The Marriage of the Internet of Things and Real-Time Communications

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The Marriage of the Internet of Things and Real-Time Communications

By Jim Machi, SVP of Product Management and Marketing  |  September 06, 2016

Device connectivity and the Internet of Things are taking the industry by storm. IDC estimates that more than 29 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020. Cisco (News - Alert) estimates more than 50 billion connected devices. And these devices will drive new industries and revenue streams to the tune of more than $1.7 trillion by 2020.

This is clearly a force we all need to understand, especially those of us in the communications industry, because communications as we know it will change. Prior to IoT, communications typically meant voice/video/messaging from person to person, or in small instances, person to machine. With IoT, voice/video/messaging communications will become part of a larger application where real-time communications becomes a necessary feature, not the focal point of the application.

IoT use cases involve sensors that drive connected cars, smart cities, wearables, inventory tracking, and other things we have yet to see. It may also involve cameras being everywhere, even on drones. The possibilities are essentially endless. But this will all require the creation of enormous amounts of data. There are estimates that data being generated in 2020 will be 49 times the amount of data generated in 2013, growing from 0.09 of a zetabyte to more than 4.4ZB in 2020, according to IDC (News - Alert). (Note: I had to look up what ZB meant; zetabyte is defined as a unit of information equal to one sextillion (10^21) bytes. To put this into context, with 4.4ZB you could watch 158 million years of HD video.) This is mind boggling, really. 

What will happen is that there will be APIs that enable services and applications to be generated from all this analysis of the data. We are seeing API conferences pop up, and this is the key reason why. These truly M2M interactions will transfer data from one point to another point, building up some large information database someplace for analytics to do their thing. Trends will be seen that couldn’t be seen before, impacting all of us in still unknown ways. 

Many IoT interactions will be M2M one that require human interaction in a relatively short period of time. Some examples include a tire pressure sensor indicating low tire pressure, which shows up on our car console (one most of us probably have seen in our car way too many times), a smart city or smart home water sensor measuring lower water pressure and thus a leak somewhere, or even a beer keg sensor measuring low beer and thus the need for delivery of another beer keg. Again, there will be applications that enable these alerts. These M2M-IoT interactions ultimately require a person to actually do something relatively soon.

But there will be some M2M-IoT use cases involving real-time communications and real-time person activity. One that we all might have experienced is using a credit card outside of normal patterns. For instance, if you travel and use your card in a state you never have travelled to, you might have gotten your spend declined at the register, only to get a text message asking you to hit a number to approve the spend. This all was generated in the background by M2M interactions. Now expand that out to IoT. 

Imagine you have a connected car. Your connected car has all kinds of sensors to detect when to brake, how your car is performing, etc., and a connected speaker that will communicate with you. If your car stopped suddenly and no brakes were applied, it might mean you got into a crash. If you have the right app, you might find your car talking to you to see if you are OK. Your talking car will most likely be your vehicle assistance company or an emergency services drone hovering above connected to your car speaker. All the wearables you have on you will also be measuring and probing your health. Something might indicate to the right application that you have some kind of problem. And if you did, you might also hear someone talking to you asking if you need assistance. Video could be involved as well. There are cameras seemingly everywhere. This is one example I can think of for the marriage of IoT and voice communications, but I’m sure there are literally thousands, if not hundreds of thousands more use cases involving voice and video.

My point is that the communications industry can and will play in the IoT market with the marriage of real-time communications and IoT.  It will just be different than what built all of our companies today. The main app will not be person-to-person communication like we are used to.  The value of IoT to our companies is tremendous, and the voice/video/messaging part we know well will be a part of a larger application story. 

Jim Machi is senior vice president of product management and marketing at Dialogic (News - Alert) Inc. (

Jim Machi is SVP of Product Management and Marketing at Dialogic Inc. (

Edited by Alicia Young