What Is Internet of Things, and Why Should Meeting Planners Care?

By Kelsey Ogletree, May 9, 2016

Big Business

With various IoT shows and conferences experiencing exponential growth in attendance, it’s clear many large companies are investing in the technology.

Samsung recently launched its SmartThings division, built around selling IoT products for the home: think home-monitoring kits, motion sensors, outlets, water leak sensors and more. The application for these items is wide, allowing consumers to control virtually everything in their home from their smartphone, no matter their physical location.

Microsoft has invested major dollars in Azure, its IoT platform first launched in 2010, which creates blueprints for enterprises to begin introducing IoT solutions to their processes. (For example, think about a hotel monitoring its processes in this manner.) Last fall, the company hosted an online event, AzureCon, to announce its services.

Cisco, SAP, Accenture and even FedEx are becoming influencers in IoT too. But the IoT evolution is also sparking new ventures. “There are a whole bunch of new companies coming out,” says Whitechurch. “There’s so much energy around the space for young companies.”

“Consider your smartphone.“We all want faster, better, shinier ones every two years. All these new [products] are good for us, but you can’t necessarily do this for machines.”

One of those youngish companies is Ingenu, launched in 2008 around the boom of the cellular industry. Landon Garner, chief marketing officer of the San Diego-based firm, says the goal for its developers is to look at how technology can work with billions of machines—quintessential IoT.

“Consider your smartphone,” he says. “We all want faster, better, shinier ones every two years, and every night you plug in your phone to charge it. All these new [products] are good for us, but you can’t necessarily do this for machines.” Consider the machines used by a hotel or venue: You can’t easily swap out devices needed for those buildings to function—like smoke detectors, security systems, refrigeration, lighting systems, remote room access, video surveillance, etc.—every time technology changes.

Garner is part of Ingenu’s team working to deploy the Machine Network, what the company dubs the world’s largest and first wireless IoT network, in cities around the globe. Its potential is as mind-blowing as the scope of the project itself. Simplified, the Machine Network boils down to helping cities become truly “smart” and better manage their infrastructure.

“When we talk about smart cities being enabled, that can be as obscure as parking meters, streetlights, traffic lights, building automation, water management, etc.,” says Garner. Other applications include cities being able to control parking meters—a huge revenue driver—during times of events or high demand, or venues being able to increase safety. Garner cites the example of The Address Downtown Dubai, a hotel that caught fire while under construction in January. “[The smoke detectors] were unintelligent devices and unable to communicate,” he says. “Had they had a system in place that was able to [communicate], someone in the building would [have gotten] a text message to let them know of the issue.”

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