The future of the Internet of Things – Jakub Tomiczek, CTO, at TOK FM

Jakub Ładyński

Jakub Tomiczek, CTO at ConnectPoint, was invited to the Big Cloud of Changes (Wielka Chmura Zmian) show in TOKFM Radio. The topic of the conversation was the Internet of Things and its impact on the reality around us. The second guest was Witold Walczak from Huawei.

What is the Internet of Things?

“The Internet of Things (IoT) gives us the ability to extend the functionality of physical devices with additional capabilities such as to change their behaviour remotely.” Jakub Tomiczek began.

Next, Jacob highlighted three essential elements that allow us to determine if something falls under the Internet of Things:

  • Device – we need something to interact with the physical world. It could be a button that we can press or a sensor that measures something physical.
  • Connectivity – this could be provided by a mobile network, but also by a more sophisticated network such as a military secure communications network.
  • Significant and scalable computing power – this is needed to process the data generated by the devices into meaningful information.

IoT Adoption Trends

Now that we have learned the definition of the Internet of Things, the host could focus on questions regarding trends and examples.

Jakub emphasised a major shift in the business model among electrical equipment manufacturers ranging from the tiniest to massive industrial machines. “Another trend is the differentiation in selling hardware (physical devices) and software. A good example is manufacturers of sports equipment such as stationary bikes. We buy the equipment, but we also pay its manufacturer a monthly subscription to connect us to personalised workouts based on data collected by the device. The ‘personal trainer’ algorithm analyses our training parameters and automatically advises us on an exercise scenario. In this business model, the device can last longer than a 2-3 year warranty because we can refresh it by adding a new training programme or updating the software.

This model builds a relationship with the customer and provides the manufacturer, in addition to revenue from the sale of the device itself, with income from additional features, e.g. through monthly subscriptions. ConnectPoint builds such IoT solutions for manufacturers of, for example, PV systems, heat pumps, air conditioners and all kinds of building infrastructure.

We also create solutions for critical infrastructure in Industry and Energy that allow secure, non-invasive, real-time analysis of data such as from automation systems. In these areas, these solutions are used to optimise maintenance costs of capital-intensive equipment and production processes.

We call it predictive maintenance– with data from the equipment, we create a mathematical model of this equipment, e.g. a wind turbine, and we know how it should behave under given conditions. Thanks to precise data coming in, we monitor actual parameters of the device and look for deviations from the model – for example, if a substantial deviation appears, we can state with high probability that this device will break down soon. This allows the customer to protect himself against the costs of unexpected failures and lost production.”

Future shaped by the Internet of Things

The host then wanted to learn from our expert which elements of our everyday life will be changed the most soon by the development of the Internet of Things. In which areas will we see the emergence of new devices and services?

From ConnectPoint’s perspective, changes in the approach to energy will be critical. This revolution has been happening for several years and will only accelerate. “We are moving away from the model where we have one big power plant, operating in a stable, predictable environment and responsible for a large proportion of energy production. In that old model, the producer has to anticipate the electricity demand and ensure the system’s stability.

The new model involves a lot of distributed electricity sources. At the same time, we have to continue balancing the demand and supply of energy to keep the grid stabilised. There are more and more variables. It is becoming increasingly important to have a flow of information so that data on production and consumption is available in real-time.

In this model, producers and distributors need to influence consumer behaviour to balance the grid. This is where the Internet of Things is of great importance because we need to connect all these small installations, meters, and also devices that use this energy, such as washing machines and smart plugs. The consistent analysis allows us to keep this ecosystem in balance. ConnectPoint will be exploiting this area in the coming years.”

Smart homes – reality or future?

The following questions focused on the future of smart buildings. The media have been exploring this topic for quite some time now. Are we in for a breakthrough in our approach to the smart home here?

– “Smart buildings can be, and already are, single flats as well as entire systems such as residential blocks or complexes. What awaits us in the future is a connection of such systems. Our smart home will work with other homes and even with the urban ecosystem. For example, our rubbish collector will tell the rubbish truck that it needs to come, or our water supplier will know our profile and know that we have a leak at home. We are talking about an intelligent environment here.” – Jakub Tomiczek explained.

Smart cities – an extension of smart homes and sustainable energy

If flats and even residential areas can be smart and share data with cities, what future awaits cities themselves?

– “Let’s start with a definition. In my opinion, a Smart City is a city that can react quickly to events thanks to rapid access to information and will simply operate efficiently. It will be a city that is very enjoyable to live in.

A city that wants to be smart should take a comprehensive approach. A single isolated solution such as monitoring of trams does not make a city intelligent. The local government should have a communication infrastructure in place and a specific data management standard. Then the administration should use this infrastructure to build various digital services for the citizens. Residents should also have the initiative in creating this ecosystem.

This approach already works in some places in the world. The European Union is also investing in this, for the time being, creating smart quarters and neighbourhoods. I am involved in creating a zero-emission neighbourhood, where things like the rubbish truck are automated. The whole district will be self-sufficient in energy – it has its heat sources, power stations of various types, energy storage, heat storage and connected buildings, housing, chargers for buses and electric cars. It is based on open infrastructure – the residents have devices from different manufacturers in their homes, but it is all connected into one system, open to connecting more elements.” – Jakub Tomiczek commented.

How to build a smart city

The hosts and the audience were interested in whether, in that case, only new cities can be smart according to the definition. What future awaits for existing cities?

– “When we want a radically smart city, then yes, it should be designed from the beginning. In reality, these are just demonstration situations to illustrate what technology allows us to do. There are also loads of solutions to modernise current buildings to function better. For example, heat optimisation services were introduced in flats in large plate blocks from the communist era in one of the cities in Poland. After the blocks were insolated, people started to get too warm, so they opened the windows instead of turning the radiator down. This behaviour caused heating costs to rise instead of fall.

The Internet of Things allows us to detect when a window is open, to control the heating substation or thermostat heads with artificial intelligence and, as a result, reduce the heat supply. These are ready-made, commercially available solutions.

The city’s IT infrastructure is a critical element. The local government must understand that it will want to provide new services to residents and connect to new and old buildings. We need a vision and central planning for the city’s ecosystem. We can’t allow the city administration to be out of control and be influenced by temporary trends promoted by, for example, appliance manufacturers. We need a strategy for 10-20 years and consistent implementation of subsequent services for residents,” Jakub Tomiczek replied.

The entire programme can be listened to in Polish on TOKFM website: https://audycje.tokfm.pl/podcast/113208,Elektronika-uzytkowa-a-nadchodzaca-rewolucja-Jak-internet-rzeczy-zmienia-przedmioty-wokol-nas