GigaOM’s Stacey Higginbothom provides an excellent primer on the internet of things (IoT) and how sensors, connectivity chipsets, and semiconductors will figure in the trend. We’re looking at a world in which the number of connected devices is set to expand quickly from where that figure is today. To enable that, we’ll need cost effective processors, cheap connectivity and increasingly critical, low power ways of connecting.
For the world of cleantech, this stuff is critically important. Want to build a home energy management gateway to save power? You’ll need sensors and Zigbee or wifi chips. Want that thermostat to network with your smartmeter? You’ll need inexpensive and low power chips that don’t suck too much power from the battery. Want to schedule electric vehicle charging via your phone? You’ll need a stable embedded chip on the car and an OS running on your EV to communicate all that info not just to your phone but also via your smart meter so that your utility can balance load on the grid.
You get the point. Higginbothom points out that there’s frothy excitement in VC circles right now about IoT, akin to how big data investors were behaving a couple years ago. But I believe the market is going to be very real. ARM’s CEO Warren East is excited about the fact that the market for embedded processors should reach 40 billion units by 2016. While ARM has gotten lots of attention for dominating mobile and for taking a shot at the data center, what’s interesting is that East is still very focused on the volume opportunities to build low power chips to network every device in your home.
Remember when you had to buy the 20 foot ethernet cable if your computer happened to be in a different room than your cable modem? It’s a whole new world.