On the scale of IoT solutions, there is no shortage of choices. You can start small by instrumenting key equipment to collect data, pick a spot in the middle by using collected data to inform your decisions, or leverage IoT to fully transform your business operations, changing the very nature of your company.
“On the easy end, it’s just about understanding how ‘connecting’ your business doesn’t have to be complicated, and at the transformative end, the sky is the limit,” says Ricky Singh, Chief of Products and Solutions for the IoT Team at Sprint Business.
Helping alleviate the complexity many businesses face when implementing solutions is the Sprint IoT Factory, the innovative platform and marketplace for developing and delivering practical, easy to implement IoT solutions.
Singh points to one of those easy solutions, something that many restaurants are already embracing: the Restaurant and Food Services Temperature Monitoring solution. Available for individual restaurants or multiple locations, it packages sensors, connectivity, and a mobile application that automatically sends an alert if problems are detected.
The system ensures that a restaurant’s refrigerators are at optimal temperature at all times. That’s critical both for food safety and for compliance with health regulations. Having to throw food away due to refrigeration problems or temperature uncertainties can be costly in what is typically a low-margin business.
The temperature monitoring solution samples refrigerator temperatures automatically, and if they vary from the acceptable range, it sends an immediate alert. It also keeps a permanent log that can help business owners be in compliance with mandates and regulations.
Along with the ability to purchase ready-to-deploy IoT solutions, the ‘Build’ part of the Factory allows developers to build solutions and take advantage of Sprint resources – the network, distribution, and customer care – to make their offerings available to businesses of all sizes.
Transforming a business
On the transformative end of the scale, IoT solutions can be positive disruptors, allowing forward-looking companies to redesign their entire business model.
“There’s a company that sells medical equipment that wants to differentiate from its competition by pivoting to a service and information company,” Singh says. “They are embedding sensors in various products and moving to selling a service that is driven by the data that is collected through the use of these products. IoT can make that sort of transformation possible.” Sprint’s Curiosity™ platform is driving these sorts of transformations across various industries at scale.
For those companies who prefer a spot in the middle of the scale, Sprint and our solutions providers offer a broad range of vertical IoT solutions that address specific business pain points. One such vertical is fleet management.
“Say I have a delivery business and want to be able to make more deliveries in a day. To do that, it makes sense for me to manage my business by knowing exactly where my vehicles are at all times,” Singh explains. These fleet solutions, he adds, can also provide important vehicle safety and maintenance data, as well as cargo data such as the temperatures of the goods on the delivery truck.
Our vertical IoT solutions focus on vehicle and fleet management, mobile commerce, personal safety, asset management, automation and control, and smart cities.
“For these solutions, we partner with leading companies that provide industry-specific expertise, which we pair with our connectivity, our Curiosity Core and OS,” Singh says.
The essential foundation
Of course, any IoT solution is only as good as its network and operating system. We recognize that and are launching a dedicated, virtualized and distributed edge-ready packet core network that handles only IoT traffic.
This new core network can be distributed to be as close as possible to where the IoT data is generated and transported, to help cut down on latency, an increasingly important issue as the IoT applications become more sophisticated and in many cases absolutely mission-critical.
“We have been treating IoT data in the same way we do our usual cellular traffic, and that has been adequate for today’s use cases,” Singh notes. “The number of IoT devices is still in the millions and they are generally sending smaller amounts of data back into the network.”
But that won’t do as the number of IoT devices skyrockets and as key applications require the absolute minimum delay in the round trip from the device to the data analysis point and back again. Our response is to bring the network closer to the data, reducing the length of that round trip.
“Rather than being interconnected at only a handful of points across the country, Sprint Curiosity will be distributed across hundreds of places across the U.S.,” Singh says. “In some cases, we can even set up an instance of our core right at a customer site.”
Coupled with the forthcoming speed and low latency of 5G in the local loop, the design of the Curiosity Core and OS will help slash the network delay, ensuring that even the most critical applications – remote surgery or autonomous vehicles are just two examples – can operate reliably at virtually all times.
Bringing it all together
Our Curiosity OS is the platform that ties together all the device connectivity and device management and application enablement.
“By bringing our core network and operating system together, our vision is to bring the intelligence to the data, rather than transporting the data to the intelligence,” Singh says. “Instead of dealing with massive computing machines in distant data centers, we are architecting the network to make everything so seamless that we can move the data needed to react to an incident in as little as 20 milliseconds.”
“We are building each of our solutions with the future in mind, working with digitally native companies that are curious and are shaping our future,” Singh says. “Many of those companies are in the SoftBank family (Sprint’s parent) and are part of the long-range view that we and SoftBank are taking when it comes to IoT and all that it offers.”
Learn more about Sprint Curiosity here.