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?”

Wearables Predictions: Who to Watch for Prediction #10

Skully Helmets captured my attention in January at the VLAB Young Entrepreneurs event.  That night Marcus Weller, Skully Helmet CEO, told an amazing story about his inspiration for the worlds smartest helmet.  Following an accident where he totaled his bike when the car in front of him slammed on its brakes while he was reading a street sign, Weller had a dream where he was reliving the accident.  “But I noticed something very different,” Weller said, “I had GPS navigation kind of floating in front of me like a hologram and I watched as the car hit the brakes and I went around it.”  When internet searches returned no results for the helmet, Weller built a team and product that, among other features, incorporates location based GPS navigation into a helmet.  Location is a form of context.  The point of sharing Weller’s story is to introduce context and the final industry watch for the 10th wearable prediction.

 Josh Bradshaw with Marcus WellerJosh Bradshaw of WorkTechWork.com with Marcus Weller, Skully Helmets CEO August 14, 2014

 Prediction # 10:  Contextual awareness will be enabled by wearable device adoption and become the next big thing in marketing and customer experience.

This is the tenth and final post in a Wearable Industry Watch Series for each of the 10 Wearables Predictions.  Visit the Wearable Industry Watch Series for details.

Weller’s contextually aware helmet is one example of a person’s location context being used to generate value for the wearer.  The wearer’s experience is enriched with information.  My first introduction to technology enabled contextual awareness came through Jeff Stevens, Founder & CEO of ContextM.  Stevens rightfully demoted content from its place as king in the world of mobile marketing and claims that in mobile marketing “Context is king, and content is queen.”

How so?  Enabled by computational power and data from data warehouses, social streams and wearable devices, marketers can go beyond targeting based on generalized segmentation:  relevant messages can be sent to a person by creating a complete understanding of several different forms of a person’s context.  These include but are not limited to a person’s location, who a person is with, where a person has come from, and, with the power of predictive analytics, where the person might be going next.  (For those interested in privacy, check out Who To Watch for Prediction #9 and Small Towns and Connected-World Privacy.)

Enrich Customer Experiences With Wearable Data

Context is about more than targeted marketing based on ambient intelligence; context is also about enriching customer experiences.  Customer experiences can be enriched in many ways which means there are applications of context out there yet to be discovered in the world of wearables.  Context can also be built in such a way that a device can understand its own context as well as the context of the user.

Sensor Platforms, which was recently acquired by Audience, developed FreeMotion™ Library, a software solution that enables sensor enabled device applications to better understand both the contexts and, where possible, the intent of a user engaging with a device.  For the purposes of this discussion we can consider smart phones as wearables because of their numerous sensors (and decorative cases people use to make a statement about who they are; see Who to Watch for Prediction #7).

FreeMotion™ enabled applications can understand various device contexts such as whether the phone is in a pocket, in a hand or sitting on a flat surface.  Similar to other fitness tracking wearables and the Moves App, user contexts can be derived from sensing current motion in the device.  Combined with location or other forms of context, the device can respond differently because sitting on the sofa at home is quite a different context from sitting in a train or sitting in a meeting at work.  As sensors consume energy, a focus on resource management is also made in order to improve energy consumption on the device (learn more about energy consumption in Who to Watch for Prediction #6).

Vehicles, Wearables & Context

No one is going to wear a car, but the car is becoming contextually aware.  Vehicles are now able to detect and communicate with phones and soon will be able to interact with other wearable devices.   We can look at contextual aware cars such as Google’s self-driving car, which has to be acutely aware of its own environment, for inspiration on context with wearables.

Lane assist technologies and automatic braking such as those  demonstrated in this stunt video by Hyundai are becoming available in a number of vehicles.

Mercedez Benz is developing amazing innovations for their smart cars.  Check out this Mercedes Benz contextual car demo with Robert Scoble, Startup Liaison Officer for Rackspace

And when it comes to amazing, a return to Weller and the contextually aware smart helmet is in order.  People are willing to support contextually aware innovation.  Only a few days into an Indiegogo campaign, Weller and his team have exceeded their $250k goal for the AR-1 by an astonishing 466% with over $1.1 million raised.  I tested it out at their offices yesterday and it is better than all the hype.Josh Bradshaw with AR-1

This is the last post in the Wearable Industry Watch.  For more details click here.

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Wearables Predictions: Who to Watch for Prediction #5

This is the fifth post in a Wearable Industry Watch Series for each of the 10 Wearables Predictions.  Follow this blog or Twitter handle @WorkTechWork to be notified of each part of the series. To view all predictions and links to the other parts of the series, visit the Wearable Industry Watch Series.

Prediction #5: The cost of sensors will continue to go down, thus enabling more uses and innovation with sensors in wearable devices.

Fifty years ago Cray’s 1964 CDC 6600 super computer sold for $8 million (about $55 million in today’s dollars).  Your smart phone can do more than that supercomputer.  It goes without saying that in fifty years one would expect the cost of sensors to go down; however, I actually anticipate the costs will go down dramatically in the next 10 years.

A Look at Sensor Cost Trends:

We’re going to take a tangent here away from wearables and focus for a moment on sensors in general as the sensors used in wearable devices are used in other places and a lot of the innovation that is occurring for sensing in manufacturing, research and development and other applications is benefiting wearable technology as a side perk for this fledgling industry.

A comprehensive report on sensor trends can be found in the Association for Sensor Technology’s Sensor Trends 2014.  There you can learn about development trends in electromechanical measuring, sensor electronics and semiconductor technologies, communication and system integration, packaging, and testing processes for MEMS components.  Several points discussed in the report touch on reasons for lower costs in components, packaging, sensor housings and other areas are attributed to cost savings for sensors.  The report also notes pressure being applied by sensor purchasers to reduce costs and cost reduction as sensor production increases and the industry benefits from economies of scale.

Robert Scoble, Startup Liaison Officer for Rackspace, talks about the decreasing costs of 3D sensors such as the one made by PrimeSense, which he and Shel Israel write about in their book, The Age of Context.  Acquired by Apple in 2013, PrimeSense sensors are used in the Xbox Kinect and have gone from costing over $100 a few years ago, to around $50 last year and now to an estimated $25.  This is ultra-video sensing for less than a trip to the movies with popcorn and soda.  For those who are curious, check out the precision of the Xbox Kinect sensors:

In this clip see Skeleton, Orientation, Muscle & Force and Heart Rate detection.

In this clip see 3D Sensor, 2D Color Camera and Active IR which allows the Xbox to see in the dark by removing ambient room light.

What does this mean for sensor technology?

I’m not sure if wearable sensors will experience 50% year over year cost reductions but lets note some prices here for the record to watch.

To pre-order and outfit oneself with Sensoria smart socks and t-shirt mentioned in Who to Watch for Prediction #3 you’ll be set back $300, $150 for one pair of fitness socks and one anklet and anklet charger, and $149 for a Sensoria Fitness T-Shirt and heart rate monitor bundle.  Another socks bundle offers four pairs of socks for $199.  The fitness t-shirt, sports bra and heart rate monitor are sold separately for $79 each.

For comparison, Hexoskin, whose product has been on the market for a year now, sells a starter kit for $399 that includes a biometric sleeveless shirt, the Hexoskin Bluetooth device and a USB cable.  Additional Hexoskin sleeveless shirts are sold for $179.

OMsignal’s Up & Running Kit can be pre-ordered for $199 and comes with a bio-sensing compression shirt, a data module and a USB charging cable.  A separate short sleeved shirt, the OM Endurance Fitness Short Sleeved sells for $99 and the OM Focus Lifestyle Sleeveless sells for $79.

Similarly, Live Athos is pre-selling a $390 bundle with a shirt ($99), shorts ($99) and Core ($199).

For this prediction to be right, the prices of these and smart clothing with similar features should go down dramatically over the next couple of years on account of sensor cost reductions if these producers pass the sensor cost savings on to their customers.  This should start to happen in the next year so we’ll stop back here and take a look at the prices and see how the price of a quantified jog changes.

There are other prices that ought to be documented here.  Several fitness trackers for both the quantified self and quantified pet come in at or around $99 including Whistle, Polar Loop, Misfit Shine, Nike+ Fuelband SE, Fitbit Flex, Mio, Skechers Gowalk, Sync Burn Fitness Band.  The Jawbone Up sells for $79 and Up 24 for $149.  LG’s FB84-BM also sells for $149 as does the Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit.  I could continue but this is an industry watch of a few companies and products, not a comprehensive review by a team of analysts.

If you are producing sensors, what is happening to your costs?  If you’re building sensors into wearable devices, are you applying pressure on suppliers to get the costs down so that you can attractively price your devices for the market?  If so, comment below or reach out as I’d love to talk.

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