Role of Internet Protocol in the World of Network Devices

There are numerous human languages in the world. Some say the number easily exceeds 5000. Others say it is closer to 7000. Some languages are used in multiple countries and sometimes multiple languages co-exist in one country. Some people speak more than one language and they can translate from one language to another. It is especially essential to have someone (or something) that can translate between multiple languages when people who speak different languages want to communicate each other.

Now, let’s take a look at the world of network of devices. There are still many unknowns about how this new era of “network of devices” will play out, but one thing is for sure. As of today, there are multiple languages (i.e. communication protocols and standards) co-existing to enable devices to talk to each other.

These divergent communication protocols and standards are both a curse and blessing for the industry. A curse because not all devices can talk to each other although they have the ability to talk (i.e. equipped with a communication port such as a radio), but also a blessing because different communication protocols make it possible to do unique things that one protocol may not be able to do. Regardless of whether it is a blessing or curse, it is certainly the reality that multiple communication protocols exist today. Just to name a few, there are MeshScape , Zigbee, Z-wave, and WirelessHART, however; there are probably more than 20 different wireless mesh protocols used in the field as of today.

Why are there so many communication protocols for “network of devices”? These protocols evolved from many different sources. Some of them began through an agreement between multiple companies to make a “designed-by-committee” type of technology. Some of them started as proprietary protocols used by multiple partners or customers and some of them were developed to address more advanced and demanding requirements than others.

It is due to the fact that there are so many different types of applications and requirements that it is virtually impossible for one network protocol to satisfy them all. Naturally, multiple protocols have evolved in wireless mesh network over the last decades to satisfy distinctive applications. Some were focused on specific applications from the beginning, and others did not have a focus and still tried to satisfy all the requirements of various applications (e.g. Zigbee). A lot of these so-called “standards” (most of them are called “standards” although they are really proprietary technologies not usually named as standards) were touted to be able to cover most of applications with one technology, and there were efforts to end the use of other protocols as each of them wanted to the “The One” in the world of the wireless mesh network.

Now, fast forward to today. I attended a conference last week and I was glad to see many people trying to work together rather than destroy each other’s technologies. There was a big discussion about the role of the “gateway” in home automation as the first point of interoperability. This makes perfect sense as there are already many consumer devices on the market based on multiple wireless protocols. It seems that the developers of these multiple protocols finally realize that if they work together, they will most likely all survive in the market one way or another by fulfilling requirements for different applications. With a gateway that can speak multiple network protocols, like a person who can speak multiple languages, network devices will be able to talk to each other and co-exist. What a beautiful world it will be!

That said, there is still one unresolved issue. Even if the gateway can speak to different devices in multiple languages, for example, MeshScape, Zigbee, Z-wave, etc., there will still be a need for one language to speak to the outside world. More importantly, it is critical for the gateway to make all of the devices appear as though they are speaking the same language to the outside world, so that the outside world does not need to be able to speak different languages (i.e. network protocols) to communicate with different devices in the network. The gateway must speak a language that can be the common denominator of all devices.

What can this “common denominator” be? There may be some arguments here, but I believe it will be most likely IP (Internet Protocol). The bulk of the “outside world” of the gateway is already speaking IP as the common language. Why shouldn’t the gateway use it as the common descriptor for devices in the network? People always prefer something they are already familiar with and the whole world is already familiar with IP, therefore I don’t think it will be difficult to understand why IP is the best candidate for the common denominator in the world of the network of devices.

Wireless Sensor Networking: Where it all began for Millennial Net

Millennial Net has been in the business of developing top-notch wireless sensor network technologies for more than a decade.  Today, Millennial Net provides one of the most advanced wireless sensor network technologies in the world under its MeshScape® brand, and is also a major player in the wireless energy management solution market. Millennial Net’s EMS (Energy Management Solution) products, including its wireless pneumatic thermostat, are widely used in many commercial and industrial buildings around the world.

But where did it begin?  Now, I think, it is meaningful to look back on how we started all this.

Back in 2000, I was a grad student working on a biomedical sensor.  It was called “Ring Sensor”.  It was a finger ring type of sensor that people could wear all the time for continuous health monitoring.  Most of my time then had been spent on developing optical sensors to capture clear and reliable signals from a person’s finger in order to monitor vital signs.  After several years of hard work, the sensor part was almost completed.  Next, I needed to work on a way to send and receive data from the sensor.

Ring Sensor included a small coin battery, RF transceiver, CPU, and optical sensors to capture and analyze vital signs.  As you can imagine, all these components had to be miniaturized due to the fact that the device was meant to be worn on a person’s finger, like a ring.  Obviously, all of the components needed to be extremely low power too, since it was not possible to carry around a car battery dangling from a finger ring.

The application scenario was a nursing home.  Imagine a nursing home apartment complex with hundreds of elderly people in residence wearing this “Ring Sensor”.  The sensor would monitor the vital signs of each person continuously, 24 hours a day.  The data would be gathered in a central database and analyzed in real time.  If there was any sign of an abnormal health situation, the system would trigger an alarm and nurses would be informed.

It was impractical to assume that the residents in this scenario would be willing to frequently replace batteries.  The small coin battery had to last at least months or, preferably, years, which meant the whole sensor, including wireless communication, had to run continuously on extremely low power.  Therefore, low power consumption of the wireless link was a very important requirement.  For instance, the residents would move around in the building and might even leave the building for periods of time.  The wireless link would have to be able to dynamically adapt itself to the changing environment, but keep the communication alive, and, since there might be hundreds of people wearing this sensor in a building, the wireless system needed to be capable of handling hundreds of sensors in the network simultaneously.

I tried to find existing wireless communication technology that could satisfy these demanding requirements.  I thought there must be something out there.  To my surprise, I was not able to find any off-the-shelf wireless products that could satisfy the requirements.  None of the available products I researched even came close.

Then I started thinking.  As time goes by, there are going to be more and more sensors in the world.  The number of sensors and sensor applications will only grow, and when there are so many sensors in our everyday life, how are they going to be connected?  One thing I clearly realized during my biomedical sensor research was that a sensor itself was not very useful unless the data captured from the sensor could be made available for analysis.  In many cases, sensor data would need to be gathered and analyzed together at a remote site.  Sometimes sensors themselves would need to talk to each other.  If there are many sensors in the world, there will be also many actuators.  At some point, the sensors and actuators will need to communicate with each other too.  How are they going to do that?

This was a very interesting question, and I became quite intrigued, so, I started developing what I called “network of devices”.  The network had to be self-aware and should not need much human maintenance.  After all, at the end of the day, it would be a “network of devices” and it would not make any sense if a human being needed to spend a lot of time maintaining the network.  The network must be extremely adaptive and low power, and it had to adapt itself to whatever changes it saw.  The network should be like a living thing!

With help from my academic advisor, my colleague Dr. Sheng Liu and I started a company to further develop an adaptive wireless network of devices.  Hence Millennial Net was born!

Nowadays the terms “wireless sensor network” or “wireless mesh network” are quite common, and many technical people understand what they mean, however; back in 2000, that was not the case.  In most of the meetings we had with VCs and prospects, we had to spend a significant amount of time educating the audience about what the sensor network was and how it worked.  It was such a new concept that a very small number of technical people even understood the idea.

Now fast-forward to 2011, WSN is a well-known concept and many applications and business opportunities are arising every day.  I am so happy to see this happening.

The WSN industry is not mature yet.  There are a lot of things yet to do, and a lot of room to grow.  It might be taking a bit longer than I expected, but I am happy to be in the center of this hot new industry with limitless potential for the future.

What will Happen when Devices are Connected?

In a previous post, I listed a few points that I would like to see addressed by the Android@Home initiative by Google.  After all, if we assume for a moment that the world will truly change through the Android@Home or similar initiatives, and all devices will be rapidly connected, what will happen then?  In other words, what is the point of connecting all devices?

To answer this question, we need to look back on the history of communication technologies and why people have used them.

During the last 100 years, there have been many advances in communication technologies.  Among them, the most significant two advances were, arguably, the telephone and the internet.  The telephone allowed people to communicate with each other via voice.  Internet allowed people to communicate with each other via data.  Essentially, the telephone service created a “network of voices” and the internet created a “network of computers.”

The network of voices enabled people to share information one-to-one. The internet, enables people to share information, many-to-many, much faster and more efficiently than the telephone.  Each time a new communication technology was invented and adopted, the goal was to enable more people to share more information faster and more accurately.  As more information often means more power and advantage in business, education and everyday life, people will always be eager to adopt advanced communication technologies to more acquire information.  These are the reasons Google, and the internet as a whole, have become so successful.

Now, if and when the latest communication technologies connect all devices, what can people do with it?  There are many things, but to cite a couple, people can turn on lights remotely (which we can do today), and control building energy consumption efficiently and economically (which is becoming more and more popular).  However, the most important benefit is something different.

As of today, people must “search” to find the information they want.  Companies like Google are very successful in providing this service and running business with it, and people use Google search engine because they want to find information reliably and quickly – possibly faster than anyone else finds it.  That is the key.  People want to find and access information faster than others, but there is a limitation that this approach cannot overcome.

For people to want to find information, they first have to realize that they need it.  After realizing they need it, they have to spend time searching for it, and after spending a lot of time on the search process, they may not find enough or even correct information.

So, what’s the next step?  People should not have to find information. Information should find people.  Information should actively get to people even before they realize they actually need it.

Today, information is stored in many servers around the world, and people log onto these server islands to find what they need.  These server islands are part of an “information-centric” architecture.  However, in the world of connected devices, each person could become the center of the ocean of information and information could automatically arrive at the person who is supposed to need it.  One great example of this approach is “push email”.  Instead of people “checking” emails every day, emails are pushed to us. (i.e. Emails find us.)

In a world of truly connected devices, information from devices surrounding a person will automatically report to the person.  In the battlefield, sensors and actuators will feed information to every soldier before he/she even realizes the need.  Whenever a soldier moves, the “circle of information (COI)” will move along with the soldier, and any information that comes into the circle of information will be captured and supplied to the soldier to aid him/her to make the best decision possible at the given time.  For instance, soldiers will be informed any threats lying ahead in their path.

In commercial buildings, people will walk around and devices will automatically “talk” to the people who walk into the circle of information, but only to the people who need or want the information.  People will be able to know what is coming up in real time in the real world via wireless sensor networks.  They will be able to know how many people are on the other side of a door before walking into a room.  By receiving information from your surroundings, you will be able to make more efficient and informed decisions. The devices around you will collectively understand your intent and assist you wherever you go, by providing necessary information in advance.

Maybe it sounds too much like a Sci-Fi movie, but we are not very far from this future.  The Siri application recently included in iOS5 from Apple is a great example of how we can get closer to this future. Imagine Siri starts proactively providing real-time information to the user inside the COI, not just responding to the requests from the user. It can be a huge step forward to the true world of connected devices.

The future is nearer than a lot of people think.

Wearable Technology in Medical Applications

A couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to participate in a panel discussion at 2011 IEEE EMBS conference.

For those who may not be familiar with EMBS (Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society), it is one of the largest and most prestigious societies of biomedical engineers and scientists. It is a division of IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Just like any other division of IEEE, the group hosts many conferences and events in its area of expertise. This year, the annual conference was held in Boston and it had a mini-conference focused on wearable technology for medical applications. (Technically, it was called “Un-conference”. Instead of traditional conference format of giving one-way presentations to the audiences, this format allowed the participants to actively engage in the selection of topics and bi-directional discussions.)

There were many discussion topics including technology development, legal issues, role of government, availability of funding, etc. But at the end of the day, the main theme was “How can we get wearable technology in medical applications more widely accepted in the market?” Ironically, the mere fact that the conference was focusing on this theme already implied that the industry had not found a breakthrough in making wearable technology widely adopted within the mass market.

There were discussions about the difficulty of getting funding for research and development. There were lots of discussions regarding how the government needs to act to bring down the legal barriers for wearable technology in the medical market. And there was a particularly interesting panel discussion.

Dr. Ravi Ramachandran from Vertex Pharmaceuticals made an interesting comment. He was from the pharmaceutical industry and his assessment of the current status of wearable technology in medical applications was a typical example of “a solution looking for a problem”. He compared it to pharmaceutical industry, where the problems already exist (i.e. diseases) and the effort is focused on finding solutions for the existing problems.

I had to agree with him, but to only half of his comment. From my view, it is not like there is no problem to solve, that we are aware of. We know many problems that can be solved by the concept of wearable technology. However, the current state of technology is so limited that people are having a hard time finding problems that can be solved by the existing limited wearable sensor technology, and making it a “success” story. This is not necessarily the issue of “wearable” or “communication” technology. Rather, it is more a question of “How practical and useful can today’s wearable sensor technology be in real everyday life?”

For example, I saw a lot of demos of “wearable EKG” and “wearable heart monitoring” devices, mostly from academic research. I understand these types of new devices can help reduce the number of wires in ICU and other hospital settings. However, in ICU and many hospital settings, it is already assumed that patients are less mobile in controlled environments. Also, the patients may need to be connected to other types of life-supporting systems such as an oxygen mask. In this environment, I am not quite sure how much additional benefit “wearable technology” can provide.

The real market for wearable technology, in my opinion, is ambulatory monitoring for in-home healthcare. However, the requirements for useful wearable medical sensors in home healthcare are much more difficult to fulfill. As I already stated in my previous post, the current status of wearable sensor technology is simply not at the point where it is attractive to mass market.

In the panel discussion, I brought up the example of the hype of wearable non-invasive glucose monitoring sensors for long-term monitoring (see my previous blog for details) which never got successfully realized up to the commercial level, although there were some recent progresses in laboratory environments such as this research from MIT. There were people in the audience who seemed very interested in this concept. This is a kind of wearable sensor that will surely appeal to the mass market if it can be made reliable, convenient and affordable. Unfortunately, existing technologies cannot meet these requirements yet. Everyone knows glucose monitoring is a huge market. Everyone knows this is a problem (or inconvenience) that should open up a huge business case if it can be solved. So, we know the problem. We just don’t have a decent technical solution today.

So, what should we do? Should we simply give up since we know we are not there yet?

During the recent legal dispute between Samsung and Apple, an interesting story came out. Samsung argued that Apple’s iPad tablet computer and its design was not a new idea. As a proof, Samsung attorneys brought up a screenshot of a movie made back in the 1960’s, which showed a person using a gadget similar to today’s iPad. Yes. iPad was already “invented” more than 40 years ago. We all know the concept has existed for a long time. However, without the numerous efforts (or “failures”, you might call them) that did not blossom over the last 40 years, today’s iPad would not exist. Without Microsoft’s early efforts for tablet PCs, which did not really take off, iPad would not exist today. Without the early failures of Apple’s Newton device, iPhone would not exist.

So, what does history tell us? The day will come when we will all enjoy the beauty of wearable sensors, as a part of the world of connected devices. But that day cannot come unless we keep trying and learn from the failures, just like any new technology and market. We need to continuously push the limits and stay on top of the cutting edge – and that is what Millennial Net does in WSN world.

Issues in Healthcare Applications of Wireless Sensor Network

Millennial Net has a long history of applying wireless sensor network technology to healthcare and medical applications. (We will get into more details of the history in a separate blog.) Healthcare/medical application was probably one of the most promising applications that early WSN pioneers thought to be a great fit to wireless sensor technology. It was easy to conceive of a scenario where patients carry a sensor that can detect health-related parameters (including glucose level, heart rate, etc.) and monitor the patient continuously via wireless network. Some researchers imagined a scenario where many sensors are placed on human body, wirelessly connected and sharing information. There is even a name for the concept – BAN (Body Area Network). The concept was conceived and demonstrated more than a decade ago in both academia and industry. However, we still do not see many successful products generally accepted by the mass market. Why is this?

Some people say the biggest drawback is the lack of a “standard” to increase customer adoption of WSN technology in healthcare/medical field. Others say that the strict approval process dictated by a government agency (notably FDA) is the problem, but my view is somewhat different. The lack of a standard or a slow government approval process is not the “cause” of less-than-impressive adoption of WSN technology in healthcare/medical field. It is more a “result” of the reality.

For a new technology to be adopted by the mass market, it has to be proven that the new technology offers a significantly higher benefit than existing technologies. The benefit must be so significant that people are willing to put up with any inconvenience that comes with the new technology. The inconvenience may be in many forms, including additional financial obligations and even taking the risk of possible side effects. If the technology is not advanced enough to provide tangible benefits to overcome the “inconvenience”, most likely it will just remain a “technology” instead of a “business opportunity”. In some cases, the technology is very much advanced, but not enough for a specific application, so it is hard to provide any tangible benefit for the application.

From this perspective, the concept of remote healthcare using wireless sensor network (or wireless technology in general) may not be in the position to change the way people use medical devices or sensors yet. The issue may not be the WSN technology itself. Rather, it may be other factors such as battery technology, sensor technology, ease of use, or all of the above.

There are a few different categories for wireless medical devices. Some of them are designed to be used only within the confines of relatively controlled environments (such as hospitals) where a medical staff is available. Other devices are designed to be used in an environment where little or no immediate medical attention can be provided. Although wirelessly enabling in-hospital equipments can be an interesting discussion topic, I will first discuss wireless medical devices that people can use in everyday life to continuously check their health status. This is called “ambulatory health monitoring”.

Just as there are several fundamental requirements in wireless sensor network technologies, there are many important technical issues that need to be addressed in wireless medical devices for ambulatory health monitoring.

Take battery life for example. Most users of ambulatory health monitoring devices will either be patients or elderly people who may not be very happy to replace or recharge batteries everyday. Unlike cell phones which you can simply put on a charger before going to sleep, most ambulatory health monitoring devices must work continuously, 24 hours a day. Some devices may need to be implanted in the body and the batteries cannot be easily replaced. So, it is critical that the wireless medical devices should operate for a long time without replacing or recharging the battery. In practice, this means that many wireless medical devices must work with small-sized battery (such as a coin-sized battery) and should last for months or years.

Sensor technology is another issue. Let’s take glucose monitoring for example. Glucose monitoring was probably one of the most hyped applications for ambulatory health monitoring. Unlike most “invasive” approaches to take glucose measurements today, it was promised that more advanced “non-invasive” glucose sensors would be coupled with wireless technology and provide 24-hour continuous glucose monitoring for the patient. There has been tons of research and development in both academia and industry about these non-invasive glucose sensors (based on optics, ultrasounds, electro spectroscopy, etc.), and some of the results have even been productized. However, the reliability of these non-invasive glucose sensors is still far behind the traditional finger-stick measurements to be used in everyday life. The same issue exists in blood pressure monitoring. There have been hypes of continuous blood pressure monitoring technologies for decades, but none of the technologies have been commercially successful yet, especially not in the form that people feel comfortable wearing continuously.

In addition, there are more technical issues such as “motion artifact”. Ambulatory monitoring devices need to work while the user carries out normal everyday life activities. Many sensors used for ambulatory monitoring rely on either the optical or electrical properties of the human body. When the human body moves, the sensors may be subject to noises and artifacts caused by the motion. Since most of the sensors used for ambulatory monitoring are very sensitive, it is a big issue to make the device work reliably under different physical conditions, especially when it is worn by a person during normal everyday life.

Last but not least, the ambulatory health monitoring device must be comfortable to wear. Ideally, the user should not feel that a special device is on them. As soon as the user starts feeling the “existence” of the device attached to the body, there will be a psychological and/or physical impact on everyday life. Although some level of inconvenience can be acceptable, it should be minor enough that the user does not need to feel burdened.

For wireless technology to seriously contribute to medical applications, many other technologies such as sensors for ambulatory health monitoring should come together. Once the necessary medical sensing technologies are available and mature enough to make ambulatory health monitoring attractive to mass market, it will be natural to combine the sensors with wireless networking technology. Until then, the discussion of standards for wireless technologies or FDA approval process may not have a lot of impact on the market adoption. In short, sensing technology has to come first before wireless technology for wide-spread adoption of wearable, ambulatory health monitoring technology. As of today, it does not seem that this is the case.

Finding A Killer App For Wireless Sensor Networks

In a previous post, we discussed about the dilemma of “killer-app” for wireless sensor networks. Now that we understand the difficulty of finding a killer-app, what should we do to increase the chance of creating or discovering the killer-app for wireless sensor network? Does it even exist? What do we have to do to get closer to it?

First, we should not be buried in the technology, but should look at WSN from the eyes of typical consumers.  We should be able to see WSN as a “tool” to make our lives easier, more convenient, and more secure.  Unless we find real applications that can truly and significantly benefit our lives, WSN will be just another great technology without a home.

At the end of the day, simply connecting all of the devices in the world has no value to people unless it benefits people.  Even though the hot topic today is internet of “things”, it must be human beings who eventually perceive the benefit, not devices.  When consumers become engaged and excited, when they see the value of an application, they will begin to “pull” the application in the market, creating demand.  Then we will know that we have a true killer app.

From this perspective, it is difficult to find a WSN application that has yet reached “killer app” status, even including the much-anticipated smart grid application. Energy management market has a great potential as was shown in an example, but it will take time to see if it is a true killer-app for wireless sensor networks. Google’s recent announcement is interesting. But it still remains to be seen if Google truly understands what it takes to make a wireless sensor network application successful.

As we discussed before, today’s conventional WSN technology is still not enough to implement the “dream scenario” of the future world of connecting “everything”.  Consider where the WSN idea first came from.  Twenty years ago, DARPA imagined spreading a bunch of “sensors” from helicopters to be used for surveillance in the battlefield. As of today, even this seemingly “simple and useful” application does not yet have many reliable solutions. However, there remain many applications that can be implemented using existing advanced WSN technologies, and several more advanced WSN technologies such as MeshScape are showing up to address shortcomings of conventional WSN technologies such as Zigbee. We just need to apply the right “existing” technology to the right application under the right circumstances.

The future will come when “everything” is connected, just as “Internet of Things” hopes for, but that future will not automatically materialize. We must continue to make progress with WSN technology.  The vision of a connected world will only be realized when real applications with tangible benefits to consumers gain momentum and reach a boiling point.  No one can pinpoint exactly when this will happen, but just as we keep making progress, the day will eventually come when everyone in the world will benefit from WSN/IoT technology.

Where Should Google Go with Android@Home? (Re-posting)

(This is simple a re-posting of the latter part of my previous post. If you have read it already, you can skip this article, or you can certainly enjoy reading it again!)

So, what is the right approach for Google’s Android@Home?  It may be as simple as following or repeating what Google has done with Android smart phone.  The wireless sensor network (WSN) platform used by Android@Home should provide highly robust and reliable data link as well as rich and easy API (Application Programming Interface) to the application developers, and leave it at that.  Application developers should be given ultimate freedom to come up with as many crazy applications as they can without worrying about the robustness of the wireless network platform, and their imagination and innovation should not be limited by authorities of “profiles” defined by one company or organization. For example, MeshScape platform from Millennial Net provides such high performance and flexibility.

Why is this important?  Because of where WSN industry is at the moment.  In a  separate blog article, I explained the importance of “killer-apps” for WSN.  As mentioned in the article, the industry has not yet found a true “killer-app” for WSN, even if many experts have been looking for one for more than 10 years.  To find (or nurture) a true killer-app, we should be able to develop and test as many applications as possible in the market.  You cannot come up with a “profile” behind closed doors of an alliance and expect a killer-app to suddenly emerge out of nowhere.  The market needs to test as many WSN applications as possible and a true killer app will emerge.  For this, the WSN platform at the application level must be as easy and open as possible to application developers.

Another important factor is that Google should pay attention to the participation of as many hardware manufacturers as partners.  Actually, Google can learn from its own experience of less-than-expected performance of PowerMeter program due to the lack of participation from utilities.  On the other hand, I am sure Google has already gone through this process successfully while growing the Android handset market.  However, the issue in the home automation market may be somewhat different.  In the smart phone market, there exist relatively small number of major players such as Motorola, Samsung, HTC, and LG.  Google simply had to cut deals with a handful of mega-manufacturers and support them.  In home automation market, there are many more players than with the smart phone.  The home automation market is much more fragmented and the requirements are much more diverse.  Therefore, Google must be prepared to deal with a higher number of partners with more diverse requirements.  From a technical point of view, this means the Android@Home platform must be as agile and self-supporting as possible.  It also means that the platform must be very reliable and scalable from the beginning.  Unlike smart phone, WSN-enabled home automation devices will be relying on each other for continuous operation.  For example, when your smart phone stops working, it does not affect the operation of your friend’s smart phone.  In WSN-enabled networks one troubled device may affect the operation of other devices.  This is where reliable mesh network capability as well as other requirements are crucial for Android@Home platform.

Finally, Google must think about how it can expand Android@Home beyond a mere home network platform.  Building home networks should not be the ultimate goal.  The ultimate goal should be to connect all the devices in the world reliably and safely to benefit people as a whole.  I encourage Google to spend a serious amount of time thinking about how to create real value for people by connecting devices as well as spending time thinking about how to connect devices.

Eventually, devices will be networked and they will all talk to each other.  The devices will be “friends” to each other and will work together. The air conditioner in my family room will be sharing my temperature preference information with my car.  I am sure a smart phone will be at the center of the connected world.  Now, the important question is this : When everything is connected, what will it do for us?

(I am planning to write a blog post for this question. Stay tuned.)

Update : See my article “What will Happen when Devices are Connected?” for my answer to this important question.

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