The revolutionizing Internet of Things

MSB workshop discusses updates of IoT-related work

By Antoinette Price

From home heating systems, smart medical devices and fridges that automatically replenish food items, to connected cars that guide drivers to free parking spots, increasingly IoT is a part of our daily lives. However, this technology is not new. Industrial applications, power generation, digitization, connectivity and automation have been around for many years and IEC has been working in these areas for some time.

Smart production lines Smart production lines use autonomous learning to develop faultless production processes (Photo:

Developing strategies for key technology trends

The Marketing Strategy Board (MSB) identifies technology trends and market needs to guide IEC standardization and conformity assessment work. IoT is growing rapidly and revolutionizing how we live in our homes, move around, work and take care of our health. Research by Gartner shows that 20,8 billion things will be connected by 2020, of which 13,5 billion will be from the consumer sector.

Against this backdrop, during the IEC GM in Frankfurt, the MSB held an IoT workshop in which participants presented the latest developments in IEC standardization activities in this area.  

Smart wearable devices - a major technology category

The falling cost of sensors, processing power and bandwidth to connect devices, and the broad uptake of smart phones has led to widespread use of fully portable devices with internet connectivity. Technology has also become smaller, more flexible and fashionable.

The global potential for Smart wearable devices (SWDs) and IoT is vast, when considering advances in materials, such as biodegradable and bio-adaptable, as well as technologies supporting new applications. However the scope is even greater when the IoT connects such devices in the bigger picture of Smart Cities, buildings, manufacturing, energy, transportation and active assisted living (AAL).

Working Group dedicated to IoT

IEC and ISO (International Organization for Standardization) established ISO/IEC JTC 1, a joint technical committee to address the global ICT market. One of its four working groups focuses on IoT. Karen Higginbottom, Chair of the Joint Committee, gave a presentation highlighting developments from the IoT WG (Working Group), which is developing important International Standards for the general IoT Reference Architecture (ISO/IEC 30141), definition and vocabulary (ISO/IEC 20924) and an interoperability framework (ISO/IEC 21823-1).

It has also produced a wearable devices technology trend report, which covers terminology and market trends and provides details of ISO/IEC JTC 1 committees and other standards development organizations working in this field.

IoT improves care for Active Assisted Living

Many people of different ages require help of some kind in their daily lives. Whether monitoring a newborn or supporting a person with physical or mental disabilities, connected devices, appliances and systems enable people to live longer in their homes.

The work of IEC Systems Committee for Active Assisted Living (SyC AAL) contributes to a sustainable society and helps to improve quality of life. It enables usability and accessibility of AAL systems and services, facilitates cross-vendor interoperability of AAL systems, services, products and components, and addresses systems level aspects such as safety, security and privacy. Ulrike Haltrich, Chair of SyC AAL, explained how AAL is greatly improved by SWD in smart homes, which connect B2B systems, such as services provided by carers. IoT provides the connection that many devices and systems need, for example to provide teleassistance monitors linking to therapists.

Wearables make life easier and better

Kate Grant from the IEC Standardization Management Board (SMB) Strategic Group (SG) 10, talked about the types of smart wearable devices which can also be used for AAL. These include: health and fitness monitors (bracelets, watches), smart glasses, patches for monitoring temperature and chemical sensing, as well as ingestibles and implantables.

Tiny electronic technology woven into textiles produces smart clothing, which can check vital signs, such as heart and breathing rate, sweat, movement and display findings. Constant, real time monitoring could be used for early detection of health issues.

GPS technology built into clothes and shoes lets carers keep track of people with cognitive impairment, who may get lost. Equally, first responders or military could use this type of smart clothing to improve safety, performance and for communication.

SG 10 has also prepared a detailed report on smart wearable devices, which describes products and players, current trends and market forecasts. It provides information on IEC and external activities in this area and makes a case for a new technical committee dedicated to wearable electronic devices and technologies.

As with anything connected to the IoT, security, privacy and data protection must be addressed. IEC can shape direction and protocols for devices to deal with these points, as well as interoperability. Additionally, Standards will be needed for product, service and process interoperability, interface standards, data exchange/interchange protocol standards, essential performance requirements and quality criteria, data security and data privacy requirements and standard test methodologies.

IoT for smart energy

The energy industry must modernize existing infrastructure and improve operations, energy efficiency and cost, if it is to offer more value-added services to consumers.

IEC Systems Committee for Smart Energy (SyC Smart Energy) was set up to provide systems level standardization, coordination and guidance in the areas of Smart Grid and Smart Energy. Richard Schomberg, Chair of SyC Smart Energy, explained how the IoT will help achieve this.

IoT brings more sensing and actuating capabilities for the energy system, by using interconnected microchips everywhere. It also links devices that may never have been connected, manages these and develops applications for them to function together.

Smart technology real time monitoring optimizes operations. Traditionally, many infrastructures have been invested in separately. However, new apps, which blend across different utilities (water, electricity, gas and transport), providing data from each, would allow the streamlining of investments, maintenance and operations.

One example is smart street lighting, which is being trialled in several countries. Street lighting consumes a third of local energy budgets, but making it smart by adding technology to the lamps, provides light more efficiently and services (finding drivers parking spaces, local weather and event information), which also offer revenue streams.

A global urban services industry is emerging, with the goal of creating more sustainable cities, improving infrastructure, services to citizens and reducing costs. To achieve this, industry must build in security of key infrastructure and services from the start, enhance interoperability of services and infrastructures, and develop cross-industry standards.

SyC Smart Energy must now identify new use cases, to establish the gaps to be addressed by technical committees, regarding system design, operation modes, performance, security, safety. With multiple IoT frameworks under development, IEC must anticipate how to leverage these fast moving efforts to augment its existing and future Standards.

Two White Papers

MSB recommendations regarding key technology trends are summarized in White Papers written for the IEC community, regulators, governments and academia.

IoT 2020: Smart and Secure IoT Platform

Dr Tanja Rückert from EVP Digital Assets and IoT, SAP SE talked about current IoT limitations and challenges, as well as the need for standards for the next generation of enabling technologies for IoT. This White Paper offers an outlook of what the next big step in IoT could be, in other words, the smart and secure IoT platform. It comprises the concept of bridging the gaps between different existing ‘legacy’ platforms not designed for IoT.
It suggests advanced connectivity and device management capabilities that can handle huge volumes of devices, sophisticated sensing, processing and analytics for providing real insight and action, and finally, end-to-end security and safety concept from device to application ensuring trust, privacy and identity management.

Factory of the future

Thilo Zimmermann from Frauenhofer IPA gave a presentation on the factory of the future, describing the current manufacturing environment and how it is evolving thanks to technology. The ultimate goal of the factory of the future is to interconnect every step of the manufacturing process. Factories are organizing unprecedented technical systems integration across domains, hierarchy, geographic boundaries, value chains and life cycle phases. This integration will only be a success if the technology is supported by global consensus-based International Standards.

This White Paper assesses the potential global needs, benefits, concepts and pre-conditions for the factory of the future. It identifies the business trends in related technologies and markets and their impact on data, people, technologies and Standards.

IoT makes smart energy possible Smart energy is growing as more utilities use connected devices (Photo:
Smart production lines Smart production lines use autonomous learning to develop faultless production processes (Photo:
Tracking technology in shoes Invisible wearable technology helps track individuals with cognitive disorders - here a smart sole fitted with a GPS (Photo: gpssmartsole)