China's 'Network of Things'

3:35 PM -- The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has formed a working group to lead the development of large-scale sensor networks.

The working group is developing a draft standard for a "Network of Things" that will bring together a range of mobile and supplementary technologies, including radio tags, RFID, and 2D barcodes, to develop an overall network structure. This will then link with mobile and/or fixed networks to provide information about the various items or elements that have a sensor attached.

Included in the working group are experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), as well as others involved in sensor networks R&D.

Sensor networks comprise autonomous devices that use sensors to monitor situations, environments, movements, and so on, of people, objects, or even animals. They are used to collect information from remote areas and return it through the network to application servers that analyze the data and implement any necessary actions.

It all sounds a bit Big Brother-ish, and it's hard not to imagine cartoons with cows ordering up their own food supplies, but there are many practical applications, and work on sensor networks is picking up in a number of countries, most notably in South Korea.

The Korean Agency of Technology and Standards hosted an international workshop earlier this year and cites an executive from Modacom Co. who believes the market will have a $700 billion impact on economies in 2010. The Koreans are also leading the standards work in the International Standards Organization (ISO), and the Chinese, in the form of the new MIIT subcommittee, are now pushing to become an influence in those standards developments. To do so, the MIIT is drawing on the experiences of the country's carriers, which, according to its statement, already have sensor networks in place for transport, security, and power applications.

— Catherine Haslam, Asia Editor, Light Reading

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