Dutch and Belgian companies are providing indispensable infrastructure to run the global Internet of Things, says DSP Valley’s managing director Peter Simkens.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is still often called a hype or a buzzword. If connecting devices to the web and making them smart data collectors is such a promising technology, then why don’t we see more IoT solutions in our daily life?
But here we’re wrong, says Peter Simkens. The IoT revolution is already well under way, although we may not notice it.
Simkens is managing director of DSP Valley, a Belgian-Dutch cluster organization focused on building a networking platform where companies interested in IoT solutions can find meaningful partnerships. On June 8th he will give a talk during the 7th annual Internet-of-Things event at High Tech Campus Eindhoven, highlighting how companies can find the right tools, knowledge and competence for their IoT strategy.
For Campus relations, we are now offering a special discount for the Internet of Things Event. Instead of the regular entry fee of €345,-* you pay only € 125,-*. (*not including 21% VAT). Go to https://iotevent.eu/register/ and use the discount code HTC2017IOT125. The price will be adapted automatically. This offer lasts until June 8th, 2017.
So how are we wrong about not seeing the IoT? “Because many solutions that are already genuine IoT don’t market themselves as such. Just look at the medical sector. There are so many applications to monitor body functions, like wearables. A wearable is nothing but a sensor that sends its data to smartphone and the internet, where you can monitor it. That’s pure Internet of Things. Even a sports watch that sends your heart rate details is an IoT solution. So IoT is not only about smart refrigerators, it’s also about human data.”
Any other examples? “The smart home is already a reality. Just think of Nest, the smart thermostat that controls the temperature in your house based on your behavior. Also major energy companies are offering applications now for energy management in your own home, like being able to draw the blinds or arrange the temperature in your house through the internet before you even get home. Just because those companies don’t call it an IoT solution, doesn’t mean it isn’t one.”
What is the biggest challenge that still needs to be tackled to implement IoT on a large scale? “Many companies don’t know how to start with the Internet of Things. They have an idea of what it could do, but they don’t have all the building blocks. For a truly end-to-end IoT solution you have to combine many different skill sets and competences, which most companies don’t have under one roof. So you need to find partners that can provide you with the building blocks you are missing. And that’s where we come in with our cluster organization DSP Valley. We’re the matchmaker linking companies together to let them discover where they can help each other. We focus on companies in the southern part of The Netherlands and in Flanders [the Dutch speaking part of Belgium, HTCE].”
What is the specific strength of these Dutch and Belgian companies? “We are world-leading in developing low-power electronics, the highly energy efficient chips that make the IoT possible in the first place. The US is very strong at developing electronics with high computing power, like the chip in your PC. But these chips are absolutely not energy efficient, just feel how hot they get. You could never put them in a medical implant, like a hearing aid. In our region we have developed chips that are a thousand times more energy efficient than your standard computer chip. That’s necessary for the Internet of Things, or you would get an explosion in energy use.”
In which sectors do you see the most potential for Internet of Things solutions? “I already mentioned the medical sector and the smart home. Another big application is the connected, self-driving car, where lots of sensors are built into the vehicle. Through these sensors the car can know the condition of the road, whether it’s icy, if there are potholes, traffic jams, etcetera. It can communicate that information to other cars as well. All this information will be layered on top of your normal navigation data and is broadcasted from car to car, as well as from the car to the internet and back.”
As we saw recently with the big ransomware hack, security is still a hot issue in IoT. How can we solve that? “I think that issue can be solved technologically, but you also have to make people aware of how they can use the internet responsibly. I think there also needs to be some government regulation, especially when it comes to medical data. It’s often a search for the right balance between being able to use the data and ensuring privacy.”