Bosch says the future is the Internet of Things

German appliance maker creates separate firm to design sensors for its own products and for the market as a whole

Bosch, a company best known as a maker of appliances, including stoves, dishwashers, washing machines and coffee makers, is increasing its focus on the Internet of Things.

Germany-based Bosch has created a new firm, Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions, "for the Internet of things and services."

The Internet of Things will deliver its benefits gradually, one appliance upgrade at a time.

Sensor rich devices monitoring Web-enabled apps can put the worried homeowner at ease. 'Did I remember to turn the stove off before leaving the house? Is the refrigerator door open?' The Internet of Things will provide the answer.

The Internet of Things will automate many actions. For instance, a smart home can be tied into weather reporting and use the information to automatically close windows and shutters in advance of a storm.

The new Bosch firm will develop sensors and actuators. The latter can convert electric signals from sensors or control units into physical action, the company said.

A goal of the new firm is to supply "compact electronic products and software expertise" intended to make devices and objects "intelligent and Web-enabled."

Bosch is also a tech company that makes MEMS, or microelectromechanical systems. MEMS can detect changes in an environment, such as motion. An accelerometer, used in smartphones to sense when the device has been rotated, is such a sensor.

Bosch says it is the world's largest supplier of MEMS sensors in terms of revenue.

Bosch will be demonstrating some its ideas at next month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

"The introduction of MEMS sensors in automotive electronics in the 1980s and 1990s marked the first wave of growth. The second major wave has been their widespread incorporation in smart phones, tablets, and games consoles since the beginning of the 21st century - and the Internet of Things and services now heralds the third wave. We're convinced that it will far surpass the first two waves," said Volkmar Denner, chairman of Robert Bosch GmbH, in a statement.

"Sensors, signal processing, batteries, and transmitters have become so small, energy efficient, and inexpensive - even as all-in-one units - that they can be used in their billions. And at the same time radio networks are now available almost everywhere," he added.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His email address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

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