The emerging Internet of Things gets a ton of media attention because people are excited about what this massive global network of Internet-connected objects can do. And according to McKinsey & Company, “the hype may actually understate the full potential.”
But exactly what “things” are in the Internet of Things (IoT)? The sheer number of things (Gartner estimates 5 billion now, 25 billion by 2020) is tough to get your head around. And with potential IoT capabilities varying from the trivial (self-ordering soda machines) to the significant (wearables that alert first responders in an emergency), the IoT gets awfully big and rangy. This Fortune article also notes there’s a lot of confusion about the IoT – and maybe some misdirection.
At Equinix, we want to make the IoT a bit easier to digest with occasional posts that highlight specific “things” in the IoT. The IoT is all about interconnection, which is also a top priority for many customers who come to Equinix to better connect with networks, clouds and their business partners. There are many great examples of the ways in which interconnection is offering essential insight and real-world value. We’ll kick the series off by heading out to sea.
A Deep-Sea IOT
The maritime industry is as ancient as they come, but it’s not too old to get connected to the IoT. Shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries and technology services company Accenture are designing a “smart” ship that will bring the IoT to sea, improving vessel operating efficiency and also helping Hyundai transition from selling products to selling and designing services.
The new smart vessels will be equipped with a network of sensors that capture a range of voyage information, including:
- Ocean current
- Status of on-board equipment
- Status of cargo
Ship owners can monitor the vessel’s status in real time and apply analytics to current and historical data to make decisions that enable them to run more efficiently, saving time and fuel. The data can be shared across vessels and ports to improve fleet management. It can also deliver real-time alerts and warnings, and offer suggestions for predictive maintenance and more efficient scheduling.
The initiative is part of a shift by Hyundai into the service delivery realm to open up new revenue streams. Fortune reports that Hyundai will build the new connected vessels, while Accenture develops the business models and cloud infrastructure that allows Hyundai to sell those services.
Initially, Hyundai will offer customers ways to monitor and maintain their ships – essentially guaranteeing the vessel’s “uptime” at sea. Eventually, Hyundai could rely on insight from its analytics to sell a customer the ability to get a certain tonnage of goods from Point A to Point B at a certain price.
Hyundai plans to start retrofitting existing ships with sensors and connectivity next year. It’s still unclear how many sensors each ship will require or how much data they’ll generate. The fact that ships spend a lot of time out of the range of broadband networks means some on-board processing will be needed. Fortune notes that the work of figuring out which tasks needs to be done on the cloud, and which can happen on deck, could be useful to other companies looking to build sensor networks in other remote locations, like distant mines and oil fields.
And check out the other entries in our “Things in the Internet of Things” series:
“The Internet of Things and the Deep Blue Sea” (see above)