It is not easy to be a pioneer of technology, especially in the field of Internet of things, where innovation is fast, and investors hope to see the results of landing faster. In order to cope with the changing trend of thought in this field, a solution advocated by start-ups is to cooperate closely with professional manufacturers of the Internet of things. According to Vodafone IOT barometer 2019 previously released by Vodafone, 75% of IOT application providers obtain and apply IOT solutions through expanding partnerships, and 10% of enterprises admit that they do not have IOT application skills internally. For example, the application of Internet of things technology can greatly improve the store environment. 58% of applications monitor environmental factors (such as light level, noise, temperature and humidity) through the Internet of things. The Internet of things can also help retailers generate high-value data on visitor flow and behavior. 45% of applications track the occupancy of stores and parking spaces through sensors.

These partnerships or collaborations take many forms, ranging from finding the right components to selecting the most appropriate factory or designer, planning and building the supply chain, or designing specifically for manufacturability. Scaling up hardware is not easy, especially for start-ups. Therefore, a new concept that has attracted extensive attention recently is “sensing as a service (SaaS)”.

Sensing as a service (SaaS), the future of the Internet of things

The supporting logic behind the concept of “sensing as a service (SaaS)” is the sensor network that has been widely used today, from smart phones to freight tracking, to weather stations that monitor weather changes, and then to sensors embedded in intelligent parking systems (to obtain the number of available parking spaces in real time). The owners and operators of these sensors can package these data points to create passive revenue. At the same time, they also provide powerful data resources for start-ups and large manufacturers.

This is important for the future of the Internet of things. Not only because many more complex second-generation Internet of things services need to rely on more sensors or data points (such as location-based intelligent heating system, which needs to accurately track multiple family members, find out who will get home first, and track environmental conditions to formulate the most effective operation plan), but also different services and equipment need to operate independently as much as possible.

In the current Internet of things market, requiring consumers to buy a large number of specific sensors or connected devices is not a wise strategy. In fact, it will make the problems that can be simplified more complex. In this context, “sensor as a service (SaaS)” came into being, using invisible sensor networks to provide answers to problems.

Transmission and monetization of sensor data

The effective use of sensor networks whose value has not been fully mined is obviously more interesting, but the management of these different data streams is quite complex. Nokia recently launched a solution at the World Mobile Communications Conference (MWC), “sensing as a service (SaaS)”. The service can not only “access” the data from third-party sensors and data infrastructure, provide a scheme for monetization of sensor data, but also use the “smart contract” based on blockchain to ensure the transmission and billing of sensor data. The foundation of blockchain is decentralized trust, which can avoid endless manual data checking and reconfirmation. Nokia claims that “sensing as a service (SaaS)” has been put into trial operation by commercial operators, and has built-in powerful analysis function to ensure complete transparency to customers.

Future development direction of Internet of things SaaS

Of course, this is not the only case. Various public and private blockchain providers are seeking stable support from the Internet of things industry. The cross application of blockchain and Internet of things has become one of the most promising blockchain use cases. A recent transaction is the cooperation established between iota, a blockchain start-up, and the three industrial giants Bosch, Fujitsu and Volkswagen, aiming to automate services and products by using iota’s consensus mechanism tangle technology and cooperate to promote the development of the Internet of things. Bosch has also released a new sensor cross domain development kit XDK, which will be embedded in the cooperation project with iota.

This is a rapid prototyping tool designed to enable developers to put their Internet of things design into practice and accelerate and simplify the transition from prototype to mass production. XDK is a fully integrated hardware and software product with Bluetooth and WiFi connections. It can include MEMS accelerometers, magnetometers and gyroscopes, as well as humidity, pressure, temperature, sound and digital optical sensors.

How does the Internet of things change and reshape the business model

Another case is unabiz, a Singapore based Internet of things solution innovation manufacturer, which not only provides cloud based “sensor as a service (SaaS)”, but also provides hardware to support the network and motivate developers. Initially, unabiz was sold to 25 countries / regions around the world with a simple smart button. Its latest product is a box containing five sensors, using sigfox global network. For only $5 per month, developers can obtain hardware, cloud, end-to-end security and fully integrated functions, such as queue management, profile and routing configuration, as well as cloud services such as AWS, azure, Splunk, ifttt and slack.

Future development direction of Internet of things SaaS

Obviously, a new business model is emerging in the Internet of things market, and the existing more familiar model is also adjusting. Considering the speed of market development and the huge demand for data processing, the change of business model is not surprising. Especially for new entrants to the Internet of things market, “sensing as a service (SaaS)” has obvious advantages as a business model, because this model does not need to build and maintain expensive physical sensor networks before providing services.

In addition, in this context, using blockchain technology to quickly create a “smart contract” that can track all elements of the protocol to ensure its effectiveness is very important. It is likely that the ability to overlay multiple data streams of existing and emerging service providers will become the key to the new business model of the Internet of things in the next stage, which is the real test for the wider development and application of the Internet of things.

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