Dragon Innovation

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.

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.

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:

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  • 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.

Design for Manufacturing & Design for Profitability

One of the biggest challenges in physical product design (for IoT or not) is making sure that the product can be manufactured at scale.  It's one thing to be able to build a beautiful appearance model that gets your CEO, Board, and even customers excited, and yet another to make sure it can be molded, assembled and tested for quality so it goes out the door fast.    One of Bluefin's partners, Dragon Innovation, has been helping companies do this and do this extremely well since 2009.

Hand in hand with Design For Manufacturing is designing for profitability.  Simply put, making sure your Bill of Materials (BOM) is designed at the lowest cost and highest quality.  Though assessing your component parts and doing a thorough sourcing of the best valued pieces for your solution is a must, designing for profitability should be forefront from the very beginning of the project -- even at partner selection.  When it comes time to find the right partner for your project, it's good to have a strong sense of the MSRP for the product while assessing those candidates.

As an example let's look at Mechanical Engineering.  In the greater Boston area, there is a lot of great ME companies that have done some amazing work in the medical/healthcare world.   These firms have the skills and process that allow for pushing FDA certified products out the door, so they are more than capable of handling high-quality consumer goods if that is the scope of your project.   However, be cautious and explore the range of the MSRP for the devices they have developed and how that aligns to your product.   Often times Healthcare products trend higher on the per unit MSRP which makes the design approaches and component implementation to be less price sensitive.   ( i.e. Eight $0.50 parts on a $10,000 machine is forgettable, however on a $75 consumer product it becomes 5% of the BOM).   If your design team is accustomed to working with high MSRP products, and your asking them to produce a low MSRP product, you may need to challenge their engineering approaches to make sure you're product is being Designed for Profitability.