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IoT Perspectives Internet of Things Blog: March-April 2015

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stuart sikes_president_parks associates

Top Trends in IoT: Video Services, Smart Home, Health & Mobile
24 April 2015 - by Stuart Sikes, President, Parks Associates (sponsored)

2015 is a year of intense experimentation in new value propositions for advanced technologies and services. Multiple sectors within the connected home are facing new competition and an increased emphasis on differentiation strategies and expanded offerings. Each area presents its own unique challenges and value propositions.

Pay TV, OTT & Streaming Media

While broadband penetration growth has slowed in mature markets, high competition is driving an industry push to ever-faster service tiers. Pay TV is experiencing a similar pattern in global growth—fast-paced adoption in emerging markets and heightened competition in developed markets.

For the past few years, non-linear video has claimed larger percentages of consumer viewing hours. The video content market is seeing a fundamental shift in how viewers watch programming, requiring a new definition of what is called “television.”

Streaming is now a feature on almost every connectable device, including smart TVs, gaming consoles, tablets, and smartphones. Pay-TV operators are evaluating entry into the OTT streaming market, which will increase the competition for viewers.

Smart Devices & Home Energy Management

Consumers are becoming more aware of smart devices that help them manage their home’s electricity usage. Highly differentiated smart products are capturing a significant slice of the overall market. For example, 42% of broadband households that are likely to purchase a smart thermostat are willing to pay a premium for a thermostat with advanced features.

Consumers view energy management services as interesting and even desirable, but when bundled together, these value-add services become attractive enough that a significant percentage of consumers are willing to pay for a package of services.

As consumers adopt more smart devices, interoperability becomes more important. Nearly two-thirds of devices purchased in 2014 were part of a home controls or security system.

Safety and security remain the leading value propositions for smart devices; however, 70% of smart device owners are concerned about unauthorized access to their home control devices as well as to the data those devices generate.

As a result of the entry of consumer technology brands into the tech support market, the industry has grown significantly over the past five years. For many brands, providing comprehensive technical support is a means of strengthening customer relationships in the face of intense competition and a rapidly evolving technology environment.

Health & Mobile Opportunities

Prospects for the global connected health industry have brightened. Strategic and tactical changes within the industry have gradually made an impact and fostered creation of new services and care models. Although each country may have a different growth path and its own set of unique challenges, all are experimenting with collaborative approaches among the government/insurers, the care providers, and technology partners.

Sixty-eight percent of mobile subscribers prefer buying a smartphone at full price and paying a lower monthly service fee and having no contract. Traditional device subsidy models to drive smartphone sales are falling apart; instead, mobile carriers need to continue to experiment with pricing models to reach a happy medium.

No matter the category, the dominant leaders emerging this year will be the companies that leverage consumer demand and expectations to provide a personalized and valuable user experience.

Join industry leaders at Parks Associates’ 19th annual CONNECTIONS Conference, May 19-21 in San Francisco. www.connectionsus.com


Maxine Bingham photo

Mesh is the Key for Bluetooth’s Evolution for the IoT
17 April 2015 - by Maxine Bingham, Editor-in-Chief

It was clear from the many panels and discussions at Bluetooth World 2015 that WiFi and Bluetooth will co-exist for Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity for a good long while to come. However, being a Bluetooth-focused event led to a number of discussions around the next evolution of Bluetooth (BT), and, per our interest, especially for the IoT.

The answer was BT’s evolution first into BT Smart, and then into a mesh networking typology in order to address some of the limitations of BT, such as range and reliability. This basically moves BT from a star configuration that can connect a few devices to a mesh network that can connect hundreds. Bluetooth mesh is thus an important connectivity architecture for the connected home and the IoT in general, where hundreds, if not thousands, of devices are connected for a single enterprise.

According to Webopedia: “Bluetooth is defined as being a short-range radio technology (or wireless technology) aimed at simplifying communications among Internet devices and between devices and the Internet. It also aims to simplify data synchronization between Internet devices and other computers. Bluetooth products -- that is products using Bluetooth technology -- must be qualified and pass interoperability testing by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) prior to release. Bluetooth's founding members include Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba.” As Wikipedia notes correctly, “A mesh network is a network topology in which each node relays data for the network. All mesh nodes cooperate in the distribution of data in the network.”

Mesh TypologyThe advantages of a mesh network typology for Bluetooth include:

  • Extending its current range of 30 meters to about 100 meters from a single device to up to 100 meters from the edge of the mesh.
  •  Ability to connect entire homes or buildings
  •  No need for connecting through a hub or PC
  •  Easier and less costly to manage
  •  Based on low energy Bluetooth Smart for low power consumption
  •  Increased reliability since nodes in the network can act as backup for other nodes;
    messages can be re-routed as needed
  • Will co-exist with WiFi (as does BT Smart)

For example, Avi-On Labs, in cooperation with CSR, notes that their mesh network for connected, smart lighting enables “wiring without the wires,” according to Avi-On General Manager Dana Kunz.

Robin Heydon CSR

The Bluetooth Smart Mesh Networking Group is, according to BT mesh networking inventor, the CSR Fellow, for Global Standards, Robin Heydon, on a fast track and expected before 2016. CSR has donated some of its CSR Mesh networking code to the organization, in what it hopes will become the foundation for the BT mesh networking standard.

Since the BT mesh networking standard is not yet here, a number of companies, such as CSR have developed proprietary BT mesh networks that they believe can probably be upgraded via firmware once the standard is ratified by the Bluetooth SIG. Another such company is Seed (whom IoT Perspectives profiled) with their newly-branded Silvair mesh network for connected home devices, also starting with lighting. Avi-On’s first OEM customer for their lighting solution is Jasco, who provide GE-branded lighting switches; Seed’s is Soraa, will soon launch wirelessly connected LED lamps using LEDs built from pure gallium nitride substrates (GaN on GaN). Soraa’s co-founder, by the way, is Nobel Laureate Shuji Nakamura.

While Bluetooth Smart-based mesh network is an enabling technology, CSR Fellow Robin Heydon makes a great point when he told us that they key for IoT success is for IoT devices to be smarter, and be able to make inferences. For example, as soon as one walks up to one’s door, the door should open, desired heat and lighting turn on, and music play. As we interpret his vision, it’s for the connected home, for example, to be a smart system that requires no human intervention once parameters are set. Today, we have point IoT devices for the home, tomorrow we’ll see the kind of smart system that Robin envisions.

 

 

Photo of Robin Heydon at Bluetooth World courtesy of IoT Perspectives
© 2015 IoT Perspectives


Maxine Bingham

LoRa Alliance Fueling First IoT Network in France
2 April 2015 - by Maxine Bingham, Editor-in-Chief

The LoRa Alliance was announced this year at CES in January, and has its first widespread commercial implementation by Bouygues Telecom in France.

Developed by the French company Cycleo (based in Grenoble, and a subsidiary of IC manufacturer Semtech since 2012), LoRa is a low-power wide-area (LPWA) technology that enables smart devices to share small packets of data, with autonomy of up to 10 years with standard batteries.

LoRa Alliance LogoAccording to the Bouygues Telecom, LoRa’s ability to respond to the wide-ranging demands of large industrial customers (excellent penetration in buildings or in basement spaces, bi-directional and secure communications, mobile devices, geolocation services, etc.) makes it, from a user standpoint, the most advanced technology for the Internet of Things (IoT).

Since November 2013, the city of Grenoble has been the setting for a unique experiment, the first of its kind in the world. For 16 months, Bouygues Telecom, its international partners (Semtech, Sagemcom, Eolane, Adeunis and Kerlink) and several major industrial customers have been testing LoRa technology and assessing its performance in real-life conditions.

Bolstered by the results of this trial, Bouygues Telecom has now announced the launch of France’s first IoT network, based on LoRa technology, in close collaboration with Semtech. Abroad, major operators like KPN, Swisscom, Belgacom and Fastnet are in the process of deploying LoRa networks or carrying out large-scale trials.
The IoT network, to be opened as early as June in Issy-les-Moulineaux and a part of Paris, will use the “high points” of the Bouygues Telecom network that boasts more than 15,000 sites. From the end of the year, around 500 towns and cities will be covered by this IoT network, including Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Nice, Rennes, Nantes, Montpellier and Angers.

Outside of France, major operators like KPN, Swisscom, Belgacom and Fastnet are in the process of deploying LoRa networks or carrying out large-scale trials.

Olivier Roussat, Chairman and CEO of Bouygues Telecom said: “The Internet of Things is going to transform entire areas of our economy. Thanks to the expertise and the infrastructures of Bouygues Telecom, we will be able to quickly offer nationwide coverage with a high-quality service.”

“The pilot scheme carried out with Bouygues Telecom is a world first that has enabled us to improve LoRa protocols further. Its long-standing involvement in the development of our technology and its ceaseless work to improve it within the LoRa Alliance has made Bouygues Telecom one of the world’s leading experts in IoT technology. We are now impatient to rise to the challenges of its future customers within the framework of their network rollout,” said Alain Dantec, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Semtech.

According to the alliance, LoRa boasts unique properties that make it the most advanced technology of its kind in the IoT field, enabling it to be deployed for a wide range of activities and uses. It enables public or multi-tenant networks to connect multiple applications into the same network infrastructure, which will enable new applications for IoT, M2M, smart city, sensor networks and industrial automation applications, the alliance says. Device manufacturers and developers are proposing solutions at a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) with longer battery lifetime that often do not need a powerful cellular connection. They believe that projected IoT volumes can only be reached with a global approach to drive TCO lower.

“To encourage the mass adoption of low cost, long range machine-to-machine connectivity, open ecosystems are critical,” said Dr. Thorsten Kramp, Master Inventor, IBM Research. “In addition to IBM's support of the LoRa Alliance, we have also released the IBM ‘LoRaWAN in C’ as open source under the Eclipse Public License, which provides a solid foundation for the development of a broad range of end devices compliant with the LoRaWAN specifications.”

Initial alliance members include leading IoT solution providers: Actility, Cisco, Eolane, IBM, Kerlink, IMST, MultiTech, Sagemcom, Semtech, and Microchip Technology, as well as lead telecom operators: Bouygues Telecom, KPN, SingTel, Proximus, Swisscom, and FastNet (part of Telkom South Africa). For more information, visit lora-alliance.org

Images Courtesy of the LoRa Alliance

© 2015 IoT Perspectives


Maxine Bingham photo

Top Takeaway from Wearables TechCon: Innovations are in Industrial
I-On-the Trends
16 March, 2015 - By Maxine Bingham, Editor-in-Chief

Have had a few days of reflection about the wearables industry after attending Wearables TechCon in Santa Clara, and the main takeaway is that innovation in wearables in happening – gasp – in the industrial arena, and coming "down" into the consumer space.

For example, we spent time with a number of exhibitors demonstrating some remarkable industrial wearables technology: in the virtual reality for industry space was Epson and one of its partners, Metaio, and, P2i, with its seemingly magEric Mizufula Epsonical invisible, water-proof nano-coating for millions of devices.

While known as a printer company, Epson has remarkable projection technology that it has designed into its Moverio smart glasses, the world's first (they claim) Android-based, see-through wearable displays. Featuring a head set with micro-projection technology and a compact Android-powered controller. The glasses fit easily over mine, and, it was the sharpest, and largest, headset display I’ve experienced, with the graphics projected as an 80-inch perceived screen.

Metaio, the “augmented reality (AR) company…serves over 140,000 developers with over 50,000 published apps. In total, Metaio's AR software reaches over 250 million consumers around the world. Founded in 2003, Metaio began by offering AR to the industrial and automotive sectors for product design and factory planning. Twelve years later, the company offers a mobile development platform while continuing to create customized AR solutions to support brands, such as Epson, all over the world.”

With the Moverio BT-200 smart glasses and the Metaio optical tool, service technicians, for instance, can see digital maintenance information attached to systems in their field of view, while game developers can create immersive games that seamlessly merge the virtual and physical worlds. The tool is now part of Metaio’s Junaio AR software development kit (SDK) serving more than 80,000 developers worldwide. The Junaio AR browser, which is capable of “seeing” in 3D, allows augmented reality experiences beyond 2D printed markers. Available for free, the Junaio AR browser allows users to access thousands of augmented reality experiences from developers all around the world. The Junaio platform is available for users and developers to explore at http://www.junaio.com/junaio-mirage/

According to its web site: P2i is the world leader in liquid repellent nano-coating technology. P2i’s patented technology lowers the surface energy of products by developing an ultrathin polymer layer on all surfaces. This acts to keep the item ‘neutral’ and therefore reduces the disruption of intermolecular bonds within a liquid. Now instead of being attracted and spreading out on a product, liquids remain in droplet form and easily move away from the surfaces. For complex three-dimensional products such as smartphones and tablets, the low surface energy means liquids are not drawn through the device by means of capillary action. This surface modification dramatically increases the reliability of electronic devices as they are protected from the effects of corrosion and water damage. P2i's technology is indicated in the Electronics sector by either its splash-proof or “Dunkable” nano-coatings. In the Lifestyle sector, the technology is known as “ion-mask,” while the P2i brand is used for industrial applications, such as those found in the Filtration and Life Sciences sectors.  

They had an amazing demonstration at their booth. First, you’re given a regular paper tissue. Dunk in a vat of water – and, of course, it’s soaked. Then, you’re given the same kind of paper tissue that’s been coated with an invisible hydrophobic 30-nanometer coating– dunk it in the water – and voila! The water beads up and flows right off. These are the same techniques used by semiconductor processing to put thin layers on wafers. They have coated millions of devices, such as smartphones, to make them water-resistant.

Augumenta Matthew Schmidt

Visiting these companies, and speaking with others, such as Augumenta, also gesture-based VR glasses for industrial use, cemented that wearables are a multi-billion market, but one which has its leadership in industrial (i.e., repair and maintenance) and enterprise (i.e., retail) applications.

Photos of Eric Mizufuka, Epson Product Manager, and Matthew Schmidt for Augumenta by IoT Perspectives

© 2015 IoT Perspectives


Perfecto Mobile Yoram Mizrachi

Apple Watch is Bringing Us to Places We Can’t Even Imagine
11 March - by  Yoram Mizrachi, CTO and founder, Perfecto Mobile

Sponsored blog - beautifully written!

Apple did what Apple does best this last week, they previewed a new device which was not the first of its kind (we've got a lot of smart watches in our cloud!) but definitely the most anticipated. And as the founder of Perfecto Mobile, getting to play with gadgets is a huge perk of the job for me. Apple, Android, bring it on - I love my gadgets. I'm particularly enthused about Apple Watch because I truly believe that it will take us to places we can't even imagine right now.

Apple Watch is going to do great things for the wearables market. Like I mentioned, we all know this isn't the first smart watch, but it's going to be the one to push the limits of innovation. The biggest challenge for companies who want to develop for wearables is going to be defining a business case. Uber, Starwood and Instagram are on it, but the rest of companies need to evaluate how to find value in developing apps for wearables. My prediction? It's going to take a bit. The real business value of apps working on smart watches and wearables won't come until the beginning of 2016, as a second wave of wearable apps rolls through. And even though this is a bit delayed from the initial market launch, it still wouldn't happen without the release of Apple Watch. Now we're really, really paying attention to wearables!

Naturally Perfecto Mobile with Apple WatchI consider the impact to testing when situations arise like the launch of a new device. The Apple Watch is yet another screen to add to the device testing matrix, that's for sure. But it's more than that. Since we're paying more attention to wearables, we should pay attention to all of them. If you're going to develop apps for smart watches, for instance, there are several Android options. No two screens are the same, and for the first time in history, we're forced to develop a UI for a round display because of the moto 360 from Motorola. Samsung Gear has several screen options, including the Samsung Gear Fit Smart Watch, which is a long and narrow display. Just like with mobile devices, each relevant device needs UI testing to ensure the app renders correctly. Internally we call this "Any Glass" - where transactions might start on an iPad, go through a phone and end on a laptop. Users expect transactions to work across any, well, "glass" whether it be from a tablet, phone or laptop. Pretty soon it could be time to add a wearable screen to the mix!

Apple Watch is also increasing the relevancy of sensor-based apps. Starwood is planning to let you open your hotel room door with the watch, and I believe this is only the beginning. With innovation around sensor technology, here I think we're going to see functionality arise that we don't even know about yet.

Sensor testing can be challenging, as functionality is proximity based. As use cases develop, I see the need for a hybrid cloud testing lab become more relevant. This is one use case that likely requires 3rd party devices to be in close proximity of each other, having a testing solution that lets you plug devices-in-hand into a cloud environment is going to become more relevant.

The flexibility of keeping devices, like wearables, hosted in a cloud or on your desk really lets the user choose how to test. In fact, we've seen this topic come up so much lately that we're hosting a webinar on Wednesday, March 18th, on the topic - Testing Wearables. If you're thinking about developing on or integrating with wearables, come and get a taste of how you can enable your agile process on these new devices. {NOTE: The webinar is ended but archive is available.]

These are my initial thoughts on Apple Watch - I can't wait to get them in our cloud and test them out next month!

Yoram Mizrachi is the CTO and Co-Founder of Perfecto Mobile.
Learn more about agile real-device app testing and Perfecto Mobile at www.perfectomobile.com

Photos of Yoram Mizrachi and Apple Watch Courtesy of Perfecto Mobile


Maxine Bingham photo

HP Acquires Aruba Networks in Bid to Dominate Enterprise WLAN/M2M Comms
2 March 2015 - by Maxine Bingham, Editor-in-Chief

Today HP announced a definitive agreement for it to acquire Aruba Networks, a leading provider of next-generation network access solutions for the mobile enterprise, for $24.67 per share in cash. The equity value of the transaction is approximately $3.0 billion, and net of cash and debt approximately $2.7 billion. Both companies' boards of directors have approved the deal.  

According to the press release:

“Aruba is a Sunnyvale-based industry leader in wireless networking with approximately 1,800 employees. The company had revenues of $729 million in fiscal 2014, and has reported compound annual revenue growth of 30 percent over the last five years.

Aruba boasts a highly regarded innovation engine and specialized sales, marketing and channel model, complementing HP's leading networking business and go-to-market breadth. 

Together, HP and Aruba will deliver next-generation converged campus solutions, leveraging the strong Aruba brand. This new combined organization will be led by Aruba's Chief Executive Officer Dominic Orr, and Chief Strategy and Technology Officer, Keerti Melkote, reporting to Antonio Neri, leader of HP Enterprise Group. With this move, HP will be uniquely positioned to deliver both the innovation and global delivery and services offerings to meet customer needs worldwide.

With the shift to mobile, enterprise networking needs are exceeding the capabilities of legacy infrastructure. At the same time, organizations are shifting rapidly to mobility-centric workplaces for their employees, guests, customers and students. The next-generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard is critical in enabling this trend. This new technology will support the faster speeds and access to cloud applications that end-users expect. Enterprises need comprehensive, integrated and secure networking solutions to help them transition legacy systems to the wireless edge. Today's announcement directly addresses these market trends.

“‘Enterprises are facing a mobile-first world and are looking for solutions that help them transition legacy investments to the new style of IT," said Meg Whitman, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of HP. "By combining Aruba's world-class wireless mobility solutions with HP's leading switching portfolio, HP will offer the simplest, most secure networking solutions to help enterprises easily deploy next-generation mobile networks.’” 

Reading between the lines, in concert with HP’s announcement of its IoT platform for service providers, IoT Perspectives believes that this positions HP to attempt to dominate the enterprise IoT wireless communications market for the enterprise, via a high-performance Wi-Fi WLAN (wireless LAN)/machine to machine (M2M) communications move.

© IoT Perspectives 2015


Ron Bingham

Apical Introduces the ART and Spirit of the Smart Home
2 March 2015 - by Ron Bingham, Technology Editor & Sr. Analyst

Today, Apical, the London-based semiconductor IP company introduced, what I believe, is a breakthrough enabling technology, ART (Apical Resident Technology) for the smart home. It solves a number of problems that have been barriers to smart home adoption, such as ease of use, privacy and reliability. Apical has encapsulated in a couple of square millimeters of silicon the capability to visually recognize every individual in the home and determine each person’s intent. These video processing tasks previously required the services of a supercomputer.

Apical ART

Architecture Overview

At the base level Apical's anthro-sensing on-chip Spirit technology extracts in real time from a video sensor who the people are it sees (identity), where they are relative to the sensor, what they are doing such as standing up, siting down or moving (trajectory), which direction they are facing and looking (pose), and what kind of things they are doing with their hands (gesture). This technology can be embedded in a wide view video sensor or as an appliance. This data stream can be processed locally by appliances and sensors or can be sent to the ART local hub to be processed. Further, for deep data analysis, abstracted data can be sent to an Internet-connected ART cloud server.

Apical ART

Combining these four pieces of real time data from the devices and sensors, ART can perform the following kinds of things: Recognize you as you approach your front door with an armload of groceries, unlock and open the door for you eliminating fumbling for keys and then light your way to the kitchen all without requiring a smart phone or any other device to identify you. It can recognize when you lay down in bed and dim or turn out the lights and if you get up in the middle of the night it can turn on night lights as you make your way to the bathroom. It can allow you, but not your children, to turn off the smoke alarm with a look and hand gesture. It can report how many hours the kids spent sitting and watching television. These are just a few of the many possibilities for which ART can be used in a smart home to take care of its occupants.

In this whole process no video is captured or transmitted outside the home, ensuring your privacy and security while eliminating high Internet bandwidth demands. Spirit’s video bandwidth compression is equivalent to 100,000 to one.

The key to the success of any new class of technology is that it replaces a function that already exists and does so more conveniently and inexpensively. So, what current functions will the smart home replace? So far it’s been mostly one for one replacements for such things as expensive thermostats, smoke detectors and door locks. Nobody but a few gadget buffs want or will buy a “smart home” per se. What function then will the smart home have to provide to make people want it?

For millennia people have had personal assistants, butlers, maids and servants. Why? They want to be taken care of. The human being is unique in the animal kingdom for the amount of care and length of time they are cared for at the beginning of life and at its end. The smart home to be a successful technology must take care of people – not the other way around. This is the promise of Apical’s ART with its silicon-based Spirit technology.

Apical could just be the company that makes the smart home a “killer App” for IoT.

Diagrams Courtesy of Apical
© IoT Perspectives 2015