Wednesday, April 15, 2015

IoT Sensors, Nerves for Robots and the Industrial Internet

Sensors are Nerves for Robots
Yesterday I interviewed two robotics experts on the growing demand for IPAs (intelligent process automation) robots.  These robots are made of software code.  They are assigned pre-defined actions based on steps in a process, the analysis of data, and the decision trees they are provided.  For example, an IPA can review a car loan application and approve or disprove it instantly – based on the data.  In fact, they can analyze the data from tens of thousands of car loans in seconds based on the parameters and decision trees they have been given.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of different use cases for IPA robots.  IPA robots can also interact with IoT sensors and take actions based on sensor data.  Not just by completing a digital business processes, but even by controlling physical equipment and machines as well.  Sensors serve robots in much the same way as nerves serve us humans.

Earlier this week I was briefed by a company AMS AG,  a developer of IoT sensors.  They just released a new sensor that smells odors in homes and offices.  Yes, indeed!  The sensor is embedded in a home monitoring system from Withings.  In Withings’ Home product, the AS-MLV-P2 (sensor) is combined with a 5Mpixel video camera, dual microphones, temperature and humidity sensors and Wi-Fi® and Bluetooth® Smart radios. This means that users of the Home monitoring system can see, hear, feel and smell the inside of their home or office remotely via a smartphone or tablet app supplied by Withings.

AMS’s sensor detects VOCs (volatile organic compounds), including both human-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds. These include ambient concentrations of a broad range of reducing gases associated with bad air quality such as alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, organic acids, amines, and aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, all which can be harmful to human and animal health at high levels. These are most of the scents humans smell.  In the Home app, the sensor’s measurements of these chemicals are converted to an air-quality rating as well as to a measurement of VOC concentrations.

If you combine IPA robots, AMS’s sensors and Withings Home monitoring system with your HVAC system, the IPA robot can ensure you have healthy air quality in your home or office continuously. In fact, an IPA robot could manage the air quality and security of tens of thousands of homes and offices at the same time.  The results of these findings and actions can be displayed and controlled on smartphones and tablets as well.

Not only do you have robots sensing the physical world, but also automatically reacting to it on your behalf.  In my opinion, how sensors detect and communicate the physical and natural world to humans and robots is one of the most interesting areas of innovation today.

An additional value of using IPA robots is the massive clouds of data they spin-off as a result of their decisions and actions.  This data can be further analyzed to find new areas for optimization and potential business opportunities.  Herein lies an emerging area where big data analysis can give us even deeper insights.

Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Senior Analyst
Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.