We visited the ‘Embedded World 2015’ in Nuremberg recently, with the intention to explore what the embedded leaders are proposing for 2015. The leitmotiv of this conference was the ‘Internet of Things’ #IoT.

A number of exhibitors chose to display that phrase on their stands. There has been much mention of IoT lately, so my mission was to challenge the exhibitors to explain to me what IoT is about and get them to comment on whether it is purely a marketing catch phrase of the moment or whether it is actually a solution to a problem. Just as Richard Wilson did at Electronica, I was trying to ascertain what IoT was really about.

Our exploration  commenced with Texas Instruments’ stand to see what our TIDN partner had to say. TI presented their IoT offering; it introduced several sensors communicating with different wireless networks (you cen visit TI’s special IoT portal to see TI’s viewpoint for yourself). Unfortunately, I could not see many profitable business opportunities in that presentation. It is possible – as one of my colleague suggests –  that IoT will solve all the problems that we will come across when all devices are connected to the network, just as PCs have been created to solve the problems we did not need to solve when there were no PCs.

Intel’s presentation was also investigated. They appear to be treating IoT as their salvation (Intel IoT portal). It could be; however, I do not consider that it is ‘there’ just yet. It looks rather like IoT is a good justification for the cloud, and it will certainly fill the cloud with lots of data from sensors. However, to what purpose? Who will own it? What about data security? I would be very concerned about sharing every chunk of data with too many people.

In addition, I talked with some of the smaller players in the evolving IoT market. They were actually a little more sceptical than TI and Intel. For example, they were forthright in claiming that IoT is nothing but marketing and that they do not see the point of a hair dryer communicating with a fridge. As Richard Wilson guessed, and I agree, IoT is likely to have more to do with ubiquitous sensing than an intelligent network of devices which inter-communicate for a grater cause.

I am less convinced by IoT than I was before visiting ‘Embedded World’ in Nuremberg. This does not mean it will not become popular – especially when the big players start to join up all their devices in a network. Perhaps, when that happens, they will find a good reason for IoT to become popular and will prove we cannot live without it, just as most of us cannot live without PCs or smart devices right now.