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Macron Logo

Macron
8 October 2014 - by Maxine Bingham, Editor-in-Chief


I can’t help but be fascinated by cool technology. Macron Co., Ltd.’s CEO, Dr. Kil-Jae Lee, spent time with us at KTech SV 2014, to talk about, and demo, the company’s virtual mouse for Google Glass.

When asked why a virtual mouse, Dr. Lee responded that Google Glass’ gestures are very limited, they are restricted to left and right gestures, and voice can be intrusive and has trouble handling accents.

Dr. Lee noted that Macron has been a Korean-based systems company for 20 years, providing machine vision inspection systems for Samsung and LG. It developed this virtual gesture-recognition over four years. The company has five patents granted for their virtual mouse, and five more pending. The company has $1M investment from Atinum and Hanwha and is seeking additional investmentMacron Virtual Mouse.

While Google Glass is the first implementation, Macron’s gesture-recognition technology can be used for smart displays, digital signage, smart home and gesture games. One “clicks” with the index finger (see image).

 When asked how Macron’s solution was different from others, Dr. Lee said, “What’s special that separates us is that we use a 2D versus a 3D camera, which gives a lot of benefits. It’s cheaper, because it doesn’t require special hardware, anyone with a smartphone [note: currently Android] can use it as long as someone has our software installed, and, we consume less power, we’ve optimized for more battery life.”

The company noted that the weakness of voice recognition is it works only over a short distance, and can be confused by a noisy environment. Gesture recognition is designed for longer distance, and can manage in noisy environment (although its weaknesses include the need for simple commands and can be confounded by a bright enviroG-Copter by Macronnment.

To get users familiar with Macron’s virtual gesture-based mouse, the company offers a free, newly released gaming app for Google Glass on the Google PlayStore, called G-Copter (for Android). See a video of how it works.

You can also download another Google Glass Macron app, called Gesture Call. This app sends a user's contact list from one’s Android smartphone to Google Glass. Once the contact list of the smart phone is synced to Google Glass, a user can make a call by searching a contact with hand gestures on Google Glass.

In the Gesture Call demo, I used an index finger to navigate a contact data base. Awkward at first, it became easier as I practiced.

As I said, very cool.

 

Images courtesy of Macron

© 2014 IoT Perspectives

 


Stan Lee meMINI wearable video camera

meMINI
 3 November 2014 - By Maxine Bingham, Editor-in-Chief


During the October Gigaom Structure Connect conference, I spoke with New Zealander Sam Lee, who founded meMINI to bring to market a unique, about a hand-sized, HD wearable video camera. It can easily clip on to one’s shirt. It is designed to make capturing, editing and sharing short video clips (30 seconds to two minutes) simple so that anyone can use it. It is always rolling when in use, recording five minutes of video, since it is designed to provide “the gift of hindsight.” For example, there’s a cute or funny moment, and you wish you had videoed it. Press the button, and, because it has been recording, you’ll have the clip you wish you had. Editing and sharing is a very simple process over one’s smartphone, via the cloud. They have an office in San Francisco, and don’t want to be seen as “just” a New Zealand operation. They have a team of about 12, fulltime and freelance. They are looking for seed/angel funding. They ran a campaign on KickStarter that raised over $93K for what they call “Recall” video approach. You can pre-order a meMINI via their web site for $199USD, along with a Universal Mount. My one concern is that of privacy, in that people may balk at being around an always-on device. In any case, I am not aware of a recall-type HD video wearable, let me know if you have. Despite any privacy qualms, I’d like one, and wish them luck with their venture.

 

©2014 IoT Perspectives

Video Camera photo courtesy of meMINI, Photo of Sam Lee from ON Magazine


Stephane Pedeboy Meteroage

Météorage
22 March 2015 - by Maxine Bingham, Editor-in-Chief


Météorage is a lightning risk prevention services company comprised of 23 people, located in southwest France, very close to Spain and the ocean, in the lovely Bordeaux region. It’s a French company, and a subsidiary of Météo-France in the government’s National Meteorological office, so it’s a private company owned by a government institution, thus we have it in our startup profiles.  We spoke with Stéphane Pédeboy, head of the Technical Department.

The company was born 25 years ago. Their services are based on lightning data; the data set is collected in real time, thanks to lightning locating system in France with sensors in the country. They have around 100 sensors for polling data that are spread across their extended network covering Western Europe. Thus, they have agreements with neighboring country operators to increase coverage in Western Europe.

meteroage___archives_lightning_information

They collect and measure a number of parameters, such as the quantity of current, etc. The data is either provided to customers in real time or via a database that captures historical data.

Météorage tries to do predictions. When a thunderstorm is happening, when the first lightning strikes, they can trace the moment, and have a research project in this direction. Further, they are able to predict whether the storm will be dangerous, with hail, strong wind, etc.

For real time, they offer desktop or laptop visuals for customers who want to see on a display, as soon as the lightning occurs – emergency. Customers are power plants, electricity installations, telecoms, roads, railways, and others who are concerned with lightning risk. They want to be sure what is happening is not dangerous for them. They get an automated warning that, for example “a thunderstorm is approaching, be careful,” and a message when the event is over and no longer a danger.

Météorage are enhancing their JAVA real-time solution by using KAAZING’s WebSocket technology to enable permanent, always-on server-to-laptop communications over the ‘standard’ HTTP Web – whereas so far the real-time service has been dependent on a ‘telecom’ link that apparently presented some reliability and security concerns. The challenge therefore was to find a way of doing this over the Web in real-time, reliably and securely. KAAZING has enabled this and users are happy, as it requires no special configuration on their end (it’s plug and play) and is secure. They plan to release their new Web-based application during the lightning season in France – May to September/October, hopefully in May. Due to KAAZING’s HTML5 WebSocket technology, they are also planning to go in the direction of increased mobility.

Stéphane talked about a number of use cases. One interesting one is that of farmers making insurance claims for lightning damage, with Météorage they can check if it was so. It’s a big market in France, noted Stéphane. He pointed out that a lot of industry and manufacturing processes are sensitive to lightning. They want to be warned before the storm is over their head, so that they can take actions to prevent voltage overages, for example. France’s amusement parks run ropes courses (“acrobranches”) in the trees and it takes time to get people down, so knowledge of a major storm approaching is critical.

Now I know that “foudre” means lightning and that the expression, “Coup de foudre,” about instant love makes a lot more sense! Météorage may be small, they expect to serve 300 customers in three years, but are an interesting budding IoT player.

Image of Stephane Pedeboy and UK Lightning Archive Data Screen - courtesy of Météorage

© 2015 IoT Perspectives

 


Bernhard Huessy Nomos

nomos system AG
6 January 2015 - by Maxine Bingham, Editor-in-Chief


At the December 2014 Innovation Enterprise IoT Summit (2015 link) Technology Editor Ron Bingham and I sat down with Bernhard Huessy, co-founder and CEO of nomos system, a Swiss-based venture that offers OEMs and enterprises a universal automation-software engine capable of controlling any device, regardless of communication protocols, standards or proprietary software. By elevating software and hardware to a single communication layer, nomos system cuts through protocol chaos as the “Swiss army knife” of home automation and provides manufacturers with a system that can connect, control and feed data from any platform.

Nomos System

During CES on 6 January 2015, nomos introduced three new “menu” solutions for OEMs:

  • Easy IoT Package (A): An IoT OEM automation package available as a white-label box that includes selected hardware or a software-as-a-service license only. As an out-of-the-box automation solution, the Easy IoT Package provides customers with a fully integrated automation system, allowing companies to personalize the product with their own corporate identity. With three packages to choose from – comfort, lighting and security – companies can select the box that best suits their IoT strategy and business model needs, providing an opportunity to increase the company’s business proposition. The Easy IoT Package is a DIY kick-starter solution for any company looking to enter the IoT market with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of devices.

  • IoT Development Platform (B): A development platform that unlocks the IoT and gives users the tools to build their own automation product. Companies or OEMs can utilize pieces of the nomos software to improve an existing IoT solution, or use the entire functionality of the nomos engine to develop a unique IoT product without allocating additional time and resources. The nomos multi-protocol gateway speeds development and helps users gain interoperability among their own devices as well as third-party devices. For those seeking to establish themselves in the automation marketplace or planning to create an IoT product, the nomos development platform provides needed flexibility.

  • System Integrator Tool (C): A single- or bulk-license system integrator tool that provides the full scope of any high-end automation solution and seamless integration of hardware and software. The System Integrator Tool is nomos’ legacy software engine that provides a personalized and customizable user interface to connect one product universally. The nomos software platform offers full flexibility, including but not limited to lighting, heating / aircon (HVAC), energy management, security / CCTV, AV distribution and entertainment, etc.

Founded in 2010, nomos was cagey about the number of employees or amount, or origin, of funding, so, let’s assume a small team. Bernhard started as a teenager in Switzerland to “get girls,” but found he only dealt with other geeks. He got into installation of high-end entertainment centers for wealthy customers’ homes and private planes.

His background led him to the next step of installing IoT devices, which he realized couldn’t be easily connected. Thus, his practical experience led him to develop nomos, and attack the problem of home automation connectivity in a world of multiple protocols.

“I found it unacceptable that in such a promising market, devices were still not ‘free’ to connect to each other because of the complexities of today's technology,” said Bernhard Huessy, co-founder and CEO, nomos system AG. “nomos was created to essentially ‘free’ every product  by slicing a shortcut around warring protocols and standards, ultimately taking businesses into the new world of interconnectivity.” 

From his mother’s basement to a global startup, Bernhard demonstrates the entrepreneur’s journey and we wish him and his venture the best of luck, as we believe his business model is a sound one.  

Photo of Bernhard Huessy and OEM smartphone screen courtesy of nomos

© 2015 IoT Perspectives

 


Sam Colley Podsystem

Podsystem
9 February 2015 - by Maxine Bingham, Editor-in-Chief


Welcome to the acronym-heavy world of Machine to Machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) communications! We spoke with CEO Sam Colley of Podsystem, Inc. USA, an independent Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that provides multi-network and multi-IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identities) data SIM cards for the M2M and IoT industries. Thus, similar to an insurance broker, Podsystem is in a position to negotiate with networks around the world to create a solution that offers the widest coverage at the best prices available. 

The company “specializes in data connectivity services for a wide range of companies, from systems integrators and applications developers in the M2M market, to resellers of data solutions for travellers and enterprises with specific mobile connectivity requirements.”

As they define it, “Machine to Machine (M2M) refers to devices that use either wired or wireless technology to connect with other devices and transfer information to them via networks. Wireless M2M GSM devices that connect via mobile networks include a SIM card (they can also use embedded or virtual SIMs), which enables them to remotely connect to GSM and GPRS networks and transfer information either via SMS or data packets to other devices.”

The goal with M2M is to reduce the need for human intervention, thus increasing efficiency and effectiveness (such as automatically providing the right chemicals at the right time for agriculture).

Podsystem SIMs

The company’s best signal, multi-network SIMs automatically connect to the best network on device start-up, subsequently swapping networks if they lose signal, ensuring maximum connectivity even in remote areas.

Podsystem also offers “a unique patent-pending solution to address the major connectivity challenges M2M application developers face, namely coverage, reliability and longevity. This solution is the result of years of development and negotiations with the major operators around the world to provide an answer to the main challenges which repeatedly arise during the development of M2M and IoT applications in different sectors.”

Their connectivity solutions turn machines into remote communication devices. Any M2M or IoT device that has a cellular modem can connect to the GSM or GPRS network using data SIM cards such as those provided by Podsystem to send data back to a central server.  This solution is based on including multiple International Mobile Subscriber Identities (IMSIs) from independent networks around the globe on one SIM card.

Podsystem’s patent-pending application allows the SIM to automatically swap between IMSIs if there are technical or commercial issues on the networks to ensure maximum reliability and uptime. The second part of the solution is the ability to update the profile of the SIM cards remotely “Over The Air” (OTA). This gives a high level of control by allowing networks to be swapped, added or blocked as required, and new IMSIs to be added as pricing comes down.      

As Podsystem notes, “With the market rapidly moving towards the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Everything (IoE), in addition to the opportunities presented by the advent of Big Data, Podsystem is focusing on anticipating forthcoming developments and future-proofing our systems to allow our customers to gain a vital competitive advantage in this fast-moving market.”

“What’s unique about Podsystem,” says CEO of Podystem, Inc. USA Sam Colley, “is the level of control we offer our customer over their SIMs. The SIMs are owned by our customer, not the network. We can automatically switch between two networks in the USA, including T-Mobile and AT&T, increasing reliability and offering more flexibility. Our online management platform and our new multi-IMSI solution with the ability to remotely control the profile of the SIM enables our customers the flexibility to adapt the SIMs to their needs without having to swap them out of the device. In addition, between our offices in Europe and the USA (San Francisco) we offer 18 hours of continuous support daily with 24 hour emergency support available from experts in M2M and IoT.”      

Podsystem’s customers cover a wide range of sectors, including logistics and fleet management, energy and environment, consumer electronics, retail, manufacturing and healthcare. Due to the multi-network functionality of the SIMs, the solution is particularly interesting for remote and mission critical applications, or those that are constantly moving. One application in the US and UK is with nurses, enabling them to take tablets for home visits, and, when they arrive, have patient information on their tablet and fill in new information and/or test results. Notes are kept electronically and they can pull up information remotely. Other case studies include Arnia’s remote beehive monitoring system and TrakLok’s 'best signal' multi-network SIMs for advanced cargo security and tracking.

The company covers North America, most of Africa, Australia, Europe, Latin America and Asia. Fees vary but are based on a fixed rate per SIM per month depending on the requirements of the customer. Podsystem also offers “pooled” or aggregated plans that help their customers keep costs down.  The company is interested in working with startups and IoT developers, offering them low-cost prepaid contracts with full support.

Podsystem Inc. is a satellite venture, sharing resources with their parent company in Europe. Podsystem, with 12 employees, is privately held, but hasn’t yet announced venture funding. They say that they have been growing very quickly since the launch of Podsystem in the US market. They service and support customers out of offices in Buckingham, UK, Seville, Spain, and San Francisco, California.

Photo of CEO Sam Colley and SIMs Courtesy of Podsystem

© 2015 IoT Perspectives