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IOT Part II: Living Spaces
Sudeepto Roy | Klish Way

Earlier in May, during my lunch break, I chanced upon a unique event at our fairgrounds –The Del Mar Electronic and Manufacturing show. Practically all one would need to build IOT (internet of things) products were on display, ranging from chip-modules, embedded software, manufacturing tools, test equipment, housings, cables, 3D printers, you name it! It was thrilling to see a veritable nerd’s farmers market of local electronics and manufacturing providers. Who says we’ve forgotten how to make electronics in our country? Let’s take a look at the impact this industry is having, in this second installment of a three-part series on the IOT. We will talk about IOT devices that reside in spaces where we live, travel, and work, such as smart homes, smart buildings, and smart cars.

One can think of an IOT product as a connected electronic device that is purpose-built to accomplish specific tasks, while saving energy and keeping connections and data secure. At our homes, for safety, we can have a variety of wireless motion sensors that alert us to outdoor and indoor activity. Examples are internet connected motion-detector lights that also trigger solar-powered cameras that in turn, can detect and interpret images (e.g., human activity vs. trees swaying), door and window alarm sensors that can be monitored and activated over the internet, remotely controllable door locks, connected video door bells, and such.

The list of other safety and energy-saving devices is growing. Thermostats can adjust to outdoor temperature readings or automatically participate in energy use-reduction campaigns that reduce the risk of brown-outs. Out or indoors, there are connected LED lights that automatically dim in absence of activity, smoke and fire detectors that send out specialized alarms, smart plugs that make unconnected devices controllable (e.g., turning on lamps at random, when no one is at home), or smart WiFi routers that automatically detect and block external intrusions thereby keeping your WiFi connected computers and phones safe. Of particular interest are smart appliances, including fridges with internal cameras that allow you to determine if you’re really out of milk, ovens that adjust cooking conditions to internet-accessed recipes, and dishwashers that can be programmed to adjust to SDGE’s new Time-of-Use metering (e.g., starting the loaded dishwasher outside of 4-9pm).

Increasingly, homes and commercial buildings (e.g. offices, hospitals, airports) in our country use sophisticated smart meters that monitor electricity, water and gas usage (including the ability to shut off during hazardous conditions and restore service, when safe), automated and connected irrigation sprinklers that adjust to rain forecast and specific landscape needs, activity-based lighting, intelligent entry (e.g. based on image or finger-print recognition), robots that tirelessly clean, etc. Meanwhile, as cars and public transport become increasingly autonomous, vehicles are incorporating the best ideas from the smartphone industry, providing better in-car connectivity, better environmental information such as advance warning of traffic slowdowns and nearby errant drivers, better entertainment options for the non-driving passengers, safety options for the driver (such as automatic drowsiness detection), better navigation and directions for the driver, and soon, wireless charging for the EV battery – in other words, more IOT devices inside our vehicles!

As our country’s 128 million homes, 6 million commercial buildings, and 280 million vehicles have all become increasingly connected , the IOT of living spaces has truly moved from the realm of gadgetry to indispensability.


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