I recently attended a presentation and demo on the Internet of Things (IOT). The IOT solution was fascinating to me in terms of its innovative approach to solve the problem of controlling multiple appliances from a single mobile application.
In the home automation space, appliance manufacturers are now building washers, dryers, fridges, water heaters and water sprinklers with intelligent electronics that would allow a user to send commands that turns these devices on and off, adjust temperatures, etc.—all from smartphone applications. The key issue is the lack of standardization amongst appliances and the clutter of smartphone applications required to communicate with devices that users wish to control remotely.
Everyone uses text-messaging such as WhatsApp for communications with other people. What if there was a cloud-based Middleware solution that users could send text messages to control their devices and smart appliances? One company working on a solution to this problem is Singapore-based Unified Inbox, who built a UnificationEngine™ for the Internet of Things.
The best way to describe the capabilities of the Intelligent IoT Messaging solution is via an example. A user has deployed an automated water sprinkler and water heater in her home and wishes to control these devices remotely using a text-based messaging application such as WhatsApp. The user brings up WhatsApp on her smartphone, types in the number of the IoT cloud-based messaging server and sends the message ‘Turn on water’.
One of the key components of the IoT messaging engine is the configuration and security management subsystem. It knows which users are authorized to send messages, appliances the user is allowed to control and the locations where these appliances are installed. The Intelligent IoT Messaging solution authenticates the text message from the user and, from its configuration database, determines that the user’s home is at location A and has two automated appliances: a water heater and a water sprinkler system.
The next step taken by the Intelligent IoT messaging engine is to send the user’s query to the IBM Watson Platform for natural language processing. Yes, the same technology that IBM used to defeat two long-time winners of the Jeopardy! Television game in 2011 now lives in the cloud and is accessible to middleware solutions that require applications such as natural language processing, machine learning capabilities and artificial intelligence. The ‘Turn on water’ text message and user appliance information is sent to the Watson server for natural language processing. Watson responds with ‘Turn on water heater or water sprinkler?’ The Intelligent IoT Messaging solution sends the text back to the user and she texts back ‘Turn on water sprinkler.’
The Intelligent IoT Messaging solution receives the user text and forwards to Watson along with appliance configuration information to ascertain there is no ambiguity—the Watson server responds affirmatively. Embedded within the Intelligent IoT Messaging Solution are connectors developed for each appliance manufacturer that allow communications in ‘machine language’ to the appliance in a device-independent fashion. The Intelligent IoT messaging solution knows that the user has a water sprinkler from manufacturer A at location A and issues the command to turn on the water sprinkler. When the positive response has been received from the appliance that the water sprinkler has been turned on, a text message is sent back to user confirming that the ‘Water sprinkler turned on.’
Intelligent IoT Messaging solves the problem of application clutter on smartphones when integrating the growing number of devices becoming available in the Internet of Things. This market will grow by delivering a cloud-based middleware solution with natural language processing capabilities that use a single text-based application to interface with a multitude of IOT devices that are rapidly being introduced.
By Peter Krautle, Managing Partner, Louisa Voice
About the Meadowlands Regional Chamber’s Technology Committee
Co-Chairs: John Ruiz (201) 934-7400, Peter Krautle (914) 417-2270
Staff Liaison: Nicole Vignola (201) 939-0707 ext. 2948
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