My friends and respected technologists Christian Reilly and Justin Burleigh are often to be found deep in discussion while cradling a pint of Stella. Often these discussions point to what they sees as the big mid-term opportunity for the world to benefit from technology – the internet of things. In their day to day life working around technology innovation for a massive construction and engineering company, this duo spend time thinking about how the rise of a mass connected mesh of cheap and disposable sensors can drive huge benefits.
The examples are obvious – imagine a giant concrete pour in a large industrial project. Rather than flying blind, or having to stop the pour to test the many variables that exist in concrete, companies can simply embed a mesh of disposable sensors in with the pour, and monitor these sensors for the various parameters of interest to them. While a refrigerator that talks to the shelves in your grocery store might be a more sexy example of the Internet of Things (and one which appeals to our fascination for food), it is these more industrial applications that really get exciting.
Recently Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE, wrote an excellent summary post about what he sees as the future of the internet, connected intelligent machines all helping to drive better outcomes for businesses, consumers and ideally the world. Immelt’s post is a rallying call, and a wake up, that tresses just how transformative this move will really be:
In the near future, I expect nothing short of an open, global fabric of highly intelligent machines that connect, communicate and cooperate with us. This Industrial Internet is not about a world run by robots, it is about combining the world’s best technologies to solve our biggest challenges. It’s about economically and environmentally sustainable energy, curing the incurable diseases, and preparing our infrastructure and cities for the next 100 years.
It’s well worth a read, and more importantly everyone reading it should think about the opportunities that the internet of things brings to their industry or organization.
(Cross-posted @ The Diversity Blog - SaaS, Cloud & Business Strategy)