There are a few themes for the 2015 CES, Consumer Electronics Show at Las Vegas. One is the adoption of Android TV by the major television manufacturers and another is the IoT, or Internet of Things. You’re going to see several stories for both of these two topics over the next week and today I’m going to be writing about the Internet of Things and specifically, AT&T’s platform. Let me talk first about the IoT and how this is a really important concept for the near term future. You see, the IoT consists of many different devices connected by a number of different network technologies. It’s through the IoT that the ideal home automation systems will interact with one another. The heating or cooling system will know when you are on your way home because your car will tell it, but your smartwatch might receive a reminder notification from your fridge to report that you are running low on milk, so will tell the car to divert you via a store on the way home. The car will in turn tell the heating system to defer turning itself on for a few minutes to take into account. Oh and the heating system will have interrogated the electric board to check if it’s advantageous to run the heating earlier or not.
The IoT depends on interconnecting technologies. Typically, it’ll involve a connection over WiFi but it will also involve the cellular data network(s) too. It’ll rely on expert systems that will adapt and learn to the conditions. We’ve already seen how intelligent Google Now can become through simply having access to our Gmail account, but imagine the potential of Google Now if it has hooks into more of our life? Of course, there are complications and privacy issues here. And by interconnecting technologies, we have to remember that there are currently many competing, conflicting standards and ideas. At the moment, most manufacturers are trying to ensure that their particular product becomes at the centre of the customers’ universe. However, AT&T providing the infrastructure is an important stage.
AT&T’s news today is that they are opening it up to third party companies, including Samsung, LG, Qualcomm and Lutron. But what does this mean? It means that products such as the Galaxy Gear S could start to receive notifications from your home system, such as home security messages. Qualcomm’s 2net platform will be able to share medical and biometic information via the AT&T infrastructure. Lutron’s automated blinds and lighting systems can be controlled by your smartdevice, too. Oh and then there’s LG’s Web OS-powered smart TV, please don’t get me started with the potential for Web OS devices! AT&T’s move to open up the infrastructure is more about providing the tools for the goldminers as it doesn’t matter so much what device(s) or platform(s) emerges out with the lions’ share of the market, as long as it uses AT&T’s infrastructure, the carrier is still a winner. However, we can expect other carriers to get in on the act and AT&T’s news is the first of many.