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Will the Internet of Things have arms and legs?

At the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES), this week, NFC was big news: Sony said it’s pushing NFC into its Bravia TVs, assorted speakers and a 1TB network server, enabling pairing with Xperia phones and opening the way for the Internet of Things (IoT) and the connected home.

LG announced an NFC-equipped oven, fridge and robot vacuum-cleaner as part of its "Smart Things" range. 

But what if the vacuum cleaner gets stuck or somebody’s unplugged the TV? In that situation, presently only a human can fix the problem.

That’s because the role of robots in the IoT is still at an early stage. But, as its potential arms and legs, RFID-enabled robots equipped with sensors, could automatically navigate a smart environment faster, more safely and more accurately than humans. 

Here’s another scenario: The IoT informs a service robot that an office waste bin is full. The network can help the robot navigate by passing commands to, for example, the building elevator. The IoT can tell the robot where replacement rubbish bags are to be found. Or the robot may proactively seek this information, from the IoT. 

In the Netherlands, RoboEarth, is a multi-disciplinary partnership of robotics researchers from academia and industry aiming to create a world wide web for robots. The project involves building a cloud-based database which can be accessed by different kinds of robots. When a robot has solved a problem it can add this information to the cloud so that the next robot, with the same problem, can download the instructions. This is a means of equipping robots so that every possible problem no longer needs to be accounted for in the design phase. Neither do the robots need a large array of sensors to give them learning abilities.

Are there more robot focussed IoT projects out there? There will be soon. An IoT with arms and legs can’t be too far away now.

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