Nov 15, 2013

    The big biz of Net-linked things

    The Straits Times

    THE Internet of Things (IoT) might not sound like an exciting concept but the emerging technology promises to transform many aspects of our lives, starting with the way we drive.

    It will not be long before tiny sensors in our cars communicate with one another to exchange information on traffic patterns.

    If several cars are stuck at the Orchard Road-Scotts Road junction, for example, the sensors can warn other vehicles within a 2km radius to take alternative routes.

    These Internet-linked sensors can also alert Traffic Police that there is a jam building up so an officer can be sent to check.

    Such sensors are part of the IoT that can be used to add new capabilities as well as improve decision-making and operational efficiency.

    Management consultancy McKinsey & Co believes it could generate an additional US$2.7 trillion to US$6.2 trillion (S$3.4 trillion to S$7.7 trillion) a year for the global economy by 2025.

    Just how it might affect our world will be a central theme of a one-day forum organised by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA).

    The Dec 6 event will look at what the technology can do, especially for the manufacturing and logistics industries.

    IDA executive deputy chairman Steve Leonard told The Straits Times: "There is much ground to cover around the IoT, and, at IDA, we do believe in some amazing things that would be possible in Singapore if we were able to create a nationwide sensor network in future.

    "This would enable innovations in areas important to citizens, such as health, education, transportation and energy management, to name a few."

    The IDA believes IoT is poised to bring tremendous value and impact by creating "tangible business benefits ranging from improved management and tracking of assets to new business models and cost savings" achieved by optimising use of equipment and resources.

    Mr Josh Soh, Cisco's managing director for Singapore and Brunei, said Singapore can play a significant role in developing the technology as it can be a living lab for developing many exciting applications that can be applied elsewhere. It can also contribute in forming standards and processes.

    Forrester analyst Michele Pelino said key issues still need to be worked out, including developing an IoT ecosystem, before the technology can be adopted widely.

    "For example, in order for retailers to achieve all the benefits of offering personalised, location-based coupons, each customer must activate the GPS function on their smartphone so that the phone transmits the information necessary to track location and presence," she added.

    The forum, which is also organised by the Singapore chapter of the Internet Society, will be held at the Four Seasons Hotel.

    To register for the forum, go to