Making IoT work for us

Fred van Duijkeren

There are countless descriptions of the Internet of Things, and even more fancy infographics to visualize functionalities and benefits. Basically, to explain how it all works. To use one such description: the Internet of Things is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs), with the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

That is quite a mouthful, and I think the most important part of that definition is in the last few words. Eliminating human interference from the process of data transfer is not a bad idea. We tend to impact on communication processes in a way that is not always beneficial to the quality of the outcome. Machines have no personal interest in whatever information is exchanged between them and, let’s be honest, they don’t make as many mistakes as we do. I find it amazing that in our technology-driven society it took so long to come up with such a brilliant idea.

I love the story how Coca Cola  back in 1982 modified one of their vending machine at Carnegie Mellon University to automatically report its inventory, and whether newly loaded drinks were cold or not. There is general consensus that vending machine was officially the first Internet-connected appliance. However, most people seem to agree it was Kevin Ashton of Procter & Gamble who actually named it Internet of Things. This was back in 1999, when he was working in supply chain optimization, and attempting to integrate an exciting technology called RFID into that process.

At LossLess Group, we connect textiles by attaching an RFID tag, enabling them to communicate with other RFID-enabled items through the Internet of Things. We have learned very early on not to interfere in that process, which probably explains why our tracking system is so successful.

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