Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Concept for the Cisco Internet of Things Innovation Grand Challenge

Here is the concept I just submitted for the Cisco's IoT Challenge:

Deploy a network of fixed Bluetooth scanners throughout an urban area and/or transportation corridor to enable a region-wide alert/notification system for things: Bluetooth enabled devices that transmit a Bluetooth signal. Currently this includes: mobile phones, medical devices, consumer electronics, vehicles, smart watches, FitBits and other activity trackers, and a myriad of sensors and trackers.

This essentially addresses the last mile problem for things, using a well understood and widely adopted RF protocol (30 Billion Bluetooth devices estimated to be deployed by 2016). I have created a mobile app-based prototype of this system which supports both Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy (with data available at earthping.com) in which the scanning is crowdsourced (a mobile app rather than fixed scanners). Fixed scanners would be available through an API to enable subscribers to access the data. Only devices registered to be tracked (with Bluetooth Address) would be allowed, except for public safety use cases. 

Use cases for this would include:

  • An Amber Alert add-on in which kids with a Bluetooth radio (they cost less that $20) or their abductors cars or mobile phones would be able to be tracked.
  • Stolen cars (most will be Bluetooth enabled according to industry research) would be identified when passing by a scanner.
  • Cities deploying this type of technology could license the data for market research as a revenue source (following appropriate guidelines for security and privacy).
  • App developers and other commercial entities could license specific scanners (beacons) to implement iBeacon functionality in which an app (only those apps that users install on their phones and approve) would wake up in the proximity of a beacon.
  • Public alert systems could leverage the beacon capability of the Bluetooth network to provide fine grain alerts based on proximity to an event.

Features that could be implemented with such a system are extensive and include any use case that might leverage alerts, triggers, geo-fencing, inventory, tracking and sensors. This type of system could save lives, provide revenue and also perhaps impact city-wide insurance premiums. The system could be deployed in increments such as a major transportation corridor, malls, or borders for specific requirements.

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