Alessandro Bassi interviewed by Stig Andersen: "Much technological development goes hand-in-hand with larger trends in society and is fuelled by other driving forces than the wet dreams of the geek world; and being a techie does not mean that you do not care about what lies around and beyond technology. The response of Alessandro Bassi, Alessandro Bassi Consulting, to the question ”Does the Internet of Things need a killer app?” is a case in point:”I don’t think we need a killer app, but we need a killer business model. Just look at the impact that Apple’s App Store has had on the app business.”According to Alessandro Bassi, one model could be based on the idea of borrowing and lending objects instead of buying them. Obviously, with the whole process made much easier than it is today.”Take the example of a drill, which you will see in many households. A drill can be pretty expensive, so given the fact that you may in total use it for about 10 minutes in its lifetime makes for quite a high price per minute. Renting one in your local DIY store is quite a hassle, so imagine putting a stupid chip into the drill and being able to track it and borrow it through some kind of community service instead.”He points to logistics and health as sectors that will certainly benefit from the developments within the Internet of Things. Together with the energy sector, these are also the sectors where practical implementations of the Internet of Things are most easily available.Alessandro Bassi does in fact see some impatience among consumers for Internet of Things solutions that would make their daily lives easier.”We are in a similar situation as with the Internet in 1992. The Internet of Things is in its infancy, but people are getting much more excited much faster. Why not just walk out of the supermarket with the food in the trolley without having to take it out in order to pay?”But what is the Internet of Things - really? The answer is obviously influenced by the fact that Alessandro Bassi has worked for years within the area of advanced networking technology.”I tend to see the Internet of Things as the interconnectivity of objects. It is the capability to uniquely identify and communicate with objects by electromagnetic means.” And he continues:”We are pretty much at the beginning, both in terms of number of interconnected objects and ways to interconnect them. To a large extent, we are still using wireless or RFID technologies to develop solutions for specific tasks. The Internet of Things will encompass these technologies, but we need to go much further. This also goes for everything related to the supply of energy to individual sensors or other devices. We cannot just stick a battery into all objects, so we need to find a way to harvest ambient energy.”In fact, he says, we need to get away from the idea of adding something to objects to enable interconnectivity.”We need real integration of components, for instance by the use of non-silicone transistors like transistors made of plastic. This would mean that we did not need to stick a chip on everything, but the transistor and thus the ability to communicate would be embedded in the object itself. This is a very important aspect.”Again, technology is only part of the story.”Proper governance, in particular with respect to privacy and security, also needs to be developed. You don’t want everyone to know which objects you have in your home. There is a risk of intrusion by governments and companies, and if you look at some of the current attempts at controlling the Internet, this is pretty scary. So privacy and security need to be addressed from the point of view of both technology and governance.”Alessandro Bassi is confident that the potential of the Internet of Things will eventually be realized. But short-term, he also sees the risk of actual implementations not being able to match the hype.”Technical development takes a long time, and I think that some of the current hype about the Internet of Things may wear off. I don’t think that anything major will happen within a timeframe of about five years in the field, which may cool down the general interest.”Alessandro Bassi considers the IoT-i forum to be an important instrument in the process of developing the vision of the Internet of Things.”Work on the Internet of Things is carried out in a lot of different fields, so there is a need for a place where the tech people, the policy people, end users and science staffers can meet and exchange ideas and experiences. But we need to find a good ”story line” – it shouldn’t be yet another board, yet another standardization body or yet another conference.”Alessandro Bassi is confident that the IoT-i forum will be a community where everything from protocols to architecture and governance can be discussed openly.”The IoT-i forum is a community in the sense that individuals can contribute with their input and insights, and exchange of ideas can take place without any company policies or other external factors blurring the picture.”Alessandro Bassi has worked with the Internet of Things since 2004 when he joined Hitachi Europe as a researcher for advanced networking topics. When asked what excites him about it, he does not mince words:”The Internet of Things will be a much bigger revolution than the Internet and the mobile telephony put together!”
Alessandro Bassi interviewed by Stig Andersen: "we need a killer business model."
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