Testing the IoT For “Hyperconnected” Industries


The Industrial Internet Consortium’s “Infinite” testbed will look at real-world applications for the IoT in industries ranging from manufacturing to healthcare. Infinite is also IIC’s first large-scale European testbed.

For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents the most significant opportunity in generations to enhance innovation and get close to customers—real close. However, IoT is a broad field, with many different applications and hardware types. For example, an auto manufacturer may be interested in sensors mounted within vehicles, global business touchpoints–including manufacturing, warehousing, shipping, sales and distribution–and supporting end users through service agreements. Additional applications include fleet management, warranties, safety features and traffic management systems. For a single industry, whether it’s a manufacturer, healthcare facility, or energy producer, there may be a variety of implementations using IoT data.

Infinite Testbed: A Collaboration

To address these needs, two leading companies have teamed up to provide a way for companies—particularly those in Europe—to better understand and try out various IoT mechanisms and strategies. The latest IoT innovation platform, known as Infinite (International Future Industrial Internet Testbed), is designed to provide users with the ability to leverage and benefit from IoT. This means that ares such as manufacturing, fleet management, and even everyday objects—such as machinery, household appliances and even clothing—will contain sensors that are connected to the Internet and which generate data for analysis. “Infinite will play a key national and international role enabling innovation, insights and business opportunities for industrial IoT developments across a wide range of industries,” especially “hyper-connected” ones, says Donagh Buckley, head of EMC Research Europe.

A testbed is a controlled experimentation platform, conforming to an IIC reference architecture, where solutions can be deployed and tested in an environment that resembles real-world conditions. The Inifinite testbed, launched under the aegis of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), is supported by EMC, a storage and infrastructure vendor, and Vodafone, a telecommunications provider. The Infinite testbed features analytics and runs the Pivotal Big Data Suite and is built on OpenStack and Hadoop. The connectivity is delivered via 10GB fibre. The Infinite testbed is spread across three data centers—EMC, Vodafone and Cork Internet eXchange (CIX), in Cork, Ireland. This represents IIC’s first large-scale European-based testbed.

The Infinite IoT testbed is an innovation platform designed to resemble real-world conditions, enabling users to test new and complex technologies in order to generate requirements and insights for deploying new industrial IoT products and services. The platform is targeted at manufacturers, but it also has been designed so it can be used simultaneously by companies in multiple fields including healthcare, transport, and financial services, to support applications with a need for mobile communication and dynamic configuration.

Testbed Rollout

The Infinite testbed rollout will consist of two phases. In Phase One, the three geographically diverse data centers will be interconnected into a reconfigured EMC network. In Phase Two, Infinite will be applied to a use case called “Blue light,” a healthcare environment, to demonstrate capabilities required for high-security movement of data. Blue light will enable ambulances to securely connect to a hospital’s system and relay information while in route, so hospital staff are prepared to take over the care of the patient once the ambulance arrives.

In this example, company could develop and supply IoT solutions to be used in a hospital’s emergency department where sensors in ambulances could provide real-time data, such as precise location and patient vital signs that provide the medical team adequate time to prepare and drive efficencies to further improve the service.

Infinite uses Big Data to create completely virtual domains with software-defined networking, and also makes it possible for multiple virtual domains to securely run via one physical network. This enables the testbed to support a variety of mission-critical systems. The testbed offers completely virtual domains that are able to be connected via mobile networks.

IIC also oversees a number of other testbeds geared to specific functions. Those include:

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About Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is RTInsights Industry Editor and industry analyst focusing on artificial intelligence, digital, cloud and Big Data topics. His work also appears in Forbes an Harvard Business Review. Over the last three years, he served as co-chair for the AI Summit in New York, as well as on the organizing committee for IEEE's International Conferences on Edge Computing. (full bio). Follow him on Twitter @joemckendrick.

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