Computer Vision – Grand Dad of All IoT Sensors

manish blog

Human body is the most efficient and powerful system that exists and is a result of evolution over millions of years. And it would make complete sense to emulate its mechanism as we build modern systems.

IoT or “enchanted objects” as I like to call them are also moving the same direction. The 5 human senses that operate through the organs map to the nodes in an IoT system. Same is the case of actuators that map to the voice, gestures, movement and other actions that humans perform through respective actuation organs.

Spinal cord maps to the IoT gateway that forms the backbone of any IoT system and does not just serve the purpose of communication between the organs and the brain but also provides the reflex actions through a local intelligence that has been driven back from the brain by the models created through experiences and DNA

And of course the brain that maps clearly to the cloud platform in an IoT architecture. We can go on an on with this analogy, but that is not the focus of this blog.

Now that we have established that its the human body that we are trying to emulate, lets understand which is the most powerful sense of the human body. Vision. Right? If that is the case, wont it make complete sense[pun intended] to use the same sense effectively while building an IoT system? Lets park this thought for the time being while we evaluate the challenges with current sensors.

When it comes to IoT solutions, getting the right sensor with accurate reliability is the toughest part. That we have learnt through numerous challenges that we have faced with even simplest of use cases. Retrofitting the sensors or reading information from existing sensors [analog or digital] is the other challenge because bulk of use cases we come across require IoT enabling existing assets and systems.

Significant investments are required to update infrastructure, get the sensors installed, create complex networks and its a multi year job to get it all correct and operational. Then comes the challenge with the wear and tear of these sensors and they need to be continuously calibrated or maintained.

Vision has huge power and images / video is our answer to it. Only if we can tap into the information that it provides, we can create some really powerful IoT systems. We can “read” existing analog dials and digital meters. We can compare time series images, extract intelligence and draw inference from them. We can count based on movement of objects from and to a defined video frame. And the system can “learn” from all this behavior. This is what we all do right from a few days after birth.

Axelta provides state of art and innovative IoT solutions for different verticals and domains and we at Axelta have realized the power of “computer vision” in IoT and have done some really interesting experiments and R&D to harness its power. We have also developed hardware that enables this both at the edge level and at the cloud level. The deeper we are going the more we are getting convinced on its power to solve a huge number of digitization use cases. As of now, we are applying its power in security, retail, advertising and many more other areas. If you are interested to know more about it and would like to discuss your requirements with us, please contact us at solutions@axelta.com with your use case.

Manish Agarwal
Co Founder – Axelta Systems

Outsourcing / Off shoring in Internet of Things – Next big opportunity

Outsourcing today, especially IT outsourcing, is something which is considered a part of any project plan, development lifecycle. It has become a part of IT landscape, adding huge value across the globe. I distinctly remember a time when large numbers of articles were written about how outsourcing will fail when it comes to complex processes etc. All those scenarios failed to deter the outsourcers and today anything and everything (almost) is welcome to be outsourced.

As Business in IoT starts to boom and comes out of labs and R&D centers, how can outsourcing be very far behind. As Internet of Things has to do with both physical devices and software components with a decent sprinkling of networks, communication protocols and clouds thrown in, outsourcing will be challenging to begin with but will surely happen. I believe outsourcing in IoT to reach similar levels as that of traditional IT program over the next 3-4 years. Already beginnings are being made around the world, especially in India, to make that happen. Most Indian IT services companies have started labs/ R&D centers in their campuses focusing on developing these skills.

Though, there is a significant difference in what tradition software/BP outsourcing and IoT outsourcing will entail, especially on development side.  As there are hardware components and intense domain skills involved in developing devices, analysing the data produced, I believe the smaller Indian IT companies, with specific domain and technical skills will gain a good chunk of this market. This is the chance that these small companies should utilise to grow big.

There are 3 distinct areas in which companies need to focus to get ahead of the curve and get outsourcing deals.

  1. There are several domains in which capabilities need to be developed. IT companies will have to hire agriculturists, doctors, radiologists, scientists, environmentalist and meteorologist etc. to be able to get IOT deals. Large numbers of opportunities are going to open up in water management, security, environment, power, transportation, logistics and healthcare.  Companies which have deep skills in such areas will be having distinct advantage to get outsourcing deals. Analytical skills w.r.t technology (Big data) as well as domain could make a real difference and get you deals.
  1. New technologies, protocols, hardware’s need to be mastered. Protocol’s like MQTT, IPv6 (6LoWPAN) , ZigBee, GSM, RF need to be mastered. Companies, start-ups which are developing their own devices, gateways will be in a good shape to get outsourcing deals as they would be in the groove. Start-ups which are developing their own low cost solutions like device management platform  can easily get into integration related outsourcing deals.  As large number of companies are being set up by domain specific people around the world, Indian companies with deep tech skills will be able to get the deals to actually develop the software, hardware components needed. Getting to Customize solutions for particular business needs and catering to different markets might also be a good business model.
  1. Traditional businesses like call centres will also get a chunk of business in catering to monitoring devices, alarm handling, processing data, device selling, device on-boarding etc. As the number of connected devices continues to explode, equivalent rise in such business to outsourcing companies will happen. IOT trained staff will be key to get such deals. Large Indian BPO/Call centre companies will have a distinct advantage in getting such deals due to their scale and reach.

The Golden period of outsourcing is yet to come as IoT in itself will present a huge outsourcing opportunity globally. It has already started and trickle is all set to become a deluge in coming years.

China has already taken a lead in both building the electronic components and actual adoption in IoT, but an interesting development is newer product development companies / start ups coming in India that are focusing on product design and innovation. Likes of Gecko are a case in point. I see innovation off-shoring besides the typical cost arbitrage as the next big opportunity for Indian companies as there is a huge runway available and the innovation talent available here can play a significant role in future. More about this in my next post.