Industry leaders attend HyperCat Summit

3 min read

Earlier this month, more than 400 leaders from industry and government attended the HyperCat Summit 2015: Smart Systems. Intelligent Universe. Topics discussed included: the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, smart industry and the rise of the smart city.

Held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London, the event was hosted by Lord Erroll (chairman of HyperCat) and Justin Anderson, the CEO of Flexeye.

HyperCat is a fast growing ecosystem that has been built on an open standard. Intended to make 'interoperability' between different systems and sectors easier, it was set up to help drive IoT innovation by making it simpler to share data and ideas – 'it should be possible for a factory to learn from a city and a building to share data with an energy company', according to the event's organisers.

Opening proceedings, Simon Anholt, an independent policy advisor who has worked with governments around the world, urged government and businesses to be more inclusive when it came to exploiting the benefits associated with the IoT.

"We need more collaboration, more coordination and less competition," he said. "If we get it right, we will progress and prosper and create an environment we can hand down to the next generation with some confidence."

Lord Erroll agreed, warning organisations against developing IoT in isolation.

"If we have IP out there, it should not be owned by one organisation," he suggested. "The greatest benefits always tend to come from collaboration, from not trying to grab it for yourself but by getting everyone involved."

Stephen Pattison, ARM's vice president of public affairs, said the IoT should be used to empower people and enhance their lives through complementary and assistive technologies, rather than looking to simply replace the current ways of doing things.

"If the IoT world does not empower people, it will have failed," he warned delegates.

Pattison also talked at length about how smart home services could be paid for and suggested that, in the future, we could end up paying for services in much the same way that we do for mobile phones.

"We could be looking at a big company – an Amazon, for example – that supplies consumers with all their white goods – television, phone, tablet, fridge – bundled with a security package and charging them rent for that," he said.

Another method of payment could be the trading of data for free services.

Brian Robertson, Broadcom's business development director for EMEA, pointed to how Google and Facebook get their revenue through charging people to use their platforms. "While it is a free service, they monetise the data," he noted.

However, Symantec's CTO and vice president of technology services, Darren Thomson warned that the IT industry 'needed to grow up'. "As an industry, we have been obsessed with 'could we', we need to focus on 'should we'."

He highlighted research that suggested consumers were no longer happy to pay for services with private data. The research had identified a 'marked change' in consumer behaviour towards privacy, which was now viewed as more important than quality of service. "That's the first time that's ever happened," he suggested.

He went on to say that security had to become a key 'fabric' of IoT systems, especially if they were going to require people to share a significant amount of their personal information and raised an interesting point. He suggested that a growing number of people were giving false information to companies in order to gain to access to services while keeping their personal information safe. "That's a problem for companies that rely on our data to power their business," he said.

Pilgrim Bear, founder of AlertMe and 1248, talked about the importance of interoperability between connected devices if the IoT was to develop to its full potential – figures suggest that, within the next five years, the IoT could be worth $1.7trillion.

Bear warned that too many companies remained in silos as a result of 'everyone using similar architectures', but with everyone using 'slightly different technologies' and 'slightly different standards'. The result is that 'nothing works with anything else'.

Bear warned that if everyone remained effectively stuck in these silos, it would make it increasingly problematic for vendors as they would end up having to do everything themselves and wouldn't be able to buy in and use technology from other companies.

"If you're unable to mix and match solutions from different vendors, then that is not the IoT," he warned.