IoT Patent Pipeline

By: Alec Schibanoff

George Carlin said it best: “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.” If he were around today, Carlin would say that the Internet is just a way to connect all our stuff while we go out looking for more stuff to connect.

The earliest references to an “Internet of Things” goes back to prehistoric times—1999. And just as technology grows exponentially, applications for the Internet of Things or IoT have grown exponentially as well. Both Lowe’s and The Home Depot have smart home sections—just one outgrowth of IoT—and they are both right up in the front of the store, not in the back with the plumbing and carpeting.

In this edition of Patent Pipeline, we look at four recently granted patents that give us a view into the future direction for IoT technology. We will take a look at improved security for IoT connections and networks, a gigabit optical access network for connecting all those devices, smart home and office management with an emphasis on energy savings, and what comes next after smart homes and smart offices.

Next-Generation Security for IoT Networks

As more and more devices are added to an IoT network—some of which are not directly under control of the network's owner or operator—the opportunity for fraud increases dramatically. U.S. Patent No. 9,432,378 for “Internet of Things Security” is from independent inventor and IBM alumnus Jerome Svigals, and it addresses this issue head on. This patent has a 2011 Priority Date, and it is the latest in a three-patent portfolio that addresses improved, human-intervention-free, secure communications between and among IoT network devices.

This patent discloses a security system that enables IoT devices to securely communicate with each other over a network—without human intervention. It creates an interface security device that resides between each IoT device and the network. This interface security device may be implemented as a solid-state mechanism, a logic unit, or an application, and it scans each incoming message to determine its source and time, two unique characteristics that each message has. Each incoming message is only accepted when the source and time of the incoming message is validated by the sender of the message. Additionally, all interface security devices are synchronized periodically to maintain integrity of time checks so that a hacker cannot fool the system by finagling with the time of the message or the timing of an interface security device.


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