Modern smart home security owes much of its success to advances in IoT protocols. These communication channels enhance interoperability and enable thousands of devices to “speak” and interact with each other — a critical requirement for any smart system.
The adoption of a single common protocol is the key to positive customer experiences. Millions of connected devices, products and services are sold every year, using many different communication protocols. A single protocol would enable all of these devices to “understand” each other, work seamlessly together and enable consumers to handle device integration and technical support issues more easily. Furthermore, the adoption of a common protocol would prevent distrust toward smart devices and the companies that provide and support them.
The adoption of a common IoT protocol would greatly enhance interoperability, enabling the home security market to unlock huge opportunities for growth, such as:
- Raising the home security customer experience to a whole new level. The customer connects a device to a smart controller, creates rules-based scenarios and the possibilities are endless — users can set up lights to turn on automatically whenever a window sensor detects an intrusion, avoiding a possible burglary.
- Rules triggering specific actions at various times during the day. Rules such as opening window blinds in the morning and closing them at night, turning on the lights in the late afternoon or activating the garden sprinklers every other day can help make an empty house appear occupied.
- Turning traditional security systems into smart devices. Good old-fashioned door locks, doorbells, garage doors and internet protocol cameras could turn into state-of-the art security systems overnight when enhanced with IoT protocols. Homeowners could control their homes from their vacation suite on the other side of the world using only their smartphone. They could allow access to a predetermined list of people, let a technician in and then lock the door afterward, see what time their kids get home from school and configure locks to work in tandem with the thermostat, house lights or cameras — all with just a light tap of the finger.
- Enabling devices from different vendors to work together seamlessly. The adoption of a common protocol would benefit providers and customers alike. The adoption of a high-certification, standard-adhering technology, like Z-Wave, Zigbee or Google Thread, would give security providers a wide range of options in selecting the smart devices they sell to their customers. It would also allow them to offer customers easy DIY systems that would expand to meet their needs.
While technology giants, such as Google, Amazon and Apple, want to develop protocols that will work only with their own devices, this will not fulfill the exciting potential for the industry. Only the ability to speak a common language and enhance communication between devices from multiple vendors will.
All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.
We live in an age where technology is improving at an unprecedented rate in human history. In the span of a decade, phones, computers, vehicles and almost all tools we use in our daily lives gained self-operating capabilities and connectivity over the internet. The ability to interact and communicate with devices makes even the most mundane tools such as refrigerators, dishwashers or televisions intelligent as we are starting to see a thriving market for devices that can receive data and have the ability to be controlled remotely over the internet. That is the promise of this technology after all; homes, offices and vehicles will be monitored and controlled remotely by using computers and smartphones, and all devices will be able to share data with each other for superior user control.
The term IoT describes a growing network of connected “things” that contain sensors and processors and have the ability to communicate with each other. Both for individuals and businesses, every new piece of equipment, tool or machine is being designed and produced with IoT taken into consideration. New smart devices and consumer products appear every day to meet the increasing demand and lead us to a new way of life — where every appliance, tool or machine is smart and, in a sense, talk to each other.
It is estimated that almost 18 billion devices were capable of receiving and sending data in 2016; experts believe this number will increase to 75 billion by 2025. IoT is one of the fastest growing technologies in the world, with millions of devices added to its massive network every day. Leading technology developers have very high expectations for IoT technology in the future as there are endless possibilities and customizable options for almost all tools we use on a daily basis. However, IoT tech is already here, and some devices and applications are readily available and are already having a significant impact on businesses and the daily activities of individuals.
One of the very first business sectors IoT and telematics systems have completely reformed is the fleet industry. Data is everything to fleet businesses, but gathering and conveying information on a large scale has been a challenging task until the emergence of IoT and telematics devices. Before the invention of these advanced systems, companies relied on crude methods such as radios or pen and paper to obtain information which caused a lot of guesswork in the management process. Now, with the help of telematics technology, it is as easy as installing a tiny telematics device to a vehicle to receive vast amounts of data via sensors such as temperature, humidity, fuel levels, wear and tear, and tire pressure. As with any IoT device, these small gadgets send the collected data to a cloud-based tracking server where fleet operators can access it on demand.
IoT devices are perfect for businesses that require constant monitoring and last-minute changes in their operations. Logistics companies, food delivery businesses and utility companies can take advantage of the connectivity of IoT devices to the full extent and can benefit from constant updates about essential information such as temperature changes, fuel consumption and GPS location data. Fleet businesses can customize their data to adapt to momentary changes in their operations and enhance the quality of their service. The ability to check the condition of a delivery truck, container or a machine from anywhere in the world, 24/7 is a dream come true for fleet operators. IoT tech has been nothing short of a miracle for the fleet business industry; by taking advantage of continuous data flows and sophisticated, fully customizable tracking software, companies can lower their operational costs drastically and streamline their operations.
Another well-known aspect of IoT technology is making almost every device in our homes intelligent. We have been able to control some of the devices in our houses for a while now, but recent innovations in the field of IoT are taking it to the next level. From improving security to decreasing energy consumption, there are countless benefits IoT technologies offer smart homes and buildings. Imagine driving home in the middle of the winter and remotely activating the furnace to warm up the place before you get home. This and many other conveniences are among the main reasons why the internet of things is gaining popularity so fast all over the world. With so much more on the horizon for households, from smart toothbrushes to smart coffee machines, it is safe to say that we will have more secure and functional homes than ever.
The internet of things is everywhere, and the technology is gradually invading every aspect of our lives. A connected world in which almost every vehicle and device can exchange information with other vehicles and devices can pave the way for sophisticated technologies — such as automatically opening garage doors and starting coffee machines that can prepare your coffee just the way you like it. While all these quality-of-life changes may have to wait a few years, we already have IoT technology being used in many industries. Connected vehicles gathering and sending vital information through telematics devices can help fleet businesses improve exponentially. IoT and telematics technologies work hand in hand to create state-of-the-art tracking devices and software that can help businesses with a vehicle fleet manage their operations in real-time over the internet.
All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.
During the few last years, people have been creating complex connected machines. The whole network of IoT reveals incredible opportunities, but at the same time, we have been informed about negligence in IoT cybersecurity.
New technology = new IoT cybersecurity
Whenever you adopt new technology, it brings with it an excuse for exploiting a new field. In many cases, our behavior generates misunderstandings and data losses. An experienced hacker with sufficient investment will always find a weak spot. Collected data contain a means of information that is a treasure for cybercriminals. We have to confess that cyberattacks still appear. If we can admit that IoT devices can be vulnerable, we can make a significant step forward.
In agriculture, the application of smart farming activates technology. The concept of precision farming is comparatively new. Its primary goal is to make cultivation correctly. Farmers know everything about risk management, crop growth, seed increase, climate and planning cycles. Though, the security topics never bothered anyone. And in many cases, there was no protection for the collected data.
There are different threats to consider in precision farming — access to services, personal privacy fields, restrictive information and intellectual property. Even if the raw data is not robust on its own, it can be used to correlate information from other sources. It can be possible to identify potential volumes, affect accuracy expectations or create logistics disruption.
Massive integration of insecure IoT devices
The farming industry has started undertaking the transformation from paper to digital records. Nowadays, farmers integrate sensors and devices in almost any process, but IoT cybersecurity issues are not their primary interest. Unfortunately, they are not concerned that adding such technology can be hazardous and it can put people’s lives at risk.
Device cost and functionality are the main factors for every farmer. As long as the machine works, the farmer is pleased, and the manufacturer is fine, too. However, no one within this chain takes security thoughtfully. Growers buy monitors or thermostats without any IoT cybersecurity protection or update possibilities available. Usually, communities replace these devices less frequently, often after 10 years or more. So we can certainly say that these devices are vulnerable. As a result, the agriculture industry has recently become a target for many cyberattacks.
In any new sphere, we will have highly skilled people with the motivation to exploit for personal profit, or just for fun. Nevertheless, technological progress has never stopped. And the next steps in the agricultural evolution are inevitable. IoT devices will bring a number of opportunities to agriculture. An advanced farming system can provide more precise care for crops, and it can produce a big difference in hunger matters. But it is essential to ensure that there will be IoT cybersecurity protection. Each piece of connected farming equipment needs to pass a certification process, such as those gone through by potentially dangerous devices such as cars or medical devices. This certification will help to stop privacy violations and impediments of contracts, and ensure the integrity of network-dependent farming devices.
All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.
The internet of things is growing rapidly, and IoT-enabled devices are beginning to appear in all aspects of our lives. This not only impacts consumers, but also enterprises, as it is expected that over 50% of all organizations will have some form of IoT in operation in 2019. The number of IoT-connected devices has risen exponentially, and that growth shows no sign of slowing as Gartner forecasts that more than 20 billion internet-connected appliances and machines will be in use by 2020 — a number that, even now, has surpassed the world’s population. With more and more companies developing internet-enabled devices ranging from doorbells and security cameras to refrigerators and thermostats, it comes as little surprise that threat actors are discovering new vulnerabilities and developing new ways to exploit them.
New attack surfaces call for new defense measures
IoT presents an unconventional attack surface, opening additional access points where attackers can establish a foothold and exploit corporate networks — often undetected by traditional perimeter defenses. A recent Kaspersky Labs report confirmed that these weaknesses are being exploited with alarming regularity. In the first half of 2018 alone, researchers identified three times as many malware samples attacking IoT-enabled devices than in all of 2017 — and 10 times the 2016 total. Not only are attackers aware of these vulnerabilities, they are targeting them at an accelerating rate.
Recognition of this threat is growing, not just within the industry, but within law enforcement as well. This August, the FBI issued a public service announcement titled “Cyber Actors Use Internet of Things as Proxies for Anonymity and Pursuit of Malicious Cyber Activities.” The PSA warned both manufacturers and users of IoT-enabled devices of the vulnerabilities inherent to the network and common ways that attackers attempt to exploit them. While the PSA also made a number of suggestions regarding how to address these vulnerabilities, these recommendations are neither comprehensive nor enforceable.
States, too, have begun to take notice, and this year California became the first state in the U.S. to pass a bill regulating IoT security. The bill, SB-327, will require manufacturers to equip connected devices with a “reasonable security feature or features that are appropriate to the nature and function of the device” when it takes effect in January 2020. The bill also includes specific security measures, including a mandate that smart devices must come preprogrammed with a password “unique to each device manufactured”– a statute aimed at addressing one of the most well-known IoT vulnerabilities, and one famously exploited by malware such as the Mirai botnet.
Don’t Just React to Regulations. Take Proactive Measures.
While California SB-327 is a good first step, the language in the bill is vague, leaving a lot to interpretation. For example, what constitutes a “reasonable security feature”? How does the government decide what measures are “appropriate to the nature and function of the device”? While specific password management guidelines serve to address certain vulnerabilities, the regulations feel far from complete — especially when compared to other industries. There are clearly defined Federal oversights and regulations for something as simple as a lightbulb, for which customers can easily find UL Ratings, energy efficiency listings and more.
With that in mind, security teams and business leaders will need to take their own proactive steps to protect their environments from harmful attacks, especially those originating from these and other emerging attack surfaces. For many, this will require a shift in thinking, as traditional cybersecurity measures have focused on perimeter defense and the assumption that they can apply security controls such as antimalware or other policies to prevent a compromise. Today, those actions are no longer sufficient. Security professionals must accept that they may not know when these devices are introduced into their networks, and understand that this creates additional security risks that require additional security measures. To prepare for attacks on these devices and to further fortify their networks, security teams will need a new approach that includes a comprehensive set of detection and response tools that are designed to identify infected systems before they can inflict harm.
Deception technology is now recognized as one of the most effective methods for detecting in-network threats across all attack surfaces — including difficult-to-secure IoT, industrial control systems, point-of-sale terminals and other devices. Capable of detecting threats that have bypassed traditional security controls, deception technology is a particularly powerful tool for reducing “dwell time,” or the amount of time an attacker spends in the network before being detected. The technology works to effectively detect, isolate and defend against network attacks by deploying a sophisticated network of lures and traps, designed to draw intruders into an authentic-looking deception environment where a high-fidelity alert is raised and intelligence about the attack is gathered and can be shared with other security controls for accelerated incident response.
“As the attack surface continues to expand, organizations are increasingly seeking solutions that provide early detection and visibility for specialty environments,” explained Rik Turner, principal analyst at Ovum. “Because of its efficacy, deception technology is now entering the mainstream and will soon be in the armory of most businesses.”
Security regulations continue to lag woefully behind the pace of IoT innovation as both Federal and state governments struggle to define enforceable policies for unsecured smart devices. Given the Federal delays in defining governance, other states will soon join California in imposing new regulations, creating a patchwork quilt for both suppliers and organizations to stitch together to create their compliance and maintain their IoT policies. That said, organizations are wise not to wait and should start taking immediate steps to protect themselves as these devices creep more and more into their environments. The use of deception technology along with proactive defense measures will keep organizations prepared for IoT attacks and from falling victim to attacks on their own infrastructure or in the indirect use of their devices to attack others.
The rationale for the development of the fifth generation of mobile communications (5G) was not only to expand the broadband capabilities of mobile networks, but unlike previous communications technology generations (2G, 3G and 4G LTE), also to provide advanced wireless connectivity for a wide variety of vertical industries, such as the manufacturing, automotive and agricultural sectors. The fourth stage of the Industrial Revolution, also termed Industry 4.0, is the next era in industrial production, which will be largely dependent upon advanced mobile wireless communications connectivity.
While the earlier generations were designed as “all-purpose” connectivity platforms with limited capabilities for different use cases, everything will be much different with 5G connectivity. 5G is an ecosystem for technology and business innovation with a massive portfolio of applications and their equally widespread requirements such as high reliability, ultra-low latency, high bandwidth and mobility. Some of the newer features that will augment the development of Industry 4.0 include cloud platforms, analytics, system automation and network slicing technologies, as well as new business models. Network slicing is one of the key capabilities that will enable flexibility, as it allows multiple logical networks to be created on top of a common shared physical infrastructure. What this means is that new services and new requirements may be quickly addressed and the elasticity of network slicing will help with cost, efficiency and other flexible requirements imposed by a large variety of industrial vertical services.
5G Americas, the industry trade association and voice of 5G and LTE for the Americas, published a white paper, “5G Communications for Automation in Vertical Domains,” summarizing automation concepts and communication modeling for vertical domains incorporating the key specific use cases, requirements and security mechanisms. The paper is available on the organization’s website 5GAmericas.org for free download and is a key resource in the creation of this article.
Communication for automation in vertical domains comes with demanding and diverse requirements with respect to latency, data rates, availability, reliability and in some cases, high-accuracy positioning. The vertical industries that will reap the benefits of this new level of automation will range from railways, buildings, factories, healthcare, smart cities, electrical power supply and special events. These new Industry 4.0 opportunities will be possible through making sure that communications between machines is secure, dependable and seamless.
To achieve this, 5G supports three essential types of communication: enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine-type communication (mMTC), and ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC). Connectivity is a key component of Industry 4.0 which aims at significantly improving the flexibility, versatility, usability and efficiency of future smart factories, integrates IoT and related services in industrial manufacturing, and delivers seamless vertical and horizontal integration down the entire value chain and across all layers of the automation pyramid. Meeting these objectives will greatly depend on the 5G technical performance such as supporting a peak data rate of 1-20 Gbps; connection density 1 thousand – 1 million devices/km2; reliability of 99.999%; enhanced battery life of 10 years; higher position accuracy; latency 1-10 ms; and strong privacy and security.
It is becoming increasingly important that 5G technologies have the capabilities to provide ultra-reliable low-latency communication, which will enable automation in vertical domains through mission-critical machine type communication use cases. A 3GPP study item focuses on the requirements for automation in verticals with critical communications as an enabler for wireless control loops, identifying the normative 3GPP work needed to deliver 5G for automation in a variety of industries.
5G technology will provide a wide range of vertical applications such as IoT, virtual reality, industrial control, smart cities, smart grids and smart factories. Security and seamless communication offered through 5G will be of utmost importance as we move toward automation of verticals.
By combining cellular networks with industrial IoT, manufacturing will become more effective and flexible. Cellular network capabilities are evolving from the support of massive IoT to extreme low-latency IoT applications — meeting the requirements of IIoT. Currently, most use cases on manufacturing sites are based on wired connections. However, as the evolving cellular capabilities are challenging industrial Ethernet systems, cables will in many cases become redundant, introducing opportunities for more flexible production and expanded digital operations. Tomorrow’s use cases for advanced manufacturing will require advanced connectivity offered through 5G. Market development for smart wireless manufacturing will depend on showing the value for mobility or wireless connectivity through a common service platform; providing offerings that resolve the issues and challenges that offset the investment in a new technology, thereby, proving the new networks’ practical and business value; and building horizontal and scalable systems to address cost, deployment and spectrum issues. Today’s manufacturers may not be aware of cellular capabilities, how they enable different digital systems and finally how these technologies address the issues and challenges for manufacturers today.
Some areas that will derive great benefits from 5G connectivity and mobility for automation are, for example, shop floors with automated vehicles and assembly warehouses, which need secure and precise management as well as tracking of traffic, data flows and assets; low-volume and high-variance manufacturing cases, where wireless machine line configuration is simple and flexible compared to cabled machine lines; processes that cannot be monitored and controlled via cables but require wireless, real-time critical data transmission and a stable, deterministic network performance (bandwidth and latency) to operate; processes susceptible to human error, or advanced manufacturing that requires tacit knowledge and skills transfer, where digital tools will be widespread to mitigate for errors and encourage faster learning; and processes where coordination of factories, resources and components is time-sensitive or crucial for the result (for example, product quality and timely delivery).
The upcoming 5G systems are targeted to extend mobile communication services beyond mobile telephony and broadband into new vertical domains with special communication services to provide automation for various use cases and services. Key vertical domains and associated uses cases with a compelling need for automation include the following:
- Rail-bound mass transit
- Building automation
- Factory of the future
- Smart city
- Electrical power distribution
- Central power generation
- Program making and special events
- Smart agriculture
Communications for automation in vertical domains come with demanding and diverse requirements and must support applications for production in the corresponding vertical domain (for example, industrial automation and energy automation, but also transportation). This needs to be incorporated into new security standards and mechanisms for dependable communications.
3GPP standards for automation in vertical domains
5G systems will extend mobile communication services beyond mobile telephony, mobile broadband and massive machine-type communication into new application domains, so-called vertical domains, with special requirements toward communication services. Communication for automation in vertical domains comes with demanding requirements — high availability, high reliability, low latency and, in some cases, high-accuracy positioning.
3GPP’s study item on requirements for automation in verticals focuses on critical communications as an enabler for wireless control loops needed to deliver 5G for automation in a variety of industries. Emerging issues are mostly related to coexistence problems of technologies that rely on the industrial, scientific and medical radio bands. 3GPP systems, and certainly 5G, are set to offer a better level of service. The 3GPP SA1 study group will formulate service requirements, particularly using two features of evolving 5G technology — controlled channel access and the use of alternative frequency bands — to address the needs of the critical communication sector and overcome coexistence issues. The study group completed work in May 2018 to:
- Survey industry standards pertaining to critical communication;
- Identify potential requirements on 5G networks by new sectors;
- Address new vertical use cases (for example, train control in mass transit); and
- Survey industry security standards and their implication for critical communication over 5G networks.
As we move toward 5G, real-time automation scales out from local compute to distributed large-scale compute to mission-critical experience. In the figure, Ericsson describes the 5G evolution of real-time automation:
- Local automation such as smart meters, smart greenhouses and agricultural remote sensing;
- Large-scale automation such as precision medicine, real-time load balancing, distributed energy management, and real-time mobile and high-frequency trading; and
- Mission-critical automation such as bio-electronic medicine, virtual power plants and management of solar grid generation and so on.
Security responsibilities for automation in vertical domains are complex, as explained in the 5G Americas white paper “5G Communications for Automation in Vertical Domains,” as they are shared by several actors and need to be managed by credential pairs or certificates from different sources. Authentication and verification are implemented using the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) framework. 5G security features include native support of EAP. The 5G mandate of supporting EAP Authentication and Key Agreement (EAP-AKA) allows adding new EAP authentication methods in the future that can be used for authenticating IIoT systems.
Devices in many verticals operate over long usage periods (in industrial environments typically 10 to 20 years). It is important that an automation application system can be kept in service over a long usage period without requiring regular physical access to the devices for upgrades (for example, replacing hardware components or redesigning the technical system). However, it is also critical for the distributed automation application that UEs are upgradable or can be patched (including firmware, security-related algorithms and long-term keys) to maintain the security of the system to the state-of-the-art over the life span of the devices.
When the security provided by the communication system is deemed to be insufficient for a vertical automation application, security of the industrial system is realized on top of the application layer (for example, using IPsec or TLS). 5G offers secure communications and state-of-the-art encryption. Integrity protection mechanisms are utilized in 5G to protect the user plane, control plane and management traffic. In addition, 5G supports user privacy protection for the information that can be used by unauthorized parties to identify and track subscribers (for example, protecting permanent identifiers such as Subscription Permanent Identifier (SUPI), International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) and International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI)).
Year end 2018. 5G arrives!
As 5G hits the market, particularly with early deployments in late 2018 and 2019, momentum is building as service providers accelerate their plans for 5G rollout. In its “3Q 2018 Mobility Report,” Ericsson predicted that in 2024, 5G will reach 40% population coverage and 1.5 billion subscriptions, making it the fastest generation ever to be rolled out on a global scale. This is driven by new, innovative systems that reuse existing infrastructure and available spectrum. In parallel to the 5G rollout, cellular IoT is passing new milestones on its way to becoming the technology of choice for wide-area IoT applications. Boosted by a strong uptake in Northeast Asia, cellular IoT connections are set to pass the 4 billion mark by 2024. As 5G arrives, many other vertical industries are looking with great anticipation at what 5G might bring to productivity, safety, reliability, quality of service and new innovations and services.
So here we are with a new “G” after years of research, standardization and trials that will revolutionize industry and boost economy.
About 5G Americas: The voice of 5G and LTE for the Americas
5G Americas is an industry trade organization composed of leading telecommunications service providers and manufacturers. The organization’s mission is to advocate for and foster the advancement and full capabilities of LTE wireless technologies and their evolution to 5G, throughout the ecosystem’s networks, services, applications and wirelessly connected devices in the Americas. 5G Americas is invested in developing a connected wireless community while leading 5G development for all the Americas. 5G Americas is headquartered in Bellevue, Washington. More information is available at http://www.5gamericas.org/or Twitter @5GAmericas.
5G Americas’ Board of Governors members include AT&T, Cable & Wireless, Cisco, CommScope, Ericsson, Intel, Kathrein, Mavenir, Nokia, Qualcomm Incorporated, Samsung, Shaw Communications Inc., Sprint, T-Mobile US, Inc., Telefónica and WOM.
The internet of things. The phrase suggests an object connecting to and sharing information with other objects … but it doesn’t seem to factor you, the human being, into the mix. In order for IoT to be meaningful, it must include the human touch. This sense of human touch currently involves poking a finger at the touch-glass medium of a smartphone or screen-based device. Such poking is extremely common, but hardly ideal. We devote a ridiculous amount of time to staring down our omnipresent slabs of glass, an action that regularly disconnects us from our physical environments. Our phones have become the “universal remotes” of the connected domain, and they stand in the way of more natural interactions with our environment. As a designer and lover of objects, I know it’s important to develop more intuitive and instinctual, even inspirational, connections with the connected things around us. If we push beyond the glass console interface, we can create more of a direct relationship with, and trust in, these objects.
So, how do we break out of the glass box? We start by analyzing our essential communication instincts and design interactions that work with human behaviors, rather than against them. When you analyze our relationship with our devices and environment, it becomes obvious that when commanding any combination of things, we want to understand our context at that moment, have full control over the object and enable collaboration with other individuals and objects. Once we comprehend the three C’s, we can unlock more sophisticated and personalized interaction methods with IoT. Doing so will broaden our understanding of the device, create a more trusted relationships with IoT and lead to deeper user commitment.
Let’s define each of these human instincts:
- Understanding context
People desire interactions that understand their present context. Obviously, gesture controls are not favorable when driving a vehicle and voice commands are challenging in a crowded public space. So, people want the ability to modify the interaction based on changes in their context (location, mood and so forth). Also, context-awareness is important in the discovery of smart objects, recognizing the possible relationships they have with one another.
- Having control
People want to command the objects they interact with and understand the larger system of which that object is a part. They may wish for “superpowers” that allow them to feel in control of the environment around them at every moment. They want technology to enhance their abilities as human beings rather usurp their control. Or to command their domain without constantly having to learn technological protocols. This feeling of instant expertise is becoming more and more important as the rapid pace of tech development places many in perpetual catch-up mode.
- Enabling collaboration
People want to conduct their orchestra of connections and connected devices. That means collaborating not only with a multitude of surrounding objects, but with colleagues, friends, and family — including all the devices they control. This dialogue with the people in their lives and the devices within their daily routines needs to be enriching and productive and non-judgmental.
Building off a foundation of these three instincts, we can start to imagine more meaningful interactions with IoT. Tech is endlessly evolving, but these instincts endure, so they can provide an anchor to establishing long-lasting human interaction behavior that fulfills people’s functional and emotional needs. Let’s imagine how a few of these technologies could provide a more human-oriented approach to achieving our instinctual needs.
Voice and gesture (today)
As this technology develops, voice combined with gesture will allow you to acknowledge specific objects and have quick and precise control of them. Turning on a particular light within a connected home could be as easy as pointing to that light and speaking the command. Performing more detailed interactions might be as simple as signifying a dimming command with your hands and then gesturing, with a rotating knob motion, to turn the light up or down. We see plenty of products that take advantage of the user’s voice to control the device, and promising technologies, like Google Soli, which could provide a number of touchless gestures for virtual interaction. Voice combined with gesture promise to become a deeper and more humanized method for interacting with our devices, especially when you consider how much smaller our screens are getting.
Projected interfaces (tomorrow)
Interfaces are being freed from tiny screens to inhabit our three-dimensional context. They will soon be projected over our field of view and integrated with objects in real space. Whether it’s a wearable device or a projection onto a surface close to you, advances in augmented interfaces will allow people to scan the room, recognizing and controlling devices within the network. Guided by an overall AI layer, suggestions of new types of device connections and skills could be created to allow people to orchestrate their lives more meaningfully. Your coffee table could turn into an entertainment console when needed, and your kitchen counters would provide a temporary surface for dynamic controls of the multitude of appliances with in the room. Projected technology is becoming more and more available, with companies like Lightform that allow you to build specific augmented reality experiences to fit the 3D contours of your environment. Projected interfaces will allow for a more natural interaction, in both the proximity of the interface and the dynamic comprehension of the context at hand.
Brain-computer interface (the future)
Brain-to-thing communication is evolving fast, and one day soon your brain command could remotely control the sensing and actuation of IoT devices. This will be a direct communication pathway between your mind and the device, eliminating the need for the existing delivery methods. Someday you’ll be able to focus on an object and your thoughts will be translated in direct physical actions. Right now, it’s fascinating to see universities like John Hopkins studying the ability of patients with spinal cord injuries to control prosthetics and other devices through brain activity. Although this technology is further down the road, it will be very powerful. We’re talking about a direct cognitive interaction, skipping the middle step of having to use your hands and/or voice, to complete a command.
Test and iterate
So, which technology is appropriate for which user function? It’s almost impossible to reliably predict how people will react to a design. This is why user testing is so important, not only to gauge the interactive naturalness of a variety of users, but to understanding if users are actually ready for it. All the technologies outlined above must be evaluated to prove they offer a more humanized form of interaction. As automation and connectivity increases, people will expect the objects around them to respond to the more natural interfaces of touch, voice and even by their mere presence in a room. Humans are creatures of habit, and the best interfaces recognize learned behavior while catering to our essential human instincts. As technology integrates more tightly with the human senses, we’re laying the foundation for a future in which humans and computers are united more closely together than ever before. Let’s design a future in which people put away their screens and interact directly with the world around them.
Scott Berg is the chief executive officer of ServiceMax, an operating unit of GE Digital. In his daily work, Scott and his team receive questions from customers around implementing industrial and manufacturing IoT systems. This column serves to share some of those questions from the field and provide actionable advice for readers.
Dear Scott: What are the pros and cons of connecting industrial or manufacturing sites to the cloud? I’m trying to understand the different considerations for a public cloud versus a private/on-premises cloud. Is it really all about security?
Dear Reader: A decision between public and private cloud deployments is much more than a question about security. Every business should care about the security of their information — it’s a shared priority for all of us and is table stakes in this day and age.
I often counsel customers around cloud considerations including data volume, proximity and immediacy of availability. When choosing a cloud framework, your decision really boils down to the unique priorities for your operations at hand. Considerations such as how much data comes from a given machine and how fast you want your systems to respond to that data are key. Security and personal access to that data are important, but not the first point you should necessarily consider.
When thinking about the equipment in your facility, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there a need for the data servers that inform your machines to have physical proximity?
- Is there an immediate benefit to the speed and immediacy of real-time data transfer between controlling databases and the machinery itself?
- Is there a constant stream of real-time data updates or two-way communication occurring between a given piece of equipment’s sensor array and your company’s core informational databases?
Security must come into it somehow though, right?
The debate between public and private cloud rollouts is something a lot of CIOs, IT and operations leaders grapple with. People tend to oversimplify the pros and cons and look at this as a straightforward data security question, as if the private cloud is simply more secure than the public. Security is absolutely a consideration, in terms of who can gain access to data, but what many people don’t realize is that there are ways of securing a public cloud just as well as a private cloud. Data security not only entails controlling who can access data, but also making sure it is backed up and won’t be lost. If you store data in a public cloud, you may lose complete data access security, but you gain data backup security. For example, if you lose a USB stick or a laptop, that locally stored data is still saved in the public cloud.
When is public cloud better than private cloud (or vice versa)?
Let’s think through two hypothetical scenarios. If you are the IT director for a medical device company, imagine you have a fleet of 1,000 MRI machines in operation across the U.S. For your purposes, a public cloud system might be perfect. Your goals here are to maximize uptime and understand usage patterns so you can improve MRI reliability for hospitals over a period of years. The advantage of a public cloud is being able to get data out of each physical machine location and have that information live centrally, so you can access that data across a variety of locations or even worldwide.
Now, contrast that MRI scenario with an additive manufacturing context, where the data being collected is critical in real time. In this scenario, an industrial edge computing platform may be the way to go, because you can put ingestion, storage, analytics and even applications right next to the manufacturing machine. In this situation, an edge system gives you the advantages of speed and the ability to react quickly in high data volume scenarios.
Now play that forward and imagine you have a huge fleet of 3D printers producing highly specialized parts for a customer with incredibly stringent data management requirements across a complex, distributed supply chain. This is where a private cloud system might make the most sense. You may connect and monitor edge devices, run application performance management programs and execute powerful analytics against large data sets in your own private cloud — all wholly separated from external threats.
Over the years, I have learned that users need a selection of systems for various points along the industrial compute spectrum: from the edge to the cloud, and some hybrids like internal, private clouds. That’s why my company developed offerings to give businesses flexibility when and where they operate and make it easier for customers requiring an on-premises industrial IoT platform.
At the end of the day, you know your business better than anyone — that makes you the best person to judge whether a public or private cloud system is best. There are pros and cons to both, but what they look like will differ from one business to the next, and from my business to yours. Remember to look through multiple lenses — data volume, proximity, immediacy and security — and allow your practical needs to steer you towards your answer.
Do you have an industrial IoT question for Scott? Email us and your question may be answered in a future post!
After what seems like years of waiting, it appears that the benefits and promises of 5G will soon be delivered. Far from being simply the next generation of mobile networking, 5G will be 100 times faster than its predecessor and will offer 25 times lower latency, providing unimaginably faster response times. Indeed, controlled tests have seen response rates of between 1 and 2 milliseconds, a vast improvement on 4G’s average of 50 ms.
Such low latency is set to open up a whole new world of applications, forever transforming the way in which products are manufactured and how they’re delivered, not to mention the way in which we move and how we communicate.
Until now, though, the focus of mobile networks has been on connecting people — initially through voice and SMS, and most recently through over-the-top messaging platforms and social media. The fifth generation, however, promises to connect “things” too, unlocking the full potential of IoT, the expanding network of connected devices, software and sensors, continuously collecting and exchanging data. In doing so, 5G will serve as an enabler for the fourth Industrial Revolution.
A term originally coined by Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, the fourth Industrial Revolution describes the emerging technology breakthroughs disrupting every area of business and society today.
Consider, for example, a world in which drones deliver groceries directly from the warehouse to your doorstep. Not only will this mean faster product deliveries, but it will cut down on the number of vehicles on the road, thereby reducing congestion and carbon emissions. Autonomous vehicles, guiding themselves without the need for human intervention, will further improve traffic flow and reduce the number of traffic accidents.
Industries connected with various downstream systems will have access to real-time data on market supply and demand, and will be able to adjust their processes accordingly for greater efficiencies and personalization. And augmented reality will enhance retail experiences, improve learning and provide recreational opportunities never previously thought of.
All of these possibilities, and more, require connectivity of things at the very high speeds and ultra-low latencies that 5G can deliver. Latencies of 5G will be in the region of between 15 and 20 ms to begin with, however, and while this will be adequate for most human interactions, some of the examples above will require even lower latency. A shift in the network architecture is needed if we are to see latencies of 1 or 2 milliseconds in the wild.
Closer to the edge
A network’s compute and storage requirements currently tend to be handled on remote servers, located far from the end user. Mobile edge computing or multi-access edge computing (MEC), however, brings these processes closer to the network edge; in many cases they’ll actually be integrated into the radio towers from which 5G services will be delivered. As latency is affected by the number of hops from a device to a server, decreasing the distance and reducing the number of hops between the two by moving the server to the network edge will therefore significantly improve latency — ideally to the desired 1 or 2 milliseconds.
It’s also worth considering that, largely based on virtualization and reliant on technologies such as network functions virtualization and software-defined networking, 5G makes use of stateless cloud services which, rather than storing data from one session to the next, rely instead on common external data management. Operators must therefore put in place a carrier-class data layer capable of bridging these stateless clouds and storing diverse data such as fast-changing session data, as well as the policy, subscription and long-lasting subscription data required by a range of different applications. Doing so, will result in an efficient MEC deployment, delivering data at the edge for ultra-low latency applications.
MEC is clearly integral to 5G and IoT deployments. Indeed, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute described it as “a key technology and architectural concept to enable the evolution to 5G.” For operators, though, it represents more than just a means of offering the necessary connectivity; MEC is also an opportunity to monetize 5G and the burgeoning IoT.
By providing an environment in which specialized latency-sensitive server applications can be hosted, operators will be able to charge more per connected device. Operators’ central offices are set to become more valuable assets too; after all, enabling server applications on the edge will require facilities to host the edge computing. Indeed, many operators are already employing Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter (CORD) and M-CORD for just this reason. Many others are also implementing subscriber-aware edge technology to prioritize traffic and maximize their edge server deployments.
These examples alone give some idea of the extent to which change is afoot. OEMs and operators are talking up 5G like never before, and 2019 is likely to see the technology rolled out across a number of different regions. Businesses across all industries are set to change forever as a result of the high speed and ultra-low latency it promises. By providing the connectivity and the environment needed to unlock the potential of IoT and reap the benefits of the fourth Industrial Revolution, operators now have a huge opportunity to monetize the latest generation of mobile networking, and share in its success. 5G is almost upon us. It’s time to step up to the edge and unleash the fourth Industrial Revolution.
As one of the world’s oldest industries, insurance is often seen as a traditional or even old-fashioned industry. But insurance is one of the many industries that is being redefined by IoT. But insurers need a shift in mindset if they want to advance into the modern era and stay relevant to their customers. Historically, insurance companies have focused on making their core as good as possible to mitigate risk. Insurance at its core is risk-averse. But the landscape is changing and IoT in insurance is becoming more widespread.
More insurance technology startups that are using IoT are popping up and being invested in by large companies. Last year, insurance technology companies raised $2.2 billion and saw 202 deals — a record-breaking number. This shows that there is an increasing interest in new technologies in the insurance sector. And with the money behind these new technologies, they are gaining momentum.
IoT and new opportunities for insurers
New technologies like IoT provide a huge opportunity for insurers to improve their products and the way they interact with their customers. Many insurance companies have already started experimenting with how they can implement IoT with their business. Car insurance companies are starting to use telematics, the integrated use of communications and IT, to track how much and how well you drive. This allows insurers to reward their customers for good driving behavior and to charge less if they drive less. For example, Metromile offers a usage-based, pay-by-the-mile car insurance in the U.S.
Life insurance companies have experimented with incorporating health tracking devices to integrate wellness benefits with their customers’ insurance plans. In fact, it is predicted that the connected health market will be worth $61 billion by 2020. John Hancock was the first insurance company to offer policyholder discounts of up to 15% for wearing internet-connected Fitbit wristbands and rewards for various healthy activities. This smart life insurance is an example of how companies are starting to make insurance more immediate and relevant in the daily lives of their customers.
Another example of IoT in insurance are those who are experimenting with data from connected buildings to offer reduced premiums by monitoring utilities to understand water leakage, fire or occupancy trends. Many of the building’s systems are designed to be purely reactive, like the smoke detector that raises an alarm when it detects smoke. But with this data, insurers are finding that they can start to do predictive maintenance by detecting potential problems before they occur, reducing claims. Aviva is integrating Leakbot, a smart connected water leak detector, to offer a solution to the issue of water damage through its ability to detect leaks in a home, spotting them before they have a chance to become big problems.
In the not so distant future, IoT-connected products will become the norm across all segments of the insurance industry, as providers look to attract and retain digitally savvy audiences. Insurers are starting to take notice, with three-quarters of them seeing financial technology innovations as a challenge for their industry. To adapt to the shifting landscape, insurers need to create connected products rapidly.
As the examples above show, the internet of things is new and shiny and creates opportunities that are vast and valuable. But it is important to emphasize the word “new” here. There is no shortage of impressive, potentially groundbreaking ideas out there, but the technologies are still very novel and therefore the systems are not well-defined, requirements are loose and changing, and ideas are hard to prove.
It is challenging for insurers to understand the value of the data and for their customers to even know what they want. That’s why so many insurance companies are frozen with fear at the idea of taking such a risk without knowing the payoff. Therefore, it is important to constantly experiment and get something into the market quickly without spending a lot of time and money.
Rapid experimentation to the rescue
Insurance companies need to approach IoT applications with a willingness to fail often in order to figure out how to succeed sooner, in order to adopt a development process that allows for this rapid, low-cost experimentation. The lightbulb wasn’t invented with a single eureka moment. Instead, Thomas Edison experimented with thousands of different ideas. In his eyes, he thought, “I have not failed; I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Budget also plays an important factor in the new mindset for insurers around risk. Insurance companies need to fund these projects in different ways and need to make an investment with an understanding that the business value may well be zero and that they may lose money at first. However, if insurers can test these ideas rapidly and at low cost, the risk is alleviated.
To foster this low-cost, high-value experimentation, companies need the right set of tools and processes. Some best practices for fostering rapid experimentation in your organization include:
- Designate time and resources for this type of experimentation to prove to your organization that this new approach can work, and then scale it widely as a new mindset.
- Form cross-functional teams that include the business and IT. Bring together a person with a big idea and someone with the technical skills to bring it to life.
- Use visual, model-driven development to create a common language and allow for faster experimentation and greater collaboration.
- Create a feedback loop to continuously capture feedback from users that you can take back into the process for continuous innovation.
- Test a minimum viable product early in the process to ensure the ability to change direction with minimal risk based on what you learn.
It is imperative to get these ideas out there quickly in order to validate or invalidate them. Avoid the “it must be perfect” mindset. Instead, build and deploy a minimum viable product and continue to iterate with feedback from customers to create the best experiences.
A new industrial age is being propelled by companies wanting their assets to generate more revenue without further investment or infrastructure upgrades. Artificial intelligence and IIoT can make this a reality. With a system intelligently assessing the conditions that affect manufacturing processes, humans can learn and make decisions based on that information.
This allows operations to improve with little or no manual analysis from personnel, leading to lower costs and downtime, and the ability to produce faster, as well as a slew of other benefits.
Sounds good, but there’s more to this.
Large data sets are too time-consuming for a system to process, especially if attempted manually. AI is used to find correlations and the root cause to specific events. Add in a capable asset performance management system and AI algorithms can offer advanced analytics that deliver a clear view of business outcomes, and even what the future may hold.
It’s an exciting time and a lot of companies are ready to rush right in. But if AI was simple and success guaranteed, everybody would already be on board. It’s an evolving field, and if not done right, people might walk away with the impression that AI can’t do much or that it’s not effective. Before turning these new technologies loose, consider the following questions.
What are we trying to solve?
Not identifying key business pain points to solve is a reason many AI pilots flounder. The thing is, even when these initiatives appear successful, they will stall at some point. You have to know what you’re trying to achieve and, most importantly, make sure that the leadership is fully aware of it. This will enable you to continue working on it despite encountering obstacles. Here are a few examples that grab executives’ attention and commitment:
- Minimize unplanned downtime: Forecast performance metrics and schedule maintenance to keep operations up and running.
- Reduce energy costs: Get to the root cause of energy spikes faster. Take advantage of off-peak energy prices.
- Reduce chemical costs: Purchase and use resources more cost-effectively, such as lowering chemical dosing amounts.
- Increase efficiency of work orders: Manage dispatches optimally by predicting the performance of assets in advance.
What improvements will be reached?
When pilots succeed but don’t progress, it’s often because results weren’t as powerful as anticipated. The fact is that results are still positive even when performance improvements weren’t obtained but a clear reason is determined as to why it didn’t happen.
The challenge is to find a project with which everyone feels comfortable. Getting some kind of pilot off the ground just to get an evaluation started is actually reasonable. This is where concrete, meaningful improvement goals become important. Your solution provider should lead this charge since they know what’s possible.
What access to data will you have?
When it comes to data, three key aspects make up the backbone of an AI project: quantity, quality and access. AI projects use historical data in order to train algorithms to predict future outcomes. The more data the better. It may not all come into play, but data scientists will want to tease out any and all correlations and look for causal effects, so having access to this data is crucial.
Even so, while less data poses challenges, project goals can still be met. Even gaps in data — such as a lack of one or more sensor inputs — can be overcome. It’s important to know what you have to work with, so bring in a data science team to conduct an investigation before beginning.
Do we have data scientists and subject matter experts?
It’s important to have strong collaboration between data scientists and subject matter experts (SMEs) who understand the process to be optimized. Without this, the project will likely fail. Some solution providers have good AI expertise, others have SMEs. These types of projects require a combination of both.
How do we proceed?
There are a lot of approaches you can take to evaluate and execute a plan. Do you involve an analytics company if you have your own SME? Should a consulting engineering firm organize the project? Do you get a one-stop solution provider to do the whole thing?
All of these are viable options. The key is to know that the analysis can be done, and access to historical and near real-time data is crucial.
Data analysis should be completed and vetted up front. Your team or provider must be able to tell you, within certain limits, that you’ll get the prescriptive recommendations necessary to meet your project goals. If a significant payment is needed before any analysis occurs, you could be funding someone else’s learning curve.
Improving your workflows is a process. The key is to be realistic, patient and persistent.