Biz of Things

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Internet of Things World 2016 – Recap

Internet of Things World 2016 took place in Santa Clara this week, and it was a great way to see what people are working on and thinking about in IoT today. Thousands of people represented the industry by speaking in keynotes, debating in panels and showing off their products at exhibition booths. Due to the enormity of the conference, I was only able to participate in a fraction of the activities; but I learned a lot. Here are my takeaways from the conference:

  • People were excited to see the amount of participation. Apparently the number of companies displaying IoT solutions increased immensely from last year, and people were excited to see the noticeable growing interest and developments in the field.
  • More than half of the IoT companies represented at the expo were IoT platforms providing end-to-end software solutions from device monitoring to data storage and analytics. Though it was great seeing so many companies attempting to create a framework for developers to build IoT solutions, it did not seem like a lot of these platform companies were able to differentiate themselves from each other. If you are planning on developing an IoT platform, you better

IoT 101 – A Guide to Understanding the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things has been the trendiest term in technology. Anyone who has any interest in the IoT boom knows the potential impact connected devices can have on our world. You have probably read the Gartner report that has estimated there will be 6.4 billion connected devices in 2016 and 20.8 billion connected devices globally by 2020. You may have also read numerous articles about autonomous cars, smart homes, smart kitchens, health tracking, farming or smart cities. Seasoned developers are hacking away to connect the dots so these interconnected devices can succeed in creating day-to-day efficiencies. However, there is also a large contingent of people on the business side who spend endless hours fantasizing about these outcomes, without any real idea of what the underlying technologies are, and how current technologies need to be refined to create an ecosystem for these devices to speak the same language.

Any non-technical business owner who has started a web platform or mobile app understands that they must have a working knowledge of a product to create a sound vision and bring in the right people to build their solution. A business owner who sketches out a solution …

The Comfort of Your Own Home…At Work

For as long as I can remember, I have always been told that the workplace is somewhere you go to work and get a paycheck. The workplace is not supposed to be fun, it is not a place for socializing, it is not meant to empower your individuality, and it certainly is not intended to provide you the comfort that your living room provides you. Over the past few years, technology startup companies are changing this mentality, and it is beginning to infiltrate larger corporations too. Finally, the idea that happy and empowered employees produce better products, engage with more satisfied customers, and ultimately drive higher revenue is becoming a popular thought. An idea that was once considered a waste of time and money is now becoming an important corporate strategy.

With the notion that satisfied and comfortable employees are willing to stay in the office longer, companies are now providing employees free meals, gym memberships, mental health vacations, and all day team outings. Offices now have beanbag chairs, ping-pong tables, board games and beer. They are now replacing Microsoft Office tools with tools more transferable to employees’ personal lives, such as Google Apps and …

IoT Product Review: WeKey

I received my WeKey keyboard within a couple of days of shipping notification. This product was sent to me for trial by Product Ninja, an online marketplace for new smart devices. When I took the keyboard out of the surprisingly clean packaging, the first thing I noticed was how incredibly light the keyboard is. The setup was very simple, only one press of a button on the keyboard to pair with my iPad. When I first started typing on the keyboard, I struggled a little with how close together the keys were, however I adjusted to the tight spacing after about twenty to thirty minutes.  Their is only so much room to work with on a keyboard the size of an iPad, so no biggie for me!

As I continued to use the keyboard, I noticed myself moving the keyboard around to my lap, to the table, then up in the air. It is just really easy and comfortable to move this keyboard around to a position of comfort due the light weight design. The keyboard weighs about half as much as my iPad cover! I also feel like if I dropped the keyboard, …

Call Security! – IoT Will Take Privacy Risk to the Next Level

The Internet has done so many great things to create excitement and efficiencies in our lives. We shop, we bank, we socialize, we learn, we do so many things on the web. With our increased reliance on the web, more information about our personal lives and private information such as credit card and social security numbers are being transmitted via the internet, and can potentially be obtained by hackers. As we have become more reliant on the Internet, concern has always been voiced about the security of this information. Engineers, business folks, politicians…just about everybody is concerned that one breach could turn their livelihoods upside down. We have heard about high profile security issues such as Hillary Clinton sending and receiving highly confidential government emails on her unsecure network, or Sony Films being hacked after releasing the controversial movie, “The Interview”. We also are aware of personal risk when we provide our credit card while shopping online, with the hope that each transaction doesn’t put our credit card information in the wrong hands.

Luckily for us, there have been standards set in place to secure our information on the web. The Electronic Frontier Foundation launched …

Wearable Workouts Part Three: How Strategic Partnerships Can Help Disrupt the Fitness Industry by Providing a Comprehensive Fitness Tracker and Sports Coach

In the first two Wearable Workouts posts (part one and part two), we talked about my belief that smart fitness apparel will prevail as the most effective fitness tracking solution. We also discussed that the initial target market will be working professionals in their twenties and thirties who play a variety of sports, are tech savvy, and are earning enough to be willing to pay for a fitness device. Current wearable products already meet the needs of a certain demographic when it comes to walking, running, biking and strength training. In terms of conventional fitness routines, I think the current wristband trackers effectively meet the needs of these demographics, especially at their increasingly affordable price points. There is still, however, an open need for a full athletics tracking device for non-professional athletes and people who obtain fitness through sports and unique training. Tracking heartbeat and calories burned will have some positive effect, but tracking the quality of each sports motion will allow wearable’s to complete the fitness tracking solution. What would this solution look like, and how do we get there?

Let’s use myself as an example. I like to run, and I …

Wearable Workouts Part Two: Bullseye – the Benefits and Roadblocks to Smart Clothing Completing the Activity Tracker Solution

As detailed in the post, Wearable Workouts: So many darts being thrown, will any hit the bullseye?, I discuss how I believe the completely wearable fitness tracking solution will come from a smart clothing device. With multiple sensors on the body tracking every heartbeat, step, and most importantly, range of motion and muscle twitch; the possibilities are endless for a comprehensive activity tracking and athletic coaching tool. Two companies, in particular, Hexoskin and Athos, have come up with intelligently designed smart apparel products to track activity and health. Hexoskin is breaking into the professional athlete, space research, and health research markets by creating a scientifically accurate smart shirt to precisely measure heart rate, breathing, stress, fatigue, activity, and sleep. This highly advanced biometric tracking technology has been adopted by several sports organizations to optimize training for their athletes. According to Hexoskin, potential future applications include cardiology, sleep medicine, aging at home, work medicine, defense applications, and space exploration missions. Athos alternatively is focused on the consumer fitness area. Athos smart apparel is highly advanced compared to alternative wearables currently in the market. This smart clothing technology measures heart rate, breathing, and EMG, …

Wearable Workouts Part One: So Many Darts Being Thrown, Will Any Hit the Bullseye?

Working out, being fit, losing weight: these are things that almost every human being focuses on at some point in their life, but only a fraction of them accomplish their goals. Let’s take off our technology hats for a moment and focus on fitness. Many people who perform cardio and strength exercises are working towards the dream of a toned body and six pack abs. The unfortunate reality is most people do not know what it takes to achieve this goal, and spend a ton of time, energy, and money hoping to achieve this vision of themselves, only to recognize that they are not realizing the desired results. Jogging two miles in thirty minutes will not get you very fit. Doing fifty crunches, then heading to McDonald’s for a Big Mac combo will not get you those six pack abs. The key to reaching one’s fitness goals is doing everything right by eating healthy and in small portions, mixing cardio and strength exercises, proper rest, proper weight, proper form; the list can go on. As someone who once dropped over sixty pounds in a few months, I understand the frustrations and amount of, not only …

Hey Startup – Time to Partner Up!

Every startup owner looking to have an effective business knows the routine, you must keep your startup lean. Abiding by lean startup principles, many founders choose to only focus on their product in the first stage of their startup, and bring in marketing and sales representation once they get closer to bringing the product to market. More experienced founders will integrate a customer development model alongside product development. In this model, sales and marketing will work alongside the product folks to ensure the first few iterations of the products are resolving an existing customer problem for a specific market. If the notion of customer development is foreign to you, I recommend you read The Four Steps to The Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win, by Steve Blank. This is a very insightful read as to how product and customer development should work side by side for a successful product. So where does business development fit into this model? The common thought is a business development division comes in considerably after marketing and sales teams are developed. Strategic partnership teams are usually implemented once the product is at market and the company wants to …

Because You Need Somebody to Lean On, The Transformation of Business as We Know it

Look out business owners! Along with technologies, business as you know it is changing. The way consumers operate and approach purchases is changing. In turn, the way businesses operate to meet these consumer needs is changing as well. Consumers no longer have to spend a large sum of money to purchase something when they can potentially gain use from someone else’s purchase. If you live in San Francisco, you no longer have to make the decision to either pay 20 grand for a car or get ripped off by a cab company in order to make your 2-3 needed trips a week. You can now pay a very reasonable price by ordering an Uber or a Lyft to have someone use their own purchased car to take you where you need to go. We are entering an era where millennials are not constantly looking to acquire assets, but are more so looking to be as resourceful as they can with the assets available to them. The logic here is simple, in order to accumulate all the assets you need to live a good life: own a house, buy a car, stay at hotels when traveling, …

Time is Money, Efficiency is Power – How IoT Will Allow People to Have Power Over Their Lives

Everyone has heard the age-old adage, time is money, and money is power. I have my own take: time is money, and efficiency is power. By creating more time you can position yourself to come up with more ideas to earn more money, and also put yourself in a position to have power in every aspect of your life. Money and having lots of assets is simply not enough to live a happy, fulfilling life anymore. To most millennials, personal power is having enough money to survive, being able to exercise and eat organic to stay healthy, traveling the world, having the capacity to give back to those in need, and acquiring and sharing knowledge with one’s peers. Going to work from 8-5 and then calling it a day is not considered living a fulfilling life anymore. What has enabled our so-called “spoiled” generation to have and need this self-power? The ever evolving technologies that are exponentially creating efficiencies in the humdrum tasks of life.

Whether we are aware of it or not, everything we do has a process that takes time to accomplish. Some of these processes are easier than others, and some of …