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Intel makes a cool IoT acqusition – but Samsung underlines that this has to be a collaborative fight

It seems like all of the big tech players are eyeing IoT as the next frontier, whether that’s connecting the dumb devices that are already out there, deploying more and better smart things, or actually making sense of how these things all work together.

Intel is no different and today it announced the buyout of an open standards champion in the fields of computer vision and machine learning, Itseez, with the news that: “Intel is transforming from a PC company to a company that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices.”

Itseez specialises in algorithmically-driven self-driving car software and facial recognition, as well as making its contribution to the OpenCV Library, an open-source standardisation effort on computer vision started by Intel itself back in 1998.

At first, the news that autonomous driving is near the top of the list sounds pretty interesting, but the nuts and bolts of the wider internet of things present some other exciting, and scary challenges, too.

“This is the ‘autonomous era’, and machine learning and computer vision will become critical for all kinds of machines – cars among them, ” Intel’s Doug Davis said in a blog post.

Just last night, Samsung was the keynote at an event in London and the company’s sales and marketing director for Europe, Paul Birkett, outlined its intentions in this space.

Indeed, the internet of things was the entire focus for his speech, in which he said: “This is the biggest change since cloud and mobile, which means a massive shift in the skill set.”

In many ways, Samsung looks like the company to beat here. Birkett said it’s now selling 44,000 mobile phones an hour, as well as 5,400 TVs. It also makes ‘white goods’ for the home, digital displays and even builds nuclear power stations.

But he says Samsung is now far more interested in what it can do in enterprise tech, particularly in how IoT will transform business. And, fortunately, collaboration is increasingly the word on most executives’ lips.

“We need an open ecosystem,” Birkett said. “There’s no point keeping infrastructure, products, support and training to ourselves.”

He pointed to stats that show just how huge a project this is for any one company to deal with. Just 2 per cent of devices that could be connected to the web are connected today – that means there are 15bn ‘living’ machines right now – and there are hundreds of billions more that could follow.

Intel has outlined its intentions to “connect the unconnected” device-wise too. It’s also hoping that Itseez’s machine learning software will ensure that the Intel-powered IoT can do a lot of its thinking without the need for human intervention.

But, in spite of its potential for future intelligence, it’s the human skills, Birkette said, that’ll make or break the likes of Samsung, and indeed Intel, operating as an IoT leader.

IT workers will have to ensure that the platforms offer interoperability, the humans themselves must be able to perform hardcore analytics, which includes visualisation too, as well as providing security infrastructure for an almost overwhelming amount of data.

More so than ever, IT people will need to “come out of the basement” and help connect that data to the humans that need to interact with it.

It’ll be interesting to see exactly how quickly these tech giants start to walk the walk on collaboration.

And, indeed, whether anyone yet has the skills to deliver something that is both open, and secure, at such scale.