IoT Showdown: Machines Win in First Human Battle with the BOTs

The introduction of IoT applications is supposed to make life easier for homo sapiens. But things are off to a bad start, according to Accedian's Scott Sumner.

Scott Sumner, Director, Business Analytics, Accedian

September 21, 2015

3 Min Read
IoT Showdown: Machines Win in First Human Battle with the BOTs

I knew it was a bad sign when my hotel room in London had a set of scales in the bathroom. Not that I discovered that the first day -- it was only my second night I figured out how to turn the light on. Hunting for a switch was futile because there wasn't one. That's because I was in the IoT zone, and I was losing the battle with the machines.

I was staying in a super-modern hotel: Everything in the room had been automated and was controlled by three discount Android tablets, the kind your kids won't use because they're too slow and the touchscreens need a hammer to make them react -- the kind of hammer I wish I'd had ready to hand at the end of my four days in the IoT zone.

Adopting IoT too early can certainly be a problem… when drapes can only be closed with a button… when turning off the "mood lighting" turns on every light in the middle of the night… when trying to leave the room is almost impossible because the IoT door lock won't open when you take your key out of the main power slot before you exit (note to designers -- don't make door locks dependent on power, when people always turn off power before leaving).

Aside from being blinded in the night, stumbling in the bathroom and being burned by a shower that offered IoT temperature control (from a tablet in another room), I'd say the accommodations were comfortable. I was comforted by the real-time weather on the TV, where it was always sunny, even in the middle of the night, and the clock suggested we had gone back in time to before I was born. My wife would have loved it -- she's a big fan of music from the early 1970s, but I was so busy trying to figure out why the room phone couldn't call the front desk, that even with the extra 45 years of time I had been granted I never did get through to her.

Figure 1: Back to the Future It was 1970, apparently, and conditions were changeable in my hotel room... It was 1970, apparently, and conditions were changeable in my hotel room...

When the TV remote has no power button (and is on by default) and the tablet-based control has on and off inverted, it can take a while to get some peace. That's when the climate system woke up and it became very, very cold. I started up the app, but it took about a minute before the current status appeared -- with little snowflake icons and all. When I started to configure it to warm up, the message "bathroom app has crashed" met my confused stare.

So to warm up the room I simply ran the scolding shower a little, and all was well.

What does this mean in our bid to hand over simple things to the M2M world? It's the same message I get from operators trying to virtualize before NFV is really ready for prime time: It's possible, it can be done in theory, but be ready for a rocky ride. My experience is similar to some NFV network deployments we've seen: replacing a physical device with a virtual one can result in sub-par performance, especially if you don't plan, test, assure and optimize performance as you make the migration.

In my case, I was lucky -- if I pressed the right button someone would clean up the mess for me. The only problem was that the "Clean Room" button was somehow linked to "Do not Disturb" on the display outside my door.

Who's ready for connected cars?

— Scott Sumner, VP solutions marketing, Accedian Networks

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About the Author(s)

Scott Sumner

Director, Business Analytics, Accedian

Scott has extensive experience in wireless, Carrier Ethernet and service assurance, with over 15 years of experience including roles as GM of Performant Networks, Director of Program Management & Engineering at MPB Communications, VP of Marketing at Minacom (Tektronix), and Aethera Networks (Positron / Marconi), Partnership and M&A Program Manager at EXFO, as well as project and engineering management roles at PerkinElmer Optoelectronics (EG&G). Scott has participated in numerous acquisitions and industry partnerships, and has authored numerous patents and conference papers on telecommunications technology.

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