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Internet of sensors Enabling IoT Applications With More Value

Author / Editor: Harmke De Groot / Eilyn Dommel

There is a tsunami of connected smart systems coming at us, with millions of sensors that generate data and gather information about the world around us. But how do we ensure that these systems are truly connected and deliver applications that bring real value for their users?

Harmke De Groot is senior director for Perceptive Systems at imec and Holst Centre. Her team is internationally recognized for their work in the field of high speed networks and sensors.
Harmke De Groot is senior director for Perceptive Systems at imec and Holst Centre. Her team is internationally recognized for their work in the field of high speed networks and sensors.
(Image source: imec)

This challenge also includes a number of technical aspects, aspects for which imec and its partners are developing appropriate solutions.

The main technical issue is that all of these systems have to be properly and seamlessly connected with one another, regardless of how much they may differ. Imagine, for example, trying to connect ultra-efficient sensors, extremely fast and broad data flows, complex industrial infrastructures and privacy-sensitive medical devices. To do so, we still have to overcome scores of interoperability and network problems for which we need to devise technical solutions.

A second important challenge is ensuring that we have tight security for all those systems, paying particular attention to privacy issues. Obviously you don’t want everyone to be able to view the data generated by your sensors. But at the same time you do want to have a home in which appliances are connected and interacting intuitively with all the people who live there. But who exactly are these people? Which applications can your children have access to? And what to do with someone who comes to stay for just one night?

Third, we will want to combine all of the knowledge provided by our sensors and systems so that we can create smart, intuitive applications. All too often at the moment, the data gathered from sensors is simply displayed on a device, after which the application waits for some kind of input from the user. In the future, though, the application will be able to improve itself and its environment autonomously, based on the intelligent combination of all sensor feedback.

We also need to make our applications future-proof. Every solution that is based on the raw power of number-crunching will be overtaken soon by Moore’s Law. But a sensor incorporated into a building may be required to operate for thirty years. Which is why we have to come up with smart concepts, e.g. in the area of security, that are not dependent on processor speed.

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