Archive for May, 2015

Frugal IoT Innovation

Frugal Innovation is about designing new products with less instead of more. Products that cost a fraction of current solutions and yet solve critical problems. IoT needs Frugal Innovation if it wants to live up to its promise of connecting billions of devices and helping people improve their lives.

Frugal Health Innovation

Probably the area where most Frugal Innovation is needed is the healthcare sector. More and more countries have an aging problem. Social security schemes for retirement are becoming unreliable in even the most advanced countries. Instead of excellent but expensive healthcare solutions for the elite we need cheap good enough for the masses. Fugal IoT Innovation should focus on driving down the cost of equipment, avoiding people from having to go to a doctor or hospital via remote healthcare or better prevention. We need a Bluetooth stethoscope for under $20 that can be used in any remote area.

Fugal IoT Innovation in energy

The other critical area where the world needs better and cheaper solutions is energy. Forget $3000 home batteries. Ideally cheap energy harvesting. Building a wind turbine for $50 from ready available components. Reducing the cost of solar. A way to build your own solar panels for $50-100 to boil water would eliminate a lot of diseases and avoid expensive wood being burned and the associated deforestation.

Fugal Innovation is going to make more money because it has the potential to change habits of a lot larger population…


IoT from inside the tornado

From December until now I have been inside the IoT tornado. In December we did not have a product. Half January we had a first beta with 25 partners. In February big names joined and Forbes already spoke of industry-wide adoption. In March the cheapest x86 became the smartest switch that has the potential to solve the 4 biggest telecom industry problems on Mobile World Congress. April saw a Broadcom-powered Celestica switch from Penguin Computing become the smartest switch, the first fridge with apps from GE, the first drone with apps, a Patton VoIP gateway, industrial gateways, Netcom CPEs, Acer smart home hub, ARM mbed OS integration, etc. on IoT World. Forbes and others loved it. This week GE showed me the future of smart home appliances and I was amazed. I can tell you that does not happen every day. Next week is Computex in Taiwan. Acer is there again. Dell will present their first Industrial IoT gateway powered by Snappy Ubuntu Core. If everything goes according to plan there will be a market changing announcement.

All this would not have been possible without an excellent team of Ubuntu Core engineers, product managers, sales teams, BD teams, top management, etc. and last but not least awesome partners that time after time surprised me. Many thanks to all of them.

When I read Inside the Tornado, I could never have imagined it really feels like being inside a tornado. The secret sauce of success = 99% last minute transpiration + some of the most innovative brains + 1% luck. Forget long term business cases and innovation through planning. Listen to problems in the market. Understand cutting edge innovations. Strategically combine them all. Do instead of plan, break, learn, redo, break, learn, redo, get something working, feedback, restart the process. Imagination from a desk is a limitation, it keeps you inside your world of comfort. Show, tell a story, get feedback, update, show again, etc.

Changing industries is hard work but has become easier than ever. Hyper-innovation is fast dividing the world into leaders/innovators and followers/victims. As a victim you are at the mercy of the innovator. I hope you prefer to be in control of your destiny so if you are not an innovator yet, then you should become a dinovator. GE FirstBuild showed me this week that it is possible to go from follower to dinovator to super innovator. What are you waiting for?

Categories: Internet of Things

Addictive insurance

You only sell life insurance one time, right? Wrong.

What would happen if you made it possible for your life insurance to become cheaper every month and even turn it into an addictive habit?

At the moment insurance companies do a thorough check when you contract a life insurance but afterwards as long as you pay the premiums the insurance company does not want to bother you again.

What would happen if they did? If you would agree with them to share your habits in exchange for them lowering the price of your insurance with optional extra insurances for sales when you need them.

Let’s explain this with an example. The risk of dying increases because of risky behaviour, abusive usage of mind controlling products like drugs and alcohol, stress, bad eating habits, lack of sleep, lack of physical exercise, driving irresponsibly, travelling to hostile places like war zones or unsafe areas in cities, etc. What if you start with an average risk profile and every time you do exercise, sleep more than 8 hours, go to see friends, etc. you earn points and every time you drive too fast, you go to a fast food chain, you get stressed, you did not go and visit family or friends in some time, you go paragliding, etc. you loose points. Based on your monthly score, your insurance goes up or down. There will be moments of time when you are weak. Your insurance might want to make you an offer, e.g. if you leave this fast food chain now and go to the salad bar around the corner than they will give you a 5% discount or a free fruit salad for desert. Your insurance will also be able to help you out when you need to, e.g. you are in a car shop would you like to have some custom insurance offer based on your behaviour and pay based on how much and how you drive your car? Do you want to be covered for an accident while skiing? Since you hardly cook at home we suggest that your risk of fire is greatly reduced so your house insurance will be cheaper but since you are hardly at home we suggest to install one of the following alarm systems to lower your risk of burglary otherwise we need to adjust for this risk…

All this was not technologically possible but thanks to innovations in Internet of Things, mobile sensors, Big Data, Cloud, wearables, etc. these new models can be implemented or will at least shortly be possible.

Of course there are legal and ethical questions to resolve and questions about if consumers want to give away more privacy in exchange for cost reductions. However whoever makes the first addictive insurance is very likely to lead in the coming years. Especially if personal weaknesses and inside knowledge can be translated into extra revenues. Perhaps we will see the first free life insurance for healthy active people in exchange for real-time information about your life and opportunities for sales when you are weak or need some other insurance.

The five worst IoT apps

Survey people about what they would like to see more on TV and they all talk about inspiring movies, classical music, educational documentaries, etc. Look at their behaviour and they crave for more violence, gossip, sex, etc. So here are some of the worst IoT apps possible.

5. The Botnet Mafia App

Since your smart fridge is on the whole day, it is the dream for botnets. Mafias would love to orchestrate millions of smart devices and use them as spamming servers, bitcoin miners, drug trade anonymising tor nodes, etc.

4. The Fire Starter App

Have some connected smart lights or any other remotely controllable devices near? The fire starter app will turn it on/off tens of thousands of times per second with the sole objective for the device to provoke a fire.

3. The Accidental Blackmailer App

Your self-driving car all of a sudden locks its doors and starts driving without you being able to stop or control it. You hear a computer voice that tells you that in 1 minute you will need to agree to pay $10.000 worth of bitcoins to the author of the app, otherwise the car will have an unfortunate high speed accident.

2. The Bitcoin Sniper Drone App

All of a sudden an auto-piloted drone comes from nowhere and starts shooting at a specific person because on the dark web at least $5000 worth of bitcoins were assembled through anonymous crowd-funding to put a contract on this persons head.

1. The Terrorist App

A series of apps start controlling different smart devices in a coordinated terrorist attack. Traffic lights all turn to green, plane engines get switched off during flight, nuclear power plants are driven towards overheating, hospital equipment starts to give lethal doses of radiation and injecting overdoses of medicines, etc.

IoT can kill

Like any new technology there are people that want to use IoT for bad. There are bad individuals both in criminal organisations as well as in the governments that are there to protect you. The best defence is not to ban new technologies, e.g. in the 90’s the Internet was seen as the end of the world because pedophiles could hide their identity. Instead the best defence is to make technology starting from the assumption people are bad and applying state of the art security, app containment and transactional update technologies to minimise the risk and to open source it so more people can detect any bugs and potential vulnerabilities. Snappy Ubuntu Core assumes the worst and tries to avoid doom scenarios at all costs. There are lots of proprietary and closed IoT solutions that claim to be secure. However you don’t have access to their source code and as such you have to exercise trust. In the post-Snowden era, who can you trust?

Categories: Disrup. Technology

How to avoid smart devices from becoming dumb after two years?

May 26, 2015 1 comment

If you buy a fridge, heater, microwave, dishwasher, etc. then you expect your appliance to last for 10 perhaps even 15 or more years. You don’t plan on doing away with it after two years.

What if your appliance would be old after two years? To be more exact, what if the processor, memory, storage, wireless communication technology would be old after two years? Smart fridges, heaters, microwaves, dishwashers, etc. are likely going to be “smart” for two years. Afterwards they will be “legacy smart” and later “vintage smart” and then “unusable smart”. Technology progresses much faster than appliances age.

Now we have seen lots of examples of how not to handle aging technology. Car manufacturers are a very good example. They try to make you pay $3000 for a built-in GPS that costs $300 on the open market and already is old school by the time you buy the car.

TV makers have seen the light and now have the processing unit as a separate box that can be exchanged later on. Still very proprietary and you need to buy a lot of things you don’t need like a new metal box, however it is better than the previous alternative.

However the best solution would be using an open standard that allows hardware manufacturers to compete independently from the appliance. This way if you buy a smart device, you are able to choose between it being smart or really smart as well as the time you want to facelift the smartness.

There are several options: adopt existing standards like PCIe, adopt new proposed standards like project Ara from Google, or develop new standards and live with potentially competing standards for a couple of years but have a best-in-class solution.

Revolutionary News ;-) PWC to chipmakers – IoT will be your next growth market…

You go to and download their IoT report and you will learn that PC’s will no longer be the next growth market, IoT will be. So as a semiconductor manufacturer you need to come up with a strategy and optimise operational costs for IoT. 

The most useless IoT report!!!!

I have read some useless IoT reports but this one really crowns it. I hope PWC did not call Intel, ARM, Broacom, Samsung, Qualcomm, Mediatek, Allwinner, etc. to tell them they should look into IoT as their next growth market because they would be laughed out of the boardroom. If you are a semiconductor manufacturer that hasn’t been investing in IoT by now then you are not going to be around in the next years. Hardware R&D has long delivery cycles. You can’t just invest in an IoT chipset by tomorrow because PWC says so today. On Computex in Taiwan, a week from now, Raman Chitkara (PWC global technology leader) should go and see what will be presented there. He will be surprised to see that chip makers have been heavily investing in IoT already and will be presenting their first or often next generation of IoT products. Unlike what the reports suggests, IoT is not only about low margins on high volumes but also about smart devices that can connect to lots of sensors and single purpose devices and create synergies via apps. These smart devices will need powerful semiconductors. My suggestion to PWC is to revamp their website with new ideas after they get back from Computex. Happy to sell them some strategy consulting to put them in the right track 🙂

Star wars like robots are near…

Berkeley pushed the robotics innovation boundaries by using machine learning to teach a robot what to do via trial and error and without actually telling it what to do. This is an example of how pretty soon in many industries: big data, machine learning, cloud, robotics, apps on smart devices, etc. will come together in new ways. Robots and machine learning used to be separate sciences. Now computer vision, deep learning, etc. will all become apps on robots. Robots will share sensor data with clouds where big data storage and online machine learning will continue to improve algorithms and then push updated models back to the robots. Once a model is stable and predictable, you will be able to upload it as an app to a robot store and other robot lovers will be able to use it for new purposes. Combine this with SaaS services to learn from these new uses and there will be a continues circle of new uses generating new insights, leading to new uses, leading to new insights, etc.

Translation for the science fiction lovers: Star Wars like robots will come sooner than later…

Categories: Disrup. Technology
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