Internet of Things is the next ICT Disruption
The next ICT revolution will have a profound impact on our lives and the
economy. Ubiquitous computing and the Internet of Things are experiencing
remarkable growth. The effects are becoming more and more apparent wherever
you look: in housing, transport, health care, and retail, as well as the
security and energy industries. VTT has developed key technologies for
ubiquitous computing. These include situation awareness for portable devices,
mixed and augmented reality, and interoperability solutions enabling devices
made by different vendors to share information.
Information technology and electronics are becoming entwined with our everyday
lives in industry, the service sector, transport, logistics, health care,
housing, education, and our leisure time, almost without our noticing it.
The changes are already apparent to consumers in the energy sector, for
example: remotely readable meters are rapidly becoming more common, enabling
developments such as new pricing models that encourage the reduction of carbon
dioxide emissions. The remote control of machines and devices is experiencing
substantial growth and spreading to smaller and smaller appliances. Smart
buildings use building automation to control their own functions to an ever
greater extent, and remote health care applications are increasing apace with
the ageing of the population.
“VTT is developing uID (universal Identification) technology with our Japanese
partner, the University of Tokyo,” says VTT Research Professor Heikki
Ailisto. “This technology enables the identification and tracking of
individual products, components, and food products. With uID, information on
origin, manufacture, and history can be attached in the digital world to the
most commonplace items over their entire life cycle. A timber plank, for
instance, can be tagged with information on which forest the timber was cut
from, where it was sawn, how many times it has been painted, and with what
“Three big waves can be identified in telecommunications in the past century
or so. First, the telephone connected 500 million places. The mobile phone
then connected 5 billion people. The Internet of Things will connect 50
billion devices, machines, and objects. Objects and packages that do not
require an actual data connection can also be named and connected to
background systems with the help of identifiers,” says Ailisto.
Objects converse with each other, mobile phones identify our movements
Ubiquitous computing (ubi) and the Internet of Things (IoT) will revolutionise
technology and business. VTT sees an opportunity in this revolution; an
opportunity that it wants to grasp together with the industry and other
actors. The goal is to create a technological operating environment and to
build business on it.
VTT has been developing ubiquitous computing applications and basic technology
in the OPENS (Open Smart Spaces) programme. The programme's achievements
include the implementation of the interoperability platform Smart M3, which
enables various appliances and objects in the home or office to “converse”,
understand each other, and share information. This interoperability platform,
created for devices produced by different manufacturers for a variety of
purposes, is based on so-called semantic technology, which defines a common
“language” for devices and applications. The interoperability of devices
promotes energy saving, comfort, and safety at home and at work. The solution
was developed together by VTT, industrial partners, and universities in
various national and European projects.
One way to make appliances and services feel “smart” for the user is to make
them situationally aware. Situation and location awareness has already been
put into practice in mobile communications devices and other appliances. VTT
has brought a new dimension to awareness with the solutions it has developed
to enable additional recognition of the user's activities – is the user
sitting, walking, or running? – and his or her method of travel – is the user
travelling by train, bus, car, or bicycle? In this way the user can be offered
the most appropriate services for the situation.
One example of interaction technology between man and machine is mixed and
augmented reality, an area in which VTT has achieved globally significant
results. Such applications include motion sensing input devices and 3D cameras
for games and practical applications. Mixed and augmented reality as an
interface for mobile phones, for example, is just breaking into the market and
entering consumer consciousness.
The worth of business related to IoT technology and applications is rising by
30% each year, and by next year will reach EUR 300 billion. VTT is helping
Finnish companies reap their share of this growth. Research in the field is
continuing strongly, with a particular focus on the Internet of Things.