Internet of Things: innovation with Chinese characteristics

The Internet of Things (‘IOT’), or the Internet of Everything, has become a popular buzzword in recent times. But what does it really mean? While there are many definitions, the central premise is that many or most of the everyday objects (and perhaps even people) in our lives, from kitchen appliances to highways to paperclips, can be uniquely identified and linked together into a network using a variety of ‘tagging’ technologies, thereby sharing data and interacting to make our lives more convenient and efficient.

The possibilities are endless — the lock on your office door could be linked to a taxi dispatch system, sending you a cab by the time you step out of the office building; you could have your car send a signal to start running a bath when you get close to home; an incoming phone call could automatically lower the volume on a nearby stereo system; or low inventory in a warehouse could trigger an automatic purchase order via a central purchasing centre.

With estimates of the global private value to be created by the IOT reaching well into the trillions of dollars, the possibilities for the transformational effect it may have on our lives seem boundless. Not to be left behind, the Chinese government has highlighted the IOT as an opportunity for domestic innovation, promoting it vigorously through locally driven initiatives backed by supportive national policies…

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