IoT news of the week for Jan. 19, 2018
10 good industrial IoT predictions: This article not only offers 10 really good predictions but it also offers some accountability in the form of assessing last year’s predictions. Many of the predictions — such as AI and analytics becoming more popular — feel pretty obvious, but my favorite is that consumer devices will violate General Data Protection Regulation provisions. The provisions, which require companies to protect EU citizens’ data, go into effect in May throughout the EU. The fines are impressive and the rules are complex, so expect a lot of chatter about the topic and at least a few lawsuits testing the rules. (IoT Analytics)
Dell backs another industrial IoT security startup: A startup called VDOO just raised $ 13 million from several investors, including 83North (formerly Greylock IL), Dell Technology Capital, and the former CEO of EMC, Joe Tucci. Unlike many IoT security efforts that aim to go into a network and protect devices in them, VDOO is trying to help device makers secure their devices from the get-go. The company provides software and then a certification program. VDOO offers a way of assessing security risks on a per-device basis based on each device’s role in an enterprise as well as its risk factors. It can then implement the right procedures for the device. As an approach it makes sense, although the marketing effort to get device buyers to insist on having the certification will be tough.
C3 Raises $ 100 million: Tom Siebel’s company has raised another chunk of change and added a few more buzzwords to its press releases. The company, which started out offering a cloud service and software for energy management and analytics, added IoT to its marketing a few years ago, and now it’s focusing on AI and IoT. The round was led by TPG Growth. More impressive than the funding is the news that TPG has more than 100 million sensors and devices under management on its software platform.
Will smart home products get cheaper or more expensive? One big trend I see happening in 2018 is that many familiar connected devices such as cameras and video doorbells will drop in price as higher-quality, low-cost Chinese goods hit the market. I saw many of the vendors at CES last year and this year. Boosting quality has become more and more important for these companies, which I think will drive U.S. consumer acceptance. However, there is a different trend that could push up prices for smart home products. Namely, the new crop of chips and features available for appliance makers and device manufacturers. These chips let companies put cameras on fridges or high-quality machine learning in ovens. The result is new features, but also higher manufacturing costs. That leads to more expensive devices. I think both trends will likely occur in tandem, as companies realize that to make a smart device it has to actually have smarts, not just a connection to the internet and an app. For products that get the mix right, new chips will lead to more value and let them justify the higher prices. For those that don’t see the value, they can buy the cheaper gear or pass on the smart home entirely. (The Information)
Kinsa proves IoT’s value: Kinsa makes a smart thermometer that can be used to create heat maps for disease outbreaks. The company not only sells the devices in big-box stores, but it has several pilot programs where it hands out free thermostats to parents in a particular school so it can detect outbreaks (kids are little germ factories). For a deep dive into Kinsa’s beginning, check out CEO Inder Singh’s guest appearance a few years back on the podcast. For now, check out Singh in the New York Times disputing CDC numbers based on real-time analysis of fevers monitored using the company’s thermometer. (NYT)
Let’s hear it for digital lighting: Transitioning to LEDs not only saves energy, but can offer improvements in a variety of places, such as humans’ sleep/wake cycles and better plant yields. But it also can be tuned to mitigate the affect of nighttime lighting on wildlife. (MIT Technology Review)
A new model for IoT security: I’m always on the search for new ways to attack the issue of security as we connect millions of devices to our networks. We need a new way of thinking about security, and this article illustrates one of the options out there. It combines automation — which is necessary for scale — with a protective approach, which is critical given that patches are a sub-optimal solution. (Wired)
How to pay for ambient intelligence: At this stage of the internet of things, the industry has added connectivity and remote control. In the last year, we’ve used voice as a means to interact with connected devices in a more user-friendly way, but we haven’t actually added much in the way of intelligence. This article covers one of the reasons that hasn’t happened yet. Ambient intelligence will require information from many different players and then coordinated action, but right now we don’t have ways to reasonably pay for that, which stymies development. Expect more on this topic this year. (Light Reading)
Alexa gets a personality: There are two cool things in this article. The first is that the Amazon team behind Alexa is trying to let its AI develop preferences and a personality on her own. The second is a comment from a Twitter follower that suggests Amazon could implement advertising on Alexa through her personal preferences. Perhaps when you ask Alexa what her favorite movie is the answer will be sold to the highest bidder. (TechCrunch)
Don’t give up on beacons yet: Beacons came into the tech world in 2014 after Apple made the ability to read data from bluetooth beacons part of iOS. But so far, beacons that broadcast bits of data based on a user’s location have stalled. This article digs into what we need to make beacons viable, and explains why that matters. Essentially beacons offer a convenient way to give fine-grained location context to smart buildings. This could enable wayfinding, location-aware services, and more. (Semiconductor Engineering)
Good takeaways from CES from a hardware investor: Benjamin Joffe is one of the heads of the HAX hardware accelerator and an expert on China, hardware manufacturing, and startups. His thoughts on CES are well worth reading to get some perspective about the big trends for the coming year — namely the rise of China as a provider of quality connected goods. (Medium)
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