The use of connected objects is growing rapidly in every sector. From cars to clothing, trash cans, heaters, skis, refrigerators or showerheads, the use of connected objects is spreading throughout all of our daily activities. A new industrial revolution is underway with a variety of objects that go from simple gadgets to full-fledged innovation.
We are facing a new industrial revolution! With 25 billion connected objects to be produced by 2025, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a tidal wave that will spread across our lives, both personal and professional. However, such objects require constant updating lest they lose their initial spark (e.g. simply consider the connected watch which is already losing steam). While many of these objects will quickly be forgotten, no company can ignore the impact of a new market estimated to be worth 250 billion euros.
> AN INTERNATIONAL BUZZ
Connected objects require at least three ingredients (electronic sensors, software and wifi capacities), all of which Grenoble-Isère is on the cutting-edge. “Our region is the only area in France that unites all of the necessary skills. We have major actors and industrial companies that are integrating smart systems in their products,” explains Laetitia Grenier at AEPI-Invest in Grenoble-Isère, France.
IoT is one of the key focuses at the world-renown Minalogic cluster, which is part of the Grenoble-Isère French Tech ecosystem. “Over one hundred of our members are working on projects tied to connected objects,” highlights Philippe Magarshack, the vice-president of STMicroelectronics. Many of the low-energy consumption microchips produced by the company’s factories in Grenoble and Crolles are used to create smart objects in Grenoble-Isère (e.g., Bixi universal remote, ISKN tablet, Eveon smart syringe, etc.).
More than 20 Grenoble-Isère startups were supported by AEPI-Invest in Grenoble-Isère, France and Minalogic in order to travel to the Las Vegas CES last February. The world’s premier connected objects trade show was a great opportunity for these startups and several made quite a buzz: the LoveBox shined with its wooden box whose heart beats everytime it receives a love message, Hydrao showed off its smart showerhead that changes color when you use too much water, and the universal Bixi remote demonstrated its ability to drive or cook by using a tablet.
> SECURITY: A CRITICAL FACTOR
To be successful over the long term, these innovations have to be built on reliable, secure communication protocols. In response to this challenge, Grenoble invented the Low Range (LoRa) wireless telecommunications technology, which is now one of three or four standards used worldwide to connect objects.
Cybersecurity is a critical factor for objects that can communicate. “This is the current weak link. Less than 10% of connected objects are well protected from hackers,” underlines Thierry Fensch, head of innovation at STMicroelectronics. “Encryption and authentication solutions have to be integrated right at the start of the design process.” If a hacker were to take control of a connected pacemaker or a connected car, the situation could quickly become life-threatening for the user, and of course, for the company that produced the product!
By Véronique Granger
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