Integrating the Internet

I used to roll my eyes whenever I read about IOT. Anyone who has been in AV long enough knows we’ve been networking Things for decades. Most of the time those things were never designed to work together. But we made it happen.

Then I watched a video about Node-RED and realized I got it all wrong. Whoever came up with the words Internet Of Things didn’t quite nail it either. It should be The Internet And Things. That is what this technology is really about. Bringing together internet services and real world devices.


This opens up a whole new way of thinking about systems. Let’s start with the user interface. Instead of pushing a button what if your system reacted to Facebook Likes or Twitter Hashtags? In a store-front Digital Signage installation this could be a nice way to add value. Whenever the Facebook page of the business gets liked, you could fire a “Thank You!” video clip to the storefront display, or flash the lights, or do some kind of show control, or – you get the idea.

What if your system communicated with the internet? Sure there are proprietary monitoring systems available today. But what if you could roll your own in the cloud and make it do exactly what you want. A projector or control system could open a tcp socket and send the lamp hours to your cloud service once a day. The cloud then sends an email to Bob the support tech when more than 2000 hours are reported.

When Bob goes on vacation, you can easily log in and have the email sent to Joe instead. Or send an SMS, or turn on a siren in your office, or automatically send a PO for a new lamp and schedule a maintence call.

The internet is now open for integration. And it is ridiculously cheap. You can run a service on IBM Bluemix with up to half a gig of memory for free. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are some other options. Or you could build a simple appliance and install it on site. But if you are interacting with web services anyway, why bother?

Could it really be that easy? Check back in a week or two for a full report.

If it is, all we need to do is get equipment manufacturers to start adopting standard connectivity protocols, like MQTT. The first projector manufacturer to do this gets my vote for innovator of the year.

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September 21, 2016

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