What You Missed If You Missed the Internet of Things Conference

While a universally accepted definition of the IoT may still elude many, the conference did land on some solid examples of how IoT technologies are helping to improve business.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Apr 22, 2015

Last week, RFID Journal convened its 13th annual end-user RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition, where thousands of attendees gathered to hear about how they can put radio frequency identification technologies to work. After offering the Internet of Things as an RFID conference track for two years, the company launched the Internet of Things Conference as a standalone event co-located with this year's LIVE! conference.

Over the course of two days, a wide range of speakers discussed everything from technology basics to security concerns and case studies. But they all had a similar, unspoken message: Trying to define the Internet of Things is pure folly. Every vendor, analyst and even end user seems to have a slightly different set of parameters for what is and is not part of the IoT. But attendees all had a similar response to this message: They don't care about defining it. What they do care about is whether it works and how it can help their business.

Here at IOT Journal, we cover the many types of technologies that companies can use to connect products or business processes to the Internet, including ZigBee, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, RFID and new technologies that might emerge, as well as the business and consumer applications of these technologies. The conference lineup reflected that. Here's a quick review of the highlights, culled from our live-tweeting during the event.

Steve Halliday (@RFIDMan), a consultant in the RFID industry and the president of RAIN RFID, an industry organization that positions passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID as an enabling technology for the IoT, talked about the hundreds of technology standards—around 400!—that are related to the IoT. And George Daddis, the CEO of RFID tag maker Omni-ID, was quite frank in his assessment of what is and is not IoT. His position, like Halliday's, is that RFID is an important enabler of the Internet of Things, and he went so far as to say that Omni-ID has repositioned itself in the marketplace as an IoT (as opposed to RFID) company in order to capture some of the current buzz around the IoT.

Mike Liard, a long-time automatic-identification industry analyst, also spoke about the confusion regarding what is and is not IoT. But he warned that vendors run the risk of diluting the impact of the IoT in the rush to just label things as IoT for marketing's sake. He added that the buzz surrounding the Internet of Things requires that potential business users scrutinize marketing claims carefully, and make sure their needs are met by the technology's capabilities.

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