Here Come The Jetsons: Flying Cars And The Internet Of Things

Part 3 of the “Future of Transportation and the Internet of Things” series

If you ever watched the cartoon series The Jetsons – or almost any other show set in the space age – you’ll notice that people often get around in personal spacecraft that they themselves drive. Well, the space age is almost here – at least in the form of flying cars. But we won’t be driving them. Instead, like cars, they will be controlled autonomously.

In my last blog, I talked about autonomous vehicles and how much safer they are than self-driven vehicles. To ensure safety in the air, flying cars depend on the same network-connected IoT technology pioneered first in autonomous vehicles on the road.

Is the space age really here?

Let’s first take a quick look at some of the leading organisations out there doing serious work with flying cars.

  • Lilium: A German startup, Lilium tested a full-sized prototype of its flying car in April 2017. The Lilium prototype is entirely electric. It can also take off and land vertically like a helicopter – but then change to forward flight for speeds of up to 300km/h, which is much faster than a helicopter. And it’s quieter than a motorcycle. Lilium has raised $ 100m in two rounds of funding from Tencent, Ev William’s Obvious Ventures, Niklas Zennstrom’s Atomico, among others.
  • EHang: A Chinese company with deep experience building drones, EHang is perhaps the furthest along. The company produces the EHang 184 – a one-passenger flying car that has already undergone 100 successful manned test flights. Reportedly, the city of Dubai is this year launching a pilot program for an autonomous aerial taxi (AAT) service using the EHang 184.
  • Airbus: The aircraft giant, Airbus, has developed CityAirbus, an electric vehicle capable of vertical take-off and landing for up to four passengers. Airbus Vahana aims in the same direction but for is for individual travelers. And let’s not forget the hybrid Airbus Pop.Up concept, this modular air and ground system involves a passenger capsule that can be connected to a propeller system on top for flying or to a wheeled conveyance system for driving on the roads.

Uber – which recently signed an agreement teaming up with NASA around NASA’s Uncrewed Traffic Management (UTM) project developing air traffic control systems for un-crewed aerial systems (flying cars/drones). Even Boeing is making investments in this space.

This is starting to look real.

No network, no flying cars

What all of these ventures have in common is connectedness. Using IoT technology, they’re all controlled remotely – with the vehicle in constant connection to home base along the lines of what is now a reality for autonomous road vehicles like those made by Tesla.

Of course, the networked nature of vehicles (flying or not) has relevance beyond safety. No surprise, then, that Uber is moving forward aggressively with plans to test an on-demand flying cars network by 2020 in the cities of LA, Dubai, and Dallas, and 2023 in Sydney. Here the network provides convenience – coordinating a ride-sharing service in the sky that allows passengers to hook up with flying cars on the fly.

Drones for passengers

Essentially, what we’re moving toward is a future of passenger drones. One obstacle to this reality is the need for keeping batteries charged. Because of battery life issues, for example, the EHang 184 can only travel 23 minutes. The Lilium vehicle, it is claimed, can travel up to an hour – enough to make it from London to Paris. This, and advances in battery power storage capacity will iron out most issues around range.

When we solve this problem – and get over some regulatory hurdles – flying cars will become a lived reality for people in cities everywhere. The benefits will be tremendous, too. Count among these benefits such as less pollution (both air and noise pollution) and less traffic congestion (with flying cars taking another route entirely). And when it comes to emergencies, first responders can be deployed faster and more efficiently than ever before – helping to save lives. And let’s face it, flying cars would just be fun.

Next time I get to Dubai I’ll have to try one out.

To meet the market’s expectations for increasingly fast, responsive, and personalized service, speed of business will be everything. Find out how innovative processes can enable your business to remain successful in this evolving landscape. Learn more and download the IDC paper “Realizing IoT’s Value – Connecting Things to People and Processes.”

Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine

Transform Healthcare With Future-Facing Technologies

Never before have there been so many promising breakthrough technologies available – and so many ways to capitalize on them. From the Internet of Things (IoT) to machine learning, cloud to blockchain, analytics, smart devices, and more, these innovations promise to transform industries and offer previously unfathomable possibilities.

By 2025, IoT alone will produce an economic impact of $ 11.1 trillion, of which healthcare will contribute up to $ 3.3 trillion (considering IoT’s usage in human as well as in public health and safety) – according to McKinsey Global Institute.

Roche Diagnostics: Reimagining chronic disease management

But how exactly can these innovative technologies be harnessed to transform healthcare and save lives? Let’s look at how a pioneer is already doing it – Roche Diagnostics.

Roche Diagnostics wanted to reimagine the prevention and treatment of illnesses on a grand scale. It wanted to do so in ways that will empower people to be proactive with their own healthcare. The company had a vision to allow people to age gracefully, without the pain and burden of chronic disease – the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Roche decided to target type II diabetes, an increasing prevalent disease worldwide.

Knowing that diabetes can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with diet, physical activity, medication, and regular screening, Roche Diagnostics turned to future-facing technologies – a connected health platform and an open cloud platform-as-a-service providing unique in-memory database and business application services – to create an innovation to that end.

Enter Roche’s Accu-ChekView, a new package that combines a blood glucose monitor, a wearable fitness tracker, and an app. With Accu-ChekView, a patient’s vital signs and blood sugar level can be monitored in relation to their physical activity level in real time. The doctor can observe the patient remotely, and the patient can communicate with the doctor’s office.

Accu-ChekView also fosters a stronger connection between patient and doctor. Patients feel supported and empowered. Lifestyle slip-ups can be caught quickly because the app will red flag the issue, and the doctor and patient can work on solutions together. The innovation has motivated people to take charge of their health and is giving doctors real insights into patients’ lifestyles they never had before.

Pre-diabetic people can now conceivably reverse symptoms and lead a normal, healthy life. And doctors are now learning about the causes of chronic illnesses much faster, with a “bird’s-eye view” of a patient’s life in action.

National Cancer Centre Singapore: Advancing and personalizing cancer treatment

This is not just happening in the western world. Leading organizations in other parts of the world are also harnessing future-facing technologies to revolutionize healthcare.

National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) recently announced a co-innovation project to help clinical research in Singapore as well as advance the treatment and care for cancer patients. Leveraging a sophisticated connected health platform – the first of its kind in Singapore – the platform is targeted to integrate both structured and unstructured data such as clinical and genomic data.

By opening access to critical data held throughout the healthcare system and generating real, actionable insights for researchers and physicians/oncologists, medical professionals will be able to advance treatment and care for cancer patients. Armed with relevant, powerful insights, healthcare practitioners will be able to generate new treatment ideas – from drugs, to devices, to care plans – and deliver the best outcomes for patients. It also enables the medical community to make sense of the growing amount of data derived from advances and digitalization of the medical industry. This includes data such as medical records and biomolecular profiling of a patient’s tumor cells.

NCCS will also tap innovative technologies to gain deeper patient insights and allow the organization to access real-time analysis and reporting that together lead to personalized treatment options.

Tip of the iceberg: A whole new world for healthcare

And this is just the tip of the iceberg in what new breakthrough technologies can offer.

Examples of functions that transformational technologies can enable include applying blockchain to strengthen privacy and security, using machine learning / artificial intelligence to generate timely strategic insights that can vastly improve health outcomes, and helping healthcare organizations or life sciences companies convert unconnected market offerings into data-driven connected products (IoT).

We are talking about a new healthcare world where patients can get personal health dashboards to drive better health outcomes. Healthcare providers can get access to comprehensive and longitudinal patient data sets with personalized decision support. Medical research can understand risk factors for diseases and drivers for better outcomes. And pharmaceutical companies can benefit by having access to real-world evidence to inform their research and development efforts while allowing them to run innovative clinical trials.

The future is nearly here. It’s time to transform!

Find out more about how other leading organizations are capitalizing on innovative breakthrough technologies.

Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine

For IoT Success, People Just As Important As Technology

The Internet of Things (IoT) has spurred the attention of many industries, not least consumer products (CP). And with good reason. McKinsey anticipates an uptick of about three billion new consumer devices being added per year. IoT provides connection and accessibility between companies and customers. Behind the scenes, CP companies stand to reap enormous benefits from integrating IoT into their manufacturing, supply chain, and sales and marketing processes.

SAP’s recently released Global Study of IoT Adoption in the CP Industry confirms that CP companies increasingly recognize the value that IoT provides. More than that, the study provides insight into the specific steps that forward-looking CP companies are undertaking as they seek to move forward on their IoT agendas.

Learning from early movers

One of the challenges of an emerging set of technologies like IoT is that there are no established set of models or best practices to follow. Consider that 51% of consumer product companies that are early movers in IoT are focused on learning from the successes or failures of other early movers. But the data is limited. Given the early stage of IoT adoption in the CP industry, many companies are likely to embark on experimental efforts, learning as they go.

Creating processes to manage IoT

Organizations see the importance of implementing processes to manage the IoT adaption. Of the CP companies most bullish on IoT, 59% are focused on processes to manage it. The nature of IoT demands different approaches; consider that IoT data may be drawn from across traditional silos. A different way of thinking, of analyzing information, is required. IoT also delivers data in real time, so there’s a growing need to build flexibility into current processes to ensure real-time adjustments can be made based on the information. Without these changes, organizations may find themselves with massive amounts of rich, usable data, but limited ability to make use of it.

Hiring or retraining existing employees is an absolutely critical element of IoT adaption in the CP industry—as it is in all industries. Companies will need to redefine the roles of employees and provide them with training in the management of IoT. This will play out in a number of ways.

Key skills will define success

It’s estimated that 68% of businesses that aim to implement IoT, or that are already doing so, are struggling to find employees with the skills to address IoT-focused business models, according to a report from Canonical. With machines talking to machines, it will be important for employees to move away from labor-focused work. What skills should they have?

Cutting-edge analytics is at the heart of IoT, so employees will increasingly need training in areas like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep analytical thinking skills. These skills will help individuals to draw insight from the information streaming in through IoT sources – and to make “right time” decisions based on the data.

Those working in IoT must be effective collaborators, since IoT by its nature will take people out of their silos. People will need to work together across multiple departments to make effective decisions across the value chain. There’s significant opportunity in planning across key functions, from R&D to manufacturing to fulfillment, sales, marketing, and beyond. This represents a significant departure from current, siloed ways of thinking and working.

Big-picture people

Finally, key IoT-focused employees must be big-picture thinkers. It’s no longer about today, a single task, or a single piece of information. They need to look cross-functionally across the value chain, including the various ecosystem partners with whom data is shared. This more expansive way of thinking will enable employees to find new opportunities for expansion, sharing, and scaling.

Check out the full study here.

Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine

Three Ways Smart Innovations Are Making Commutes Easier

Who likes being late for work? Nobody wants to deal with the side-eye from coworkers or the boss calling you into their office yet again. Unfortunately, you could do everything trying to get to work on time and still be caught offguard by poor traffic conditions. Bad streets, congestion, and extensive roadwork can be a nightmare.

What would you think if your car could access real-time information to improve your commute? Most people would probably point to their car travel app or GPS navigation device as proof that we already have such technologies. But what if we took it a step further to have traffic light systems evaluate the current congestion on the roads and adjust signal changes to alleviate vehicle backups? Or have those traffic signals relay information directly to your car to about alternate routes based on real-time traffic data?

Smart traffic innovations are being implemented in some of the busiest cities in the country. These innovations are making commutes easier for drivers, relieving vehicle congestion, and speeding up traffic to lessen the amount of car emissions that affect air quality. Car manufacturers, city traffic signal systems, and telematics companies are developing new ways to streamline how we drive along our roads with a variety of smart traffic innovations. Here are three methods that may be changing your daily commute in the near future.

Traffic signal communication

When roads become overly congested on a regular basis, cities usually turn to widening the roads to decrease traffic backups. There may be certain roads that cannot be widened to relieve the built-up traffic and, as city populations increase, these widened roads become congested again. Traffic theory researchers are investigating artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) to look at the problem from another angle.

Instead of widening the roads, they seek to change how traffic signals operate. Each traffic signal can communicate with others, while sensors constantly evaluate the state of the roads and amount of current traffic. The signals will adapt to traffic conditions by creating more green-light signal changes for overly congested roads to keep traffic moving. Cars and trucks will experience lesser idle times, which will also increase fuel efficiency for vehicles, while also tackling air pollution.

Traffic system connectivity with vehicles

While traffic lights are improving the flow of vehicles along roads, the signals can also improve the driving experience for people. Another smart innovation coming to vehicles is connectivity between traffic signal systems and cars’ infotainment systems and instrument panels. This technological innovation under the vehicle-to-everything (V2X) umbrella brings information instantly to drivers about traffic signal changes, while providing driving guidance.

The traffic signal system can tell how long cars will be sitting at a red light so drivers can be prepared to move forward when it turns green. The information will be displayed as a count-down timer. The traffic signal system would also be able to relay alternate routes if the driver is in a hurry or if there is nearby construction, as the car receives real-time, instantly displayed information.

Other smart innovations can help people with overall driving, such as offering suggestions about vehicle speed to take advantage of green lights to speed travel time. It can also provide guidance on stopping and starting to reduce wear and tear on car brakes.

Increasing traffic safety

Nobody wants to be involved in an accident. Yet vehicle crashes and pedestrian injuries are a major factor that smart innovations are now trying to address. New driving technologies aim to give drivers the heads-up regarding the vehicle and pedestrian traffic around them in order to avoid accidents. This technology could send alerts to an app that will provide notifications about upcoming bus stops and pedestrian crosswalks so the driver is prepared to slow down.

Another interesting feature improves safety and speeding ticket avoidance. This smart innovation relays information to the car’s instrument panel about upcoming speed limit changes. This feature is ideal for out-of-state travelers who are unfamiliar with local roads, helping them stay within the speed limit without getting a police ticket.

Making the roads more enjoyable for drivers through IoT

Our world is becoming more connected through smart innovations, Big Data, and digital transformations. Car manufacturers and telematics companies are looking for more ways to connect drivers with technology to enhance the driving experience. By adopting more smart innovations, people can access a vast wealth of information directly through their vehicles about the driving world around them.

With this connectivity, drivers can improve their everyday commute while increasing driving safety. As IoT becomes enhanced, our cars will be able to do more things for us, and we can finally enjoy driving the roads without worrying about being late to our destinations.

Learn how to bring new technologies and services together to power digital transformation by downloading The IoT Imperative for Discrete Manufacturers: Automotive, Aerospace and Defense, High Tech, and Industrial Machinery. Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today by reading Industry 4.0: What’s Next?

Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine

Connected Cars, Autonomous Vehicles, And The IoT

Part 2 of the “Future of Transportation and the Internet of Things” series

In my last blog, I talked about the simplicity of the electric engine compared to the internal combustion engine and how this changes everything. From climate to the structure of the auto industry to the way we store, manage, and distribute energy, electric cars are having tremendous impact.

But what I left out of that discussion was the Internet of Things.


The fact is, most electric cars are connected cars – connected through the Internet of Things. This means that sensors in the car constantly communicate with mission control (the manufacturer), sending data on the status of components in real time.

By analyzing this data, especially in context of historical data, mission control can predict component failure before it happens. For electric vehicles – with engines that already need far less repair than traditional internal combustion engines – this only increases reliability.

But what’s more, IoT-connected cars also increase convenience. For example, after realizing component failure is imminent, your car could also trigger a work order at the dealership to resolve the issue – and ensure the needed replacement part is in stock when you roll in. And if the car is autonomous, it could drive itself to be repaired while you are at work and return ready to drive you home once the repair is completed. Speaking of autonomous….

Autonomous and safe

Connectedness is also what makes autonomous vehicles possible. And while some people may distrust driverless cars, the data shows that they’re safer than the self-driven sort – at least according to a report of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Back in May 2016, a Tesla Model S sedan in autopilot collided with a semi-truck in Florida, killing the driver (or passenger in this case?), 40-year-old Joshua Brown. The car, apparently, crashed into the truck, passed under the trailer, and kept driving for some distance – only coming to a stop after crashing through two fences and into a pole.

As a result of this incident, NHTSA conducted an investigation resulting in a report that largely exonerated Tesla. In fact, the report says that after the introduction of autosteer – a component of the autopilot system – Tesla’s crash rate dropped by 40%.


The accident in question happened when the semi-truck took a left-hand turn into oncoming traffic. The reason the Tesla did not detect such a large object in its path is because it could not distinguish the white color of the trailer from the bright, white Florida sky in the background.

Reportedly, Tesla has since analyzed the crash data from this accident, identified the problem, and made fixes to the operating system on which its fleet operates. Perhaps it’s premature to declare the problem solved – but the idea at play here is an interesting one when considering the potential for connected cars and the IoT.

What this scenario shows is a learning platform in action. Because all of its cars are connected on a single platform, Tesla has access to a tremendous amount of driver data that it can analyze to continuously improve product safety. I don’t know exactly how the analysis proceeded in this particular case, but one can certainly envision the use of machine learning technology to continuously analyze patterns and introduce safety improvements on the fly, making the self-learning platform a reality.


A future in which autonomous vehicles are not only viable but safer than self-driven cars will result in disruptions beyond those I’ve indicated for electric engines.

Take the insurance industry, for example. With fewer accidents comes lower risk – leading to lower insurance premiums. And in a future where most cars on the road are autonomous – connected and controlled via IoT – the insurable entity will likely shift from the driver (who is now a passenger) to the operator of the network (presumably the manufacturer). Certainly, if you decide you wish to drive your car yourself, your insurance will be significantly more expensive than the insurance for an autonomous vehicle.

Of course, if autonomous cars can get where they’re going without a driver, why even bother owning a car? Why not just call up the ride when you need it, Uber style?

One result would be optimal asset utilization, where cars that are far less likely to break down can be used on an almost 24×7 basis by spreading usage across individuals. This would mean we’d need far fewer cars on the road, which would alleviate congestion. It would also hit the auto industry with dramatically lower sales volume.

And with fewer cars on the road – cars that are in use almost all the time – we’d have less use for parking. This would have tremendous impact on an industry that generates approximately $ 20 billion annually.

Beyond industry disruption, less need for parking would open up tremendous urban space in the form of unused lots and garages. Maybe this would mean more populous cities with room to build for more people to live more comfortably without traffic congestion. Or how about using some of the space for indoor vertical farming using hydroponics technology and LED lights to grow more food and feed more people? Of course, this is already happening. But that’s a blog for another time.

To meet the market’s expectations for increasingly fast, responsive, and personalized service, speed of business will be everything. Find out how innovative processes can enable your business to remain successful in this evolving landscape. Learn more and download the IDC paper “Realizing IoT’s Value – Connecting Things to People and Processes.”

Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine