Every minute 400 hours of viewing get uploaded on the You Tube as per this interview with Susan Wojcicki, the You Tube boss. It could well be that in the future you could get some specifics of these uploads channelized to you directly without your initiating any effort. The direction has changed from your making a move to things making a move towards you, from visuals and print to lots of things that touch our lives.
Today it is possible to get news travelling to you through apps and pre-arrangements with channels, instead of you searching for specific news and that too freely; instead of you trying to converse and get to a group of people who are doing things remotely, you could get every conversation and data coming to you as you need through some App-based wares, completely free.
The cost of communication has roughly come down by one fifth from what it was a decade back and this is moving more like Moore’s law in the reverse, the difference is that the cost is more moving towards zero. As we are getting used to these ‘comforts’ of communication there is a revolution waiting with all the rest of things we touch in our lives.
The time is not far off when the coffee machine will know the exact coordinates of your car and the time it would take to reach home, so that the process of making coffee could start so as to serve the coffee just when you arrive. Your near ones could actually know your coordinates any time they wanted, so that there is no surprise waiting. Of course, if you are not a coffee drinker but a gym enthusiast, the geyser would know when to start the heating so that when you are through with it, you can be sure that no time is wasted when you want to have the bath. All the devices in the house could be pre-programed to do things how you want them to be done and in any sequence you desire and the timing could just be coordinated based on your arrival or departure.
These are mundane examples so let me turn to some business examples instead. The modern factory is that which has no queuing of vehicles at the factory gate, no one guarding the gate, no security anywhere trying to steer transportation or people. In fact thanks to ‘Platooning’ the driver-less trucks would reach the exact bay where they would be greeted by robots to unload the stuff to the specific trains that would take them to the exact stations where the assembly line is waiting for them. This entire process would not need the intervention of any human being. There is no doubt that this would be a reality, in fact some parts of this denouement is already available, not the whole.
To make the whole possible the only detriment is lack of standardization and for a change differentiation seems to be the biggest challenge.
Why do you think the coffee machine would find it difficult to be hooked to the positioning of the car on the road? It is because every car could have a different GPS and the coffee machine would find it difficult to get connected with them, every coffee maker may not have the same system running for the ease of allowance either.
The problem of IOT is similar to the Rule of the Road, the initial problems of transportation several centuries back when the Horse carriages on the road could move through any lane, left or right. It was the railroad that changed many things as the railroad had to decide whether a double track railway goes on the left or on the right. Most trains in the United Kingdom operate on the left, and the driver sits on the left, allowing a better view of trackside signals and the possibility of sticking one’s head out the window without it getting knocked off by a train on the other track, although we may doubt that many modern train drivers stick their heads out of their windows very often when running at speed. There are a number of short sections on the London Underground where for one reason or another trains operate on the right — for example, the Northern Line at Bank Station. On the line from Glasgow to Fort William in Scotland, trains keep to the right at stations because the station platform is an island between two tracks, and the train operator, who sits on the left, can more easily view the platform.
Most trains subsequently had the same configuration as the English engineers copied the same designs wherever they were engaged to make rail roads. However things changed with the Paris metro, and later with the others as well. But surely it was the starting point of making rules of the road such that a common good could be shared without a trouble.
Equipment connected with electricity is the next example where such lack of standardization would make matters rather difficult when an electrical item bought in U.S. is taken to Europe or India and there is more than one reason why it would not work automatically without any intervention. The voltage rating is different, the plug & socket is different, even the duty could be something else you wished for.
While solutions to these problems have become easy now, for IOT to work, they are still far away from making things work easily. Let me take the classic case of differentiation in the auto industry.
A product offering could only be unique if it chooses to select an option that the others would find difficult to replicate; this is exactly what makes IOT difficult to operate. Take the entire car industry- it is one great thriving example of differentiation, where there is very little standardization. If every mechanical piece part in the car could be different from Diamler to BMW to Suzuki, every electrical item would only follow suit. The proprietary nature of configuration that makes switching so very difficult increases the cost of the system. That is where standardization could have helped to ease off costs. But the impact on IOT is actually enormous.
If every car has to be engaged in a driverless exercise, imagine what a nightmare it would be for the things to work with every manufacturer having a different way of configuring the same function, from steering to braking, from swerving to navigating. A simple communications device on the car would be different for different models, including the platforms or the inherent codes.
The entire platooning experiment started by Sweden in 2012, called the SARTRE project (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) has today yielded some good results with a fleet of trucks moving driver-less following one truck with a driver across thousands of kilometers. However for this experiment to be converted to a real life scenario, one would need enormous effort to standardize things across a range of spectra.
The question is whether the industry would see the potential of IOT and collaborate to standardize parts of the whole, especially those parts where differentiation has actually added to costs than value.