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Intel and the Internet of Things

With Intel, the Internet of Thing (IoT) starts to take firmer shape. According to the chip maker’s Director of Internet of Things Group, Eric Chan, one of the first ways it happened for them was when they shifted focus from being just an embedded group to an IoT group.

Chan said, “IoT is not just about edge devices, but gateways too.”

These are usually dedicated, enterprise-hardened devices for industrial usage. But an end-to-end IoT platform also has to include data centres, a space Intel is actively involved in with their processors, solid state disk solutions, and also big data analytics solutions, among others.

(L-R): Ashvani Gary and Eric Chan

(L-R): Ashvani Gary and Eric Chan

Industry hurdles
According to Intel’s Director of New Business Solutions, Ashvani Garg, it is a culmination of their different solution components – gateways with security, connectivity and manageability features, middleware in the form of WindRiver and security solutions from McAfee – that benefit their customers.

“We help industries bring these capabilities together via high-level integration and reduce time-to-market for them.”

Another way to look at it, is that they are open building blocks for customers to jumpstart applications and deployment, said Chan.

Another such building block required Intel to work with other ecosystem partners to set up a development environment in Penang, for startup to medium-sized companies to build proof-of-concept applications.

Chan said, “It’s a brave new world.  The edge devices are there, the cloud is there… it is a perfect environment to come up with IoT apps.”

Operational technology
Gateways could be easily overlooked in the whole scheme or network of things. But for Intel, the importance that these devices play, is clear.

Chan said, “There is a dilemma – if you are not able to route operational technology (OT) data into an IT infrastructure, to take advantage of its servers, data processing, and so on, then you have to rebuild your own network and infrastructure, which is costly.”

Operational technology, according to Gartner is hardware-oriented technology that is developed, implemented and supported separately from IT. They exist in industries like healthcare, transportation, defense, energy, aviation, manufacturing, engineering, mining, oil and gas, natural resources, and utilities.

Gartner also observed that OT is beginning to converge with IT in industries such as these.
Converging at an intersecting point

But there are hurdles.

“For legacy reasons, the industrial space has different set of requirements like different protocols,” said Chan.

This is where gateways are meant to create intersecting points for OT data to meet IT infrastructure.

And Intel Gateway Solutions for IoT, enables connectivity in legacy and new building systems for example, by integrating technologies and protocols for networking, embedded control, enterprise grade security and easy manageability, on which application-specific software can run.

Intel’s system-on-a-chip (SoC), the Intel Quark SoC X1000 can be found in intelligent gateways, which in turn develop smart connections between energy management systems and other equipment devices, for example.

A three-way collaboration with ODM maker, Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) and Tatung, produced an energy conservation system for energy-efficient office spaces., by enabling seamless collection of environment data from different devices and sensors, and sending back to them control commands, despite the different communications protocols and device interfaces.

Data mining made possible by the gateway, also meant ECS was able to analyse and determine the preferred lighting level for certain users, for example.

Chan concluded with a statement about the role that Intel plays in the Internet of Things. “We are so fundamental in terms of our solutions, we practically work with everyone.

“As more people adopt and deploy technology, we are likely to be in there, one way or another.”

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