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The BBC gave me a call to chat about what is really going on with the Internet of Things (populalrly known as IoT) … and ended up running a great summary of our conversation.

The article captures the essence of my thinking that it is very early days yet with IoT. We’re at the starting gate in building the most complex machine ever built, and we’ve got a lot to learn in terms of architecture, security, and its’ role.

Read more about those issues here and here. I’ve been speaking about IoT for over 20 years : a good example is here. And even here, where I talk about the changing role of light bulbs in the era of IOt.

Give the article a read, and see if you agree.

 


The Brain Inside Our Homes
BBC, October 2017

The most humble of objects can join the connected world, thanks to what is known as the Internet of Things – the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data. Smart bathroom scales can log weight and body mass index, then feed the data back to a Fitbit wearable for action; networked dog collars can track a pet wherever it roams, help with training and even detect pain; Amazon’s checkout-free Go stores will allow shoppers to fill their bags and leave the store without queuing or even touching their wallet.

The Boston Consulting Group estimates the world will spend $295 billion on Internet of Things (IoT) systems and devices by 2020.

Yet, according to futurist Jim Carroll, the concept is still in its infancy.

Engineer and futurist Roy Amara observed that people tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate it in the long run. Similarly, Carroll believes that when it comes to the Internet of Things, the world is still in the era of inflated expectations that precedes a crash and is followed by more gradual adoption and global dominance.

It’s like it’s 1994 or 1995 and the worldwide web has just arrived – we know that something big is happening here,” he says. “But there were lots of early experiments with websites and e-commerce. A lot failed. A lot were silly. And it took time to mature and figure out business models.

The Internet of Things presents important challenges around security and privacy, which organisations are only beginning to explore. Many manufacturers are still shipping devices with default passwords and user IDs, leaving them ripe for hackers. Privacy legislation has yet to catch up to a world where a single household can emit thousands of data points every day – unconsciously sharing everything from the layout of an infant’s bedroom to the contents of their refrigerator.

Experts agree it is still too early to identify which of the myriad IoT businesses will become the new Amazon, PayPal or eBay. No one can predict which will face the fate of dotcom bubble victims such as Pets.com or Boo.com, or prove, like the various virtual currencies that preceded Bitcoin, ideas ahead of their time. Yet some industries are clearly ripe for disruption.

By 2020, over-60s will outnumber under-fives around the world. By 2050, there will be two billion people aged over 60 worldwide. In an ageing world, cost-effective elderly care is critical. From wearables that track vital signs through to emergency response systems, virtual assistants and perhaps even internal smart devices swallowed like pills, the Internet of Things will help the elderly live in their own homes, with dignity, for longer. Google and Novartis are developing a smart contact lens for diabetics that won’t just correct vision but will track blood sugar; even the humble floor is getting smart, with systems to detect falls – and ultimately, perhaps, prevent them.

I talk to healthcare groups about virtualisation, remote blood pressure cuffs, diabetes monitoring and more,” Carroll says. “We can rethink the concept of care and re-engineer senior care. We can architect a world where seniors are in their own homes and connected by these devices.”

If climate change is the single biggest threat our planet faces, then the smart grid is key to the European Union’s battle against it. By 2020, almost 72% of EU consumers will have an electricity smart meter, part of a smart grid rollout that could slash the union’s carbon emissions by as much as 9%. By saving energy on operations, helping consumers monitor their usage and even feeding stored solar energy back into the grid, smart meters reduce a household’s carbon footprint. Networked to IoT devices elsewhere in the home, such as thermostats, lighting controllers, refrigerators and washing machines, they will cut emissions even further.

Globally, one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted – that’s over 1.3 billion tonnes every year. For food businesses, IoT technology can help cut waste, whether by monitoring perishables on their journey from farm to store or identifying patterns that cause food to end up in the rubbish bin. In the home, smart refrigerators can warn when food is approaching its use-by date, send real-time information on their contents to a shopper in the supermarket to avoid double-buying – and, of course, remind consumers when to stock up on milk.

The Internet of Things is central to the worldwide Smart Cities movement, which itself links closely to global climate action goals. “We can give internet connectivity to all kinds of devices,” Carroll says. “Like a light pole. We can stick in environmental sensors and turn it into a FitBit for the city. We can put charging stations in it, for charging electric vehicles with credit card transactions. It might become part of an intelligent highway solution, where it’s monitoring traffic, interacting with cars, fining drivers using high-occupancy vehicle lanes.

In California, the city of San Diego is upgrading some of its streetlights to install 3,200 sensors, transforming them into a connected digital network. The anonymised data should help monitor traffic, pollution and carbon emissions, identify crimes and assist first responders, and even help visitors find a parking place.

And in Taiwan, the engine room that fabricates many of the hardware that powers the Internet of Things, government and mayors are embracing the Smart Cities movement. The nation that manufactures the Amazon Echo smart speaker hosts an annual Smart Cities summit and is equipping its own urban centres with a low-power wide-area network tailored to the Internet of Things.

In the capital, Taipei, a network of sensors already monitors pollution – driverless buses that collect data on road conditions and traffic are undergoing trials. Local smart scooter start-up Gogoro, which operates on user-swappable batteries, just launched its first solar-powered charging station. In the southern city of Tainan, Acer has developed a smart parking app that enables users to find parking spaces quickly, as well as paying parking fees and parking tickets through a licence-plate recognition system. It was also in Taiwan that German luggage-maker Rimowa chose to launch its smart-tag system, meaning passengers on EVA Air could check in their bags via smartphone, saving time at the airport.

It’s this electronic alchemy – transforming everyday objects such as parking meters or luggage tags with the power of the network – that Carroll sees as the most life-changing element of the Internet of Things. “That’s what gets me excited,” he says. “Not any particular type of device, but how we can fundamentally transform anything so it can do so much more than we thought possible.

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Each year, Consumer Goods & Technology Magazine puts together an issue that peers into the future. I’ve been named one of their esteemed visionaries in the past, and again this year for their 2020 Imperative issue.

Here’s the opening comment from the magazine: any my insight is shared below that.

“It’s no secret that consumer goods companies must drastically change the way they do business in order to compete — and the pace of change needs to happen faster than ever before.

CGT2014Gone are the days of executing large-scale technology implementations at a leisurely pace. In 2014, consumer goods executives must often jump head first into new initia-tives — like big data, digital marketing and omnichannel selling — without much of a safety net to protect their brands, businesses or investments. That’s the exciting, yet challenging, world we live and work in today.

But, what about five or 10 years from now? How can consumer goods companies best prepare themselves to stay in front of future trends, many of which are just educated
guesses at this point?

In the 2014 Review & Outlook Report, we asked 75 of
the industry’s brightest minds — each of whom is driving change in the consumer goods industry in his or her own right — to look into their crystal ball and tell us:
“What one initiative must consumer goods companies pursue now in order to compete and grow in the year 2020?”


Jim Carroll’s observations

Going forward, the biggest trend impacting the consumer goods and retail sector is that the pace of innovation has clearly shifted to the speed dictated by Silicon Valley — which means that the innovation will now occur at the speed of Moore’s law. 

(Remember, Moore’s law explains that roughly, the processing power of a computer chip doubles every 18 months while its cost cuts in half. It provides for the pretty extreme exponential growth curve we see with a lot of consumer and computer technology today.)

The checkout process? It’s now being driven at hyper-speed through the introduction of iPad-enabled checkout devices, which accelerates change.

The introduction of ever more intelligent, connected packaging technologies shifts control of innovation from traditional packaging companies to tech companies, the makers of bits and chips and RFID and tags.

In store interaction, with consumers more engaged with their iPhone than with a salesperson, now evolve at staggering speed as in-store promotion technologies no longer involve cool cardboard box end-cap displays, but hi-tech LED televisions wired to Facebook Like buttons.

And of course, there’s the Amazon helicopter drone delivery system. Science fiction? Maybe so — but if you think so, then I suggest you watch a few old episodes of The Jetson’s cartoon show. Watch carefully, and you’ll see that George was actually having FaceTime chats, read his news off the Internet, and has Internet-sensor, connected clothing. What was once sci- ence fiction now becomes reality faster than ever before.

This means that in the future, the consumer goods industry is going to have to learn to innovate at the speed of companies such Apple, Google, Twitter and Facebook, as opposed to a more leisure- ly pace of innovation found in the past. Clearly, Moore’s law rules! Hence, my catchphrase — the future belongs to those who are fast!

#1, #2, #1, #1
March 18th, 2003

Back from March break …. and an interesting discovery here today. My primary line of business happens to be that I’m a frequent keynote speaker at conferences. Today, a search for “keynote speaker” in a variety of search engines places me at the following spots (ignoring the paid listings):

Google – 1
Altavista – 2
Yahoo – 1
Teoma – 1
AOL – 1

I’ve worked long and hard to get the right balance of keywords/meta tags in my Web pages, and this goes to prove that search engine marketing is a strategy that can work

My first 100% spam-free day!
November 26th, 2002

Manage spam by doing it at the DNS, like EasyDNS does…..

This morning was a revelation — I retrieved my e-mail at 5:30am, as I do most mornings.

Of the 95 messages waiting (all of which came in overnight), 4 were real, and the rest were spam.

And the fact it, every single spam message was filed in the trash can, where I could give it a cursory review before tossing it. That’s a first, and it tells me that I finally have spam under control here.

There are two tools that have finally given me such a wonderful spam solution.

First, the company (easyDNS) that provides me domain name management services has implemented a beta test of a new feature that intercepts and tags spam as soon as it arrives. (easyDNS is a Toronto based company that provides domain management services — I’ve been using them for years for the 100 or so domains I operate — highly recommended.)

The beta uses the open-source MessageWall code to examine the sender domain of each and every incoming message. In essence, the name of the domain is checked against a variety of sources — is it on a blacklist of known spam providers? Does it fail a “reverse domain lookup,” which makes it suspicious? Is it coming from an e-mail program that is designed to send spam? Does it fail a number of other tests that indicate it is likely spam? If so, EasyDNS tags the message header with a warning, so that my e-mail software (Pegasus) can automatically throw it in the trash.

easyDNS is using a variety of well-known domain black list services such as the Open Relay Database, the Relay Stop List (RSL) and the Spamhaus Block List (SBL). But they are also a founding member of the DNS Provider’s Blacklist Blocklist, a group of similar companies that has banded together to come up with solutions to the spam problem.

The result of the beta? I’ve found that this new feature is getting 75%-80% of the spam arriving here.

Why does 20% still get through? Spam artists, being the low-life scumballs that they are, hijack valid domains that aren’t caught by domain level tests. There is an obvious time lag between the establishment of a new domain name, and when it is first globally identified as a spam-haus.

To deal with that, I’ve got a 2nd line of defense — SpamPal.

SpamPal watches e-mail as it comes in from my Pop3 server, and examines each and every message for likely spam patterns. It does a wonderful job in getting rid of the rest of the stuff that easyDNS didn’t target.

Result? Today, my first spam-free day!

Links:
[ easyDNS ] [ MessageWall ] [ DNS Providers Blacklist ] [ SpamPal ]

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