IBM’s MessageSight — mastering IoT’s huge data volumes

Posted on 30th April 2013 in automotive, Internet of Things, mobile

The good thing about the Internet of Things is that it will give us unprecedented amounts of real-time data: IMS Research predicts the “… more than 22 billion web-connected devices by 2020… will generate more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data every day.

The bad thing about the Internet of Things is that it will give us unprecedented amounts of real-time data: how can we possibly process it, let alone reduce it to manageable, intelligible (remember the “Wisdom Pyramid?” — just accumulating data isn’t the goal: it’s turning it into actionable wisdom) information?

Now IBM has introduced a critical tool to help deal with that volume of data: the MessageSight appliance.

It uses another important new breakthrough, the Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT), the proposed lightweight open standard for M2M communication (more about that in a future post).

MessageSight is designed specifically to handle the explosion in mobile computing devices. It can support one million concurrent sensors or smart devices and can scale up to thirteen million messages per second.  Wow!

“’When we launched our Smarter Planet strategy nearly five years ago, our strategic belief was that the world was going to be profoundly changed as it became more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent. IBM MessageSight is a major technological step forward in continuing that strategy,’ said Marie Wieck, general manager, WebSphere, IBM.  ‘Until now, no technology has been able to handle this volume of messages and devices. What’s even more exciting is that this only scratches the surface of what’s to come as we continue down this path of a Smarter Planet.’”

IBM cites a possible application in the auto industry:

“For instance, an automotive manufacturer can use IBM MessageSight to help manage the features and services of its automobiles. With thousands of sensors in each car, a dealer can now be notified when a ‘check engine’ light turns on in a specific car. Based on the information transmitted by the engine sensor, the dealer could then notify the owner that there is a critical problem and they should get their car serviced immediately.”

MessageSight is part of IBM’s MobileFirst package of mobile enterprise software, services, cloud and analytics capabilities. The company claims:

“IBM’s MobileFirst platform is the first in the industry to speed the process of building apps by enabling companies to seamlessly integrate analytics and capture the complete on-device experience of how customers are using apps, including insight into gestures, dwell time and navigation.”

Among its features, MobileFirst now offers geo-location services:  “geo-location triggers can be used to extend applications to take contextual action based on a user’s location to provide personalized service.” It also offers cloud services for mobile.

“According to IDC, the market for mobile enterprise infrastructure software and services was $14.5 billion in 2012, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 16.3%. IDC expects this market to reach $30.9 billion in 2016.”

I’ve long believed that IBM is THE leader in the Internet of Things, particularly given the tangible results its Smarter Cities programs have achieved (BTW, regarding my post yesterday about government getting up-to-speed on the IoT, the Obama Administration would do well to look at Smarter Cities as an operating manual…). MessageSight should cement that lead in the technology field!




New McKinsey report on “on-demand marketing”

Posted on 29th April 2013 in 3-D printing, Internet of Things, marketing

As a follow-up to my last post, McKinsey has just written about the advent of “on-demand marketing,” citing the Internet of Things (and, I’d argue, 3-D printing!) as one of the drivers.

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3-D printing could fundamentally change industry!

Posted on 29th April 2013 in 3-D printing, Internet of Things

Years ago, an old friend named Steve Clay-Young told me about how Popular Science (or was it Popular Mechanics? oh well?) mobilized many craftsmen who had metal-working home shops into an important part of the WWII munitions effort by publishing plans that the craftsmen could execute on their home lathes, etc.

I thought back to that effort when reading this Industry Week article predicting that 3-D printing “could herald a new industrial revolution.” Amen!

It also reminded me of a speech I heard by Eric Drexler, the “father of nanotechnology,” back in the ’90s, in which he talked of a bread-box sized “factory” that could sit on your kitchen counter and grind out fully-functioning machines.

“‘In theory, anything that we have today can be produced through 3-D printing. It may just alter manufacturing as we know it,’ said Simon Jones, a technology expert at global law firm DLA Piper.”

It could end the inefficiency of one-size-fits-all mass production that both generates waste (unsold products) and doesn’t really satisfy individual consumers’ needs. Add in the potential to upgrade products’ functions through the Internet of Things, and you’d really have a revolution!

I particularly loved the example of “… customized screws for broken bones which match a patient’s specific anatomical characteristics and thereby cause less deterioration than the traditional variety.” Having suffered through rehab of a tibia that shattered in 6 pieces, I could really go for that!

Bring it on: I’ve got space reserved on my kitchen counter for my 3-D printer!

New IDC report says IoT has reached tipping point for government

As you may know, I’ve been critical of the Obama Administration in the past for ignoring the Internet of Things’ potential. Maybe this report will light a fire under them!

IDC has just released a major report, The Coming of Age of the Internet of Things in Government. Research Director Massimiliano Claps concludes that:

“The Internet of Things is reaching a tipping point that will make it a sustainable paradigm for practical applications. The public sector’s use of the IoT is still limited but emerging strongly in the transport, public security, and environmental sustainability domains …. IoT applications in the public sector can span a variety of domains: public security, defense, environmental protection, transport, and health. In each of these domains, connected objects can provide situational awareness that can help citizens and government personnel act and react at the operational level, monitor the status or behavior of people and assets to make management decisions, and support very fine-grained, sensor-driven analytics that help with planning decisions.”

Couldn’t agree more!

The report says that despite the IoT’s promise to revolutionize a wide range of governmental services, most of the applications to date have focused on environmental monitoring, transportation and security. “The limitations have to do as much with the early stages of the technology as with the management approach to using it.”

It cites some of the emerging m-medicine services that promise to both improve patient care and reduce costs such as around-the-clock mobile vital signs monitoring.

The Coming of Age of the Internet of Things in Government urges agencies to:

“…consider multiple management factors that will influence the ability to harness the benefits of IoT, including the volume, variety, velocity and value of data that are going to be generated, the massive scale of the infrastructure, the complexity of governance, the financial sustainability and the legal aspects.”

I hope this report will prove the impetus for a major new emphasis on governmental applications for the IoT!

Pinoccio is latest #IoT controller

Posted on 28th April 2013 in Internet of Things, Uncategorized

Pinnocio (no h…)  is the latest connectivity device for the Internet of Things, and it looks impressive.

The company calls itself “a complete ecosystem for building the Internet of Things.”

According to an email from company co-founder Eric Jennings to  Design News, it works through:

..a mix of hardware, wireless networking, and an API that we’ve built into each board. Every Pinoccio device has a unique URL that you can view in a Web browser to monitor or actuate it.

One of the things I found appealing about the Pinnocio is that it uses mesh networking.  Their radios  “support wireless and over-the-air programming with 2.4GHz connectivity using the 802.15.4 wireless standard. Web connectivity is available using a WiFi shield.”

The company placed special emphasis on long battery life. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery can run for 400 days if only the MCU is running, but that drops to 28 hours if both the MCU and radio are running at full power. With the radio sleeping and the MCU running battery life is 122 hours.

Ease of use is also a major priority for Pinoccio. Jennings told Design News,

.. within five minutes of opening a Pinoccio package, you can have hardware pushing data to a Web page, or the Web page controlling the hardware….What you do after that is only limited by your imagination.

Pinnocio was designed to be compatible with Arduino boards — Arduino tools can be used to upload software to them.


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Check out the Electric Imp blog!

Posted on 24th April 2013 in Internet of Things

I referred to Electric Imp in a recent post about how GE really gets what I think will be a hallmark of the Internet of Things: collaboration.

After noting that they’d re-Tweeted my tweet about the post I just checked out the Electric Imp blog. They’re doing some verrry kewl stuff. Checkitout.

PS: I love their goal: “Our goal is to connect all the world’s devices.” Laudable!

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Program announced for second Boston #IoT MeetUp

Posted on 24th April 2013 in Internet of Things

Here’s the announcement from my friends at INEX Advisors about the second of our Boston/New England IoT MeetUps, to be held Thursday, May 2nd, at COSM’s new headquarters in the South Boston Innovation District:

Internet of Things MeetUp: Boston/New England #2

Leveraging IoT to Empower Individuals and Small Teams

The Boston/New England technology communities are coming together once again to share
and learn how to best put people at the center of the Internet of Things. The next IoT MeetUp:
Boston/New England on May 2 is at the new headquarters of LogMeIn and COSM, located at
320 Summer Street in Boston, MA.

The theme of this free networking and demonstration event focuses on how new people-centered
IoT solutions can be created by combining repurposed existing technologies with new approaches
to IoT.

National security, public safety and health care markets will be highlighted.

At this MeetUp, one of the world’s leading intelligence community systems integration firms
will demonstrate how it is creating new markets with its service creation and content delivery
platforms. Two small, local companies will also share how they are radically enhancing the
operational effectiveness of public safety and health care workers by creating secure, ad-hoc
networks of connected devices industries.

“I’ve been studying the value of networked devices in homeland security preparation and
emergency response since 2001, so I’m particularly excited about this program,” says David
Stephenson, Stephenson Strategies, and co-organizer of the event.

“The national security industry has long been at the forefront of information and intelligence
collection, analysis and application,” says Chris Rezendes, president of INEX Advisors and
co-organizer. “Almost every technology market has benefitted from some cross-pollination of
defense and commercial markets. IoT is no different.”

This MeetUp is all about empowering individuals and small teams in the broadest of applications
and environments. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with one hour of networking, following by a
one hour speaking program and then more networking.

Speakers include:
• Les Yetton, General Manager, Cosm. Welcoming remarks.
• Michael Simon, CEO, LogMeIn. LogMeIn’s latest chapter: The Innovation District,
• Chuck Samuels, PhD, VP, The SI Organization. Chuck will be briefing attendees on his
firm’s development of a secure marketplace for tool developers to market and monetize their
collections of algorithms, data models, data feeds, applications — including IoT.
• Michael Helfrich, CEO, Blue Force Development (BFD). Mike will thumbnail of couple of
BFD applications in the national security and public safety spaces that place mobile operators
in the middle of ad-hoc networks of unattended devices configured to radically improve their
operational effectiveness in environments with limited resources.

Jeff Carlisle, Founder, ivBreeze. Jeff will share his firm’s vision behind their new digital,
connected IV pump and mobile access platform that drives material positive gains in patient
outcomes. Moreover, the solution creates more opportunity for meaningful interactions
between caregivers and patients by reducing the medical staff time required to support
traditional pump stations.

IoT MeetUp Boston/New England #2, Leveraging IoT to Empower Individuals and Small Teams,
is organized by David Stephenson, owner, Stephenson Strategies, an author, speaker, consultant
and strategist with a passion for creating a community around the Internet of Things, and INEX
Advisors, a new kind of technology intelligence and advisory firm concentrating in helping IoT/
M2M/ Physical Web and related solution developers grow through the intelligent, intentional
deployment of these solutions as a means to create more value – in meaning, time and profit – for
the broadest possible community of users.

To register for this free event or for more information, please visit Search IoT:
Boston/New England.

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Sol Chip: progress in harvesting energy for Internet of Things

Posted on 22nd April 2013 in energy, environmental, Internet of Things

Reducing sensors’ energy needs and meeting them efficiently and without the need for battery replacements is one of the Internet of Things’ important technological obstacles.

That’s why it’s noteworthy that Sol Chip Ltd., an Israeli firm, has won the Technical Development Award  at the 2013 IDTechEx Energy Harvesting & Storage and Wireless Sensor Networks Event.

Its new, patented solar battery technology, the Sol-Chip Energy Harvesterintegrates solar energy sources and low-power electronic devices, eliminating the need for a solar panel while providing long-lasting power for wireless sensors and mobile devices.

The PV cell produces six selectable voltage levels: 0.7 volt, 1.4 volt, 2.1 volt, 2.8 volt, 4.2 volt, 8.4 volt.

Applications include active RFID, security and military, agriculture, livestock sensors, and medical technology.

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O’Reilly free e-book gives overview of “industrial internet”

Posted on 18th April 2013 in energy, Internet of Things, manufacturing, transportation

O’Reilly has published a free e-book,  “Industrial Internet,” (underwritten by GE, which, not so coincidentally, uses the industrial internet as the advertising slogan for its own involvement in the field…) about the “coming together to software and big machines.” It’s a great introduction to this crucial portion of the Internet of Things.

The message of the book? “With a network connection and an open interface that masks its underlying complexity, a machine becomes a Web service, ready to be coupled to software intelligence that can ingest broad context and optimize entire systems of machines.

“The industrial internet is this union of software and big machines… It promises to bring the key characteristics of the Web — modularity, abstraction, software above the level of a single device — to demanding physical settings, letting innovators break down big problems, solve them in small pieces, and then stitch together their solutions.”

Author Jon Bruner emphasizes that industrial internet devices don’t necessarily have to be connected to the public Internet: “…rather, it refers to machines becoming nodes on pervasive networks that use open protocols.”

Machines are reconceptualized as services, “…accessible to any authorized application that’s on the network. Those applications make it possible to simplify optimization of the physical devices without requiring as much knowledge. Most importantly, “…the industrial internet makes the physical world accessible to anyone who can recast its problems in terms that software can handle: learning, analysis, system-wide optimization. (my emphasis)”

Bruner points out that the bigger the network (think the entire US air traffic control system) the more optimized it can become. As Big Data takes over software intelligence “will become smarter and more granular.”

Hallmarks of the industrial internet will include:

  • fewer, smarter machines
  • less labor required to operate them
  • “Any machine that registers state data can become a valuable sensor when it’s connected to a network.”

One point that really struck me was that physical products will be able to be improved on the fly, rather than just when a new model is introduced — think of what that means, in particular, for cars, which can often last up to 15 years: it will become possible to change engine settings simply by a software upgrade transmitter via a smartphone app!

“A software update might include a better algorithm for setting fuel-air mixtures that would improve fuel economy. Initiatives like OpenXC8, a Ford program that gives Android developers access to drivetrain data, portend the coming of ‘plug and play intelligence,’ in which a driver not only stocks his car with music and maps through his phone, but also provides his own software and computational power for the car’s drivetrain, updated as often as his phone. One driver might run software that adjusts the car’s driving characteristics for better fuel economy, another for sportier performance. That sort of customization might bring about a wide consumer market in machine controls.

“This could lead to the separation of markets in machines and in controls: buy a car from General Motors and buy the intelligent software to optimize it from Google. Manufacturers and software developers will need to think in terms of broad platforms to maximize the value of both their offerings.”


The e-book includes a chapter on the crucial issue of security, arguing that, paradoxically, it may be easier to provide security on an Internet-based network — on the premise that the Internet is constantly challenged by hackers and constantly adapts — than on a more limited network. It mentions Shodan (I’ve been seeing a lot about that one recently!) and Basecamp2 as magnets that attract those who might want to hack the Internet of Things.

There’s also a chapter full of helpful case studies from pioneering industrial internet companies in fields including utilities, HVAC/building controls, automotive (I found that one particularly interesting), aviation, railroads (paradoxically, one of our oldest industries is among the most advanced in its use of sensors and other industrial internet technology, as I’ve reported previously), health care, and manufacturing. Any smart manager should get ideas for his or her company by reading them!

“Industrial Internet” is a must read! Download it today.





GE gets it about #IoT: collaboration will be critical attitude

Posted on 17th April 2013 in Internet of Things, management

I had a fascinating phone interview this week with Christina, “CK” Kerley, a brilliant marketing consultant who’s increasingly moving into the Internet of Things arena. I strongly suggest that you check out her videos.

She was most interested in my comments about the management implications of the IoT. I told her that a lot of companies that still practice traditional hierarchical, top-down management won’t be able to fully capitalize on the IoT because a critical element of it that isn’t fully understood is that for the first time, everyone in a company will be able to simultaneously share near-real-time information.

That’s going to bring about fundamental change to those companies that are willing to share information:

  • people will be able to carry out their responsibilities more efficiently because they will have real-time information
  • it will be possible to break down “silos” between departments, as personnel in various departments will have simultaneous information to the the same information, increasing collaboration
  • it will also be possible to share information simultaneously with your supply chain and customers, reducing inefficiency and increasing collaboration.

I’ll guarantee you: when that happens, unprecedented innovation will result, because individuals will be empowered as never before.

One company that clearly gets it is GE, which is really practicing what it preaches about the “industrial internet” (if you have access to the print edition of Time, check out their recent story about making it in America again — it features GE’s Schenectady factory manufacturing the new Durathon batteries — one of the ways it is able to compete with the Chinese is that the assembly line is laden with sensors to relay real-time information…).

I was fascinated by this story about GE’s collaboration with Quirky and Electric Imp to hold a contest to develop several IoT products in time for the holiday 2013 season.  The disparity in size between the goliath GE and Quirky and Electric Imp couldn’t be more pronounced, but GE opted to partner with them:

“GE will open thousands of its most promising patents and new technologies to the Quirky community for the development of new consumer products; and a co-branded product development initiative to build a full line of app-enabled connected devices for the home in areas such as health, security, water or air that will be developed using advanced manufacturing tools and technologies. This new line of products will be co-branded Wink: Instantly Connected.”

Yep, with the Internet of Things collaboration will be critical, and I suspect GE will head the pack!">Stephenson blogs on Internet of Things Internet of Things strategy, breakthroughs and management