Decisions Blog

Decisions among the Internet of Things

Decisions and the Internet of Things

Rules Triggering Connected Device Actions

Recently a customer asked us about Philips HUE light bulbs – so we went to Home Depot and grabbed two of them. Within 15 minutes of unboxing we had them flashing whenever a new support ticket came in. We always knew that we could add intelligence to the IoT trend – but it was fun to prove to ourselves how easy it would be.

 

If I Only Had a Brain…

The problem we understood well was that every time you want a connected device to do something – it required manual user input. Leading products like the Nest thermostat have started to incorporate automated decision making into their products so it can learn and execute against a consumers lifestyle. Our theory is that over time, these networks of devices will need to be taught what actions or events should be triggered given certain conditions. To us – its all about the rule engine.

Instead of consumers spending energy and time telling these devices what to do in every situation you can visually develop rules using Decisions Rule Engine that say – when these conditions are met – do this thing. And those conditions can be dynamic in nature and evolved rapidly over time without writing code. We want to enable device manufactures and their solution partners with a central “brain” that let’s them add capability to their devices without additional complexity or effort form the consumer.

 

The Internet of Things and the Internet of Decisions

Fundamentally – the Internet of Things is a collection of devices that can communicate through web services or other methods of integration.

Every day the mission of connecting devices progresses with new devices adopting standard communication mechanisms and frameworks for managing groups of related devices being put into applications for consumers and businesses alike.

So what is the next step? Letting those devices make decisions.

Adding intelligence to these devices and groups of devices can add more value to the Internet of Things by requiring less manual input and decision making from the end user. Adopting a workflow or process thinking lens can make this idea simple.

In the current IoT paradigm there are two basic steps that you can place in a series to get work done.

  1. Trigger action on device.
  2. Receive data from device.

Adding intelligence in the form of rules can add complexity and sophistication to these fundamental steps. This adds a third step to the IoT paradigm and the potential combinations of these steps begin to increase:

  1. Trigger action on device.
  2. Receive data from device.
  3. Evaluate data.

Using these three concepts you can start to do more than just collect data or trigger actions – you can evaluate what is happening in a system and essentially empower the device to make its own decisions as to when actions are triggered.

At this point – we have devices communicating – and actions automatically being triggered based upon certain conditions. For this value to be fully realized we need to consider how the system is working together. How do we orchestrate events based upon other system events? How do we get data from other sources to include in these automated decisions? Our answer is workflow.

  1. Trigger action on device.
  2. Receive data from device.
  3. Evaluate data.
  4. Aggregate, move, manipulate data.

Now we have four theoretical puzzle pieces to work with as we create this intelligent IoT fabric. Using Decisions visual workflow development environment you can drag and drop steps that represent activities in a system to orchestrate more sophisticated processes.

For example – you could monitor an email inbox for a message from a specific sender – when an email is received look up data we have on that sender in an external database – and if one of those attributes matches an incentive we are offering that quarter we can flash the light bulb in our office and automatically send an email. This is a somewhat vague and mashed-up example – but hopefully it illustrates potential.

 

What else could we do?

At the end of the day – we are workflow and rule experts capable of supporting high volume systems with our enterprise-grade software. We hope to find partners who can help us apply our expertise to specific IoT problems.

The IoT space is rapidly evolving – we’d love to get your feedback at info@decisions.com.