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A few things about the Internet of Things

The internet. Things. One is something (or many somethings) you can hold in your hand, the other the great invisible information stream we have access to from any location at any time via our devices. Combine the two and you get… well, you get the Internet of Things.

But the Internet of Things is a lot more than what some people might assume. Far from a novelty, it’s yielding new technology that is literally allowing us to live higher-quality lives than ever before. And that just scratches the surface.

Take, for example, what’s being done by Fonterra. The Kiwi co-op is using IoT for provenance on special cream cheese that stays risen in a cheesecake for over 24 hours. Merino wool clothing company Icebreaker uses IoT so consumers can find out exactly which sheep contributed wool to the sweater they’re wearing. Also in the field of agriculture, there’s a farmer in Pukekohe who has fully automated the process for calculating how much cow effluent he can use each day to fertilise fields. Sensors check soil moisture and weather conditions, and data is sent to the cloud for analysis. The results are sent by text message to the farmer each morning, without him needing to lift a finger.

That all sounds pretty nifty, but what Auckland-based company Thought-Wired is doing with IoT is truly the stuff of science fiction. The company is using tech to allow people with severe disabilities to not only communicate and connect with family, friends and others, but to interact with the environment – and even manipulate objects just like able-bodied people. Translation: they’re basically developing the most cutting-edge of cutting-edge cybernetics.

“It’s still early days what we can do right now, but it’s just the beginning,” explains Thought-Wired founder and CEO Dmitry Selitskiy. “The possibilities are incredible.”

Selitskiy will be among several speakers at the 2016 Internet of Things Conference, taking place in November at the Rendezvous Hotel in Auckland. He’ll be discussing what Thought-Wired has been up to, where the company plans on going with its technology – such as the thought-controlled communication software nous (pronounced like “mouse” but with an “n”) – and the advantages of IoT.

Aside from Selitskiy, the conference will also feature presentations by StretchSense CEO Ben O’Brien, EROAD COO Jarred Clayton, Sovereign chief transformation officer Darrin Bull, and more. The following day, there will be two half-day workshops, one of which is entitled “The Agile IoT project: How to spin up an IoT prototype for market testing” and will be facilitated by Auckland University of Technology data science researcher Jing Ma.

Selitskiy says the conference should be a great way not only to hear about the latest trends in the ever-evolving field of IoT, but also to build connections and network – which could yield more exciting possibilities. “It’s not just being able to present, but also connect with others and explore new possibilities and partnerships.”

So here’s the facts: by 2018, at least 60 percent of IT solutions are expected to be open-source. By 2020, there could be as many as 30 billion connected “things,” with a revenue opportunity of $1.7 trillion. In other words: IoT – like it or not – is taking over the world. The question is, of course, what that world might look like – and how businesses can carve their niche in that brave new world.

Early-bird registration for the 2016 Internet of Things Conference, which saves $500, is available until September 9 for $1,099 + GST. Early-bird registration for the two workshops the following day is available until September at $599 per workshop (plus GST).

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