Video, A Growing Part of Internet of Things Technology

According to Robert McKeeman, CEO of Atlanta-based Utility Associates Inc., the Internet of Things has different definitions, depending on the point of view and the type of data. Some people define it as small devices talking to one another with simple messages, like a thermostat or telemetry equipment at a drilling rig site, such as a drilling pump or separation equipment. But McKeeman also includes video as one of the solutions available through Internet of Things technologies.

Utility focuses on providing Internet of Things solutions that range from simple data messaging to real-time streaming video for the oil and gas and other industries. One Utility customer, Houston-based Stage 3 Separation LLC, which provides solids control services, uses Utility’s wireless vehicle routers and fixed location routers to track and communicate with its mobile assets. Utility also provides broadband and WiFi access for drilling sites and telemetry and asset tag information so anybody with a smart phone or tablet can have a WiFi hotspot on site like at their home or office.

“It’s not just about simple telemetry - not that telemetry is simple, but about complex information from real-time video streaming from a remote job site,” McKeeman told Rigzone.

Last year, the company acquired a company that manufactures video recorders and cameras used in police cars. It plans to apply this equipment to the energy market segments it services, and is in the early stages of migrating the technology for use in its business sectors such as public transit.

“We see tremendous potential for this technology to allow operators to have more visibility in their operations, including offshore oil rigs.”

While machine to machine, or devices talking to one another without people in the transaction, remains a significant part of M2M that will continue to grow, McKeeman sees satellite and other devices that allow companies to know what’s going on at a work site will be a game changer for the oil and gas industry. McKeeman predicts that devices at oil and gas equipment at drilling sites will get smarter and smarter, leading to endless possibilities such as monitoring when equipment actually needs to be serviced, not when it’s scheduled for service.

The size and cost of oil and gas equipment means it will take time for existing equipment to be replaced with smart equipment. It will take 10 to 15 years, but the trend of more intelligent equipment is coming as the performance of communication equipment doubles and prices drop by half every 18 months, as cited in Moore’s Law.


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Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at


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