Connecting the World with IoT
By Pam Parisian, CIO, Technology Development, AT&T Services
The “Internet of Things” is rapidly reaching buzzword status. But don’t dismiss it as just more corporate jargon to ignore, or an overhyped fad that will burn out faster than pet rocks and flash mobs. The IoT is a huge and growing industry. And it’s one of the areas of technology that I am most excited about. I’m excited not just from a business perspective (although I’ll get to that in a minute), but from a personal perspective, as well.
A few months ago, my family and I went out of town, and we needed to leave my dog with a pet sitter. Because I’m an AT&T Digital Life home automation and security customer, though, I was able to get a lot more peace of mind than an occasional phone call to the sitter could ever produce.
With Digital Life, I was able to get a message every time the sitter opened the door. I knew he was doing what I was paying him for and how much time he was spending with our dog. I even had my camera set up so I could know where she sleeps when I’m gone – on the couch of course – and could check on her from time to time. I also have a camera on the pool and the driveway and water sensors at a few key places, so it gives me a lot of comfort when I’m on an extended trip to be able to see firsthand what’s going on. That’s not just a toy or a fad. That’s peace of mind.
Of course, my interaction with the Internet of Things (or “IoT”) is just a slice of the possibilities we see emerging. We’re already seeing IoT touch everything from transportation and shipping, to healthcare, to agriculture, to city and traffic management. At AT&T, we’re already deploying the products and services that enable customers to track their assets almost anywhere in the world in near real-time. Or connect cars to our network for safety, diagnostic tools and entertainment. Or help farmers monitor moisture, temperature and other attributes of their crops and soil.
Our goal is to give our customers greater choice, flexibility and ease of use with our IoT infrastructure and solutions.
As of the first quarter of 2015, AT&T reported nearly 22 million connected devices, up 19.2 percent from the first quarter of 2014. In the first quarter of 2015, we added 945,000 connected devices. Of the 945,000 connected devices, 684,000 were connected cars. We expect to have more than 10 million vehicles on the network by the end of 2017.
We offer Digital Life in 82 U.S. markets, with more than 3 million devices connected. We've certified more than 2,200 types of connected devices, and that number is growing.
One of the hottest new IoT areas is wearables, devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers that rely on our cloud and network capabilities to bring not just connectivity, but intelligence to your wrist. We offer 30 wearable devices from 13 companies, more than any of our competitors (and the total keeps growing.)
“In the future, you could have one phone number for all your devices and all those devices would be seamlessly connected to each other”
In the future, you could have one phone number for all your devices –and all those devices would be seamlessly connected to each other. With this level of integration, you could send and receive texts, check an email, open the garage door, monitor blood pressure, adjust your home’s temperature, record and watch TV, unlock your car, check your car’s diagnostic information and more from your personal device, from your car or at home.
We are working hard with our Mobility colleagues within AT&T to enable our customers to take advantage of the Internet of Things, by helping them organize all of those devices and things into a simple and organized experience. We’ve got a great start and it’s definitely going to be an exciting future.
We were the first telecom company to establish an Emerging Device Organization (Nov. 2008), which is now our IoT organization. We also opened an AT&T Foundry innovation center dedicated to IoT in 2013.
Some of the technologies we’re seeing come out of those groups will open your eyes to how IoT can make our cities smarter and more efficient. At the AT&T Foundry, for example, they’ve developed a “smart recycle bin,” which alerts the bin owner when it’s full and needs to be retrieved and emptied. Just as importantly, it alerts a dispatcher when it’s empty and does not need to be emptied. No need to send a truck, and burn time and gas for no reason.
The number of potential IoT applications is staggering. We connect nearly 6 million home & business security monitoring systems through our Industrial IoT solutions (as of end of 2014). We connect more than 40 percent of tractors and harvesters in North America. We enable more than 283,000 connected refrigerated shipping containers.
And also we have connected more than 1.9 million fleet vehicles.
Cisco predicts some 25 billion devices will be connected by 2015, and 50 billion by 2020.
Of course, with these new platforms come new security challenges. That consideration is always top of mind for us, but we’re no strangers to network security.
We protect connected machines with secure global connectivity, the cloud, hosting and mobility. Our specific layered approach for IoT solutions offers strong visibility and control. Our security solutions are flexible and evolve to meet the security needs of devices, assets and applications. And we’ve got more than 2,000 global security experts and researchers who keep us up to date on the latest threats.
I know I’ve thrown out a lot of stats and numbers here. Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz. What I do want to leave you with, though, is a sense of the size and scope of the IoT market. It’s huge, it’s growing, it’s exciting, and it’s already changing our lives in ways big and small. And if, someday, somehow, the pet rock does come back into the style, maybe we can plug that into the IoT, too.