Recently Freescale Semiconductor introduced an ingestible microcontroller. As we advance into a world of ever decreasing size in terms of computer technology we find ourselves coming face to face with the Internet of Things (IoT). Now what exactly does that mean anyways? According to Kevin Ashton at RFID Journal the IoT is defined as data gathered by objects rather than people.
“You can’t eat bits, burn them to stay warm or put them in your gas tank. Ideas and information are important, but things matter much more. Yet today’s information technology is so dependent on data originated by people that our computers know more about ideas than things. If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best. The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. Maybe even more so.”
But how would you feel about swallowing a tiny microchip that would be used to gather data about your body’s inner workings? It kind of sounds like something out of a science fiction movie but the fact is the technology is ready for adoption now. This is an extremely powerful advancement as it means that granular data can be recorded for later analysis by health professionals. Finally doctors will be able to get to the bottom of those mysterious lingering health issues. The Freescale press release discusses this latest innovation.
“As the Internet of Things (IoT) expands to include greater numbers of small, intelligent, battery-operated devices, the MCUs that enable these devices must deliver performance, energy efficiency and connectivity in progressively smaller footprints. Freescale Semiconductor is addressing the miniaturization trend with its new Kinetis KL02 MCU–the world’s smallest ARM Powered MCU. The KL02 holds great potential for ultra-small-form-factor products in applications such as portable consumer devices, remote sensing nodes, wearable devices and ingestible healthcare sensing.”
But to go a little further these new chips won’t just enable doctors to capture ever more data but will allow virtually any industry requiring more information to use these devices in ways we haven’t thought of yet. For years, SCADA systems have enabled organizations to monitor and control industrial processes including manufacturing, production, water treatment and distribution, oil and gas pipelines, electrical power transmission and distribution, and large communication systems. Now this same kind of monitoring will enter our every day lives. The release goes on to discuss the potential for the new units.
“The Internet of Things will soon be a vast and diverse ecosystem of smart connected devices and screens that embed intelligence into many new areas of our lives. This could range from tiny sensors helping to monitor crops and deliver irrigation, to microcontrollers that enable entire buildings to be more energy efficient. Our mobile devices could be soon controlling and managing this data and making our lives easier to manage,” said Richard York, director, Embedded Processor Products, ARM. “The Kinetis KL02 CSP MCU brings the best ARM and Freescale technologies to applications at the very edge of the IoT and opens up exciting possibilities for a new tier of ultra-small, smart, power-efficient devices.”
“Consulting firm McKinsey predicts a shortage by 2018 of 140,000 to 190,000 people with the deep analytical skills needed to work with big data. “I think it actually could be higher than that,” says Dr. Betsy Page Sigman, a distinguished teaching professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. “
Sigman goes on to say that the shortage will also require 1.5 million analysts and managers with just the general know-how to use big data and analytics applications correctly. It’s definitely a growing field with lots of potential and as more innovations like this present themselves the labor gap could grow wider.
The Internet of Things is a larger innovation than most people realize and has the potential to change our lives. If you thought the Internet was a huge innovation just wait for the next round as we look forward to wearable and ingestible technology that is integrated into every facet of our lives. For the most part this technology will be transparent as miniaturization allows for data to be gathered “in the background” of our lives.