Trade Resources Industry Views Software Is The Driving Force Behind The 'Internet of Everything' Says Tyson Tuttle

Software Is The Driving Force Behind The 'Internet of Everything' Says Tyson Tuttle


Software is the driving force behind the “Internet of everything” says Tyson Tuttle, president and CEO, Silicon Laboratories.

The dramatic growth of the Internet over the last 30 years has surpassed the estimates of even the most optimistic pundits. Industry experts now predict that the number of Internet-connected devices will exceed 15 billion nodes by 2015 and top 50 billion by 2020. 

This growing web of connected devices, often called the "Internet of things" (IoT), includes smartphones, tablets, TVs, gaming consoles, home appliances, security systems, smart meters, personal medical devices, vending machines and many other products. 

In coming waves of IoT development, we’ll see the aggregation of connected devices into truly smart homes, smart factories, smart grids and smart cities, creating the “Internet of Everything.”

Fifty Billion Internet Nodes Predicted by 2020Ultra-low-power MCUs, sub-GHz wireless ICs, ZigBee SoCs and sensor networks form the silicon backbone of the IoT. For a long time these components were not power efficient, robust or small enough to meet the requirements of connected devices for the IoT. 

But over the last few years, silicon technology has advanced considerably, enabling the development of end points that can operate reliably for many years on battery power or even indefinitely on harvested energy.

Fifty Billion Internet Nodes Predicted by 2020_1We are now entering the next phase of the Internet ecosystem in which software will be playing an even greater role. 

While hardware provides the foundation for connectivity, software enables the underlying machine-to-machine (M2M) interactions that ensure that connected devices operate reliably regardless of the operating environment.

Software is also the key to differentiation in the burgeoning IoT market. Embedded developers can implement advanced functionality through “apps” and other software to makes their product more compelling and beneficial to end users. For example, while it is helpful to be able to turn on a light remotely, it’s even more useful when the lighting system tells a user that an LED bulb needs replacing. Software extends the range of autonomous control to further improve efficiency and convenience. With an intelligent wireless sensor network, a smart home could determine when no one is home and power down all electronic devices. Such a simple change of operation, when multiplied over hundreds of millions of households, results in considerable energy savings.

With software’s central role in the Internet of Everything, interoperability and open standards have become equally important, enabling a multitude of devices to interact seamlessly. 

For example, the ZigBee standard pioneered by the global ZigBee Alliance provides connected device manufacturers with a straightforward way to develop products capable of M2M communications. ZigBee standard profiles, such as ZigBee Smart Energy, ZigBee Home Automation, ZigBee Building Automation and ZigBee Light Link, provide interoperable platforms to simplify the development of IoT applications for smart homes and commercial buildings, intelligent lighting control, smart meters and in-home energy monitoring systems.

To realize the potential of the Internet of Everything in our lives, the industry must combine hardware and software into standards-based solutions. 

We now have very low-power, low-cost silicon technology to support these embedded systems. We also have a growing installed base of standardized software platforms, and these systems are becoming easier to install and use than ever before. 

If the past 30 years are any indication, we may still be underestimating the magnitude of the impact of Internet connectivity in the next 30 years.

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Fifty Billion Internet Nodes Predicted by 2020