IoT news of the week for June 1, 2018

  • Posted by admin on June 2, 2018

Ecobee raised more money: Ecobee, the thermostat maker you may recall from the opening story, has raised an additional $ 47 million Canadian dollars ($ 36 million) to close its C round of funding at CA$ 127 million. Ecobee has raised a ton of money, and unlike many of the other big names in the IoT startup boom, it hasn’t sold or shut down. Instead it’s focusing on new products, such as its Alexa-powered light switch. Along with the funding it added three new executives to the team, which should help it reach the next level — or merge with another player while trying. (Ecobee)

Is it finally time for revenue-sharing as a pricing model? The idea of making money based on taking a chunk of what a customer saves is not a new idea. But for the tech world, this model has proved elusive. In 2010, IBM proposed selling Watson to customers by taking a percentage of the money Watson would save them; the idea was not popular with customers. And now Liat Ben-Zur, an executive with Philips, is proposing the same idea, this time for IoT platform providers. In a detailed and useful post, she lays out the challenges that such platform vendors face when trying to sell into a big corporation, and explains her idea of creating corporate IoT accelerators where teams from big companies get together with IoT platform providers to create new services or business lines built on IoT. To get corporations to participate, she suggests IoT platforms give away their underlying infrastructure, not for free, but for a share of the revenue generated or saved by the new connected business. Ben-Zur has been in tech for a long time, and she demonstrates a deep understanding of the corporate perspective. If she’s willing to try this pricing model, maybe its time has come. (Medium)

How data helped a company build a smaller lawnmower: After grabbing data, many companies aren’t sure what to do with it. But this blog post explains how Bosch Power Tools used data collected from one of its connected lawn mowers to learn the size of its customers’ yards. Bosch discovered that 75% of users’ lawns were smaller than 400 square meters, but that those customers were using a mower designed for larger lawns. So it developed a lawn mower designed for the smaller expanse. It’s also using data from the mowers to learn how often they’re used, something the mowers’ owners don’t accurately report. This matters, because it affects maintenance schedules and the mower’s expected longevity. I like this story because it offers a concrete example of how connected product data can be used to help businesses beyond marketing. (Bosch)

Withings founder explains why he bought his company back from Nokia: I previously reported that Withings co-founder Eric Carreel would buy his company back from Nokia; now we know he plans to relaunch the company in the digital health space. In an emailed statement, Carreel said that he will work with the original Withings team and return the brand back to the market by the end of the year. Withings will continue with digital health products. I look forward to it. I really liked my Withings Activité Pop fitness tracker/watch. (Nokia)

Making the invisible visible, starting with energy consumption: If IoT can help make the invisible visible, then one of the more interesting trends is tracking how much energy goes into the total cost of producing a device. What’s even more fascinating is how that cost can be optimized through connected machines and infrastructure. In this interview, Kumar Prasoon, CIO of United Arab Emirates-based shopping mall and real estate operator Al Safeer, talks about how his role as CIO now involves tackling energy savings within his company’s physical operations through connected devices. The interview is notable because it makes clear the expansive role the CIO is taking not only in IT, but also business strategy, thanks to IoT. (Tahawul Tech)

Nice threads, man! Literally. Fibers developed by Swiss researchers made of elastomer are infused with electrodes and nanocomposite plastics. These materials give the thread the ability to detect pressure and strain; they can also withstand a huge amount of deformation (stretching and pulling) while still maintaining an initial shape. Such properties might make them useful for smart clothing or fabrics as well as artificial nerves for robots. The article says researchers can produce “hundreds of meters of this material in a short time,” which would be essential if we ever want smart clothing using this tech to come into production. (Phys.org)

What happens to AI research in a post-GDPR world? This is a question that has bothered me ever since I learned more about the EU’s new regulations and the ability they give consumers to claw back their data. Doing so is frankly incompatible with AI, which relies on ingesting gobs of data to create a computer-generated model. You can’t get that data back. Many others are worried about the challenges of even getting data in the first place, once people have a better understanding of how their data is used. But I’m not worried so much about that. This Fortune story by my friend David Meyer is a good intro to what GDPR means for AI. (Fortune)

Electric Imp is back with a cellular module: Electric Imp, which makes modules that combine computing power and radios on a single board along with the cloud platform to manage data from that board, now offers a cellular radio option. The company already makes Wi-Fi boards that help customers get their products connected more easily, and with a big emphasis on security. Now it’s adding cellular radios to the mix with a service on top that means the customer doesn’t have to worry about choosing a carrier. I like Electric Imp; it was one of the initial IoT platform companies. But I worry how the entire module market will shake out. In the hardware world, Imp’s rivals include Particle plus integrated offerings from the big chip firms and distributors. On the service and cellular side, Twilio just released a development kit with similar functionality, although without the experience that Electric Imp has in the space. (Electric Imp)

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Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

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