Google Exec: Internet of Things Requires 'Brand New Network'

SAN FRANCISCO -- MIT Technology Review Digital Summit -- The Internet of Things will require telecom operators to turn their networks upside-down, believes Google Developer Advocate Don Dodge.

The Internet is currently designed for expensive, high-bandwidth connections such as video. The Internet of Things doesn't need much bandwidth but needs to be inexpensive, Dodge said.

Existing networks will work well with the Internet of Things in an office environment, where sensors can beam information back to servers over WiFi, said Dodge, who serves as a liaison between Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and developers. But the networks fail the Internet of Things outdoors, in remote pipelines, agricultural fields measuring precipitation and other conditions, and dumpsters. "How does that [information] get back to the Internet? There's no WiFi. What do you do?" Dodge said.

He picked on a TV commercial from Verizon Wireless showing a pole in the middle of an agricultural field. "It's got a cell phone -- not duct taped to it, but it's attached. And they use a cell phone to transmit the data from the sensor to the server at $40 a month. So how do you do that when you have a sensor on the dumpster that's only sending kilobytes of information maybe once a day, or maybe once a week? You can't spend $40 a month for that," he noted.

"What we're going to have to do is build a brand new network, because up to now Cisco and all the networking guys have focused on very high bandwidth, very high throughput, very high quality, but that's the opposite of what you need for the Internet of Things," Dodge said.

Most of Dodge's presentation focused on indoor location services, which promise to do for the indoors what mapping technology and GPS do for the outdoors. Indoor location services use all four radios in the phone -- the GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, and cell radio, as well as the gyroscope, accelerometer, barometer, magnetometer, microphone, and camera to attempt to pinpoint location. (See Location Intelligence Is the New Black, HP Beefs Up Its SDN Portfolio

Example applications include locating family members in a shopping mall, finding the dozen people you know among tens of thousands at a professional conference, sorting a grocery shopping list by supermarket aisle, and allowing a firefighter to locate victims, other firefighters, and exits in a burning building.

Indoor location services will also enable entertainment apps, such as first-person shooter games based on the player's actual building location, Dodge said. (This application will likely scare the pants off people in this era of senseless gun-related tragedies).

Mobile devices find location using WiFi triangulation, Bluetooth, and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) over short distance. Apple's iBeacon uses BLE. Other location techniques use LED lights that flash faster than the human eye can detect, but which can be detected by a smartphone, or by matching images from a phone camera to views from closed-circuit cameras.

LTE small cells will improve location accuracy by allowing phones to pinpoint location to within 1-2 meters without activating other radios, Dodge said.

The more interesting applications of indoor location technology will be stuff we're not anticipating today. Me -- I need it now, to remember where I parked at the mall.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected]

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Mitch Wagner 6/11/2014 | 1:39:47 PM
Re: New network or new software? No, low power. I find industrial applications to the Internet of Things more interesting than consumer ones. I'm pretty lazy, but I'm still up for manually turning on the lights, and to see if we're out of yogurt. :)
Mitch Wagner 6/11/2014 | 1:38:45 PM
Re: New network or new software? Like Microsoft in recent years, Google announces a lot of prototypes and ideas, but falls short on shipping innovative products. Those self-driving cars look great but you can't buy one. 
Kreskin 6/10/2014 | 11:13:54 PM
Re: New network or new software? This just demonstrtae how ignorant Google is about networks - plain and simple. Thar Google Fiberhood thing isn't going as well as planned ... Google cream skins MDU's in Kansas City and has had zero traction since -- efen intheir own backyard, their is pushback on Google Fiber tactics and solicitation methods which is violating CPCNI privacy laws.

Just to infer each sensor would require a monthly plan is absurd. A monitoring network would be structured for payment that utilizes low packet rates way differnt than high usuage video ... it's commonsense.

Google - stay home and play with your software and leave the networks to the professionals.

This constant Google as Visionary thing of anything and everything is getting very old -- you are silly kids playing with your toys and violating privacy day-in and day-out just like a child plays peek-a-boo. Speaking of toys, it rymes with boys -- not diversity of workforce at Google.  Then there is that pending wage/job fixing scheme to hold down wages with other software companise Google is fromnt and center.

Where is Google's ethics?

Your bread and butter Ad game is winding down ... so you buy and try anything to keep your brand relevant. You are subject to the existing networks -- go buy some low flying staellites, I am sure there are huge markets in the rainforest of Brazil or the Westerm three-fourths of China or Siberia.

How are all those Glasses sales going?  Great idea there ...

Google you are no Apple.

Google reminds me of Eastman Kodak -- they have too much money and margin as Kodak once did ... Google is not immune to business cycles or software diruption coming from Amazon and Microssoft.  Azure is going to bury Google. 

Google should focus on it's core business and logical core business extensions. Google recently was slapped down by the EU for all those privacy violations -- why don't you Google focus on offering customers what they want - privacy. It sells - just look at how duckduckgo.com is growing in "private" search.
kq4ym 6/10/2014 | 7:32:41 PM
Re: New network or new software? Good points and I too wonder if Cisco might go this way. Low maintenance would surely be very important for those distant locations out in the middle of nowhere. Or even "no maintenance" if the costs were low enough, they could just be thrown away and replaced on regular schedules.
danielcawrey 6/10/2014 | 7:14:43 PM
Re: New network or new software? Interesting. I wonder how much work Cisco has done to build products for the Internet of Things. I would suspect that they need to find a way to offer reliability versus performance. Becuase it's true: you don't need a ton of performance to build an IoT network.

You would need very low maintenence, however. 
sineira 6/10/2014 | 6:28:48 PM
Re: New network or new software? No, low power. Looks like a viable solution even though it's somewhat diffuse.

I think this is not a technology problem but a standardization/politics problem.
Whatever solutions are selected as part of the 5G standard will win. The market volume is enormous.
There needs to be long range solutions like sigfox where an operator has control, and short range solutions where the end user is in control, like wifi/bluetooth/zigbee ... <--- these are already being used and are working just fine.

But this is not something Google figured out. It's the normal wireless evolution.

I'm looking forward to it. I want all my things connected, I see no reason why they should not be. And that includes my coffe machine. I want to be able to start it from my "device" when I'm in bed waking up. I have a wifi connected power supply giving me power readings, I can turn off each outlet remotely or via configuration (my sons consoles turns off on time whether he wants it or not), the thermostat is Wifi connected and get's weatherdata from internet, the irrigation controller same and I have a wifi connected speaker as well.  These are just examples and there is a boatload of other devices out there already. This will just continue. Not to mention the industrial need. Not having to wire in all sensors.


DanJones 6/10/2014 | 5:50:12 PM
Re: New network or new software? No, low power. What do you think of the SigFox approach?

DanJones 6/10/2014 | 5:46:53 PM
Re: New network or new software? No, low power. Yeah, getting really, really smart about wakeful and restful states on M2M devices is another way to address some power concerns. But that's still going to need really smart engineering though, by design, they're not going to have the kind of compute power a smartphone has to address asleep/awake issues.
sineira 6/10/2014 | 5:14:57 PM
Re: New network or new software? No, low power. Here's the thing. A low powered device will only reach a short distance.
There just is no way around that. So the idea you can get a M2M device in the countryside to reach far with low power is just not going to work. It's that thing called science putting limits on it.

That being said different tehnologies put different requirements on power usage over time. M2M devices could use technologies to "call home" less often to save power.
It's not going to make the devices reach further, but the battery will last longer.
DanJones 6/10/2014 | 4:10:00 PM
Re: New network or new software? No, low power. @Carol: There's some work going on. I think it's being put on 5G because that's next logical inflection point for a major network upgrade

There's also M2M apps that often don't have those kinds of constraints like Connected car and home security, note that carriers and vendors are often going after those opportunites. 
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