The IoT, defined

April 20, 2018 Gene Frantz, Octavo Systems

I remember the first time I heard the phrase “Internet of Things”. It was several months after I had heard the phrase “cloud computing” and, in fact, it was the concept of the Internet of Things which cleared up my working definition of cloud computing.

I first learned about cloud computing at a press conference in Beijing when a magazine editor asked what I thought about it. My problem was, I had never heard the term before. I immediately envisioned what cloud computing would be and didn’t like the implications of the concept at all! My thought was, “How dare the software people of world reduce all of the computer and communications hardware we electrical engineers had created to the idea of a cloud?” Before I let you know my response, I need to tell you that I had been trained on how to properly respond to the press. It was drilled into my head to never make a statement I would not want to appear in the headlines of the Wall Street Journal. With that training under my belt, my response to the editor was, “That has got to be the stupidest thing I have ever heard!” As far as I know, that quote was not printed in Chinese or in English.

Now you know why the term Internet of Things, with it’s hardware perspective of things, was a welcomed concept to me. I’ll stop with the story and save a more detailed description of the cloud for a later discussion. What I would like to do next is simply give you my definition of the Internet of Things.

Below is my ‘back of a napkin’ drawing describing my view of the IoT. It is a system that consists of three different groups of sub-system components:

  • Clouds
  • Aggregators
  • Smart sensors

Each of the above sub-system components is necessary for the overall IoT system to function optimally. The cloud is the ultimate computing unit and universal communications network. The smart sensors are the interface to the real world. Finally, the aggregators are the go-betweens. To the cloud the aggregator looks like smart sensors and to the smart sensors it looks like the cloud.

In this blog series I will:

  1. Reveal new ideas, ask a lot of questions and answer a few
  2. Debate IoT and it’s future while engaging as many of you as possible
  3. Tell some stories, because it’s a blog – it’s infotainment!

I will always ask intriguing questions to engage (provoke) you because it’s only fun when we disagree.

  • When did you first hear about the Cloud Computer? (I heard it first in circa 2010)
  • What did you think it meant?

Gene Frantz is Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Octavo Systems.


This is the first blog of a series. Read part two here.


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