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From smart spindles and zithers to the programmable world

Twitter: @mjadoul
It has been humanity’s long standing dream to be free from the burdens of time and labor. As far back as the 4th century BC, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle dreamed about a world of autonomous things. A world in which machines would operate on their own accord and musical instruments could play by themselves.

Suppose every instrument could by command or anticipation of need, execute its function on its own;  suppose that spindles could weave of their own accord and plectra strike the strings of zithers by themselves; then craftsmen would have no need of hand-work and masters have no need of slaves. – Aristotle (384 - 322 BC)


Today, more than 2400 years later, it looks like technology has finally reached the tipping point where the Internet of Things (IoT) will fundamentally transform the way people live and work. As such, the IoT will not only have a dramatic impact on society, but also on the global economy, as it will power digital transformation through innovative business models, diversification of revenue streams, streamlined operations, and an enhanced user experience.

Although the term is used all around, there is no single definition of the Internet of Things. But everyone agrees that the IoT is relying on machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, which enable connected devices to exchange information and perform actions without the manual assistance of humans.

Nokia’s IoT vision goes beyond M2M, to create a “programmable world.”

What’s remarkable about the programmable world isn’t the sensors, nor is it that all our sensors and objects and devices are linked together. It’s the fact that once we get enough of these objects onto our networks, they’re no longer one-off novelties or data sources but instead become a coherent system, a vast ensemble that can be choreographed, a body that can dance. – from an article in Wired Magazine, quoted by Rajeev Suri at Nokia’s Global Analyst Forum 2016

As such, we aim to create an ultra-connected environment in which massive numbers of objects will become bound together with intelligence that is built upon vast amounts of data processed in the cloud and used to automate and simplify processes, and to create new services. The programmable world is an opportunity to improve peoples’ lives in many areas by providing solutions to everyday problems.

Here are some concrete examples of where and how the programmable world may improve people’s standard of living:

  • Automotive: 90% of road fatalities are due to human error and slow reaction1. They could be avoided through self-driving vehicles, reliable car2x connectivity and assisted driving applications;
  • Connected utilities: a mere 2.1 trillion gallons (~ 8 trillion liters) of water are lost each year in the US because of aging and leaky pipes, broken mains and faulty meters2. Smart meter applications can help create a more sustainable society by helping optimize resource utilization, efficiency, and costs;
  • Public safety: On a busy day in an urban area of the UK, a person could have their image captured by around 300 cameras3. Body-worn cameras, visual sensors, and video analytics will further enhance people’s safety in public places;
  • Smart cities: by 2050, 66% of the world population will live in an urban area4. The possible yearly economic impact of IoT applications in cities is estimated to be $1.6 trillion by 20255;
  • Digital health: 19% of the world population will be over 80 years of age in 20506, and non-adherence to doctor’s prescriptions is the reason behind 30% to 50% of all treatment failures7. Connected healthcare, wearable technology and remote patient monitoring could dramatically cut medical costs;
  • Smart homes: 51% of people accidentally leave lights on; 31% leave A/C running (even when it’s comfortable); and 31% can’t remember if they locked doors and/or windows8. Smart home devices can save energy and money while providing households with a better security experience.

Futurists have been talking about smart cars and intelligent buildings for many years, but it’s only very recently that the various communication, IT and device technologies have come together to deliver affordable and scalable products and services.

As storage and processor hardware further evolve and the capabilities of data analytics and artificial intelligence software develop, consumers, businesses and public sector will get more and more value from big data generated by connected devices. The importance of analytics and applications implies that there are many challenges and opportunities on the IoT platform and application software side.

But make no mistake: the whole network can make or break the IoT. Large parts of IoT-generated data will be transported, stored, analyzed, and acted upon in the cloud, and many mission critical, real-time IoT services in enterprises and cities will require extended QoS, secure connectivity, and low latency.

This means that, more than ever, scalable, standardized, and secure network and platform infrastructure backed up by agile operations will be of crucial importance to support service providers, enterprises, and governments in their ambitions, and ensure the experience and the security of their end-users.

So, here’s why Nokia has outspoken ambitions to become a leader in the IoT space:

  • As a global market leader in connectivity, we are supporting our customers in the evolution towards new business models and services, with a diverse range of licensed and unlicensed connectivity options for delivering IoT services efficiently and reliably today. In addition we are  developing 5G networks to support all  mobile broadband and IoT services in the future;
  • Cloud, software, security, applications, and services are key enablers for the IoT. This is a unique opportunity for Nokia to further exploit our capabilities, evolve our portfolio, and provide innovative products and solutions in these emerging domains;
  • Connected devices, big data analytics and network transformation are at the heart of digitalizing industries. As such, the IoT is a key driver for Nokia’s customer differentiation strategy, and our growing stake in providing vertical solutions to enterprises and governments;
  • And finally, Nokia’s company mantra is all about “a world where technology is enriching people’s lives.” We strongly believe that IoT networks, platforms and applications and services are instrumental to realizing our vision of the programmable world.

If you want to know more about Nokia’s vision for a programmable world, and about our IoT products and solutions, have a look at our web page or meet with us in room PMR203 at CTIA Super Mobility in Las Vegas.


1 International Organization for Road Accident Prevention2 Center for Neighborhood Technology3 UK Government4 United Nations5 McKinsey Global Institute6 United Nations7 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention8 McKinsey&Company

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks or @nokia using #IoT #programmableworld #maketechhuman

Marc Jadoul

About Marc Jadoul

Marc Jadoul is Strategic Marketing Director at Nokia. A computer scientist by education, and technology evangelist, storyteller, speaker, and blogger by vocation.

Author/co-author of 200+ papers, magazine articles and conference presentations, and a frequent speaker and panelist at industry events, Marc is an advocate of Albert Einstein’s dictum “if you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.”

Tweet me at @mjadoul

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