The Problems with the Internet of Things



“Right now, it’s impossible to go viral in the Internet of Things sphere due to differing systems,” said Peter Semmelhack, founder and CEO of Bug Labs at the recent Internet of Things Meetup / Gotham.

The IOT is currently fragmented among many different devices, which makes it harder to grow and expand ideas, said Semmelhack. This is a problem even among big companies: each car Ford has runs on a slightly different system, which means that if you want to add content to all of them, you need to make slightly different versions of that content for all the different systems, said Semmelhack.

If there is going to be a big expansion of the IOT then there needs to be a set of standards.

“I don’t think Nest will own the home,” said Semmelhack. “What the IOT is waiting for is a Dropbox moment. Dropbox simplified cloud storage and made it readily available to everyone, the IOT needs that. The issue right now is ease of use and adoption.”

Semmelhack and Bug Labs want to help combat this issue with Dweet and Freeboards. If Dweet sounds like tweet, that’s intentional.

Dweet allows you to easily put a device and its spacial coordinates online. As an example, use your phone or tablet and go to dweet.io. Once there, hit ‘try it now’ and you’ll see that not only will your phone’s location in space on the x, y and z axis, but its latitude and longitude. If you move your phone, the numbers will adjust accordingly. You can disconnect your device from Dweet at anytime by hitting the ‘stop sharing’ button.

Having that information available is only part of the plan, though. For the next part, there’s Freeboards. Freeboards allows you to create a visual representation of Dweet’s data, like a Google Maps widget with a dot for the location of your Dweet-connected phone, or perhaps a graph measuring temperature over the course of a day–if you’ve got a sensor that can measure temperature, that is. All of this is free and public. If you want to make the information private it’ll cost about a dollar a month.

While Bug Labs is making it easier to connect devices to the IOT, Oval Digital is in the business of creating sensors. What are they creating sensors for? According to Oval co-founder and president Lars Gerd Piwkowski, everything.

“The Oval sensor is water and heat resistant, has a 10 year battery life and can detect changes in motion, light, temperature, moisture and proximity,” said Piwkowski.

The sensors, being just a bit larger than a quarter, wirelessly ping to a server at an interval you can set and can measure or detect just about anything. If the sensors detect something you’ve set an alert for, like movement or a change in temperature or moisture, they send out an alert to your e-mail and smart phone.

The idea behind the Oval sensor is to make connecting things to the IOT much easier, as the sensors are massively customizable as to what they detect and alert for, and it is Piwkowski’s hope that customers will easily find uses for them. From helping to secure medicine cabinets and dangerous chemicals at home, to monitoring the temperature of a restaurant freezer, to acting as a lojack for your bike or bag.

Right now, it is both the fragmentation of a multitude of devices running on a multitude of differing systems and the cost associated with connecting certain devices to the IOT that presents a challenge for entrepreneurs and established companies to overcome.

There won’t be anything in the IOT sphere setting the world on fire, like Facebook did for the Internet – at least, not until these challenges are addressed. Until it becomes cheap and easy to connect devices to the IOT and it becomes easier to program for the IOT itself, there are not only many challenges to overcome, but also a multitude of opportunities to be grasped and, of course, with that comes money to be made.

About the author: John Zurz

John graduated from Queens College in 2013. A lifelong New Yorker he has had articles featured in both print and online publications.

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