By Jemima Burke Journalism @nuigalway@LaunchPadNUIG. The recent Enterprise Ireland / New Frontiers IoT initiative in Galway proved to be a great success.

Irish Tech News managed to find out more in this interview with Fergal Concannon, applications Engineer EMEA at Advantech B+B Smartworx. 

What will the IoT Summit here in Galway accomplish?

It is introducing people to a lot of the concepts behind IoT – where it comes from, how it can move forward, and its uses and applications. It’s to educate people, get them thinking and looking at what other people are doing, seeing if they can understand the concept and start running with it. IoT – this type of communication for devices – has been around a long, long time, since the 1940s. It’s just the technologies have changed that allow it to work.

Businesses are using IoT anyway. They just have to take a look and consolidate what they’re using – get everything to work the same so everything’s talking the same protocols, the same types of communication, mixing technologies from what they have already into the new.

Where are we as regards IoT development in Ireland?

We’d be relatively well advanced here in Ireland. The company I work for, Advantech B+B SmartWorx, has been operating here in Galway for the last 13 years and the company itself has been running since the early 80s so we’ve been involved in this industry for a long, long time and we’ve found there’s a huge amount of companies in Ireland that are also in this industry.

Tell me about B+B SmartWorx.

We’re an industrial communications company. We make equipment that would be used for communications in harsh environments generally: industrial processes, transport, utilities, defence.
If you see here in Galway the bike scheme. All the equipment that’s used for the communications in that scheme comes from us which we actually supply to the French company who put it out there in the field in France and here in Ireland. Also the traffic management here in Galway, all the communication equipment in that is ours, also through another one of our partners. We would have had a large amount of experience in different sectors when it was actually called machine-to-machine and not IoT. IoT is a nice marketing term that was applied to it!

Can you elaborate on the concept of IoT?

It’s not any one technology. It’s a whole range of technologies. So it involves all the different types of communications platforms like Cellular, Fixline, the likes of Sigfox. There are a lot of different technologies in the field … legacy systems, RS485, RS232. Every device out there generally has some form of communications available on it.

It’s just: how do you get all that information back and how do you make it useful. So introducing legacy systems into the newer technology as well is also key to that. You can’t just suddenly put in a whole new system. Commercially it’s not going to work. So integrating old with new is quite important.

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