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The Irish companies at the beating heart of ‘the internet of me’

Forget the smartphone, Irish technology is helping to define the future of the smart person in a connected world

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Fergal Lawlor, chief executive of Alpha Wireless

Fergal Lawlor, chief executive of Alpha Wireless

Fergal Lawlor, chief executive of Alpha Wireless

As access to more bandwidth enables our world to become even more connected, the question is not “What else can we connect?” – for there clearly is no limit – but “What can we as humans do with that data?”.

Consumers have been hearing about connected homes, connected cars and all sorts of next-level capabilities for some time now. Who doesn’t (or who does?) want a refrigerator you can control with a phone?

The battle for the home and the hub of our connected lives is very visible. Google, Amazon, and Apple want to be the nexus of our lives. However, the connected world has taken an interesting turn of late.

Smartphones, smartwatches, and connected healthcare devices are ubiquitous. Add to that the computing power available to us via the cloud, and we are now a connected people.

The intersection of nearly unlimited connected devices and the pure computing horsepower of the cloud is what enables us to be connected people – and Irish innovation is at the forefront of this movement towards ‘the internet of me’.

It turns out that the best hub for a connected world is the smartest and most intuitive device we as humans have access to – our brain. The connected person isn’t the downfall of our current connected and app-based ecosystem, but rather the saviour.

The human brain loves to organise data, gather it together, and then act on this data – which is exactly what all those cool applications and games are also trying to do for us.

The opportunity for innovation is in how apps take that disparate data and make it usable.

Past examples of breakthroughs on this scale include the instance when Apple built the iTunes store – and suddenly digital music became usable by the masses.

The next frontier for apps might be those who will aggregate my doctor, a connected car, public transport, and ride share options in such a way that suggests the best way for me to get to an appointment.

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For our data-crunching apps and our brains to reach their full potential, four things must happen.

Fast or low power connectivity

The more devices that we connect, the more data we have. This connectivity falls into two categories. Speed is king in cases where we have a reliable power source, like cars and homes. The ideal connectivity method in these cases is ‘wide range’, such as 5G, wi-fi, and fibre.

The second type of connectivity is ‘low power’. If a device is sitting in a location without reliable power, it must be able to work for prolonged periods of time while consuming minimal battery or renewable energy.

Cloud computing

There is lots of buzz about the cloud – but all that matters is that our smartphones don’t have the computing power to crunch all the data we want, so we offload that work to computers in the cloud. Those systems are amazingly powerful, amazingly cheap, and at our fingertips.

Apps

An app must be technically stable, do a good job of presenting data to the human brain, and enable intuitive actions based on the data. We will need our apps to collaborate, interact, and work together to reach our full potential. An innovative app can be a game-changer.

Security

We love to have experts looking after us – be they doctors, personal trainers, or mental health professionals. But as a society we view the information we share with them as being inherently private.

Security must be ensured at all levels; from the device, to the transmission, to the cloud, to ensure trust in applications that gather private data.


Irish tech is defining the future of the ‘smart person’. And our goal at Enterprise Ireland is to groom, grow and nurture these future-focused companies.

Among the Irish tech companies innovating for the future are three I’d like to mention.

8 West: This Cork-based company has recently launched a highly secure wearable that will allow home health care and adventurers to live a safer, more secure life. www.safetrx.com
Alpha Wireless: As we deploy more wireless networks, no one wants an ugly antenna in their neighbourhood. Enter Alpha Wireless, which is helping the world with fast data in a classy package. www.alphawireless.com

Sonalake: If you thought deploying your home wi-fi was hard, imagine a country-wide high-speed network with thousands of different technologies. The engineers at Sonalake make a tool that simplifies deployment and maintenance of incredibly complex systems. www.sonalake.com

Lane Patterson is the senior vice president of telecommunications and IoT at Enterprise Ireland

Sunday Indo Business


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