Industry 4-0

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.

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.

The Industrial Internet of Things

The Opportunities in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

Just like the consumer IoT, the true value for brands and companies is in the data that the devices and beacons produce. The consumer IoT tracks product usage and sends that data back to brands so they can fine tune their products to maximize consumer use and happiness. The industrial Internet of Things is not much different. The implementation of IIoT will bring in a major influx of data, it is how these industries and corporations implement the data that will bring a company into Industry 4.0.

The industrial internet of things is essentially the implementation of IoT across broad ranges of industries. History tells us that the early adopters of new tech are typically consumer facing product companies. However, the IoT is not just limited to consumer goods. IIoT will make it's way into all facets of industry both internally facing (B2B, operations, sales etc..) and consumer facing.

Industrial Internet of Things Timeline

Industrial Internet of Things Timeline

The World Economic Forum sites Four logical next steps and opportunities for the Industrial Internet of Things in their 2015 Industry Report.

  1. Operational EfficiencyAs mentioned before, this value is created and anchored by the capturing of data of various degrees. Up until now, operations managers in major manufacturing corporations have had to measure employee success by two simple formulas; Utilization and Efficiency of both the system and of the employee. However, now with the massive amount of data that can be obtained by the various sensors that will be implemented amongst the manufacturing process, more than just efficiency and utilization can be tracked. Individual machines can now be tracked. This will drastically decrease overhead by being able to track the use of a machine and know when maintenance will be needed before a potential breakdown as well as allow managers to track use and activity of employees on the manufacturing floor.

  2. New Products and ServicesThe implementation of the industrial internet of things will allow for a whole new subset of products and services previously not thought of in the industrial space. Similar to the outcome, where consumers are allowed to pay-per-outcome. In opportunity, consumers are able to pay-per-use of the product. The most common application of this in today consumer IoT world is to pay a subscription fee on top of the initial purchase price of a good. However, in the industrial internet of things, the same model can be applied to manufacturing machines, parts, analysis tools, etc…

  3. Outcome EconomyThe “Outcome Economy” is essentially the idea that instead of a company charging for the initial purchase of a device, piece of equipment, or application, they will be able to pay-per the outcome of use of the purchase. For example, if you were to purchase a piece of equipment that promised a value of doubling the production speed of x previous piece of equipment, however, in practice the product does nothing of the sort, consumers will be able pay less for their underperforming products.

  4. Autonomous, Pull EconomyThe World Economic forum specs that in the long term, there will be an autonomous revolution which will create a pull economy. This Industrial revolution will coincide with autonomous revolution happening in the consumer space with the products such as the autonomous car that Google (and others) are developing. This “pull economy” will result in continuous demand-sensing. Which will allow for automatic updates, improvements, alerts etc… in much better timing than current standards. This will result in resource optimization and waste reduction as well as the possibility of end-to-end automation.

Of course the implications of IIoT go far beyond this article and the report it sites. As the Internet of things matures and grows, IIoT will follow along. The improvements and implications that are due to stem from the data gathered in Industry 4.0 are going to be incredibly exciting. Industry leaders must assess their manufacturing process and decide that now is the time to put the investment forward to implement IoT in their processes.