Microsoft has announced it will invest $5 billion in research, products and services for the Internet of Things (IoT) over the next four years.
The investment will be made into IoT operating systems, cloud services for managing and controlling those operating systems, analysis tools to make use of the data from IoT, and business applications. In more practical terms, this means making Windows 10 more IoT aware, and developing Azure further.
The announcement of the investment follows a few days after Microsoft announced it was reorganizing internally, splitting the Windows and Devices Group and reshuffling elsewhere to:
"focus on the intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge,"
according to CEO Satya Nadella.
Making Windows 10 more IoT aware is already underway, with Windows 10 IoT Core and Enterprise already available, and work already announced on making it easier to integrate Windows 10 IoT and Azure IoT. Azure IoT is also getting new services and options, including Azure IoT Central, Microsoft's software-as-a-service (SaaS) option that can be used to connect physical devices to back-end services. Azure IoT Hub has also seen new facilities added including a base level telemetry tier. The Azure IoT Hub service can be used to connect billions of IoT devices sending trillions of messages, and the new telemetry tier offers basic cloud to device messaging as well as device management capabilities.
Writing about the investment, Julia White, corporate vice president of Azure, said in a blog post that:
"We will continue research and development in key areas, including securing IoT, creating development tools and intelligent services for IoT and the edge, and investments to grow our partner ecosystem. Customers and partners can expect new products and services, offerings, resources and programs."
The focus on Azure follows on what Microsoft announced at last year's Build developers' conference, where every other session seemed to have 'the edge' as part of the title. This was emphasized by Nadella, who told journalists at the time:
"When everyone's talking about the cloud, the most interesting part is the edge of the cloud. Whether it's IoT, whether it's the auto industry, whether it's what's happening in retail, essentially compute is going where the data gets generated, and increasingly data is getting generated at the volumes in which it's drawing compute to it, which is the edge."
In this no comment we focus on the growing technique of super-resolution. The idea is simple take a low resolution photo and scale it up with more pixels. The surprising thing is that it is possible to fill in more of the missing data than you might imagine using neural networks.
This is a clever idea that solves the real problem of the IoT - creating sensors that can work without being hardwired to anything. It is difficult to know how practical this approach is but it deserves understanding because it not only eliminates the need for a battery but for any electronics at all.
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