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Enhancing Society with Internet of Everything

Sophie Vandebroek, CTO, Xerox
Sophie Vandebroek, CTO, Xerox

Sophie Vandebroek, CTO, Xerox

When I look around the corner at technology opportunities, here are some of the things I see:

• Everyday objects that share information and automatically complete tasks without human intervention.

• Smart buildings that not only monitor energy use, but are vital signs as well.

•Virtual personal that understand our behavior, help do our work and keep us healthy.

• Non-experts that design complex business processes without the help of a “techie”.

The Internet of Everything (IoE) will make these scenarios an everyday reality. I discussed the IoE during a retreat of global policy leaders who wanted to “look around the corner” at critical technology challenges and trends that are affected by regulations and governmental policies. A few days later, I met with a group of Xerox summer interns, and one of the first topics to come up—the Internet of Everything!

The idea of everyday objects sensing their environment, communicating with each other and automating processes is on the minds of both our youngest scientists and today’s top policy makers and executives.

At the Technology CEO Council’s policy retreat, I outlined the three pillars that are making the Internet of Everything possible:

The need for global standards, economic incentives, security, privacy and projecting civil rights are top of mind

1. Everyday objects that sense and respond to their environment
This means connecting ordinary objects to the Internet and making them smart. Objects will provide useful intelligence about how we use and interact with them, and allow them to interact with each other. Miniaturization of the chips and radios that make the objects smart is essential for practical applications, as is low cost. ThinFilm and PARC Inc. are collaborating to print low-cost wireless sensors for food or pharmaceutical packages. These smart labels will provide real-time status information. Indeed, intelligent objects will exist everywhere— in our homes, offices, hospitals, schools, vehicles, cities – all around us. Wearable and implantable devices will sense and improve our quality of life. Cisco predicts 50- 75 billion connected “things” within next 6 years, up from around 9 billion connected phones and laptops today. All future products will be intelligent and connected. In addition to doing their core function, products will become the basis for totally new services that leverage the data they generate. One such example is the Nest Labs connected thermostat start-up that allows new services benefiting the utility industry.

2. A smart and secure flexible network infrastructure

We are already struggling to deal with the volume of information traversing the Internet today. A new paradigm that supports this array of intelligent everyday objects is needed, and the requirement for connectivity and information delivery, all with the proper security. At PARCInc, we are developing the next generation Internet architecture: Content- Centric Networking (CCN) with many industry partners. A CCN network promises to improve security, lower response and bandwidth requirements, as well as enable seamless mobility.

3. Usable real-time insights

Today’s buzzword, “Big Data,” is an opportunity, but it is not a solution. The challenge is to take the many streams of real-time structured and unstructured data such as images, videos, sound and text; seamlessly merge them and extract the knowledge they contain. These usable insights create value for people, automated systems and enterprises. What is important is enabling the big data to tell a story. Making sense of anomalies in patterns, for example, can allow companies to proactively service critical equipment, prevent fraud, or help doctors take better care of patients. City officials can use this type of information to create a less congested, greener city, allowing all of us to live healthier lives.

When intelligent, ordinary objects, smart and secure flexible networks, and useable real-time insights work in concert, a “perfect storm” of functionality emerges. This storm will completely disrupt entire industries. “Googling reality” will become mainstream. Gartner predicts that the total economic value-add for the Internet of Things will be $1.9 trillion dollars in 2020. The more important value of the Internet of Everything will be measured in the good it ena­bles: saving lives, making the economy work better, more efficient energy usage, better education for our children, and the list goes on.

Disruption that comes with this sort of change is exactly what policy makers are thinking deeply about. The need for global standards, economic incentives, security, privacy and protecting civil rights were top of mind at the retreat I attended. A lot of discussion referenced a recent report from the White House that examined how Big Data will transform the way we live and work and alter the relationships between government, citizens, businesses and consumers. The Pew Research Center Internet Project asked more than 1,600 technology innovators, entrepreneurs, analysts and others if they think the Internet of Everything will have widespread and beneficial effects on the everyday lives of the public by 2025. The majority said yes, and so do I.

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