My take on the IoT at CES

Here I am languishing in bitterly-cold Massachusetts, while all the cool kids are playing with toys at CES!  I’ll try to get over it and give you my impressions of the Internet of Things new product introductions, as filtered through the lens of my IoT Essential Truths:

  • Perhaps the most important development is Samsung’s whole-hearted embrace of the IoT, building on its acquisition of SmartThings.  In his keynote, Samsung CEO BK Yoon struck exactly the right notes, emphasizing the need for open standards and collaboration.Within 5 years, all new Samsung products will be IoT enabled.Don’t forget that Samsung doesn’t just make consumer products, but also critical IoT tools such as sensors and chips.  Its 3-D range sensors that can detect tiny movements may be a critical IoT components.SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson was part of the presentation, and stressed:

    “For the Internet of Things to be a success, it has to be open, Any device, from any platform, must be able to connect and communicate with one another. We’ve worked hard to accomplish this, and are committed to putting users first, giving them the most choice and freedom possible.”

  • If was accurate, the GoBe calorie counter could be a great Quantified Self device. I still find it waaay to time-consuming and laboriously to look up specific foods’ caloric content and enter them into an app. However, The Verge says not so fast…..  What might be feasible is the InBody Bend, to measure the result of those calories — your body fat — and your heart rate. It’s also a pedometer and measures your calories burned. Oh, yeah, the Bend also tells time. Best of all, it will go 7-8 days between charges.
  • The HereO children’s watches seem like a great product for worried parents, allowing them to locate the wee ones via GPS.
  • While I think the key to realizing my “Smart Aging” paradigm shift will primarily be tweaking mainstream IoT Quantified Self and smart home devices for seniors’ special needs, there are some issues, such as hearing loss, that particularly affect seniors. In that category, Siemens’ Smart Hearing Aid looks promising, and an interesting example of enhancing a not-so-great existing product using IoT capabilities. A key is the unobtrusive clip-on easyTek  which complements the in-ear device, and can connect (via Bluetooth) to smartphones, computers or TVs, so that the hearing aides also function as earphones for those devices. As The Verge reports, even those with good hearing might end up using it.
  • However, my two favorite CES intros both enhance a decidedly 19th-century product, the bike.They illustrate the Essential TruthWhat Can You Do Now That You Couldn’t Do Before?
    Smart Pedal

    Smart Pedal

    One is a nifty substitute for a plain-vanilla pedal, from Connected Cycle. On a day-in-day-out basis, the pedal is a Quantified Self device, recording your speed, route, incline, and calories burned.

    However, when some miscreant steals your ride, it’s the two-wheel equivalent of Find My iPhone, telling you and the cops exactly where the bike’s located.

    Ok, that’s nice, but the other bike device introduced at CES can save your life!

    Smart Bike Helmet

    In the spirit of IoT collaboration, Volvo, Ericsson & sporting goods manufacturer POC have worked together on a smart helmet.

    The bike’s and the car’s locations are both uploaded to the cloud.

    If the  helmet is connected to a bike app such as Strava, built-in warning lights warn it there’s a car nearby, while a heads-up display on the dash warns the driver at the same time.

    I can’t see Volvo gaining any competitive advantage from this, and, of course, the technology will really only be effective if every hemet and every car are equipped with it, so I hope the partners will release it for universal adoption. Who would have ever thought that the IoT could peacefully bring bicyclists and motorists together. Just shows you that with the IoT, we’ll have to re-examine a lot of long-held beliefs!

 

My #IoT predictions for 2015

I was on a live edition of “Coffee Break With Game-Changers” a few hours ago with panelists Sherryanne Meyer of Air Products and Chemicals and Sven Denecken of SAP, talking about tech projections for 2015.

Here’s what I said about my prognostications:

“I predict that 2015 will be the year that the Internet of Things penetrates consumer consciousness — because of the Apple Watch. The watch will unite both health and smart home apps and devices, and that will mean you’ll be able to access all that usability just by looking at your watch, without having to fumble for your phone and open a specific app.

If Apple chooses to share the watch’s API on the IFTTT – If This Then That — site, the Apple phone’s adoption – and usability — will go into warp speed. We won’t have to wait for Apple or developers to come up with novel ways of using the phone and the related devices — makers and just plain folks using IFTTT will contribute their own “recipes” linking them. This “democratization of data” is one of the most powerful – and under-appreciated – aspects of the IoT. In fact, Sherryanne, I think one of the most interesting IoT strategy questions for business is going to be that we now have the ability to share real time data with everyone in the company who needs it – and even with supply chain and distribution networks – and we’ll start to see some discussion of how we’ll have to change management practices to capitalize on this this instant ability to share.

(Sven will be interested in this one) In 2015, the IoT is also going to speed the development of fog computing, where the vast quantities of data generated by the IoT will mean a switch to processing data “at the edge,” and only passing on relevant data to the cloud, rather than overwhelming it with data – most of which is irrelevant.

In 2015 the IoT is also going to become more of a factor in the manufacturing world. The success of GE’s Durathon battery plant and German “Industry 4.0” manufacturers such as Siemans will mean that more companies will develop incremental IoT strategies, where they’ll begin to implement things such as sensors on the assembly line to allow real-time adjustments, then build on that familiarity with the IoT to eventually bring about revolutionary changes in every aspect of their operations.

2015 will also be the year when we really get serious about IoT security and privacy, driven by the increasing public concern about the erosion of privacy. I predict that if anything can hold back the IoT at this point, it will be failure to take privacy and security seriously. The public trust is extremely fragile: if even some fledgling startup is responsible for a privacy breach, the public will tend to tar the entire industry with the same brush, and that could be disastrous for all IoT firms. Look for the FTC to start scrutinizing IoT claims and levying more fines for insufficient security.”

What’s your take on the year ahead? Would love your comments!

Smart Washing Machine: another example of “just because you can doesn’t mean you should”

When I buy the much-hyped smart refrigerator, you’ll know I’ve officially gone around the bend, and have officially surrendered to IoT hype: it makes sense for those who buy a ton of processed foods with bar codes on them, but I just can’t see the value to those of us who buy a lot of label-less veggies from farmers markets, for example.

In a close second place on my personal list of those IoT devices that violate one of my Essential Truths of the IoT: “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should” would be a smart washing machine.

As the Washington Post wrote about Whirlpool’s $1,699 “smart” washer,

“Few expected ‘smart’ machines would fly off the shelves. They’re expensive, and Americans don’t typically replace their washers and dryers all that often. But analysts say the problem is bigger than that. Today’s smartest washer and dryer set won’t fold your clothes, erase wrinkles or stop you from mixing reds and whites. It won’t even move a load from one machine to the other. So what’s the point?”

I know there are going to be some false starts in creating IoT-enabled products that really do provide value, and good for Whirlpool for experimenting, but I do wonder whether something we used to call “common sense” is sorely lacking in some companies’ IoT decision-making.

IMHO, it would really be helpful if my washer and dryer could go on late at night to take advantage of utilities’ off-peak pricing as part of their smart grid initiatives (to their credit, as you’ll see from the photo of the companion smart dryer, a smart grid link is part of these appliances)

smart grid button on Whirlpool dryer

. However, I suspect that would be easily possible if the utilities just published APIs so some smart IFTTT user could create a “recipe” that would turn on an utterly-conventional washer that was plugged into a WeMo smart plug (hmm: did a search for that, and found a recipe that would automatically turn off a washer plugged into a WeMo if a Nest alarm detected a fire: nice, but rather low on my list of what I’d want to have done in case of a fire….).

So, yea, smart appliances, but let’s also make sure that one of the questions companies ask before committing to a really expensive initiative is: “do we really need it?”

Live Blogging from IoT Global Summit

I’ll be live-blogging for the next two days from the 2nd Internet of Things Global Summit.

  • Edith Ramirez, FTC chair:
    • potential for astounding benefits to society, transforming every activity
    • risks: very technology that allows this can also gather info for companies and your next employer
    • possible consumer loss of confidence in connected devices if they don’t think privacy w
    • 3 challenges:
      • adverse uses
      • security of the data
      • collection of the data
    • key steps companies should take:
      • security front and center
      • deidentify data
      • transparent policies
    • data will provide “startlingly complete pictures of us” — sensors can already identify our moods, even progression of neurological diseases
    • how will the data be used? will TV habits be shared with potential employers? Will it paint picture of you that others will see, but you won’t
    • will it exacerbate current socio-economic disparities?
    • potential for data breaches such as Target grows as more data is collected
    • FTC found some companies don’t take even most basic protections. Small size and cheap cost of some sensors may inhibit data protections
    • steps:
      • build security in from beginning
      • security risk assessment
      • test security measures before launch
      • implement defense and depth approach
      • encryption, especially for health data.
    • FTC action against TrendNet
    • follow principle of “data minimization,” only what’s needed, and dispose of it afterwards.
  • she’s skeptical of belief that there should be no limits on collection of data (because of possible benefits)
    • de-identified data: need dual approach — commit to not re-identify data
    • clear and simple notice to consumers about possible use of data.
    • Apple touting that it doesn’t sell data from Health App — critical to building consumer trust
    • transparency: major FTC priority. FTC review of mobile apps showed broad and vague standards on data collection & use.
  • Ilkka Lakaniemi, chair, FIWARE Future Internet PPP, EU perspective on IoT:
    • lot easier to start IoT businesses in Silicon Valley because of redundant regulations in EU
    • Open Standard Platform + Sustainable Innovation Ecosystem. “Synergy Platform”
  • Mark Bartolomeo,   vp of integrated solutions, Verizon:
    • Bakken Shale area visit: “landscape of IoT” solutions — pipeline monitoring, water monitoring, etc.
    • concerned about rapid urbanization: 30% of city congestion caused by drivers looking for parking. $120B wasted in time and fuel yearly.
    • cars: “seamless nodes” of system.
    • market drivers & barriers:
      • increased operational efficiency, new revenue streams, better service, comply with regulators, build competitive edge
      • fragmented ecosystem, complex development, significant back end obstacles
    • they want integrated systems.
    • need to remove barriers: aging infrastructure, congestion, public safety, economics
    • remove complexity
    • economies of scale: common services
    • trend to car sharing, smart grid
    • yea: highlighting intellistreets — one of my 1st fav IoT devices!!
    • Verizon working primarily on parking & traffic congestion on the East Coast, and water management in CA.

Smart Cities:

  • Nigel Cameron: nation-state receding, cities and corporations on ascendency
  • Sokwoo Rhee, NIST: Cyber-Physical Systems — emphasis on systems dynamics, data fed back into system, makes it autonomous.  Did Smart America Challenge with White House. Fragmentation on device level. Demonstrate tangible effects through collaborations. Examples: health care systems, transactive energy management, smart emergency response, water distribution, air quality. 24 projects.  Round Two is application of the projects to actual cities. Now 26 teams.
  • Joseph Bradley, VP, IoT Practice, Cisco Consulting: value isn’t in the devices, but the connections. Intersection of people, data, process, and things. Increase City of Nice’s parking revenue 40-60% without raising taxes through smart parking. They project $19 trillion in value over 10 years from combo of public and private innovations. Smart street lighting: reduces crime, property values increase, free wi-fi from the connected street lights. Barcelona is Exhibit A for benefits. Need: comprehensive strategy (privacy is a contextual issue: depends on the benefits you receive), scalability, apps, data analytics, transparency, powerful network foundation, IoT catalyst for breaking down silos, IoT must address people and process.
  • Ron Sege, chair and ceo of Echelon Corp: got started with smart buildings, 25 yrs. old. Why now with IoT: ubiquitous communications, low cost, hyper-competition, cloud. They do outdoor & indoor lighting and building systems. Challenges: move to one infrastructure/multiple use cases, will IT learn about OT & visa-versa?, reliability: critical infrastructure can’t fail & must respond instantly.
  • Christopher Wolf, Future of Privacy Forum: flexible, use-based privacy standards. Industry-wide approach to privacy: auto industry last week told NISTA about uniform privacy standards for connected cars (neat: will have to blog that…).
  • Peter Marx, chief innovation officer, City of LA:  big program to reduce street lights with LEDs: changed whole look of city at night & saves lot of money. 6 rail lines being built there. Adding smart meters for water & power. EV chargers on street lights. Held hackathon for young people to come up with ideas to improve city. Procurement cycles are sooo arcane that he suggests entrepreneurs don’t do business with city — he just tries to enable them.

Outside the City:

  • Darrin Mylet, Adaptrum: Using “TV white space spectrum” in non-urban areas. Spectrum access critical:need mix of spectrum types. Where do we need spectrum? Most need in non-line-of-sight areas such as trees, etc. Examples: not only rural, but also some urban areas (San Jose); Singapore; Africa; redwood forests;
  • Arturo Kuigami, World Bank: examples in developing nations: (he’s from Peru); most of global migration is to smaller cities; look at cities as ecosystems; “maker movement” is important — different business models: they partnered with Intel and MIT on “FabLabs” in Barcelona this year. MoMo — water access point monitoring in Tanzania.  Miroculus: created by a global ad hoc team — cheap way to make cancer diagnosis: have identified 3-4 types of cancers it can diagnose. Spirometer to measure COPD, made by a 15-year old! “IoT can be a global level playing field.”
  • Chris Rezendes, INEX Advisors: Profitable sustainability: by instrumenting the physical world, we can create huge opportunities for a wide range of people outside our companies. Focusing on doing a better job of instrumenting and monitoring our groundwater supplies: very little being done in SW US right now (INEX investing in a startup that is starting this monitoring). If we have better data on groundwater, we can do a better job of managing it. “Embrace complexity upfront” to be successful.
  • Shudong Chen, Chinese Academy of Sciences: talking about the Chinese food security crisis because of milk production without a food production license.  Government launched “Wuxi Food Science & Technology Park.”

Smart Homes:

  • Tobin Richardson, Zigbee Alliance: critical role of open, global standards. Zigbee LCD lights now down to $15.
  • Cees Links, GreenPeak Technologies: Leader in Zigbee-based smart home devices. Smart home waay more complex than wi-fi.  1m chips a week, vs. 1 million for whole year of 2011. “Not scratching the surface.” Small data — many small packets.
  • Todd Green, CEO PubNub: data stream network.
  • no killer app for the smart home..  Controlling by your phone not really that great a method.
  • FTC agrees with me: a few adverse stories (TrendNet baby cam example) can be really bad for an industry in its infancy.
  • always hole in security. For example, you can tell if no one’s home because volume of wi-fi data drops.W
  • FTC: consumer ed critical part of their work. Working now on best practices for home data protection.
  • mitigation after a security breach? Always be open, communicate (but most hunker down!).

DAY TWO

Beyond Cost Savings: Forging a Path to Revenue Generation

  • Eric Openshaw: (had tech problems during his preso: very important one — check the Deloitte The Internet of Things white paper for details) cost savings through IoT not enough for sustainable advantage: need to produce new revenue to do that. Defined ecosystem shaping up, which creates clarity, breaks down silos.
    • areas: smart grid, health care, home automation, cars, industrial automation
    • study the GE jet model for health care: what if doctors were paid to keep us healthy.
    • need comprehensive understanding of the change issues
    • be very specific: singular asset class, etc. — so you get early victories
    • companies will have overarching, finite roadmap
    • security & privacy dichotomy: differentiate between personal health care data and data from your washing machine. Most of us will share all sorts of information if there’s something in return
    • get focused on customer and product life cycle — that’s where the money will be. Focus on operating metric level. This is most far-reaching tech change he’s seen.

Managing Spectrum Needs

  • Julius Knapp, Chief, FCC Office of Engineering & Technology: new opportunity to combine licensed and unlicensed space. Described a number of FCC actions to reconsider role of various types of spectrum. “Hard to predict I0T’s long-term spectrum needs” because industry is new: they’ll watch developments in the field.
  • Prof. H. Nwana, exec. director of Dynamic Spectrum Alliance: most spectrum usually not used in most places at most time.  His group working to use changes to spectrum to end digital divide: (used incredible map showing how much of world, including US, China, India, W. Europe, could be fitted into Africa).
  • Carla Rath, VP for Wireless Policy, Verizon: “in my world, the network is assumed.”  Need for more spectrum — because of growth in mobile demand. Praises US govt. for trying to make more spectrum available. Don’t want to pigeonhole IoT in certain part of spectrum: allow flexibility.  Tension between flexibility and desire for global standards when it comes to IoT.
  • Philip Marnick, group director of spectrum policy, Ofcom UK:  no single solution.  Market determines best use. Some applications become critical (public safety, etc.) — must make sure people using those are aware of chance of interference.
  • Hazem Moakkit, vp of spectrum development for 03b (UK satellite provider for underserved areas of developing world): “digital divide widened by IoT if all are not on board.” Fair allocation of spectrum vital.
  • interesting question: referred to executive of a major farm equipment manufacturer whose products are now sensor-laden (must be John Deere…) and is frustrated because the equipment won’t work in countries such as Germany due to different bands.

Architecting the IoT: Sensing, Networking & Analytics: 

  • Tom Davenport: IoT highly unpredictable. “Great things about standards is there’s so many to choose from” — LOL.  Will IoT revolution be more top down or bottom up?
  • Gary Butler, CEO, Camgian: announcing an edge system for IoT. Driven by sensor info. Need new networking architecture to combine sensing and analytics to optimize business processes, manage risk. Systems now built from legacy equipment, not scalable. They’re announcing new platform: Egburt. Applicable to smart cities, retailing, ifrastructure (I’ll blog more about this soon!!). “Intelligence out of chaos.” Anomaly detection. Real-time analysis at the device level. Focus on edge computing. Must strengthen the ROI.
  • Xiaolin Lu, Texas Instruments fellow & director of IoT Lab: Working in wearables, smart manufacturing, smart cities, smart manufacturing, health care, automotive. TI claims it has all IoT building blocks: nodes, gateway/bridge or router/cloud.  Power needs are really critical, with real emphasis on energy harvesting from your body heat, vibration, etc. Challenges: sensing and data analytics, robust connectivity, power, security, complexity, consolidation of infrastructure and data. Big advocates for standards. They work on smart grid.
  • Steve Halliday, president, RAIN RFID: very involved in standards. 4 BILLION RFID tags shipped last year. Don’t always want IP devices. Power not an issue w/ RFID because they get their power from the reader. Think RFID will be underpinning of IoT for long time. Lot of confusion in many areas about IoT, especially in manufacturing.
  • Sky Mathews, IBM CTO: IBM was one of earliest in the field, with Smarter Planet. Lot of early ones were RFID. A variety of patterns emerging for where and how data is processed. What APIs do you want to expose to the world? “That’s where the real leaps of magnitude will occur” — so design that in from beginning.

‘People’ Side of the IoT: meeting consumer expectations:

  • Mark Eichorn, asst. director, Consumer Protection Bureau, FTC: companies that have made traditional appliances & now web-enable them aren’t always ready to deal with data theft. Security and privacy: a lot don’t have privacy policies at all. At their workshop, talk about people being able to hack your insulin readings.
  • Daniel Castro, sr. analyst, Center for Data Innovation: thinks that privacy issue has been misconstrued: what people really care about is keeping data from government intrusion. Can car be designed so a cop could pull it over automatically (wow: that’s a thought!). Chance for more liability with misuse of #IoT data.
  • Linda Sherry, director of national priorities, Consumer Action: “convenience, expectations and trust.” “What is the IoT doing beside working?” Connecting everything may disenfranchise those who aren’t connected. Need to register those who collect data – hmm. Hadn’t heard that one before. Even human rights risks, stalking, etc. — these issues must be thought about. Can algorithms really be trusted on issues such as insurance coverage? How do you define particularly sensitive personal data? “Hobbling the unconnected” when most are connected? “Saving consumers from themselves.” “Document the harms.” Make sure groups with less $ can really participate in multi-stakeholder negotiations.
  • Stephen Pattison, vp of public affairs, ARM Holdings: disagrees with Linda about slowing things down: we want to speed up IoT as instrument of transformation. We need business model for it. Talks about how smart phone didn’t explode until providers started subsidizing purchase. He suspects that one model might be that a company would provide you whole range of smart appliances in return for your data. “Getting data right matters.” “Freak events” drive concerns about data security & privacy: they generate concern and, sometimes, “heavy-handed” regulation.
    Industry must work together on framework for data that creates confidence by public. Concerns about data are holding back investment in the field. They’re working with AMD on a framework: consumers own their own data — must start with that (if they do, people will cooperate); not all data equally sensitive — need chain of custody to keep data anomyzed; security must be right at the edge; simplify terms and conditions.
    Sometimes thinks that, in talking about IoT, it’s like talking about cars in 1900, but we managed to create a set of standards that allowed it to grow: “rules of the road,” etc.
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Thermostats: yet another example why open standards win with #IoT

Despite my passion for all things Apple and the incredible functionality that comes from Tim Cook’s passion for integrating all parts of the ecosystem seamlessly (and, as I’ve noted in prior disclaimers, my part-time work at the Apple Store ..), I don’t think there’s any doubt when it comes to the Internet of Things that open standards win out.

That’s because they meet the test of my favorite Essential Truth, “who else can use this data?”

It goes back to my Data Dynamite book and my work with Vivek Kundra when he was opening up data in the District of Columbia before becoming the US CIO: when you share data, you empower end users and can go beyond your own developers’ talents and interests, to harvest others’ interests and developments.

opower_sHere’s a great example. Opower’s OpenStat API enables the electric  industry’s only open thermostat management platform. It allows any smart thermostat provider to participate in existing Opower-managed utility thermostat programs. It combines energy usage, billing, parcel and weather data to engage customers, drive measurable energy efficiency, and deliver reliable demand response.  It already has 95 partner utilities, 50 million (really? that sounds high to me…) homes in 35 states sharing data.

By contrast, Nest (which of course was created by Apple alums) had to create a specific API to allow sharing its data. 

This API is Nest’s answer to the Learning Thermostat’s lack of Z-Wave or ZigBee wireless communication. Nest came under fire from the CEDIA crowd when the Learning Thermostat launched since it wouldn’t work within even $100k home automation systems. The thermostat wasn’t friendly with others. It wouldn’t talk to other home automation products using the legacy home automation protocols. This API could change everything.

The jury’s still out — and it will really be interesting to see how many other companies decide to integrate with Apple’s new Health and Home apps. On one hand, a proliferation of standards just retards more creative API mashups, a la IFTTT (my heros!!). On the other, seamless integration and ease-of-use, the Apple hallmarks, could go a long way to ingraining the IoT into consumers’ daily lives.

What do you think?

 

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Apple Watch: killer app for IoT and lynchpin for “smart aging”

Wow: glad I put up with all of the tech problems during the Apple product launch today: the Apple Watch was worth it! It really seems as if it will be the killer device/app for the Internet of Things consumer market, and I think it may also be the lynchpin for my vision of “smart aging,” which would link both wearable health devices and smart home devices.

The elegant, versatile displays (it remains to be seen how easy it will be for klutzes like me to use the Digital Crown and some of the other navigation tools) plus the previously announced Health and Home Apps that are part of iOS 8 could really be the glue that brings together Quantified Self and smart home devices, making “smart aging” possible.

Activity AppIt will take some time to learn all about the watch and to see what apps the “Watch Kit” spawns, but here are some immediate reactions:

  • sorry, but I think it could kill the Lechal haptic shoes before they get off the ground: why have to pay extra for shoes that will vibrate to tell you where to go when your watch can do the same thing with its “Taptic Engine”?
  • I think I’ll also ditch my Jawbone UP, as much as I love it, for the Apple Watch: the video on how the Activity and Workout apps will work makes it look incredibly simple to view your fitness data instantly, vs. having to open an app on your phone.
  • (Just dreaming here): if they can pull off that neat “Milanese Loop” band on one of the versions that clamps to itself, what about not just a heart beat monitor, but a band that converts into a blood-pressure cuff? Guess that wouldn’t be accurate on the wrist, anyway, huh?

Why It’s So Hard to Predict Internet of Things’ Full Impact: “Collective Blindness”

I’ve been trying to come up with a layman’s analogy to use in explaining to skeptical executives about how dramatic the Internet of Things’ impact will be on every aspect of business and our lives, and why, if anything, it will be even more dramatic than experts’ predictions so far (see Postscapes‘ roundup of the projections).

See whether you thing “Collective Blindness” does justice to the potential for change?

 

What if there was a universal malady known as Collective Blindness, whose symptoms were that we humans simply could not see much of what was in the world?

Even worse, because everyone suffered from the condition, we wouldn’t even be aware of it as a problem, so no one would research how to end it. Instead, for millennia we’d just come up with coping mechanisms to work around the problem.

Collective Blindness would be a stupendous obstacle to full realization of a whole range of human activities (but, of course, we couldn’t quantify the problem’s impact because we weren’t even aware that it existed).

Collective Blindness has been a reality, because vast areas of our daily reality have been unknowable in the past, to the extent that we have just accepted it as a condition of reality.

Consider how Collective Blindness has limited our business horizons.

We couldn’t tell when a key piece of machinery was going to fail because of metal fatigue.

We couldn’t tell how efficiently an entire assembly line was operating, or how to fully optimize its performance.

We couldn’t tell whether a delivery truck would be stuck in traffic.

We couldn’t tell exactly when we’d need a parts shipment from a supplier, nor would the supplier know exactly when to do a new production run to be read.

We couldn’t tell how customers actually used our products.

That’s all changing now. Collective Blindness is ending, …. and will be eradified by the Internet of Things.

What do you think? Useful analogy?

Internet of Things interview I did with Jordan Rich

Didn’t realize this had run several weeks ago, but here’s an introduction to the IoT (based on my SAP “Managing the Internet of Things” i-guide) that I did with Jordan Rich of WBZ Radio, who’s also my voice-over mentor.  The examples include the GE Durathon battery plant, “smart aging,” Shodan, the SAP prototype smart vending machine and Ivee. Enjoy!

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Sentri: example of how IoT is re-inventing tired home devices

I’ll admit it: I’ve been a design junkie since the first museum show on Shaker furniture that I saw while I was in grad school at Syracuse (come to think of it, that epiphany was really when I visited Denmark with my parents, and saw Shaker-inspired Scandinavian design by Georg Jensen et. al.). I just love things that are sleek and functional.

Sentri home security system

Now, following in the Nest’s footsteps, there’s a neat Kickstarter project, the Sentri home security system, that repeats the Nest’s double-whammy of reinventing a tired product to add IoT functionality, and make it beautiful to boot.

Sorry, ADT, but the only reason anyone would display your monitor prominently would be to scare the Bad Guys: they’re just pug-ugly. As
this picture shows, the Sentri is another work of art — and it is more versatile to boot. A built-in HD camera and sensors not only detect movement, but also temperature (a sudden spike could mean a fire), humidity and air quality.  Like the Nest, it will learn from your behavior.

I like their design principles — would that more products were based on them:

 

  • Simple elegance: The best technologies are the easiest to use. Sentri is ready to use right out of the box – simply plug it in, power on, and download the Sentri smartphone app. No assembly or installation required. Hang up your Sentri on the wall, or set it right on your shelf and let Sentri take care of the rest.
  • Intelligence within reach: Minimize the rate of false alerts and create a security system adapted specifically to you with Sentri’s built-in notification system that not only keeps you in the know, but also learns — and acts on — the alerts that matter most to you.One of the biggest challenges traditional home security systems face is that most alerts delivered are false alarms, leading to many households opting out of security systems, or simply not turning their systems on.  With Sentri, maximize your home’s security with timely and accurate alerts.
  • Empowering you: While safety at home is essential for everyone, we know that your home and what security means is as unique as you are. Take control of how your Sentri looks, feels, and behaves by customizing when and where you want to see certain information and alerts. From choosing the background for your Sentri to showing which sensors are displayed and which smart devices are connected, always stay in control of your home.

Sentri as smart home hub

OK, it doesn’t have wired-in-place switches on each window that could detect a break-in (score one for the incumbents), but on the other hand, you just plug the Sentri in and it’s ready to go. Perhaps most important, there are no monthly monitoring fees: who needs them when you get an instant alert on your smart phone if there’s a problem.  Also, there’s another bonus: it’s designed to be a smart home hub: the illustration shows it also controlling your HUE lights, WeMo sockets, and a Nest.

Before I get too rhapsodic, I’m reminded of the recent headline about a crowdfunding project that wasted millions and didn’t produce a usable project. However, overall, it seems to me that, out of the soup of crowdfunding dollars, IoT reinventions of conventional products, inspired design, and plunging sensor prices, we’re seeing a real revolution in product design and manufacturing that can pay multiple benefits to all concerned! Bravo!

 

 

If This, Then That (IFTTT): essential crowdsourcing component to speed IoT development

I’ve been meaning to write about IFTTT (If This, Then That, pronounced like “gift,” but minus the g) for a long time, because I see it as a crucial, if perhaps underappreciated, component to spread the IoT more rapidly and increase its versatility — by democratizing the IoT.

That’s because this cool site embraces one of my favorite IoT “Essential Truths.” We must start asking:

who else could use this data?

I first started asking this question in my book, Data Dynamite, which largely focused on a fundamental paradigm shift away from the old view of data, namely, that you could gain a competitive advantage if you had proprietary information that I didn’t have. It was a zero-sum game. Your win was my loss.  

No longer: now value is created for you if you share data with me and I come up with some other way to use that data that you hadn’t explored. Win-win!

As applied to the IoT, I’ve explored this shift primarily in the context of corporate initiatives, where it becomes possible, for the first time, to share data instantly among everyone who could benefit from that data: everyone within the company, but also your supply chain, your distribution network, and, sometimes, even your customers. 

samples of IFTTT recipes

Here’s where the benefit of sharing data with your customers on a real-time basis comes in: there are a lot more of them than there are of manufacturers, and I can guarantee you that they will come up with clever uses that your staff, no matter how brilliant, won’t. Exhibit A: during last year’s World Series, GigaOM’s Stacey Higginbotham, did an IFTTT “recipe” that turned her HUE lights red (too bad for her, the Sox scored more runs. Wait until next year…). What Philips researcher would have ever done that on company time?

By harnessing crowdsourcing of ideas, the IoT will progress much faster, because of the variety of interests and/or needs that individuals add to the soup!

So, how’s IFTTT work?

Here’s a brief outline (or go here for details):

  1. a “recipe” is made up of a “trigger” (i.e., if this happens, such as “I’m tagged in a photo on Facebook”) and an action (then that happens, such as “create a status message on Facebook.”).
  2. the building blocks for recipes are called channels — 116 as of now, and growing all the time — each of which his its own triggers and actions.  The channels include a wide range of apps and products, such as Nest thermostats or Facebook.

There is a wide variety of recipes on the IFTTT site (you can subscribe to have new ones involving a given channel that interests you sent to you as they are shared) or you can easily create your own — with no programming skill required. How cool is that?

Yes, IFTTT can be fun (“email your mother Foursquare checkins tagged #mom. Useful for brownie points“), but I’m convince that it’s also a critically important tool to speed deployment and impact of the IoT, by harnessing the power of crowdsourcing to complement the work of app developers and device manufacturers.

Now get going!