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Guest Writer
April 28, 2016

The Jungle of Things: Innovations and Investments in IoT

We live in an exciting time where our nature of dealing with physical objects is being woven into the internet, and vice versa. Together they’re creating a new collaborative harmony: the Internet of Things. IoT is all about connecting objects to the internet, but it does more! The data collected by sensors are distributed to smart hard- and software systems, allowing both companies and people to make smarter decisions, reduce waste, and save time. EY is currently running their 2016 Start-up-challenge in betahaus, focused on IoT (read about it here). Reason moreover to ask ourselves; what's happening in various branches and industries, and what kind of innovations are companies investing in?

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is about connecting ‘things’ to ‘the internet’, but rather than for you personally, Industry 4.0 does so behind the scenes; in factories and manufacturing processes. The industry of tomorrow is not governed by fancy automated gadgets, but by intelligent software systems that streamline processes to near perfection. With product titles such as ‘Predictive Maintenance and Service’, ‘Connected Logistics’, and ‘Connected Manufacturing’, SAP explains the defining innovations of Industry 4.0 in a nutshell. “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” has no place here. The motto is “have it fix itself before it even knows it can break, and make sure the right expert knows about it yesterday”.

The Internet of Food

It might not be as obvious and visible, but industrial ‘IoT’ innovations will be part of our everyday life. Supermarkets such as Lidl and Alnatura are also reaching for the cloud. Can you imagine a grocery store where there’s a constant real-time evaluation of stocks, and your favourite items are always available? Reducing food waste seems to be at the top of the agenda, since it benefits store managers and the environment alike. Food that’s near its expiry date can be moved to restaurants or charity for immediate use, and customers can be alerted via an app whenever groceries are marked for reduction in their local supermarket.Smart Homes

You're on your way from work, it's freezing outside, and all you want to do is snuggle up with a book. Before you get home, you take out your mobile phone and start the heating. Once inside, there's no need to fumble for a light switch - you house senses your movement and lights up the room. Sounds futuristic? It's available right now, even for your standard rented apartment. In years to come, you might be able to use your phone to preheat the oven or turn on the stove, so you can enjoy your dinner the minute you get home. Electricity companies such as RWE are already gathering extensive experience with smart homes. In order to allow various systems, sensors, devices, and ‘things’ to talk to each other, they've created a communication protocol called “Lemonbeat Smart Device Language”. It can be used for any sort of setup, from complex autonomous systems, right down to a simple light switch. Independent of the transmission form, it’s praised as the standardised IoT communication language fit for the future.


What if your car could drive itself out of the garage and to the front door, preheat itself in winter and turn on its air conditioning in summer? This is the direction things are going. Car companies are focused on self-driving cars, but also on connecting your car to your smart house and mobile devices. BMW envisions a virtual personal assistant who knows your morning routines and agenda, listens to your phone calls to schedule meetings in your calendar, and displays route and traffic information on your windscreen. Volkswagen is going into the same direction with ‘Budd-e’, a car they collaborate on with LG and the german startup Bird Home. You’ll be able to see which groceries are in your refrigerator, hear the doorbell ring, and if it’s a parcel delivery you can remotely unlock a special box for the postman - all from your car’s dashboard.



Concerning global transport logistics, the interest in IoT is huge as well. Vehicle competitors like MAN and Daimler are focussing on safety and fuel consumption; Daimler currently has 365,000 of its commercial vehicles connected via telematics, and a myriad of sensors are gathering environmental data about them in real time, worldwide. Up until 2020, Daimler will be using those data and investing around half a billion euros in the complete interconnectedness of trucks with their environment and the transport operators.

The Future of IoT?

At the moment IoT still needs the human factor, at least to some extent: the tap on the app to start the heating, the correct installation of IoT software in factories, the expert to act on a malfunction alarm. Having that said; smart things are becoming smarter. As we continue to develop IoT, for it to analyse our behaviour and adapt to it, 'smart things' might at some point be able to do things without our interference. It's almost inevitable that at some point 'things' and systems will talk to each other directly, and take decisions based on their communications without our input, and without our 'go'.

Interested in getting involved with IoT? EY is currently running their Start-up-challenge at betahaus Berlin. You can read about the participating startups here. Want to meet up with the EY Start-up-Challenge team? They have their headquarters in a private office on the second floor, right wing in the back. Knock & see if they’re in!

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Article written by Robin