So many speakers, so many organisations to thank starting with Usman Haque of Pachube who invited me to curate the meetup back in November 2011. Then Sherlock, onefinestay and Resin.io who have supported us ever since.
I’ve been spending the last two weeks hanging out with telco and wifi people. First at Atmosphere 2017, a yearly conference organised by Aruba who offer corporate wifi networks to large enterprise clients. Last week I was visiting Ericsson IT at TMFLive, an event for the telco industry in Nice.
I’m a product designer first and foremost and it’s been eye opening to see what people think IOT means in an infrastructure context. For them, broadly, it’s all data and usage. There is no distinction between a kettle and a lamp connected to the internet, it’s all data they have to manage, offer dashboards for, help their customers (large scale manufacturers of those ‘things’ to manage at scale, to help them identify it on the network and control if something goes wrong).
While speaking to Any Puhakainen a security expert at Ericsson, we got to the crux of what makes #iot not just a ‘thing’ and why I’m always uncomfortable with people writing off #iot as just ‘data’.
She showed me some of Ericsson’s dashboard (see below) for device security management and with some nicely laid out tools to figure out what happened to a particular device and what the impact of a breach might be. This all depended ultimately on the device being identifiable by Ericsson (this camera, this model, this year of make, this capability) and its ‘expected’ behaviour to be something they are able to get ‘out of the box’.
This implies that a manufacturer would disclose to the network what the ‘normal’ behaviour of use of their device might be. This is interesting as it then depends on the device. For a kettle, is it supposed to be turned on every hour? Or is 10 times an hour too much? Depends on the context, office or home. Who is supposed to tell the manufacturer this so that they are able to disclose this to the network or anyone else? Someone, somewhere along the chain needs to own this to make security possible at all presumably. If it’s the end user/customer/human that makes them the first line of support for their own usage which seems a little wonky when you think of how much companies spend on their IT and security teams. I know we’re in a DIY economy, but when it’s a heart rate monitor someone has to man up and say they’ll be responsible for the performance of the device and its data. So who owns this problem?
I had a further conversation with Karan Budhiraja at Ericsson, who is working on network slicing tools. We had a good conversation on SLAs and information management across telco partners. I’ve built the Good Night Lamp with 2G and an MVNO as a partner. It got me thinking about the contractual challenges of offering a connected heart rate monitor, which relies on a GSM connection. What if you buy a product like that in the UK, take the Eurostar and the connectivity drops in the tunnel and you have a heart failure. By the time you reemmerge out the other end, will the UK emergency services be called? The French one? How would they know who you are? Will it simply be down to whoever is a doctor in the train or can you already know that?
Lots of challenges and lots of opportunities, especially when it comes to billing a customer for all this as a telco. I chatted with Mireille Harvey at Ericsson who shared some thoughts on how dynamic billing is a new challenge. Do you charge per sensor reading, per insight or per transaction. We discussed how Ericsson’s foray into an agricultural showcase showed them some of the challenges of dealing with that sector, looking for cities to provide tools for groups of farming cooperatives instead of targeting directly cash strapped farmers.
If you’re interested in more, there’s now an interview of Ericsson’s CTO Ulf Edwaldsson that was captured during the event.
All in all, lots of food for thought for me and our upcoming #iot certification event on June 16th at the London Zoo!
I was invited to attend CES by the nice people at Here so I thought I’d write a little blogpost about what they are up to and what I thought.
First a little bit about them. here is a mapping company which is mostly owned by German automotive companies (Audi, BMW, Daimler) and recently sold a 10% stake to Navinfo, Tencent and GIC Private Limited and 15% to Intel. So it’s a company in transition in terms of its interest in the mapping space. It is clearly starting to invest in finding out exactly how maps and #iot can interact.
We (including Sayan who co-founded the Bangalore #iot meetup) were shown around 3-4 exhibits in their lovely 2 storey exhibit space right outside the Las Vegas Convention halls (so less crowded thank god).
The first exhibit reminded me of a Microsoft Surface or Reachable demo as it was using little units on top of a table-sized map to play with the different ‘city KPIs’ (which strangely included population level) and see how it may affect urban design decisions, upgrades in the system and general transportation decisions for city stakeholders. The data fuelling the maps was real time data that had been captured the year before and it was fun to see the extrapolated movements of the city. These changes were based on a report with projections from the city of Berlin. I think as a visualisation tool this is pretty nifty especially for city stakeholders, I can imagine them wanting to order one of these tables, but as a malleable piece of data gathering I suspect unless a city has a CTO, they won’t know how to feed this map with the right data. Population for eg. isn’t strictly predictable and may point to actions that have nothing to do with transport. The city may need to think about alternative transportation needs as older citizens lose their driving licenses in their 70s and hospitals start to engage with various ways of delivering services at home. Would the map highlight or help map this need? I’m not sure. Perhaps there is a demo version Here will invest in, some kind of SimCity way of looking at transportation as part of a broader ecosystem within the city. Showing the difference between bike, bus, delivery van and waste collection would be terrific and right now there’s no way to ‘feed’ that in unless the data is coming from a partner. That said Here is developing a developer platform which will be launched later today, so worth seeing who starts to play with what they have built.
The second showcase we were shown was the use of sensors inside cars to use computer vision and help map in real time parking lot availabilities for other drivers and also changes in the street signage and roadworks. We were shown the driver’s view as well as the ‘camera’s view’.
I’ve always been interested in construction sites as having an impact on roads, especially as a pedestrian who thankfully doesn’t have a disability. But if you’re in a wheelchair or blind and a road is suddenly obstructed overnight by new scaffolding how are you supposed to know unless the structure itself speaks to the ‘city’ and maps services like Here. Could a set of GPS units be helpful, when placed at the extremities of building scaffolding, in helping plan the anticipated change in travel for all citizens?
Lastly we were shown some Augmented Reality display which made me slightly queasy so I preferred meandering to the rest of the booth and looking at their future indoor mapping applications. I’m very interested in the edges of automation in a connected workplace so it was interesting to see that’s something Here are looking at.
There’s a lot there, so it’s worth rummaging around their site and having a look. They’ve got lots of offices around the world too and with the developer tools they’ve built and upcoming features, I’m sure they’ll want to talk to people from the London IOT Community. I’ll see how we can get them to come over and maybe run a workshop!
Almost a year ago I had lunch with Liz Thrussell a freeman at the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, our hosts in tomorrow’s showcase event. They were keen to make sure young #iot startups were put in touch with the fantastic network of the livery company. I asked her a few questions:
What is a livery company?
The 110 livery companies in the City of London represent the traditional guilds in the City such as Goldsmiths, Apothecaries, Ironmongers, Mercers, etc. dating back to the 12th Century. They are commonly known as “The Worshipful Company of …….”. The liveries play a significant part in City life, not least by providing charitable-giving and networking opportunities.
What does the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists do?
The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WCIT) is the 100th livery company in the City of London. Our four main pillars are Charity, Education, Industry and Fellowship. We support charities, run events and contribute to the advancement in information and communications technology.
How do you support startups in the technology sector?
We have mentoring programmes, pro-bono support and the Entrepreneurship Panel supports early stage IT companies. We’ll present this briefly at the London Capital Club tomorrow!
Hope you’ll join us tomorrow!
In October, we were very pleased to be hosted by City Hall who have offered us London’s Living Room. We showcased the best of local consumer #iot companies hoping to attract the GLA’s partners’ attention. #iot products and startups still struggle to find access to finance in this great city, so this is an exciting opportunity.
Companies present that evening:
SamLabs started by young graduates from Imperial College
Moo NFC cards, the latest product from this East London success story.
Smart home products
Sherlock by One Fine Stay
Smart play experiences
Hackaball, started by Made by Many
Thanks to our friends Pypr for the video.