Imatge | 4YFN

In this day and age, it is practically impossible for you to not have heard about the Internet of Things (IoT). Although it seems to have only been around for a short while, the concept is actually five years old and refers to the connecting of objects to the Web; machines can communicate and exchange information, from elevators and alarm systems that transfer data to the central server, to thermostats that regulate temperature automatically, intelligent refrigerators and televisions, and all the smartwatches and wearables that you can already find at most electronics stores today.

According to Cisco, in 2020 there will be more than 50 billion devices exchanging information through the Internet. Among them, there will also be cars with sensors and built-in computers which certain manufacturers are already working on, such as Tesla Motors, BMW, Audi and Volkswagen. The European Commision will make it mandatory to integrate such systems into new marketed tourist services starting in October this year.

At the Mobile World Congress, we will also see how companies in the sector have decided to turn homes into connected environments. In addition to new vehicle models, Internet-connected televisions will also play a leading role at the event in Barcelona. Sony and Philips have chosen to go with Android, while LG with WebOs and Panasonic with Firefox OS.


Imagen | Steve Jurvetson

At 4 Years from Now (4FYN), the MWC’s startup event, the Internet of Things will also be in the spotlight, though from a business perspective, identifying challenges and opportunities for entrepreneurs. A general overview will be the main aim of the first talk on Tuesday, an all-day event dedicated to IoT, which will be led by Franco Bernabé, director of FB Group.

Not only houses are transformed into smart environments, but cities are also filled with sensors and devices that measure traffic and pollution, as well as take action without requiring human intervention. John Baekelmans, CTO of the IoT Department at Cisco, along with other experts, will speak on urban projects that already exist in cities like Barcelona and London, and new mobility models, as well as point the way forward for startups that want to take advantage of this rising gold mine.

Emerging initiatives are key to this growing sector that is still exploring its frontiers. Numerous speakers will be talking about IoT at 4YFN. Rob Chanhok, president of Helium, will explain the key points in design of new connected devices; and Tzahi Weisfeld will give a few tips to future entrepreneurs who want to make a place for themselves in a vital market for major tech companies. Alexander Izomisov, from Ericsson, will try to clear up the question on whether we are already living in the era of connectivity, or if we still have a long way to go.

The ‘maker’ and ‘open source’ movements will also be key players at the gathering. Dale Dougherty, one of the most renowned leaders of the ‘makers’, will discuss the challenges of the movement, while Xavier Pi will review opportunities. Anastasia Emmanuel, head of technology and design at Indigogo UK, will expound on the advantages of crowdfunding as a tool to finance such products. Alejandro Santacreu will give his views on open ‘hardware’ and why it represents a lucrative business niche.

In short, all those involved in the ‘smart things’ day at 4YFN will take home valuable lessons on how to harness the potential of the Internet of Things. This is a field which is not only in the hands of big companies—small businesses and the ‘do it yourself’ crowd are also having their say.