IDF 2014: Developers must address security and privacy concerns as IoT grows

Developers face a number of challenges in creating IoT-related services

Developers will play a fundamental role in the adoption of the internet of things, but must be aware of the security and privacy risks as billions of devices become connected, said Intel's internet of things (IoT) chief, Doug Davis.

Speaking at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Davis said that developers face a number of challenges in creating IoT-related services - such as around interoperability, manual provisioning of large numbers of devices, and particularly security.

"The fundamental gap that we hear from developers in creating solutions is that it is essential to be able to trust in the device as well as in the data that they generate," he said.

"You have to be able to know that the device you are using is secure and the data that it is delivering back to the datacentre or Coud continues to be of high integrity throughout the lifecycle of that product."

Data privacy is another area which must be at the forefront of developer's mind as the IoT landscape matures.

"When you get into confidentiality and privacy a lot of it comes down to the manufacturer of the device itself, and their openness to 'opt-in' type scenarios for the consumer using those devices," said IBM's vice president of WebSphere product management, Michael Curry.

"So you really have to build it in at a technology layer, and then you have to build it in at a practice layer."

Developer opportunity

Davis pointed to statistics which illustrate the size of the internet of things market, with 50 billion devices - from wearables to smart building sensors and connected cars - expected to be linked by 2020. This will generate 35 zettabytes of data and enabling $19 trillion of economic savings and be a multi-trillion market by the end of the decade, according to analysts estimates.

Achieving this level of connectivity will rely on an ecosystem of suppliers and developers that can create the a vast range of new software and hardware, said Davis.

"These are all big numbers, but the real reason to care about the internet of things is the impact it is going to have on our lives and the kind of things that you as developers can create by working together," said Davis.

"There are tremendous opportunities for developers - making us more efficient, making us safer, and allowing us to learn faster as we gain access to all of this information."

Sparking innovation

Intel cited a number of innovative IoT projects where its range of processors and gateway products have been applied. This included a project to monitor endangered rhinos through the use of Quark SOCs, 3G connectivity, and Intel Galileo computing boards attached via Kevlar ankle bracelets. Davis also highlighted a system developed by start-up SteadyServ to alert restaurant staff when a beer keg is empty, through a combination of embedded sensors and mobile apps.

Another example is Saia Trucking, which uses a telemetry software solution from Vnomics and Intel processors in vehicle cabs to support real-time analytics, helping to make its freight trucks safer and more efficient.

"By having such a powerful solution in the cab with the truck driver we have seen dramatic improvement in the fuel economy, with immediate feedback for the driver around progressive shifting," said Brian Balius, president for transportation at SAIA Trucking, adding that efficiencies meant the company was saving up to $15 million each year.

Intel has been developing its embedded products for a number of years, and its IoT group saw revenues reach $US482 million during the last quarter, up 32 per cent. This includes its Quark system on chips (SOCs), Atom processors, as well as the Edison platform, launched at IDF, which combines computation with communication capabilities.

The company has also invested in the analytics platforms required to process the large volumes of data generated by IoT, with its investment in Cloudera, as well as security and software with McAfee and Wind River.

As part of its drive to further adoption of IoT technologies has also formed the Open Interconnect Consortium, along with Samsung, Broadcom and others, as well as the Industrial Internet Consortium with Cisco, AT&T, GE Software and IBM.

However, Intel is not the only firm to be leading open source standards development - rival Qualcomm has also launched its AllSeen Alliance along with partners such as Microsoft.

Davis said that interoperability will important if IoT technologies are to proliferate.

He said: "With all of these different types of data from end point devices, different industries and the desire to be able to look at combinations of data, data normalisation becomes incredibly important in terms of being able to make all of these devices interoperable - they have to be able to speak the same language ultimately."

Wider adoption

According to John Magee, CMO of General Electric's software arm, also speaking at IDF, developers begin to expand their areas of focus across different industry verticals, helping to increase use of IoT systems.

"One of the interesting things we are seeing is that there is a lot more leverage between different industries, and developers are looking at patterns that can be repeatable instead of just staying in their silos," he said.

"Industries such as healthcare, aviation, transportation, mining and so on have performance and maintenance and all kinds of things in common, so it is possible to see a lot of reuse in those areas. That sharing is really going to accelerate the adoption of these IoT technologies."

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