This Week in Internet of Things: 11 More Days Until IPv4 Addresses Run Out

Every Thursday evening PT we’ll be reviewing Internet of Things developments from the past week. Internet of Things is a term for when everyday objects are connected to the Internet. It’s becoming an increasingly relevant trend for the Web and media, so we want to keep you updated with the latest news. Tune in every Thursday evening for our updates.

This week we discuss the impending Internet address apocalypse, RFID’s sweet spot, why the U.S. is behind China on IoT, emotional sensors, and more!

11 More Days Until the Internet Runs Out of (IPv4) Addresses

In July last year, we reported that the Internet will run out of Internet addresses in about 1 year’s time. Well now it’s down to 11 days, according to the Twitter account @ipv4countdown (data sourced from Hurricane Electric).

We’re talking about IPv4 addresses, Internet Protocol version 4. There is a new version, IPv6, but it requires work from ISPs and others to enable it. The reason why this is important is that the Internet of Things is leading to a huge increase in IP addresses. Basically, every object connected to the Internet requires at least one IP address. So the adoption of IPv6 is a key technology in the Internet of Things.

RFID: Retail is the Sweet Spot

According to a report on WTN News, demand for RFID will continue to mature in 2011 – especially in the retail, healthcare, banking/financial and aerospace sectors. Joe Pleshek wrote:

“Retail […] is currently the sweet spot for RFID, especially with apparel retailers, who are applying RFID to individual garments to limit out -of-stocks, reduce shrink and re-direct labor from the back room to more customer-facing roles.”

Drew Nathanson, senior RFID analyst and director of research operations at VDC Research Group, expects the retail industry to consume at least 3.4 billion RFID tags by 2014 – up from 400 million in 2011.

Sensors Getting Better: Emotional Sensors

An interesting report from MobiHealthNews this week discusses the latest in sensor innovation. According to Dr. Joseph Kvedar, director of the Center for Connected Health at Partners HealthCare System in Boston, an area to keep an eye on in sensor technology is what he calls “non-physiologic” sensors. By that he means sensors that are not measuring something physical. He cited a couple of products that do emotional sensing: Cogito has a product that can predict mood by sensing a user’s voice over the phone; and Affectiva has technology to pick up a person’s emotional state either by facial recognition or by a more traditional armband sensor (see image to the right, via MobiHealthNews).

Kvedar noted that “we’ve had too limited of a view of what we can collect from patients remotely and these emotional sensors add a whole new dimension to the objective data part of the connected health story.”

Why the U.S. is Behind China in IoT

We’ve reported on the China government’s forward thinking in the Internet of Things. In a recent post by Ron Callari on the blog inventorspot.com, Robert Kong Hai, an American writer and author living in China, neatly summarized why the U.S. is falling behind China:

“You can’t rely on the US government to push this technology. It’s the private sector that has to step up. Remember, in China it’s the total opposite. The government jumps in and the private sector take cues from the government.”

Kinect may be the Key to Control Your Internet of Things

Earlier this week we reported that Microsoft is preparing an official Software Developement Kit (SDK) that will let 3rd parties build any Windows software to include Kinect control support. Kinect is a motion-control interface for games, much like Nintendo’s Wii system. This has implications for all Internet-enabled objects in your household. Forrester analyst James McQuivey said at the end of last year that “Kinect is to multitouch user interfaces what the mouse was to DOS.” He expects Kinect to be “a transformative change in the user experience, the interposition of a new and dramatically natural way to interact — not just with TV, not just with computers — but with every machine that we will conceive of in the future…”

New AMD Chips Enable Visual Computing in Embedded Systems

Mike Vizard at CTOEdge reported this week that “the world of embedded systems is going to get a whole lot more visually-oriented.” He pointed to Advanced Micro Devices unveiling its G-Series of accelerated processing units (APUs). These add graphics functionality into an embedded processor, which can be deployed almost anywhere. Vizard noted that Microsoft uses AMD processors in its Surface systems, the touch-screen table interface.

“According to Cameron Swen, senior product marketing manager for AMD’s embedded solutions division, the world of embedded systems is about to become more visual because people want to interact with these systems, whether they are deployed on a factory floor or your living room. That means these systems will increasingly need to support touchscreen interfaces that allow customers to manipulate graphical images.”

Connect Your Mailbox to the Internet

We’re not talking about your inbox, we mean Ye Olde Mailbox – you know, where all your bills get delivered. As RWW’s Mike Melanson reported today, Make Magazine has hacked together a system that sends push notifications to your iPhone every time a letter arrives. The project uses a switch in the mailbox to sense whenever the door is opened.

That’s a summary of some Internet of Things highlights from the past week. Feel free to share in the comments other interesting Internet of Things developments that you spotted this week.

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