Silicon intelligence enables IoT's versatility

14th January 2015
Posted By : Barney Scott
Silicon intelligence enables IoT's versatility

“The Internet of Tomorrow is here today.” What does this mean? It means replacing the old ways with technology, not just at work, but in your car, your home, and in your community. It can mean having a toaster that turns bread your favorite shade of brown, a car dashboard that brims with computer apps, home appliances that you turn on and off from afar, or a watch that tells you how many yards you hit that golf ball.

“The principle is the idea of eventually connecting all of our daily needs to the Internet,” said Lisa Bradley, Freescale spokesperson, from Freescale's Internet of Tomorrow Tour truck, an 80-foot, triple-decker semi that has been retrofitted with more than 120 demos of connected devices.

“The idea of the tour is to show how increasingly our world is connected electronically,” continued Bradley.

Some of the devices displayed might make the Jetsons jealous. Examples included a bracelet that lets you point at things to control their movements, a watch that monitors blood pressure, heart rate, or how far you've walked, a gas meter that measures usage and sends information electronically, a beer keg measuring device (pictured) that tells you how much is left inside and a “septic sitter” that tells you whether your tank is near full.

With increasingly advanced semiconductor chips inside, some things are so high-tech you might not recognise them. The foundation of the the Internet of Tomorrow, Internet of Things, or IoT, is the intelligence provided by embedded processing. Semiconductor chips, Bradley said, “are the intelligence in a device.”

The IoT consists of machines interracting with other machines, objects and infrastructures, according to Freescale's website. “As a result, huge volumes of data are being generated, and that data is being processed into useful actions that can ‘command and control’ things to make our lives much easier and safer - and to reduce our impact on the environment,” says the website.

Freescale uses some of the displayed products to illustrate the impact of connected technology. The Septic Sitter uses non-contact sonar sensor technology to keep track of liquid levels in both septic tanks and drainfields. The system can notify you before an expensive and messy backup occurs.

The Spiri Programmable Flying Robot is anything but a drone, Freescale's website says: “Spiri is a versatile, airborne robot with sensors, camera, WiFi, cloud support, development tools and more that enable it to survey terrain, detect land mines, water plants, report the news and even save a few lives along the way.”

It uses Ubuntu Linux with a “Robot Operating System” (ROS) supported by an active community, enabled by a 1.2GHz quad-core ARM processor and 4GB of RAM.

There are many smartwatches which run mobile apps. Some also run a mobile operating system and function as portable media players, offering playback of FM radio, audio, and video files to the user via a Bluetooth headset. Others track your sports activities and have GPS devices made for training, diving, and outdoor sports.

Freescale says that functions may include training programs, lap times, speed display, GPS tracking unit, route tracking, dive computer, heart rate monitor compatibility, cadence sensor compatibility, and compatibility with sport transitions.

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