IoT And Video Surveillance - Hype Or Next Big Thing?

Internet of Things (aka IoT) is clearly one of the big buzzwords du jour.

For instance, mega bank Goldman Sachs calls IoT 'the next mega-trend'.

The question then is, what impact or relevance does IoT have on video surveillance?

For background, here is the Wikipedia definition of IoT:

"The inclusion of electronics and software in any device not usually considered computerized in nature, to enable it to achieve greater value and service by giving it an ability to network and communicate with other devices."

Certainly, IP cameras fall under IoT, as they are traditional non-computers that have become computerized / networked.

The main thing I find puzzling is that, under this definition, IP cameras have been IoT since before the term IoT existed. More importantly, the shift to IP, and its great impact, is largely complete in the professional space.

That said, I do see the impact / potential of IP / IoT / cameras in the fast growing consumer space.

So what do you think about IoT and video surveillance? Legit? Hype? Where will it impact surveillance? How will it impact you?

According to the Gartner Hype Cycle IoT is currently at the "peak of inflated expectations".
I think that the greatest impact of IoT on surveillance (and security systems in general) will be in greater connectivity with other systems and the inclusion of more sensors connected together.
in the professional space this is aleady present (for example in the form of video connected with access control) and there is potential for further expansion, but currently it is hard to differentiate practical solutions that carry value from "hyped" solutions.

The future segment of IoT is also not clear. The consumer space has a lot of "buzz" but so far smart homes / connected homes are not standartized and are still limited to first adopters (that are either tech-savvy and like to build things themsleves or very rich and want to show off they can control their washing machine from the cell phone).

Personaly I think that smart-cities have a greater potential of utilizing IoT, a lot more potential of connected systems for better city management and security. Here however the costs are a barrier.

Since IoT is all about connectivity, it could also mean that PSIM like management systems will become more popular (and they will not only manage security, also day to day operations). Currently it is far from happening since there is no IoT standard so in fact we have the "internet of stand alone systems and silos"

I think IoT is a super hyped catch phrase come up with by Intel marketing. I saw a presentation given by an Intel rep talking about what IoT meant and there was nothing special about it I could discern. To Intel's marketing department credit, I'm sure when upper management levels discuss implementation of new technologies, at least one or more persons in the room will ask "How do we/it/this fit into the Internet of Things?".

Guess Intel needed to come up with something different after Microsoft's marketing team usurped "The Cloud"...

Cisco marketng is fighting Intel back with "internet of everything" :)

Cisco publishes some very interesting (makes you wonder) Internet of Everything videos on their Youtube channel.

Fluff 1 minute video:

Wild financial speculation:

[IPVM Mod Note: Poster is from Cisco.]

Hey John - Thanks for taking time to check out those videos. True they are fluffy as we try to explain what IoT/IoE is to the general mass public.

This video might give you a bit more clarity and is definitely less fluffy.

The value we see in IoT is bringing connectivity, more eyes and ears and analytics into these smart city or ruggedized and industrial environments

We are working with AGT to create more smart city applications, using cameras for traffic flow management as one of these examples. Cisco Kinetic for Cities Urban Mobility - Cisco

Here is an example of this technology in Hamburg

Cisco Connected Maritime - Cisco

Utimately, the value is having multiple uses for cameras outside of just security/monitoring - looking at other uses like parking tracking, traffic management on a flexible network. Perhaps its higher bandwidth and clarity from cameras during rush hours and lower quality during off hours.

I think Bessie Wang is right about IoT value for cameras involving uses outside of the traditional security/monitoring application; maybe that's the answer to the original question ("what impact or relevance does IoT have on video surveillance?").

In fact (and more generally) I think IoT (and Internet) fundamentally is about devices becoming resources that are application-agnostic and thus available to multiple applications, including:

  • Multiple application at the same time (resource sharing cost reduction)
  • More applications over time (incremental ROI build consistent with cash availability)
  • New applicsations that haven't even been conceived at time of device deployment ("speculative" ROI - but recent history says it's not really speculative: it will be there; capturing it is the problem).

Another more concrete point highlighted in the video (and slightly related to John Honovich's point about wireless) is that cameras (being devices with substantial capabilities) can play a role in WiFi network provision. I.e. EVERY $500 camera is also a WiFi access point (cf. it would presumably not make sense for every $10 temperature sensor to include WiFi). In a sense the WiFi "reach" is expanding and contracting as activity moves around the mine. Think about a high-density security/monitoring site like an airport:

  • There are cameras everywhere, and these have been networked (provide they're IP)
  • It is still quite difficult to get video out to mobile personnel (view on SmartPhones, iPads etc) because the WiFi capability has often been put in for some other purpose (e.g. supporting travellers' browsing and email) and not sufficiently "strong" for reliable video transmission (there are other problems with CSMA/CA WiFi, of course)
  • I am not an RF engineer - but I would imagine that if each of the 5,000 IP cameras in a larg(ish) international airport were also a WiFi access point then there would be an abundance of WiFi relative to need.

This is just hyper marketing in order to drive brand name or stock price. It doesn't really explain or describe anything new. People who aren't technical get all caught up in cool sounding catch-phrases all the time. If they don't know what it is, they get excited. It is marketing by confusion. It is a very common tactic at Intel. Just like the Centrino product. The more obscure the marketing, the more assured you can be that commoners will go crazy for it.

I still maintain that a major reason Blu-Ray won out over HD-DVD is that it's a catchier name (and only two syllables vs. five).

BetaMax sounds a lot catchier than VHS, though...

and laserdisc sounds much cooler than any of those previous examples but we know how long those lasted ;)

All these Things are just debris on the Information Superhighway.

people are wanting their property (ie. home and business) to be connected and surveillance plays a large part of that... in the IoT perspective the consumer market will drive that and I believe currently does through small scale automation systems... when you have the ability to connect to your property and monitor sensors, video surveillance, controll lighting, hvac systems, satellite receivers, locks etc. people get excited and want to do more... for me the question is what is the stopping point and what really do you need to be connected to?

It is true (by definition) that IP cameras have always been “IoT capable” devices! And thus things like Gartner’s Hype Cycle might have less relevance to this community than might otherwise be the case; indeed it may be that the collective experience of this community has lessons to impart to IoT…

1. Typical IoT devices are $10s or even $singles, whereas cameras are $100s and occasionally $1000s. So it would follow that cameras need to do more than the typical IoT thing; obviously this includes sophisticated sensing but might also include a mid-span / infrastructure role, where an IoT camera (powered and networked over Ethernet) acts as a local gateway for nearby smaller things (battery powered and with short range wireless comms). Thus one might see short range wireless added to cameras to support IoT.

2. Cameras are IP (obviously) but typically they’re not accessible on the public Internet, and often completely isolated within a given facility; not even on an enterprise intranet. The intention with IoT is at least the latter, and this is quite problematic (for example if an industrial robot and a camera viewing it were compromised via IoT then people could easily be killed).

3. Surveillance networks resemble broadcast television networks (but with the peculiarity of video running in the opposite direction) in there is very little communication between edge nodes. There are occasional exceptions: an IP access control might trigger an IP camera to move to a preset; a fixed camera (or a 3D field device like a Bosch/DENSO area sensor) might similarly trigger a PTZ camera to move to point of interest, but these are rare. Thus current surveillance networks might be expected to (like broadcast networks) follow Sarnoff’s “Law”; where the economic value of the network is directly proportional to the number of cameras. I would say right now surveillance networks are worse than Sarnoff's "Law": value is less than linear in the number of cameras!

With IoT in contrast it is expected (and assumed) that there will be “network effects” (Metcalfe’s “Law”) arising from edge to edge communication, and that these will lead to economic value that is better than linear in the number of IoT things (including cameras). The hope is to follow the Internet: Google makes $$$$ from finding and exploring links between edges of the WWW graph (i.e. web pages) so IoT pioneers would hope to do something similarly lucrative.

Back in the surveillance world, the increasing prevalence of "edge" ("edginess"??) in cameras might be an enabler giving rise to network effects in the future.

4. Most IoT devices produce relatively simple data. For example a temperature sensors produces (time, temperature) pairs or (time, temparature, location) triples. Such data is easily ingested in IT systems: it can be stored and queried in a database in an obvious way, it can be related to other data (join by time and/or location) and can also be input into more sophisticated systems (such as machine learning systems) in order to extract value from the data.

In contrast (and despite much effort) there are still huge challenges in going from video to data. Simply storing video in a database (of whatever type) and allowing it to be queried by time and camera doesn’t do much since the video needs to be interpreted (in contrast the interpretation of a temperature reading is straightforward and obvious). Again, there is progress: LPR cameras can provide (time,location,vehicle) triples; people counters can (arguably) provide (time range, number of people, location) triples; POS systems linked to camera with face detection can provide (transaction, facial image) pairs; but this has been slow and ad hoc.

5. Organisation of the Internet (and IoT?) is substantially decentralised and automated. For example, IP routing is maintained by decentralised algorithms communicating by standard protocols (BGP etc.). This is key to scale (both technically and in terms of participation) and scale in turn is key to the economic value (back in 1987 we had a few 1000 nodes and no-one knew or cared).

Henry, thanks for sharing. Very informative!

I wanted to elaborate on one point you raised.

"Thus one might see short range wireless added to cameras to support IoT."

I agree and I think that would be a 'game changer' for surveillance. Not simply adding wireless but a wireless development that made it easier to deploy cameras anywhere (most importantly outdoors).

Wireless has never met its initial expectations in surveillance. This is not an 'IoT' development but if and when high throughput, low cost, unlimited cellular / wireless becomes a reality, it could really accelerate surveillance camera adoption.

I think 'IoT' is here to stay, but overall it is still waiting on some of the early uncertainties and market direction to firm up. (ie: Zigbee vs. Z-Wave? BLE vs. NFC? Any or all of them?) No one quite knows which hub/network controller to buy yet, because no standard approach is clearly winning.

Another part of it is price (it's still high), a lot of it is consumers viewing it too complicated or techy for widespread application, but both of those will change in the years ahead.

We already have 'Smart'Padlocks (here's another one). So the game of which mundane consumer products will be the first to introduce network connectivity is already being played. I mean, WiFi Crockpots are a real thing.

I think IoT is for real, in general. There are certainly benefits for various traditional appliances (I give you the MIT smart pan).

I am still struggling to see its big impact on professional surveillance.

I don't think 'IoT' is going to encroach much into the commercial video space. Part of the appeal is how easy it is to add sensors to a lightweight wireless network.

Professional Video is already at odds with technical features like battery power and consumer wireless which are mainstays of many 'IoT' offerings.

I am still struggling to see its big impact on professional surveillance.

This may be an area where you see it grow faster in the consumer arena at first. As standards like Z-wave, et al. are settled on (so consumers aren't dealing with multiple separate ssytems and apps), and you continue getting home alarms, thermostats, lights and locks all talking to each other, it will be only natural to have Foscam-type home cameras tie into that system.

As people get used to that level of interconnectivity at home, I think they'll want to see it more at work too. "Well my home cameras can do this and that with my alarm system... why CAN'T I do it at the office?"

Tying together cameras and access control is old hat, so it's not a stretch to see that connectivity expanding to other devices around the office. Convergence of surveillance with GPS tracking and realtime fleet management over wireless data is becoming more common on the roads as well.

That pan is cool......

My question is would my wife think her cooking stinks if i buy it for her? Always a tough call....

This whole buzz about IoE always makes me dream about scenarios involving A.I that ultimately would lead to:

In the year 3000, a Camera from Axis-Canon-Avigilon-IndigoVision-Genetec JointVenture auto learns employee behaviors and opening/closing hours from a local Office.

One day at 0200 AM a burglar tries to enter the Office. No alarms or sirens are activated to not scare the burglar.

The camera runs facial recognition but can't id the person because he is wearing a mask. The camera analytics identify it as suspection behavior and sends a signal to a alarm system.

The alarm system then warns the police who promptly dispatch a unit to the Office.

One their way to the Office the Surveillance Cameras from the Streets identifies the roads with less traffic and sends signals to the roads department to green all traffic light so the police can arrive there faster.

Also the cameras from the office track the burglar and notice he is taking away a high value and containing sensitive information Notebook from a desk. The cameras contact another security system sending a picture of the notebook and serial to wipe it.

For me IoE is that ^. Machine 2 Machine communications and learning.

Maybe Avigilon is getting there =P

Ricardo, your example reminds me of Skynet from Terminator 2, add to the creepiness factor and instead of dispatch cruisers on the road just dispatch the drones... :)

In the year 3000, a Camera from Axis-Canon-Avigilon-IndigoVision-Genetec

Subtle ;)

"Thus one might see short range wireless added to cameras to support IoT."

This is already starting to happen. Sensera Systems' MultiSense camera platform includes the ability to network local sensors/devices wirelessly, and to perform data logging, and the kinds of functions traditionally done in RTU/PLC devices. We believe this architecture will have a big impact in security systems over time.

On the question of simplifying outdoor/wireless, we think that the combination of more ubiquitous and capable cellular (LTE) plus cloud (and solar) makes deployment of outdoor systems substantially easier and ultimately lowers total cost of deploying systems. For example, in the construction market, we are currently selling outdoor, wireless, solar camera systems that are completely installed and configured by the construction site supervisor - no integrator or installer required!

I think the other key point is that IoT is currently being driven by consumer, IT, and automotive markets - all markets that are MUCH larger than commercial security. This will begin to drive what happens in commercial security due to customer expectations (touched on above), technical standards, availability of building blocks, increased volumes of core components, etc.


IOT is here to stay. Most of the comments here are based upon security, which is a given, but you got to look at the bigger picture which I will discuss in a few. The most important thing about IOT in my opinion is bringing connected devices at a low cost for it to become main stream. Factories, gas and oil, medical applications and many other industries have been doing this for a long time at a premium for the following reasons:

1- It require a service company ( #1 cost)

2- Small Volume ( always comes at premium)

3- Hardware onsite (Pc/Server, cabling, power, specialized equipment)

The IOT “hype” is about bringing it to the mass, affordable to the consumer and small business to do things that they were not able to afford. Just like Henry said, IP Cameras are not IOT; they are still expansive to deploy and connect to a PC. DropCam on the other hand is a great example of IOT. They get a check mark for all the points above.

Moreover, I don’t see how it is a hype especially if we are at a point that we allowed ourselves to be connected via wearables. Up till now, a company would spend $1 M dollars on a SCADA system that can measure water level, humidity, etc and you see companies like letting know if your baby took a leak, using similar technology to check for the same metrics or under $50.

Now here comes the real power of IOT, transforming data to information and finally to knowledge to do something. A good example is, it tracks WIFI data and gives you information about shoppers patterns, duration, etc and then transforms it to knowledge about your customers behaviors and then finally to an action to get more staff, change a product location, …. all for $200.

IOT is here to stay and I am personally bidding on it.

Robert, thanks. To clarify, when I asked if IoT was hype, I meant for video surveillance specifically. I certainly see value in many other domains.

I don't think IoT is supposed to be a specific thing (standard, product offering, architecture, etc) as much as a general prediction about the state of being at some point. Namely, in the future most things will be network connected or connectable. Then what?

The real value comes when there's some substrate that provides meaningful applications exploiting those interconnections--kind of like how the original internet coalesced disjoint networks and incompatible computing platforms for a handful of applications such as email and file transfer.

But the internet connected general purpose devices so applications were immediately obvious. It’s harder to imagine why I’d have real need of an application that works with both my (very functionally specific) toaster and my surveillance camera.

That being said, a salient issue with surveillance cameras is location, and that’s fairly easy information to aggregate and use in applications that span classes of devices. So when devices can all tell us where they're located, you can at least find a surveillance camera nearest your network connected time lock safe..

Also, in some ways you could say ONVIF represents a step towards IoT within surveillance.

As somebody pointed out, IoT is currently at the top of the hype cycle, so I suspect we’re going to hear a lot about it while nobody necessarily makes money from it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the concept behind IoT doesn’t get realized ‘for free’ just like Google today sweeps up web sites and offers ad-subsidized search.

In the mean time I think we’re going to continue to see walled gardens (for example, ours) of more ubiquitously connected devices that are still out of reach from any real benefit that can be accredited to IoT.

I would see the consumer/home and industrial/enterprise strands of IoT as running somewhat in parallel, with some shared technology and certainly a shared bandwagon.

Consumer/home is disruptive innovation (in the Clay Christensen sense) as it admits new participants (homeonwers) as participants in a market (building automation?) to which they did not previously have access (as it was cost prohibitive or required special skills). One might also expect some of this innovation - having proven itself in the low margin high turnover consumer market - to inflitrate enterprise (and thus the premium markets mentioned by Robert); somewhat similar to the takeover of expensive central printing departments by desktop / benchtop photocopiers. Thus VCs love the prospects here.

I do think consumer/home IoT is mostly about automation / coordination and that one major point of contrast with industrial / enterprise IoT is that the latter has a much heavier focus on data. (Of course, there would be plenty of companies that would love to get data from IoT things in 100 million homes accross America, but that would be an enterprise use through gaining access to IoT things orignallly purchased by a consunmer, rather than the original consumer use).

So if IP video falls within the industrial / enterprise market (I guess it does) then I would return to the idea that being able to treat cameras and camera signals as data would be a critical step required before we see much impact of (enterprise) IoT on the (enterprise) camera space. I would agree with Steve about location - this is concrete data about cameras that at least allows video to be placed in some physical context. And location is valuable real estate: with the fall in camera prices the cost and effort required to deploy a camera to a location is in many cases an increasing percentage of the total cost: getting the camera to the location has been expensive so there's an incentive to extract as much value as possible from that location.

SAP give an example of vending machines as IoT (there's a video of this on YouTube somewhere). These vending machines can get on the Internet when they're running low and thus inlfluence the routes of replenishment trucks, and (perhaps more interesting and certainly more Internet) each vending machine can communicate with its nearby peers so that (for example) a customer who really wants something out of stock at a given machine can be directed to the nearest machine having the good - and they get a calorie burning walk as a bonus.

Anyway the thing about IoT vending machines is that one starts with an isolated device for which there is an established market and adds TCP/IP to it, thus enabling all sorts of applications - that's a classic IoT application approach - building from the previously isolated device inwards towards the network core.

The historical apporach leading to IP cameras was in a sense the other way around - M. Gren and M. Karlsson already had TCP/IP / Networking - they started with protocol converters and then did TCP / IP print servers (and NAS) and only later did they find cameras as another thing to (usefully) bolt on to their network stack. This is more of an infrastructure approach - providing a platform for others to bulld applications upon.

Perhaps we are still wating for the killer application for networked video (merely replacing analogue cameras is an incremental improvement not a killer application), but it might be that IP cameras (visual infrustructure) observing more application oriented devices (e.g. vending machines or even John's smartpan) greatly increases the scope for cameras to be involved in a diverse range of valuable applications (e.g. Vending Machine Demographics or even Cooking Classes as as Service - CCaaS). If that happens then cameras will indeed have become an important part of IoT.

Before IoT can have significant impact on surveillance industry, the OS running in IP cameras needs to be standarized. I would not be suprised to see a special version of Android running in IP cameras in the near future.

In order for IoT to make sense, software developments plays a crucial part of it. I agree that there is huge potential in the consumer space since that's what google is targeting at...

I disagree that OS-level standardization is necessary for surveillance to participate in the IoT vision. The ‘standards’ need to be at the interoperability level, and they need to be driven by applications.

BTW, the IoT is mostly made up of embedded devices. Android’s really a general purpose operation system designed for phones. I have always thought it would be nice to build an IP camera out of Android. The advantages are support for good cameras, powerful processors and radios (wifi/cellular). But there’s a lot of other stuff Android’s designed to support that IP cameras do not need like other types of sensors, touchscreens, and a general purpose ‘app’ framework. It starts to get ‘heavy’ compared to just using your favorite IP camera SoC’s reference design OS or something simple from any of many tiny OS’s out there today.

I have always thought it would be nice to build an IP camera out of Android.

Shouldn't be too hard since

  1. Most IP cameras run some form of Linux
  2. Android is mainline Linux plus all the heavy stuff you don't want.

Sorry, what I meant was as an IP camera manufacuturer, I've always wanted to green-light a project that uses Android in an IP camera and launch that as a product. But have never been able to really justify it for the reasons I cite. It's certainly technically doable. It seems like a cool idea--mainly for developer productivity. It would have some strong pros. But when you get down to the actual requirements and constraints during design, you just don't end up there..

I know this is really informative but I need to know where to find the crock pot. Is there a store by you Brian? I will fly there just for it.

This is a great post. There will always be more things, as mentioned above. Applications will enable all of these things. We are rolling out applications specific to video surveillance, video conferencing, video streaming and things that leverage lots of other things in 2016. I suspect a lot of companies have IoT under development now and many more will follow - the IoT is not all hype.

Dennis, what specifically are you rolling out or see that is rolling out for video surveillance that is related to IoT? I am trying to understand specific examples.

I appologize - I am not at liberty to talk about this any further - it's a disruptive application and specific to surveillance, video technologies and IoT. The main take away is that IoT is not all hype and useful apps are on the way that leverage surveilance, the internet and things. We can't be the only one's developing sureillance specific IoT apps, there will be many.

Ok, if you can't provide evidence to support you claims, don't make em until you can.


I can certainly support my claims, again - I am not at liberty to talk about this specific application - the whoile point to this is to confirm that there are in fact applications under development and many IoT solutions that will follow - it's not hype. The IoT is real and will enrich all of our lives over time. The real questions is when we clearly see that happen.

"I can certainly support my claims, again - I am not at liberty to talk about this specific application"

You are contradicting yourself.

You cannot support your claims because you refuse to talk about the details.

You may very well be right but you may also be full of it.

All I am saying is don't make any claims one way or the other unless you are capable of explaining those claims.

Btw, the question isn't whether IoT is real, it's whether IoT is real for surveillance. That no one has yet to prove. When and if you are ready to do so, feel free to make a detailed case.

Proof is on the way - as it relates to surveillance - it will not be hype for long - we the surveillance community will participate in IoT. I think we can accept that companies have apps that they simply have not released yet.

Certainly we can all accept there are apps that have not been released. What we don't know and you can't prove today, is how impactful those apps or services will be.

Maybe it will be huge, maybe it will be a dud but we can't attempt to consider it until there is some sort of information available on it.

Saying "IoT under development" because you're connecting some devices together is like saying "Moores Law under development" because you're porting to a faster platform.

IoT is not a design or an architecture, it's a description of a state of being in which more and more (unlikely) devices are connected to the internet. It assumes there will be some neat new applications enabled from that.

Nest's cloud/app connected thermostat is a poster child for IoT, and yet cloud connected and app accessible DVRs have been around for many years. So it seems for now a toaster connected to the internet that will print selfies from your phone into the bread is IoT. Big deal.

I am still waiting for some emergent and unexpected applications that are enabled as a byproduct of increased connectivity from different classes of devices. So far it hasn't really happened. And IoT won't be truly significant until it does.

I am still waiting for some emergent and unexpected applications that are enabled as a byproduct of increased connectivity from different classes of devices. So far it hasn't really happened. And IoT won't be truly significant until it does.

You're kidding right? Did you miss the roll-out of over 3 billion IP enabled mobile devices, mainly in just the last five years? You might not think of smartphones as IoT, but clearly they comprise the first wave of 'things'.

Certainly smartphones and tablets have enabled increased connectivity between different classes of devices. Do you not find any significant? Or do IP enabled phones, with their numerous sensors and outputs not count somehow?

My point is only that IoT must be considered truly significant already, just on the basis of what 'things' we have placed on the Internet so far.

I don't count smartphones, because they're not things, rather they're general purpose computing devices that are used by a human operator. They're like a PC--just mobile, and without a keyboard. Yes they do have some more interesting sensors in them. So if you look at them from the point of view of (say) their GPS chip and the data it emits to the internet that gives away my location all the time, then they're contributing to the mass of non-human things connected to the network.

The IoT, as John cited in Wikipedia's definition is supposed to be about devices other than computers--non traditional network devices. And further, there's an implication that something "new" happens when you are talking to many devices or better yet the devices are talking to each other.

I use lots of apps on my phone to interact with 'things.' The other day I realized I forgot to schedule a recording of the fights so, at a stoplight, I was able to bring up my DirecTV app and tell my home DVR to record the show. Today at lunch my wife wanted to see the weather at home (we work about 30 miles from home) so she brought up a view of the camera we have in front of our house from her phone.

These are examples of one-on-one interactions between us and 'things.' It's really useful. And it will be great when more things are on the internet so I can (say) get a text from my fridge when I need to order a new water filter from Amazon--or better yet when it can do it itself. But I think IoT is largely hype because it implies something much more than one-to-one interactions between people and their devices. The idea is that if *everything* that can be connected is connected, something huge and magical will happen. That is, something new will 'emerge' from an increasingly fertile landscape. The IoT hype says more and more things are going to be on the internet and then--mumble mumble--we all get rich! Rather, as every new 'thing' gets connected to the internet, it's just turning out to be more things and more one-to-one interactions between people and their things. And just because something's connected doesn't mean there's real utility to be realized. OnStar has been connecting cars to the internet for 20 years now. I'm sure customers love the service. Yet it has not created siesmic shifts in the automotive landscape. Nor did the addition of Nest's internet connected thermostat create a critical mass that fused OnStar and Nest into a dramatic new solution to some common problem that people just had to have.

If your definition of IoT is lots of stuff connected to the internet, then yes, it's real and happening. Personally I've always just called that "growth of the internet."

I see where you are coming from, and I can't say exactly what the next killer app to emerge might be. But, I feel we might fail to appreciate it when it does.

It's like a Magic trick before you know how it's done, it seems well... like magic! Once you know though it's like 'ok, next'. So I think that waiting for some watershed moment is hard to do here, because these things just sneak up on you and by the time your using it, you're not that impressed anymore.

Case in point: you want to downplay smartphones contribution to IoT because they are not specific 'things', they are 'general purpose computers' and computers are 'traditional network devices' and therefore not part of IoT...

When did that happen exactly? Not too long ago they were definitely considered specific 'things', for making phone calls, right? The Internet got into our phones! They were the first devices converted.

Another example of things is baby monitors. 5 years ago you probably had one of those 900 MHz point-to-point qvga models. Today everyone I know with infant/toddlers has some remote access monitor that they can see the babysitter and the baby from the restaurant. No one thinks much about it, tho.The Internet got into the baby cams. The Internet is also in my TV and stereo and my electric power meter.

i know you want to see the toaster to broadcast it's estimated time to brown to the coffee maker, while the refrigerator is placing a supermarket replenishment order, with input from the trash compactor, but it might not happen just that way. But when it does we won't give it much credit, because we will be looking for the next Magic trick.

Just my (jaded) opinion.

Imho, I find it interesting that in all the discussion of IoT, it wasn't mentioned that developing all these applications that take advantage of networking of devices rely upon 'interoperatibility' of these components in an "open architecture" evironment with standard protocols. I fear the industry is moving away from OA with the 'rash' of buyouts and mergers whereby companies will start to make their products only work with their other products, ie. vms, if not only with, but a lot better, with that company's cameras, POS, Access control, etc. This to me will be detrimental to the advent of more IoT development. Again, just my opinion.

I'd argue that iOS devices play a significant role in the IoT (in as much as it's a thing). Yet those devices are about as closed and proprietary as possible.

Point being, the entire system need not be 'open' in order to interoperate with other devices in interesting ways. One can argue that the proliferation of ONVIF provides potential for all kinds of interoperability that would could squint and call "IoT." The question is, where are all the applications?

Hello Steve:

Your points are fair, but IoT proliferation is out there. IFTTT (If This, Then That) is a prime example. If my IoT widget does/detects/interprets this, then I write a rule that another IoT device does that.

There are something like 10,000 recipes of people using a whole range of IoT devices as inputs or outputs.

So it's already happening. The biggest risk for IoT is half-assed design: Poor hardware or software that isn't reliable, stable, or functional like the company claims. Lots of widgets are hitting the market now, but it's possible the 'bad apples' will spoil the bunch.

As far as interoperability, the current strategy for players like Revolv (Bought by Nest) or SmartThings is just to connect to multiple formats.

I agree that some sort of consolidation and openness must occur in the IoT segment, but I also think it's coming. At least in a manageable quantity of different platforms if not one 'mega-platform'.

Brian, IFTTT is a great example. Certainly it's a great way for some people to get more out of their various internet connected devices.

Still, IFTTT in the context of the IoT idea reminds me of the mid 90's when we were so excited about using Tcl to script together applications across different systems using a 'language' that could include all those systems at once. Around the same time was XML and *gasp* Web Services. These were useful tools for integration or even as first class citizens in application design. But they failed to deliver on the nirvana of virtually effortless integration and workflow across different systems. As tools they drifted into the background noise of hard work and integration effort.

I know I'm comparing apples to, maybe, bananas here, but I think the analogy holds.

Integrating systems (well) in useful ways is hard. When we find two or more things we'd like to integrate, it's not difficult to imagine the quick and dirty solution (if I could only get this out of that I could do this..) And those sorts of solutions tend to be powerful tools for the power-user. But as many opportunities as exist for integration between even mature systems with extensive APIs, actual robust, reusable solutions tend to be expensive to implement and brittle.

I use IFTTT for example to monitor AWS's RSS feed of system status in certain regions and text me if there's a change. But things get much more challenging if I want to introduce more sophisticated business logic, transfer and manipulate real data, or need to handle errors and exceptions. Even in my example, I don't know if the lack of alerts from AWS recently is because there have been zero events or my IFTTT recipe is broken or needs to be revised.

John asked what affect if any IoT might have on surveillance. As this discussion goes on I think I'm increasingly inclined to say none or little. As new classes of device are added to the internet some might be included into surveillance applications. But for the most part the components that make sense to integrate in surveillance applications have been internet connected for some time, and adding more will not make integration easier than it already is.

When the concept of IoT first started getting popular in home security/automation, I thought it was going to be yet another battle of iOS vs. Android as the IoT OS. But now I believe the more important piece is the user interface that serves as the glue for all the disparate components. An excellent example of this is IFTTT (If This Then That), as Brian mentions above.

IoT isn't a standard or a product, it's a design philosophy. It's the answer to "why is my (product) so stupid? Why doesn't it just do what I want it to do without being told? I can't my product anticipate what I want and just do it before I know I want it?"

The first true IoT device in the security space was probably the Nest Protect. Despite it's many, many problems, at the very least, instead of asking "how do we prevent people from burning to death in their sleep?" it asked "why is it so hard to turn my smoke detector off after a false alarm?".

Just because the answer turned out to be wrong, doesn't mean the question was an invalid one. Smoke detectors are still give far too many false alarms, and it's still way too hard to turn it off. Why can't I tell my smoke detector "yes, my kitchen is full of smoke, I burned the eggs, stop screaming"? Or, maybe, "why is it so hard to turn off my smoke detector after a false alarm", maybe we should be asking "how do we eliminate false alarms?"

Early IoT devices, like all early devices, are full of bugs and fail, but that doesn't mean that IoT is hype. Someone, somewhere, is going to make burglar alarms or surveillance or access control less stupid, and they'll make a ton of money. It's just a matter of asking the right questions.

Related: Axis is touting its new IP Horn as an IoT device. Though it's useful to some, it's niche enough, that it is not going to move the needle much.

I might add to Ari's last post:

Many END USERS (i.e.: not just technically-challenged grandmothers, but also very-busy business people that are ALSO technically-challenged as well; not to mention one medical doctor I know -which is a great physician-- but dumb-as-heck regarding everything PC/tech related, ask me these questions (which many technicians here may well treat them as "STUPID" questions):

Why is it SO HARD to view my cameras on the Internet ???

Answer: Well Sir/Madam, mainly because you need a skilled technician like me with IT knowledge to come to your house, ask you for your password, login into your router, do port-forwarding/DMZ for your internal IP address, then open a DynDNS/NO-IP account for host-attaching your public IP, charge you an annual fee for DynDNS service, installing you a mobile app in your smartphone, set your DVR to dynamic DNS to prevent future IP address changes to lock you out of your own cameras live view, teach you how to use the mobile app, etc, etcetera.

Why is it SO HARD to know instantly how much electricity I've used this month / how much I have to pay for the upcoming bill ???

Answer: Well, mainly because after you purchased the latest Kill-A-Watt gadget from Amazon, you still need to call me to decipher the manual and set the thing for you and teach you how to use it.

.... and I could go on and on. My point being: nobody likes reading manuals (not even us technicians) and for END USERS everything more than 2 steps is always hard, they just want easy as ONE STEP ONLY and never want to spend the time to find out how to use "machines"...

Will IoT bridge the "stupid-proof" (or at least narrow it further) gap for end user/consumers ???

Speaking of "gap": the only one I see narrowing a little with this "IoT thing" is:

- Maybe (only maybe) less end users calling and going through the tech support call centers' loops, if the product happens to be less prone to failures.

- Maybe (again, maybe) less INTEGRATORS taking post-sales calls after the end user has purchased the electronic gadget, if said product is "easier to use" and less prone to technical failures.

- More direct web sales from MANUFACTURERS directly to end user through their online storefronts (how can manufacturers justify keeping an official distribution channel if the products are already Full DYI, and the website is full of online FAQs and easy to digest self-Help information ???).

Why is it SO HARD to know instantly how much electricity I've used this month / how much I have to pay for the upcoming bill ???

Those latest kill-o-watts look cool. How does the instant power bill calculation operate? Do each of the kill-o-watts broadcast usage info, (thru powerline?), to a master unit that shows the aggregated power from each room?

How many do you typically have to deploy in a 3 br house?

I used to have one of the stupid ones from 7 years ago, but now I'm spoiled since the local power co rolled out these IoT enabled Smart meters...