Everything around us is drown in data, information, knowledge. I believe that the Internet Of Things is all about people and innovation. Designing great products that can sense our world and help us with everything we do. Finding new ways of interaction between things and having apps that work with physical things that you can touch and play with…. can’t wait to see this and be part of it! It really is the Internet of Everything and it will help us interact better and smarter with all our things!
One of my true inspirations has always been Andy Stanford-Clark - one of the founders of the Internet Of Things movement. In his recent TED talk in UK he shares his experience about how the Internet of Things is already helping people organize and adjust their lives better to the surrounding environment again by sensing.
The challenge and the opportunity now - is to find the best use case that really matters to consumers.
The last few days at Le Web conference in Paris has been pretty interesting, with a lot of different takes on what the Internet of Things actually is and the various opportunities arising. Nest founder & CEO Tony Fadell stirred things up a bit with a comment that he believed the Internet of Things would take 10 years to realise itself. (See coverage at http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57556955-76/nest-ceo-fadell-internet-of-things-is-a-decade-away/).
But wouldn’t it be sooner? The real value driver is the information that flows across networks. Information from and about objects can power applications. To use a metaphor, the social web is now a massive ecosystem. It’s driven by a flow of information from and about human beings, identified through their social web identities – Facebook profiles, Linkedin profiles, Twitter profiles, G+ profiles.
The same may turn out to be true for physical things, and for products in particular. What if there were identities for physical things on the Web, so that information from and about those things can become accessible to applications. Objects can be scanned or tagged, using mobile devices as proxies, to connect them to their web identities.
Nest had recently published their new energy report that shows you not only how much energy you have used the past month but also why. This is where sensing gets smarter and the smal device is able to analyze all the generate data and help you learn from it.
As the founder of the MIT Media Lab Joi Ito said recently in a great talk between him and JJ Abrams:
“We figure out the questions, sometimes, after we figure out the answers.”
In this way the Internet of Things has turned into an imminent technological paradigm that will see chips, sensors and smarts inserted into everyday things that you probably wouldn’t ever think of, turning them into magical items. We still don’t have them but they will surely change our lives…
An Internet of Things coffee maker may be able to brew you coffee before you know you need it … but you still have to clean it and feed it beans.
Recently I was interviewed for an article about Internet-connected consumer devices in Fast Company.
As in-device enabling technologies become free - think of free WiFi chips, free Internet connectivity, free CPU horsepower - software-based logic will be built into anything valuable enough to be bought, sold or stolen. Soon that will include anything that has power already running through it (like light bulbs).
Entrepreneurs are actively creating truly novel scenarios for what to do with these Internet-connected devices. If you have light bulbs with individual Internet connectivity, what do you need wall switches for? Startups are going to start coming up with creative use cases that matter. For example - think of using a timer app on your smartphone, when you put something in the oven and leave the room. As the Fast Company article suggests, why don’t you connect the “timer done” function to the lights in the house and start them flashing when the timer counts down to zero? (Or just the lights in the room where motion sensors know you’re there?)
Some use cases will be merely cool and fun. Most won’t work at all. But a select few use cases have the opportunity to break through and lead to some huge new business opportunities.
If you’re thinking about finding wild new use cases, check out F**k Yeah Internet Fridge, a blog full of use cases that sound cool but have no true utility for ordinary people. The challenge for entrepreneurs - and the opportunity - is to find the next use case that really matters to consumers (like Nest).
Hacking is something not everybody enjoys. You’ve got to be a special kind of grown up if you enjoy it - most of the time the others - friends and family think you’re playing and not actually doing anything meaningful. However every hacker would tell you this is an absolute nonsense and even that playing is not definitely a bad thing.
When you work with kids you see how excited they feel when they know that they are going to ‘hack’ with something. One of the most powerful ideas in the TEDxBrussels this year is that if our kids are going to be true digital natives, we should be teaching them technology so they can be creators, not just consumers. And hacking is the first step to creating something new. Have a look at Ryan Creighton and his adorable daughter talking about the video game they created together at at another TEDx event in Toronto a few weeks ago:
Now you can see why we had a great time organizing a great Hackidemia event in Sofia, Bulgaria a few day ago. I started working on the project from the perspective of doing electronics workshops with the kids and now I see that anything involving programming, robotics, LEDs, electronic circuits fires kids up so much to learn more and play with them at home.
This time we did our Hackidemia event in SOHO - the Sofia holistic coworking space, which is a great 3 story house with a very artistic touch right in the center of the Sofia. Honestly we were a little bit worried of all the pictures and sculptures all over the house having in mind that we expected around 50 kids. The truth is that more than 60kids showed up, we had 10 different workshops and everything went great. One thing that we did different was that we thought that we really want each kid to go through as many workshops as possible(as we loved them all). This is where Gamecraft helped us let the kids play they way through all the workshops. Here come the Badges:
From the top row, left to right - you see the badges for:
- Cardboard Creativity and Recycling - we had tons of cardboard and the goal was to create different game(arcades) from it - with no constraints. Any game is great using any kind of recycling material.
- Crafts - constructing objects from wood and painting them - the kids created some amazing boards in different shapes, reindeers and others.
- Driving a car with lemons - the task was to learn the very basics of electronics and what we need to light an LED. How the batteries work and why and how we can use a lemon to light an LED. Through plenty experiments we realized that we can’t really power up a motor with lemons.
- Electronics - After going through the basics in the previous workshop the kids were now ready to create circuits including more elements - buttons, resistors, 7-segment displays and others. They loved playing and exploring on their own while showing to other kids what’s the right way to connect elements to turn on a simple LED.
- 3D Origami - The very creative 3D Origami workshop was about imagination and following the steps to create an object out of colored paper pieces.
- Lego Robots - was using the Mindstorms Robotics kits to let kids explore and learn how easy it is to program a robot.
- Space and Space Exploration ideas - was about what do we need to do to send a small payload to Space and also - why should we want to send it there? What are the kids ideas of Space Exploration.
- 3D Printer and how it works? - We were very happy to have a full functioning Rep-Rap 3D printer that was 3D printing a shark. The kids were very excited and curious about what could they 3D print and kept asking amazing questions.
- Go - the ancient Chinese game was great even for 4 years old
- How to create a musical Instrument - was all about what do you need to make a Guitar and the basics into how to play a Piano and a Guitar.
Kids loved the badges idea! It was amazing how adding this small element of getting a badge sticker when you complete the workshop made the whole event so dynamical. All the kids got the idea very quickly and were eager to gather all of them and learn about everything.
Have a look at the pictures here.
Now you should be convinced that today is about being active and creating. As Joris Peels says at the TEDxKids Brussels event - “Making things is the most fantastic thing in the world to say: I made this”. When you think about don’t you believe Gabe Zichermann, when he asks: “Is it that our children have ADD or is our world is too freaking slow for children to appreciate?”
Looking forward to the next Hackidemia!
The electronics wizard, Boby :) and the Gamification wizard, Deny :)
Just two days ago Agilart and Power Home together with the whole Startup Weekend team went through an interesting challenge. YES, we were part of an Open Innovation Workshop organized by Cleantech Bulgaria and the European Day of the Entrepreneur 2012! While preparing the workshop together with Margarita from Cleantech Bulgaria we set out to focus it on “How to transform an innovative idea into a sustainable business?”.
It was a huge challenge for the team and we focussed all our energy in getting the product out there and talking to experts in the fields of Home Automation and Industrial Manufacturing. We used a business development process developed by Synovum Partners that has already been applied in some of the best entrepreneurship communities worldwide. It was about how can a starting idea like ours turn into a sustainable business. The first thing we focussed on was the Technical Feasibility of the project - What do we need to make it to the market? What will be open source software and hardware? We looked in all the technical details both in the software and the hardware side of the project. We were very happy to have people from Schneider Electric and Bulplast-m in the audience. Throughout the discussion we found that the security and reliability of the platform are some of the most looked at and valued features. We continued the workshop with a detailed analysis of the competitive edge in the market. We stopped at the applications of the platform in:
- Home automation for monitoring and control
- Integrating the platform in building management systems
- Industrial applications in automating and optimizing manufacturing process
In all these cases we focussed on how the platform can help the customers lower down the energy costs. We also developed some action steps that we need to do in all these customer segments. At last we looked closely at these customers and how they would use the final product. We did a little role playing and we discovered what would be the main drive for the people to have this product at home:
- Saving money from the electricity bills
Well now the team is fully dedicated to achieving these core values and you’ll soon hear more about it from us.