Ma­chine 2 Ma­chine

The In­ter­net of Things changes things in sur­pris­ing ways

Business Traveler (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Lark Gould

It’s part “Jet­sons,” part “Mi­nor­ity Re­port,” part “Wall-E.” And it’s com­ing to a home, street, ho­tel or air­port near you. What is it? The In­ter­net of Things has been a phrase bandied about over the past few years but no one re­ally took note – un­til now.

As Ap­ple un­wraps con­nected home com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems that move be­yond de­vices to ap­pli­ances; as Google puts driver­less cars on the road; as air­ports find ways to help park­ers find spa­ces or read faces as they walk through a ter­mi­nal, the In­ter­net of Things is mak­ing its way into the model of what we do and what can be done to do it bet­ter, faster.

While at its most ba­sic, per­haps ex­plain­ing the In­ter­net of Things is as sim­ple as this: your re­frig­er­a­tor talks to you. Well, not talks ex­actly but the home of the fu­ture is get­ting wired up to tell you when you are out of milk or need more cof­fee beans. Beds of the fu­ture will be able to sense where you need sup­port, when you need to cool down or heat up; and when you are ready to wake up, a sen­sor- fit­ted bracelet (Jaw­bone ac­tu­ally makes these now) will talk to the cof­feemaker to have the brew ready for you; it will talk to the cur­tains to make them part for the morn­ing sun, even start the shower. Ge­orge Jet­son never had it so good. “It is all part of the con­nected life,” said Wim Elfink, chief glob­al­iza­tion of­fi­cer for Cisco Sys­tems, in a re­cent ra­dio broad­cast. Barry Ein­sig, Cisco’s head of trans­porta­tion, truck­ing and rail­road, noted in a re­cent in­ter­view with Busi­ness Trav­eler USA that the goal of the In­ter­net of Things is to be as mo­bile as pos­si­ble.

“So whether you are mov­ing from auto to park­ing lot or from cab to mass tran­sit to ho­tel – all of these things are crit­i­cal links on our jour­ney whether trav­el­ing or in our own cities,” Ein­sig says. “While that jour­ney re­quires con­nec­tions be­tween dif­fer­ing modes of trans­port, it also should be con­nected through data so that people will be able to make bet­ter de­ci­sions.”

Here & Now

The In­ter­net of Things is not pie in the sky. We are al­ready see­ing air­ports tak­ing a swing at fu­tur­is­tic op­er­a­tions in ex­per­i­ments such as Lon­don City Air­port. Last year the air­port be­came the first in the world to be­gin test­ing “ma­chine to ma­chine” tech­nol­ogy around a va­ri­ety of func­tions af­fect­ing pas­sen­gers.

For in­stance, the air­port has worked on track­ing pas­sen­gers with a mélange of face

recog­ni­tion and crowd-sourc­ing soft­ware, and GPS that is al­ready avail­able in smart de­vices. An ex­am­ple might be a trav­eler who pre-or­ders food on­line or through their Smart­phone who would be able to have it de­liv­ered upon ar­rival at the de­par­ture lounge. Or take real time bag­gage mon­i­tor­ing – a pas­sen­ger that checks a bag but misses the plane will not pre­cip­i­tate a se­cu­rity de­lay while that bag gets lo­cated and ex­tracted from the cargo hold. Rather, the bag will flow in real time with the pas­sen­ger and won’t be loaded un­til the pas­sen­ger boards.

Fa­cial recog­ni­tion soft­ware at Lon­don City Air­port al­lows the fa­cil­ity to mon­i­tor the flow of pas­sen­gers to see where they are and pre­dict and pre­vent queues. The goal is to set a tar­get time from walk­ing in the door to reach­ing a de­par­ture gate – and that should be no longer than 20 min­utes even in busy pe­ri­ods.

And of course sen­sors can be used to en­hance the re­tail en­vi­ron­ment and

At its most ba­sic, the In­ter­net of Things is as sim­ple as this: your re­frig­er­a­tor talks to you. Well, not talks ex­actly

shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence. Air­port bou­tiques and kiosks will ac­cess data through cam­eras and sen­sors to mon­i­tor buyer be­hav­ior and of­fer shop­pers cus­tom­ized sug­ges­tions based on ob­ser­va­tion and pre­vi­ous pur­chases, more likely through phone pings than Mi­nor­ity Re­port-style se­duc­tive whis­pers. Pas­sen­gers with a pen­chant for buy­ing Coach or Tumi, for ex­am­ple, will be rec­og­nized, through their fa­cial clues or smart­phone sig­nals and re­ceive a mes­sage.

“We are not see­ing this tech­nol­ogy roll out so strongly in the US, ”says Brad Kutchins, part­ner with air­port con­sul­tant group, Kutchins & Groh. “But the In­ter­net of Things tech­nol­ogy is be­com­ing part of the dis­cus­sions at air­port con­fer­ences and ques­tions are be­ing asked – why can’t we do this or why can’t it be like that? In a small way, Global En­try tech­nol­ogy could be seen as an ex­am­ple.You have a scan­ner there that reads your fin­ger­prints in sec­onds and then you fly to the head of the line.”

Build­ing Out a New Road Map

Ac­cord­ing to Cisco’s cal­cu­la­tions, some 10.5 bil­lion ob­jects are con­nected to the In­ter­net and that num­ber will grow to 50 bil­lion by 2020. Some 80 new “things” con­nect into the dig­i­tal sphere ev­ery sec­ond and cur­rent es­ti­mates hold that 2.7 per­cent of “things” in the world will be con­nected in the next five or six years.

Ein­sig sees this ap­ply­ing to travel and trans­porta­tion in a va­ri­ety of ways: from driver­less cars, to pre-re­serv­ing park­ing spa­ces or find­ing a space ahead of time on your phone, to find­ing the best way to get where you are go­ing with real time in­for­ma­tion about your en­vi­ron­ment.

“Ma­jor ho­tel chains would be ec­static to be able to nav­i­gate their guests from the air­port to the ho­tel with seam­less trip plan­ning in­for­ma­tion. We are al­ready see­ing driver­less cars and we en­vi­sion a time when a trav­eler will not have to think about of any of the ground trans­porta­tion plan­ning. Real in­for­ma­tion will lay out the plan, whether car or light rail or some other con­veyance to or from the air­port, tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion cur­rent fac­tors such as weather, traf­fic, speed, dis­tances, and park­ing in a flow that is safe and ef­fort­less for the trav­eler, ”says Ein­sig.

“We are see­ing pi­loted pro­grams com­ing on­line for mark­ing and re­serv­ing open park­ing spa­ces at air­ports – where you can pre-sched­ule your space be­fore you leave the house. How­ever, there are a lot of is­sues around build­ing an ar­chi­tec­ture for the In­ter­net of Things that have to be worked out be­fore we can see the true po­ten­tial of this con­cept.”

By ar­chi­tec­tural is­sues, Ein­sig means the pro­to­col lan­guage that must be stan­dard­ized to cre­ate the web of things– how all these smart gad­gets will ac­tu­ally talk to each other, in much the same way

as the fa­mil­iar Hyper­text Trans­fer Pro­to­col, or HTTP, al­lows all the com­mu­ni­ca­tion to hap­pen on the Web.

Con­nected Ve­hi­cle tech­nolo­gies will be us­ing Ded­i­cated Short Range Com­mu­ni­ca­tion – wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tions that are in de­vel­op­ment to al­low, for in­stance, driver­less cars from dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers to com­mu­ni­cate with their na­tive en­vi­ron­ment as well other cars from other man­u­fac­tur­ers and then a va­ri­ety of road sen­sors in a stan­dard­ized way.

“We are work­ing on a con­verged net­work ver­sus a legacy world of sin­gle net­works – say, avi­a­tion which has a net­work built for a sin­gle pur­pose,” Ein­sig adds. “We are build­ing out a whole new road map where ev­ery­thing con­nects to ev­ery­thing else. We are de­vel­op­ing ar­chi­tec­ture that can start to take in­for­ma­tion at sig­nal lights, for in­stance, and route au­tos, trains and buses in real time and send that data back to man­age­ment teams. As those stan­dards are be­com­ing com­plete, we will know more about where we’re go­ing and how to im­ple­ment new so­lu­tions and in­fra­struc­tures for cities in new ways.”

Go Go Gad­get

Ho­tels, too, are look­ing for­ward to the ad­vance­ments tech­nol­ogy will bring to their in­dus­try and are start­ing to pi­lot pro­grams where gad­gets speak to gad­gets in an In­ter­net of Things con­cept. Star­wood Ho­tels has un­veiled tech­nol­ogy in its Aloft brand where smart­phones can be pro­grammed to un­lock ho­tel rooms. Dis­ney rolled out a smart­band worn on the wrist that al­lows a guest’s data to con­nect to theme park gates and park at­trac­tions and also man­age ac­cess to ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tions and ameni­ties.

Data Art’s chief in­no­va­tion of­fi­cer, Ar­tyom Asta­furov, has posted com­pany blogs about how the In­ter­net of Things will be show­ing up for the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try:

Ma­chine-to-Ma­chine tech­nol­ogy is al­ready tak­ing flight for a num­ber of large ho­tel chains and lux­ury brands.

Larger chains have the in-house tech­ni­cal tools or re­sources to lever­age M2M, and have al­ready been up­grad­ing guest ex­pe­ri­ences with it.

Sen­sors are be­ing built into mini-bars for auto-billing and alert­ing the need for re­fills. Cli­mate con­trol op­tions will be high­lighted through a smart­phone.

M2M is cre­at­ing new ex­pe­ri­ences for guests from un­lock­ing the gue­stroom with a mo­bile app that acts as your key, to con­trol­ling the blinds, but there are a few tech­ni­cal road­blocks yet.

UK-based Geral­dine Calpin, global head of dig­i­tal at Hil­ton World­wide, is leading pro­grams that are in­te­grat­ing the guest ex­pe­ri­ence into real-time ef­fi­cien­cies through dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy.

“We have to be rel­e­vant and per­son­al­ized and make life eas­ier for the guest. But it’s about the guest, not about the tech­nol­ogy, ”says Calpin. “If you can come out with some­thing that is easy to use, beau­ti­ful to look at and makes the jour­ney sim­pler – that is what is go­ing to make a guest loyal.”

Calpin en­vi­sions a couch-to-room ex­pe­ri­ence where the fu­ture guest is brows­ing travel op­tions on an iPad to a world where that guest is en­ticed to book a trip, choose the room de­sired, check-in by phone and ar­rive at that room with the air-con­di­tion­ing set at the de­sired tem­per­a­ture, per­haps the drapes are closed and bed lamp is on be­cause it was a late night flight.The de­sired bev­er­ages are stocked in the mini-bar and the fa­vored mu­sic or pre­ferred TV show is turned on.

Per­haps the guest is no­ti­fied of friends or con­tacts who hap­pen to be in the area, or alerted to a room ser­vice pro­mo­tion that would be wel­come at that very mo­ment. The next morn­ing, the tread­mill would be re­served and wait­ing in the gym at the time re­quested.

“It is pos­si­ble to imag­ine that many things in the room and the guest ex­pe­ri­ence could be con­trolled dig­i­tally some day, ”says Calpin. “Watch for how this con­cept will be­gin to play out in the mo­bile and dig­i­tal in­no­va­tions hap­pen­ing at Hil­ton World­wide this sum­mer.”

If there is an ele­phant hid­ing in plain sight within this evolv­ing dig­i­tal frame of con­nec­tiv­ity, it is se­cu­rity – some­thing com­pa­nies such as Cisco are openly ad­dress­ing.

“Se­cu­rity and pri­vacy are ar­eas of con­cern that as an in­dus­try we have to solve,” adds Elfink, in talk­ing to NPR ra­dio. “For ex­am­ple – trans­parency: who is own­ing your data, who is get­ting your data, and who is man­ag­ing your data is all go­ing to be es­sen­tial. And we will come to a propo­si­tion that people can opt in or can opt out. If you don’t get trans­parency from a pri­vacy point of view, this is not go­ing to take off.”

Whether or not re­frig­er­a­tors be­come the in­fil­tra­tion tar­gets of the fu­ture, con­cerns for con­sumer data min­ing in this sphere are tak­ing a back seat to test­ing the lim­its of tech­nol­ogy and lov­ing our gad­gets – per­haps a lit­tle too much.

At this year’s Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show, the huge an­nual con­sumer tech­nol­ogy expo in Las Ve­gas where the lat­est in world­wide gad­getry gets show­cased be­fore it gets pushed through the dis­tri­bu­tion fun­nel, much dis­cus­sion was given over to the state of M2M tech­nol­ogy. How­ever, if there was a theme to be gleaned from all that went on at CES, it was this: the In­ter­net is per­sonal. Per­haps the In­ter­net of Things which is giv­ing us a long and in­trigu­ing gaze into the fu­ture is re­ally just build­ing a con­nected roadmap back to our­selves. BT

OB­JECTS CON­NECTED TO THE IN­TER­NET

10.5 BIL­LION IN 2014

50 BIL­LION BY 2020

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