Spark Digital launches platform for the 'Internet of Things'

Spark Digital launches platform for the 'Internet of Things'

Says 'Connected mobility' is key to technology that sits at the peak of Gartner’s 2014 hype cycle for emerging technologies

Spark Digital, formerly Gen-i, has launched a new cloud platform that helps businesses to automate machine-to-machine (M2M) deployments.

The service - Connected Mobility - unleashes the Internet of Things (IOT) for businesses that need to manage smart objects in a wide range of environments, says Andrew Leckie, principal architect, Spark Digital.

Leckie announced the new service at this year’s MobileTECH, where he explained how it relates to the trend for IoT, where “the physical world becomes one large information system”.

“We’re already surrounded by intelligent sensors that measure environments, personal gadgets and appliances. M2M services like Connected Mobility extend this idea and provide businesses with remarkable control over product and service experiences,” says Spark Digital head of mobility Richard Adams.

He says while New Zealand businesses are moving to connect their physical world and include this information in their networks, they’re often hampered by having to physically manage individual objects. “Businesses are essentially running blind. They must shift to automated systems that provide better visibility and control. Self-service is key,” says Adams.

The foundation of Connected Mobility service is a cloud-based control centre, where administrators launch and manage thousands of mobile SIMs contained in physical objects and devices. Simple controls and rules mean new SIMs can be tested and activated, rate plan changes can kick in automatically if data caps are exceeded, and alerts can be sent if connections are lost.

Spark Digital forged a partnership with ThingWorx so Connected Mobility customers can use its rapid application development platform to build apps that connect systems, sensors and devices.

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“We’re providing businesses with autopilot controls that will streamline SIM management,” says Adams. “We expect they’ll be able to solve 90 per cent of their own support questions, getting their objects back online faster and providing a more reliable service.”

Spark Digital says it plans to add features including voice, 4G LTE integration and a global SIM offering to the service.

Gartner: Internet of Things at its peak

The Internet of Things (IoT) sits at the ‘peak’ of Gartner’s 2014 hype cycle for emerging technologies.

Gartner defines IoT as the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.

“The central theme for this year's Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle is digital business. As enterprises embark on the journey to becoming digital businesses, they will leverage technologies that today are considered to be "emerging," says Hung LeHong, vice president and Gartner fellow, one of the authors of the report.

"Understanding where your enterprise is on this journey and where you need to go will not only determine the amount of change expected for your enterprise, but also map out which combination of technologies support your progression,” says LeHong.

IoT is included in the technologies for enterprises in the ‘digital business’ stage .This stage focuses on the convergence of people, business and things.

"The Internet of Things and the concept of blurring the physical and virtual worlds are strong concepts in this stage," according to report authors LeHong, Jackie Fenn, and Rand Leeb-du Toit. “Physical assets become digitalised and become equal actors in the business value chain alongside already-digital entities, such as systems and apps.”

The report notes the IoT has very broad applications, but most applications are rooted in four scenarios: improve enterprise processes, asset utilisation, and products and services in one of, or in a combination of, the following:

Manage: Connected things can be monitored and optimised. For instance, sensors on an asset can be optimised for maximum performance or for increased yield and uptime.

Charge: Connected things can be monetised on a pay-per-use basis. An example, automobiles can be charged for insurance based on mileage.

Operate: Connected things can be remotely operated, avoiding the need to go on-site. An example, field assets such as valves and actuators can be controlled remotely.

Extend: Connected things can be extended with digital services such as content, upgrades and new functionality. An example, connected healthcare equipment can receive software upgrades that improve functionality.

Read more: Beware of the data lake fallacy: Gartner

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