Thursday, 17 November 2016

‘Alexa, make me comfortable’: How the Internet of Things is hitting home

Most consumers don’t know what “the Internet of Things” means, and People Power’s David Moss thinks he knows why.

“Before you can experience what an Internet of Things is, you actually first have to go out and buy an internet-connected thing,” he said Wednesday night at Town Hall Seattle, during an MIT Enterprise Forum presentation about intelligent homes. “And why would you go buy an internet-connecting thing if you don’t know what value it can add to your life?”

To capitalize on the Internet of Things, or IoT, People Power came up with a free app called Presence, which turns a spare smartphone or tablet into a Wi-Fi home security camera.

Moss said he was amazed to discover that the app was being used for much more than home security.



“We had created a new thing, but I soon found out that the Internet of Things is actually not just about things,” Moss said. “While I was enamored with how cool it was to check in on my house from anywhere in the world, the stories that we were getting from our users were really about how they were connecting with other people, and their pets. The thing they had, this app, was just a way to connect with what mattered most to them.”

The way Moss sees it, calling the technology the “Internet of Things” doesn’t describe its true power. “I personally prefer the term ‘ambient computing,'” he said.

And however you call it, the technology is on track to become much more powerful, thanks to cloud computing – which provides the “brains” for the Internet of Things – as well as the social dimension.

See more: geekwire.com

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

There's no easy way to do IoT management

The pitches have already started: Various vendors promise to help you manage the tsunami of internet of things (IoT) devices coming. But beware: IoT management will be very difficult for a long time, and it may never reach the steady state of mobile management.



Potential good news: You likely won't have a flood of IoT devices coming from all quarters as we saw in the early days of mobile BYOD. But what IoT devices you have will be very hard to manage.

Remember when there were iPhones, Android smartphones, BlackBerrys, WebOS phones, Windows Phones, and legacy Windows Mobile devices? IT shops freaked out at all the variations they'd have to support.

Imagine an IoT world where thermostats, door locks, light switches, elevator stop regulators, smart glasses, Bluetooth internal-location sensors, comm badges, security cameras, heat sensors, conference gear, alarms, and the gazillion other devices and sensors that might exist in the products you use and environments you manage -- as well as the possible IoT devices and sensors in health care, transportation, oil exploration, logistics, retail, and public safety. In comparison, the half-dozen mobile devices that so freaked out IT look as frightening as a sleeping cat.

[...]

The best example here is Wi-Fi. Until the Wi-Fi Alliance, a vendor group, came up with the Wi-Fi wireless compatibility standard, businesses refused to adopt wireless LANs in any volume because pre-Wi-Fi devices could only talk to other devices from the same company, though they all used the same 802.11 transport protocol.

One example in IoT is the Data Distribution Service, a set of APIs and data transfer protocol from the Object Management Group. This lets various manufacturers' devices talk to various manufacturers' analytics back ends.



We'll see both patterns occur in IoT. But it will take years for the shift to either approach in each domain. In the meantime IT will be faced with a grim reality: Most IoT products will have their own security models and management tools, creating an unwieldy mess for IT. That'll slow IoT adoption out of necessity.

In the industry standardization game, someone has to blink first, but the stare-down will go on for years until someone finally has to back off. In the meantime, pick and choose your IoT initiatives carefully -- you'll be able to handle only so many of them.

See more at infoworld.com

The EU’s latest idea to secure the Internet of Things? Sticky labels

The EU has floated a new idea to boost the security of Internet of Things (IoT) products – get manufacturers to stick labels on them telling buyers how secure they are.



It sounds simple enough. Products such as fridges, washing machines and ovens are already sold in the EU with mandatory energy efficiency ratings, so why not something similar for security?

In comments made at a weekend press conference, EU deputy commissioner for digital economy and society, Thibault Kleiner, spelled out some of the organization’s worries about the state of IoT.

Ever greater numbers of products were being sold with an IoT connectivity as a standard feature, he said.

[...]

Despite there being at least five billion devices in service with IoT capability – Gartner reckons that this is expanding by 5.5 million new devices every day – security standards are only just emerging. Meanwhile, default security is often weak.

A warning of the potential for trouble came with the recent record-breaking DDoS attack on cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs. The ‘Mirai’ botnet that generated this huge wave of traffic came from an army of poorly-secured network cameras, digital video recorders (DVRs), routers and printers.

The Commission believes that labels guaranteeing adherence to basic security standards would encourage manufacturers to work together more closely in the spirit of common interest.

[...]

The EU is doing its best to speed up development, investing €192 million in IoT research as part of its Horizon 2020 programme.



Unfortunately, IoT devices need better security now, not years from now when the EU has agreed what the labels should look like – and mean.

What consumers and businesses will think about having another label to peel off shiny new IoT products when pulling them out of the box remains an unknown.

Will they have faith in them? Or will they end up feeling disappointed should securing IoT devices from real-world threats turn out to be more complex than the label suggests?

See more at sophos.com

This Mega Tech Consortium Wants to Connect All Our Devices

The AllSeen Alliance, a pioneer in the so-called Internet of things, and Open Connectivity Foundation, a rival group, said on Monday that they will combine their efforts to speed up the adoption of connected devices.



In theory, this means that appliances or other gadgets using either the AllSeen-backed AllJoyn technology to connect online or OCF’s IoTivity technology will work together and that the combined alliance will sponsor both AllJoin and IoTivity as open-source projects, meaning that the related software will be freely available.

That newly expanded group, which will go by the OCF name, brings together a host of tech companies including Microsoft MSFT -1.31% , Intel INTC -1.84% , LG Electronics, Qualcomm QCOM -1.62% , and Samsung. They all have a vested interest in selling either the devices themselves, the connective tissue that ensures the devices can communicate, or associated services delivered by the connected system.



Executives from various member companies including AB Electrolux, Canon, Cisco Systems CSCO -0.99% , GE GE 0.42% Digital, Haier, Intel, LG Electronics, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics will sit on an expanded OCF board of directors.

See more at: fortune.com

Thursday, 6 October 2016

How will society interact with the Internet of Things?

It is pretty much a given that social, economic, and political forces shape the demand for new technologies. Demography is “destiny” in the sense that the demand for new products and services depends on the number of people and on their ages, genders, locations, and cultural heritages. Economics also matter because the arrangement of economic activities and the amount and distribution of wealth affords some people the opportunity to purchase new goods and services while constraining the ability of others. Politics plays a messier role by providing ways for incumbents to hinder the entry of competitive new technologies and at the same time allowing enthusiasts opportunities to direct subsidies to favored options.



Many frustrated technologists with Libertarian sympathies agree with Sir Ernest Benn (in a quote that is widely misattributed to Groucho Marx) who said that “politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” Others look skeptically at the evolving direction of technology and desire political interventions to protect security, safety, health, and human dignity.

[...]

This brings the story back to politics. When technological innovations begin to diminish our lives, people react. They demand protections, regulations, and public oversight. Savvy technologists anticipate this dynamic and work hard to design the undesirable features out of the system, impose codes of conduct to discourage malfeasance, and avoid unsavory business models. Yet self-regulation has limits, especially in a global context lacking universal norms. Governments need to backstop self-regulation with strong legal liability laws and clear regulations that prohibit bad behavior. When governments themselves are the problem, their citizens need to step into the voting booth or onto the street to redirect society’s institutions.



Calls for governmental intervention and political action are rarely welcomed in tech circles, where more Libertarian views often prevail. However, politics is clearly part of the toolkit for ensuring that the IoT and other innovations improve the human condition. Good design, strict professional norms, and honorable business practices play key roles, but so do tort liability and governmental regulation, as well as social protests and political action. Creative leaders as diverse as architect Frank Gehry and writer Ernest Hemingway (who never had quotes misattributed to Groucho Marx) uniformly agree that constraints drive genius. This outcome has also been confirmed in technology development, so those creating the IoT should embrace its emerging political constraints.

See more at: iotevolutionworld.com

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Artificial Intelligence has key role in Internet of Things

Finding a way to adequately serve firms in the internet of things (IoT) space is the next area customer relationship management (CRM) providers need to target, according to electronics giant Schneider Electric.



“We want to make the IT and IoT world converge with a lot of customer context. If you have a lot of data generated without context, you cannot sell to a customer in a great way. It’s about connecting the dots so you better know the usage of buildings and devices,” Christophe Blassiau, senior vice president for customer experience and CRM at Schneider told the Sunday Business Post.

Blassiau made the comments at Dreamforce, Salesforce’s annual gathering in San Francisco which is attended by 170,000 people.

Tony Wells, senior vice president for marketing in North America with Schneider, said he expected artificial intelligence (AI) to play a pivotal part in bridging the gap.

“Being able to take the velocity, variety, and volume of this data being generated and being able to make sense of it is crucial. AI is going to play a role to work out what data really matters. There’s a huge amount of value that can be extracted from data but it has to provide benefits to customers and to us as a brand,” said Wells.

[...]

Wells said this increase in customer demand had also presented challenges and opportunities from a marketing perspective.

“Customers aren’t coming to the company they buy from first when they are making a purchasing decision, they are usually 70 per cent of the way down. For us it’s about finding the right salesperson who can call on that salesperson and respond to their inquiries as quickly as possible,” said Wells.

See more at: businesspost.ie

Internet of Things and the MSME Sector

The term Internet of Things (IoT) brings to mind the stereotypical image of a working woman who triggers the cooker at home as she leaves office to drive back home or a refrigerator which sends a replenishment note to a grocer as soon as it senses some of the frequently required items such as milk or butter are exhausted. Given the numerous possibilities which IoT can inspire, many large product companies have already embarked on programs to build IoT compatibility into their existing or new products.



What is IoT?
The Smartphone as a device of communication is an IoT device and knowingly or unknowingly we have already been using it. IoT enables each device or thing to communicate with other devices or things and perhaps be directed or direct the actions of other such devices.

An IoT enabled device must have a built in microcomputer and suitable sensor devices which will sense /capture important parameters in real life. In addition, it must have access to and be identifiable with a unique IP address. Increasingly, there are standard electronic communications modules available which could be connected to any device which you wish to enable them for IoT. The costs of such modules and standardized interfaces may seem a bit high as of now but this situation will certainly improve with increased demand and availability.

[...]

IoT makes the owner omnipresent
in most food cooking and retail businesses such as a cookie/bakery stores, the owner is required to formulate an hourly forecast and plan the production accordingly .This plan has to be adjusted based on the day of the week, time of the day , cultural and religious sensitivities , seasonal variations as well as actual walk-ins into the shop. When the owner is away, the ability of the team to replicate such expertise becomes a challenge. IoT can help the owner to encapsulate his expertise in the form of business rules into the bakery systems which allows his team to exercise their judgment but within bounds and send alerts to the owner in cases of deviations and exceptional situations. The owner’s expertise is thus at hand at all times irrespective of his location. MSME with multi-locational operations can thus benefit immensely from the owner’s expertise.

IoT and autonomous systems
The machines learn with every transaction, production or service experience. This means that the encapsulated business rules in the controller attached to the machine can be changed based on new experiences. The communication between the machine, sensors, business rules engines and the machine learning algorithms on a central server all interact thanks to IoT. Add to this the ability of the machine to initiate actions on its own and we have ‘autonomous machines’ and in a larger sense processes and systems which can run on their own like the autopilot of an aircraft.

[...]

In Conclusion
MSMEs can now manage their resources efficiently and effectively, create smarter products and build smarter services using the power of the IoT and associated technologies. The challenge of scalability and replicability of the owner’s experience and personal skills which are perhaps the biggest concerns among MSMEs can be dealt with quite effectively by IoT. Finally, IoT itself is a great opportunity for innovation and new product/service/business models. A proactive move in this direction would ensure that MSMEs find the path to growing into a dominant component of the emerging ‘Smart’ economy.

See more at: forbesindia.com