Internet of Things news of the week August 11, 2017

The Haiku fan by Big Ass Fans. It connects to Alexa, the Ecobee and more.

Did Big Ass Fans make a big ass mistake? Stop reading this and go read this story from the founder of Big Ass Fans (they make giant fans and smaller fans) on his connected device journey so far. He concludes that his company made a connected product too early and without thinking about what they would have to do to support it in the long run and whether their customers ultimately wanted it. It should be mandatory reading for anyone thinking of building or selling connected consumer devices.  (Harvard Business Review)

IoT will change your job: The more data we gather from manufacturing operations, the more companies will have to empower their employees to act on that data. I hear this a lot from manufacturing executives talking about the skills shift that occurred after they connected their production lines. Figuring out how to help existing workers train for that skills shift and how to look for new talent isn’t something executives always think about, but this article helps lay out what’s needed. (Harvard Business Review)

The future of sensors may be biological? I like thinking about how we use math to make existing sensors more useful but I’m also keen to explore how we can bring new sensors to the world. Every time we invest in a new sensor we’re adding another layer of data and potential for insights to out IoT arsenal. In this research, there isn’t a new sensor, but rather the first steps to creating a new type of low-resolution visual sensor that mimics human biology. (MIT Technology Review)

The Tovala oven gets a review: Remember the Tovala oven I featured a few weeks ago in this newsletter? It’s a $ 400 connected steam oven that requires a subscription to pre-prepared meals that can be cooked in the oven. My friend Richard Gunther backed the oven on Kickstarter and offers an incredibly comprehensive review of it. If smart kitchen appliances are your thing, go check out Gunther’s review. He also has a smart home podcast. (The Spoon)

Let’s talk trash: I’m still not 100% sure what Sidewalk Labs is doing because it has pilots around smart transportation, urban planning,  and now a smart trash chute, but I liked this overview of a design challenge for boosting recycling rates in apartment buildings. The design teams created a trash chute for apartments that opens via a tablet and has a camera so tenants in the building and the landlords can see how much trash different units are recycling or tossing. I’m grossed out by tablets everywhere that can act as touch-sensitive germ magnets, but apparently it worked here. Read all about it. (Sidewalk Labs)

Speaking of sensors: Check out this cool sensor that fits onto the sides of a pair of glasses and lets users control things by blinking their eyes. The sensor is made of thin layers of polymers and each time someone blinks, the motion of skin near the eyes causes the polymer layers to touch and release. This generates an electrical signal sent to a device. This could find a use in making existing sensors smaller or for use cases like wearables. Pretty cool. (New Scientist)

Your toll tag might help you find your next parking spot: The research folks at MIT applied to the FCC to use the wireless signals from people’s toll tags to count cars, perhaps as a way to track open parking spaces. The hat tip on this goes to Steven Crowley who links in this tweet to the two relevant FCC filings. (@stevenjcrowley)

The next iPhone should have 3-D sensing: A company producing 3-D sensors has seen its orders skyrocket, leading analysts to suspect that Lumentum’s sensors are part of the upcoming iPhone. This is some wicked cool technology and helps push a really exciting sensor into wider distribution and hopefully helps lower its cost. For more on 3-D sensors and what it’s good for in IoT, check out the podcast I dedicated to the topic. (9to5Mac)

Check out a few global IoT efforts: India, Brazil and pretty much every other country is investing in IoT pilots for agriculture, telemedicine, municipal lighting and more. This article highlights a few of them. (India Times)

Is UL 2900 the IoT security standard we’ve been waiting for? UL, the standards and certification company out of Illinois, has been developing security standards for the IoT for a while now. Last month its first one UL 2900-1, which covers general requirements for connected products, was ratified. Two more will soon follow aimed at industrial controls and healthcare-focused devices. (GovTechWorks)

The Internet of Defense is coming: Maybe internet and defense don’t belong together, but the military is embracing software and services from the large IT shops as it seeks to modernize gear and prepare for next generation combat. The military is also taking the concept of air wars, ground wars, etc. to the internet, making plans for information war. This article also questions what it means when civilians and their companies provide so much of a nation’s military infrastructure. Does that make them targets? It’s an excellent read. (Strategy+Business)

Unstrap that FitBit or Apple Watch at night: Researchers have built a sleep detection device that uses radio waves to determine what stage of sleep a person is in. The radio waves are bounced off the sleeper to get a “picture” of what is happening. Then the device applies an algorithm to figure out what stage of sleep the person is in. Not only could this be used for sleep, but using this type of RF device to glean information from an environment is compelling for a huge number of applications. It merely depends on getting the right algorithms.  When it comes to tracking sleep the research device is 80% accurate, which is not too bad if you’d rather use your eight hours to charge your Apple Watch. (Science)

Alexa, analyze last quarter’s same store sales: Tableau, the data visualization software company, is buying ClearGraph, which lets you search through data using natural language. It’s a match that makes incredible sense as we gather more information in our business processes that someone — usually managers, not data scientists — has to parse.  I’ve used Tableau, and while it is a step up from many visualization programs, it still has a learning curve. Being able to tell the software what you need and actually get the right results would be better and bring intelligence to a wider audience in the business. All that sensor data is junk unless people know what to do with it. (TechCrunch)

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

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