Silicon Valley

Tesla, Solar Impulse, SRI, Comfy & More in this ControlTrends Interview

Emerging technologies, including Internet of Things technologies, are enabling building owners, operators and managers to leverage technology to impact asset NOI.  This weekend I was a guest on the ControlTrends videocast and podcast with hosts Kenneth Smyers and Eric Stromquist.  ControlTrends is a weekly show exploring the future of HVAC and building system controls, including emerging technologies.

In the podcast we talk about

You can listen to the ControlTrends ControlTalk NOW podcast here:

http://controltrends.org/?powerpress_embed=21194-podcast&powerpress_player=mediaelement-audio

 

You can watch the ControlTrends ControlTalk NOW videocast here:

Note: I’m the second interview so in this link I’ve queued up my conversation with Kenny and Eric but I’d recommend you back up and watch the whole thing.

 

 

RealComm/IBcon 2016 Summary & Videos

JoshJimHoward.jpgThose of you familiar with my background know that it is in real estate technology. Those of you that understand my present passion know that it is in disruptive technologies, most of them enabled by the Internet of things.

June 21-24, 2016 I attended RealComm/IBCon 2016, the world’s largest real estate technology conference.  During the conference I had the opportunity to meet and talk to the most brilliant thought leaders in real estate.  A few of them stepped in front of the lens to share their views and the videos were posted on my Facebook page. Here they are for you to browse.

If you like a video, click through to the clip on Facebook and let me know via the comments on the video. Enjoy!


In this clip I talk with Jim Young, Co-Founder and CEO of Realcomm following the Realcomm 2016 opening session. Topics covered in the opening session included robots, drones, wearable technology, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, Internet of things, big data, intelligent building solutions, the shared economy and much more.

This is a quick peak at the #SmartBuildingshowcase at Realcomm/IBcon 2016. Real value generation. Real ROI. Real impact on asset NOI. All the big names are in this game. Companies represented in the case studies include Intel, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Stanford University, and that’s just the ones with space here in Silicon Valley. Shanghai Tower, multiple buildings in Australia including Barangaroo South in Sydney, are some international buildings. The world is on board with IoT solutions for the building. Are you in the game?

Check out this demo of Microsoft HoloLens by Jordan Lawver from Trimble at RealComm. The future is here: #augmentedreality that creates real value.

The tours following RealComm/IBCon 2016 both impressed and inspired.  I toured the new Stanford University Central Energy Facility and interviewed Gerry Hamilton, Director of Facilities Energy Management at Stanford University’s Department of Sustainability & Energy Management. This is the place that provides the hot and cold water pumped all over campus to heat and cool buildings, labs and the new hospital. Everything is state of the art.  I invite you all to learn more at https://sustainable.stanford.edu/

In this interview I speak with Cityzenith CEO Michael Jansen at Realcomm 2016. The Cityzenith solution provides what they call ‘Big data for the built environment’ and Michael and his team won one of this year’s Digie awards. Note: The video got cut, so it jumps from talking about the property to the individual sensor, but you can look at floors too.

In this video I catch up with Eric Stromquist and Kenneth Smyers, the hosts of the ControlTalk podcast and show. It’s the place to hear about the latest in #cretech #smartbuilding and many other related topics in the real estate industry. Check it out at www.controltrends.org

Markets Not Ready for Smart Home; Ready for Smart Building

IMG_6579.JPG

BlackRock San Francisco Office

Most people even in developed countries don’t know what a smart home is or what it can do.  Those involved in this game, especially in Silicon Valley where Internet of Things hype abounds, don’t realize just how many millions of people have no idea about the smart gadgetry entering the market today, even if they have heard of Google’s Nest.  People outside the hype don’t know how to use it.  They don’t know how it will benefit their lives.

And more importantly, most of the millions of people who don’t know, don’t actually care!  They have lights, thermostats and locks that work just the way they’ve worked for their lifetime.  Compelling reasons do not exist for them to change to security violation prone and buggy hardware and software, software that is currently delivering a less-than-ideal user experience because the leaders in the field haven’t had enough time to discover what the true UX ought to be.

On the other hand, the smart building market has been primed for smart building technology even though the people involved wouldn’t necessarily say they want a smart building. Building owners, operators and facility managers are looking for solutions to their problems, solutions that the IoT can deliver. But why has the pump been primed so that they are looking for these solutions?

Green building initiatives and legislation are pushing building investors, owners and managers to look seriously at energy consumption.  Talk to a building owner, operator or facilities manager about ‘smart’ or ‘IoT’ and their eyes will glaze over. Talk to them about technology delivering 83% improved occupant satisfaction while decreasing energy consumption in buildings 15-47%, as Building Robotics’ solution Comfy does, and they’re all ears.

The real estate crisis also made owners, operators and facility managers acutely aware of every cent on a budget, engendering a focus on lowering expenses and increasing operational efficiencies.  Their eyes will get excited again when you mention technology enabling operational efficiencies, the likes of which they haven’t seen before.   Anyone who has worked on a building budget (and my eyes saw hundreds at BlackRock over nearly 6 years) knows a % decrease in operating expenses trumps the same % reduction in building energy consumption every time.  When you cut tenant hot/cold complaints by over 90% that is a huge operational savings and that is just one area smart buildings reduce operating expenses.

Building occupants are also demanding smarter environments, open plans, flexible working space and building wide cell phone and Wi-Fi coverage.  Those same eyes will light up when you talk about these things and how they improve tenant satisfaction and comfort.

Because of the costs of managing large corporate campuses, companies are looking for ways to improve space utilization.  Companies such as connected lighting provider Enlighted can not only provide energy efficient lighting but also shine the light on space planning challenges and through data quantitatively answer the question, “Is our new open floor plan working?”

Smart buildings will be the center of the discussion on the most interesting panel discussion on commercial real estate technology the world has seen, and it will be held in Silicon Valley at SRI a place known for producing innovation.  Building Robotics CEO Andrew Krioukov and Enlighted investor Q Motiwala from Draper Nexus will participate in the event alongside other leaders in the smart building space.  More on the event can be found here: https://www.vlab.org/events/smart-buildings/

 

Building Automation Isn’t New; Home Automation Is

 

SingaporeSkyline2013.jpg

With the invention of the elevator and the development of the world’s first sky scrapers, buildings and building systems became larger and more complex and building automation was born to automate and control individual building functions.  While some systems for the residents of luxury homes have been created to automate some experiences in recent decades, relatively speaking the entire idea of automating the home has been something of science fiction until quite recently when startups entered the market with connected objects that could be automated such as thermostats and lights.  Because of this head start, commercial real estate operators recognize and understand building automation while home automation is relatively foreign to home owners.

Home automation is just cutting its teeth with devices such as Nest and Philips hue, while Building Automation Systems or BAS have already developed offspring, BMS or Building Management Systems which network together multiple BASs and the BEMS or Building Energy Management Systems that use info from BMS and BAS along with information from utilities, information from the utility provider and even weather information through APIs to create a holistic energy management system that incorporates disparate variables into a cohesive energy management system.

One might be thinking that with all of this, a building is already ‘smart’ or a part of the Internet of Things or IoT.  Based on some definitions of IoT, this might actually be the case.  But stunning entrepreneurs and a select number of savvy investors believe that deploying hundreds of additional sensors in buildings will generate millions of data points that will actually create millions of dollars of value by harnessing the power of analytics to arrive at insights that will change the way owners, operators and facilities managers understand and operate their buildings.  Changes, savings and value generation will come in energy and operations as well as in other areas, like understanding and optimizing space utilization.

Smart buildings will be the center of the discussion on the most interesting panel discussion on commercial real estate technology the world has seen, and it will be held in Silicon Valley at SRI a place known for producing innovation.  More on the event can be found here: https://www.vlab.org/events/smart-buildings/

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?”

Corporates Participating in the Silicon Valley Ecosystem

No one wants to be the next Kodak, Blockbuster or Borders.  Failing to embrace innovation comes with consequences. “Corporates around the world are worried about getting disrupted by Silicon Valley innovators,” explains Steffen Bartschat, a longtime Silicon Valley tech executive and technology scout for Faurecia, a $20B tier one automotive supplier. To keep up with rapid advances in technology, “they establish listening posts here, to connect with startup entrepreneurs and divine future trends,” Bartschat said.

Those listening posts come in various forms, from partnership with startup accelerators and incubators to creating their own innovation labs following in the footsteps of Citi with its 15 innovation labs around the globe.  Innovation is also outsourced by corporates to innovation consultancies such as HowCanWe, which focuses on helping companies innovate internally, and to organizations such as BCG Digital Ventures, launched by The Boston Consulting Group, whose teams around the globe take an idea or disruption, build businesses and/or products for partners and then bring solutions to market.

With many options for embracing innovation and leveraging the technology of the future, one challenge is knowing which is the best innovation investment decision. “Funding Innovation Labs in Silicon Valley is a similar problem as picking a nice bottle of California wine – sure, that $150 bottle is highly likely to be a better experience, but maybe the $25 bottle is good enough?  There is a vast range of dollars being spent on corporate innovation here in the Valley, and much of it is wasted,” Bartschat explained.

To shed more light on the issue of effectively participating in the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem and generating a valuable return  Bartschat will moderate a panel for the German American Business Association in Palo Alto on June 4th with panelists from Deutsche Telekom, Schneider Electric, SanDisk and Crestlight Venture Productions.  The event is open to GABA members and non-members; tickets and more information can be found here.

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.

Deep Learning

“A machine learning approach inspired by the human brain, Deep Learning is taking many industries by storm.”  Visit this link to learn more about the VLAB Deep Learning event.  The event video will be uploaded within a few weeks.  In the mean time, please check out this article by Forbes contributor Robert Hof: AI For Everyone: Startups Democratize Deep Learning So Google And Facebook Don’t Own It All

It would be an understatement to describe the VLAB event team journey as rigorous and rewarding.  The team? VLAB volunteers.  The topic? Deep.  The result? Learning…by all attendees from a superb panel. #VLABdl

A special shout out goes to the event co-chairs Jeff Stevens and Shane Gu as well as my fellow team members Adwoa Boakye, Natalia Erokhina, Priyan Guneratne, Fred Stein, Alexander van Dijk and Wolfram Willuhn.  Countless hours were spent researching, screening panelists and coordinating what seemed like a never-ending list of tasks to ultimately construct the panel that so eloquently addressed the topic for the sell-out VLAB audience.  As lead for marketing and demo exhibits, I must remind everyone it takes a team to sell out an event.  Thank you to all who answered the clarion call to action to support event marketing.

 

IMG_4710

IMG_4711

IMG_4712

IMG_4714

IMG_4717

IMG_4716

IMG_4721

Smiles in a packed crowd.