The Voice of IoT. January. 2022

IoT has an incandescent future

Innovation is more than just cutting-edge technology. It is a mindset. A way of thinking that builds excitement within people where the spark is first brought to life and thereafter carried like an Olympic torch by those that become disciples of it. Innovation dares to change the status quo. It boldly claims, “I know a better way” and throws itself forward to be tested, examined, and ultimately adopted or discarded.
Val Jelinic. Head of Ecosystem & IoT Solutions. Brunata AG. Switzerland.
Val Jelinic
Regardless of whether you are an expert with a deep understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) or a lay person who has heard the popular buzzwords associated with smart cities, smart homes, and smart energy, it is obvious that the disruptive innovation that is IoT has already made a great impact on our daily lives and will continue to do so into the future.

But how did we get here and why is IoT so transformative? For this, history can provide us with a little perspective.

Getting connected

The first communication solutions using electricity were extremely primitive but at the same time revolutionary. They enabled people to communicate over great distances, almost instantly. They consisted of a power source (a battery), a circuit (wires from one terminal to another) and a switch. Pushing the switch closed the circuit and sent an electric signal down the wire. The telegraph was born, and cities became “connected”.
If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants - Isaac Newton
Later, innovators Nikola Tesla, Guglielmo Marconi and Thomas Edison played key roles in building upon this knowledge, developing and advancing the same principle, but without wires and over vast distances. Thus, a cornerstone of IoT was born, wireless radio.

As the digital revolution arrived saturating all walks of life with new smaller, lighter, and battery-operated technologies, computers became affordable and accessible, and we were catapulted into the information age. Computers became the central hub of all communications. With this singular event, innovation took a quantum leap forward. New programs, new software applications, new services, new business models and completely new industries sprang into existence, some of them literally overnight.

Then, in 1989 Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web - a way of easily linking together a global collection of documents and resources - and by 1993 the first people-friendly web browsers guaranteed that people’s lives as they’d previously known it, was over. A new era had dawned. The internet had well and truly entered mainstream.
Marconi's Wireless Transmitter

Innovation is all around us

Fast forward to today. People are connected to each other so deeply, that we struggle to comprehend the volume of data and the myriad of pervasive ways the internet touches and impacts our lives. It is ubiquitous, satisfying our every whim from ordering pizza, avoiding traffic congestion, and learning new skills, to sustaining our self-esteem in “likes” and “followers”. The internet is our daily go-to source for everything, it’s everywhere around us and none of us can imagine our lives without it.

Now imagine that “Things” also have the same capability and opportunity. The same access to information, data, analysis, and decision-making. That is exactly what the Internet of Things is and means. This is why it has such enormous potential, why it is such a disruptive game-changer. This innovation is in our homes, workplaces, buildings, cities, cars, industries and more. All connected in some way, producing data, being analysed, uncovering insights, and triggering further processes. Automatically and without the need of human intervention.

We don’t know what we don’t know

Just as Marconi, Tesla or Berners-Lee could not fathom the far-reaching implications and impacts of their discoveries, the vast potential of IoT cannot yet truly be fathomed.

IoT has spawned and helped to accelerate a hydra of new fields of pursuit such as bigdata, blockchains and the cloud. New IoT enabling technologies such as LPWAN (Low Power WAN) have taken us to the next level with their perfectly-suited-for-IoT characteristics; long-range radio (10-15kms) low data volume and long battery life. This unique combination paved the way to connect things that were previously too expensive or too difficult to connect. Result? The explosive growth we witnessed in IoT over the past five years.
It's not the “things” that make IoT happen, but the innovative mindset of people who believe in it.
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web
In the early days of LoRaWAN®, Sigfox and later with Narrowband IoT, the line-up of devices was extremely limited, reliability was in question and diversity was virtually non-existent. Thanks to innovative and persistent companies, today there is a vast choice within the IoT zooniverse which continues to grow.

Even so, IoT is far from simple. It is multifaceted and complex. Very complex. Furthermore, we forget that IoT is still in its infancy. The installation and setup of an IoT solution or service is a complex task. Connecting different devices located in different environments is quite demanding. Outdoors, indoors, above or below ground, city, urban or rural areas. All these scenarios guarantee that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Without doubt we have come a long way, but there is still a lot to do and a long way to go before we begin seeing even a small fraction of the billions upon billions of devices predicted by now infamous forecast reports. IoT still needs to convincingly overcome challenges around security, interoperability, and scalability in order to get there. Yet we continue to strive forward.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Despite these complexities, innovative people are inspired to create new services, build new value-based offerings, or take existing ones and make them better, simpler, or easier. Teams of these like-minded people join together to participate in, and form companies focused on bringing offerings to market that not only increase efficiency, performance, reduce waste and optimise resources but also improve quality of life, health and wellbeing. The same mindset permeates existing companies who embrace digital transformation as a critical factor to remain competitive and to stave off obsolescence.

Thanks to organisations such as IEEE, the LoRa Alliance® and the GSMA, healthy environments are created in which ecosystems and partnerships thrive. Lessons-learned and success stories are shared, knowledge and experiences are passed on, aiding to further foster IoT technology openness, availability, and adoption. These people tirelessly serve and contribute to promote, educate, and evangelise the benefit and value of IoT technologies and membership in its communities.
Whether you are an expert or a lay person, directly or indirectly involved, you are already a participant in the connected benefits that IoT brings. Our cities are becoming more efficient, safer, and healthier places to live in. Our energy and resource consumption are more visible and more accurately measured. Our workplaces more productive, our homes more sustainable and our industries more performant and less wasteful for which our planet is grateful. Not to mention our future generations.

IoT has an incandescent future

There is no doubt that IoT has come a long way and made a great impact. There is also no doubt that IoT was built upon “status quo” technologies that were once themselves just sparks of innovation.

Moreover, in all the talk of IoT it is easy to forget that innovation has a human face. No innovative technology would exist without the creative thinker, the torchbearer or the dedicated disciples not only ensuring the spark catches fire but that the fire burns brightly. Much in the same way, it's not the “things” that make IoT happen, but the innovative mindset of people who believe in it, standing alongside it ensuring its fire burns as bright and as long as possible.

With so many brilliant people collectively applying themselves to it, IoT has an incandescent future.

About Val Jelinic

An Australian with a global mindset, Val is a skilled business development technologist with a proven ability in enabling businesses to lever value from disruptive technologies. After serving 10 years in the Royal Australian Air Force managing military networks and secure systems, he gained global project management experience with companies such as Nortel, Avaya, Orange Business Services and ABB. Joining Semtech in 2016, Val supported the global adoption and expansion of LoRaWAN® by network operators and service providers. At Brunata, Val applies his knowledge to enable companies with IoT capabilities, create new business models and accelerate their go-to-market strategies. An early evangelist of LoRaWAN®, he is an active contributor in the LoRa Alliance, having his efforts recognised in 2020 with a Distinguished Service Award.

Val invests his spare time coaching start-ups and small businesses on marketing and business development, exploring science and nature with his young family and tinkering on his small collection of classic Japanese cars.

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