BLOGTHNG

Mobile World Congress 2015

As we announced yesterday, the EVRYTHNG team is looking forward to Mobile World Congress next week. We’re spending time on stage, at booths and in face-to-face meetings, helping consumer product manufacturers understand how IoT drives business transformation by fundamentally changing the relationship between consumers, products and brands.

We’ll be explaining how brands can use an IoT Smart Products Platform like EVRYTHNG to connect their products to the web and manage the associated real-time data to transform how they are made, sold and used. Physical products that come with a digital layer of personalized interactive services use data to improve the consumer experience and supply chain operations over time. They are stickier, differentiated and create new revenue opportunities from subscription or usage-based services.

There are several opportunities to see our IoT platform in action:

Diageo-Thinfilm-OpenSense-printed-electronics

* I’ll be speaking on a panel and giving a live product demo in the Business of IoT session on Thursday 5th, from 2.30pm – 4pm CET.
 (If you’re on Twitter, you can follow the session with the hashtag “#MWC15IOT3″).

We’ve collaborated with our partners Thinfilm and client Diageo on a prototype of a smart bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue®, using Thinfilm’s revolutionary OpenSense™ printed sensor tags in combination with EVRYTHNG’s IoT cloud for real-time data management driving applications and analytics. So please drop by the Thinfilm booth throughout the event to see the smart bottle demo

Davor Sutja, CEO of Thinfilm, will give a keynote on Thursday 5th at 9.30am CET, which will highlight the Johnnie Walker Blue® prototype.

I’ll be attending with Curt Schacker, Vice President and Managing Director, Connected Systems; and Nick McNamara from our EMEA Enterprise New Business Development group. So if you’re attending MWC and would like to discuss how our IoT cloud platform can help make your products smart, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to schedule a meeting.

LED light

We were delighted to announce this week our partnership with disruptive LED lighting IoT / M2M venture GOOEE who selected EVRYTHNG’s IoT Smart Products Platform as the scalable, intelligent cloud software to power their state of the art, patented LED sensing, control and energy management technology.

Scalability was a particularly important criteria for Gooee give the sheer number of lighting endpoints in the market and resulting data volumes. As technology analysts ABi Research just noted in their ‘Hot Tech Innovators‘ report: “An additional advantage that EVRYTHNG has is the scalability: since the platform has been architected to support pronouncedly high-volume product environments, it is relatively well future-proofed for any use cases where the future growth in connections and data are difficult to predict.”

We asked Gooee CTO Simon Coombes a couple of questions about the company, and here’s what he had to say:

What is Gooee’s vision for the future of LED lighting?

“Gooee’s operating platform is the world’s first full-stack interoperable ecosystem of physical and software components that can enable an LED Lighting company to add intelligence to their product range, connect them to the IoT and ultimately transform their business model from being a traditional product company towards more an application and service based business.

We envisage this move from the traditional business model will offer new revenue opportunities across the LED Lighting value chain.

Lighting is the most pervasive and ubiquitous endpoint within a building, so it offers the capability of being leveraged for other uses in gathering data and interacting with its environment, both physical and ambient. The data gathered and stored in the cloud platform has multiple uses across a range of applications and industry sectors, with the initial focus on residential, commercial and retail.”

Gooee ecosystem

Why did it make sense to partner with EVRYTHNG?

”Our technology stack was designed to ensure the best technologies are implemented at each layer of the ecosystem, rather than focus on hardware and view software as a complimentary component later on. Our team has a strong background in software and data and so we knew from the outset that the cloud platform had to be scalable and capable of rapidly adapting to high volume transaction data, as well as connect easily into the wider ecosystem of smart, connected devices, IoT data streams and clouds.

EVRYTHNG’s real-time IoT data and identity management platform not only provides this but there’s a shared vision of what we are trying to achieve. We are confident that combining our sensing, control and energy management technology with EVRYTHNG’s scalability, ecosystem connectivity, open web standards and IoT industry expertise will create the best and most robust operating platform for the lighting world.”

YT vid

What are some lessons learned from decades of industry experience about the lighting opportunities and challenges created by IoT technologies?

We have an experienced team covering both Lighting and Software, so we’re coming into this fully aware of the scale of what is required at all levels.

In the Lighting field we’ve always worked close to the market to understand how products are used and how they need to be commissioned and controlled. The experience users have with our products from installation through to actuation and usage is critical for us and we are working hard to ensure that from Gooee’s perspective, we make the experience LED lighting companies and their subsequent users have as hassle free as possible.

This is where having a solid software framework will be a core strength for Gooee; software will be one of the primary interfaces into this experience and having a strong partner like EVRYTHNG is critical.”

McKinsey

Why is lighting such an important part of the Internet of Things?

“Lighting is the most pervasive, ubiquitous product in every area of a building. It has the potential to be the largest number of smart endpoints when compared to any other product that can be smart-enabled.

By building smart LED Lighting components, with integrated sensors, that can be used across a range of applications we’re ultimately creating a platform upon which additional value added services can be offered.

In addition to this, by connecting lighting to the IoT we can open up additional energy saving opportunities above what can already be offered by moving from traditional lights source technology to solid state lighting.”

 

LED lighting image from Midorisyu, under a Creative Commons licence.

As you can guess from the name, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s “Beer Garage Hackathon” event was a beer-themed, weekend-long hackathon to create new apps with digital content and mobile experiences around beer.

bgh

More specifically, the hackathon launched ABInBev’s new beer and food pairing API, which they developed with the help of Mashery. We added the EVRYTHNG API to the mix, and watched as the developers explored cool new mobile-first ways of selecting beer.

The EVRYTHNG IoT cloud platform makes two kinds of products smart: Tagged, non-electronic products like beer (which interact with smartphones to get online), and Connected products like appliances and consumer electronics.

The Tagged products side of the platform works with a range of tagging connectivity technologies from RFID and beacons to QR codes and printed electronics on packaging, but it also has an image recognition engine to make it super east to visually “tag” and recognize any packaging or label, apply real-time rules and deliver back personalized content and services.

EVRYTHNG Co-founder & EVP of R&D gives feedback on the use of the EVRYTHNG API in the hackathon

Vlad Trifa, EVRYTHNG’s Co-founder & EVP of R&D gives feedback on the use of the EVRYTHNG API. (Photo courtesy @BeMyAppUK)

There were overall ABinBev prizes for the best hacks, but EVRYTHNG also awarded a prize of 4 Raspberry Pi 2s to the team who made best use of our API. This was won by the Beerweiser project team, who used the Image Recognition features in our API to turn beer and food matching into a mobile, social game.

Beerweiser

In their own words:

“Drinking beer is an enjoyable moment. Why not make it even more fun? As children we played POKEMON with our brick-like Gameboys, collecting pocket monsters and showing these to our friends, sharing what we’ve learnt in the game. Beerweiser is a beer version of POKEMON (or Foursquare) aimed to provide the same happy experience.

By using Beerweiser, users can collect the beer they’ve tried to build their own beer gallery, earning badges by drinking certain amount, brands and countries of beer etc. Users can conquer the world simply by drinking beer from different origins. Users can advance their levels or earn even more badges by having the best combination of beer and food.

(Photo courtesy of the Beerwiser team)

 

The Beerweiser team used EVRYTHNG’s Image Recognition capabilities to scan the beer bottle/ label to identify which beer the user is drinking, and the Thng-Push API to push information to user devices to inform them that a new beer or challenge was available for them to try.

This ability for third party developers or agency and integrator partners to easily use product data to build real-time consumer mobile web apps is essential if brands want to leverage IoT technologies in a marketing context.

It’s pretty exciting to watch as big companies like ABInBev open up their data like this, and get together smart, creative people to use it in new ways. And it was great to make EVRYTHNG’s API part of this experience and see people rapidly prototype, deploy, iterate and optimize their creations using physical products to trigger real-time, personalized digital experiences. Cheers!

DLD 2015

It was great to be back at the DLD (Digital-Life-Design) conference, held a couple of weeks ago in ever-stylish Munich – a kind European TED with talks debated by business, creative and social leaders and covering topics spanning innovation, digitization and connected culture. DLD has a certain something special about it – picture the scene of the opening speakers dinner in the grand elegance of the Kaisersaal, entertained by a rapping Ryan Leslie (Disruptive Multimedia) juxtaposed with an opera performance. Only in Munich.

I joined VC Mattias Ljungman (Atomico), entrepreneur Brady Forrest (hardware incubator Highway1), designer Gadi Amit (New Deal Design), consultant Roman Friedrich (Strategy&) and entrepreneur / investor Lars Hinrichs on a panel themed “Connected Everything“. The discussion focused a great deal on data, and this being Germany, inevitably on the paradox of data as the value creator and data as the privacy invader in a world of smart things.

It’s a fascinating collision. On the one hand, data is the life blood of dynamic, personalized digital experiences – our needs and wants understood by intelligent algorithms adapting product behavior to us. On the other the endless accumulation of ever more intimate personal behavior data presents real questions of accountability on those receiving it.

Data is an intimate ingredient in making products smart. Bruce Sterling postulated the concept of a SPIME – an entity with functionality and behavior manifested at any moment in time through the dynamic combination of hardware, software and real-time data. A smart product is an intimate combination of these ingredients, with data informing its performance, functionality and personalization. In the 20th century we needed instruction manuals to understand how to use a product because the product lacked intelligence. In the 21st century we can expect the products we use to understand us sufficiently well to adapt their behavior us, to plug in and connect with the other products and applications we have around us.

But to deliver this degree of personalization, programmability and intelligence a product needs to know a lot about us, about our context of use of it, and about the real-time situation in which it is being used. Product brands will compete increasingly on how well their products are able to do this, which means the value proposition of their products will depend on how much information we’re prepared to share. And there-in lies the rub – product brands have to earn our trust as consumers to be willing to share our data, and therefore to make their products competitive and valuable to us as consumers. Demonstrated accountability in personal data management becomes critical to competitive advantage.

DLD 2015

As EVRYTHNG co-founder and CTO Dom Guinard put in his recent IoT Journal article: “the secret to the IoT’s success will be in striking the right balance between the limitless amount of personalized data from connected devices (between the end users and their personal products, and between multiple, inter-connected devices) and the preservation of privacy.”

Coincidentally one of the case studies we discussed on the panel was BMW (a DLD sponsor) who have decided not to share any of the real-time data they collect from their vehicles with 3rd parties. This is a great example of striking a balance in the tensions and tradeoffs of data management for the consumer. We want our vehicles to understand us, the environment and our travel needs. We don’t want the intimacy of our every movement blazing a digital trail for others to follow without our consent. BMW, a trusted brand, is tracing that line.

DLD 2015

Every product brand has to find this balance. Responsibility falls on the product manufacturer brand to demonstrate competence and reliability in managing and applying personal data in order to get that data from its customers and create powerful, personalized product experiences. The consumer is in charge.

 

Read more of Niall’s thoughts in: Why Can’t I Google My Shoes?
Missed the “Connect Everything” session in person? Watch the full video on YouTube

 Images courtesy of DLD

image

What makes EVRYTHNG unique that we focus on connecting ALL products to the Web, not just electronic goods. We may think IoT is synonymous with connected appliances like fridges today, but it’s worth remembering that the origin of term ‘Internet of Things’ was conceived in MIT’s Auto-ID labs in 1999 and it was based on connecting a network of dumb, non-electronic products via RFID tags. So EVRYTHNG doesn’t discriminate about the kind of product can be made smart.

Consumable products are on-boarded to our IoT smart products platform by scanning a product tag or packaging code. We believe that manufacturers of consumer packaged goods are just as eager to get to know their customers better and to extend those relationships through IoT strategies.

And we passionately believe that, when consumable and durable products are connected to the Web, they offer an entirely new category of use cases. For example, my refrigerator can tell me whether I have the required ingredients for a recipe I’m planning to prepare and if any of the items have exceeded their ‘use by’ date. Or, my frozen dinner can instruct my microwave oven how it is to be cooked. At this stage, we can only begin to imagine the possibilities of an IoT world that includes virtually every physical thing in existence.

The IoT technology we’ve developed for tagged goods applies equally to fully connected products. After all, both active and passive products share the requirement for many common elements such as management of huge volumes of data, integration with a variety of ecosystems, enterprise security, protection of customer privacy, service level guarantees, and the ability to scale to millions of discrete products.

As we engage with connected product manufacturers, and we are finding that many of the lessons we’ve learned to date apply very well. Here a just a few:

1) Before embarking on any IoT project, consider the value proposition: namely, who benefits and how. The way I get at this with customers is by asking the simple question: Why are you developing an IoT product? For most companies, it’s the end consumer who is supposed to benefit from the connectivity, however, I still see companies struggling to come up with convincing customer-facing use cases they believe in.

2) Next, do not overlook the complexities of the ecosystem. Connectivity is NOT “just another feature”. Consider both how your connected product will affect your ecosystem partners and how they in turn will influence your success or failure. As a simple example, studies suggest that if a customer fails to get the product connected after about 5-10 minutes, they will give up and return the product. That’s a direct expense to your retail partner that cannot be overlooked.

3) Finally, you have to develop an acceptable ROI goal and business model that enables you to achieve it. This is an area where the industry is still struggling. One clear learning is that consumers are highly intolerant of new subscriptions but are reasonably open to adding service to an existing subscription. This bodes well for service providers and b2b plays where a service contract is already in place.

Most product manufacturers are taking the approach of simply marking up the the ‘connected’ version of the product to maintain margins, which is straight-forward but puts even more emphasis on a compelling end user value proposition.

Here I’ll close with what might be a controversial prediction: just as your cellular provider discounts the price of your phone to far below market level, the value of a connected customer will be so great that product manufacturers and their ecosystem partners, will  eventually happily subsidize any additional cost for connectivity just to reap the downstream benefits once those products make their way into the hands of consumers.

[Curt Schacker gave this talk at the ‘Smart Home: Channel Strategies and Business Models‘ event at CES 2015]