How to visualize, explore the Industrial Internet of Things

You cannot see the connections, but you'll need to see the data for it to be meaningful.

By Jeremy Pollard, CET

Are you tired of hearing and reading about the Internet of Things (IoT)? Of course, in our industry, we had to separate ourselves by calling our IoT the Industrial IoT (IIoT).

I visited tech sites, business sites and personal sites. IoT by far was the most prominent topic of discussion, marketing and business opportunities.

But we are different, aren’t we? We must be because our IoT has an extra “I.” So, how does the real world out there interact with the notion of IoT? And how will it potentially affect our perceptions of IIoT and the reporting of the big data that we are being told will come?

In “The Joy of Small Data,” Rachel Binx, a self-professed data visualizer who is a design technologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explains how we can create tools to view, explore and connect with data. This may be a stretch, but her approach to the data that tells a story is a very real and interesting approach.

One of the visuals she produced was based on the number of global Airbnb requests for unique rental accommodations. For instance, if a user in Tokyo requested an Airbnb location in New York, then that is classified a single request from that user. The same user could request an additional location in London, which is a separate request.

Binx’s graphic basically plotted all of the requests in a circle with the selected request points on the map. The amount of data associated with the requests was represented in line thickness. It was very easy to visualize that the most common destination was New York City—one graphic, one visualization, with all of the information you need for a 1,000-ft-level determination.

Also read: Will the next age be the Human Internet of Things?

So, imagine this approach for a network of computers and the traffic going between them. Wireshark, a network protocol analyzer, would be a good application that could utilize this approach by monitoring and gathering Ethernet traffic between the 100 nodes and plotting the resulting messaging in a graphic that utilizes the same visualization technology. How fast could you see which node had the largest effect on traffic? I would suggest instantaneously.

All things in the world are connected through the universe and chaos.

Binx made fun of linear trends and histograms. These tools allow people to view their data so they can understand the data in small chunks. The big data is for databases and computers, not for the instantaneous mind.

It may be funny to know that she has started a jewelry line based on your personal data, such as your vacation to San Francisco and the GPS track that you took while there. But it visualizes your trip in a way that no one has thought about before.

We will need to develop different ways to deal with and visualize big data because the line charts will not be functional enough for us to deal with the relationships between all of these IIoT devices that people seem to think we will have all over our plants and distribution warehouses.

Robert Scoble is a futurist and the author of the Scobleizer blog, which is scheduled to resume in April 2016. On Facebook, he recently asked what the future of IoT is. Well, the hundreds of comments suggested that people have a lot to say about it. The perceptions of the tech world apply to IIoT directly, and not by association. We have heard about SCADA companies embracing Google Glass and Microsoft HoloLens, which proves the connection. The comments from his Facebook followers and friends were very poignant. They referred to embeddable and not wearable.

Dick Morley and I had a conversation a few years back about studies at MIT that were utilizing the body’s DNA structure as a network for embedded sensors and processing power. A diabetic talked of his expectations of embedded devices communicating meaningfully, which is very powerful since it seems that we gather data for the sole purpose of gathering it. So, it must be used to be meaningful, yes?

Some referred to the whole concept as Skynet from the “Terminator” movies where it knows all. Some viewed it as the most ridiculous way to make a fortune by making claims that no one understands but calling it IoT and letting it fly. And we do need to be cognizant of that point.

Referring back to Morley, he once stated to me that he believes that all things in the world are connected through the universe and chaos.

Martin Armstrong has developed Socrates, which is an artificial-intelligence system that predicts occurrences based on history, cycles and data taken from the Internet. Whether you believe it or not, these two people believe what the IoT will deliver—a connection to all things on the planet.

Predicting motor failure is one result from IIoT. Plant failure will be next, but only if the meaningful data is visualized in a way that our small-tasked minds can comprehend.

That, my friend, is one tall order. We need to get busy.

 

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