Imagine a trillion sensor world

Rick Merritt

October 29, 2013

Rick MerrittOctober 29, 2013

PALO ALTO, Calif. — The Internet of Things can't come fast enough for Janusz Bryzek.

The Fairchild executive wants to create a consortium of companies and governments that develops a road map and pools funding to drive towards a market of trillion sensors. To get the ball rolling, he organized The Trillion Sensor Summit where more than 50 presenters from around the globe shared their thinking with more than 200 executives.

"This could be the biggest business in the history of electronics," Bryzek told the crowd, citing estimates from Cisco Systems and GE of a $15 trillion IoT market by 2020.

Many market watchers foresee a trillion-sensor future, Bryzek said. Click here to enlarge.
Many market watchers foresee a trillion-sensor future, Bryzek said. Click here to enlarge.

Bryzek is not alone in his desire to accelerate and get ahead of what could become a 1 percent to 15 percent slice of the global GDP. Industry giants including Amazon, Cisco, and GE are ramping up IoT services and business units. One medical electronics giant just finished a strategic plan for how it could connect its diverse systems, gathering data to create new services.

Another entrepreneur at the summit is dreaming of his own IoT effort which could take the form of an incubator and investment fund. "It can be hard for [IoT innovators] to get funding -- I know because I listened to these people for years and I feel their pain," said Flavio Bonomi, who recently left Cisco where he was a research fellow in the comms giant's emerging IoT effort.

As a veteran of at least three sensor startups, Bryzek knows there are plenty of hurdles ahead. The Internet of Things is a fragmented collection of diverse markets, each with its own needs. They share a demand for sensors that cost $1 or less and consume next to zero power.

"Everyone wants more sensors, but the hockey stick of growth hasn't happened yet," said Ajith Amerasekera, engineering director of high performance analog at Texas Instruments and one of the speakers here. "On one side the operating systems and software need to be in place, and on another side we need more killer apps," he said.

The opportunities are equally large. "The by-product of a trillion sensors is an abundance that will change the world for better -- we will live healthier and longer in a less polluted world," Bryzek said.

On a more personal level, Bryzek's company is preparing its own family of sensors, expected to roll out in 2014. And the entrepreneur foresees the possibility of the first billionaire in the microelectronic-mechanical systems (MEMS) in which most sensors are made.

The following pages give a sampler of slides from the Trillion Sensor Summit, showing some of the opportunities and challenges ahead.

To view more slides from the summit, go to “Two big opportunities.”

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