In a world of increasingly connected humans, the new frontier is devices and the Internet of Things (IoT). Alibaba Cloud wants to secure its position in this rapidly growing market by connecting ten billion devices over the next five years.
President of Alibaba Cloud Computing and Corporate Senior Vice-President Hu Xiaoming announced the ambitious plan today at the Computing Conference Summit in Shenzhen, where he compared AI to the human brain, cloud computing to the heart, and the IoT to the sensorium.
“The Internet’s first phase was digitizing human activities such as shopping, social, and entertainment. This formed the booming market of four billion Internet users,” explains Hu. “The second half is digitizing the physical world of cars, forests, rivers, factories… Even trash cans are being connected to the internet! And this will be a profound technological change, a new productivity revolution.”
Market research firm IDC predicts that by 2020 there will be 50 billion networked terminal devices in the world, storing about 50 percent of all data. Alibaba has been vying for the IoT market since all the way back in 2014 when it formed its Smart Living Group. In 2017 the company fast-tracked IoT development with a dedicated IoT Group, partnering with 200 companies to develop the industry standard ICA Alliance.
In 2017 August development of the first IoT-dedicated town, Hong’Shan Township, began in partnership with the Wuxi Gaoxin District Government. The town has sensors tracking fire hazards and water pipe leakage, a system that auto adjusts and saves energy on street lamps, and advertising billboards that can flash warnings in case of emergency.
Alibaba Cloud has also signed contracts with Suzhou City on an “economic brain” project, Chongqing city on public transportation projects, Suzhou and Shanghai for real-estate management.
Another component of Alibaba’s IoT strategy are Internet cars powered by its AliOS operating system. There are 500,000 SAIC Motor, Dongfeng Peugeot-Citroën, and Ford automobiles on the road connected with AliOS.
Alibaba Cloud IoT says it will focus on providing an open, convenient IoT platform augmented with strong AI capabilities, while at the same streamlining the collaborative computing of cloud, edge, and end devices.
The actual deployment will follow a “1234” strategy:
- 1 Alibaba Cloud – IoT platform in service beginning June 2017
- 2 Ports – AliOS operating systems for central devices; edge computing product Link Edge for end users
- 3 Partners – developers, chip/module developers, and industry partners
- 4 Sector – smart city, automobile, household, and manufacturing
Journalist: Meghan Han | Editor: Michael Sarazen