To me, the projections for the number of Things we will have in the Internet of Things is mind boggling. Cisco projects that there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020. That’s a big number. How are we going to keep track of all our IoT ‘Things’ when there are that many of them? I have trouble keeping track of my phone, car keys and TV remote control.
Two trends I have spotted may help us find our various IoT Things. One trend is the use of the smart phone as an aggregator of Things. If my smart phone can enable my car, open the garage door, replace my boarding pass, and act as my remote control I will actually have less Things to worry about finding. This is a good trend. I will just need to make sure my phone is well charged and handy at all times. Or perhaps the smart watch or wearable technology item will replace many of these functions and will be more difficult to lose. It might even be able to find my phone for me.
Texas Instruments’ Sensor Tag is a BlueTooth® IoT Kit that supports 10 different low power sensors including a compass, pressure sensor, multi-axis gyroscope and accelerometer - all of which can be used to help track and find things. TI claims that you can “get your sensor data online in 3 minutes,” and that it’s “ready to use right out of the box with an iOS and Android application…no programming experience required to get started.”
The other trend is the increasing availability of low cost and easy-to-design-with position and location sensors. Adding these devices as a peripheral to an MCU makes it very easy to find things. GPS modules continue to come down in cost and they can be used in a variety of mobile IoT Things to provide up-to-date location and tracking information. For an even more cost effective solution, an accelerometer and electronic compass can be used in a variety of dead reckoning algorithms to track and find things when GPS isn’t available or too expensive.
With a smart phone as the aggregator of all my virtual things, I have an easy way to find the things that I have misplaced (or are trying to get away from me). This could give me a way find and track down the subset of those 50 billion things that are ‘mine’. As long as I don't lose my smart phone or smart watch charger.
Texas Instruments Sensor Tag
Kionix Accelerometer and eCompass
Warren Miller is a contributing author at Mouser Electronics with over 30 years of experience in the electronics industry. He has had roles in product planning, applications, marketing and management for large established companies as well as startups. Currently he is President of Wavefront Marketing, a consultancy serving semiconductor, tools and intellectual property companies.
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