“The goal is not to do a research project. The goal is to build devices,” said Alex Khorram, who is the telecom financier running Comcast’s new MachineQ Internet-of-Things initiative. He was addressing the crowd gathered at the Pennovation Center at the Grays Ferry Ave. complex. Penn has invited many big companies and startups to work with students and faculty on Internet of Things, robotics, and some other cool development projects.
Penn president Amy Gutmann, Research vice provost Dawn Bunnell, and Engineering dean Vijay Kumar, opened gates to partnerships and they hope that these partnerships will boost old fashioned government and corporate research patronage at Ivy League medical-engineering-university. “The vast majority of what Penn will innovate with Comcast on will be the enterprise,” Khorram said. “All facets of life will depend on being able to gather and process data from sensors placed, well, everywhere.”
MachineQ was announced by Comcast Corporation in October. This initiative is aimed at developing devices that Comcast can plug into their existing home-security and home-entertainment services to expand their Internet of Things networks making use of LoRaWAN standard, which is becoming much popular across the world. Khorram said there is not enough cheap powered networking to reach all the places that Comcast Corporation and their customers need to connect. This is the reason why device interconnectivity took so long to arrive.
“The old 2G (second generation) wireless network would have worked pretty well, but all that’s going away as more modern networks spread, and it’s cost-prohibitive to those devices. The focus now is on boosting battery capacity so the connected society (can) happen,” Khorram said. “Comcast’s Xfinity network does a great job offering high speeds, short distance, high network that could be extended for more applications.”
Comcast is also concentrating on industrial networks like the Philadelphia Water Department’s emerging IoT systems and they are planting small radios on Comcast towers located in some of the neighborhoods as they are developing “Connectivity as a service,” with some of the partners like Google. Reports say that Google is adding sensors to data servers to speed up the process of data processing.
Comcast is also sponsoring an IoT Pennovation Challenge to promote the initiative at Penn seeking teams to make innovative solutions for the Internet of Things on MachineQ platform. The first prize would be 3000 dollars together with six months access to Pennovation Center services and machines.