IoT

Choosing the right Power Solution for your Connected Product

screen_shot_2017-04-14_at_9.52.51_am-300x223.png

By: Jay Cahill of Bluefin Technology Partners Over the years Bluefin has developed a pretty wide and deep set of experiences in developing connected products.  We continue to get requests from the IoT community at large to share some of those experiences. To satisfy this request we are commissioning a series of blogs that focuses in on some key aspects of IoT development; one tidbit of knowledge at a time.

With that in mind, we thought we’d start off the series by sharing some thoughts and  considerations about “Powering your Connected Device.” Here are a few top of mind areas to consider  as you start to layout your Connected Device Power Strategy. 

The Basic Requirements

As you begin, it's critical to get a firm understanding of the Who, Where, What, When, and How of the product as they shape the fundamental principles of your design.   

  • Where will it operate?

  • Who will operate it?

  • What will it do?

  • When will it do it?

  • How will it communicate what it’s doing or has done?

  • Where will it Operate?

Where will the product be deployed and what will be the operating environment?  The answers to these questions inform the decision to use a constantly available  power supply or the  need to design a solution based on battery technology to power it.   

In addition to the  power draw required for normal operations of the device, the accessibility of the device could greatly impact your power designs when you have to consider that these devices may need remote access to update the firmware that runs on them. Remote updates require network accessibility and the transfer of files - meaning modems or wifi or some other radio controls - thus driving requirements for more juice.

  • Who will operate it?

Understanding the intended audience of the product and their ability to manage  the product is extremely important as you need to determine what capabilities they have in assisting in the management of the power for the device. While we should optimally design for autonomous power management in the device, you may have flexibility in your battery requirements if the operator of the device can provide a level of monitoring and metering over that device. Case in point, if the device is for human use, you are more likely to get their participation in managing power consumption versus a pet wearable, where  Rover just doesn’t care about how many bars are left on the battery meter.

  • What will it do?

The most obvious consideration for power requirement  is sorting out what functions the device will do. Fortunately or unfortunately, not all sensors and their communications mechanisms are made power consumption friendly.  For example, if you wanted to use a connected device to monitor your crops to ensure that they are getting watered properly you could develop a connected device that photographs and forwards hi-resolution photos of the crop to the cloud where they can be analyzed and compared for color and content to affirm proper watering -- Or -- you could develop a connected product with sensors that transmits text-based moisture readings from the soil that can affirm proper watering has taken place.  Same results, very different power and hence battery requirements.

  • When will it do it?

Regardless of task, the regularity of its execution will drive power needs.  In the design of a connected product you often find yourself balancing the frequency of polling the sensor, the size of the information you are capturing and the timing of offloading the data from the device.  Should you do small bite size data transmissions more frequently or larger, longer transmission less frequently?  The timeliness of the information needs to be weighed against the availability of power to supply the updates.

*** Recommendation

Once you have a firm understanding of your requirements and a broad brush on the Who, What, Where and When, invest in developing a Power Budget - a tool that outlines the consumption of power by your most critical components in your IoT design.  (Note: Coursera has a nice overview in Lecture 22).  Armed with a Power Budget you can model expected usage patterns and determine the detailed requirements for powering your IoT device over its intended lifetime.Til next time.

How IoT is Improving the Food and Beverage Industry

What do the food industry and technology have in common? The Internet. Probably one of the most trafficked industries and our most useful technological tool have joined forces to make eating and drinking easier for the rest of us. Developments ranging from using IoT to make food processing smarter and increasing leverage in food manufacturing, to applications in restaurants and food service and finally improvements to food quality and  safety. The food and beverage industry took IoT to their advantage and are finding new ways to improve the market with new technology and innovative automation advances.

An Era of Benefits

Companies have found ways for IoT to manage the food industry in many different ways. The ability to track the ingredients of finished food products and monitor the  expiration dates faster and with more efficiency, our food has become safer to consume. These new innovative creations are particularly important for manufacturers and producers that need to keep track of products cost effectively; without increasing the price of the food to the end consumer.

IoT has found new ways to connect products with software to  make them easier to manage. With products like smart sensors, that are replacing paper used to manage continuous data on food production, manufacture, and transportation food waste has been significantly reduced. IoT can facilitate approaches that will better track ingredients that will lead to appropriate management of inventory and ingredients and hence improve the overall financial returns for the quarter.  

Not only will IoT benefit the food and beverage industry by increasing the quality of the product it can  also boost the manufacturers’ bottom-line  results. IoT contributions to the  speed and ease at which food is tracked and managed in the supply chain trickles down to better management, which in the end leads to better earnings and revenue. Since IoT technologies are relatively new, companies and manufactures that acquire them as early adopters will  have a big advantage over the competition. IoT is quickly creating a technological and economic advantage for those companies that leverage it in food and beverage industries.

A Variety of Products

IoT has made its way into restaurants and the hospitality industry, perfecting the management of small and local businesses in cities and urban communities. Consumers are already using IoT in everyday products, and like QR scanners and barcodes did in the past, IoT can be used to easily find product information or to speed up the checkout process. IoT has lead to new products and machinery like smart refrigerators with optical scanners that will inform owners when products are near expiration, pantries that will inform producers the correct amount of items for proper inventory, and temperature and humidity sensors that allow shippers to keep track of the proper environmental storage conditions of the food.

Do you have an IoT project you need help with? Bluefin Technology Partners helps companies build amazing connected solutions. We understand the complexity and collaboration required between organizational disciplines in order to deliver an IoT product to market on time and on budget.  We provide the services needed to assess your market, manage your partners, and shepherd your project through successful launch.

Key Trends in Connected Health: Emerging Technologies Will Make Our Lives Better

By Sam Margolis, Cantina & Mike Po, Bluefin Technology Partners - Members of Uplift Cooperative (https://www.upliftcoop.com/) The MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge recently hosted an event for professionals in the Connected Health space at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA. With a focus on emerging technologies that will improve patient care, over a hundred industry leaders and Doctors heard from seven companies that are on the front wave of transformation in health care. Here are some key takeaways central themes we see emerging in this space:

  • Tighten your seatbelts: The advances in connected product technologies for healthcare in the past few years have outpaced the development over the last 20.

Dr. Joseph Kvedar, Vice President of Connected Health, Partners HealthCare, presented the evolution of connected products for health and wellness. Dr. Kvedar has been involved in the industry for the past 20 years and now focuses the majority of the time working with Partners Healthcare to develop solutions for connected health.  

Dr. Kvedar sees the advancements in this area limited not by technology (as it was in the past) but by patient and doctor barriers. He noted that, “The solutions for connected health must be designed for usability by both the patient and the doctor” and went on to cite the three most important areas for consideration when designing connected products:

  1. Create frictionless User Interfaces

  2. Leverage proven engagement tools

  3. Design software and connected products that show empathy for their users

  • Less is more: Home health care technology will be most effective if it uses proven engagement tools.

Leveraging existing engagement tools such as the Amazon Alexa and other voice enabled home devices can be both a platform and springboard for innovation and improving patient care in the home.   Bill Rogers, CEO of Orbita (https://www.orbitahealth.com/) demonstrated his company's voice interaction system built on top of Amazon Echo.  Orbita Voice engages patients with user experiences that adapt to their needs, including intuitive, intelligent voice assistants based on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to inform, educate, and encourage.   

  • Inner and outer beauty are both important: Connected health care technology contains groundbreaking features - but nobody will use them without intuitive and engaging User Experiences.

Seven very promising technologies were showcased at the forum.   All have the potential to help make people’s lives significantly more healthy and fulfilling.  However, they were all in need of significant thought about how users will (or will not) ultimately adapt to and adopt the technologies.

In our experience as human interface experts and digital designers we have focused our companies on perfecting the human experience associated with mobile, web and custom applications.  This is a critically important element to accelerate and ensure the adoption of any new technology, especially as it relates to health care.

Senscio Technologies provides an AI platform to better manage and understand gaps in healthcare to improve health outcomes.

4)  Gateways could become the future for enabling the adoption of connected health products

The innovation happening with connected products is astounding, but in many cases highly specialized when it comes to patient care and well being.  This creates scenarios where patients may have to use many different products, applications, wearables in the same day to get a complete picture of their health and well being.  Simplifying the experience will help facilitate adoption.  To that end, the real winners in this space will figure out how to provide central gateways where multiple products can be managed and integrated giving the end user single point or application to manage many specialized products.  There remains great opportunity to address this key trend through superior integrations and experiences.

 

Uplift Cooperative: IoT and Health Combined

 The Internet of Things (IoT) has made its way to new, innovative, and upcoming industries such as: food and beverage, automobiles, and healthcare. The healthcare industry is the latest achievement in the IoT and Technology world.  The idea of IoT is to make fitness (and healthy lifestyle) more accessible for  any person that has the drive and can use a device as pervasive as a smartphone.

Health and wellness are vital concerns for everyone. The rising costs of care combined with an aging population and the need to focus on preventive care has put pressure on the  healthcare system. IoT is  becoming the middleman that is bringing users  new and innovative ways to be fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Internet of Things has improved healthcare in innovative ways. The idea of IoT is to bring healthcare and fitness to your fingertips. IoT is developing innovative products, apps, and programs to ease up the process and make healthcare more accessible and entertaining. Here are the latest  accomplishments of IoT in health:

  1. Connected Contact Lenses: Alcon (A Novartis Division) provides innovative products that enhance the quality of life by helping people see better. They have licensed Google’s smart lens technologies, which involves non-invasive sensors embedded within the contact lenses. Novartis is also hoping to develop a smart lens that will help those with presbyopia, helping to restore the eye’s focus.

  2. Ingestible Sensors: Proteus Digital Health Care is the first digital medical service in the world. PDH is comprised of ingestible sensors, a small-wearable patch , an application on a mobile device, and a provider portrait. The chief purpose of this technology is to monitor adherence to a medication schedule. The pill dissolves in the stomach and causes a small voltage that is then picked up by a sensor in the body, which again relays the data to a smartphone app.

  3. Depression Fighting Apps: Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA partnered with Cognition Kit Limited to make a specifically designed App that monitors and assesses cognitive function in patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

Now, in come Bluefin Technology Partners and Cantina that have joined forces to bring health and IoT together. This achievement is just the beginning for how IoT has entered the healthcare industry. Uplift Cooperative is elevating health and wellness with connected products.

Uplift Cooperative is the innovative tool that will bring users closer to their fitness and health care objectives. Uplift Cooperative is the partnership for all things IoT and health. The partnership will help companies create life-changing technology experiences for customers by bringing connected devices and services to market. Uplift brings complete solutions, including hardware, software, and experience design.  Do you have an IoT project you need help with? Bluefin Technology Partners helps companies build amazing connected solutions. We understand the complexity and collaboration required between organizational disciplines in order to deliver an IoT product to market on time and on budget.  We provide the services needed to assess your market, manage your partners, and shepherd your project through successful launch.

Bluefin Technology Partners and Cantina join forces to create “Uplift Cooperative” - helping health and wellness organizations leverage IoT to improve people’s lives

Worcester-based software development and IoT consulting firm Bluefin Technology Partners and Boston-based digital design and development agency Cantina announce the formation of a strategic partnership aimed at helping companies embrace emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve people’s health and wellness. The move marks the first step in a broad strategic collaboration between the two companies that is focused on  the positive impact that IoT will have on people’s lives.  

Named for the feeling you get after increasing your happiness or health, Uplift Cooperative works exclusively with health and wellness organizations that are at the beginning of a connected product concept or are ready to go to market but are looking for a partner to help them execute. The partnership leverages each company's deep expertise in designing and building connected products and their understanding of the complexities of successfully launching them in today’s market.

“Uplift was created to deliver on our vision of helping companies develop a whole new class of connected devices that improves the health and wellness of the general public.  In doing so, we envision multiple devices working together in the context of connected health programs to keep individuals healthier and happier for life”, said Michael Po, Co-founder and general partner of Bluefin Technology Partners.Uplift’s decision to deliver connected products for  health and wellness is driven by the high market demand and industry trends that predict the significant impact that the Internet of Things will have in improving quality of life and making health data easier to manage and understand. Furthermore, Harel Kodesh, Vice President, Predix and CTO, GE Digital, at this year’s MIT Enterprise Forum’s ConnectedThings Conference, set the record straight on IoT-related health products by saying “after smart connected industrial applications, the smart health and wellness space is set to explode due its extremely high-reward and low-risk profile".

Bluefin Technology Partners and Cantina are award-winning companies with established histories of delivering high-quality and high-performing products.  In combining our resources and expertise, Uplift is ideally positioned to help our customers deliver impactful connected products to market.  As early leaders in IoT product development, we have already helped several companies deliver on their vision for innovative connected products and systems”,  said Matthew Chisolm, Co-founder and CEO of Cantina.

As the shift toward a more connected and intelligent world continues, the opportunity to transform lives through technology and innovation requires organizations to select a partner that can navigate the complexities of creating connected products and systems. Uplift is already helping companies design, build, and launch connected products for the American Kennel Club, PerkinElmer, Blustream, Acuity Brands, and others.

Uplift will support the growth of the IoT health ecosystem by offering a joint lab that facilitates concept development, early prototypes, and product testing as well as providing a place for teams to beta test the latest IoT technology and platforms. Organizations looking to learn more about Uplift Cooperative can visit www.upliftcoop.com or reach out to sales@upliftcoop.com or call 1-978-397-3100.

About Bluefin Technology Partners

Bluefin Technology Partners is a leading software development and IoT consulting firm based in Worcester, MA. Since 2013, Bluefin has collaborated with companies like IBM, Xively, Dragon Innovation, ASTRO, Smithwise and Connected Development to deliver apps to over 10 million customers. Bluefin specializes in IoT product development, including Product/Vendor Management, Product Ideation, Design Services, and Enterprise-Grade Technical Design.

About Cantina

Cantina is a digital design & development agency that ignites your great ideas and transforms them into digital products. Companies like Avid Technologies, MIT, Empower Retirement, and Zipcar trust Cantina to help them accelerate the path to innovation. Cantina’s services include Service Design, IoT User Experience, Mobile Product Development, Responsive Design and Development, and Enterprise-Grade Technical Design.

DogOT: Connect With Your Pet

Internet of Things is focusing on more than smart cities, smart cars, and smart health. Bluefin Technology partnered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) to bring pets and their owners the state-of-the-art smart collar: LINK AKC. The new innovative creation from the IoT and technology world. The unique collar is more than an accessory on your pet’s neck.Link AKC is the one and only curved smart dog collar designed to comfortably fit all dogs. The system allows tracking units to fit on your own collar of choice or the included leader collar. Here are the most important features:

Screen-Shot-2017-03-20-at-1.26.00-PM-300x162.png
  • Location: Powered by AT&T, the collar connects to your phone through GPS technology, tracking services, and the LINK AKC application to find give an exact location of your dog’s whereabouts.

  • Wellness and Care: With activity tracking LINK AKC provides data and insight on your dog’s energy, strength, and well-being.

  • Adventures: The best thing about having a pet is going on adventures. LINK AKC records the best parts of your endeavours with your pet. Record, save and share all special occasions with your pet. More importantly, with just the touch of a button you can manage all the information and pictures to create an album for future reference.

  • Training: The best way to train your dog is through sounds, patience, and persistence. LINK AKC tracks and makes training accessible through the application for faster and more efficient training functions.

LINK AKC is easier to understand than you’d think. The data is transmitted to a cellular network (similar to a cell phone) which allows you to know your dog’s location, activity levels, and environment temperatures. The focus is to create a stronger, easier, and closer connection between dogs and their owners. LINK AKC connects you favorite things together and makes it easier to take care of your loved one.

The best feature of LINK AKC is its set up! After you have placed and received your order. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3. Go to: www.linkakc.com/start. Download the LINK AKC App, now available on the Apple App Store and Android Marketplace,  and follow the instructions. LINK AKC is now shipping to its pre-order customers and available at online retailers. Get yours today and connect with your pet!

Do you have an IoT project you need help with? Bluefin Technology Partners helps companies build amazing connected solutions. We understand the complexity and collaboration required between organizational disciplines in order to deliver an IoT product to market on time and on budget.  We provide the services needed to assess your market, manage your partners, and shepherd your project through successful launch.

Farming of the Future: Localizing Food Production Through IoT

Boston startup Freight Farms is working to connect people in the food industry through technology.

Boston startup Freight Farms is working to connect people in the food industry through technology.

Typically sunless parking lots and old shipping containers don’t conjure up imagery of rows of fresh, crisp produce, but then again, there’s nothing typical about Freight Farms. The Boston-based B2B startup, is seeking to help customers in urban areas localize their food production through an Internet of Things product. Essentially a farm in a box, the Leafy Green Machine (LGM) is a retrofitted shipping container that allows customers to grow hydroponic crops remotely, as well as monitor and control their environment via a mobile application. Although cofounders Brad Mcnamara and Jon Friedman got their start in greenhouse design and implementation, they quickly realized that no one in the industry was taking full advantage of advances being made in LED technology. Brad and Jon highly valued the power of food independence, so they set out to build a prototype that would empower customers to grow fresh food anywhere from their backyards to a parking lot.

The Bigger Picture

Since Freight Farms got its start in 2009, it has been a part of a growing movement to bring IoT into the agricultural sector. According to Venture Beat, Agricultural IoT is among the most innovative (and well funded) IoT sectors in the industry. In the third quarter of this year alone, venture capitalists invested nearly $270 million USD in agricultural and food startups (who ever said you can’t grow money on trees!) The most common use cases of IoT in Smart Agriculture include livestock monitoring, conservation monitoring, and plant and soil monitoring. Aside from the convenience of remote monitoring. Mcnamara and Friedman’s LGM provides a number of other solutions to global challenges such as climate change and food insecurity. According to a 2012 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), food production will have to double by the year 2050 in order to feed our growing population. The use of technology can help sustainably increase yields without converting more land into farmland.

Hydroponics, the technology used by Freight Farms, allow for year-round crop production, eliminate weather-related crop failures and agricultural runoff, facilitate ecosystem restoration, don’t rely on pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, and use 70-95% less water than conventional farming methods. Hydroponics also enable people to grow food in urban centers, resulting in increased transparency and food independence, and reduced food miles. Ultimately the use of cutting edge technology in the sector makes farming appealing to a new generation of farmers by enhancing user experience and addressing global issues such as water scarcity, and food insecurity.

Work With Us Do you have an IoT project you need help with? Bluefin Technology Partners helps companies build amazing connected solutions. We understand the complexity and collaboration required between organizational disciplines in order to deliver an IoT product to market on time and on budget.  We provide the services needed to assess your market, manage your partners, and shepherd your project through successful launch.

Bluefin and IBM Join Forces To Host IoT Meetup

On December 12th, Bluefin had the pleasure of hosting its first meetup in collaboration with IBM on “Smart Cities & the Evolution of the Connected Community.” The event took place in the Worcester Idea Lab, an event space located in the heart of downtown Worcester.

After some laid-back networking and delicious hors d'oeuvres from Figs and Pigs Kitchen + Pantry, Global Solution Executive, Tim Henrion discussed applications for IBM Watson’s platform and opportunities to use technology to enhance current systems such as smart parking meters.

To top the evening off, Bluefin rolled out a passion project the team has been working on this year; an IoT device that measures the volume of beer poured from a keg using a flow meter. In keeping with the local flavor of the evening, the keg served guests an IPA from Wormtown Brewery.

If you are interested in attending future meetups centered around quality of life IoT, join our meetup to stay informed!

Smart Cities & the Evolution of the Connected Community - IoT Meetup

ibm-meetup-poster_v1

ibm-meetup-poster_v1

What will our cities look like in the future? How does the evolving world of IoT influence the future? Come learn about applications for IBM's Watson platform and discuss more opportunities to use technology to enhance current systems and innovate new products that influence the lives of people living in urban environments.

Join us for a night of networking with hors d'oeuvres and an open bar at the Worcester Idea Lab on Tuesday, December 6th at 5:30.

Featured Speaker: Time Henrion, Global Solution Executive - Watson IoT Platform & Solutions

We are expecting a packed house, so please RSVP Here

Ireland could become the first ever IoT Island

Ireland to be the first IoT Island!

It looks as though Ireland will become the first smart island. The Irish government has created a great environment for tech firms to move to. That is due to their great tax incentives, Companies like IBM, Dell, Google and many more have large offices/ labs there. The country has also created quite a budget for the implementation of IoT into their cities and industries. They have already begun in several counties to create smart cities, and smart farms. Its safe to say Ireland has become a Iot Island, a sort of Iot testbed for the entire world.

Towns in Ireland have begun to implement IoT

In the town of Crossmolina in the county Mayo they have already installed a smart city lighting system. This system aims to reduce energy waste by installing smart city lights. The second thing this system does is help out the local residents use their energy more efficiently. This smart city lighting system is being handled by an American Corporation known as Silver Spring Networks. They currently have 23.6 million devices on their networks, and are now in charge of the network in mayo. Mayo isn't the only town or city helping turn Ireland int an IoT Island.

Startup IoT networks are everywhere in Ireland

Startup VT networks also is working in Ireland but on a much broader scale. VT networks is attempting to cover the entire nation's IoT network problems by implementing their SigFox network. SigFox is a low power Broad range network that reaches millions of devices from robots to smoke alarms and many others. Right now however VT networks is approaching business around Ireland with their services. Those services include Smart metering, Inventory tracking, as well as security systems. Many farming companies, notice the value of the SigFox IoT network.

Industry Giants also have projects in ireland

Tech Firm  giants like Intel, Google, and IBM all have their own projects going on also in Ireland. Intel is helping turn Croke Park into the first IoT sports stadium in the world. IBM has a joint research project going on with the Marine Institute of Ireland to monitor marine life and other aquatic happenings in Ireland. Google has a billion dollar investment riding on a micro-chip produced by Dublin based firm Movidius. Lastly in April it was announced that the mountains of Donegal would become the test site for Chinese company DJL’s rescue drones.

Our take aways

This is exactly what the united states could use. More government funded research and tax incentives for more tech firms with promising ideas to enter the Iot world. It also would take more state governments opening up to the idea of IoT implementation into our cities and towns. This new investment would also bring quite a number of new jobs. Jobs that can provide many college graduates from a variety of majors means to provide for themselves and cultivate new ideas.

for more on this topic you can read the article Silicon-republic wrote.  https://www.siliconrepublic.com/machines/make-ireland-worlds-premier-internet-things-island