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21 Jul

The Internet of Medical Things, Part 3: Safety First

Though quick to capitalize on connected health devices and the coming Internet of Medical Things, hardware manufacturers may be moving too slowly when it comes to building the necessary protections into the back end.

The National Security Agency last month told participants in a defense technology summit in Washington that it was looking into hacking connected medical devices.

The agency’s interest is confined to researching the possibility of hacking IoMT devices, for now, and the fruit of its labor may be just another “tool in the toolbox,” according to NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett.

However, if the NSA is looking into hacking such devices, consumers can be sure that the black hats are on it too.

Where There’s a Web, There’s a Way

The cost of connected health programs will challenge the cultivation of the IoMT, as well the user experience and user interfaces, observed Scott Sellers, CEO of Azul Systems. Underneath it all lies a threat to the security of consumers’ most intimate data.

IoMT challenges “include slow or uneven regulatory responses to changes in approach, mostly focusing around data security and, in some markets, reliability of communications,” Sellers told TechNewsWorld, “especially when traveling, or if patients are in rural areas with less robust network infrastructures.”

In theory, any Internet-connected device can be hacked, said Brian Wassom, leader of Honigman’s social, mobile and emerging media industry group.

Cybersecurity attacks thus far have focused on large networks — systems that have plenty of access points, are rich with high-value data, and are built on computer languages common enough to invite exploitation, he pointed out.

“None of these conditions were met when connected medical devices were in the experimental stage,” Wassom told TechNewsWorld.

Carriage and Horse

The Federal Trade Commission last year kicked off the conversation about getting out in front of possible security and privacy issues sure to proliferate as the number of IoT and connected medical devices pile up in coming years.

The Food and Drug Association for the past three years has been issuing guidance on improving the safety and security standards of connected medical devices, noted Stu Bradley, vice president of cybersecurity at SAS.

“The proliferation of IoMT technology, and the healthcare industry’s enthusiasm to adopt it, has put the veritable cart before the horse in terms of security,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Manufacturers will need to embed more robust security solution into IoMT devices, meaning they must proactively address security concerns instead of retroactively responding, Bradley said.

“This poses a real challenge for manufacturers whose core competency has historically been device, not software, development,” he added.

Manufacturers of connected devices generally have focused on building systems to deliver “the needed functionality of a device as cheaply and precisely as possible,” noted Matt Gross, director of the SAS health care and life sciences global practice.

“Manufacturers, in turn, use the cheapest underlying platforms — usually open source — to keep costs down and accelerate time to market,” he told TechNewsWorld. “That leaves these devices quite vulnerable to compromise.”

Day Zero

Roughly 70 percent of IoT devices were vulnerable to cyberattacks as of two years ago, Honigman’s Wassom noted, citing an HP study.

Weaknesses in admin tools, paltry means for updating firmware, and a lack of transport encryption were among the 250 vulnerabilities researchers found.

Bad habits die hard — and the practice of using basic passcodes carried over to IoT devices, the study revealed. About 80 percent of passwords securing IoT devices were “1234” and the like.

“Medical devices are not immune to this minimalistic approach to data security,” Wassom said.

Two researchers detailed how they remotely accessed a hospital’s neonatal monitors in a presentation Wassom attended at last year’s DEFCON.

“In many cases, hospital employees may not even realize that certain devices even have Internet connectivity, much less how to secure them,” he said.

Another hacker found an easy way to take charge of an infusion pump, a device that delivers fluids to patients and is common in hospital rooms.

“In theory, he could have emptied an entire vial of medication into a patient,” said Wassom, “and a hospital staff person monitoring the device from a central location would never have known.”

While hackers could leverage exploits to modify systems and cause physical harm to other humans, it’s more likely they’ll be motivated to use stolen data for financial gain, said SAS’ Gross.

They likely will use ill-gotten information to gain access to other systems, or encrypt it for use in ransomware attacks, he suggested. “Until the first major breach occurs, however, focus will stay on more immediate threats.”

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21 Jul

The Internet of Medical Things, Part 1: A New Concept in Healthcare

Manufacturers are eager to lay the bricks and help pave the road to better, more personalized healthcare through integration of connected devices in the new Internet of Medical Things.

Compared to other industries, healthcare has been “inherently conservative and slow” to embrace innovations such as the cloud and the Internet of Things — but that’s changing. Innovative tech products and services are making it harder for healthcare providers to ignore the potential benefits of connected medical devices and the IoMT, according to Ian Shakil, CEO of Augmedix.

“We’re seeing this firsthand, as major healthcare systems — including Sutter Health, Dignity Health, CHI and TriHealth — scale Augmedix’s service across their organizations with a mission to rehumanize the doctor-patient relationship,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Little Gadgets and Big Data

People aged 65 and older made up about 14.7 percent of the United States population in 2014, and that figure could reach 20 percent, according to Administration on Aging projections.

Although the over-65 population will continue to drive up healthcare costs, new support for aging in place and efforts to shorten hospital stays could alleviate that strain. However, that’s dependent on device manufacturers and software developers getting the customer experience right for both patients and providers, suggested Virtual Health CEO Adam Sabloff.

The valuable data rendered from connected medical devices, “such as wearables that monitor blood pressure and other vitals, is relatively useless if never presented to a patient’s care team in an easy to read, actionable manner,” he told TechNewsWorld. “This is where innovative end-to-end solutions come into play.”

Virtual Health maintains a cloud-based platform that aggregates and integrates data from a range of sources and formats to give care teams “a 360-degree view of the patient.” That allows physicians to “intervene and provide proactive care before a condition manifests or worsens,” said Sabloff.

“Patients will truly benefit from the IoMT only when end-to-end solutions are fully leveraged to help clinicians access and act on valuable data provided by wearables and other remote monitoring tools,” he added.

Encouraging Adoption

Mobility and data management are key to the IoMT’s success, according to Keith Cooper, CEO of Constant Therapy.

“When medical care or therapy is untethered from a face-to-face office visit, patients can receive more and consistent care on any day in any place,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Constant Therapy’s tools for brain rehab offer users five times more speech and cognitive therapy than conventional approaches, the company’s internal studies concluded.

As for data and analytics, the company’s digitization of cognitive therapy delivery has made information about a patient’s strengths and deficits “instantly available and clearly understandable.”

Deeper insights and data tracking can lift the veil on understanding, Cooper said. Complementing that are interoperability and a compelling customer experience.

Interoperability to a large degree entails building in system support for all major mobile devices, and building products that are fresh and engaging, said Michelle de Haaff, vice president of marketing and customer success at Glooko.

“Freshness includes features that enable patients to share and get new insights from their data, get remote support from a care team, and even incentives that can keep them coming back for more,” de Haaff told TechNewsWorld.

Culture Change

To drive adoption of IoMT systems and to achieve more end-to-end solutions, hospital administrators, vendors and manufacturers must cooperate to lead healthcare through a culture change, said Joel Cook, senior healthcare solutions manager at Stanley Healthcare.

Remote consultations, social sensors, gadgets that offer guidance on health and wellness, analytics-driven regimens and other IoMT innovations are driving a cultural transformation that could move modern medicine into its next era.

“The keys to success are a clearly defined use case,” Cook told TechNewsWorld, “and goals that are agreed upon by all the stakeholders.”

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20 Jul

The Internet of Medical Things, Part 2: Devices and Apps

Concerns have been multiplying in the United States over the creaks of a medical infrastructure that’s bearing the weight of an aging population. Current and upcoming members of the over-65 club are helping to drive a new age in healthcare, in which devices connect patients with caregivers, things get even smarter, and machines get even better at learning what sensors are saying.

The swelling over-65 segment of the population, which accounts for about 63 percent of the U.S.’ long-term healthcare services, is expected to drive the demand for new healthcare technologies, according to a recent report from Grand View Research.

The “high, unmet medical needs” of seniors is one factor that has pushed healthcare organizations to adopt and expand on remote patient monitoring and telemedicine.

Efforts to meet those needs will sustain the market for the Internet of Medical Things until at least 2022 — at which point the sector is expected to near $410 billion, according to the research firm.

Leading the sector’s growth are its medical devices, which are projected to drive a compound annual growth rate of 28.3 percent between now and then.

All Shapes and Sizes

They’ve been popping up on wrists in the form of smartwatches like the Apple Watch and connected fitness bands like Fitbit.

Google plans to put them in people’s eyes, employing a contact-lens form factor to read glucose levels.

mc10 has developed a biometric stamp, about the size of a medium band-aid, that reports a user’s vitals to connected devices and doctors.

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Buffalo are working on a pendant, worn on a choker-type necklace, that can analyze chewing and swallowing sounds to determine what wearers are eating and alert them when they’ve consumed too many carbs.

This is the face of a smarter, more connected manifestation of modern medicine. Still, the devices patients and consumers use are only one side of the coin, noted Ian Shakil, CEO of Augmedix.

“The Internet of Medical Things will continue to evolve and deliver value by getting the complexities of technology out of the way and connecting — or better yet, reconnecting — doctors with patients,” he told TechNewsWorld.

One of the original partners for Google’s Glass at Work enterprise initiative, Augmedix has focused on the right side of the coin. Google shuttered the consumer side of its Glass program, focusing instead on the enterprise and on companies that develop augmented reality experiences for other organizations.

Augmedix’s Glass-based service frees the hands of doctors to spend more of their time working with patients and less of it looking at documents.

“Augmedix’s service is optimally designed to deliver the highest quality patient notes resulting in improved patient care and pay or reimbursement,” said Shakil.

The Eyes Have It

Before using the service, physicians would spend 70 percent on their time on documentation, the company estimated.

“This newly reclaimed time can be repurposed in-clinic for other administrative tasks or even to see more patients,” Shakil said.

While Augmedix has been working to free doctors from the bog of documentation, care facilities long since have adopted technologies such as real-time location systems.

RTLS is one of the original use cases for the IoMT and predates the term, according to Joel Cook, senior healthcare solutions manager at Stanley Healthcare.

Such systems traditionally have been leveraged for asset management, such as locating equipment and monitoring for temperature-sensitive substances, he told TechNewsWorld. Pulling from the opposite direction, hospitals now are focusing on improving the patient experience, along with tuning the efficiency of staff operations.

“Using wireless RTLS devices, staff and family members can trace a patient’s entire journey through the hospital — from the waiting room to surgery to post-op, and how long they spent in each area,” Cook said.

Data, Big and Small

Along with mobility, which is afforded by wearables and IoMT devices, data and analytics are key factors in modernizing medicine to meet demand, according to Keith Cooper, CEO of Constant Therapy.

At Constant Therapy, developers and researchers have been building out and maintaining a platform that evaluates patients with the goal of improving brain function. Patients input data by performing tasks on smart devices, and the software makes individual assessments and recommendations.

“By collecting anonymized data from every person’s interaction with our therapy programs, we can analyze what works and what doesn’t work for each type of individual,” Cooper told TechNewsWorld.

Constant Therapy uses more than 200 million data points to “deliver precise and personalized” therapy with science as its basis, he said, noting that “this is exactly what is envisioned by personalized medicine.”

Meanwhile, Glooko software engineers have built a platform that connects users and their diabetes devices to caregivers and the company’s analytics platform.

The service supports more than 50 cloud-connected medical devices, from continuous glucose monitors to insulin pumps, along with a host of mobile phones and tablets to help people better understand the impact their behavior has on their diabetes, explained Michelle de Haaff, vice president of marketing and customer success.

By “connecting these devices to mobile apps that can provide on-demand insights, reminders and notifications,” de Haaff said, the IoMT “can increase adherence rates to taking medications, improve nutrition and exercise commitments, and deliver the data needed for remote patient monitoring.”

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08 Jun

Will Social IoT Be the Tipping Point for Global IoT Adoption

This article is Authored by Ken Herron -Chief Marketing Officer of Unified Inbox
“CIoT (Consumer Internet of Things), IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things), GIoT (Government Internet of Things)? If we have all of the technologies, what is really keeping IoT from taking off, right now, globally?”
I was asked this question recently over lunch by a smart engineer friend with a love for Thai food who works in Dubai. Without thinking, I answered, “Social IoT. Developers, manufacturers, operators, and governments need to implement the ‘last mile for IoT,’ the social layer of the Internet of Things. That is the missing piece.”
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The last mile for IoT is Social IoT
So what is Social IoT? Social IoT is the ability for you to simply talk– meaning write or speak (think Natural Language Processing (NLP) and the explosion in Artificial Intelligence- (AI)-driven chat bots – to *any* of your smart, connected devices, and they back to you on *any* of the communications channels you use, without a dedicated, ecosystem-, device-, or maker-specific app.
Social IoT taps the communications channels – and their respective native web and mobile apps – you already have and use on your laptop, tablet, and phone. Depending on the time, location, and need, you may email, text, post on social networks, or chat on messaging apps. And depending on which country you happen to be in, those can be completely different channels. You may use Line in Japan, but use KakaoTalk in Korea and Hike in Brazil. And sometimes, it’s not by choice. The communications channel you rely on and use the most in one country (for me in Singapore, for example, it’s WhatsApp), can be illegal and/or blocked when you’re in another country. Example.
The magic of Social IoT is that it lets you the user control all of your different connected devices – including everything in your home and office from appliances to trash cans to locks. With a text, a tweet, or a WhatsApp, Social IoT gives you this control regardless of the technology’s ecosystem (iOS vs. Android), manufacturer (Huawei vs. Samsung), or brand.
Pick up your mobile. Go to your Contacts. What do you see? You see people. Social IoT allows you to now add your smart home, your connected car, and (sooner than you think) your smart city as contacts on your phone. With Social IoT, you can have a normal conversation with all of your different devices.
Because of the tech media’s recent focus on smart home technologies, there are some people who think IoT is just CIoT, but it has equally strong (i.e., compelling ROI) use cases for IIoT and GIoT.
Why does CIoT want Social IoT?
Smart homes, Connected cars, Wearables, these are all great examples of CIoT. Nothing against your bedroom, bathroom, or living room, but picture your kitchen. How many appliances do you have? A refrigerator; a conventional, convection, infrared, and/or microwave oven; a dishwasher; a coffee maker (or two…); an electric kettle; a mixer; a toaster; a food processor; a blender; and that’s not even including your smoke detector. What if you could talk to them? What if you could tell your refrigerator what groceries you wanted? What if your refrigerator could also tell you how much milk, eggs, and ice cream you have left, or even auto-order them from your favorite stores (taking advantage of the best weekly price offers and specials) for pick-up or delivery? WhatsApping your oven to pre-heat itself when you give in to that craving for your favorite frozen pizza at the supermarket, so it’s ready to go by the time you get home? That is the magic of Social IoT.
What do Orlando, Singapore, and Dubai have in common? They can all be hot. Very hot. I have friends who can now start their cars, and more importantly, their cars’ air conditioners with an app. With Social IoT, there is no need to download another app. With Social IoT, I can show off to my friends by tweeting my car to turn on the AC. That is the power of Social IoT.
CIoT also plays well with children, seniors, and animals. Your pre-schooler runs out of the schoolyard during recess? The teacher is instantly notified via text message. Your elderly mom has a fall. Her friends and neighbors can be instantly messaged on Facebook. Your prize puppy is being flown to you today from the breeder in Kentucky. Regular email updates on his “Fido Fitbit” show you he’s enjoying the flight. Those are the capabilities of Social IoT.
Why does IIoT need Social IoT?
There are people who work seriously dangerous jobs. Take mining for example. Mining requires working around machines and equipment that can kill you. But mining is one of the leaders in embracing Industry 4.0. Imagine you’re a miner. You’re likely now wearing a safety vest with a flashing red light that alerts you when you’re in a dangerous situation. With Social IoT, sensors in your vest can now trigger an instantly delivered message to your smartphone, your crew, and your supervisor to give you the why, the context for the flashing red light, telling you the specific danger you’re in. You’re approaching a machine you’ve not been trained for, you’ve entered an area where explosives are being used, or you’ve exceeded the number of safe working hours on your shift. Those are the accidents at work avoided by Social IoT.
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Consider your average factory, filled with machines which require both supplies and maintenance. Profit maximization is achieved through downtime minimization. Social IoT enables both maintenance and supply chain management right out of a science fiction novel. Some examples? A machine can now order its own replacement parts so it never has to stop for a “refill.” Based on real-time diagnostics, all types of equipment, including elevators and escalators, can submit their own support tickets on Telegram for both repairs and preventive maintenance, sending the message to the nearest or next available engineering team. That is the improved productivity generated by Social IoT.
In April 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan changed its water source from [treated] Detroit Water and Sewer Department water to the [untreated] Flint River. Officials failed to apply corrosion inhibitors to the corrosive Flint River water, which caused lead from aging pipes to leach into the community’s water supply, causing extremely elevated levels of the heavy metal, causing lead contamination in 6,000-12,000 children.
Had the city of Flint simply published their water quality sensors’ daily readings on Facebook and Twitter (as cities publish their air quality sensors’ daily readings), city officials and residents would have been instantly alerted of the problem before it impacted a single child, or cost the US $300 billion. Those are the children’s lives and big money saved by Social IoT.
Why does GIoT require Social IoT?
From Jun, Spain to Croatia’s Istria, and from refugees to recycling, governments around the world are already making great use of social media, but Social IoT is also powering smart city initiatives around the world.
There isn’t a country in the world that is immune from the risks of natural and manmade disasters – threats of fires, storms, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes; virus outbreaks; and terror attacks. The SHOUT emergency broadcast system for mission-critical communications, from SAP and Unified Inbox, allows city and national governments to instantly share messages out on email, SMS, social networks, messaging and chat apps, outdoor screens, websites, and even live TV news tickers. Large enterprises use SHOUT for two-way communications with employees during times of crisis like the March 2016 Belgian airport bombing. Social IoT saves people’s lives.
Why my grandfather would have loved Social IoT
What did Social IoT look like 30 years ago? Visiting my grandmother always felt like attending the trials for the Olympic stair-running team. Every time I visited, much to the relief of my grandfather, it was “Kenneth, go downstairs and see if the washer is done yet.” Growing up, *I* was the Social IoT between my grandmother and her washing machine, giving both (almost) real-time alerts and notifications, and taking actions based on verbal commands. I would run down two flights of stairs to see if the wheezing old washer had finished its wash cycle, breathlessly running back upstairs to accurately report back to Grandma Mimi.
Flash forward to my mother’s washing machine and dryer. Looking back at her then state-of-the-art Sears “Laundry Center,” it’s hard not to view it today as anything but dumb and dated. It had a buzzer to communicate when the wash cycle was finished. When I say buzzer, I mean a wake-the-dead, rattle the windows BLAAAAAAAT of a buzzer that could wake a sleeping baby the next house over.
It’s now 2016. We have the internet. We have wireless connectivity. We have our mobiles. We have a rapidly increasing number of smart devices. We have Social Media. And now we have Social IoT. I am not alone in expecting my next washing machine to be able to send me alerts and notification on my (ever-changing) choice of communications channels. I will happily pay a few dollars more to have my next washing machine to be able to communicate back and forth with me on WhatsApp, WeChat, SMS, or even a tweet, but that I will be able to simply communicate with all of my different appliances and devices at home, at work, in my car, and when I travel by sending them an email, text, message, or social network post.
Have a favorite use of Social IoT, or an idea for a new use case for Social IoT? Please share it with us in the Comments section below.
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30 Apr

The Rise of the IoT: How the Cloud Enables New Data Uses

As the data-driven revolution in business and industry continues, companies now have more data than ever before and an incredible range of opportunities to transform multiple operations across the enterprise.

But too many businesses remain locked into “old-school” processes and patterns in terms of how they use their data assets.

The traditional shared services model for activating data usually leads to siloed and complex architectures that may cut off the free flow of valuable data across functions and makes it difficult to integrate different types of data.

Yes, we’re talking about Big Data here, but also more common varieties of data, including transactional data. With new categories of useful data seeming to pop up every day, companies need a different and more flexible approach if they are to mix and match unique data sets to gain big-picture views of their customers, products or other operations.

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21 Apr

The State of Internet of Things in 2015

2015 has passed quickly, and we have made many significant advances and achievements in technology. More importantly, the Internet of Things (IoT) has been a hot topic and took over this year connecting billions of devices. IoT is a simple concept that enables devices to communicate intelligently through the internet and turns devices into smart devices.

The year has been profitable and productive for this rapidly growing IoT industry. According to a recent BI report, the number of IoT devices installed has reached 4.2 billion units worldwide, and they predict that it may increase about six-fold by 2020.

With billions of connected devices, IoT will provide vast amounts of actionable data in real time. Organizations of all kinds and across all industries use this information to create new operating models, bring products to market faster, and develop more efficient business processes.

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Discover how companies are experiencing the improved business results achieved through IoT deployments.

Developments in IoT

The rapid technological advancements of IoT aspects have made it easier for firms to invest and establish IoT solutions. Some developments are:

Fast Communication – High-speed networks like optical fiber and 4G have made uninterrupted data transfer possible.

Affordable Sensors – In the last ten years, the cost of sensors has been reduced by more than 50%.

Cheap Storage – The cost of storage has almost become negligible.

IoT Investments

The major investments of IoT have been towards the development of smart homes and healthcare innovations. Venture Capitalist also invested largely in wearable technologies and user interfaces that control data from connected devices.

IoT Worldwide

In the United States alone, nearly 551 companies are actively developing IoT solutions across all industries. The UK and Canada follow it with 40 and 37 companies respectively.

IoT Impact across Multiple Firms

Energy & Utilities

Organizations associated with Energy and Utility sector are one of the earliest adopters of IoT. These companies gain a lot from IoT in terms of reduced risk, improved customer service and increased operational efficiency.

Smart grids and smart electricity meters have largely increased the efficiency of power usage by detecting the power leakage sources. The total installed base is predicted to reach 1.1 billion smart meters by 2022, according to Navigant Research.

Healthcare

The IoT innovations like Pill Cameras and Patient Monitoring Systems have transformed the way healthcare is delivered. In the healthcare sector, IoT has been gaining attention in recent years. It enables doctors or health practitioners to communicate patients in more advanced ways.

Wearable smart devices that monitor and track physical activities have gained a better response from people. A Verizon study stated that the participation of overweight individuals in a wellness program was increased by 86% when wearable devices were incorporated.

Industrial & Manufacturing

IoT helps to monitor the functioning of various machinery parts and to report the event of any malfunction. The industrial and manufacturing companies are benefiting largely using this technology. With continuous monitoring of machinery, they are protecting their assets and people as well. IoT also allows analyzing manufacture process and physical attributes of the end products to determine whether their results have met the established quality standards.

Transportation

The transportation industry has adopted IoT in a big way. Using the IoT technology, owners are able to locate and monitor their vehicles more efficiently. They are saving time and fuel costs by assigning orders automatically, and also benefiting by enhancing customer experience. In future, cars are likely to become data collection hubs by delivering real-time information about traffic, shopping discounts, etc.

Public Sector

To address the problems arise in the public sector, there are various applications such as smart traffic systems, energy-efficient streetlights, garbage bins, etc. For example, smart garbage bin will notify when the bin is ready to be emptied, avoiding overflow of trash. More such applications are expected to address many of the constraining problems prevalent in crowded megacities.

IoT in the Future

The IoT-enabled transformation has developed massively in the last couple of years and will continue to do so. In the near future, we were supposed to have a home full of Internet-enabled devices that would cater our every need. Experts estimate that more than 50 billion smart devices will be a part of IoT by 2020. IoT becomes an integral part of our lives and makes our lives more sophisticated than ever before.

Vmoksha IoT Solutions

Vmoksha already has a couple of years experience in delivering end-to-end IoT solutions. This year, as per our clients’ requirements, we allocated more space for IoT projects across various sectors and helped them in transforming their business.

We provide extensive smarter networking solutions that meet today’s highly dynamic digital world. Just think of the tremendous opportunities IoT brings for your business and society. If you want your business to get ready for the future, approach us today. We will support from the very start of your IoT initiative till the go-to-market.

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19 Apr

Internet of Things: Beyond the Hype

The amount of connected devices is projected to grow from 2 billion objects in 2006 to 200 billion by 2020. That’s the equivalent of 26 smart devices for every person on the planet! The time to sit up and take notice is now, so let’s take a look at the impact this trend will have on your business.

More than just a buzzword

Web 2.0, Big Data, Grid Computing: The media is quick to attach itself to the latest buzzwords, which can confuse readers and leave them wondering what all the fuss is about. Internet of Things (IoT) is no exception.

IoT references a range of diverse products and solutions that may at first glance seem unrelated to each other. Yet behind the hype, IoT is considered by those in the know to be an unstoppable trend that will affect all global business sectors in the very near future.

IoT in a nutshell

At its core, IoT is simply a network of physical objects (devices, cars, buildings, electronic items etc) that contain a microchip. The other key component is an internet connection via an internal or external gateway. Through sensors and software, the physical objects can monitor data, and send it to and from cloud-based databases to be monitored, analyzed and acted upon.

Think of it as a natural evolution of machine to machine (M2M) networks. Bringing that connectivity online gives you almost limitless possibilities.

IoT and the gold mine of Big Data

As each new connected device provides ever increasing amounts of highly valuable information, the industry of Big Data analytics is growing rapidly.

Pattern of Life (POL) data analytics can be used to profile users for different purposes. From a marketing perspective, it’s a goldmine.

This kind of analysis can save lives, but it also presents major privacy issues. Each country’s rules and regulations are developing and expected to change as people become more familiar with the topic. With this in mind, many companies are now collecting as much valuable information as they can before stricter laws are introduced.

Everyday life in the IoT era

According to Transparency Market Research, the global home automation market was valued at US $4.41 billion in 2014, and was expected to grow 26.3% annually from 2014 to 2020. As home automation technology evolves, your house will get smarter over time as more and more devices connect to each other. Expect more efficient use of energy and more self-learning devices that need less input from you.

Greenhouses can automatically monitor and optimize conditions to create the most productive environment. More intelligent agriculture has the potential to make a real difference to the expected food shortage problems as the world’s population grows.

Within healthcare, advanced wearables that monitor, analyze and report results for patients with chronic diseases look set to change the way doctors and patients communicate. Doctors can rely on hard facts rather than sporadic conversations with the patient.

Self-driving cars are no longer the realm of science fiction. Since 2009, Google’s self-driving car project has clocked up over 1.4 million miles. According to a Google study, their cars are involved in almost 25% less collissions than traditional cars in the United States.

How long will it take to get the world fully connected?

The backbone to connect already exists with cloud-based services in our current Internet structure. However, there are some natural limitations that will delay the adoption of a fully connected world.

  • Battery life
    The capacity and life expectancy of today’s batteries are bottlenecks for the creation of connected devices, yet the future looks promising with developments such as wireless charging.
  • One device, one IP
    We don’t have enough IP addresses available using the standard IPv4 protocol to meet the growing demand for IoT devices, which each need their own IP address to connect to the internet. Transition to the IPv6 protocol makes 340 trillion trillion trillion (yes, 3 x trillion) unique IP addresses available, more than enough to manage demand for decades to come. However, it will take time to update the world’s outdated hardware, so the transition will be gradual.
  • Costs
    The cost of connectivity has prevented an even faster digital transition, although the cost of silicon continues to fall year-on-year. It will take time, but the Internet of Things is a natural progression of technology. In time, cost will no longer be a decision factor when connecting products to the Internet.

How will IoT impact your business?

The era of IoT will force even the most successful companies in the unconnected world to face digital disruption. Despite only being in its infancy, the impact of IoT on traditional industries is undeniable.

Book stores were too busy protecting their existing product to combat Amazon’s Kindle. The taxi industry in New York was ripped apart by Uber. Kodak spent millions to protect their castle of film-based photography, which now stands in ruins.

The world is full of competent people who can create competing products with the digital features that your customers will soon expect. With low barriers of entry, all it takes is the right mix of innovators, a good understanding of market trends and willing investors, for ambitious digital-first startups to grab their share of your market pie in the blink of an eye.

If you are a profitable business with a portfolio of unconnected physical devices, your world will change.

The time for action is now.

 

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12 Apr

The CIO Checklist For Choosing The Right Enterprise IoT Platform

Enterprise CIOs have moved beyond the point of evangelizing and selling Internet of Things to internal stakeholders to implementing the right IoT strategy for the organization. They are evaluating a variety of technologies ranging from open source software to turnkey IoT platforms to cloud-based PaaS. With almost every major platform vendor offering an IoT stack, choosing the right platform is becoming a challenge.

The rise of managed cloud platforms made it possible for cloud service providers to offer end-to-end IoT PaaS services. Amazon, Microsoft MSFT -1.17%, IBM IBM -0.33%, Oracle ORCL -0.58%, Salesforce, Red Hat RHT +2.23% and even infrastructure providers such as Cisco and VMware VMW -0.50% have joined the IoT bandwagon.

Source: businesscloudnews.com

 

I attempted to identify the key attributes of an IoT platform that align with the requirements of an enterprise. This checklist will help CXOs to choose the right offering for implementing a robust IoT solution.  To understand the essential building blocks of an enterprise IoT platform, refer to the article that I published earlier.

1. Comprehensive Device Management

The devices layer is the most important component of an IoT solution. A mature IoT platform comes with comprehensive device management features that let customers on-board existing and new devices with rich metadata. Identical devices that share the same metadata are grouped together. This feature makes it possible to search devices based on their capabilities.

The platform also provides per-device authentication and authorization to enforce enhanced security. It makes it easy to define which devices can connect, send, and receive messages. Devices can be easily blacklisted and whitelisted through declarative policies.

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08 Apr

An insider’s handbook for IoT startups

Tips are everywhere. There’s an abundance of generic advice available for how to build teams and culture, how to fundraise, how to be productive, how to stay above the noise… But what about specific advice? Specific tips for what differentiates the leaders from the followers. And even more specifically, a guide to differentiate and succeed as a hardware startup.

We’ve learned a ton while working on Notion over the past couple of years. We’ve had some big wins and some big losses. We read the blogs, read the books, attended conferences, focused on best practices and did our best to be a walking TED talk.

What we really could have used, though, was an insider’s guide; a sherpa for navigating the common challenges all IoT startups will face, a treasure map to the best-kept secrets. Although we weren’t able to track down such a coveted document along our path, we figured it was time to put one together for those who are finding their way now. Without further delay, here are a number of insider tips for building a great IoT company and product.

Be cognizant of the innovator’s feature curve

Ideas! Innovation! Changing the world! There will always be improvements you know you can make to your product. But, as the second tip alludes to, a minimum viable product (MVP) should be the main the focus — what is the least functional, the least capable implementation of your product that is commercially viable? Go build that! Expand on it later.

Take solace in the plot below, which seemingly illustrates most startups (hardware or software). You’ll have an idea, expand on it before you build it, realize you don’t have the time or resources to make it as feature-rich as you’d hoped, make your way through development and, finally, launch — with fewer features than you thought possible at the beginning. But, if you follow the second tip, that will all be okay.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 2.52.49 PM

Clearly define MVP

By definition, if your product is at MVP, it’s viable. Therefore, there are no additional features needed, no additional bells and whistles. Could it be better? Of course! Should it be? No!

Paralysis by analysis can cause many an argument amongst teams.

MVP is key. And, defining what MVP means for your product and team is paramount. To give you an idea, our overview document is 10 pages and outlines more than 150 features in excruciating detail. They range in complexity and depth, but a few examples are: “As a user, I should be able to access support via email” (on the simpler end) and “As a sensor, I should be able to be adhered to any household surface” (on the more challenging end).

From here, we have two additional frameworks: “acceptance criteria” and “definition of done.” For the latter feature above, here’s a reference outline:

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 11.25.12 AM

Implement an “80/20 Rule” (or even the lesser-known “70/30 Rule”)

Data makes for informed decisions. That’s easy and well understood. But, how much data is needed to make these so-called “informed decisions”?

Paralysis by analysis can cause many an argument amongst teams. If you’re waiting until you’re 100 percent comfortable with a decision, you’ve waited too long. Startups aren’t afforded the discretionary time to make for such clear-cut decisions. When you’re 80 percent sure (or even 70 percent sure), move ahead. You must accept the risk of being wrong or you’ll never get to the finish line.

Get an early start on compliance

Does your product require compliance? FCC, PTCRB, WEEE, RoHS declaration, UL, California’s Prop 65?

Will you have export restrictions? Do you have more than two batteries in your device (meaning you need an IATA battery handling label on every box)? How will you display your radio compliance IDs on your packaging? On your product?

These are all tough questions that can have somewhat ambiguous answers. Finding the right outfit to guide you through the process can be challenging. Get started early. Be proactive and build compliance research into your feasibility assessments and budgeting (FCC alone can run $10,000+). Here are a few companies that can likely help you: Intertek, Nemko and Shipwire.

Vet costs overseas, but manufacture locally to start

Unicorns won’t just make a single manufacturing run, right? Then give yourself the best chance to succeed and make that initial manufacturing run as simple as possible.

We’ve had to adjust processes for reflow, stenciling, AOI (automatic optical inspection), panelizing, de-panelizing, flashing, testing components, heat staking, assembly, ID assignments, packout, packaging and more. If our contract manufacturer wasn’t 30 minutes away, we’d have had a much harder time working through solutions.

Per-part costs will be higher initially, but all that matters is you know what your upside can be. Sell the dream to investors, “We manufacture for price X now but will be at price Y when we ramp overseas.” Know what price Y is in full detail and be ready to pull the trigger when the POs start rolling in.

Check out PCH Access and Dragon Innovation for more info on how to scale.

Containerize in the cloud

From test environments to server instances, the infrastructure for your product will be complex (to say the least!). As you scale, operating your own data centers can become expensive and unwieldy. The cloud offers the promise of on-demand pricing, but how do you ensure your services run the same on your dev machine as they do in production?

Be thoughtful, be transparent and be forthright.

Enter Docker, a container technology giving you portability, agility and consistency. Containers run independent of the hosts on which they are placed, giving you consistency from test, to dev and all the way to production. With open-source tools like Kubernetes, or AWS’ EC2 Container Service, running containers at scale in the cloud is becoming easier than ever.

Build in over-the-air updates and have a NUT

Hardware is hard. While diligent testing, unit tests and purposeful QA processes help, there are always going to be logic changes and feature adjustments. Get out in front of that need and plan for your over-the-air updating (OTAU) system. OTAUs give you the flexibility and capability to patch mistakes, upgrade services and, overall, provide a much better product as you move past MVP.

Once your OTAU plans are in place, test, test, test! We call our system the “NUT,” which stands for “never-ending update test.” We constantly run sensors through over-the-air changes alongside a series of diagnostics to help isolate any issues that pop up.

Focus on UX

This is your bread and butter. This is how you set yourself apart. If you have a consumer-facing product, make it consumer-proof. Make it intuitive, neighborly, intelligent. Make it purposeful and appealing. This takes work… lots of it. But, you’ll be all the better for it, we promise!

Run user tests in person, ask people not only if they’d buy your product but how much they’d pay for it, be critical and don’t make assumptions. Some great resources: UserTesting.com, Mechanical Turk and InVision.

Get a solid writer on your team

“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose.” — Dead Poets Society

Messaging is everything. Be thoughtful, be transparent and be forthright. Often times, engineers and creative/expressive writing don’t mix. Figure out how to bring that missing link to your team, whether it be through a professional copywriter or a full-time team member.

If you’re ready to launch, you waited too long.

An articulate, personable website, a useful, intuitive mobile application and a poignant branding campaign can go a long way toward success. Words can get you into accelerators, they can garner investor interest and they can ease the pain of tight circumstances. Write like your business depends on it… because it does!

Launch uncomfortably

Your product will never be ready. It’ll never be bug-free. Your product will never have five-star reviews from all users and perfect 10s for NPS surveys. There will always be improvements to be made, better interfaces to develop, better copy to implement.

But, you know what? That doesn’t matter! Stick with what you defined as your MVP. Get your product out there and let people use it. Get more feedback and iterate from there. A transparent company iterating through launch challenges is much better received than a silent company not acknowledging issues.

If you’re ready to launch, you waited too long.

Use “off-the-shelf” when you can

If you don’t have to build your own Wi-Fi solution, why should you? Just like knowing your overseas COGS, know what your upside is to spin your own component solutions, as well — but don’t do it… yet. You can save time and energy utilizing platforms like Electric Imp to connect your product. It’ll get you to launch more quickly and help you prove product market fit.

Once you’ve hit it big time, cost-engineer down to what you’ve known all along you could get to: Your bottom line will appreciate it, your investors will be happy because you did what you said you could do and you’ll have been on the market that much sooner because you didn’t belabor your team creating something that was already at your fingertips.

Invest in your sleep

This last one sounds a little silly, but stay with me here. Founders and members of early-stage startups tend to eat, sleep and breathe their product. It stands to reason that sleep and energy may suffer after long bouts with launch-the-product-itis. The best way to kick nagging colds, tackle tough travel periods and be at your best is to make sure you sleep. And sleep hard!

A great pillow could be the best investment you ever make. Get a memory foam mattress topper. Get a Hello Sense system to help you track sleep cycles and to wake you up at the best possible time within those sleep cycles. Get an air quality monitor, like Awair, to help you create an environment conducive to best sleep.

That’s it! Twelve insider tips to help you reach the top. We could go on and on (get your packaging figured out before it’s too late, crowdfund like a boss, build a model with recurring revenue, be thinking about unit tests for hardware QA…). It sounds like we just talked ourselves into a revision to the handbook — but hopefully, this gets you started!

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07 Apr

Gartner’s Top 10 Internet Of Things Technologies For 2017 & 2018

We’re all very interested to know what the future holds for us, unfortunately, in life we seldom get that luxury. But, Garnter with it’s recent analysis has taken upon itself to provide all the IoT enthusiasts a sneak-peak into what the years 2017 and 2018 holds for the Internet of Things.

IoT has been lauded by various industry experts over the years for pushing beyond the ages-old business models and paving the way for new and improved business model going beyond the basic analytics, intelligence and data boundaries that previously halted their progress.

Here’s what IoT has in store for us in the near future!

  1. IoT Analytics – In order to extract the full potential of the data captured, and knowledge extracted, IoT analytics would be in the need to completely revamp itself which includes new algorithms, approaches to machine learning, architectures and data structures.
  2. Low-Power, Short-Range IoT Networks – According to Gartner’s prediction, Low-power, short-range networks will have a substantial effect on wireless IoT connectivity by the year 2025. They will have much more domination than wide-area IoT networks.
  3. Low-Power, Wide-Area Networks- Gartner reveals that traditional cellular networks are not capable of delivering a proper combination of operational cost and technical features for IoT applications requiring a wide-area coverage coupled with high connection density, relatively low bandwidth, low hardware and operating cost, and a good battery life.
  4. IoT Standards and Ecosystems – Though they cannot be out and out classified as technologies, most of these do end up as application programming interfaces (APIs). The future will see standards and their associated APIs donning a central role as IoT devices will require to interoperate and communicate, and many IoT business models will depend upon sharing data between multiple organizations and devices.
  5. IoT Security – According to Gartner, the future will see IoT Security accelerating at an unprecedented rate, all thanks to the the hardware and software advances that will take place. The only thing, that can prove to be a hurdle is the shortage of skills. Hence, in order to tackle this problem, enterprises should begin investing in developing this expertise in-house from today onwards.
  6. IoT Platforms – Gartner believes that IoT Platforms power pack infrastructure components of an IoT system into one product. IoT Platforms provided services can be broadly classified into three main categories, namely low-level device control and operations such as firmware updates, security, device monitoring and management and communications; IoT application development, including visualization, logic, application programming, analytics and adapters in order to connect to the enterprise systems and lastly, IoT data acquisition, transformation and management.
  7. IoT Processors – According to Gartner made predictions, low-end 8-bit microcontrollers will have an upper hand in IoT until the year 2019 but shipments of 32-bit microcontrollers will overtake the 8-bit devices domination by the year 2020.
  8. Event Stream Processing – Some of the IoT applications have been predicted to result in generating excessively high data rates that will be needed to be analyzed in real time. The emergence of distributed stream computing platforms (DSCPs) is the result of the growing need of creating millions of events per second in some of the telecom and telemetry situations.
  9. IoT Device Management – Gartner believes that the future will see a significant progress being made in the direction of solving the complex challenge of building technologies that are state, location and context-aware while at the very same time in line with data and knowledge taxonomies. IoT Device Management, in all probability, will end up breaking through the tough boundaries of traditional data management and result in creating data structures that will be able to flex and learn to unique inbound data requirements over a period of time.
  10. IoT Operating Systems – Since the traditional Operating systems are on the complex and resource-intensive side for a majority of IoT applications, Gartner predicts that minimal and small footprint operating systems will climb the success ladder in IoT by the year 2020.
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