Interesting Technology Companies

Videos with 7 of The Luxury Technology Show Exhibitors

Awesome venue, people and tech sums up the Luxury Technology Show at W Hollywood last week.  But you don’t have to take my word for it; check out these short video interviews of 7 of the impressive technologies that were on display at the show.

Jerry Wilmink, CEO of WiseWear knocks it out of the park with BEAUTIFUL wearable jewelry.  (want to learn more about how Jerry is giving the world options over current ugly, nerdy wearabletech check out this piece)

Michelle from 4mons.com demos the mamaRoo seat and origami stroller, tools for the tech friendly parent

Joe from Elan Home Systems is a man after my heart because he wants to make the smart home so easy that grandma can use it.

Segway has met it’s match with the ultra-low form factor of Hovertrax and Solowheel by Inventist. See it demoed by Joalene Jolivette, Marketing Director at Inventist

Technology to help regrow hair? Find out more from Fran & Marina from HairMax. The lasers stimulate the hair follicles but, unfortunately, don’t work fast enough for me to show you before and after head shots.

Megan Johnson from Sengled tells about their three connected light bulbs. Pulse plays music through up to 8 connected. Boost boosts your Wi-Fi. Snap has an HD camera inside for outdoor lighting and security.

Making the kitchen smart by infusing technology into the pan? Yes, that is what Prachi and Rahul from SmartyPans will do.  Catch SmartyPans at Michael Wolfe’s Nov 5 event: The Smart Kitchen Summit

Tech Enabled Vehicle Hand Controls Demo Video

Yesterday I sat down with a friend who doesn’t use Facebook at all and has no way of seeing what I’m doing there.  I also did another video and wrote the equivalent of a blog post but on Facebook.  I really prefer Facebook over any social medium thus far (including Medium), but this video and the topic is so interesting I’m copy pasting the post down below.  But, don’t get used to this.  If you’re a Facebook user and want to see more stuff from me, then you can follow me, you don’t have to friend me and I won’t see all the private photos.  I don’t care about food pictures and whether or not you had diarrhea this weekend or whatever else that could be considered TMI for an office water cooler conversation is posted out there.

Ok, the video and post from Facebook:

Earlier today (9/24/15)Dan Berschinski and I took a ride around the Stanford Shopping Center in a Toyota Camry that has been fitted with sensor technology enabled hand controls by Kempf. When the driver pushes in the acceleration ring on the steering column sensors convert the motion into a digital signal that accelerates the vehicle. The hand brake is connected to the foot brake pedal and when the hand brake is pressed the pedal at the floor of the car moves although you can’t quite see it in the video.

Martine Kempf from Kempf Controls was showing us the car. She also shared with us how her father relied on hand controls because of Polio and patented the use of an accelerator ring in 1955. Over time as cars have changed the Kempf technology has changed and improved and now it is absolutely smooth. I really liked using the ring to hit the gas but reflexes and habits had me braking with my foot. The experience is somewhat like driving a motorcycle except motorcycle handlebars don’t spin around as much as a car steering wheel.

Dan and I met last year where I was speaking at an event and we’ve kept in touch since then. He lost his legs in Afghanistan and lays claim to being only one of two Americans who have lost this much of their legs and still use prosthetic legs to walk. He was my guest at the VLAB – MIT Enterprise Forum, Bay Area event on Human Augmentation that I worked on last year. The video of that event now has over 27,000 views Check it out here if you haven’t seen it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsKCWlYK9-M

The advances of technology for both restoring and augmenting human capacity are absolutely amazing. I love how technology is making life better for people with disabilities, which are actually different abilities. With those different abilities today’s technology can close so many gaps. Technology infused hand controls that replace metal rods that can be clumsy and dangerous with a far improved product and user experience are one example of technology closing gaps.

But driving is not the only thing technology is impacting. The design and science in Dan’s legs which are by Ottobock is far more advanced than amputees could have used only a few decades ago. Further advancements are being made by researchers including Dr. Hugh Herr, Professor of Biomechatronics at the MIT Media Lab who has created and uses two robotic prosthetic legs.

Dr. Herr will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Gizworld Conference – Wearable Tech & IoT on October 27-28, 2015 at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Dr. Herr will also serve as panelist on another Human Augmentation panel during the conference alongside the head of robotics from SRI International and the CEO of WHILL Inc (world’s smartest wheelchair see http://whill.us/). It is exciting to see Internet of Things technology accomplishing such amazing things and I invite you to come experience and see it first hand at the conference. Use discount code JOSH20 for a 20% discount at this link:http://gizworldconf.com/san-francisco/

Say Goodbye to Ugly, Nerdy WearableTech

To say design is important in wearable technology is an understatement; design is everything in wearable technology.  Why? Because people wear it and what people wear makes a statement about who they are.  This week I caught up with two entrepreneurs making it possible to make that statement with fashionable jewelry.

These gentlemen are leading teams creating fashionable wearable technology with designs that surpass any other fitness trackers on the market.  They are playing with a different set of rules.  Rather than working with materials and designs that easily accommodate technology, they are integrating technology into elegant designs and using materials that are figuratively and literally hard to work with.  Wireless signals cannot pass through precious metals; therefore, jewelry design involves tricks to making products that are beautiful and at the same time the design must allow for signals to be passed to and from a mobile device.

“We’ve been wearing jewelry for 75,000 years,” Gerald Wilmink, founder and CEO of WiseWear said.  What people haven’t been doing for those same years is wearing sensors.  Wearable technology entrepreneurs first attempts have been awkward and obtrusive resulting in gigantic rubber band like contraptions that have attempted to redefine what is acceptable to accessorize with.  The approach, however, is not well received by all consumers.  This is an opportunity for wearable technology to improve not just its capacity but its appeal.  “The next wave is truly integrating the sensors and electronics into everyday wear,” said Wilmink whose WiseWear Socialite collection provides fashionable selections through three different bracelet designs, the Calder, the Duchess and the Kingston.

Once wearable technology is integrated into everyday wear, it also needs to be made available to markets that will consume it.  “Career professionals are not going to buy a fashion accessory at an electronics store,” explained ViaWear Founder and CEO Ben Isaacson.  ViaWear’s Tyia bracelet line includes several different styles, finishes and bands and will be distributed in locations where jewelry is sold.  People who frequent jewelry stores and electronics stores aren’t typically the same demographic.  “The fashion forward demographic is waking up to smart jewelry,” Isaacson explained.

There is a relatively untapped market with needs that can be satisfied through beautiful wearable technology accessories and Isaacson and Wilmink are not alone in creating fashionable wearables for these customers.  Wearable fitness tracker maker Fitbit has partnered with luxury lifestyle brand Tory Burch to create Tory Burch for Fitbit.  When announcing their line of smart watches and bands last fall Apple boldly claimed, “There’s an Apple Watch for everyone.”   Others are also joining the race to make fashionable wearable technology in accessories and clothing.

Why make wearable technology fashionable?  Isaacson explains, “The fashion side is a given.  Nobody wants to wear something ugly anymore.”  To this point Wilmink also agrees, “We make sensors and electronics invisible.  You want the data but you don’t want to look like a nerd.”

Three Important IoT Sessions

IoTInfluencers2015Here’s what I love about IoT conferences:  There is so much excitement about what is possible.  Each one is like a mini CES and because they are smaller you have a better chance of seeing what is going on and interacting with the creators of products and solutions.

I’ll be at IoT Influencers Summit next Tuesday at the 49ers stadium so today I took the time to go through the agenda.  Here is info on three important sessions I’ll be attending.  I also threw in a couple of notes on a bonus session for you that I, unfortunately, will miss because of a commitment to speak via video conference to EE and CS students at Zhejiang University later that evening.  If you have time to attend the IoT Influencers Summit and haven’t registered, go here to do it and use code JB30 for 30% off.

Important Session #1: Main Stage, 8:15am-Creating Value with the Internet of Things

The first session in the morning starts bright and early and the early bird gets the worm in this case when Bruce Sinclair presents on how to create value with IoT.  If you are not in IoT to make money, then move over and let the rest of the world learn from your mistakes.  As technology lovers sometimes we love technology a little too much and love looking in the mirror to do market research.  We can’t do both of those things all of the time and still create value in IoT.  Sinclair holds a monthly meetup focused on value from IoT and this value-driven IoT addict is a regular attendee.  Sinclair also has a podcast with in-depth interviews of key influencers in the IoT space.  His session promises to be worth getting to Santa Clara early.

Important Session #2: Main Stage, 3pm-Solving Interoperability

I’m really looking forward to hearing from Michael Wolf in person.  I’ve listened to him on The Smart Home Show for what seems like forever in the lifetime of the smart home.  If you’re a smart home fan and haven’t tuned in, do so and enjoy.  Wolf will lead a discussion on interoperability, a HUGE issue in the IoT space.  So many people are trying to solve this problem in different ways.

inHome, the IoT hardware startup I worked at last year, tried to solve the problem by creating a piece of hardware in as many verticals as possible and also do it on a unique platform that wasn’t interoperable with any other platform initially (although it was on the roadmap, this approach was easier given the unsettled platform wars and other issues where control was preferred initially over interoperability).  Its sad when the only proof of a former startup is through a web archive but I wouldn’t trade the lessons learned. Creating hardware for everything isn’t the answer, even if its darn cool to control up to 250 devices of 7 different device types through one app.

I’ve chatted many times over the past 18 months with both Muzzley and Yonomi, both app of app control solutions for IoT devices (if inHome were still alive I’d be getting my hardware into their apps and if you’re a hardware maker you should too).  App for apps is a different approach to solving the problem through software.  They are both focused on control for the customer, essentially becoming a universal remote control for the connected home.  Sounds good, but when you get into the nitty gritty, which I hope to see happen at this session, it gets complex-too complex for the average consumer.

Interoperability is a problem we have to solve in the IoT space before the products can go main stream.  We cannot have people feeling like they are working for their IoT devices, their IoT devices need to work for them (gotta throw that WorkTechWork mantra in here…it is super important).

Important Session #3: Main Stage, 3:50pm-The Rise of Intelligent Buildings

With 9 years of real estate technology project management and implementations under my belt, IoT for the building is more than interesting.  There is something special about IoT enabled building automation, management and energy solutions that set them far apart from smart home solutions.  Both buildings and homes benefit from IoT solutions for energy efficiency and security.  But while the home offers relatively little money for the homeowner beyond these two things, smart building solutions also offer savings in the form of operational efficiencies.  You’ve seen what I’ve said about Intel’s smart building solutions Here, about smart apartments Here, and about Telesense Here.  I hope to have good things to say in the future after this session.

PS I’m in the middle of doing a deep dive into smart buildings and building a team for VLAB around the topic.  Want to get involved? Give me a buzz.

Bonus for You: Main Stage, 5:30pm-Postcards From The Edge

Don’t be like me and miss this session.  Robert Scoble is always interesting and has a knack for getting people to talk about technology in ways that make it seem like the world really is going to go around better and faster.  Attending a full day of IoT sessions and then doing nothing different is a waste of time.   Check this session out to answer the question, “Where do we go from here?”

Affective Computing

My latest comes to you via LinkedIn. Catch me 5/21/2015 at Stanford GSB where I’m co-chairing an ’emotional’ night.  Check out: Computers can know your feelings. How does that make you feel?

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Questions for Intel at IoT World 2015

iot-world-300x250The who’s who of IoT devices, solutions and enthusiasts will convene in San Francisco May 12-13 at the Moscone Center for Internet of Things World 2015.  This includes Rose Schooler, VP of the Internet of Things Group and GM of the IoT Strategy and Technology Office for Intel who will give a keynote address discussing the opportunities and challenges of scaling IoT solutions during the event.

“The IoT will take data, create information, analyze that information and transform every industry, the way it works, the way it’s optimized, and create new business models, not to mention the way we live and the way we play,” Schooler said in a video on Intel’s website dedicated to Intel at Internet of Things World 2015 that also includes details about what Intel will demo during the conference expo.

Knowing where to start is one of the challenges developers face when contemplating solutions with the impact to transform every industry.  Intel is offering IoT solutions at all levels from “security technologies as a foundation, to silicon and software, offering those each as individual building blocks but also offering pre-configured and pre-validated solutions to accelerate that deployment,” Schooler explains to prospective conference attendees.

These are the questions I hope to find answers for during Schooler’s keynote:

Are promises of insights that will transform every industry hype or reality?  Can IoT really boost productivity, reduce costs and downtime, improve efficiency, optimize operations, increase throughput, save energy and improve and enrich lives?  How can the value of IoT solutions be realized amid the challenges in the space?

Will you be at IoT World with an answer to these questions or a compelling IoT solution?  If so, drop me a line and lets plan to meet up.  Tickets and free expo passes are available to IoT World by visiting http://iotworldevent.com/

Silicon Valley Startup Accelerators: An International Innovation Resource

Steve Hoffman, Co-Founder & CEO of San Francisco-based startup accelerator Founders Space, understands business, understands startups and understands innovation.  He recently returned from a visit to Asia that included meeting with Taiwan’s Prime Minister Mao Chi-kuo.  “Innovation isn’t confined to Silicon Valley,” Hoffman said when discussing international opportunities.  “There are talented people and a high concentration of capital here, but there is a critical mass of creativity and capital in Beijing, Taipei, Seoul and other tech hubs,” he explained.

Silicon Valley is an international innovation resource.  Governments, businesses, and research institutions throughout the world are acutely aware of and interested in the innovation that occurs in and enters global markets from Silicon Valley.  Entrepreneurs are also aware and come from all over the world to establish businesses in Silicon Valley.

Because of the nature of the connected world, entrepreneurs do not have to always be in Silicon Valley to benefit from its influence.  Entrepreneurs can come to Silicon Valley, build relationships with the local startup ecosystem, including Silicon Valley venture capitalists, and then return to their home states or countries bringing Silicon Valley influence and capital back to their teams.  Startup accelerators and incubators in Silicon Valley are becoming the common path to success for startup CEOs to accomplish these objectives.  When coming to Silicon Valley is not an option, entrepreneurs can connect to Silicon Valley startup accelerators that are expanding globally or connect to local startup ecosystems with connections to Silicon Valley.

Startup Accelerator Differentiation

Startup accelerators are beginning to differentiate in various ways.  In addition to attending events at several Silicon Valley startup accelerators, I’ve had the opportunity to work with startups in three startup accelerators, Plug and Play Technology Center, Wearable World and Founders Space.  Through those experiences it is clear each accelerator is different and has something unique to offer.

For example, most startup accelerators have a program that typically runs for around twelve weeks with events and official mentoring sessions one to three times a week and a pitch day at the end of the program.  Founders Space, in contrast, has an accelerated accelerator accomplishing the same objectives in a shorter period of time.  “Every weekday for an entire month we have people coming in to coach our entrepreneurs, to provide mentoring and to empower entrepreneurs,” said Hoffman.  “They are able to come, network, learn and accomplish their objectives in a shorter period of time, which is critical if you’re coming from overseas and only have a 3-month visa.”

Advice for Entrepreneurs

Because of the many differences between startup accelerators, the best thing an entrepreneur can do is to first determine objectives that need to be accomplished for their company while in an accelerator. This means a bit of footwork is required outlining objectives.  Spend more time deciding what you want from a startup accelerator than on what you want from your next car.

After determining objectives, find the startup accelerator that will provide the best match to those objectives.  In the search for the appropriate accelerator the decision process should extend far beyond comparing web pages.  Make time to connect either with the startup accelerator or with entrepreneurs who have participated in their programs before making a decision.

Once in Silicon Valley, review your objectives often to remain focused.  It is your responsibility to get the most out of your accelerator experience.

Augmented Reality, Gestures & The Human Element

Moritz v. Grotthuss, CEO of gestigon, has an articulate understanding of the state and challenges of AR technology.  “Over the past twelve months we’ve seen the first beta deliveries of augmented and virtual reality solutions,” Grotthus explained. “In most of them, the human element is missing! For example, you don’t see your hands when you put on a pair of virtual reality glasses.”

InsideAR-SF-2015-Logo_RactangleGrotthuss, who will be in San Francisco speaking about and demonstrating gestigon technology at the Inside AR conference next month, is razor focused on enriching the user interface and making AR a more human experience.  “When you scan a room with your tablet, you may get all kinds of interesting data about the objects in the room, but the human beings are usually just displayed as blobs,” he shared. “gestigon’s mission is to change that.”

Computers recognizing human context is key to making that happen.  Gestures, facial expressions, and vocal intonations can be indicative of intent or emotion, which means AR solutions must also incorporate elements of affective computing to fully understand human context.  gestigon gives “computers the ability to recognize the human context, ranging from enabling your hands to manipulate a virtual menu that your smart glasses are displaying to providing a more complete picture on the intent of a particular Human/Machine interaction,” Grotthus explained.

To learn more about AR alongside over 3,800 other AR affectionados and to connect with gestigon, plan to be in in San Francisco May 20-21, 2015 at the Inside AR conference.  Tickets and more information are available by clicking here.

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Smart Apartments VS Dumb Apartments

In the ongoing battle to provide the latest and greatest amenities and to provide the best tenant experiences possible, multifamily residential housing owners and operators are looking at connected home solutions. By offering a connected apartment, a management company can differentiate from competition.  Suddenly one apartment is smart and the rest are dumb.  At the same time, providing a connected apartment also provides multifamily owners and operators the ability to control energy use, especially in vacant units, and to gain insights into how to improve their communities.

This means the real estate industry, an industry not widely know for early technology adoption, may surprisingly become the key to unlocking the door to consumer internet of things hardware adoption for the smart home.  This also presents an opportunity for start up entrepreneurs. IOTAS, Remotely, Monarc Tree and Dwelo are four of the companies vying for the IoT opportunity in multifamily housing.  IOTAS is in a pilot with Greystar and was featured on a the Gigaom IoT podcast by Stacey Higginbotham in February.  Monarc Tree is beta testing in four buildings with a fifth in development.

I caught up with David Beenfield, Co-Founder & CTO of Dwelo this morning for a conversation about the solutions in residential multifamily housing units. “The winner will be somebody who can design a program that is minimal enough to scale,” Beenfield said.  As someone who started implementing and managing real estate accounting and operations information systems over a decade ago, I second Beenfield’s opinion.  Simplicity in design and scalability are important for multifamily housing managers because if it isn’t simple, it isn’t going to get done and it certainly cannot scale to thousands of units.

Tenants must feel that the technology works for them rather than them working for the technology otherwise they will complain. Property management must feel that the technology works rather than them working at fixing and dealing with technology issues and complaints.  Owners and asset managers must feel that the technology generates more value for the bottom line than the costs of technology implementation and management.

When asked where the market would go Beenfield explained, “The future of multifamily housing will be an entirely connected building that is digitally interactive from any device. This will fundamentally change the resident and manager experience to one of greater convenience, transparency, and energy consciousness.”

Edit 5/14/15 a typo was corrected

TeleSense – IoT for the Smart Building

Internet of Things technology in commercial real estate opens up a world of possibilities for improving occupant experience, reducing energy costs and managing building equipment, three areas with the potential to impact returns on real estate assets.  Large players such as Intel and new startups are working on solutions that put the Internet of Things to work for commercial real estate.  This morning I caught up with one of the players in this race to create real value in real estate IoT, Naeem Zafar, Co-Founder & CEO of Adolene, Inc.  Zafar’s growing team is creating a smart building retrofit solution called TeleSense.

Naeem Zafar, Co-Founder & CEO of Adelene, Inc. showcasing one of the TeleSense products at Plug and Play Technology Center April 22, 2015

Naeem Zafar, Co-Founder & CEO of Adelene, Inc. showcasing one of the TeleSense products at Plug and Play Technology Center April 22, 2015

TeleSense focuses on solving three problems in commercial buildings.  First, TeleSense is able to remotely sense temperature, humidity and air quality thus enabling building managers to make decisions that can improve the occupant experience.  Second, TeleSense monitors energy use & consumption.  By combining the monitored data with weather data, energy demand pricing, occupancy and building energy demand TeleSense is able to reduce overall energy consumption as well as reduce energy consumption when energy costs are higher.  Third, TeleSense uses vibration, temperature and sound or acoustics to predict the failure of building equipment, thus migrating from preventative to predictive maintenance.

“The future of the smart building is huge,” said Zafar.  “It’s all about gathering data easily and creating a real brain to actuate based on the data in real time,” he explained.