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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.

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.

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.

Engineered to Succeed, Designed to Fail

Engineered to Succeed, Designed to Fail

The Problem With Bad IoT Design

No One Left Behind

The Internet of Things (IoT) is huge. As Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said at the World Economic Forum, “"[T]he Internet will disappear. There will be so many IP addresses, so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with, that you won't even sense it. It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room." With startups forming to create connected devices for Pacifiers , Cows , and even Socks there is no business left unaffected by the Internet of Things. Everyone, in every industry should be looking into major growth opportunities that IoT can provide your business.

The Problem With IoT

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Hardware Engineers are not Designers. For good reason, the appeal to early adopters of IoT products is not a flashy screen or nice UI, it lies in the actual specifications. The engineers of these products live in a bubble, creating products and applications that appeal to people just like themselves. This closed loop often leads to a major problem, bad IoT design. This problem with IoT, and tech companies in general spawns an important question: New technology is for nerds, what does it take to make it cool?

Make Tech Cool Again

From an early stage, engineers must partner with hardware designers. These two sides of the production process should not act as separate entities, design should not be an afterthought. In order to appeal to the masses, connected devices/ IoT projects must have not just a useful, powerful product, it must have great hardware design. IoT companies must reach the consumers that matter. They must leave the geeky image behind and put forth major efforts in attractive, practical design.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Companies can create the most amazing product, with a plethora of features that blow even the toughest critic away. However, without proper design that appeals to everyday people, the product is doomed to fail. Here, highlighted are IoT projects that have great engineering, great technical specifications and vision. However, some are lacking visually in what we believe to be an equally important facet of product development, leading to bad IoT design.

The Good

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  • Fitbit: There is a reason why the FitBit is the best selling IoT wearable. The simple, practical design pushes it above the competition. Where comparable tech overcomplicates features, screens, etc.. FitBit has excelled in the niche activity tracker market by sticking to it's core feature set and what the user's of the product really want.

  • Apple Watch: Apple's break into the wearable market came as a huge success. Apple has always focused on simple design, as Steve Jobs famously put it, "Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple." In a crowded Mp3 player market, Apple was able to break through by creating an impossibly simple Mp3 player, the iPod. In a smartphone market that was dominated by the practical, yet aesthetically inadequate Blackberry, Apple was able to introduce a practical and beautiful phone with just one button. Now, in the wareable space, the Apple Watch has been able to grasp the simplicity of a wristwatch with the usability of a smartphone.

The Bad

  • At Bluefin we believe that there is no such thing as a bad IoT project. IoT is still a growing market, and in any growing market there is always room for innovation. This means companies will be trying new things, experimenting with strange ideas etc.. to come up with a breakthrough product. That is why we say here that there is no IoT project too strange or too small. In the hands of excellent engineers and experienced product professionals there is always a chance for an IoT project to succeed. However, we do believe in bad IoT Design. That is where "The Ugly" comes into play...

The Ugly

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  • The Daqri Smart Helmet: Daqri describes themselves as, “The human-machine interface company changing the future of work.” The smart helmet is an amazing piece of engineering. With thermal vision, data visualization and 4D work instructions Daqri hopes to change the way the way we manufacture and build. There is a robust support network as well as a custom application for developers to integrate your own workpackages into the Smart Helmet. However, we wonder, why, when the helmet is full of such amazing technical feats, must it look more like a fighter pilot helmet than a simple workplace hardhat. After Google’s deep mind AI AlphaGo beat world Champion Go Player Lee Sedol many people claimed that our Jobs will be taken by artificial intelligence in the near future. If the only alternative to AI are connected devices that look like this smart helmet I am pretty sure employees will be lining up to have their jobs taken rather than have to wear this on their head. Seriously, This helmet looks like a slightly more high tech version of this famous Official Star Trek Toy Helmet made in 1976.

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  • Pigeon Air Patrol: Pigeon Air Patrol has created a wearable pollution tracker

  • for pigeons. This project focuses less on the consumer aspect and more on practical design. The concept of pigeons tracking air pollution in London is both innovative and intriguing. However, it seems as if the hardware design has come as an afterthought. Why does the backpack need to look like it’s from a sci-fi movie? The engineering and mission are top of the line. Why have we let design fall to the back of our minds?