Blogthng

Andy Perrin,

We have a cool demo setup at EVRYTHNG to showcase the Gooee solution, with a simple Web app to control the lighting panels located around the office.

For people who watch the IoT industry carefully there’s a growing risk of snow blindness with the constant stream of manufacturer launch announcements for their new smart products; XYZ Inc announce their new smart HVAC system… ABC Corp are pleased to launch a new smart thermostat… etc. It’s a steadily increasing drumbeat.

So how do you stand out then, when smart is the new normal?

It’s worth taking a leaf out of Gooee’s book: they’re not just standing out, they’re disrupting the entire lighting industry.

What Gooee have done is taken the lighting ecosystem apart, and reconstructed it for the world of IoT. First they redesigned the humble light bulb to create luminaires concealing embedded processors, sensors and Bluetooth connectivity. Then they connected these to a distributed network of IoT gateways running EVRYTHNG software, and combined them with our enterprise grade IoT Smart Products Platform, which provides the data and identity management, and the cloud horsepower.

The result? A full stack lighting ecosystem for lighting OEMs. Not only does it enable smart lighting, controlled instantly via mobile apps, wall interface or pre-defined rules; but each lighting endpoint provides a rich stream of real-time human and environmental data, including temperature, humidity, ambient light levels, motion, footfall and energy consumption. They can even report back on their operating performance and expected life span. Lighting manufacturers and their partners can now offer a mesmerizing range of value-added services beyond simple illumination: security services, preventative maintenance, retail applications and energy management to name but a few.

So what makes it possible to take the leap from a product-centric business to a services-centric one? For Gooee, and for all our other customers, it revolves around ecosystem connectivity. This is anchored in actively managing the digital identity of every lighting end point on the network, and the flow of real-time data that’s generated and captured enabling it to drive new applications and services.

Ecosystem connectivity means having a simple technical way for the diverse players in their business model – OEMs, installers, developers and end users – to digitally interact with the physical product, and with each other. It means having easy communication and data exchange via our open Web APIs, and a flexible data model where access can be granted according to strictly and dynamically controlled security permissions. It means multi-protocol support to enable companies, users and applications to interact in real time, whether it’s a facilities management system taking real-time alerts about luminaire status, or a supply chain operative ascertaining inventory stock levels in distribution centers.

You can read more about Gooee by downloading our success story, or check out their neat video on YouTube.

Andy Hobsbawm,

We’re delighted to be selected as one of Bloomberg’s inaugural Business Innovators list for 2016. A judging panel of domain experts and cross-sector industry leaders picked EVRYTHNG as one of the breakthrough businesses disrupting the way people live, work and think.

Which is pretty cool, obviously.

As Bloomberg puts it: “Companies were chosen based on their proven inventiveness, their ability to challenge the way the U.K. conducts business, and for evidence of strong local or global demand for their ideas.”

There was a fascinating mix of people at the launch event last night, as you might expect given the context: a range of curated companies innovating in their respective fields. This spanned enterprise cybersecurity (Darktrace), renewable energy (Pavegen), quantum computing (Cambridge Quantum Computing), complex simulation software (Improbable), and EVRYTHNG in between.

The evening’s programmed content was an interview by Bloomberg’s Head of European Technology News Nate Lanxon of the unexpectedly charming Sarah Wood, co-founder and co-CEO of Unruly Media. It wasn’t so much what was discussed that held my attention – although there were some useful insights into the Unruly journey from inception to acquisition by News Corp. – it was Sarah’s unusual blend of disarming honesty, ‘all in’ passion for what she does, and sharp, articulate intellect that made it a pleasure to be in the audience hearing her story.

I particularly liked her acronym PANDA as a hiring guide. You need to look for people who are: P – Passionate / Positive; A – Anything’s possible (belief and problem solvers); N – Nurturing / No egos (e.g. arrogant rock star developers will never fit in) vs. team-based and collaborative players; D – Determined (people who are committed and can execute to drive things to a conclusion); A – A+ players (demanding a lot from each other and setting the bar high).

All in all, it was brilliant to be included in such as list and be in such great company with others at the forefront of global innovation – and great to have some co-founder ‘hang time’ to boot.

Andy Hobsbawm,


A view of Vegas from my departing flight that looks, appropriately, like a circuit board.

Now the dust has settled on CES, we’ve had time to reflect on key takeaways for the Internet of Things.

EVERY THING CONNECTED

The overall takeout was the rise and rise of cloud connectivity and IoT, in the sense that absolutely everything at the show was online in some shape or form. The same infiltration of digital connectivity happened to the software industry with the rise of the Web. In 1993 when the first Web browser Mosaic was released, just 0.5% of software was Web-enabled; ten years later that figure was 99%.

Similarly, with physical products and devices, IoT is now becoming like “the Internet”, where you almost can’t really classify it as a space anymore – it’s all encompassing.

All manufacturers are waking up to the fact that ‘software is eating the world’ and that every business is becoming a software business. It’s becoming clearer to anyone that makes physical things that their products not only exist as digital services, but that a growing proportion of the value is virtual, and delivered in the form of connected bits rather than atoms.

However exciting, even revolutionary, new CES ‘hardware’ innovations are, it’s only when they are powered by smart ‘software’ in the cloud and use data feedback to personalize and optimize their performance in real-time and over time that they become truly intelligent.

As Andreessen Horowitz board partner Steven Sinofsky put it: “What is going to separate one device from another or one company from another will be the software execution, not just the choice of chipset or specs for a peripheral/sensor. It would be hard to overstate the clear opportunity to build winning products using stronger software relative to competitors.”

NO PRODUCT IS AN ISLAND

So it’s software and the flow of real-time IoT data that connects all the most important CES technology trends, from virtual reality, wearables and connected health to smart cities, cars, robots and machine learning.

But the critical factor is how all these newly connected ‘things’ connect to one another. There are way too many standalone IoT gadgets that don’t take into account the wider context, and digital ecosystems of other products, apps and services they exist within.

Fortune magazine’s “The 6 Things CES Taught Us About The Internet of Things” observed that IoT has moved from using hardware to create connected devices to using software to create inter-connected data services for those devices. But they also highlighted the barrier to adoption created by a lack of full ecosystem-connectivity between products that adds complexity for consumers.

Without interoperability of technologies, products and ecosystems, these products will remain separate islands (or possibly archipelagos) with diminished utility, and the whole IoT becomes less than the sum of its parts. (This is, of course, exactly what EVRYTHNG and our W3C standards submission is trying to solve.)

We saw a very strong validation of our IoT Smart Products cloud strategy to connect not just products, but all of the things in and around those products, including packaging and componentry. The trick is to think of each discrete, connected thing as its own mini ecosystem. The integration and interconnectivity of fragmented products and technologies will ensure success and more widespread adoption for all.

Google stepped up its game with the formal launch of Weave, a competitor to Apple HomeKit. Not available in official release of Android yet, but coming. The goal for product manufacturers must be to have a single SKU that can speak iOS and Android, while retaining control over their data, including the ability to direct how it is shared. Precisely what’s possible on the EVRYTHNG platform, naturally.

In other words, IoT needs to grow up in 2016 and actually solve real problems, moving from gadgets to use cases that bring real value. This will be helped by a greater volume of smart objects in the market, which will start to create IoT value through increased network effects.

 

NETWORKED REALITY

Given that Las Vegas itself is the world’s largest example of virtual reality, it was fitting that VR was one of the key CES trends tipped for a tipping point in 2016. Like 3D before it (or rather, for the headset makers and content creators, hopefully not like 3D before it), VR was touted as the re-imagination and salvation of entertainment and the new, must-have hardware device.

But rather than self-contained content experiences, technologies like VR are more interesting as interfaces to visualize and navigate the explosion of real-time, connected data. As billions of new things get connected to the Web, with a combination of embedded chips, sensors, and smart tags, there will be many trillions of additional connections between things, and the people, online machines and devices, and information systems they are networked to.

Don’t just think technicians going ‘inside’ remote machines for diagnosis and repair, or surgeons, engineers and the military using such virtual 3D simulations to make medical diagnoses, model new structures or formulate combat scenarios. For instance, Mark Zuckerberg said at the start of the year that visualizing data in virtual reality would help him build better services for Facebook.

The interesting tussle this year will be AR vs VR. The value of VR is total immersion. To fall through the screens back into places with human scale, as Aaron Koblin puts it. By contrast, the value of AR is precisely that users still remain in the real world so the technology augments the flow of human interaction rather than subsuming it.

Be My Eyes is a wonderful, lesser-known example of networked AR: a mobile app that lets you ‘lend your eyes to the blind’. It links the visually impaired with the sighted, using live video so helpers can talk through and describe what the camera is seeing on behalf of the visually impaired individual.

 

A TO B WITH IOT

Flyable gadgets certainly had their moment in the sun; they even had their own sideshow at CES, the Drone Rodeo, held 17 miles out of town away from designated commercial air space (hard to get to by regular human transport but highly accessible by drone obviously). Not to mention there’s now an Uber for drones service from Chinese startup Ehang, offering personal Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (AAVs) on demand to fly wherever you want to go.

In more earth-bound connected transportation news, Ford’s partnership announcement with Amazon’s Echo so drivers can talk to their homes from their cars and vice versa, was significant as a proxy for all smart technologies linking together the ecosystem of environments and devices in our digital lives.

2016 will be the year when product manufacturers get serious about not just connecting products to the IoT, but connecting them in a way that enables interconnection, becoming part of a physical Web of Things.
Some of these thoughts first appeared in this article for Marketing magazine.

Andy Hobsbawm,

EVRYTHNG’s senior leadership and commercial team will be at CES 2016 in Las Vegas from Jan 5 – 9 to meet with leading consumer product brands to help make their products smarter.

We’ll also be speaking at a number of events and panels, including:

In terms of customer meetings, we’ll be discussing and demonstrating how our Internet of Things Smart Products Platform doesn’t just connect any consumer product to the Web (electronic appliances together with packaged goods), but manages all the real-time IoT data that flows once they’re connected. This powers supply chain applications and product-based services and experiences, which is where all the value lies.

We have a demo suite number 31210 at The Venetian and we’re also arranging meetings at the Aria Hotel – but we can arrange to meet at other locations if that’s more convenient.

Please visit this page to arrange a meeting and we’ll be happy to schedule it.

And meanwhile, have a great break and we’re looking forward to making 2016 the Year of IoT with you!

Andy Perrin,

We’re really excited to launch an enhanced version of EVRYTHNG’s rules engine, Reactor™ v2.0. It’s a powerful business workflow tool that lets you build highly interactive and customized applications around your smart products and smart packaging.

In a nutshell, it processes real-time data collected from products, sensors, users and other events, makes sense of it and then initiates scripts based on customer-defined rules. What this means for EVRYTHNG’s customers is the ability to create really sophisticated workflows tailored to industry verticals and solutions.

For example:

  • Triggering an SMS via Twilio when a scanned bottle or case is detected to be outside its intended market
  • Updating a manufacturer’s salesforce.com CRM instance when a consumer activates their new smart product
  • Sending an Apple push notification when the temperature of a perishable item has exceeded a threshold during transit

How does Reactor™ work?

Scripts are written and deployed using a Web-based JavaScript editor integrated into our online dashboard. Reactor™ v2.0 supports Node.js along with NPM (Node Package manager) to manage external libraries and dependencies. This makes it easy for developers to share and reuse code, and allows you to build scripts that incorporate bundles of code written for any common platforms with public APIs such as Twitter, Twilio and Forecast.io.

Scripts are provided with a preconfigured evt-extended.js library, which makes it very simple to interact with the platform, and means no additional integration code is required.

How are rules triggered?

Scripts can be initiated by pretty much anything.

Any event or time-based action, such as:

  • Product scan – say, on arrival at a warehouse or a retail outlet, or by consumer after purchase
  • Product registration
  • Paired – when a product has been paired with a Bluetooth device
  • Inspected – when the product has been cleared by customs
  • Updated – when the device firmware has been updated

Any change in a ‘property’ of a product
Properties are customized by product, but are dynamic values which can change at any time. This might be:

  • Sensor data: Temperature, Humidity, CO2, motion detected
  • Status of a product: switched on, sleep mode, faulty

Designed for life

Reactor™ v2.0 is built to handle massive scale. Imagine millions of objects each triggering rules based on real-world occurrences at the same time. We’ve developed the rules engine so it scales horizontally, along with the platform infrastructure. You grow, it grows.

It is smart product and smart packaging agnostic, so you’re also future-proofed. Who knows how your products will evolve in the future. What other devices and systems they may need to interact with. Having a cloud-based rules engine that works with the digital ‘other half’ of your physical product means you’ll be able to easily modify your future product’s characteristics in the field by simply updating the intelligence in the cloud at runtime, without having to touch your apps, your products, or the tags and/ or firmware on them.

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