Motion and the “Internet of Things”

The “Internet of Things” as defined by Kevin Ashton in 1999 was “to empower computers with their own means of gathering information, so they can see, hear and smell the world for themselves, in all its random glory”. In 2008, SRI Consulting Business Intelligence expanded the concept and charted a possible roadmap for the “Internet of Things”.

Note that what started out as RFID tags and associated sniffers is expected to evolve into full function, and possibly autonomous, objects capable of sensing, evaluating and operating on their environment.

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that this is going to involve motion, perhaps in a big way, and the question is “are we ready?”. I’m sure every motor and industrial automation vendor out there would be glad to sell what they have into this new market, but that’s not how it’s going to happen. These are going to be tightly integrated vehicles like UAV’s, UGV’s and ROV’s, or standalone remote installations which could be on just about anything and operate on or off the power grid. Some will be as large as a house, others will be incredibly tiny. Some will be in very hazardous environments such as underground UGV’s mining coal. Others might interact frequently with humans such as a “garden drone” to help tend your garden.

More often than not, the motion industry will primarily be providing expertise and development new, often custom, building blocks for these applications. The development pace will be rapid and, I dare to say, open. Already the open source hardware and software marketplace is exhibiting the ability to rapidly prototype ideas as fast as they evolve. I can’t say the same for the traditional vendors.

At my company, Software Defined Power, we intend to be fully involved in putting motion into the “internet of things”. Join us on the ride; it’s going to be fun.

As always, questions, comments and suggestions are all welcome. I can be emailed at

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