The entire telecoms industry needs to focus on ensuring the IoT delivers real value to consumers, and the security and user simplicity of connected devices should be of paramount importance, said Jeff Fonseca, the regional sales director, Americas at chip vendor NXP in an interview with Telecoms.com.
As an NFC specialist whose customer case examples in the contactless payments space include the London Underground’s contactless travel, the badges at MWC, and several banks’ EMV cards, NXP is increasingly focusing on IoT. According to Fonseca, securing connected devices is something that has to happen for consumers to really get on board with the IoT.
“What we bring in terms of IoT is really the security. All the [secure] stuff we do in passports, all the stuff we do on bank cards, and secure payments, getting you securely onto trains, that type of secure technology, embedding that and infusing that into other categories like IoT [is on our agenda].”
But he said it is not yet clear what exactly is behind the much hyped term. “Honestly, IoT is a big word that I don’t know has a true definition of what’s going to be the one key thing that is IoT. There’s so many moving pieces and parts the difficulty is really unwrapping that, and then making sure we know where we need to be on the trajectory with the right players and partners.
“We need to have ways to execute upon very good security and connectivity that is simple for consumers to use, and that is scalable. It [IoT] shouldn’t be just a buzz word, it should actually have usable value for the consumer.”
Fonseca said there’s not much point in having numerous connected devices in the home unless there’s one common way to communicate with them. “You’re not gona have 10 different devices that all talk a different language in your home, that’s not gona scale in the IoT space. But if you have the ability to have a few devices that talk a similar language, then consumers start to see value from the perspective of managing your home with your smartphone, for example.”
But with having billions of devices connected to the internet come security implications, and Fonseca said ensuring consumers’ security is a key consideration. “How does that work, and how does that work securely? How do you take the cloud and connect it down to these end-point devices in your home and still manage them with your smartphone or your tablet.
“These are the difficult conversations we all have to have as an industry to move in that direction to make sure that in the end it’s all about the consumer, and making sure that there’s an extremely simple and usable product for them. Even though it’s complex underneath to do all this stuff that has to happen in IoT, the consumer doesn’t care, the consumer just wants it to work and they want it to be secure.”
At the MWC 2015 NXP was showcasing its product portfolio, which on top of the technology to secure bank cards and passports also includes solutions for connected car, wireless mobile charging, and ‘smart-audio’ solutions that enhance voice and call clarity based on information passed on by algorithms designed to recognise the environment from which the call is made. The firm has also developed wireless, magnetic inductance-based earbuds as part of a concept it calls ‘true mobility’.
At the beginning of the month NXP announced its plan to acquire competitor Freescale Semiconductor. “We are going to acquire them and the announcement so far has stated that part of that [acquisition] is this IoT convergence play,” Fonesca said. “Freescale is very strong in that category as well, and we’ll see some obvious synergies from taking what NXP has and from what they can bring to the table towards an IoT play.”
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