Live Blogging #LlveWorx ’18, Day 2

Aiden Quilligan, Accenture Industry X.0, on AI:

  • Mindset and AI: must undo what Hollywood has done on this over years, pose it as human vs. machine.
  • We think it should be human PLUS machine.
  • he’s never seen anything move as fast as AI, especially in robotics
  • now, co-bots that work along side us
  • exoskeletons
  • what do we mean by AI?  Machine learning.  AI is range of technologies that can learn and then act. AI is the “new work colleague” we need to learn to get along with.
  • predictions: will generate #2.9 trillion in biz value and recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity in 2021.
  • myths:
    • 1) robots evil, coming for us: nothing inherently anti-human in them.
    • 2) will take our jobs. Element of truth in terms of repetitive, boring work that will be replaced. They will fill in for retiring workers. Some new industries created by them.  Believe there will be net creation of jobs.
    • 3) current approaches will still work.

6 steps to the Monetization of IoT, Terry Hughes:

  • Digital native companies (Uber) vs. digitally transforming companies
  • also companies such as Kodak that didn’t transform at all (vs. Fujifilm, which has transformed).
  • Forbes: 84% of companies have failed with at least one transformation program.  Each time you fail you lose 1/2 billion
  • steps:
    • 1) devices with potential
    • 2) cloud network communication
    • 3) software distribution
    • 4) partner and provider ecosystem
    • 5) create a marketplace.
    • 6) monetization of assets.
  • crazy example of software company that still ships packages rather than just download because of initial cost in new delivery system
  • 3 big software challenges for digitally transforming company
    • fragmented silos of software by product, business unit & software
    • messy and complex distribution channels
    • often no link between software and the hardware that it relates to
  • importance of an ecosystem
    • Blackberry example of one that didn’t have the ecosystem
  • 3rd parties will innovate and add value around a manufacturer’s core products
  • in IoT it’s a land grab for mindshare of 3rd-party innovators.
  • need strong developer program
  • tools for app development and integration
  • ease of building and publishing apps
  • path to discovery and revenue for developer
  • IDC: developer ecosystem allow enterprises to massively scale distribution
  • digitally native companies have totally different models (will get details later…)
  • hybrids:
    • GE Healthcare:  working with Gallus BioPharma
    • Heidelberg & Eig have digital biz model for folding carton printing. Pay per use
  • Ford is heading for mobility as a transformation

 


Bernard Marr: Why IoT, Combined With AI and Big Data, Fuels 4th Industrial Revolution

 

  • connecting everything in house to Internet
  • Spotify: their vision is they understand us better. Can correlate your activity on Apple Watch (such as spinning) & create a play list based on that)
  • FitBit: the photo will estimate your calorie content.
  • John Deere
  • ShotSpotter: the company that monitors gun shots
  • understanding customers & markets better than before:
    • Facebook: better at face recognition than we are. They can predict your IQ, your relationship status.
  • Lot of frightening, IMHO, examples of AI analyzing individuals and responding without consideration of ethics and privacy
  • 3) improving operations and efficiency:
    • self-driving boats
    • drones
    • medicine through Watson

panel on IoT:

  • Don’t be afraid of the cloud
  • Ryan Cahalane, Colfax: prepare for big, start small and move fast. They had remarkable growth with switch to IoT.  Not a digital strategy, but digital in everything they do. Have “connected welders,” for example.
  • Justin Hester, Hirotec: most importatnt strategic digital transformation decision your organization can make is the selection of a platform. The platform is the underlying digital thread that enables your team to meet  the unique and chanding needs of your organization and to scale those solutions rapidly. “Assisted reality” in ThingWorx
  • Shane O’Callahan, TSM (Ireland):  Make industrial automation equipment for manufacturing. Understanding your key value driver is where to start. Then start samll, scale fast and get a win!

Jeffrey Miller, PTC: Digital Transformation:

  • if you start with digital strategy you’re starting in wrong place Start with business strategy. 
  • Couple with innovation vision merged with digital strategy. Add business use cases.
  • Jobs: it’s not how much you spend on R & D, but “about the people you have, you you’re dled, and how much you get it”
  • create an environment for innovation
    • do we encourage experimentation?
    • is it ok to fail
  • identify digital technologies to provide the required operating capabilities:
    • have we conducted proofs of concept?
    • experimented, tested  and validated?
    • reviewed use cases & success studies?
    • delivered small, important, scalable successes?

Matt,  PTC: Bringing Business Value to AR:

  • augmented service guidance
  • remote expert guidance
  • manufacturing: machine setup and turnover, assembly and process
  • example of Bell & Howell towers to store online sales in WalMart stores for customer pickup: very expensive to send one to a store for salesperson to use in sales — now just use AR app to give realistic demo without expense.
  • service: poor documentation organization, wants accurate, relevant, onsite info for technician. Want to remove return visits because the repair wasn’t done 1st time, or there’s a new technician. Manuals in binders, etc. Instead, with AR, requirements are quick access to current info. Finally, a demo.

Suchitra Bose, Accenture: Manufacturing IIoT, Driving the Speed of Digital Manufacturing:

  • convergence of IT and OT
  • expanding digital footprint across your entire factory
  • PTC has wide range of case studies (“use cases” in biz speak…) on aspects of IoT & manufacturing.

“All of Us:” THE model for IoT privacy and security!

pardon me in advance:this will be long, but I think the topic merits it!

One of my fav bits of strategic folk wisdom (in fact, a consistent theme in my Data Dynamite book on the open data paradigm shift) is, when you face a new problem, to think of another organization that might have one similar to yours, but which suffers from it to the nth degree (in some cases, even a matter of literal life-or-death!).

That’s on the likelihood that the severity of their situation would have led these organizations to already explore radical and innovative solutions that might guide your and shorten the process. In the case of the IoT, that would include jet turbine manufacturers and off-shore oil rigs, for example.

I raise that point because of the ever-present problem of IoT privacy and security. I’ve consistently criticized many companies’ lack of attention to seriousness and ingenuity, and warned that this could result not only in disaster for these companies, but also the industry in general due to guilt-by-association.

This is even more of an issue since the May roll-out of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), based on the presumption of an individual right to privacy.

Now, I have exciting confirmation — from the actions of an organization with just such a high-stakes privacy and security challenge — that it is possible to design an imaginative and effective process alerting the public to the high stakes and providing a thorough process to both reassure them and enroll them in the process.

Informed consent at its best!

It’s the NIH-funded All of Us, a bold effort to recruit 1 million or more people of every age, sex, race, home state, and state of health nationwide to speed medical research, especially toward the goal of “personalized medicine.” The researchers hope that, “By taking into account individual differences in lifestyle, environment, and biology, researchers will uncover paths toward delivering precision medicine.”

All of Us should be of great interest to IoT practitioners, starting with the fact that it might just save our own lives by leading to creation of new medicines (hope you’ll join me in signing up!). In addition, it parallels the IoT in allowing unprecedented degrees of precision in individuals’ care, just as the IoT does with manufacturing, operating data, etc.:

“Precision medicine is an approach to disease treatment and prevention that seeks to maximize effectiveness by taking into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle. Precision medicine seeks to redefine our understanding of disease onset and progression, treatment response, and health outcomes through the more precise measurement of molecular, environmental, and behavioral factors that contribute to health and disease. This understanding will lead to more accurate diagnoses, more rational disease prevention strategies, better treatment selection, and the development of novel therapies. Coincident with advancing the science of medicine is a changing culture of medical practice and medical research that engages individuals as active partners – not just as patients or research subjects. We believe the combination of a highly engaged population and rich biological, health, behavioral, and environmental data will usher in a new and more effective era of American healthcare.” (my emphasis added)


But what really struck me about All of Us’s relevance to IoT is the absolutely critical need to do everything possible to assure the confidentiality of participants’ data, starting with HIPP protections and extending to the fact that it would absolutely destroy public confidence in the program if the data were to be stolen or otherwise compromised.  As Katie Rush, who heads the project’s communications team told me, “We felt it was important for people to have a solid understanding of what participation in the program entails—so that through the consent process, they were fully informed.”

What the All of Us staff designed was, in my estimation (and I’ve been in or around medical communication for forty years), the gold standard for such processes, and a great model for effective IoT informed consent:

  • you can’t ignore it and still participate in the program: you must sign the consent form.
  • you also can’t short-circuit the process: it said at the beginning the process would take 18-30 minutes (to which I said yeah, sure — I was just going to sign the form and get going), and it really did, because you had to do each step or you couldn’t join — the site was designed so no shortcuts were allowed!:
    • first, there’s an easy-to-follow, attractive short animation about that section of the program
    • then you have to answer some basic questions to demonstrate that you understand the implications.
    • then you have to give your consent to that portion of the program
    • the same process is repeated for each component of the program.
  • all of the steps, and all of the key provisions, are explained in clear, simple English, not legalese. To wit:
    • “Personal information, like your name, address, and other things that easily identify participants will be removed from all data.
    • Samples—also without any names on them—are stored in a secure biobank”
    • “We require All of Us Research Program partner organizations to show that they can meet strict data security standards before they may collect, transfer, or store information from participants.
    • We encrypt all participant data. We also remove obvious identifiers from data used for research. This means names, addresses, and other identifying information is separate from the health information.
    • We require researchers seeking access to All of Us Research Program data to first register with the program, take our ethics training, and agree to a code of conduct for responsible data use.
    • We make data available on a secure platform—the All of Us research portal—and track the activity of all researchers who use it.
    • We enlist independent reviewers to check our plans and test our systems on an ongoing basis to make sure we have effective security controls in place, responsive to emerging threats.”

The site emphasizes that everything possible will be done to protect your privacy and anonymity, but it is also frank that there is no way of removing all risk, and your final consent requires acknowledging that you understand those limits:

“We are working with top privacy experts and using highly-advanced security tools to keep your data safe. We have several  steps in place to protect your data. First, the data we collet from you will be stored on=oyters with extra security portection. A special team will have clearance to process and track your data. We will limit who is allowed to see information that could directly identy you, like your name or social security number. In the unlikely event of a data breach, we will notify you. You are our partner, and your privacy will always be our top priority.”

The process is thorough, easy to understand, and assures that those who actually sign up know exactly what’s expected from them, what will be done to protect them, and that they may still have some risk.

Why can’t we expect that all IoT product manufacturers will give us a streamlined version of the same process? 


I will be developing consulting services to advise companies that want to develop common-sense, effective, easy-to-implement IoT privacy and security measures. Write me if you’d like to know more.

Great Podcast Discussion of #IoT Strategy With Old Friend Jason Daniels

Right after I submitted my final manuscript for The Future is Smart I had a chance to spend an hour with old friend Jason Daniels (we collaborated on a series of “21st Century Homeland Security Tips You Won’t Hear From Officials” videos back when I was a homeland security theorist) on his “Studio @ 50 Oliver” podcast.

We covered just about every topic I hit in the book, with a heavy emphasis on the attitude shifts (“IoT Essential Truths” needed to really capitalize on the IoT and the bleeding-edge concept I introduce at the end of the book, the “Circular Corporation,” with departments and individuals (even including your supply chain, distribution network and customers, if you choose) in a continuous, circular management style revolving around a shared real-time IoT hub.  Hope you’ll enjoy it!

Apple Watch 85% Accuracy in Detecting Diabetes May Be Precursor of Early Diagnoses

Permit me to (re-)introduce myself, LOL.

I haven’t posted since the end of October, because I was totally absorbed in writing The Future is Smart, my book about IoT strategy, which will be released in August by AMACOM, the publishing wing of the American Management Association. A major theme of the book is that the IoT lifts what I term the condition of  “Collective Blindness” that used to plague us before the advent of real-time data from sensors and the analytical software to interpret that data. Collective Blindness meant that we were frequently operating in figurative darkness, having to guess about how things worked or didn’t without direct observational data, which meant that we frequently didn’t learn about problems inside things until after the fact, which could mean costly (and sometimes fatal) corrective maintenance was all that was possible.

Those “things” unfortunately included the human body.

Usually the only way to uncover a problem inside our bodies pre-IoT was through costly pre-arranged tests at the doctor’s or a hospital. They could only provide a snapshot in time, documenting your body’s state at that precise moment (when, after all, you might be flat on your back wearing a johnny — not exactly representative of your actual condition as you go about your daily routine!). If you had no complaint warranting such a test, the condition might go undiagnosed until it was significantly worse (remember the contrast between prompt predictive maintenance of a jet turbine and costly emergency repairs when a disaster loomed?).

That’s why the news from Brandon Ballinger, the Google alum who was co-founder of the Cardiogram app (get it! I did! and I joined their Artificial Intelligence-driven Health eHeart Study as well!) is so important. In a clinical study released last week, the research team found that the Apple Watch is 85% accurate in detecting diabetes in those previously diagnosed with the disease. The paper was presented at the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence last week in New Orleans.

Results from heart monitoring with Apple Watch and Cardiogram app

The study analyzed data from 14,000 Apple Watch users, finding that 462 participants through the heart rate sensor, the same type of sensor.

The investigation tested a 2015 finding by our famous local Framingham Heart Study that resting heart rate and heart rate variability significantly predicted incident diabetes and hypertension.

According to TechCrunch,  Ballinger’s team had previously used the Watch “to detect an abnormal heart rhythm with up to a 97 percent accuracy, sleep apnea with a 90 percent accuracy and hypertension with an 82 percent accuracy when paired with Cardiogram’s AI-based algorithm.”

This is important for several reasons.

We’ve read for several years about single-purpose devices that might be able to diagnose diabetes and determine the need for insulin without painful pinpricks, but the Cardiograph research might show that simply harvesting enough data with a multi-purpose fitness device such as the Watch and being able to interpret it creatively with Artificial Intelligence would be enough. That’s the logical next step with the Health eHeart Study.

It reminds me of the example I’ve mentioned several times before of neonatologists from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and IBM data scientists combining to analyze the huge amount of sensor data harvested from preemies’ bassinettes and being able to diagnose a potentially-lethal neonatal sepsis infection a full day before any visible sign of the infection.

Given these two examples, one must ask, how many other health problems might be diagnosed in their earliest stages, which cures are most likely and least expensive, if routine monitoring through devices such as the Apple Watch become commonplace and the results are crunched with AI? In particular, this could be a key part of my SmartAging concept.

Exciting!

 

NB: I work part-time for The Apple Store, but am not privy to any strategy or inside information. These opinions are purely my own as an Apple Watch user.

 

iQ handheld ultrasound: another game-changing IoT health device

As the Red Sox’ Joe Castiglione might say, “Can you believe it?” (I should add a few more question marks to underscore exactly how unbelievable this IoT device is).

That’s my reaction to the latest astounding IoT medical device, the iQ handheld ultrasound, which attaches to a smartphone.

I was mesmerized by the headline on a story about the Butterfly iQ: “Doctor says he diagnosed his own cancer with iPhone ultrasound machine.” (spoiler alert: he was operated on to remove the tumor, and is OK).

Then there’s the marketing pitch: “Whole body imaging. Under $2K.” (that’s as opposed to $115,000 for the average conventional machine).

Oh.

The video is a must watch: the doctors seem truly amazed by its versatility and ease-of-use — not to mention it can be accessed instantly in a life-or-death situation. As one is quoted saying, “This blows up the entire ultrasound playing field.”

It won’t be on the market until next year, but the FDA has already approved the iQ for diagnosis in 13 applications.  Even more amazing, due to advanced electronics, it uses a single probe instead of three, and can document conditions from the superficial to deep inside the body. The system fits in a pants pocket and simply attaches to the doctor’s smartphone.

As incredible as the iQ will be in the US, think of how it will probably bring ultrasound to developing nations worldwide for the first time!

Another video discusses the engineering, which reduced the entire bulky ultrasound machine to a far-less costly chip, (including a lot of signal processing and computational power) and capitalizes on technologies developed for consumer electronics. The approach doesn’t just equal the traditional piezioelectric technology, but surpasses it. with power that would cost more than $100,000 with a conventional machine.

In terms of manufacturing, Butterfly can use the same chip machines used to produce consumer goods such as smartphones, and can print nearly 100 ultrasound machines on less than one disk.

I thought instantly of my go-to “what can you do with the IoT that you couldn’t do before” device, the Kardia EKG on the back of my iPhone (I met a woman recently who said her Mass General cardiologist prescribes it for all of his patients). Both are absolute game changers, in terms of ease of access, lower cost, allowing on-the-spot monitoring and even potentially empowering patients (Yet another tool to make my SmartAging concept possible).

Oh, and did I mention that the iQ’s Artificial Intelligence will guide even inexperienced personnel to do high quality imaging within a few seconds?

Bottom line: if you talk to someone who doesn’t believe the IoT’s potential to make incredible changes in every aspect of our lives, just say: iQ. Wow!

A Vision for Dynamic and Lower-Cost Aging in Cities Through “SmartAging”

I’ve been giving a lot of thought recently about how my vision of I0T-based “SmartAging” through a combination of:

  • Quantified Self health apps and devices to improve seniors’ health and turn their health care into more of a partnership with their doctors
  • and smart home devices that would make it easier to manage their homes and “age in place” rather than being institutionalized

could meld with the exciting developments in smart city devices and strategy.  I believe the results could make seniors happier and healthier, reduce the burdens on city budgets of growing aging populations, and spur unprecedented creativity and innovation on these issues. Here’s my vision of how the two might come together. I’d welcome your thoughts on the concept!

 

A Vision for Dynamic and Lower-Cost Aging in Cities Through “SmartAging”

It’s clear business as usual in dealing with aging in America won’t work anymore.  10,000 baby boomers a day retire and draw Social Security. Between now and 2050, seniors will be the fastest growing segment of the population.  How can we stretch government programs and private resources so seniors won’t be sickly and live in abject poverty, yet millennials won’t be bankrupted either?

As someone in that category, this is of more than passing interest to me! 

I propose a new approach to aging in cities, marrying advanced but affordable personal technology, new ways of thinking about aging, and hybrid formal and ad hoc public-private partnerships, which can deal with at least part of the aging issue. Carving out some seniors from needing services through self-reliance and enhancing their well-being would allow focusing scarce resources on the most vulnerable remaining seniors. 

The approach is made possible not only by the plummeting cost and increasing power of personal technology but also the exciting new forms of collaboration it has made possible.

The proposal’s basis is the Internet of Things (IoT).  There is already a growing range of IoT wearable devices to track health indicators such as heart rates and promoting fitness activities, and IoT “smart home” devices controlling lighting, heat, and other systems. The framework visualized here would easily integrate these devices, but they can be expensive, so it is designed so seniors could benefit from the project without having to buy the dedicated devices.

This proposal does not attempt to be an all-encompassing solution to every issue of aging, but instead will create a robust, open platform that government agencies, companies, civic groups, and individuals can build upon to reduce burdens on individual seniors, improve their health and quality of life, and cut the cost of and need for some government services. Even better, the same platform and technologies can be used to enhance the lives of others throughout the life spectrum as well, increasing its value and versatility.

The proposal is for two complementary projects to create a basis for later, more ambitious one.

Each would be valuable in its own right and perhaps reach differing portions of the senior population. Combined, they would provide seniors and their families with a wealth of real-time information to improve health, mobility, and quality of life, while cutting their living costs and reducing social isolation.  The result would be a mutually-beneficial public-private partnerships and, one hopes, improve not only seniors’ lives, but also their feeling of connectedness to the broader community. Rather than treat seniors as passive recipients of services, it would empower them to be as self-reliant as possible given their varying circumstances. They would both be based on the Lifeline program in Massachusetts (and similar ones elsewhere) that give low-income residents basic Internet service at low cost.

Locally, Boston already has a record of achievement in internet-based services to connect seniors with others, starting with the simple and tremendously effective SnowCrew program that Joe Porcelli launched in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood. This later expanded nationwide into the NextDoor site and app, which could easily be used by participants in the program.

The first project would capitalize on the widespread popularity of the new digital “home assistants,” such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home.  One version of the Echo can be bought for as little as $49, with bulk buying also possible.  A critical advantage of these devices, rather than home monitoring devices specifically for seniors, is that they are mainstream, benefit from the “network effects” phenomenon that means each becomes more valuable as more are in use, and don’t stigmatize the users or shout I’M ELDERLY. A person who is in their 50s could buy one now, use it for routine household needs, and then add additional age-related functions (see below) as they age, amortizing the cost.

The most important thing to remember about these devices regarding aging is the fact that they are voice-activated, so they would be especially attractive to seniors who are tech-averse or simply unable to navigate complex devices. The user simply speaks a command to activate the device.

The Echo (one presumes a variation on the same theme will soon be the case with the “Home,” Apple’s forthcoming “Home Pod” and other devices that might enter the space in the future) gets its power from “skills,” or apps, that are developed by third-party developers. They give it the power, via voice, to deliver a wide range of content on every topic under the sun.  Several already released “skills” give an idea of how this might work:

  • Ask My Buddy helps users in an emergency. In an emergency, it can send phone calls or text messages to up to five contacts. A user would say, “Alexa, ask my buddy Bob to send help” and Bob would get an alert to check in on his friend.
  • Linked thermostats can raise or lower the temperature a precise amount, and lights can also be turned on or off or adjusted for specific needs.
  • Marvee can keep seniors in touch w/ their families and lessen social isolation.
  • The Fitbit skill allows the user who also has a Fitbit to trace their physical activity, encouraging fitness.

Again looking to Boston for precedent, related apps include the Children’s Hospital and Kids’ MD ones from Children’s Hospital. Imagine how helpful it could be if the gerontology departments of hospitals provided similar “skills” for seniors!

Most important to making this service work would be to capitalize on the growing number of city-based open-data programs that release a variety of important real-time data bases which independent developers mash up to create “skills”  such as real-time transit apps.  The author was a consultant to the District of Columbia in 2008 when it began this data-based “smart city” approach with the Apps for Democracy contest, which has spawned similar projects worldwide since then.  When real-time city data is released, the result is almost magic: individuals and groups see different value in the same data, and develop new services that use it in a variety of ways at no expense to taxpayers.

The key to this half of the pilot programs would be creating a working relationship with local Meetups such as those already created in various cities for Alexa programmers, which would facilitate the relationship) to stage one or more high-visibility hackathons. Programmers from major public and social service institutions serving seniors, colleges and universities, and others with an interest in the subject could come together to create “skills” based on the local public data feeds, to serve seniors’ needs, such as:

  • health
  • nutrition
  • mobility
  • city services
  • overcoming social isolation (one might ask how a technological program could help with this need. The City of Barcelona, generally acknowledged as the world’s “smartest” city, is circulating an RFP right now with that goal and already has a “smart” program for seniors who need immediate help to call for it) .

“Skills” are proliferating at a dizzying rate, and ones developed for one city can be easily adapted for localized use elsewhere.

Such a project would have no direct costs, but the city and/or a non-profit might negotiate lower bulk-buying rates for the devices, especially the l0wer price ($59 list) Amazon Dot, similar to the contract between the Japan Post Group, IBM, and Apple to buy 5 million iPads and equip them with senior-friendly apps from IBM which the Post Group would then furnish to Japanese seniors. Conceivably, the Dots bought this way might come preloaded with the localized and senior-friendly “skills.” 

The second component of a prototype SmartAging city program would make the wide range of local real-time location-based data available by various cities usable by cities joininh the 100+ cities worldwide who have joined the “Things Network” that create free citywide data networks specifically for Internet of Things use.

The concept uses technology called LoRaWAN: low-cost (the 10 units used in Amsterdam, each with a signal range of about 6 miles, only cost $12,000 total — much cheaper ones will be released soon), and were deployed and operative in less than a month!  The cost and difficulty of linking an entire city has plummeted as more cities join, and the global project is inherently collaborative.

With Things Network, entire cities would be converted into Internet of Things laboratories, empowering anyone (city agencies, companies, educational institutions, non-profits, individuals) to experiment with offering new services that would use the no-cost data sharing network.  In cities that already host Things Networks,  availability of the networks has spawned a wide range of novel local services.  For example, in Dunblane, Scotland, the team is developing a ThingsNetwork- based alarming system for people with dementia.  Even better, as the rapid spread of citywide open data programs and resulting open source apps to capitalize on them has illustrated, a neat app or service created in one city could easily be copied and enhanced elsewhere — virtuous imitation!

The critical component of the prototype programs would be to hold one or more hackathons once the network was in place.  The same range of participants would be invited, and since the Things Network could also serve a wide range of other public/private uses for all age groups and demographics, more developers and subject matter experts might participate in the hackathon, increasing the chances of more robust and multi-purpose applications resulting.

These citywide networks could eventually become the heart of ambitious two-way services for seniors based on real-time data, similar to those in Bolsano, Italy

The Internet of Things and smart cities will become widespread soon simply because of lowering costs and greater versatility, whether this prototype project for seniors happens or not. The suggestions above would make sure that the IoT serves the public interest by harnessing IoT data to improve seniors’ health, reduce their social isolation, and make them more self-sufficient. It will reduce the burden on traditional government services to seniors while unlocking creative new services we can’t even visualize today to enhance the aging process.

Amazon Echo Silver: bringing a little laughter (& the IoT) to aging

Some of you may remember that I’ve blogged several times about my enthusiasm for Amazon’s Alexa as a cornerstore of what I call SmartAging, the combination of IoT health-monitoring devices to keep you healthier and smart home devices to make it easier to manage your home and avoid institutionalization.

However, I’m in awe of how the crackerjack gerontology researchers at SNL (don’t forget, kiddies, we were your age when the show began in 1975. Sobering, eh?) in “partnership” with AARP, LOL, have custom crafted a special edition Echo for the “Greatest Generation”: Amazon Echo Silver!

My particular favorite feature is the random “uh huh” to punctuation seniors’ rambling stories, but Kate McKinnon’s bit about turning up the thermostat when it’s already 100 is also priceless, and all the other vignettes are pretty over-the top as well (thank goodness I can ping my iPhone with my Apple Watch — I find increasingly creative places to put the phone down). I’ve never been that great on names, so the range of acceptable variations on “Alexa” would be welcomed (BTW: I could swear that one day recently when I was talking to Alexa Siri responded. Why can’t those gals get along?).

I could point out that the “uh huh” might really be a first step toward a really interactive device that could help seniors overcome social isolation, but why weigh down with social significance something that’s an absolute riot?

Aging: if you can’t laugh about it, you’re in serious, serious trouble.

 

 

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IoT Saving Lives

Posted on 15th April 2017 in health, Internet of Things, m-health

What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?

That’s a question from my friend and patron Eric Bonabeau that I’ve raised before with regard to the IoT, and it’s a worthwhile counter-weight to focusing on the steady increases in operating efficiency that incremental IoT strategies can bring about (a not-t0o-subtle plug for the webinar that I’ll do on that subject May 2nd with low-code hotshots Mendix.  Register now!). Sure, concentrate your efforts on squeezing every bit of precision you can, but don’t forget that the IoT can also really change everything.

I’m reminded of that by this piece by Kevin Ashton, who coined the “Internet of Things” name when he was working on early RFID projects at MIT.  He writes about a brilliant insight by Prof. Shwetak Patel, a MacArthur Fellow at the University Washington.  He’s a polymath whose IoT creations include  Zensi a residential energy monitoring device a low-power wireless sensor platform company called SNUPI Technologies, and WallyHome, a consumer home sensing product.

Patel was studying COPD (once called emphysema) which causes shortness of breath and coughing. 5% of the world population suffers from it, and 3 million die from COPD yearly. In the US alone it causes 3/4 million hospitalizations and is the 3rd largest cause of death.

To diagnose it, doctors use spirometers, which cost thousands of dollars, to measure air flow in and out of lungs. Most COPD sufferers don’t have access to them. Hmm. What could substitute for the spirometers? Patel realized there were actually billions of devices that could do the job: the microphones in everyone’s phones! His research group created an algorithm that calculates lung health by analyzing the sound of a person blowing into the mic.  The patient just calls a toll-free number and blows into the phone. Computers analyze the data and tell the patient the results within seconds by voice or a text message. The algorithm’s now so sophisticated that it has 95% accuracy on cellphones and landlines alike.

How cool is that?

The same Ashton piece also talks about a more prosaic medical issue that’s still crucial to patients: how to navigate hospitals. A study he cited at Emory Hospital in Atlanta documented that the problem cost them $400,000 a year, or $800 per bed, not to mention the distraction resulting when  busy staff members are interrupted t0 help patients find their way to a lab or doc’s office.

      My Way App

Specifically, the innovation Ashton cited was at my favorite hospital, Boston Children’s, where my youngest spent a lot of time as a baby & I’ve donated blood for 40 years.  Let me tell you, because Children’s is a pastiche of buildings built since 1871, it kinda resembles a rabbit warren, and, as we like to say in these parts, “you can’t get there from here.”  So the hospital now has a “My Way” app that makes it simple to navigate the maze.

The Ashton piece nicely encapsulated the IoT’s potential: from small changes that make current reality easier to literally and figuratively navigate to new innovations that can literally change your life. Sweet!

 

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Updating my “SmartAging” device design criteria

Could seniors be the ideal test group for user-friendly consumer IoT devices?

Two years ago I created a series of criteria by which to evaluate IoT devices that seniors might use (N.B., I didn’t really focus on ones specifically designed for seniors, because I have an admitted bias against devices with huge buttons or that look like mid-century period tube radios — it’s been my experience that seniors aren’t crying out to be labeled as “different.”) to improve their quality of life.

The particular emphasis was on what I called “SmartAging,” which synthesizes two aspects of the IoT:

  • Quantified Self health devices to keep seniors healthier longer and to become partners with their doctors rather than passive recipients of care, and
  • smart home devices to make it easier to run their homes, so that seniors could remain on their own as long as possible rather than entering some drab, sterile assisted-living facility (again, my bias showing…).

A lot has happened since I compiled the list. The changes have solidified my conviction that seniors, especially the less technologically minded, might be the acid test of consumer IoT user friendliness because they can’t be expected to work as hard at mastering devices, they don’t have the automatic openness of digital natives, and encounter differing degrees of reduced agility, etc. 

Also, given the current political climate, it makes sense to try to improve seniors’ lives as much as possible without requiring costly public services that are in jeopardy (I am trying to be civil here, OK?).

The most dramatic of these developments is the amazing success of Amazon’s voice-activated Echo.  I’ve praised it before as an ideal device for seniors, partially because voice is such a natural input for anyone, and particularly because it means that the tech-averse don’t have to learn about interfaces or programs, just speak! Even better, as the variety of “skills” increases, the Echo really is becoming a unified SmartAging hub: I can now control my Sensi smart thermostats and the “Ask My Buddy” skill can even call for assistance, so it works for both halves of SmartAging.  Although I haven’t tested it, I assume much of this also holds true for the Google Home.

There’s an increasing variety of other new Quantified Self devices, some of which are specifically focused on seniors, such as the GreatCall Jitterbug Smart phone, which comes with a simplified, over-size home page featuring “brain games” a la Lumosity, and an Urgent Response system (all of these features are available on an iPhone and, I assume, on Android, but must be set in Settings rather than being the default settings).

In addition, on the personal level, I convinced my Apple Store (disclaimer: I’m at the bottom of the food chain with Apple, not privy to any policies or devices under consideration, so this is just my opinion) to let me start bi-weekly classes at the local senior center on how to use Apple devices, especially the iPad. I continue to work with a lot of seniors who come into the store who are often leery of tech products.

Silver Medal!

Most directly, last month’s companywide Apple Wellness Challenge was life-changing for me.  This year the friendly competition focused on the Apple Watch (important, since a watch is a familiar form-factor to geezers). After wasting three days trying to find the app, I really got into the event because we could share results with friends to encourage (or shame, LOL) them — that really motivated me.  Bottom line: I managed to win a Silver Medal, Apple featured my experience on the event website, and, most important, I made lasting changes to my fitness regimen that I’ve sustained since then, now exercising almost an entire hour a day. I couldn’t help think afterward that the program really did show that user-friendly technology can improve seniors’ lives.

Sooo, with a few more years to think about them and more progress in devices themselves, (as well as increased sensitivity to issues such as privacy and security) here are my amended criteria for evaluating products and services for seniors. As I mentioned the first time, Erich Jacobs of OnKöl assisted with the specs):

Ease of Use

  1. Does it give you a choice of ways to interact, such as voice, text or email? Voice in particular is good for seniors who don’t want to learn about technology, just use it.
  2. Is it easy for you to program, or — if you them give your permission — does it allow someone else to do it remotely?
  3. Does it have either a large display and controls or the option to configure them through settings?
  4. Is it intuitive?
  5. Does it require hard-wired, professional installation?
  6. Is it flexible: can it be adjusted? Is it single purpose, or does it allow other devices to plug in and create synergies? Can it be a true hub for all your IoT devices?
  7. Does it complicate your life, or simplify it?
  8. Do any components require regular charging, or battery replacement?

Privacy, Security, and Control

  1. Is storage local vs. cloud or company’s servers? Is data encrypted? Anonymized?
  2. Do you feel creepy using it?
  3. Is it password-protected?
  4. Is security “baked in” or an afterthought?
  5. Can you control how, when, and where information is shared?
  6. If it is designed to allow remote monitoring by family or caregivers, can you control access by them?
  7. Will it work when the power goes out?

Affordability

  1. Are there monthly fees? If so, low or high? Long term contract required?
  2. Is there major upfront cost? If so, is that offset by its versatility and/or the contrast to getting the same services from a company?
  3. Does full functioning require accessories?

Design/UX

  1. Is it stylish, or does the design” shout” that it’s for seniors? Is it “Medical” looking?
  2. Is the operation or design babyish?
  3. Would younger people use it?
  4. Is it sturdy?
  5. Does it have “loveability” (i.e., connect with the user emotionally)? (This term was coined by David Rose in Enchanted Objects, and refers to products that are adorable or otherwise bond with the user.)

Architecture

  1. Inbound
    1. Does it support multiple protocols (eg. Bluetooth, BluetoothLE, WiFi, etc)
    2. Is the architecture open or closed?
  2. Outbound
    1. Does it support multiple protocols (eg. WiFi, Ethernet, CDMA, GSM, etc)
    2. Data path (cloud, direct, etc)
  3. Remote configuration capability (i.e., by adult child)? If so, can the user control amount of outside access?

Features and Functions

  1. Reminders
    1. Passive, acknowledge only
    2. Active dispensing (of meds)
  2. Home Monitoring
    1. Motion/Passive Activity Monitoring
    2. Environmental Alarms (Smoke, CO, Water, Temp)
    3. Intrusion Alarms (Window etc)
    4. Facilities/Infrastructure (Thermostat)
  3. Health Monitoring
    1. Vitals Collection
    2. Wearables Activity Monitoring
    3. Behavioral/Status Polling (How are you feeling today?)
    4. Behavioral Self-improvement
  4. Communications Monitoring
    1. Landline/Caller ID
      1. Identify scammers
    2. eMail and computer use
      1. Identify scammers
    3. Mobile phone use
  5. Fixed Personal Emergency Response System (PERS)
  6. Mobile Personal Emergency Response System (PERS)
  7. Fixed Fall Detection/Prediction
  8. Mobile Fall Detection/Prediction
  9. Telehealth (Video)
  10. New and Innovative Features

If you’re thinking about developing an IoT product and/or service for seniors I hope you’ll consider the SmartAging concept, and that these criteria will be helpful. If you’re looking for consulting services on design and/or implementation, get in touch!

Amazon Echo: great tech present for your tech-averse parents!

Never let it be said that I get serious about my Christmas shopping until about this date!

This year, my major suggestion is about a product that it took me a full year to buy after my mother-in-law of a certain age sent last Christmas’s check: never let it be said that I rush into purchases of any kind (I should explain that I’m like the Beacon Hill Brahmin lady who explained to a New York counterpart asking where she bought her hat: “We don’t buy hats. We have hats.” Similarly, I try to avoid buying absolutely anything: I just have what I absolutely need. A strange and complex bird, I am …).

The item in question? An Amazon Echo, which, characteristically, I bought refurbished for $50 off!

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

That leads me to a last-minute suggestion for an unlikely use of said Echo: introducing your tech-averse parent to the benefits of smart home and Quantified Self technology (AKA my “SmartAging” paradigm to keep seniors healthy and in their own homes instead of an institution).

 As I wrote a year ago, I think the neatest thing about the Echo in that regard (and, to a lesser extent, other voice-controlled IoT devices, although they’re handicapped because they just don’t have Alexa’s quick response time and already huge and constantly growing list of “skills) is that you don’t need to know any technology to use it: you just say “Alexa:….” and she does it!

While I knew the Echo had gone far beyond its original use to stream music, I had no idea until I bought it how robust and rapidly-growing it’s “skills” have become, and that it’s really a full-fledged smart home hub (why buy a dedicated hub that just sits there and doesn’t provide any of the Echo’s other benefits? Got me..).  It’s hard to keep up, but a recent Turbo Future article, “Amazon Echo: 15 Best New Features,” gives a pretty good overview, and it seems to me that most of them involve various services that can make it a lot easier, and definitely more enjoyable, for aging parents to continue to live in and manage their homes (although some judicious Christmas morning set-up by adult children may be in order for those seniors who avoid technology like the plague), because all you have to do is talk and listen! They’ll appreciate Alexa even more if their hands are full, which is often the case in the kitchen.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • shopping lists: my wife doesn’t share my love of gadgetry, but we both love this simple service.  Say “Alexa, add flour to my shopping list,” and it’s instantly on the Alexa app on your phone, to pull out at the supermarket. As someone who dutifully makes shopping lists and then always forgets them, that’s worth the service alone.  I won’t buy my household staples from Amazon because, despite the savings, I don’t like the ecological impact that specialized service causes, but if that’s not an issue for you, you can order products directly from Amazon using Alexa.
  • ordering services: you can hail an Uber or order a Domino’s Pizza. For a senior who doesn’t have a car, that can be great!
  • music: obviously the prime market for Amazon’s and other streaming music services such as Pandora is millennials, but, guess what, you can even get Guy Lombardo (the soundtrack of my earliest years because of my parents’ 78’s) simply by asking Alexa.  The ultimate time machine!
  • books: if you parent has vision problems, audible books may be a boon, and since Amazon now owns Audible, this is also possible.
  • news: I’ve been trying to wean myself from the news since Something Bad Happened Last Month, but I’m still drawn like a moth to the flame, so I can get NPR instantly. A growing variety of other sources are also available.
  • smart home: I just installed two Sensi thermostats as I get deeper into smart home technology on the home front. Even though they have a great app that lets me adjust the temp when I’m away from home, it’s neat to just say “Alexa, turn down the heat two degrees” and have her do the work, not me! Next up? Adding my WeMo lights.
  • cooking: even though you can now get Echo’s little brothers (Dot and Tap) for use elsewhere in the home — or even outdoors — most Echos are found in the kitchen, and nothing is worse than flour-covered hands on a cookbook.  Now you can even ask Alexa for a great recipe for a certain dish, use it to make your shopping list, and follow the steps for making the dish, all just by asking her. Neato.
  • calendar: they may not be working anymore, but seniors have got a lot of appointments — the doctor, or my wife’s 95-year old aunt’s tango lessons (I kid you not!), so if you link your Google Calendar, Alexa will make sure you’re not late.

Equally important (and I suspect this will become more of a feature in the near future) the Echo can even help you stay on top of the other part of my SmartAging vision: improving your health, because you can access your Fitbit data.  There’s already a skill to help parents with kiddies’ ailments, from our Children’s Hospital, so why not one for geriatrics as well??

That’s just for now, and independent developers are adding new “skills” for Alexa at a dizzying pace.  So, if you still don’t have a present for Grannie? Get her an Echo, and since it’s from Amazon, she’ll still get it by the 25th!

 

http://www.stephensonstrategies.com/">Stephenson blogs on Internet of Things Internet of Things strategy, breakthroughs and management