Microsoft Corporation has been slowly building its Internet of Things unit. After opening IoT labs in Redmond, Washington and Shenzhen, China, Microsoft has added a third lab in Munich, Germany, per a Bloomberg report.

Source: Microsoft

What is IoT?

“The Internet of Things is a network of connected data-harvesting devices that can convert every measurable action into data, and then collect, store, transmit, analyze and exploit that data to identify patterns and trends to ultimately create actionable intelligence – or, in some cases, cause actions to occur based on that intelligence.”Shudeep Chandrasekhar

What is Microsoft IoT & AI Insider labs?

Microsoft’s IoT & AI Insider Labs is intended to accelerate the time to market for IoT and AI solutions. Working with industry experts, clients can take advantage of the company’s research to stay ahead of the competition. The best part is that these dedicated developer experts aren’t the only resource that customers can utilize.

They will also get to share feedback with the company’s product groups to push their projects forward at a much faster rate than otherwise possible. In addition, Microsoft is offering companies a chance to collaborate with other solution providers, and network with independent developers across multiple industries including energy and transportation, manufacturing and retail, health and wellness.

The growth of the Internet has had a profound effect on modern life, and IoT is the latest innovation that is well on its way to changing a lot of things in our daily lives. The race for autonomous driving technology is a great example of what connected cars, AI and IoT can do to the auto industry. In addition, smart home devices are already well on their way to upending our lives, and there are several ways that businesses and industries can benefit by utilizing IoT systems.

But these are still early days for the IoT ecosystem, which is estimated to draw a whopping $6 trillion in investments by 2020, simultaneously leading to the installation of 24 billion devices.

How Does Microsoft Cloud Fit into the Scheme of IoT and AI?

Cloud service providers such as Microsoft and Amazon have a crucial role to play in the IoT value chain. The idea of IoT is to put millions – or billions – of devices to work, constantly collecting data, and then using that data to make decisions and act on them. The data explosion that this represents needs heavy compute power, storage capacity and artificial intelligence, and this is where cloud service providers will be stepping in.

Although, in the future, devices will get more powerful and try to take as many decisions as they can near the endpoint of data collection itself – a phenomenon called Edge Computing – such a system still needs cloud to do the back-end heavy lifting. But, at this point in time, devices have not yet evolved to that extent, which means the need for cloud capacity is critical during this intense growth phase.

Microsoft has strategically located the labs: one near its own home base (Redmond), one in the engineering capital of the world (Germany) and one in the world’s leading manufacturing nation (China).

Looking at their movements, it’s clear that Microsoft has a firm plan in place to cash in on the exploding IoT market. It will take years for these efforts to fructify, but in the end it will leave Microsoft in a position of sustainable strength in core technology areas such as connected devices, AI-based systems and globally connected cloud infrastructure.

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