server and Linux. But in many respects I see this latest drop as IBM's most significant since it open sourced Eclipse ten years ago. Why? Because the Eclipse Public License is designed to support derivative works and embedding, while the Eclipse Foundation can provide the stewardship of same. One of the main reasons Eclipse has been so successful is that rather than separate software from specification it brings them together - in freely available open source code - while still allowing for proprietary extensions which vendors can sell."

So you've never heard of the MQTT until today?

Well, this is the protocol used by Facebook to drive its chat/messenger service and if IBM's best intentions for these technologies evolve healthily, then you might be rebooting your microwave oven before you know it.


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