The next chapter in the smart sensors, machines and systems arena will be driven by new tools and platforms that will help product OEMs, services providers and enterprise users realize more value by the move to distributed “edge” integration platforms and data management tools.This story is about the long and arduous path to convergence of three critical technologies – embedded software tools, intelligent device networking and cloud computing services. Some things that look easy turn out to be hard. That’s part of the strange saga of M2M and the Internet of Things and its perpetual attempts to get itself off the ground. But some things that should be kept simple are allowed to get unnecessarily complex, and that’s the other part of the Smart Systems story.
The business and technology development history of embedded software, device connectivity and now cloud computing have all evolved in separate cultures and disjointed silos. These critical ingredients in the Internet of Things recipe are a story of “piece-meal” technologies cobbled together from disparate supply-side vendor segments that have, for the most part, never really spoken, communicated or learned from each other.
What is important about this next wave of M2M, IoT and Smart Systems is the combined impact of these technologies. The antiquated development tools we are working with today to make products “smart” were not designed to handle the scope of new capabilities, the diversity of devices and the massive volume of data-points generated from sensor, device and machine interactions. These challenges are diluting the ability of engineering organizations to efficiently and effectively manage development. The fragmented nature of software offerings available today and the growing complexity of Smart Systems applications make it extremely difficult to build effective systems. To realize the full potential of the Internet of Things opportunity, customers will need new tools and technologies.Capturing the real value of smart connected machines goes much further than providing simple connectivity and data collection. The bit, the byte, and later the packet made possible the entire enterprise of digital computing and global networking. Until the world agreed upon these basic concepts, it was not possible to move forward. The next great step in information and communications technologies—completely fluid information and fully interoperating machines and devices—requires an equally simple, flexible, and universal abstraction schema that will make information itself truly portable in both physical and VIRTUAL space, and among any conceivable information devices and systems.
The next big step in machine-based systems will be the move to software-defined machines. Pacific Control’s Embedded Device Framework (EDF) provides just such an extensible and universal abstraction layer for integrating sensor, device and machine data. EDF enables device data normalization and filtering, whether it’s structured, unstructured or time series. This obviates the notion that somehow all of these IoT systems will push enormous volumes of streaming sensor and device data back to some cloud-based system for aggregation and processing. The “physics” of these systems will not allow that.
Given the immature state of today’s real-world operational systems, most people have trouble grasping the power and importance these capabilities enable. The ability to normalize and utilize data near the point where it’s created, and be able to detect patterns in data, allows not only patterns but a whole higher order of intelligence to emerge from large collections of ordinary data. If this can be done seamlessly and securely, the implications are obviously immense.
For the Internet of Things to really take off, radical new thinking about information technology must begin at the most basic levels, with new conceptions about how devices, information, people and systems will interact. Pacific Control’s platform and tools work together seamlessly, securely and safely across diverse devices and supports interoperability over long application deployment cycles. They are leading the way to an innovative platform that integrates distributed devices with business enterprise applications providing users and developers a path for building open, scalable applications and smart services.