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IoT Perspectives Internet of Things Blog: May-June 2015

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Ron Bingham

A Conversation with Marvell's Peter Hoddie re its SOLID News
25 June 2015 - By Ron Bingham, Technology Editor

We spoke with Peter Hoddie, vice president at Marvell Semiconductor about their SOLID conference news. Below is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Peter Hoddie Marvell

IoTP: What news are you announcing?

PH: Marvell is announcing new IoT and embedded open source software and hardware. We’ve updated our Java Script engine to support Java Script 6 Edition that was just ratified this week. Sixth Edition is the biggest update to the JavaScript language since it was invented. The update, formally known as ECMAScript 6th Edition or ES6, contains more than 400 individual changes to make the language more concise, improve performance, and integrate support for modules. The addition of modules to the language is fundamental to architecting reliable, long running devices, making JavaScript 6th Edition the right foundation for connecting IoT products.

We’re providing support across our Kinoma product line for Java 6 – we’re at 96% feature implementation, the next closest in the industry is at 69%. We’re doing this for the embedded space, we’re not a browser company. IoT demands sophistication – Java script is perfect for the IoT. It’s superb for embedded applications. Other IoT tools and technologies are 10 years out of date. With our engine, you can run applications on devices with less than a half MB of memory.

The software tools used to develop embedded hardware products typically lag leading edge software development by many years. IoT developers want the benefits of the latest language improvements, but the memory and CPU performance requirements put it out of the reach of mass-market hardware. With the XS6 engine in KinomaJS, we are bringing the latest advances in JavaScript to embedded developers before they arrive on the web.

Kinoma Create, Element and HD

IoTP: Tell us about the hardware.

PH: There are two new prototyping hardware devices. While our original Kinoma Create is built around the mobile and home space, Kinoma Element is designed for IoT prototyping of super lightweight devices. The new Kinoma HD plugs into any display or projector with any content you want. It’s the first truly open stick format.

Kinoma Element is the smallest JavaScript-powered embedded product prototyping platform. Built around Marvell's MW302 wireless microcontroller system-on-chip that combines a 200 MHz CPU, 512 KB of RAM, and Wi-Fi, Kinoma Element is designed to connect products to the cloud, to mobile, and to other IoT devices. With a pair of eight pin expansion ports, Kinoma Element is endlessly configurable to the ideas and plans of prototypers. It works with off-the-shelf sensors, lights, motors, and actuators, which are programmed with the same JavaScript hardware pins module as Kinoma Create.

Kinoma Element is designed to take ideas from drawing board, to prototype, through to mass production using Marvell's microcontroller line. Numerous companies—including August, Blossom, iHome, Rheem, and Xiaomi—have adopted other microcontrollers in this line for their IoT products.

Kinoma HD is a scriptable stick for developers who want to display visually rich content on the biggest displays. Kinoma HD's HDMI output plugs into an HD capable display, connecting wirelessly to IoT devices, iOS and Android handhelds, cloud services, and content from web-based apps. The stick is plug-and-play once slotted into a display's full-sized HDMI port, hooked up to a USB power supply, and connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Kinoma HD is thumb-sized, yet powerful enough to handle rich media presentations of an IoT ecosystem. For example, with Kinoma HD, developers can provide an engaging visual experience of IoT product performance and sensor data.

Kinoma HD has 256 MB of RAM, is connected with Wi-Fi g/n/ac, and has HDMI output of 1080p/720p. Kinoma HD is built on Marvell's 88DE3006 1.2GHz dual core system-on-chip, which is part of Marvell's ARMADA 1500 family of video processors found in mainstream consumer electronics products by Google, LGE, Swisscom, and more.

Kinoma's family of customizable products for prototypers— Kinoma Element, Kinoma HD, and the top-selling Kinoma Create— integrate professional-grade hardware, JavaScript 6th Edition, app development using the open source KinomaJS application framework, and use the same pro-developer tools, making prototyping efficient across product teams.

IoTP: How can someone get these new systems?
PH: Kinoma's implementation of JavaScript 6th Edition will be first available in the 3rd quarter of this year as a free update to Kinoma Create, within the Kinoma Studio IDE, and on the KinomaJS open source repository.

Kinoma Element and Kinoma HD can be reserved now at http://kinoma.com/buy/ at the pre-order prices of US$19.95 and US$24.95, respectively. Both hardware prototyping products will be priced to make them an easy choice for experimentation and deployment in numbers. They are expected to be available retail in the 4th quarter of 2015.

We’re demonstrating Kinoma Element and Kinoma HD at the SOLID conference.

IoTP: Since Java script 6 has such a burst of features in it, is that not going to be less accessible to programmers who will not be familiar with all of them - will that be an impediment?
PH: I don’t think so, some of the features are immediately accessible, and are awesome features we’ve been waiting for. Some are more esoteric, but it’s not necessary for people to use all the features out of the gate. The new features will be in the modules they’ll be using, which is important and that these things will be implemented in a consistent way.

Also, the committee that built this did so in a backwards-compatible way. You don’t lose any of your knowledge, what you knew still works.

IoTP: Do you have a community site?
PH: We operate in an open source way. Open source code examples are in GitHub and will be migrated to the 6th Edition. There’s an online forum moderated by the engineering team at forum.kinoma.com.

IoTP: What about simulators of your hardware?
PH: That’s a great question; working with hardware is difficult. An integral part of our story is simulators; you can build your application on your desktop and simulate it. Same thing for Kinoma Element and Kinoma HD – they include hardware simulators. We’ve built temperature sensors, light sensors and an accelerometer so people can test.

IoTP: Using Java script for IoT applications is absolutely brilliant in our opinion, Marvell is going to tap into a massive pool. We’re quite impressed.



Images of Peter Hoddie and Kinoma Create, Element and Edition, courtesy of Marvell

© 2015 IoT Perspectives

Maxine Bingham

Catching Up with Concirrus
10 June 2015 - by Maxine Bingham, Editor-in-Chief

We touched base with Business Development Officer Craig Hollingworth of Concirrus, which we profiled in October 2014. The company is growing up, they’ve matured in their thinking and direction, and honing in on being the best at IoT middleware. As outside confirmation that they’re headed in the right direction, Concirrus was noted as a “Cool Vendor” by Gartner for IoT middleware recently (see Gartner’s “Cool Vendors in the Internet of Things, 15 April 2015).

As Craig Hollingworth told us, “We’ve learned what we are a little bit over the last six months, and that’s that we’re a middleware platform for the IoT. We started out in life doing everything, a lot of bespoke hardware design, a lot of consulting about what was the IoT. Now people know what IoT is, so businesses need a little less consulting. We’ve emerged as this wonderful cloud, helping to join multiple things together. We’re also focusing on verticals.”

Craig added, “Moving forward, we will invest quite heavily in our cloud infrastructure, and are expanding our development team quite heavily, as well as sales, support and marketing. We’ve bootstrapped the organization and invested every penny back into it. The focus in the next two years will be on growth and our IoT middleware platform.”

According to Craig, the company has increased its customers and partnerships, with announcements to come in these areas we were told (“we’re piling on subscribers”).

One of the vertical areas we’re seeing Concirrus get traction in is in insurance, as demonstrated by their partnership with ServicePower.

The partnership creates a cloud-based IoT and service management solution for the insurance sector. M2M data will be harvested by the Concirrus IoT platform from sensors in insured items, which will then be used to instantly analyze and report back on potential claims. Connected to ServicePower’s field service management platform, this information can then be applied by ServicePower to automatically optimize and schedule appointments. At the same time they will be sent the Concirrus IoT report and related tasks or forms to their connected mobile device so they will have accurate details from which to make better informed decisions.

 “This partnership is a step-change for the sector,” said Marne Martin, CEO, ServicePower. “The Concirrus IoT platform removes a lot of guess work for adjusters. Sensors placed in machines record actual events such as the speed of a car crash, travel of direction, location and even weather conditions. Additionally, it is a totally cloud-based solution, which removes the complexity of IoT delivering it as an intuitive service. Our service management platform can then be used to optimize the handling of the claim. This is incredibly powerful for the insurance industry, not only for individual events but to also analyze trends over time.”

The growth of the company led to an invitation to have Craig speak at Cambridge University about building a company from zero to $5M without outside investment, which is pretty cool, too (see the SlideShare).

© 2015 IoT Perspectives

Mat Drijish Sensors Expo

About the Evolution of Sensors for the IoT and Sensors Expo 2015 (IoTP Events Partner)
4 June 2015 - by Maxine Bingham

We asked Mat Dirjish, content director for Sensors Expo 2015 to chat with us about the industry and the event.

IoTP: Tell us a bit about Sensors Expo vis-à-vis the Internet of Things (IoT).

MD: First, Sensors Expo is noted for corralling the largest number of sensor makers, OEMs, designers, and manufacturers of sensor-related peripherals and technologies under one roof. Every market sector and application is represented from automotive and aerospace to consumer and medical.

If the IoT concept means all things electronic, measurable, and controllable will be accessible via the Internet, then every sensor type will find employment in IoT applications. For example, look at a standalone digital thermometer for taking a person’s temperature. Add a USB or wireless interface and you can send temperature data over the Internet to a healthcare provider or other recipient. Instant IoT! Naturally, the same temperature sensor in that thermometer could find use in other, non-medical thermal applications, also viable for IoT interfacing.

Very popular at Sensors Expo 2014, the Internet Protocol for Smart Objects (IPSO) Alliance announced winners of its IPSO CHALLENGE 2014: Win $10,000 for IoT Innovation. The alliance also had had an elaborate demo area for the winners and some very interesting IoT designs. This year there will be numerous sessions devoted to the topic of IoT in the form of product demos and tutorials.

IoTP: What will be discussed in the keynote address? Why should those of us interested in the IoT care?

MD: Wednesday, June 10, at 9 AM, Dr. Mike North will deliver his keynote titled “Your Sixth Sense of Innovation." Dr. Mike North is host of Discovery Channel shows “Prototype This,” “Outrageous Acts of Science,” and “In The Making."  He will focus on fusing science and engineering with creativity and media to generate radical paradigm shifts to inspire product innovation.

Thursday, June 11, at 9 AM, Gadi Amit, founder of and principal designer at NewDealDesign, delivers the second keynote titled, “Why the Sensor Explosion Needs Technology Design”. His focus is on how wearable sensors, the Internet of Things, home automation, and mobile and cloud computing will sculpt the now and future of our daily life. He will discuss how melding hardware, software and powerful cloud services can yield either magical or flat experiences.

As both speakers are noted experts in their fields, keynoting the means and methods of both beneficial and successful innovation in the most prominent areas of IoT “abundanza” – media, wearables, hardware, and software - anyone involved with the IoT would be hard pressed to be disinterested.

IoTP: How are sensors evolving for the IoT?

MD: Sensor technology is the oldest technology that does not grow old. Sensors are quite versatile and can easily be adapted to any existing or emerging design trends. Therefore, existing pressure, temperature, humidity, flow sensors can be adapted to connect to the Internet. Sensors are evolving several ways. One way is defined as sensor fusion whereby different and similar sensor types are integrated (fused) into one package. For example you might have an IC or device package housing a pressure sensor alongside optical sensors, or three thermal sensors with three different output types. Other examples of sensor evolution include wireless sensors and their associated wireless protocols and battery-less sensors that rely on and/or perform energy harvesting tasks.

IoTP: Have you any sensor market data you'd like to share?

MD: From the established researchers, we are hearing stellar forecasts for sensors of all types with projected revenues to exceed the billion-dollar mark in most cases. Word on the street now points to wearable sensors/electronics to be the hottest items for personal entertainment, physical fitness, and both active and proactive healthcare. After that, on the consumer end, home automation and automotive markets offer great opportunities. Essentially, the numbers are promising for all areas of the sensor market, particularly IoT apps.

For example, these few items are pretty much common knowledge, and accessible via standard press news sources. Each has a definite foothold in the IoT space. Qualcomm plans to grow the Internet of Everything.

IoTP: What would you like our readers to understand about sensors and the IoT that they'll learn at the Expo?

MD: Sensors of every type and their peripherals are playing a critical role in IoT applications, and that role will expand rapidly over the coming years. One of the most important things to be learned is all things are possible and there is one place you can learn what’s possible while expanding your imagination to create even more possibilities: Sensors Expo 2015, in Long Beach, CA. [Note: Use code IOTP50 for $50 off Gold and Main Conference passes or a free expo pass.]

Photo of Mats Dirjish courtesy of Sensors Expo
© 2015 IoT Perspectives

Ron Bingham

The Grand Convergence: Microprocessors
1 June - By Ron Bingham, Technology Editor

Grand IoT Convergence Microprocessors

The driving technology of the IoT is silicon and how silicon technology impacts the IoT can be clearly seen by taking a look specifically at microprocessors.

Intel cofounder Gordon Moore observed the phenomena in the mid sixties that:

"The complexity for minimum component costs has increased at a rate of roughly a factor of
two per year (Electronics Magazine, April 19, 1965)."

In 1975, Caltech professor Carver Mead dubbed this statement “Moore’s Law."

The more interesting plot is the transistor density per square
millimeter over time. The reason this plot is interesting is transistor density is directly related to the cost, speed and power consumption of a microprocessor.

Historic Semiconductor Densities


Let me explain by simplifying. The cost of producing semiconductors is based on a fixed cost per wafer. The amortized capital cost of the production facility (called a fab) plus the operating cost of the facility is allocated to each wafer. So, the cost of the wafer is fixed. The cost of an individual chip is simply the cost of the wafer divided by the number of chips on the wafer. For example, if a 300 mm diameter wafer is used to fabricate a 100 mm2 chip, and the cost to fabricate a wafer is $2,000, then the cost per chip would be about $3.00.
A two mm2 chip would cost six cents.

The cost per wafer has been increasing historically about 6 to 7% per year. However, as Moore’s law approaches the limits of physics some time in the early 2020s, wafer costs will increase. Until then only good things happen as transistors get smaller.

The Apple A8 is currently (September 2014) the densest microprocessor being produced with 22.5 million transistors per square millimeter. Implementing ARM’s 26 million transistor Cortex A9 processor core on the process used for the A8 would produce a chip requiring less than 1.2 mm2. At a wafer cost of $4,200 such a chip would cost less than seven cents. This is what is making the Internet of Things possible. Tremendous computing power that costs pennies can now be in any “thing” anywhere. Silicon is the enabling technology of the Internet of Things.

A lot of good things happen as semiconductors shrink. For one, the distance signals travel is reduced as well as other electrical properties to make transistors switch faster. Below is a plot of density vs. clock speed. Clock speed is a proxy for transistor switching speeds.

IC Clock Rate vs Densities


Another effect of shrinking transistor size is the small size transistor requires less energy to switch. Below is a plot of power consumption per transistor as a function of transistor density.

IC Power Per TransistorAll of the above plots are based on micro processor designs optimized primarily for use in personal computers. The designers were going for the fastest speed possible to satisfy the market demand for faster better cheaper computers. Game rendering of realistic virtual environments is an example of an application that demands the fastest speed possible.

The optimization criteria for the IoT is different. IoT designs are constrained by power. The primary power relationship for any of the above designs is:

Power Voltage Frequency

By simply slowing the clock rate, power will be reduced proportionally. For example if the Apple A8 were slowed from 1.4 GHz to 1.4 MHz the power consumption would go from 5 watts to 5 milliwatts. Scaling of voltage is not so easily done but does occur as density increases. The point of this is there are few technological barriers to achieve the goals of IoT namely, low cost processors that require very little power resulting in long battery life or the ability to get energy from thin air by scavenging energy from ambient electromagnetic (radio, television and cell phone) waves.


Another factor in the growth of IoT is the emergence of the Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) developed in the late 1970’s early 1980’s at IBM, Stanford and Cal Berkeley.

At the time of the development of computers in the mid seventies memory was expensive, slow and a scarce resource. Because of this there was motivation to make each instruction count,  to do a lot with each instruction, and take up a minimum amount of memory space. This resulted in instruction bloat and required lots of transistors and lots of clock cycles to implement a single instruction. This style of computer design became known as CISC (complex instruction set computer). Most of the microprocessors used in PCs were CISC style processors and make up the bulk of micro processors in the above density charts. By contrast, the RISC machines are optimized for low power and size using a minimum set of instructions and completing each instruction in a single clock cycle.

In the mid 80’s Apple was trying to develop the Newton. None of the microprocessors they tried were powerful enough to handle the graphical demands of the Newton and still fit into a hand held device that required a handwriting recognition system. Apple discovered  a UK company ARM (Advanced RISC Machine) in 1985 and promptly bought a 43% interest in the company and used the ARM6 in the first Newton to replace three other microprocessors in the original design. Currently Apple’s iPhone 6 is using an ARM processor as does 95% of all smart phones.

Comparing a 1994 RISC ARM7 with a 1993 CISC Intel Pentium processor both implemented on an 0.8 micron semiconductor process shoes the tradeoffs between the two architectures:


At 1/5 the size, 1/3 the performance and 1/16 the power demand of an Intel Pentium, the ARM micro processor in the early 90s was poised to take the mobile market by storm. It subsequently did. Currently 95% of all smart phones use ARM processors in their designs.

Smart Sand

As semiconductor technologies push the size and cost down, it will be possible by 2020 to put a fully functional networked microprocessor with sensors and internet software in a silicon area less than a millimeter on a side. When we achieve this we will enter the era of SmartSand™. With SmartSand being powered by scavenging power from ambient electromagnetic waves, it could be deployed anywhere. 

SmartSand in freshly poured concrete could monitor and report moisture and temperature as well as controlling the curing process to ensure maximum strength as the concrete cures. SmartSand used in agriculture could be used to monitor and control moisture as well as report temperature or even control sprinkling systems used to ameliorate freezing damage. Security systems could be quickly and easily deployed over large areas by spreading smart sand to detect intrusion. The possibilities are limited only by the imagination.

Microprocessors are poised to drive the Internet of Things into the next explosive and exciting “big thing”.


Charts Source: IoT Perspectives
© 2015 IoT Perspectives; SmartSand is a trademark of IoT Perspectives

Ron Bingham

The Grand Convergence: Introduction
28 May 2015 - by Ron Bingham, Technology Editor & Sr. Analyst

Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about the technological foundations of the Internet of Things (IoT); looking at the individual contributing factors that are producing the grand convergence of the IoT

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) can be described simply as the connection of ordinary items such as refrigerators, thermostats, door locks, automobiles, heart monitors, industrial machines and security cameras to the Internet to increase remote accessibility, data sharing, personalization and functionality.

To try and understand the implications of the Internet of Things, it is sometimes best to use an analogy, in this case, that of the human body.

Biologists often talk about emergent properties. That is, collections of things develop properties that are not inherent in the individual items. For example, a collection of cells makes tissue, a collection of tissues make an organ, and a collection of organs make up a living breathing being. The properties of the whole are not found in the properties of the individual components but emerge from the interaction and cooperation of the individual components - such is the nature of IoT.

The IoT, like the human body, reflects a natural evolution of the convergence of computing and the Internet, similarly to the way in which nature has developed in order to organize and make possible a complex and highly functioning being.

The individual components that make up the body of the IoT deliver solutions that are greater than the sum of the parts. This series provides an overview of the IoT landscape, including current and potential future emergent properties of the living, breathing Internet of Things.

The IoT Grand Convergence

The Grand Convergence

The Internet of Things is driven by the grand convergence of complementary technologies that now make it possible for anything to be connected to the Internet. The low cost and high performance of microprocessors, interconnectivity, cloud computing and storage, communication bandwidth, sensors, batteries and energy harvesting all coupled with a low capital cost to design, now make it possible for the most ordinary of things to be connected to the Internet and thus create a new landscape and a new era called the Internet of Things. The IoT’s emergent properties are exciting and offer aware companies a potential windfall in efficacy and profit.


Next: Microprocessors

© 2015 IoT Perspectives

Bill Bonney

Are Robots People, Too?
19 May 2015 - by Bill Bonney, Contributing Editor, Security

I recently attended a panel discussion at CyberHive, the San Diego Internet of Things incubator. The topic of discussion was “Internet of Things (IoT): Robotics and IOT Convergence.” Several weeks later, I was interviewed by UnboundID about “Why is Customer Experience Now an IT Problem?” for an upcoming webinar I was participating in as a speaker with their CEO, Steve Shoaff.

Part of the answer I gave to a question about the most pressing security concerns as digital business gains momentum is as follows:

“…As more lightweight apps are implemented, whether traditionally deployed to the desktop or deployed as a mobile app, trust in the identity of the user (or a proxy of the user for “things”) becomes paramount. By deploying so many users and proxy users in so many deployment models, we have moved the firewall from the network to the endpoint and that means we have shifted the focus from the devices and protocols to the identity.”

A Thing Is a Thing

I think about these two issues together, the convergence of IoT and robotics and the explosion of devices that are going to be acting on our behalf and on their own as part of a new ecosystem. At the heart of this ecosystem is obviously an enormous amount of data. But are all the data elements created equal? I don’t think so.

I think all of us would agree with the simple use case that the ultimate end user should be given the right to decide how his or her data is used, whether directly for their benefit or not. And of course if a “thing” is not interacting at all in a private sense, but just exists as a sensor for the data ecosystem, part of the IoT “flora” if you will, then there is a desire to label this case equally obvious and say the answer is “of course” and assume we as a society are comfortable just letting that data flow freely.

But I think that’s too easy an answer. We still need to ensure that metadata (data about data – the purpose, form, origin, use and value of data) is protected and that it doesn’t become part of the data. If metadata were not in itself valuable, then the NSA would not have been happy with “just” metadata in many of the use cases recently exposed.

We also have an obligation to examine the data itself and validate that the data cannot tell a greater tale than we intended it to tell. That is sometimes discernable as part of the straw man for the data model that is being developed and sometimes only after we live with the data and learn from it.

Just to point us toward exploration, think about automobile parking applications or parking lot surveillance devices. The point is to perhaps thwart crime, or perhaps optimize parking spot utilization. But what if a nearby merchant starts developing data profiles of people who own cars that are often parked in a given lot and targets advertisements to those owners? What if receiving such an ad establishes someone’s habit of parking in that lot? Do we have a right to privacy when we do a public thing? Is that not the reason some still use cash to buy goods? Now, travel back in time to a point when cars and parking lots were pretty new – some merchants would certainly keep track, on paper, of who was in the nearby lot and see if they had repeat parkers or just random parking. If repeat parking was detected, they might print up an ad and hire someone to place the ad, perhaps by placing the ad under the windshield wiper blade. Random parkers would also get an ad, but perhaps a different ad.

I am not suggesting the parking lot advertisement example portrays right or wrong behavior on the part of those that disseminate information developed or data gathered, just that the use cases for sharing data are not nearly as clear cut as the use cases for protecting it.

I, Robot

There is another use case that I think about as well. Robots are beginning to do things for us. Robots have been doing a number of things for corporate entities for a while now. Think about shop floor robots that perform routine manufacturing tasks. We didn’t really build them to do much, just weld on time or screw a nut into a bolt to fasten something together. Now please, if you’ve built manufacturing robots, don’t take offense, I’m actually in awe of what they can do. My point is they were useful without being connected beyond the shop floor.

When you think of a robot, though, what do you think it is? By your own definition, is a toaster a robot? How about a dishwasher? How about a vacuum cleaner that moves around on its own? Some dictionaries emphasize “looks like a human,” others point to “remote control.” For this discussion, let’s assume the most sophisticated definition common to current dictionaries. Let’s assume that it looks like a human and is programmed to take on many of our routine tasks. These robots are mobile. They have tracks, or “legs” if we’ve anthropomorphized them (or if they just have to walk up steps). (Think of today’s relatively primitive robot by Hondo, Asimo, or Toshiba’s robotic human android, “Aiko Chihira.”)

They also have sensors to enable and optimize for value their mobility.  Those sensors provide a new value proposition. They can sense conditions and create data for localized use by the robot. The data can be shared with a central repository. The data can then be simply aggregated for later use or analyzed remotely and used by the robot itself in near real time for immediate benefit.

With these sensors, the robot can determine where it is, how fast it is moving, and what is nearby. It also has a record of where it has been, and what it has been doing. One could assume that it would have been more efficient at these tasks if it also included environmental conditions, such as climate, terrain, temperature, humidity, obstructions or impediments (accidents, potholes), ambient light, ambient noise, and a host of other data points. In many cases, the sensors built into the robot would detect and record these data points. But one could certainly envision scenarios where other sensors, perhaps from devices deployed by a common actor (an owner, for instance) or a community (a city, for instance) could supply this data.

Under what conditions should this data be shared? Some, including terrain, climate, obstruction, perhaps noise and light, might be of public value. But start and end points, distance, speed, activity, etc., could potentially be valuable to the common good, or, demonstrate a private action or habit in a very public way.

What I am getting at here is that the very data that we want or even require the robot to acquire or have access to be most effective and to which society has a potentially genuine interest in can, if disclosed without appropriate reflection, be very harmful to our privacy. What’s more, when the robot is disclosing this information, is it acting on our behalf or in a different capacity? Is it an aspect of our identity, our robot, or is it a device that belongs to society? I’m not looking to endow the robot with rights, I want to make sure we don’t give up ours.

© 2015 IoT Perspectives


Maxine Bingham photo

Two Conference Takeaways re Internet of Things (IoT) Innovation and Security
3 May 2015 - By Maxine Bingham, Editor-in-Chief

April was Internet of Things (IoT) and IoT security event-packed, including:

  • Bluetooth World (where I moderated a panel and chaired an analyst roundtable about the evolution of Bluetooth Smart into a mesh networking typology for the IoT)
  • RSA
  • DEMO Traction
  • PubNub’s IoT Stream Conference
  • Innovation Enterprise IoT Summit

Information and briefings were plentiful, as one can imagine. Following are my two takeaways from these conferences.

The Lack of IoT Security is Frightening but Being Addressed

Jeh Johnson, the US Secretary of Homeland Security spoke at the RSA Conference on 21 April. He announced that the department would be opening a satellite office in Silicon Valley, in order to tap local talent, try to attract talent to government cybersecurity jobs, and solidify relationships with Silicon Valley companies.

In the strongest terms, Johnson noted that cybersecurity is a priority for the Obama administration. This has included the president issuing executive orders, including stronger punishment for cybercriminals who hurt, for example, the financial stability or economic health of the nation.

He concluded his remarks with a call for business to do more to ensure security. "We're only as good as out weakest link," said Johnson. He ended his talk by noting the need to balance security, privacy with government interest in being able to access encrypted information.

I discussed many issues around IoT security with Nexusguard execs. We agreed that IoT companies are more interested in getting quickly to market and focusing on usability vs. security and privacy. This means that security continues to be an afterthought.

As the company specializes in combatting DDoS (denial of service attacks), Nexusguard fights bad guys who attack enterprises. They painted a picture of some pretty scary scenarios. What would happen if a plane went down and then all the airplane reservation systems went down due to simultaneous DDoS attack? Cancellations would cause economic havoc. States that have been hit with sanctions (let's guess Iran) are currently attacking businesses in the US in retaliation.

IOActive’s CTO, Cesar Cerrudo notes in a report, "It’s only a matter of time until attacks on city services and infrastructure happen. It could be at any moment. Actions must be taken now to make cities more secure and protect against cyber attacks" PDF

Tempered Networks “cloaks” devices and critical infrastructure. Rather than basing trust on spoofable IP and MAC addresses, their HIPswitch security appliances base trust management on baked-in, hardened cryptographic identities. As Director of Product management Lucas Kane explained, should you break into the network despite a firewall or VPN, what you’ll see is equivalent to an empty room, with encrypted data flying around with zero visibility into where the data is coming from or going to.

The company was founded about three years ago. It now has 40 employees and recently raised $15M Series A – one of the largest venture deals in Seattle’s history. (As all the IoT security companies with whom we’ve spoken agree, no one can guarantee 100% unbreakability, however, bad guys tend to look for low-hanging fruit.)

Major corporations, such as Intel, are offering extensive platforms for the IoT that include security. As Tom Moore, Vice President of World-Wide Embedded Sales at Intel Security said, “It’s scary the way the cloud can be pierced,” which is why they have layers of security in their platform from chip to application to cloud.

IoT Innovation By New Ventures Is On a Fast Track

Small companies such as privately held PubNub (50 employees) are finding success in solving problems inherent in the IoT, such as security (note the startups mentioned above) and real-time networking that can stream the reams of data coming from devices.

PubNub powers thousands of real-time apps around the world, from innovative start-ups to globally recognized brands. They manage three million real-time messages per second and 100 million devices per month. PubNub supports over 50 SDKs for mobile, browser, desktop and server.

They are globally scaled, with 14 data centers around the world. According to VP of Marketing & Operations Wendy Schott, PubNub like a number of IoT companies, are working with chip companies to put their highly scalable and secure networking (which sits on top of the Internet) onboard the semiconductor.

Avi-On Labs was founded in January 2014. With 20 people they have already nailed a deal with Jasco, who sell GE-branded lighting. While they came up with their own Bluetooth (BT) mesh networking a year ago, they now have a partnership with CSR (Qualcomm) for its BT Smart mesh networking. They’ve ensured that their IoT lighting solution is very, very secure – they haven’t been able to hack into it. They enable companies to make their home automation products IoT-enabled, starting with lighting. According to co-founder and COO Dana Kunz, AviOn’s platform enables manufacturers to bring home automation products to market in less than six months. They provide firmware, application and cloud. They are taking a “Powered by Avi-On” marketing approach, since products will come out by OEMs.

There were more ventures with whom we spoke at these various events. Quasi-stealth Bastille, for example, is a 20-person IoT security company that has invented a patent-protected way to identify all devices on all networks, despite the networking protocol (i.e., BT, Zigbee, Zwave, WiFi, etc.) helping protect physical and human assets.

As CEO and founder Chris Rouland told us, “[as an enterprise] you have 99 problems and WiFi is only one.”

Metta Smartware has developed an “Amazon Dash” for self-improvement, which co-founder Abe Gong ensures “will help you be more you” (Abe has PhD at the University of Michigan in a hybrid program blending behavior science and applied math and computation) is also in quasi-stealth.

Small companies are also not shying away from developing IoT standards. Venture-backed Nok Nok Labs established the now 180+ member FIDO Alliance for plug ‘n play strong authentication that helps secure deployment of IoT devices. Nok Nok has raised $39M from Onset Ventures and angels such as former Chief Information Security Officer Michael Barrett from PayPal. President and CEO Phillip Dunkelberger said that Nok Nok, with alliance companies, is driving the development of “FIDO-certified” IoT products (such as wearables), and claims that in 2016 there will be 1-1.5B FIDO-enabled devices.

Whether it’s IoT security, networking, new products or standards, IoT ventures are hitting the ground running in 2015.

© 2015 IoT Perspectives