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The Internet of Things vs. the Industrial Internet

A couple months ago I attended an Internet of Things meetup in Sunnyvale, where a representative of a major automotive manufacturer was talking about connected cars.  The discussion was really interesting, but there were a couple of things that struck me about his presentation.  The first one was that he conflated the concepts of the Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet.  The second one was that his company is at a very early stage of understanding the challenges of networking cars together from different manufacturers, with different capabilities, or even with different model years.

To address the first item:  The Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet share some core concepts.  They both represent a world where more and more devices are connected, and the information available from devices is exploding.  And to be completely fair to automotive manufacturers, a car can fit into either (or both) categories.  There are some major differences between these two concepts, though.

The Internet of Things refers to systems that are typically more consumer-oriented, such as thermostats that can be monitored remotely.  There may be a massive number of these devices, but they generally don’t need to be monitored or controlled with a resolution shorter than seconds.  In many cases they involve no control at all, and only monitoring.  If one of these devices goes down, it does not cause a massive catastrophe.  These systems do not necessarily have to be robust to disconnections.  In the automotive world, this might include a car’s infotainment system.

The Industrial Internet, on the other hand, refers to systems that are less consumer-oriented.  The systems that will be part of the Industrial Internet are manufacturing systems, medical systems, power systems, and similar.  These systems usually involve both monitoring and control, and they are monitored at a resolution of milliseconds.  If one of these systems goes down, it can potentially have expensive or catastrophic consequences.  Within a car, this would include any sensor networks that are scanning for pedestrians or road hazards.  In a connected car, this would include the communications between vehicles that have safety consequences.

There are going to be major communication challenges with connected cars that are just now being investigated.  It’s one thing to define common hardware that will be used to transmit data between cars, or even the low-level protocol that will be used.  It’s a very different thing to define what data is being transmitted between cars, to make sure that data has the same meaning across manufacturers, and to be able to provide new or more accurate data over time as new car models are developed with new sensors and capabilities.  And that isn’t even looking into the security concerns that come into play once massive numbers of vehicles are connected over a network.  A hacker could do some real damage if he or she could control networks of cars.

On the plus side, there are plenty of systems that are facing the same challenges, and some large organizations are working together to create solutions.  There are existing systems that already have to deal with the challenges of interoperability, future-proofing, security, robustness, and safety.  Some of the technologies that address these issues are being deployed in military and energy systems throughout the world.  One of the key concepts that they have embraced is that of “data centricity,” meaning that the data is the most important part of the system, and the interface between devices.

Next time: A little more about data centricity

3-D Printer

I’m going to get an opportunity to design something and build it using a 3-d printer in a few weeks.

Right now I’m contemplating what to build.  Something useful?  Something pretty?  Something fun?

The only restriction is that it will have to be something fairly small, because my budget is limited.

He Called Her… What??

The editor of Biology Online dot org asked a science blogger to write something for free, or for publicity (read: for free).  She politely turned him down.  He called her a whore.

The idea that somebody would call any woman a whore because she politely declined his offer of unpaid work gives me chills.  I can’t comprehend how the editor of Biology Online would write something so inappropriate.

The full story is described on Sean Carroll’s blog, where he has reproduced the original blog post that was posted in DNLee’s blog on the Scientific American site.  Apparently Scientific American removed the original post, claiming this was because the content was not about “discovering science.”


Girl Geek Dinner

I went to my first Girl Geek Dinner last week at the Intel Museum, and it was loads of fun.

I enjoyed the chance to play with some of the new laptops that use Intel chips.  They were showing off all the laptop-tablet crossovers, including models with sliding screens and the flip-screen.  These mostly felt too clunky to me, with the exception of the Sony.  The Sony Vaio was starting to be lightweight enough to feel like a tablet rather than a laptop.  This was also my first time playing with Windows 8, which I didn’t find immediately intuitive.

The speakers talked a lot about how they became leaders at Intel.  It was inspirational, and a few points have really stuck.

  • It is okay to make mistakes.  You do not need to be perfect all the time.
  • Stress is good – it is your body preparing for the next big thing.
  • The career ladder is not a ladder.  It is okay to make lateral moves, and to end up somewhere you never imagined.

And, I got to try a locked down Google Glass.  As my friend said:  “True nerd happiness.”

Google Glass