Meetup

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.

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.

3 Key Insights From The MIT Enterprise Forum: Connected Things 2017

WRITTEN BY: Michael Po, Bluefin Technology Partners and Sam Margolis, Cantina

MIT recently hosted their annual enterprise forum, with a focus on the Internet of Things and connected products at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA.  A sold-out crowd heard from many industry leaders and companies who are paving the way in IoT and creating innovation at scale.  Here are 3 key takeaways, all relevant to our mission to elevate health and wellness through connected products.

  • The instrumentation of the physical world will lead to insights we’d never expect

Harel Kodesh, VP, Predix and CTO of GE Digital drew an unlikely conclusion:  By integrating America’s rail system and trains with sensors and drones, we’ll be able to better understand environmental conditions that will impact local farmers and land that surrounds the nation’s rail system, which could someday improve the quality of our food supply chain.

  • The commoditization of storage will accelerate mass adoption of connected devices

David Friend, a pioneer in both technology and music shared plans for his new cloud storage company, BlueArchive.  BlueArchive will soon introduce high performance cloud storage that is designed to handle the volume of data that connected products generate (we’re talking zetabytes here).  Couple that with a pricing model that scales at volume and we’ll have a new paradigm in cloud storage that will become a catalyst for growth in the world of connected products.  

  • IoT allows for the possibility of “in-home hospital care”

Partners Healthcare, one of the country's largest operator of hospitals is piloting IoT technology that will allow for in-home care of hospital patients.  They are working toward the goal of reducing in-hospital admitted patient care but more importantly are striving to deliver the “the right care, to the right people at the right time”.  This reduces overcrowding in urban hospitals where emergency room patients wait a day or more for a hospital room to open up.  It also greatly reduces the costs of care for the hospital and of course the insurance companies.  No one “wants” to be in a hospital so why not send a patient home where they are more comfortable if the physicians can provide the same level of care that they can in the hospital …. All thanks to IoT innovations in health care.

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!