IoT Strategies

AT&T Connects Cars & Trash Cans

BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress 2015 -- AT&T's aspirations for the Internet of Things (IoT) knows no bounds, as Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Business Solutions, told a packed audience here that there are revenue opportunities even in garbage.

Speaking during the keynote session on the "Keys to the Connected Lifestyle" this morning, de la Vega said that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s IoT vision is to connect wearables, cars, homes, cities and enterprises -- and trash cans -- all of which will be controlled by smartphones. (See AT&T Steps Up Its IoT Offensive, Pics: AT&T's Foundry of Things and 10 Weirdly Useful IoT Devices.)

De la Vega said that AT&T recently connected trash cans for a recycling and waste management company that serves large enterprises. Using sensors and 3G printing capabilities, the company is now able to know how much waste is in the cans to determine the right time to empty them. As de la Vega explained, this saves the company time and money from not sending people to empty the trash containers before they're full. (See NYC: Inside the Internet of Bins.)

"I never thought in a million years, I'd look at a trash can and see revenue," said de la Vega. "I see revenue in garbage!"

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The opportunities are "almost limitless," he said, but the challenges for IoT are ensuring security, privacy protection and effortless use for consumers and businesses. (See Will 2015 Bring IoT Resolution for Operators?.)

"Security is our number one priority," he said. "Consumers are getting more concerned about it and we always work on safety and security, trying to anticipate and mitigate [problems] before they can happen."

On the connected cars front, AT&T is working with many different manufacturers, including GM, Audi, Nissan, Ford, Volvo and Tesla. "When we started working with GM, I didn't think there would be this much demand for connected cars," said de la Vega. "Consumers are willing to wait a year [before buying] just to have the capability of the connected car."

— Michelle Donegan, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

sarahthomas1011 3/3/2015 | 12:00:32 PM
Re: trashy M2M True, and AT&T was referring to more industrial, big business trash, not residential, but I still think it's hard to prove the ROI on this one.
MordyK 3/3/2015 | 11:50:10 AM
Re: trashy M2M I agree. I think its more about gathering the data to optimize collection times and routes to improve service and increase cost efficiency.

Use cases like these are really telematics, which highlights how a lot of existing capabilities are being bundled into the hype surrounding IoT, i.e. telematics, M2M, Smarthome, etc.

sarahthomas1011 3/2/2015 | 12:01:55 PM
trashy M2M I know carriers love crazy M2M examples, but this one seems hard to pull off. The trash company would have to have a quick turnaround time to make it out to each house when their trash can is full, and it'd be pretty inefficient to just go to select ones rather than a full route. I also wouldn't want the cost of implementing it passed on to me. It's bad enough we have to pay to recycle in Chicago!
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