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IOT: From Smart Technologies To Ecosystem And Onwards To Smart Living

Karl Smith


Something few people have grasped yet is that to get from Smart Technologies to IoT and onwards to Smart Living (Ubiquity) requires progression. Not just in terms of sensors, networks and device thinking, but also in terms of ecosystems and task thinking (to discern if they are even relevant, not just the form). As with every other revolution, not only do time and people change the meaning of the revolution, they also change the trajectory. 

At the Global 5G Test Summit at the 2017 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the panel was asked what services will 5G bring, extend or establish as the killer services. Quite rightly, the panel answered that the key services of 4G were not known until the network capability was in place and they evolved by adoption, not by strategy alone.

The Three Stages of IoT Evolution

IoT Smart Technologies (aka IoT 1)

‘Smart Technologies’ relates to limited networks of control actions, sensors and rule setting devices around a small number of tasks, specific locations or limited markets. They can be added to relatively easily but ultimately can’t manage a whole ecosystem without replacement.

An example would be managing home based utilities; there are already many systems that manage, heating, lighting and security in one system. These systems don’t manage the whole home and all the tasks within a home, so do not manage the home ecosystem. They are also restricted to non-complex tasks that that have binary or stepped task-control rules. For example setting the heating times, temperature, managing lighting, responding to a proximity alert for security, that can be locally or remotely set and observed.

IoT Closed Ecosystems (aka IoT 2)

‘Closed Ecosystem’ IoT relates to a fully integrated system of several types of network, including machine to machine (M2M), machine to human (M2H) and machine to data system (M2D) through an application gateway. Additionally these networks provide pre-connected and situational relationships dependent upon tasks, locations and users.

An example would again be a Home Ecosystem, as this is the most likely location to get investment at this point.

All possible actions and interactions within a home, including disallow rules (security and safety) and policies related to sensors and personal ecosystems are defined – and can be added to – by users with the correct rights (on matters of safety for example only Parents would have the rights to set safety rules).

Every sensor device (item group made from many items with a micro sensor), task (with an outcome) and activity (outcome not essential), item (everything not an item group or a device) can be included in the ecosystem:

  • Personal ecosystems (personal avatar plus ID, agenda, voice print, payment)
  • Location ecosystems (living room, garden etc.)
  • Adoption / Attribution Ecosystem (to manage purchase, transit and adoption)

An example of a task would be an ‘item group’ close to arrival (a washing machine for instance). When it arrives, the home ecosystem advises a parent ecosystem of arrival, through audible or voice alert, the parent, working in the garden, greets the delivery vocally while remaining in current location and opens the door. The delivery staff enter the property and confirm they are fitting the item group. When it is connected the home ecosystem sends a request to the parent ecosystem, “diagnostics good, adopt?” The parent says “Adopt” and the house adds the item group to the kitchen and parent ecosystems and the house ecosystem “owned, working, value” then updates the insurance provider. The fitters get a message “Adopted” and leave. Finally the parent rates their service.

While this is a simplified view – and there are several other M2M processes that happen – it shows that a closed home ecosystem enables the simplification of processes and the ability for remote management of otherwise time consuming and stressful tasks.

IoT Smart Living, Open Ecosystems (aka IoT3)

Open Ecosystem IoT is an evolution of IoT2 that enables an end-to-end lifecycle management of all items and item groups from material, through creation, use, disposal and recycling.

It is not vested in home only but also in communities, states, nations, internationally and at planetary level. It fundamentally changes our interactions, behaviours and relationship to work, institutions like banks and security.


Payment Scenario – While having a coffee at a friend’s house a person sees a nice bowl. They say ‘buy bowl.’ Their personal network checks the area and finds three bowls (items). It asks ‘white bowl?’ They say ‘Yes.’ The bowl is ordered, based upon their personal preference – which could be speed, price, colour (or anything else). For this scenario, let’s use speed. The protocol locates the nearest supplier orders it for immediate delivery. The person carries on chatting and the bowl is delivered to their home, waiting for them when they return. Payment is automated, you unpack look at the bowl and say ‘Great Condition’ feedback is allocated to the carrier, the product and the supplier.

Recycling Scenario – an item lifecycle is monitored from creation to recycling. Items that are not recycled retain a relationship with their last individual or other owner (structures such as a business or organisation). If the item should be, but is not recycled, that relationship informs state or national law enforcement.

Ownership Scenario – when an item is purchased it becomes added to several new ecosystems, individual, family, community, state and nation (if bought outside an individual’s country of origin) advising national law enforcement of its status.

Advance Security Scenario – items that are not recognised as being part of an ecosystem may not join one. Without full lifecycle data, the item will be considered to be fraudulent or stolen and have no value. By using an inverse data analysis, a home or other place can detect a person that has no recognisable items and consider them a threat. They will not be allowed access and become the focus of Law Enforcement.

Smart Living is dependent upon two factors, connection speeds 5G is expected to be 1000 times faster than 4G and the recognition that everything can be tagged (at minimal cost) to be found and tracked digitally. 5G is expected to be launched in 2020 with maturity by 2023, this is currently the only technical limiting factor on Smart Living all the other technologies required to make it work already exist in the right formats and costs to deliver global scale.

Karl Smith

CEO, EVP, Consulting Director of Transformation & Change

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