IoT Blog Posts

Google Assistant makes a splash at CES 2018

CES just wrapped up in Las Vegas.  The event, which takes place yearly, is where the cutting edge of consumer products are shown off.  This year had a clear theme -  getting everyday consumer products connected and equipped with voice interfaces.  Refrigerators, mirrors, toilets, televisions, cars, you name it, people are putting voice into it.  We aren’t here to tell you that all of those gadgets are necessary, but we can say that the age of voice interface is ramping up.  It is no longer in the early adopter stage as Amazon has now sold more than 10 million Alexa powered Echo products.  The market for voice products is no longer a 1 horse race, as Google has put a dent in what was once an Alexa only market.  In Q4 of 2017 it was reported that 7.6 million Google Home products sold, that is more than the total smart speakers sold in all of 2016.  That is a massive amount of hardware.  Reports indicate that 2018 will be even bigger for the purchase of smart speakers, with an estimated 56 million speakers to ship.  These voice assistants aren’t exclusive to their companies hardware though.  Google, for example, has their voice assistant on phones and a lot of the new connected products that were shown off at CES.  Reports say that Google’s voice assistant is now available on over 400 million devices!   This is an exciting time to be involved in Voice.  It can be a seamless and satisfying way to interact with a computer.  Over the holidays, the team at Bluefin did a fun in-house project, developing a Google Action for our kegerator.  We had previously built a connected keg, powered by the open-source Kegbot Arduino, and Raspberry Pi software.  A flow meter collects data on the kegs use and a web interface lets the user give input details about the keg, such as beer type and size of the keg.   Since Google Assistant isn’t restricted to one device, the information is available on any device with Google Assistant.  In the office, we use our Google Home to ask the kegbot questions, like “When was the last beer poured,” but we can also access it on a phone with Google Assistant enabled. Imagine you are at a liquor store, and can’t remember if the keg is low, you simply ask the voice assistant, “How much beer is left in the keg?” With what we were able to do in a week with our in house project, the possibilities seem endless for how helpful voice integration will be.

Below is a quick demonstration of some of what the voice assisted kegbot can do:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7fsNlsVhOM&t=18s

 

Is Voice The New Touch?

Gone are the days when your home’s IoT devices are controlled through your smartphone or web browser. With smart speakers entering more and more consumer residences, smart home  product interactions have shifted to include non-tactile interfaces which foster unique experiences. Consumers have shown that they are behind the shift, as the number one selling product during Amazon’s Prime Day on July 12 was their Echo Dot. The ability to execute commands and receive information passively without directly changing your task at hand seems to be highly valued by users. Another important feature about these products is that they can be easily integrated to work with other devices as control hubs. With the release of Google Home last November, and the arrival of a second giant to the playing field, the smart speaker/virtual assistant market entered the growth stage of its product life cycle. Prior to this, Amazon’s Echo series had controlled the market with other products launching, but either not creating traction, or having a large enough ecosystem to give them a retainable foothold. While both the Echo and the Google Home have similar functionality, the way in which they interact with other products along with the ecosystem architecture lends for different experiences depending on what product you use. Both products allow users to integrate other devices and services into their voice controlled environments, but use different methods to achieve the same purpose.

Being the first major smart speaker in the market, the Amazon Echo has had a massive lead over Google Home. This is represented in the number of Echo Skills, what amazon calls its voice apps, that have been developed since they released their device. A staggering 15,000  skills have been developed as of June 2017, but it is important to note that a large number of these have only been installed under 100 times. Skills are either integrations or dedicated apps for the device. Skills have been available for the Echo since launch with developer support from the beginning. Skills are handled through an app store experience where you to install individual skills onto the Echo based on users interests. Google takes a different approach with their Google Actions, their version of the same kind of app. Actions are not separate apps that need to be installed on the Google Home, rather Actions get directly integrated into the Google Assistant and can be used immediately by users. Users can still browse available Actions through a directory. This has the benefit of not requiring users to choose apps they need ahead of time. Conversely with Actions, users may find that there are more features than they actually use build into the system.

Neither Amazon or Google’s ecosystem is very challenging to integrate into current systems with straightforward processes for implementation. Both platforms have similar introductory courses on building a simple fact based app for either Alexa or Google Home. Both programs have incentives for developers to build on their platform. Google is currently trying to increase their total number of Actions through cash prizes, while Amazon has a longstanding rewards programs including Echo dot and other perks.

We suggest that the first voice based platform you introduce your product on be Amazon’s Echo through their Skills. There are currently many more users, the build time for the integration is similar to Google’s and if you are in individual developer you are more likely to get some Echo merchandise by releasing a Skill. The caveat that is the Amazon will require you to produce documentation to inform users to install your Skill. But in the short term, it is more likely that your user will actually own Amazon’s product over Google’s. Long term, Google will be a better system, because they have a much more established and wide reaching ecosystem, along with stronger computing potential. Currently their market share is much smaller than Amazon making them a less beneficial first development choice.'

Need assistance building your first Alexa skill? Click through to let Bluefin help you!

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.

IoT Industries: Personal Health and Wellness

IoT has made another industry one of their own -- personal health and wellness. Throughout this series we have described how IoT is everywhere from cannabis and the food industry to Animal/Pet Health and smart homes. Now IoT is expanding rapidly into the personal health and wellness space where new devices are being introduced at a feverish pace. The next trillion dollar industry globally, the Health & Wellness market space, is dominated mostly by beauty and anti-aging product sales at $679 billion, followed by fitness and mind + body exercise ($390 billion) and healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss sales ($277 billion).  But not far behind in terms of annual growth is the fitness and wearable technology sales (think Nike, Gramin and Apple smart watches) is up $10 billion to $81.4 billion in wholesale sales in the US. The digital fitness category is now a $330 million market annually, and that is just one of many wearable fitness categories that is experiencing exponential growth.

Since the FitBit release over ten years ago in 2007, the Internet of Things (IoT) has moved above and beyond smartwatches to many other products that we can easily wear to enhance our personal health and wellness. IoT is enabling  a range of health and fitness devices that are available from both established companies and new start-ups. Industry giants and thought leaders such as  FitBit, Under Armour, and Intel have recently all announced new health and wellness connected devices.

Under Armour

Co-developed with HTC, the HealthBox is a package consisting of three new devices from UnderArmour (UA). UA Band is a wrist worn activity tracker designed for athletes, UA Heart Rate is a chest strap heart monitor to measure workout intensity and estimate the number of calories burned. Lastly, UA Scale is a WiFi weight scale that also measures body fat percentage.

Sleep Number Bed

Probably one of the most interesting products IoT has created for personal health, the Sleep Number IT Bed is a connected bed. The connected bed included its SleepIQ algorithm and predictive modeling, as well as Active Comfort technology that lets the bed adjust to firmness and support to the user’s needs. It also includes an app that would allow it to interact with other connected devices, perhaps suggesting a different sleep setting post-workout.

LifeBEAM

The LifeBEAM smart helmet was created to enhance performance for bikers. The helmet includes an integrated heart rate monitor that measures heart rate, calories, and performance. The helmet works with a dual module with bluetooth 4.0 and ANT connectivity. The helmet also includes an optical sensor that is compatible with the weather.

Digistole

Digistole is a footwear brand that has completely reinvented athletic footwear. It has brought the very first Smart Shoe 002 the first connected, interactive, heating, and shock absorbing shoes with automatic lighting. The shoe has different features such as smart heating, accurate tracking, and 3D stride analyzer. The shoe manages all its best features through one dedicated app that is connected and interactive; compatible with both iOS and Android devices using Bluetooth 4.0.

LifeFuels

 

LifeFuels created the smart nutrition model.  They have developed a smart water bottle that includes includes a water tracker, that tracks the intake of water throughout the day, as well as suggesting many nutritional additives to the water via the “fuelpods.”

 

 

 

Intel

Intel has been making it big lately with IoT and connected products. Recently, they announced Curie, a small computer module. Through their partnerships with ESPN and Red Bull Intel is incorporating the Curie chip into BMX bikes and snowboards. Additionally, with their partnership with Oakley, Intel created Radar Pace; a pair of smart goggles that are being developed to track the user’s run and offer real time personal training and coaching tips.

 

Personal wellness should be the top priority for everyone and IoT is making it easier and more fun for people to motivate their minds and bodies toward a healthier existence. IoT is making our lives easier one connected product at a time. Stay tuned for our next IoT Industry post to see new and innovative ways IoT is changing our lives.

 

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.

Integrated Platforms for Smarter Homes

Throughout our “IoT Industry Series” we have discussed how the Internet of Things is present and growing rapidly  in different industries like food and beverage, smart health, and animal health. This week we are discussing Smart Homes and the integrated platforms that exist to connect smart devices around the household.

“Smart Home” is the term commonly used to define a residence that has appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, entertainment audio & video systems, security, and camera systems that are capable of communication with one another and can be controlled remotely from any room in the house, or from any location in the world by smartphone or Internet.

Smart Homes are the latest addition to the IoT world and technology companies are making [and connecting] products to make homes smarter and users more engaged. Companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon have created products that connect all of these devices to one overall smart source.

Google Home

Google Home is a smart speaker developed by Google that enables users to speak voice commands to interact with services through the Home’s intelligent personal assistant called Google Assistant. Google Home integrates a large number of third-party integrated products that allow users to control the connected products and the device’s features entirely by voice. Google Home has integrated support for home automation features, letting users speak commands to the device to control smart home appliances.  

Apple Home

Apple was one of the first consumer-facing technology companies to commit to the smart technology for modern households. Apple created a software platform called IOS Home where you can easily control all  HomeKit accessories. “HomeKit” is a framework created by apple that provides accessories that are compatible with iPhones. HomeKit is where users can purchase products like sensors, automatic locks, and thermostats that are connected through the Apple Home application on all iPhone owners. Apple then created an on-line web and mobile shopping experience  that lists all the products that can be easily connected to one independent and individual source. The focus of Apple Home and Home Kit is to build your own smart home from the palm of your hand.

Samsung SmartThings

Samsung SmartThings is the control  center of your future smart home. Users can control, automate, and monitor their homes from anywhere in the world with the use of the SmartThings App. Similar to the products mentioned above, SmartThings by Samsung connects most of the [smart] products around the home into one simple source. Users can connect, control, and manage products like thermostats, smart locks, and security systems from SmartThings application in their smartphone.

Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is a smart speaker developed by Amazon.com. The device connects to the voice-controlled personal assistant Alexa. Similar to Google Home Alexa is designed to play music, set alarms, stream podcasts, provide the weather and traffic, playback audiobooks and provide a hub for future smart devices in your home..

All of these products are the new wave of the IoT and smart product industry. Internet of Things is always making life easier and more connected for users. Thanks to IoT, homes are being built today with all of these connected features. It is only a matter of time until we can personally speak to every appliance and electrical device in our home

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.

The Internet of Animal Healthy Things: IoAHT

The Internet of Things (IoT) has connected more industries than ever before. As we know, IoT has advanced the Medical and Health industry in many ways.  Recently we wrote about how Granny Pods help our older citizens age in place..  We have also written about how  IoT is connecting you to your best friend and faithful companion.  IoT is now reaching much further  than our pets. IoT is engaged in  the animal industries as a whole and its changing how we care for our animals for the better.

Animal health is normally broken up into two primary segments: large animals and companion animals. This week’s blog post focusses on Animal Health and how IoT has helped different segments of animal health from large animals, to wildlife, and smaller animals/pets.

Wildlife  

IoT companies have developed  new connected products  that help to preserve natural spaces around the world, keep our wildlife safe and fortunately even going so far as to save them from extinction.. One of the main ways IoT accomplishes this is through connected tracking devices.  The devices monitor their movements and behaviors thereby  making their lives  safer and more secure. One innovative (and large!)  product for monitoring is Elephant Tracking, a GPS elephant collar that  tracks the elephant’s position in real-time and transmits the location and movement patterns to the park rangers smart phone.

Farm Animals

The farming world will realize huge benefits  from  IoT in the area of  animal health. Silent Herdsman is a neck collar that tracks all cows’ activity, detecting changes in their behavior, and data about their vital functions  This data helps  the farmer to know exactly when the cows are sick, pregnant, and most importantly when the best day for milk production is.

IoT intersects with the animal health industry, this developing sector is often called the Internet of Animal Healthy Things, or IoAHT. IoAHT software and hardware maximizes the efficiency and health of livestock. Most of the innovation around IoAHT technology has been focused on the hardware/wearable tech devices that are attached to the animals themselves and transmit info to data to data collection and analysis  systems. An example is TekVet, a health monitoring system that can immediately identify a rise in temperature that is associated with many common illnesses, allowing the livestock operator to perform early, and more successful, treatment. The monitor can track early signs of illness allowing the operator administer  early treatment and reduce livestock loss.

CattleWatch is a GPS tracker that monitors and records the cattle’s location. More importantly it monitors health conditions and predator activity, creates invisible fences that restrict cattle movement, and allows livestock producers to send out drones from their smartphones which collect live video feeds of their herds.

 

Pets

Something closer to home and an example of how IoT is helping pet owners care for their best friend  is the LINK AKC. Created by the American Kennel Club, the LINK AKC is a smart collar that combines the most advanced technology putting your dog’s needs and location right at your fingertips whenever you need it. LINK is the only curved smart collar designed to comfortably fit all dogs. The system allows a tracking unit that fits comfortably on the dog’s collar that helps with pet wellness, dog location, and keeping your dog happy and healthy.

Another example of Pet IoT is Clever Pet; an engaging ‘dog trainer’ that keeps your dog active while you’re away from home.  The product has a number of different modes that provides your dog with easy activities that progress to more difficult mental tests so that your dog stays stimulated and never gets bored. Clever Pet provides treats for successfully completing activities and sends live updates to pet owners via its mobile application.

We can’t forget about our cats! Tailio turns your basic cat litter box into a connected ‘smart’ litter box. Tailio sits underneath your litter box and monitors your cat’s weight and amount of waste produced. More importantly, it tracks the frequency of activity within the litter box and analyzes this data to determine whether your cat is healthy or if it may be trending towards an unhealthy condition so that you can be warned proactively via their mobile app.

IoT is helping all animal owners become more familiar with their animals health needs. As healthcare and wellbeing is important for human beings, it should also be important for our animals (pets, wildlife or farm). Animals can be our most loyal companions.. As much as they love and care for us and give us enjoyment, we should show them the same love, care, and appreciation.

 

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.

HighOT: Cannabis and the Internet of Things

By: Jacob Maselek for Bluefin Technology Partners

Medical marijuana is becoming legal in more states than you’d think. About twenty states around the country have legalized medical marijuana. Recreational pot usage has been controversial for decades, however, many people now believe that the drug should be legal for medical uses. Even though the benefits of smoking pot may be overstated by advocates of marijuana legalization, new laws will help researchers study the drug’s medical uses and better understand how it impacts the body. Marijuana has numerous known health benefits and many more yet to be discovered!

The legal cannabis market in the United States is projected to grow from $4.6 Billion in 2014 to nearly $23 Billion in 2020 - nearly a 31% compound annual growth rate. This shocking growth is due to the increased legislation permitting legal marijuana consumption on a recreational basis; “adult use” as the industry states.

As with any new and emerging market, entering the cannabis industry in general has it’s potential risks and rewards. The largest risk in the industry comes with the transition of the United States from a [relatively] cannabis friendly federal government to a government that is generally not in favor of the cannabis industry. The payoff on the other hand is state governments becoming increasingly keen to the medical benefits and safe recreational uses of cannabis. With 23 states having legalized marijuana in some form (23 for medical purposes, and 8 for recreational/medical), investors are looking at one of the largest growth opportunities in decades. They have the ability to enter an entirely new industry.

Now, you may be asking, where does the internet of things play into this? Why are we taking the time to write about recreational and medical cannabis? The answer is simple, opportunity. Just as the investors  highlighted above see the value in investing in the industry, we see the value of implementing connected products to enhance the growth of the market. There are a few companies that have been taking advantage of using technology to gain a competitive advantage in the legal cannabis industry.

Products like Leaf really caught our attention. The company’s strong attention to detail, beautiful design, and branding on top of a core of  cutting edge technology gives the product mass appeal. Users are able to grow their cannabis completely remotely through their mobile devices. Not only is this product appealing to everyday consumers, it has huge medical implications as well. One of the key benefits of cannabis use is to patients with parkinson's disease. The effects cannabis has on patients is astounding. This product allows patients with parkinson's to control the growth of their medicine from the comfort of their own home, without having to even open the door to check on their plants.

 

Another technology that will benefit the cannabis industry is built by PotBot. Solar power, wi-fi connected garden sensors that stream data on temperature, light, humidity, and soil acidity to the cloud. This product enables growers to breed plants remotely and with predictable outcomes to tailor plants to benefit specific ailments. The central idea of this trend is data mining -- the process of turning raw data into useful information. Data mining capabilities are being integrated into the core architecture of more and more cannabis related devices with an on/off switch.

The market has enormous potential for companies and investors willing to take the risks. The internet of things can lift the innovation potential in the industry to new heights, we are looking forward to getting involved with the emergence of more connected products in this space.

 

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.

Granny Pods are the New Assisted Living Centers

New and innovative IoT (Internet of Things) products are connecting you to your loved ones in many new ways. MedCottages or “Granny Pods," as they are oftentimes affectionately referred to,  are self contained housing units that you can drop into your backyard - adding a second home for your aging loved one.   Being close and accessible to the caregiver and providing state of the art in in-home aging amenities, Granny Pods are an up and coming product of the Internet of Things world.   The American Association of Retired People (AARP)  estimates there are over 23 million Americans that take care of their elderly parents. However, finding the perfect place for them to live in a comfortable, familiar and safe place is difficult  and [often] expensive. On many occasions, children do not  want to leave their parents in an assisted home facility on their own, or sometimes it is not in their financial abilities  to do so either.  In addition, the aging person most often wants to maintain a certain level of independence.  They want to continue their lives in a home where they control their lives.

IoT and the tech industry have come up with new products that will make aging [and life] easier for all families. MEDCottages or “Granny Pods” are tiny homes loaded with safety features and technology.  They are designed by a Blacksburg, VA company with help from Virginia Tech.  Variations of this original design are popping up from other housing manufacturers.   In each case, the mini-homes are designed for the very specific purpose of providing a fast, convenient and safe solution to aging in place.

 

 

The basis of the Granny Pods are small modular  guest houses designed to be installed in a backyard, with all the latest high-tech medical extras. Embedded IoT devices add to the  ease of caregiving and make it accessible for those that want their elders close and taken care of with dignity. The small dwelling is hooked up to the main home’s existing sewer, water and power lines. Some of the standard features include hand railings, defibrillators, first aid supplies, lighted floorboards and a soft floor to minimize damage from falls.  From an IoT perspective devices range from voice assisted lighting, locks  and appliances control to bi-directional hands free communications with caregivers anywhere in the home.   Motion detectors can monitor for falls and send alerts accordingly.

IoT has made its way into the Medical and Health industry and, like always, it is looking for ways to make our lives easier and safer. Granny Pods are allowing elderly family members to live in high-tech backyard cottages for aging in place, assisted living, and caregiving right in their loved one’s backyard.

   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.

Choosing the right Power Solution for your Connected Product

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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.