ICT innovations are coming from labs to the market at an incredible pace

We talked with Prof. Munoz de Cote, researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics in Mexico, and the general chair of the upcoming AFI 360° Conference Track on Future Internet and Internet of Things Applications (FIoTA 2016) which will take place in Puebla, Mexico on May 25–27, 2016. How can the future of IoT benefit from Artificial Intelligence techniques and how this mix can result in a strong benefit for practical applications of IoT? Read on.

What is the central topic of FIoTA 2016 and why is it important? What is this event’s vision?

Enrique Munoz de Cote, General Chair of FIoTA 2016

The rapid advancement of ubiquitous computation and mobile networks together are enabling technology advancements in the area of sensing, predicting and controlling of our physical spaces. Such technology advancements are nowadays deployed in a web based information creation and sharing platform to give form to what is now known as the Internet of Things (IoT).

The Internet of Things is increasingly pervading our world, and can completely change both the design of major infrastructures and the way people behave in their daily activities. Just to give some concrete examples, consider the smart grid for energy distribution, where computational devices communicate and interact to sort out which are the best operational parameters for the whole system. Another example are the recent systems for real time ride-sharing, that allow people to arrange one-time rides at a short notice with their private cars. Widening the scope we can think of sensor networks for environmental monitoring, where sensors from different part of the world provide key information on wild-life, weather and water conditions, air pollution and so forth, or to home automation and ambient assisted living, where various type of sensors can monitor the condition of a private house (or a public buildings) for security or energy efficiency purposes.

However, the IoT is much more than just sensing; it’s about recollecting all this information being generated almost continuously throughout the world and making sense of all this vast streams of data. It’s about constructing new technologies that use this information to trigger new services, analytics and autonomous decision making in all sorts of domains. It’s also about the applications designed to use these new technologies. These emerging applications pose dramatic challenges for computer scientists, particularly because while the current ICT infrastructures allow thousands of intelligent devices to exchange data, there is still a strong urgent need for new methodologies and algorithms that allow such devices to effectively collaborate, and to support the human operators and the users in the complex decision-making problems they face.

In this perspective, the scope of FIoTA 2016 is twofold; to foster the use of computational techniques in the broad field of Artificial Intelligence to tackle such challenges taking, a significant step ahead in the practical deployment of the IoT, and to serve as a networking enabler that will aid in finding European-Mexican partners for future joint funding opportunities.

To this end, we are targeting academics, industrial partners and practitioners from areas such as planning, scheduling, machine learning, networks, multi-agent systems and other, to discuss the frontiers of current research in these fields and their application within the framework of the IoT.

What have been the recent developments in the IoT applications for Future Internet? What are the biggest challenges that this area is currently facing?

The recent developments of IoT for Future Internet are many and diverse. One of the most striking aspect of such applications is the incredible fast pace at which they emerge and grow. Key concepts such as cloud based data storage and computing, big data analytics, wireless sensor networks and even robotics are all deeply connected with IoT. Many of these concepts were, just few years ago, developed or investigated in research labs at universities or at various research centers. However, now there is a huge demand for this kind of applications and this is testified by the fact that most people know or have directly used technologies based on these concepts for their personal activities (for example think of e-book users that daily use cloud based storage to save their data).

This fast pace of development poses great challenges to the field. Some of the most compelling are the scale at which these systems must operate: these technologies must be able to work for thousands and thousands of devices, where such devices should be able to enter and leave the system at any time. Also the fact that such technology is deployed and has a clear market result in the use of these complex systems by non-expert users. Hence, the methodologies should be designed and centred around the user needs without imposing unnecessary cognitive stress on the user, but at the same time, always involving the user in important decisions.

What are your expectations for FIoTA 2016?

Within this context, the FIoTA 2016 conference will provide a unique opportunity to build a network of people with a common goal but extremely diverse background. The common goal will be the development of methodologies and computational approaches to face the dramatic challenges that the IoT is posing, and to do this we need people with diverse background ranging from computer and electronic engineering, computer science, maths, power systems, robotics and so forth. This will provide a great opportunity to significantly impact on the practical deployment of the IoT framework to new fields, boosting the development of research and industry in this new and exciting field.

Registration for AFI 360° Conference is open! Find out more.