Transparency, immediacy and productivity: How IoT will rock your biz

The internet of things when applied to enterprises will take a lot of people out of business, will reduce the profitability of a lot of businesses and it will move massive gains to other businesses, according to Charlie Peters, senior executive vice president at Emerson, the process manufacturing firm. Peters came on Gigaom’s Internet of Things podcast this week (his remarks begin at the 26-minute mark) to share his thoughts on what the shift to a constant flow of information from a variety of places will mean for enterprises, and he didn’t mince words.

“It will be extremely disruptive,” he said. However, he saw that many of those massive gains will be made by startups because they will have the ability to move quickly. It’s a disadvantage to be a current participant because it precludes you from taking certain steps and slows you down when it comes to taking advantage of some of the changes that IoT can offer, he said.

He explained that the internet of things will bring three changes to the business: transparency, immediacy and productivity. Transparency lets customers and people inside the company get more information about what’s happening inside the business, be it about pricing or the status of a machine, while immediacy refers to the time element. That sensor data can flow to a plant operator in real time allowing them to take action the moment something slows down or even before it goes wrong. As for productivity, it’s not hard to see where this could increase productivity by helping automate decisions and let people take the information they are getting in real time and make decisions faster.

The challenge for any business in facing these shifts will be recognizing how to ride these changes while understanding how to maintain profitability. It’s easy to see how too much transparency can turn something into a commodity or how pushing productivity eliminates jobs, that in turn may cause social issues. Peters has this to offer business leaders worried about how to find their way to massive gains as opposed to being shut down during this next wave of innovation.

“Trod carefully and slowly because there’s a lot of land mines as you go through these things,” Peters said. “So you can kind of mess up and let your information which is maybe the key to the whole application out for free and kind of destroy the opportunity, so that’s the trod carefully. The trod slowly is there’s a lot of resistance, either from the other companies you have to partner with or for reluctant end users , where there’s a lot of inertia and until you get some pretty high levels of adoption some of these new business models don’t really work. And that’s where you have to expect to go slowly.”

For more of Peters’ thoughts — and he has a lot of good ones — listen to the rest of the podcast.

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The internet of things will rock your business and here’s how

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The internet of things will disrupt the hell out of your business and you best start preparing your business to meet that change by preparing to deal in information as opposed to physical goods, according to Charlie Peters, an executive senior vice president at Emerson. This may be surprising coming from a top executive at a company know from process manufacturing and old-line systems, but Peters, laid down several hard truths in this week’s podcast about how the internet of things will change enterprises in his conversation with me.

He covered the three ways that IoT changes business, the hurdles that companies face from a technical perspective (and why that hurdle is driven in part by a business rationale on the part of companies responsible for driving the technical innovations we need.) Before Peters and I chat, my colleague David Meyer joined my on the show to share his thoughts on the connected home and how he thinks manufacturers might gain consumer trust when it comes to privacy and security. Tune in for his delightful accent and stay for some compelling content about Mobile World Congress and more.
Guests: Charlie Peters Senior Executive Vice President and director at Emerson

  • A european perspective on the smart home and privacy
  • Does the internet of things need a Trust-E or other seal of approval for privacy to communicate to the consumer?
  • The internet of things changes your business in three ways. Here they are.
  • The result of more information will be a few large successes and several mediocre businesses
  • Why wireless connectivity is a last hurdle for IoT that still isn’t solved.

 

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PREVIOUS IoT PODCASTS:

How to design security into your connected product

Insurers may subsidize your smart home, but which device?

Let’s learn about blockname, a decentralized version of DNS

Connected apartments may be smarter than connected homes

This week’s podcast unravels the secrets of Thread and HomeKit

The internet of mi. Discussing Xiaomi, Yonomi and smart homes

Wall Street’s perspective on IoT and the plague of CES

Smart coffee makers, cheap light bulbs and better voice control

Hanging with my husband: His thoughts on our smart home

Exploring Amazon’s Echo and the retailer’s home automation channel plans

Looking for an architecture for the internet of things? Try DNS.

Building networks that can expand and survive the internet of things, plus some tips on crowdfunding

Connected door knobs are lying to us

This week’s podcast was all about security and how we can design things to tell us more about how connectivity changes them from mere appliances into networked computers — and all the risks that can bring. John Kestner, a principle with Supermechanical, a design firm that builds connected devices including the Range thermometer (pictured above) and the Twine sensor, was my guest for the show, and we chatted about how he designed those products with security in mind.

But it got far more interesting in the latter half of the interview (around 48:30) when he started talking about how to design products that convey their new status as a connected device.

“Consumer electronics are magic. There’s really no transparency. It’s really hard to gain any kind of mental model as to what’s happening, Kestner said. “At least when we used Ethernet, we knew when something was connected to the network or not. We could physically unplug it if we wanted.”

But now we don’t have any sense that a device is different with the exception of maybe an LED or that it runs out of batteries every now and then. Kestner wonders if that makes people less likely to wonder what makes the device different and makes them also less likely to want to educate themselves about those differences, such as the security implications. He then wondered how and if we should change the design to offer a sort of warning to consumers that the new, connected version of their old fixtures had different capabilities.

“Maybe there’s a bit of disconnect in making objects look exactly like the objects they are displacing. That’s of course, doing its job in making the customer feel comfortable with its replacement. ‘Oh it’s a familiar object,’ but you don’t want them to feel too comfortable because there are dangers that come with this,” he said.

As to what that is, though, he wasn’t sure. LEDs might make sense, or perhaps an entirely new form of design sensibility and vocabulary that we implement for connectivity that becomes synonymous with conveying the kind of information consumers should know about connected devices. If you guys think of it, please let Kestner know.

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How to design security into your connected product

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We often talk about designing security into a product from the get go, but we don’t often discuss what that means. In today’s podcast John Kestner, a principle with Supermechanical, the company behind the Twine sensor and the Range thermometer, shares his thoughts on how he designed Twine and range to be more secure but also how we might design our devices to indicate that what was once a humble lock is now a connected computer with all the pros and cons that entails.

Before Kestner and I dig into security, Kevin Tofel and I talk about my experience playing with the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote and home hub and then we dig into CSRMesh and the Bluetooth SIG’s creation of a working group to add mesh networking to the Bluetooth Smart standard. That could put Bluetooth in closer competition with thread, Zigbee and Z-wave. So kick back and listen up.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: John Kestner, principal with Supermechanical

  • Thoughts on the Logitech Harmony Hub and remote (it’s pretty nifty, guys)
  • The Bluetooth SIG is forming a working group on mesh technologies. Why this is cool!
  • Should you rely on security by obscurity or hope your device doesn’t do much that’s scary as a way to be secure?
  • Thinking about how to convey connectedness in design

 

Internet of Things Show RSS Feed

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Download This Episode

PREVIOUS IoT PODCASTS:

Insurers may subsidize your smart home, but which device?

Let’s learn about blockname, a decentralized version of DNS

Connected apartments may be smarter than connected homes

This week’s podcast unravels the secrets of Thread and HomeKit

The internet of mi. Discussing Xiaomi, Yonomi and smart homes

Wall Street’s perspective on IoT and the plague of CES

Smart coffee makers, cheap light bulbs and better voice control

Hanging with my husband: His thoughts on our smart home

Exploring Amazon’s Echo and the retailer’s home automation channel plans

Looking for an architecture for the internet of things? Try DNS.

Building networks that can expand and survive the internet of things, plus some tips on crowdfunding

Why the internet of things should be designed with efficiency in mind

Smart devices can make the insurance biz proactive, not reactive

Insurance companies are looking for ways to reduce the amount of money they have to pay out on claims, and one promising way to reduce that risk is through connected security and home automation devices. In this week’s podcast I spoke with Dan Reed, managing director at American Family Ventures, the venture capital arm of American Family Insurance. AmFam as it is known, has 10 million policies and offers home, auto and life insurance.

Reed shared with me a bit about how he’s looking for investments in the space and also how the insurance industry is thinking about the smart home and about data privacy. “For the insurance industry in general [IoT] is essentially an extension of smoke detectors and seat belts. These are inexpensive products that can help keep people safe,” Reed said. “And from a strategic point of view, as a a strategic participant in the venture industry it offers the opportunity for a new type of engagement with our policyholders.”

He added that this changes the model of the insurance industry from a reactive to a proactive model and added that he believes that the industry not only has an economic incentive but also a moral incentive help prevent bad things from happening to its customers. Within that context he thinks the insurance industry will subsidize devices such as water leak sensors or connected smoke detectors much like they already offer discounts to homeowners that add alarm systems to their homes.

But once insurance companies start subsidizing connected devices, what claim will they have on the data those devices generate? Connected smoke detectors can offer not just low battery warnings or smoke alarm notifications, but can share details about people in the home or even temperature data. A connected security camera could share much more. On cars, data might include speed and location data that the insurer might want for setting pricing, but also might have to provide in case of an accident or legal demand.

When asked, Reed explained a program that AmFam implemented in 2007 that was aimed at teenage drivers and reducing their accident rates. The program put a DriveCam in cars that activated when a car accelerated or braked too quickly and then sent the footage to the cloud where independent analysts and the teen’s parents could see the images. The analysts rated the footage to make sure the program was helping reduce accidents and the parents saw the footage so they could talk to their kids about the choices they were making behind the wheel.

The program was opt-in, and it did help change driving habits and cut accidents. Reed said that program exemplifies how his company thinks about privacy and user data, and how he hopes the industry thinks about it as well.

“We are very conscious of this notion of Big Brother and of privacy within your own home or your own vehicle, and I think it is something that the insurance industry and the startups in this space have to be very cognizant of and very transparent about,” he said. “They have to tell users how they are going to use the information that is coming off of these devices and right from the start take a benevolent position about the partnerships you have with your policyholders. I think the worst thing that could happen is that a company would collect information that the policyholders don’t know about or approve of. I think that would be a major setback to the deployment of some of these safety technologies.”

For more from Reed or to hear Kevin Tofel and I respond to some of our reader questions, take a listen to this week’s podcast from earlier this week. It’s a long show, but chock full of good stuff.

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Insurers may subsidize your smart home, but which device?

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The wealth of data and convenience a connected home can offer is impressive. Saving energy or adding security are primary reasons consumers are buying connected products today, but businesses are interested as well. One of the earliest industries to investigate the promise of connected consumer homes is the insurance industry, which is looking at the benefits of getting consumers to put water sensors around leak-prone areas or even just add additional security products or better smoke detectors in a home to help improve safety.

In this week’s podcast I spoke with Dan Reed, managing director at American Family Ventures, the venture capital arm of American Family Insurance. AmFam as it’s known, has 10 million policies and insures homes, cars and small businesses. Reed has invested in several internet of things companies and is looking to make more investment sin early-stage companies, so we talked about what he’s looking for as well as what role the interest of things will play in the future of the insurance industry. Before Reed and I chat, Kevin I answer a few questions from the mailbag and discuss Gizmodo’s terrible experience with the Wink hub, and why it’s such a blow for the industry.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Dan Reed, managing director, American Family Ventures

  • The smart is still really dumb and that hurts everyone.
  • Kevin and I answer your mailbag questions on presence, Insteon and more.
  • Insurance companies are testing connected devices in the home. Will they subsidize them?
  • What data should an insurer see from your home or your car?

 

Internet of Things Show RSS Feed

Subscribe to this show in iTunes

Download This Episode

 

PREVIOUS IoT PODCASTS:

Let’s learn about blockname, a decentralized version of DNS

Connected apartments may be smarter than connected homes

This week’s podcast unravels the secrets of Thread and HomeKit

The internet of mi. Discussing Xiaomi, Yonomi and smart homes

Wall Street’s perspective on IoT and the plague of CES

Smart coffee makers, cheap light bulbs and better voice control

Hanging with my husband: His thoughts on our smart home

Exploring Amazon’s Echo and the retailer’s home automation channel plans

Looking for an architecture for the internet of things? Try DNS.

Building networks that can expand and survive the internet of things, plus some tips on crowdfunding

Why the internet of things should be designed with efficiency in mind

Mother may I? Building hardware that can change with the flip of an app.

How do you manage or grant identity in a decentralized network?

There are several efforts to build a more decentralized internet — from attempts to build peer-to-peer wireless networks like Commotion or Open Garden to similar efforts with P2P browsers, such as BitTorrent’s Project Maelstrom. And thanks to blockchain, the decentralized data transaction processing technology behind Bitcoin, we’re now hearing more about how we can build a decentralized network for the internet of things.

This isn’t just some geeky effort to test technology or to fight “the man.” There are legitimate business and practical reasons that one might want to operate a peer-to-peer IoT network, as Eric Jennings, the CEO of Filament explains on this week’s podcast. Jennings’ company is building a module for industrial customers that includes a sensor as well as connectivity that will connect the sensor to a cloud if customers want it, but more interestingly to a mesh network of other sensors.

Filament is developing a group of technologies that will allow companies to deploy these sensors in the field without needing some kind of cellular or wireline backhaul to the internet. This is great for remote locations, where such connectivity might be hard to come by but machines still need to communicate with each other, or for people toting tablets. Another reason decentralization works is because it cuts down on costs of sending and storing data in the cloud.

While those costs are low, it may not make sense to store every bit sent over the 15-year life of a washing machine in the cloud, especially if manufacturers can’t come up with a business model that keeps the lights on in that data center. But the most interesting element of my conversation with Jennings came after we discussed the pros and cons of the first three elements of his technology group — blockchain, Telehash and BitTorrent — and dove into the tricky business of managing a device’s identity.

Jennings said the question his team was trying to answer was, “How could we have DNS for these devices without servers?” The answer was blockname, a proposal that uses the existing domain name system, but falls back to the decentralized system when it fails to find the device it’s looking for on the public DNS.

In the blockname trial that Filament has set up, when this happens, the request is routed via Telehash to the blockchain, which then looks throughout the chain for the requested IP address (or identifying number) of the device. I asked Jennings who handles that initial registration of the device in the blockchain, because in a decentralized environment, getting the correct and authenticated version of a device’s identity could be a challenge.

Jennings isn’t sure yet, but he hopes that the consensus elements of the blockchain technology help — basically if people disagree with you, they need more computing power to change the status quo. So to get the details on blockname, which start late at about 46 minutes in (Jennings’ section starts at 22:00), or just to hear Kevin Tofel and me riff on privacy and Samsung’s smart TVs, listen to the show and stretch your brain. When you’re done, feel free to send us a question before the end of the month and you’ll be entered to win a Chamberlain MyQ connected garage door opener.

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Let’s learn about blockname, a decentralized version of DNS

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This weekend brought us a panic about Samsung TVs listening to every word people say in their presence. A little reporting showed that to be overblown, so Kevin Tofel and I discussed how voice recognition worked right now across devices in the smart home such as the Amazon Echo, Ubi and Google’s phones. We also did a deeper dive into what security and privacy should look like with connected devices and what you should be worried about.

Eric Jennings, CEO of Filament.

Eric Jennings, CEO of Filament.

Then we shifted gears to our guest, Eric Jennings, the CEO of Filament, a company building sensor modules for industrial customers. What’s most interesting about Filament isn’t the sensors, but it’s plan to try to create a decentralized version of the internet of things for those sensor modules to run on. So while it offers a cloud, Jennings and I dove deep into how Filament is building a series of technologies that includes the blockchain, Telehash, BitTorrent and new effort called blockname to create a decentralized network for IoT. It resembles, but is different from IBM’s similar efforts. So tune in to learn more. It’s pretty awesome.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Eric Jennings, CEO of Filament

  • The truth about Samsung’s connected TVs and your privacy
  • What you should really worry about in the smart home when it comes to security and privacy
  • More on building a decentralized internet of things with block chain and Telehash
  • What role could BitTorrent play in this decentralized stack?
  • Introducing blockname, a way to build a decentralized version of DNS

 

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Subscribe to this show in iTunes

Download This Episode

PREVIOUS IoT PODCASTS:

Connected apartments may be smarter than connected homes

This week’s podcast unravels the secrets of Thread and HomeKit

The internet of mi. Discussing Xiaomi, Yonomi and smart homes

Wall Street’s perspective on IoT and the plague of CES

Smart coffee makers, cheap light bulbs and better voice control

Hanging with my husband: His thoughts on our smart home

Exploring Amazon’s Echo and the retailer’s home automation channel plans

Looking for an architecture for the internet of things? Try DNS.

Building networks that can expand and survive the internet of things, plus some tips on crowdfunding

Why the internet of things should be designed with efficiency in mind

Mother may I? Building hardware that can change with the flip of an app.

We’re already driving smart cars, so when will they be autonomous?

Everyone should be a maker. So how do we get there?

Connected apartments may be smarter than connected homes

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If you’re looking for clean data then connected apartments offer a much better set of information than connected homes argues Sce Pike, the founder and CEO of Iotas, on this week’s podcast. Pike, whose startup kits out apartments with sensors and analyzes the data they provide, explains why her startup chose to work with MDUs as opposed to a home where every floor plan is different and the effort to connect a few outlets and lightbulbs is arbitrary.

Sce Pike, CEO of Iotas

Sce Pike, CEO of Iotas

Instead Iotas has signed a partnership with the nation’s largest property management company and is part of a pilot project in Portland, Oregon that has outfitted 100 units with $900 worth of sensors to learn how residents can save money, automate their homes and live more productive lives. Before we discuss Iotas, my colleague Kevin Tofel and I spend time talking about the new, faster Raspberry Pi, a smart home security product called the Canary and a contest we’re hosting to give away a Chamberlain MyQ connected garage door opener to any listener who submits a question between now and the end of the month.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Sce Pike, CEO of Iotas

  • Much excitement over the new Pi and Microsoft’s plans for it
  • Nest drama and thoughts on the new Canary home security device
  • We are holding a contest so email us your questions about the internet of things and the smart home to [email protected]
  • Data privacy when you’re collecting data on 100 apartment residents
  • Why apartments make ideal labs for smart home data collection

Internet of Things Show RSS Feed

Subscribe to this show in iTunes

Download This Episode

PREVIOUS IoT PODCASTS:

This week’s podcast unravels the secrets of Thread and HomeKit

The internet of mi. Discussing Xiaomi, Yonomi and smart homes

Wall Street’s perspective on IoT and the plague of CES

Smart coffee makers, cheap light bulbs and better voice control

Hanging with my husband: His thoughts on our smart home

Exploring Amazon’s Echo and the retailer’s home automation channel plans

Looking for an architecture for the internet of things? Try DNS.

Building networks that can expand and survive the internet of things, plus some tips on crowdfunding

Why the internet of things should be designed with efficiency in mind

Mother may I? Building hardware that can change with the flip of an app.

We’re already driving smart cars, so when will they be autonomous?

Everyone should be a maker. So how do we get there?

Learning lightbulbs, Logitech’s new hub and the ideal smart home owner

This week’s podcast unravels the secrets of Thread and HomeKit

 

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For those of you who love talking about radio protocols listen all the way through for our guest on this week’s podcast because Sujata Neidig, of the Thread Group and Freescale Semiconductor, doesn’t disappoint. She digs into the hardcore details about how the Thread protocol works after making a case for why the world needs another radio standard for connected devices. I learned a lot about the protocol and I imagine you will too.

Before that, more casual listeners may learn something as Kevin Tofel and I run down what we know and what has been reported on Apple’s HomeKit framework so far. I also lay out my cardinal rule of buying connected gadgets, which will come as no surprise to listeners but does mean that I won’t be buying some of the HomeKit-only devices out there. There’s a passing discussion of connected kitchen scales and robot snow plows, so enjoy the podcast, especially to our listeners stuck in the snow-packed wasteland of the Northeast.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Sujata Neidig, VP of marketing for Thread Group and business development manager at Freescale Semiconductor

  • HomeKit, what we know, what we don’t and what we think.
  • A connected scale for novice bakers and Stacey’s cardinal rule for buying connected devices
  • Why we need a mesh, IP-connected radio protocol like Thread
  • Thread’s architecture in the home includes nodes, routers and border routers

Internet of Things Show RSS Feed

Subscribe to this show in iTunes

Download This Episode

PREVIOUS IoT PODCASTS:

The internet of mi. Discussing Xiaomi, Yonomi and smart homes

Wall Street’s perspective on IoT and the plague of CES

Smart coffee makers, cheap light bulbs and better voice control

Hanging with my husband: His thoughts on our smart home

Exploring Amazon’s Echo and the retailer’s home automation channel plans

Looking for an architecture for the internet of things? Try DNS.

Building networks that can expand and survive the internet of things, plus some tips on crowdfunding

Why the internet of things should be designed with efficiency in mind

Mother may I? Building hardware that can change with the flip of an app.

We’re already driving smart cars, so when will they be autonomous?

Everyone should be a maker. So how do we get there?

Learning lightbulbs, Logitech’s new hub and the ideal smart home owner

This may be the killer app for the smart home, plus thoughts on wearables