The Internet of Things is gaining traction in a wide variety of industries, creating opportunities unimaginable just a few years ago. And local companies are ready to capitalize on the benefits it offers — with the help of Lorain County Community College.
The impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) won’t be limited to large corporations, says Hikmat Chedid, an engineering, business and information technologies professor at LCCC and a certified digital forensics analyst.
“The Internet of Things will touch every person’s life and every company’s operations,” says Chedid.
Because of its ability to reduce operating costs, increase productivity and help companies expand to new markets and develop new product offerings, the IoT creates big benefits to large and small businesses alike. LCCC is working as the conveyor of a number of IoT areas of expertise that come together to benefit small businesses, connecting businesses and creating partnerships across the region.
Chedid says that with collaboration, most companies can improve their results by taking advantage of the way in which smart devices communicate. Take, for instance, Ridge Tool Company, which is throwing highly sophisticated electronics down the drain. Literally.
Partnerships that launch products
Ridge Tool’s latest development is part of a wave of information technology that’s going to foster collaborations and impact every business. That impact could be especially pronounced in the Midwest, at companies such as the Elyria-based manufacturer of RIDGID power tools.
Ridge Tool’s software solutions team — which includes several LCCC graduates — devised a concept for a powered drain-cleaning machine. They worked with LogiSync, an Avon-based company specializing in electronic product design and development, to help finalize the plans. Once ready for public use, the product will, with the assistance of a small electronic sensor, map drain lines and transmit information to the user, providing information on clogs, cracks or other issues.
“We had the proof of concept, and LogiSync was able to take that and develop it into a polished, finished product with the firmware and the code to connect to our data services,” says Ridge Tool President Fred Pond.
Pond calls the sensor-aided drain machine a “new-to-the-world application,” one made possible by the increase in WiFi capabilities, the decrease in the cost of sensor technology and the willingness to work with an outside party like LogiSync.
Preparing for jobs of the future
Chedid, who developed an LCCC course on the Internet of Things, and who is leading a group of LCCC faculty to develop an associate degree in IoT, says the college, with its industry partners, plays a vital role in preparing students for the connected world that awaits them.
By 2020, analyst firm Gartner estimates there will be more than 20 billion “smart” devices, and the IoT is the mechanism by which these “things” connect to each other and to human beings. Companies must work together and with educational institutions such as LCCC to prepare students for these jobs.
Because the IoT involves sensors to gather data, a microchip processor to compute data, a radio to transmit data, a receiver to accept, interpret and act on data, and a cloud to store it, these layers of complexity require partnerships to leverage the IoT. Ridge’s association with LogiSync, for example, illustrates how companies can work together to achieve results.
“To do an end-to-end IoT project requires a lot of disciplines to work together, and we worked with people they had hired from LCCC to put together the application for Ridge,” says Ed Yenni, founder and president of LogiSync.
And he says the college’s role as educator has an equally important counterpart — convener.
“LCCC fulfills a much-needed role beyond just educating students on the Internet of Things,” Yenni says. “The college also serves as a center that brings together thought leaders, industry, government and entrepreneurs that wish to capitalize on this rapidly developing third wave of the internet.”