Internet of Things Solutions World

This week in a meeting in Madrid, a businessman asked me what he had to do to learn about the technology that could change his business model in the coming years, and my response was "Barcelona". From a more generic point of view, there are three main technological areas to keep tabs on: the so-called "Internet of Things" (the capacity to put a sensor on just about any object), technology applied to personal uses (centred around mobile devices, whether it be smartphones, watches, bracelets, glasses, and so on), and the places where both technologies interact, which for the most part are cities.

Barcelona has put together a serious proposal of global ambition to observe and reflect on all three areas. This Friday, in the Fira de Barcelona, the first edition of the Internet of Things Solutions World Congress wrapped up, a new venture in the city to consolidate its technological standing in the world. In November, the same venue will host the fifth edition of the Smart City Expo, and in February we will have the 12th edition of the Mobile World Congress. In 10 years, Barcelona and Catalonia have put together a coherent and ambitious proposal around the three most important areas that will dictate how technology is changing, and will continue to change, business in society.

The Internet of Things Solutions World Congress is organised into thematic blocs that show a clear direction towards concrete uses and applications, such as manufacturing, energy, health or transport and logistics, and in just three days, more than 120 speakers and almost a hundred exhibitors from around the world were attended by thousands of visitors. It is a new congress, but one that has all the ingredients to become an important meeting place.

The Internet continues its unstoppable evolution, and in the same way that we are now living through a phase in which the net is dominated by everything people can contribute, a new phase is beginning in which objects –sensors– will start making a significant contribution. The Internet of people has profoundly changed sectors, such as tourism or politics, to give only two examples, and this new Internet of things will also bring about major changes in many sectors, such as pharmaceuticals or industry. We come from a social Internet, where what is important is what people do, and we are now seeing an Internet that depends on the capacity to connect anything, in which the engineers will lead the way.

The absurd example of the fridge that knows whether it is out of yoghurt and orders more of its own accord has been done to death, but a much better example is the suitcase that tells you where it is if you lose it, the bus that lets you know where it is and when it will arrive (imagine how that will change public transport), or the strip that constantly measures blood glucose in diabetic old people so that if their levels rise too high, a doctor is contacted and we receive a notification (imagine how that will change health services). Today, plane engines have so many sensors that they can generate up to 500Gb of data during a single flight, imagine what that would mean for monitoring and safety systems in industry.

This capacity to put sensors on objects will bring about new flows of information capable of redesigning services and offering new ones, as well as profoundly modifying today's business and offering new possibilities. Business people from all over the world who want to keep up should put Barcelona in their diaries, if they haven't already done so.
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