In the future, kitchen appliances will talk to you. The refrigerator will let you know when you’re low on milk and whether you have all the ingredients for dinner. The cooktop will display a recipe from the Internet and text you when your pasta water has reached the boiling point. Even better, your appliances will talk to each other—and they won’t burn the toast. When the toast is just about finished, the eggs will start to fry. Such is the vision of what’s possible with the Internet of Things (IoT).
Smart kitchens, smart everything
Smart kitchens, and all objects that are connected by the IoT, work similarly. The object—a loaf of bread, a head of lettuce, or a bottle of ketchup—will be labeled with an RFID tag and read with an RFID reader, and the information transmitted to a computer. Or a connected device with a built-in sensor will transmit information via the Internet to a computer. Either way, all of the information sent by readers and sensors is collected, and some of it is processed by data centers and in the cloud.
For the IoT to reach its full potential, innovation must continue its forward momentum at the device level, the data center level, and the network level. As it does, there will undoubtedly be challenges for the companies developing the technologies around the IoT. In fact, Gartner has identified a number of issues that will have to be addressed as the technology and services around smart homes and other connected systems mature.
Pressures on the data center
The volume of data generated by mobile devices and the IoT will place heavy demands on data centers. Servers will be pushed to the limit, and network bandwidth will have to be scaled. Gartner says that by 2020, there could be 26 billion units (smart-sensor devices) worth potentially $300 billion in new incremental revenue. Much of the machine-to-machine data will be processed locally at the edge of the network, but some of that will be sent to the data center for aggregation and further analysis.
The IoT will also interact with humans on their mobile devices. By the end of 2014, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on Earth, according to the forecast for mobile data traffic found in the Cisco Visual Networking Index. That same report predicts that while mobile data traffic reached a volume of 1.5 exabytes per month in 2013, by 2018 that amount will grow tenfold to surpass 15 exabytes per month. And some 96 percent of that data will be accounted for by smart devices by 2018. Both networks and storage are among IT’s biggest challenges now, and it’s not going to get any easier.
Intel addresses the opportunities and challenges of the IoT
For Intel, this is a chance to move innovation forward. For example:
- Intel produces scalable microprocessors, such as the single-core, single-threaded Intel® Quark™ SoC X1000 for small-form-factor designs; the Intel Atom™ processor E3800 product family for low power and thermal efficiency; and the recently announced Intel Edison processor, designed specifically to enable the IoT. The processor boasts wireless capabilities and is the size of a postage stamp.
- As bandwidth requirements increase, Intel continues to deliver network connectivity for the IoT with low-power, small-footprint cellular controllers and platforms that support a wide range of I/O interfaces that can connect to modules supporting cellular, Bluetooth*, ZigBee*, Wi-Fi, and other wireless technologies.
- Together Intel and McAfee are helping to mitigate the security risks of IoT connectivity.
- Cloud computing and big data analytics will be foundational technologies helping businesses connect to devices and sensors, process data, and then analyze it for insight. Intel infrastructure technology, such as Intel Xeon processors, Intel Ethernet solutions, and Intel Solid-State Drives, can provide the underpinnings for your next-generation data center.
Clearly, smart kitchens are only the tip of the iceberg. Intelligent refrigerators can make an impact on families, but smart homes, businesses, schools, public utilities, government buildings, and installations of all kinds—connected by the Internet of Things and facilitated by cloud computing—can literally change the world.
Is your organization ready? Join the #IoT conversation in the comments below. Be sure to check out Intel’s vision for data center architecture of the future from Intel futurist Steve Brown. And read the Intel IT Center planning guide to find out how to optimize your data center so you can deliver greater innovation and embrace the new opportunities that the IoT can bring to your business.
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