Ask the Expert: The Internet of Things

Two IEEE members will answer your question on this emerging area

24 February 2014

Photo: iStockphoto

Have you ever wished your refrigerator could remind you to pick up milk, or your shower could tell you that you’re running low on shampoo? The Internet of Things might soon make these and many other applications possible.

Our March special issue on the IoT covers some of the applications, IEEE standards, and resources for the network of items that are embedded with sensors in order to communicate with each other through the Internet. Aside from helping you around the house, the IoT can share information to automate many functions, including detecting traffic congestion, monitoring a patient’s health remotely, and tracking the whereabouts of a package.

Several IEEE members are hard at work developing technologies and standards that will make the IoT possible. Two of them—Member Vida Ilderem and Senior Member Oleg Logvinov—have volunteered to answer your questions during the entire month of March. Maybe you’re curious about how IoT might impact engineering careers, what some of the IoT’s possibilities are, and also what challenges it faces. Ask away via Twitter @IEEEInstitute or post your questions below. A selection of answers will be published in a blog post on 31 March.

blogVida Photo: Intel

Vida Ilderem: Making Connections Ilderem is vice president and director of integrated computer research at Intel Labs, in Santa Clara, Calif. She will be a keynote speaker next month at the IEEE World Forum on Internet of Things, in Seoul, South Korea. Ilderem’s work with the IoT focuses on connectivity, in which digital devices communicate with each other and exchange data. Her research group at Intel designs embedded systems used in miniature sensors and digital devices that will comprise the IoT.

Sensors in the home, for example, can relay information to your mobile device when you’re away, she says in an interview with Discovery.com. Such sensors could alert you that a pipe has burst in your kitchen and can connect you with a local plumber or maintenance person for assistance. “A lot of technology is involved to make this information accessible from anywhere, anytime on any device,” Ilderem says. “We’re looking for ways to make everything work together seamlessly.”

blogOleg Photo: STMicroelectronics

Oleg Logvinov: Setting StandardsLogvinov is director of market development in the Industrial and Power Conversion Division at STMicroelectronics, in Geneva. He is a member of the IEEE Standards Association Corporate Advisory Group and has helped organize a number of IEEE-SA workshops on IoT, including one held in November at the Computer History Museum, in Santa Clara, Calif. Logvinov is also founder and CTO of HomePlug Alliance, an association that develops standards and technologies for enabling devices to communicate with each other—and the Internet—over electrical wiring already found in homes.

“Interoperability is not possible without standards, and IEEE is a perfect platform for IoT-related collaborations," Logvinov said in a recent Wireless Sensor Network Magazine article. “A combination of conferences, publications, workshops, and an open collaboration process will enable industry to answer the demands of the IoT marketplace.”

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