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29 April, 2013 - 09:59 By Tony Quested

Cambridge call to arms on Internet of Things

ARM CEO, Warren East

Cambridge UK technology leaders are uniting with US influencers in a power play designed to ensure that the potential of the Internet of Things isn’t thrown away.

ARM CEO, Warren East is joining key figures from Weightless SIG in the UK and US-based The Van Heyst Group, Inex Advisors and Institute for the Future in a concerted call to action at the Nerve disruptive technology conference this summer.

They will deliver inside track strategies on how to turn all the talk on IoT into a cohesive ecosystem with a rich payback for business and humanity.

The campaign will be led by East on the opening day of Nerve on June 25 and climax on June 27 with no-nonsense input from the other key protagonists.

East argues: “Widespread take up of IoT is imminent. Now we need the right business ecosystem in place as well as common standards and clear ways to monetize data to truly make IoT a success.”

The Cambridge-inspired Weightless standard could be as important to unlocking the full potential of the IoT to commerce and mankind as the iPhone proved in unlocking mobile data, Weightless SIG CEO William Webb argues – even down to putting cheaper, healthier food on the tables of people across the planet.

He said: “Humanity made an enormous leap forward when it was able to industrialise food production, freeing most of the population to work on other things. This has served us well for 200 years, allowing enormous population growth and innovation.

“But in recent years we have seen rising commodity prices and shortages of some key crops caused both by the ever-growing demands and by the impact of climate change.

“It is well understood that precision agriculture – where seeds, fertilizers and irrigation is provided almost on a plant-by-plant basis rather than a whole field – could help improve yields. And longer term climate change might be abated by reducing energy consumption and congestion.

“At the heart of achieving all these, and more, is the concept of the Internet of Things. Simple, cheap sensors liberally scattered around our fields, homes and cities, linked to central processing units that can control irrigation or home heating systems. That is the opportunity. But this opportunity has been discussed for at least a decade – the challenge is how to make it happen.

“The iPhone was the last piece in the puzzle that unlocked mobile data. There is every reason to believe that Weightless will achieve the same for the IoT. If food prices start falling in a few year’s time it might just be because of this innovative, new wireless standard.”

Chris Rezendes, who heads the globally influential Inex Advisors in Massachusetts, says the stakes for the planet in the whole Internet of Things scenario could not be higher.

Rezendes has helped some of the largest and most respected industrial, defence and ICT companies achieve higher quality, more profitable and sustainable growth – including nearly 75 per cent of the Electronics Business Top 100 OEMs, most of the Information Week 100, and every tech-focused member of the Fortune 500.

He says: “Too many technology providers with too much power are thinking of all of us now as consumers or units of production – buyers and sellers only – and that has to stop. We need a lot of people to change their minds about a couple of really big ideas. – and then we need them to act on those new beliefs.”

Rezendes spells out a new connected world, powered by millions of “tiny little sensors – connected over all sorts of wired and wireless networks; sending information to larger computers that combined that sensor data with all sorts of other information.

“These tiny little sensors will be built into or attached to just about any physical object in the world – any asset or resource or environment. Trees and tidal pools. Cars and trucks and buses. Appliances and animals at home. People even.

“Those sensors will collect and share data – on anything and everything you might want to know about. That ‘other’ data your sensors combine with could be other sensors, it could be tweets or other social media updates. It could be anything from the part of the web that is not ‘dark’ or ‘deep’ but available to you when you search Google. It could be public or private, open or secret databases from companies and governments. It will be scary if we get it wrong.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: ARM CEO, Warren East

You can read William Webb and Chris Rezendes’ guest blogs on the Business Weekly website. The Internet of Things will be featured at the Nerve disruptive technology conference in Cambridge, June 25-27.

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