Ryerson, Primus team up to fan Canada’s IoT flame

Canada is ready to embrace the Internet of Things, according to a national online survey conducted by Leger, prompting Primus Telecommunications and Ryerson’s DMZ to collaborate on efforts to educate consumers on its benefits.

Commissioned jointly by Primus and the DMZ, Canadians & Their Connected Devices: How The Internet of Things is Changing our Lives found that 42 per cent of Canadians disagree the nation is ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, but their attitudes toward emerging technology suggested a higher level of sophistication, with 83 per cent willing to try new technology to make their lives easier and 40 per cent considering themselves early adopters. Nearly two-thirds of respondents want to be connected to the Internet and three quarters of them own smartphones.

The research showed willingness to try and adopt these devices were much higher than anticipated, said Primus senior VP and product strategy leader Brad Fisher. Combine that interested with Canada’s robust telecommunications infrastructure, plentiful bandwidth and technology skills, and all of the ingredients are present to put Canada at the forefront of building IoT products and services. The Leger survey found Canadians ready to adopt IoT devices to manage their home and improve their health and fitness. “I think there’s a bright future for wearables,” said Fisher.

While smart watches and quantitative self apps on smartphones are the sexy side of IoT, at the enterprise level it takes manifests as deployment of sensors that can relay data can improve crop yields as part of a farm’s irrigation system or optimize energy distribution and consumption for smart grids. The environment be can better protected by monitoring corrosion on oil pipelines, noted Fisher.

There’s more to it than the devices themselves, he added. Cloud computing plays a key role as repository for collected data to be crunched. Depending on the nature of their business, IT departments will be look to set aside budgets to purchase IoT technology or get funding to develop internal IoT skills and applications.

Fisher said the survey is the first collaboration between Primus and the DMZ. “When we sought a partner for the survey, the DMZ was an obvious choice as it is one of Canada’s largest business incubators.” He said that given the success of this partnership, Primus is considering possible future projects and projects, although none have been finalized.

Dr. Hossein Rahnama, research and innovation director for DMZ, said the coming wave of hyper-connectivity will create challenges and opportunities, and create an economic effect similar to that of the Internet in the mid-1990s. The infrastructure is in place, as well as bandwidth and development tools, for startups build apps and services, he said.

Education is essential to building Canada’s IoT ecosystem to make people aware of its benefits. Rahnama also acknowledged that IoT is not an entirely new concept; elements of it have existed for a while under different labels such as “industrial Internet” and “machine-to-machine” (M2M).

He said development tools for building IoT services and apps are becoming a lot easier to use, and both enterprises and students have access to them. “The sky is the limit.” However, visionary uses cases will likely be eclipsed by those that focus on short-term results, such as improving communication and saving energy. The growth of connected devices and the ability to control them will create smarter environments, including homes, Rahnama said. “Anyone can create these environments without having to code.”

In terms of equipping students with the required skill sets for IoT development, he said Ryerson has been offering courses that brings different disciplines together, such as design, fashion and engineering. Last year an interdisciplinary group built a smart pill dispenser. “We really want to motivate students to think beyond their iPhone and apply electronics know-how around objects and environments.”


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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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