The Internet of Things Does Not Need a New Common Language

Over the last several months Cisco, Salesforce.com, General Electric and other businesses have published a lot of promotional information about a new concept – the “internet of things”. I’ve written earlier on this topic to voice two opinions:

  1. the notion is nothing new. Process control and industrial automation have existed as similar efforts for over 40 years. Numerous reliable methods exist, today, to enable washing machines, home thermostats, air conditioners, security systems, etc. to communicate, bi-directionally, over Ethernet. Most of these methods support markup languages, like HTML, and scripting languages, like Javascript, at the application layer
  2. the leaders of the initiative aren’t likely to succeed. Cisco also played a significant role in the “smart home” movement, with little lasting success. Salesforce.com’s role looks like a diversionary tactic to obscure the real pressing issue for their business, namely attrition in subscription rates.

It’s time for me to add a third opinion: An internet of things does not need a new common language. On January 7, 2014, Nick Biltin of the New York Times published an article on Wolfram Wants to Connect the Internet of Things. But Modbus, Fieldbus, Profibus, and Devicenet have each existed for years, are completely suitable for Ethernet data communications, and chock full of the “thing” specific features and components any language purporting to support an internet of things would need to be helpful and effective.

So all this talk, in my opinion, is yet more evidence of why the champions of this initiative are, once again, going about their work in completely the wrong way. In parallel fashion to the “smart home” initiatives of 2001-2005, they are completely disregarding a working, reliable platform fully capable of handling the “things” they claim need to be connected.

Most consumers are ignorant of industrial automation and process control, which is neither a credit to our educational system, nor to the analysts covering efforts to enable “dumb” devices with logic. Perhaps some of the publicity about this initiative should be redirected to credit the internet of things that already exists and works very well, thank you.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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