The focus of this years' Embedded World was "Securely Connecting the Internet of Things," but the thing that stood out was not only security, it was the growing reality of the IoT. Over the last few years, we have all heard about the IoT ad nauseam, so I will spare you the same old discussion. However, what was different from prior years was that many IoT promises are finally coming true. No longer is it "The Next Big Thing" – devices are beginning to deliver on the promises made by those promoting the IoT.
We spoke with many editors within the embedded industry and they corroborated this sentiment. Booths from the most recognizable companies in our industry featured connected devices that are tasked with gathering and exchanging data. Maybe the most popular illustration was the myriad of automobiles and instrument clusters that attendees saw as they cruised the six show halls. Automakers, with their vast and competitive supply chain, are finding new ways that connecting things to each other can add value for the user. New suppliers are entering the automotive space as fast as marketers can pull product names out of their Scrabble game boxes. Automotive was not the only space where IoT is becoming real.
The most interesting (and unsettling) device we saw was called the Citybeacon, and it is a marvel of the IoT. Citybeacon is described as a "state-of-the-art technology platform that connects cities, citizens and businesses enabled by Intel Internet of Things Technology." This device is basically a terminal that can be placed all around cities that provides access to wifi, emergency services and city-wide announcements. A large screen shares maps, tourist information and advertisements for local businesses. It also includes a pay station, as well as cameras and facial recognition capabilities that enables the experience to be tailored to each individual. The pitch to developers is that they can develop programs that take advantage of the amazing amount of data created by these beacons. It seems like a futuristic marvel to be able to simply walk up to one of these devices on a city street you've never walked before and have it greet you by name. It's also a scene out of a scary nightmare for privacy advocates and security experts.
With IoT devices now including cameras, sensors, microphones and face recognition, they are creating, processing and transmitting more data than anyone ever expected. These devices, whether they’re Citybeacons or autonomous cars, depend on this rich data, but what happens if that data is compromised or corrupted? In the most severe cases, people could die.
Datalight’s software offers capabilities to complement these devices. The power-failsafe nature of our file systems ensure the reliability of this valuable data, providing absolute insurance against data corruption. This means devices continue to function as they’re supposed to even when things go wrong. This is the kind of assurance we need as devices become more intertwined with our lives.
As we continue to build new features into our products, our attention is drawn more and more to privacy and security concerns as well. Where do you see IoT fitting into your next project?