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Nasa and Philips emerge as early adopters of AWS IoT app creation platform

Cloud giant debuts AWS IoT, which it claims will make it quicker and easier for enterprises to create apps for connected devices

Amazon Web Services (AWS) continues to build out its data analytics portfolio by providing developers with a toolkit that will make it easier for them to create internet of things (IoT) apps.

Werner Vogels, chief technology officer of Amazon.com, gave a keynote on the second day of the 2015 AWS Re:Invent user conference in Las Vegas. He discussed the use cases of IoT that already exist, such as fitness trackers and healthcare monitors – many of which send data back to the AWS cloud.

The Mars Rover mission, he continued, features sensors that feedback information to the AWS Cloud, while the energy firm Shell has deployed 10,000 sensors in oil wells across the world that generate valuable telemetry data for the firm.

Getting to this point requires a lot of development effort to ensure enterprises are equipped to take advantage of all IoT has to offer, said Vogels.

Building IoT applications is very hard. You have to build the functionality for these devices, connect them to the network, make sure they’re secure and work out how you get data to the cloud so it can be tested and analysed,” he said.

“All of this is hard because you have components to address to build a successful IoT application.”

It is these areas the AWS IoT platform hopes to address, he continued, so that all enterprises are in a position to tap into this type of technology.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Stephen Orban, head of enterprise strategy at AWS, said any organisation with a consumer-facing product has much to gain from adopting an IoT strategy.

“Any company that puts something in a consumer’s hands or has a product can look at has an opportunity to engage with their customers in a much deeper way, understand their behaviours and how they’re interacting with the product and then do some analytics on top of the data,” he said.

AWS IoT on trial

The platform has already been trialled by several high-profile AWS customers, including Dutch technology giant Philips and Nasa, with the former setting out how it could help the firm cope with the surge in health-related connected devices in the future.

“We have seven million devices connected for which we build our own platform, but we have to move from seven to 100 million, and suddenly the scale becomes quite different,” said Jeroen Tas, CEO of healthcare informatics systems and services at Philips, during a Re:Invent customer session.

“We started to look at what we could do there and got our hands on Icebreaker [the code name for AWS IoT] and it’s a very strong, scalable environment that we can use not only for our existing devices, but for our future devices.

“We’re going to work with AWS to ensure we can connect medical-grade devices and that the data can be stored in separate environments so it can be stored securely,” he added.

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