Over the last decade, our understanding of “connected things” has evolved in parallel with the transformation from networking to NFV, and communications has been moved into the cloud – for good.
It was around the turn of the century that what we originally called “telematics” became known as machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity, in a world where fleets of trucks, cars and other assets are all monitored and managed using primarily satellite and connected sensors.
IP changed everything. The more mobile capacity came online, the more things could be connected via radio and cellular networks, as well as growing WiMax and WiFi platforms. In line with Moore’s Law, the price of connectivity was reduced as capacity became more commoditized. The price of sensors dropped and innovation exploded with increasingly sensitive and reliable components for everything, from wellness wearables to smart consumer appliances, were mass-produced.
The growth of M2M has rapidly surpassed the adoption rate of telematics, and the advancement of smartphones and mobile services inevitably led to an entirely new ecosystem and economic boom, giving birth to what we now recognize as the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) which leads us to the Internet of Everything – and Everybody.
We’re now headlong into an LTE world, where networks move data around at an unprecedented rate, and we benefit from the billions of dollars in investments into the transformation of networks defined by software that’s been virtualized and harmonized, and central offices that have been transformed into mini-data centers. All of this laying the groundwork for innovation.
With inventions that are securing end-points (ie. billions of sensors), protecting data in motion, improving the performance of connectivity solutions, and orchestrating almost every aspect of our lives – how can human beings function when they are not only connected to each other, but also to their “things”, starting from the moment they wake up, to the moment they fall asleep.
Maybe our Machine-to-Human and Human-to-Machine communications will eventually become as intuitive as breathing.
While many people in the telecom industry have been worried about the decline in the use of Voice as a communication option, what they may have missed is that Voice is actually on the rise – when it is embedded into the flow of communication services.
It’s far easier to speak into an app to control things, or to speak and allow voice-to-text to create and send a message. The performance of voice-driven innovations depends on what voice has always depended on – clarity and usefulness. Now, we have the ability to travel to the other side of the world and still interact with a delivery person on our doorsteps at home. We can virtually lock and unlock our cars and attend a grandchild’s recital by holding up an iPad.
And someday not too far in the future, we will be provided care through virtual assistants, including bots who communicate with us after checking our blood pressure, help us adjust our medications, automatically connect us with human caregivers, or send a live human to our home based on how our individualized health programs have been set up. This can be done at a fraction of the cost of traditional in-home, assisted living and skilled nursing care – and can make our lives more efficient, contributing to an increasingly connected, real-time world.
There is much to say about how we create and govern together in a world where people and things co-exist. Imagine the possibilities of what we could do using Machine-to-Human communications: farmers could increase their yields, everywhere in the world; Health workers could serve large populations across geographies using extremely low cost health monitors connected to local clinics; We could secure not just large smart cities, but smaller, rural smart communities, even in areas vulnerable to conflict and terrorism.
It’s thrilling to play a role in this revolution and even more exciting to see that the benefits will extend to millions of people as we build technology ecosystems at the intersection of people and things. If we keep connecting at this rate, with this level of consciousness and collective vision, we will make a huge difference in how our kids’ and grandkids’ world will be.