IOT Solutions World Congress 2024

Notes on the latest in IOT as seen at IOT Solutions World Congress 2024

Projection screen showing “To achieve hyper-personalization”

I’ve documented embedded dev tools, in fact it was my first real gig as a writer. Good times, learned from the best, long live Arnold, and so on. But I didn’t know much about IOT. Curious about the latest in the Internet of Things, I attended IOT Solutions World Congress 2024 in Barcelona.

The “I” in IOT could also be “Intelligence”. I’d say it’s more about adding intelligent capabilities to otherwise dumb things. Of course, the popular IOT applications are recent things like smart light bulbsdoorbells. I know it’s been a thing in industry for a while longer but IOT itself is finally maturing. It reminds me of the early internet days when all kinds of tinkerers were just starting to understand the challenges followed by a Cambrian explosion of solutions. I’m looking forward to see how it will evolve (and consolidate, no doubt).

Here are my impressions about what I saw while wandering the convention centre on the Thursday of the event.

IOT in marketing

Presented by Ogilvy, the gigantic advertising conglomerate. In healthcare, manufacturing, natural resources, and fun stuff like frickin’ space exploration, IOT means putting intelligent capabilities at the “4Ds” (Dangerous, Dull, Distant, or Dirty).

In advertising, at least from Ogilvy’s perspective, IOT seems to mean replacing self-directed human interaction with interaction specified by an advertiser. Example: a smart dog food dispenser tells you whento order more dog good. You don’t even need to be in the same room, let alone building or city, when Purina feeds your dog.

This was a selling point. Aren’t pets for companionship? Isn’t eating one of the most social things that both dogs and people do?

If there’s a mutual benefit here, Ogilvy wasn’t bringing it up. Advertisers get more control over consumers’ lives. Consumers get arguable marginal convenience and they have to fund it.

IOT in frickin’ space!

Presenter talking about robots in frickin’ space

Presenters from ESA and RTI talked about the challenges of autonomous robots in frickin’ space. Yes, way cool. And the most interesting talk to me.

There’s a difference between real autonomous systems and the ones that inhabit popular perception. Example: even Mars-exploring robots can’t be fully autonomous. Consequently, autonomous systems necessarily includes falling back to human operation.

The problems of full autonomy are too complicated for us to overcome even with a jillion $ space-race budget. Not stated by the presenters, my own opinion: Anyone who believes in fully autonomous cars in the near future might as well buy snake oil.

Generative AI for the rest of us

Speakers from AWS, Carrier, and Storm Reply had a conversation about practical use cases for generative AI. The most interesting to me were using chatbots for searching user doc and exploring complex APIs. Carrier uses it to OCR utility bills to help their customers manage energy consumption.


Wall of Fame for LoRaWAN devices

LoRa is a low-power, long(ish) range wireless communications standard for remote things. Hadn’t heard of it before. Neat.

Mobile-Wifi gateways

Industrial-grade mobile-Wifi gateways are cool. Physically, they’re way cooler than a consumer device. Bullet-proof aluminum casing, low-voltage/low wattage, gold-plated connections for external antennas. I want one.