Why Am I Not Surprised? GE Does It Again As IoT Innovator

POST-SCRIPT : LATE-BREAKING NEWS: GE WILL ANNOUNCE TOMORROW THAT THEY’RE MOVING THEIR WORLD HEADQUARTERS TO BOSTON.  EVEN THOUGH THE HEART OF THE COMPANY’S INDUSTRIAL INTERNET STRATEGY WILL REMAIN ITS SOFTWARE CENTER IN SILICON VALLEY, THIS SHOULD INEVITABLY BOOST BOSTON’S STATURE IN THE IoT: WE’RE ALREADY RANKED 4TH IN THE WORLD.


PROMINENT DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT ON THE GENERAL ELECTRIC PAYROLL, AS AMAZING AS THAT MAY SEEM CONSIDERING ALL THE NICE THINGS I SAY ABOUT THEM.

C by GE smart bulbs

Whether it’s their incredible Durathon battery plant or the 220-ton computer-on-wheels Evolution loco, I don’t think there’s any major company that gets it more about the IoT, or, as they brand it, the Industrial Internet. As I’ve said before, it’s not just IoT products, but also “IoT Thinking” (collaboration, closing the loop, etc.) on their part. So why am I not surprised that they’ve gone back to their roots and come up with the most practical smart bulb so far, the “C by GE” bulbs?

Surely the Wizard of Menlo Park is smiling down on them for this one!

This is not to take away from the pioneering Philips Hue bulbs (16 million colors? You kidding?), or the neat Playbulb ones that double as speakers, but it seems to me these are the ones so far (possible exception, the $15 Cree ones — although I’ve not been happy with short life-span of my earlier Cree LEDs….) but these seem to me to combine some kewl new features that weren’t available before smart bulbs with affordability: a kit of 4 will be priced at $50 if you order online.

So what’s the big deal? Unlike the HUEs and GE’s earlier Link LED, these won’t require linking to a hub to control them: they link to your phone directly, using Bluetooth.

The bulbs will come in two flavors, to start with: a plain-vanilla dimmable one for most rooms of the house, and the spiffy “C Sleeps” for the bedroom, which will allow you to choose three different color hues, including a bright white to energize yourself on waking, a middling one for most of the day, and a yellowish one that research has shown to be more sleep-inducing, for night time (for you wonks, here’s the science).

Equally important, according to C|NET, they’ll also be more affordable than other multi-hue bulbs:

“The C Sleep LEDs won’t be the first color-tunable smart LEDs on the market, but they’ll certainly be some of the most affordable. The Osram Lightify Starter Kit comes with just a single bulb and costs $60, while the Lifx White 800 LED costs $40. With two color-tunable bulbs plus two standard smart bulbs for $50, C by GE definitely looks like the better value. What’s more, GE is promising limited early-bird pricing that will bring the cost of a starter pack down to $40 for those willing to buy in at launch.”

Because it’s Bluetooth controlled you won’t be able to control it from outside the house, so I’m gonna have to stick with my WeMo sockets to make my wife happy, but supposedly it will work with the Apple HomeKit (“Siri, it’s time for bed”) or if you already have a Wink hub.

Once again, Thanks, Jeff Immelt!

PS: $1.92 a yr. in electric costs: they’ll help save the planet as well

 

Smart water grid — as important as smart energy grid

Posted on 5th November 2013 in environmental, Internet of Things, M2M

Environmental efficiency is one of my passions, and there’s compelling evidence that shortages of clean water are almost as much a threat to life on Earth as global warming is.

That’s why I was so excited to learn that Spain — already an exemplar of “smarter cities” thinking (due in large part to Libelium using it as a test site for its devices) — is launching a “smart water grid” program in the city of  Cáceres.

According to Jesse Berst (you really should subscribe to his Smart Grid News!), ACCIONA Agua, the water services division of ACCIONA, a global renewable energy, infrastructure and water services group, will build the system “as part of a European project that aims to apply new technologies to the management of drinking water networks.”

Its benefits will parallel those for “smart grid” electricity projects, including real-time detection of underwater leaks (so they can be repaired more quickly) and real-time control of water distribution and use, and remote meter reading that will allow the utility to alert homeowners to possible leaks in the home or other problems.

Note the critical benefits of real-time data: “Real time data is expected to optimize investment plans according to real needs, as well as hone the management of water services.”

Components will include:

  • remote meter readers
  • GIS
  • remote control information
  • water quality monitoring sensors
  • mathematical model to predicting the system’s behavior.

The project is part of ” SmartWater4Europe, an EU research project that brings together 21 participants, including water utilities, technology companies, universities and research centers. The project has a budget of more than €10 million, of which €2.5 million has been assigned to Cáceres.” Results will be monitored over a 4 year period.

I’ve been noodling for a while about what it will take to get mainstream companies that may not even know about the IoT, let alone have a strategy to capitalize on it, to test the waters. I’ve concluded that since water and energy utility bills are such a big issue for most companies that launching “smart grid” projects that capitalize on utilities’ investments in this area and can lead to quick savings in utility bills might be the ideal entry point. What do you think?

Major changes for car industry due to Internet of Things

Posted on 8th May 2013 in automotive, environmental, Internet of Things

I just blogged on the Huffington Post about how the Internet of Things will mean major changes for the auto industry.