Bob Metcalfe, Polaris Venture Partners

MIT engineer, Ethernet inventor, 3Com founder, InfoWorld pundit, and now Polaris partner and Ember chairman.

After 38 years of Internet proliferation and evolution, more than 250 million new Ethernet switch ports were shipped last year. But, this a small number compared to the 10 billion embedded micro-controllers that will be shipped this year. What lessons have we learned from Ethernet that might help with the control, sense, and identity (CSI) networking of these billions of microcontrollers? Layering is key, as we learned by putting Internet Protocol on top of Ethernet plumbing, and 20 years later putting the World Wide Web on top of the Internet, and 10 years after that layering Google on top of the Web. Standards are key, as we learned by creating IEEE Project 802 to make Ethernet a de jure standard, and now look how many dots we have, like 802.15.4. Does this mean we just wire up the billions of smaller nodes as we always have? Or should we go wireless? Does this mean we just slip 802.15.4 CMOS radios under IPv6? Or do we need ZigBee? Come hear stories.