Internet of Things news of the week March 10, 2017

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A Smart Audience: Thanks to everyone who participated in my audience survey. It confirmed what I thought: you are shaping the future of IoT technologies for both the home and enterprise. Congrats to Scott Mischnick for winning a Google home. If you are interested in sponsoring this newsletter and my podcast, send an email to andrew (at) and he’ll send you an updated media kit with the audience data.

The iControl deal is finally done!: After a long nine months, Comcast and have closed on their respective deals to buy the assets of iControl. is getting the Piper all-in-one connected security device, and the Connect business that provides support for a variety of home security providers including part of ADT’s Pulse business. I’m curious to see what it does with Piper.’s business is supporting dealers who sell connected security systems, which feels somewhat competitive to selling its own cheaper all-in-one solution. Comcast is getting the Converge business that creates internet of things (IoT) technologies and platforms for connected home security. (Converge underlies Comcast’s Xfinity Home offering.)  It also gets an IoT center in my hometown of Austin, Texas. (, Comcast)

Consumer Reports is tracking IoT security: The industry is working on some type of basic security standard, but Consumer Reports is beating them to it. The magazine will use some fairly common sense tests to determine if a product is secure. Those tests include the use of encryption, data storage and sharing practices and some basic hacking tests, although it’s not going to try to hack every device at an exhaustive level. This is a good move for the industry, although I would also like Consumer Reports to note if a company has a bug bounty program, since I think that shows it’s open to monitoring and fixing its security holes when discovered. (Engadget)

The scourge of bad AI: Will Oremus over at Slate says that consumers are going to bear the brunt of bad AI from companies like Tesla and Uber because good AI requires trial and error with huge data sets. And the fastest way to get huge amounts of variable data is to release a product into the wild and let consumers produce the data required. This can be bad news for self-driving cars, but it can also be a problem for consumer devices that aren’t likely to kill you if the AI messes up. For example, many devices that use machine learning have a training period where the product attempts to take in data and adapt to the user. This training period is often frustrating for the consumer,  who doesn’t necessarily understand what’s happening and why the product doesn’t just work. Oremus doesn’t really have a solution, but it is a problem that companies should be aware of. (Slate)

Preventative health company raises $ 17M: Kinsa makes a  connected thermometer so it can get information about how a disease spreads. This week is said it has raised $ 17 million from GSR Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, FirstMark Capital and others to expand its services around health and wellness. I love Kinsa because it’s a big idea wrapped around a relatively inexpensive and useful connected device. The funding announcement brings Kinsa’s total financing to $ 28.6 million. (Silicon Republic)

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Kinsa scored another round of funding. (Photo:

Rumor has it (Sing this in your head like Adele): Nest is reportedly building a home security product, a cheaper thermostat and maybe improving its camera, according to a report by Mark Gurman. Not only is Gurman a scoop hound, he’s basically resurfacing rumors of products reported about a year ago by The Information. If Nest does release these products, it feels pretty derivative. The market has a few cheaper smart thermostats, plenty of home security hubS (see my startup profile above) and even sensors for individual rooms that could speak to a thermostat. I’d love to see the type of vision from Nest that brings us closer to a more intuitive and secure smart home. Of course, the devil is in the details when it comes to connected devices, so an awesome app or intuitive user interface could go a long way to feeling revolutionary, even if the description of the devices on paper sounds somewhat meh. (Bloomberg)

Watson, meet Einstein: This is basically a press release, but it’s big enough to get a mention. IBM has signed an agreement to resell Salesforce’s Einstein data platform to customers using its Watson platform. Salesforce has agreed to resell IBM’s platform to its customers. I read this as a cry for a broader audience for IBM’s Watson technology, which sounds really impressive and can do amazing things, but is also not growing like IBM needs it to. IBM has put a lot of eggs in the Watson basket and it needs to sell it far and wide. Maybe this will help when the reselling starts later this year. (WSJ)

How to design a better chatbot: I love Medium for its ability to surface content that’s written plainly about difficult topics like designing chatbots. This article provides some good rules to follow, such as making sure there’s a way to back up if the user makes a mistake.  (Medium)

What the IoT can learn from pop stars and rappers: This post is essentially an ad for a distribution platform, but the problem it outlines of having multiple musicians collaborating on hit songs, and figuring out how to pay them when that song is streamed across any number of platforms, is similar to the challenge companies face when sharing data to build a connected service. A service such as delivering uptime for a jet engine is comprised of data from a variety of manufacturers of the individual engine parts, a cloud provider, some data analytics offerings and a connectivity partner. How on earth does a systems integrator track all of that? (DistroKid)

The next big Thread proponent? Legrand: The folks at Legrand, makers of high-end switches and outlets, are embracing smart home technology in the form of Thread. In a conversation with Manny Linhares, director of IoT strategy at Legrand, he said the company is launching a new line of connected products that will use the protocol, which was developed by Nest and Samsung. This is good news for Silicon Labs and NXP, which make Thread silicon, and also a boost for the young standard.

A better way of thinking about security: One of the challenges of securing the internet of things is that it’s a distributed system of interrelated players. If one company changes something, it may have repercussions far down the line. Much of our digital lives are coming up against this threshold, where it’s too much to solve a problem in a binary way in one area. We have to start thinking holistically. That’s what the author of this essay does. His suggestion is to think of security as less of locked door and more like an immune system. It’s a long and deep read, but worth it. (Medium)

Industrial automation is going to be big: Continuing automation and robotics are going to drive a lot of value for companies like Siemens, Emerson, and Honeywell, according to an ABI Research report. The analyst firm anticipates industrial automation control and field device shipments will surpass 55 million units in 2017 and reach approximately 146 million by 2025. This will translate to $ 298 billion in industrial automation device revenue by 2025. Roughly $ 45 billion of that will come from the shipments of robotics. (ABI Research)

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

IoT News of the Week, February 17 2017

Here’s a wrap up of important news in the internet of things this week. You can get this in your inbox each week by subscribing to my newsletter.

This is a good IoT project: London installed equipment to track the WiFi on people’s phones as they traveled through a segment of the London Underground to see what kind of data it would reveal. Transport for London, the city agency responsible for the project, appears to have done everything correctly in setting this up. The agency notified commuters that their WiFi was going to be tracked during the month and told them to turn off the Wi-Fi on their phones if they wanted to avoid the tracking. This is a wonderful level of transparency. The agency also was able to gather data and analyze it far more quickly and with far more detail than its traditional methods. It’s now brainstorming use cases for the data since this was a pilot project to see what would happen, as opposed to a use case driven effort. (Gizmodo UK)

It’s coming from inside the house! This case study about a university computer network where a botnet had taken over connected devices and turned the network against itself is like a horror story for the IT security set. The case study is from a Verizon Security Breach report and details the botnet and how the university let the problem sit until roughly 5,000 machines were compromised. This could be the prank of the future. (Network World)

Another standard for the connected car:  The Open Connectivity Foundation and the GENIVI Alliance will collaborate to develop open standards for vehicle connectivity. These will include security and vehicle-to-vehicle communications standards. Members of GENIVI Alliance include Nissan, BMW, Renault, Volvo and Honda. (GENIVI Alliance)

Placemeter sold to Netgear: Almost two years ago I wrote about Placemeter, a startup that was trying to build a sensor and algorithms that could track the number of people walking by a place. Placemeter was bought in December by Netgear and will be working with the camera division. (Netgear)

Verizon buys a drone company: Verizon is buying its way into the internet of things with purchases of a smart city platform (Sensity), a fleet management platform (Telogis) and now with the acquisition of Skyward, a drone management company. It’s spending here should help it take on rival AT&T which so far is leading when it comes to IoT, primarily because it’s the top provider of connectivity for automakers. Now Verizon is rushing to lock down other possible segments of future revenue.  Based on what I’ve heard from city and enterprise clients, drone connectivity is going to be big. (Wireless Week)

Alexa gets more skills: You can now open the August connected door lock using your Amazon Echo. This ability was a while coming while the two companies tried to enable the ability to unlock a door without causing a security problem for homeowners. The solution is that anyone asking Alexa to unlock their August will have to say a PIN after the command. This is somewhat clumsy since a PIN can be overheard, but it should pave the way for other locks and garage door openers to work with Alexa voice commands. It’s also likely to be really helpful for people who can’t easily get to the door in time. In addition to this skill, Linksys added an Echo skill for its routers. You can turn your guest network on and off and even get credentials for the Wi-Fi network. (Since that is a potential security risk, the user can turn it off if they want.)

In the unintended consequences department: Deploying wireless networks in industrial settings could have unintended side effects on equipment in factories, leading companies to hold off on such systems. Much like the FCC prevented wireless devices on planes and hospitals used to prevent cell phones around their equipment, concerns over how radio signals affect delicate equipment aren’t crazy. So the National Institute of Standards and Technology is trying to understand how wireless networks perform and how they affect other industrial equipment so the wireless revolution that has taken over the consumer and office world can make it to industrial settings. (IEEE Spectrum)

NIST is also looking at IoT security: This would actually be incredibly helpful in establishing some type of baseline security standard for connected devices that manufacturers could work toward. (IoT Newsletter)

Apple’s into wireless too: Speaking of wireless, the rumor mill believes the next iPhone may come with wireless charging built in. Lending credence to this speculation was news this week that Apple is joining the Wireless Power Consortium. This is a big deal because Apple helps normalize technology, and normalizing a wireless power standard could go a long way to making wearables more palatable to people. Right now, there’s a real limit on how many connected devices you may mess with because so many of them require charging. Making it easy to set a device down on a standard charging mat as opposed to plugging it in would go a long way in making battery-powered devices a little less annoying. (The Verge)

How to hack a connected terminal: I learned a lot from this report about ways to get to the command line in various city-owned kiosks. (Securing Smart Cities)

Amazon has a lot of voice data: This article explains how valuable it is and why and then dives into how Amazon might then enter the enterprise. (Medium)

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

*astTECS to demonstrate IoT & Surveillance Integration with IP PBX at India Electronics Week 2017

*astTECS to demonstrate IoT & Surveillance Integration with IP PBX at India Electronics Week 2017

Bangalore – Feb 20, 2017 – astTECS, a leading provider of enterprise telecom technology products and Asterisk based open source communication solution, today announced, that the company will be showcasing emerging and innovative portfolio of enterprise telecom and IP PBX solution at India Electronics Week 2017 scheduled to be held from March 2-4, at BIEC. At the IoT Pavilion I-16, *astTECS will be demonstrating cutting – edge collaboration solution with newer technologies & applications, such as: Internet of Things (IoT), automation and surveillance solutions.

“As collaboration becomes more ubiquitous, smart device utilization and connectivity of devices would continue to expand, paving way for increased convergence,” said Dr. Devasia Kurian, CEO, *astTECS. We have enhanced our portfolio with solutions that provide seamless connectivity, security and automation, as we believe that IP PBX is emerging as the centre piece of work flow automation application and addition of IoT devices for monitoring & control and establishing coherent enterprise connection, will be the key transformation for future, he added.

With strong focus on customer needs, *astTECS solution serves users across the globe and the company continues to leverage its strong capabilities in product innovation, helping enterprises and SMEs capitalize on latest in technology and adapt to customer’s communications requirements and evolving market opportunities.

*astTECS offers the most comprehensive, integrated and compelling telecom infrastructure solution based on Asterisk platform that are feature rich, helps improve consistency & performance and creates a scalable, stable and resilient communications network that optimizes value.


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Internet of Things News of the Week, March 3, 2017

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Former FCC chairman joins board of IoT co: Former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler joined the board of Actility, a company that has raised $ 25 million to build a low power wide area network for the internet of things. The company is building partnerships with satellite providers, carriers and others to offer the right type of connectivity for the task at hand.  (Wireless Week)

Much ado about 5G: I thought I would spend an essay in this week’s newsletter on Mobile World Congress, but it all boiled down to a bunch of announcements about IoT gateways and 5G. Most of these 5G announcements were a lotta hype that reminded me of the lead in to LTE back in 2008. So, I’m putting this article from The Verge here because it does a good job explaining the reality. Call me when there’s a network and devices for it. (The Verge)

Related. The 5G specs were announced: The specification calls for a 20 Gbps downlink and  a 10 Gbps uplink at each mobile base station. In practice this will be shared across devices connecting to that base station. When it comes to the economics of cellular technology the thing to look at is spectral efficiency. That’s a measure of how much data a carrier can transmit through a single hertz of spectrum. This concept may become less meaningful for IoT because many of those use cases don’t require a lot of bandwidth. This could once again decouple the prices set for data from the cost of delivering it, but increased competition may actually make that unlikely. For spectral efficiency, the 5G spec calls for  30 bits per hertz for downloads and 15 bits per hertz on the upload.  (Ars Technica UK)

Alexa will soon be a marketing vehicle: Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar explains how the payments company is thinking about how to market on the internet of things. What’s interesting is how he’s thinking about weaving an ad into a service as opposed to content. This makes sense when content pales in comparison to new digital services. (Ad Week)

Digital Lumens gets into building management: Digital Lumens makes a system of light mounted sensors and has entered into business with many companies as a smart lighting provider. Now it has launched a platform of other services based on its sensors. Customers can get occupancy data, temperature and humidity data and more from Digital Lumens. This is similar to a program launched last year by rival Enlighted. (Digital Lumens)

This is cool tech: DARPA is researching ways to reduce the power consumption of sensors so they can last for even longer. The Near Zero Power RF and Sensor Operations (N-ZERO) program is covered in this article, which discusses how it might benefit other connected devices. This isn’t going to be a tech for everyday sensors, but rather for those that would be triggered infrequently, such as fire detection or even leak detection. (Signal)

Private 4G networks are a thing for IoT: This profile of an Irish startup building private 4G networks got me thinking about how IoT is upending the traditional economics of a data network. You used to want to serve as many people as possible with a large-scale network that was good at a wide variety of things. Now, it feels like dedicated networks for highly customized use cases are leading to a huge variety of options and business models. And if the large carriers are the Intels of general purpose networks, then Ericsson seems to be popping up as the ARM by providing a network as a service. (Silicon Republic)

It’s a new IoT gateway! Dell has released a slightly less brawny IoT gateway this week and is celebrating the two-year anniversary of its IoT Group. (SDXCentral)

Two IoT case studies in medicine: This story shares two uses for IoT in medicine in one place. The first is using smartphone microphones to diagnose and monitor patients who have COPD, a lung disease. Is this IoT? I am on the fence, although it is certainly useful. The second case study is about how Boston Children’s Hospital created a Waze-like service for people who want to navigate the confusing corridors of the hospital campus. (IoT News)

Case law for the IoT: Remember the police who wanted a suspect’s Amazon Echo data as part of a murder investigation? This article delves into some of the legal arguments and implications if Amazon is forced to turn over the data. (Popular Science)

This concept car from Samsung Artik and Peugot is wicked: I don’t know if the idea of the car as the new living room is a thing I’m excited about (I think it will look more functional much like air travel is today) but I want to believe that a self-driving car attuned to my needs and connected to all of my cloud services is the future. (Wired)

Check out these events: I have been trying to create an event page on my web site for a few weeks, but in the meantime, Andrew Thomas, the CEO of Skybell has done an excellent job grabbing a list of conferences dedicated to the IoT. Check it out. (Inc)

This survey is far more optimistic about enterprise IoT: Last week I covered an Economist and ARM survey of the internet of things, suggesting that companies were surprised at how slow adoption rates have been. This week, Aruba, part of HPE, suggests that companies are much more optimistic. This survey of 3,100 business leaders suggests that 85% of them will have some kind of IoT deployment by 2019. However, like the Economist survey, the respondents in this one are also concerned about security. (Aruba Networks)

Can Intel be an AI winner? My former colleague Derrick Harris suggests that Intel, which missed mobile and seemed like it might miss AI, may have lucked into a hot area of growth: building the right kind of chips for doing machine learning on connected devices.  (ArchiTECHt)

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Week in review: the best of MWC 2017, Barcelona

The IoT team have been on the ground at this year’s Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, carefully cadging advice and insight from some of technology’s brightest minds. As MWC 2017 draws to a close, we look back at some of the most interesting IoT developments on show.


Naturally, IBM had a lot to offer the event (though we do say it ourselves), from demos to discussions about the cognitive future. Here are some highlights:

  • The First Thinking Sculpture: inspired by Guadi and designed with the help of IBM Watson Platform, this jaw-dropping installation is the first sculpture directly involved in its own creation. The sculpture used data from song lyrics, images and videos about Barcelona and Gaudi to choose its own materials, shapes and colours.
  • A cognitive revolution: Warren Tomlin, Chief Innovation Officer at IBM hosted a session exploring how to use new tech including cognitive, AI and IoT to achieve great things.
  • Watson and Team Pursuit: in preparation for the Olympics in Rio, Watson teamed up with the USA Cycling Women’s Team Pursuit to deliver real-time performance insights. A slice of the velodrome and one of the squad bikes was on display to demo the solution.
  • Enabling IoT business outcomes: IBM’s Deon Newman investigated how the dominant technology trends of our era should be implemented as an integrated system, not treated as separate phenomena, to further business goals.

Insight from the experts: Bragi, SOFTlab, and demystifying blockchain

One of the great things about an event like MWC is the chance to catch up with industry leaders, visionaries and disrupters – and to hear them share their ideas. We asked the experts to share their experiences in a series of interviews, which you can read on the blog:

  • Cognitive hearables: Nikolaj Hviid and Darko Dragicevic of Bragi, a hot new startup focused on cognitive hearables, explained to the IoT team what it was like to create an entirely new category of hands-free, eyes-free wearable. Check out the interview.
  • Karen caught up with Michael Szivos, the chief architect responsible for the Living Scupture installation and founder of SOFTlab, to learn about his design philosophy.
  • Joel Viale, an IBM certified IT Specialist demystified blockchain with a demo about blockchain and the IoT.

The best of the rest: a cornucopia of connected products

It will come as no surprise that an event called the Mobile World Congress offers up some top-notch phones. New flagships from LG and Huawei – like LG’s new G6 model – strutted their stuff alongside midrange options from Motorola, Alcatel, Nokia and Blackberry.

But the ‘mobile’ tech umbrella encompasses more than the familiar cell phone, however impressive its creds. We saw a prototype connected shopping trolley, which scans items by image recognition instead of bar code, a smart toothbrush that feeds back on optimal brushing technique and a connected glove that uses 5G to carry data to a robotic arm – designed for doctors who need to carry out remote examinations on a patient.

We can’t wait to see what next year will bring.

Learn more

You can keep up with our progress at MWC 2017 by visiting our blog. If you’re interested in joining the Watson IoT partner ecosystem, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch to see how we can help integrate the IoT with your business.

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