IoT Business Model Ruminations
When you think about it, the much-vaunted launch of the Internet of Things (IoT) represents an enormous investment in research, development, and rollout. Much is made of all the cool things we’ll be able to do once it’s all in place, but I see less discussion of what the return will be on all of that investment. After all, some of us may be focused on this because we think the technology is cool, but someone else has to pay us, and so they’re going to want to see something for their efforts in the long-run.
You might wonder, for example, why a simple, self-respecting thermostat maker would want to get all complicated by adding a bunch of functionality to the poor little wall-mounted bugger, bringing the phone and cloud into the party as well. If you’re that thermostat guy and you’re using classical marketing thinking, then one reason for doing this might be so that your thermostat will do more than your competitors’, and so you’ll sell more than they will.
The return? The extra profits from the extra sales.
Positive and Negative Poles in the World of Electricity
Elon Musk is a guy so rich that he builds real-life rocket ships for fun.
He also builds electric cars. Or, more accurately, he built a company, Tesla Motors, that builds electric cars. Before that, he made money by handling other people’s money via PayPal. He grew up in Canada, so he’s also a nice guy.
Evidently Mr. Musk is also something of a philanthropist, because last month he gave away Tesla’s patents. Yup, just gave ’em away. Want to build an electric car that competes with Tesla’s? Knock yourself out; here’s the key technology you’ll be needing.
The IIoT Leverages Legacy Plant
There is no such thing as “the Internet of Things (IoT).”
I’m gradually coming around to the conclusion that this entity, as something integral, is an over-simplification. At the very least, there are two IoTs: the consumer one (which I’m starting to refer to as the CIoT) and the industrial IoT (commonly referred to as the IIoT).
This gives me some sympathy for a complaint certain players have had for a while: “The IoT is nothing new; it’s just a new name for M2M (machine-to-machine).” Although this statement, in and of itself, is also over-simplistic, since it still maintains that there is one IoT, by a different name, and that it’s not new.
In fact, there’s plenty that’s new, but, the more I get exposed to products dedicated to the IIoT, the more I realize how different it is from the CIoT. You could also argue whether the IIoT includes medical and automotive, but, whether or not it does, my sense is that medical and possibly even automotive share more in common with the IIoT than they do with the CIoT.
Remote Diagnostic Service Brings Auto Repair to the Cloud
How often has this happened to you? You’re sitting outside a Paris café, sipping aperitifs, when suddenly you find yourself wondering about your car’s tire pressures. Unfortunately, it’s still in the long-term lot at LAX, 5,600 miles away. Problème majeur! Not to worry; your companion whips out a smartphone, taps the screen a few times, et voila! - there is all the information, right at your absinthe-stained fingertips.
Whew, that was close.
While you’re at it, you decide to see how much gas is in the tank, you roll down the windows a bit (it’s hot inside the car right now), you change the radio back to your favorite station, and you schedule the next maintenance appointment. Yup, all avec un téléphone portable.
Will the IoT Use the Desktop or Cellphone Model?
It’s like we have two separate brains, and only one of them can be on at a time.
In one brain, we deal with desktop and laptop computers. These are machines we use to do work. (Well, they used to be until content consumption via tablets looked tempting, and then all computers had to be that, making it harder to do actual work. But that’s a separate topic.)
The work we do on our own computers is considered to be our private business. We connect the computers to the internet in order to get information or talk to other computers or buy stuff or whatever. Historically, it was an “option” to connect, but these days, it’s pretty much only black networks that have no outside access. For the most part, all desk- and laptops are connected.
Chromatic Glass Adds Embedded Intelligence to Construction
This week we’re going to talk about programming windows. No, I mean it. Literally, windows. As in, the glass outside your building.
Think I’m nuts? Then you haven’t met the people at View, Incorporated, the Silicon Valley–based company that makes “smart glass.” This isn’t the glass for your smartphone or tablet. It’s window glass, like you’d use for an office building, hospital, or hotel. We’re talking big sheets of glass – as much as 50 square feet. And they’re programmable.
Google Glass, meet Microsoft Windows.
We Explore PowerByProxi and Cota
Not long ago, we looked at wireless power. And we looked at some of the standards and conflicts underway as companies and technologies vie for best position. And it looked like a simple two-sided issue, with the eventual winner not yet clear.
Well, turns out there’s even more going on, some of it in places we rarely visit. I’ve run across two more wireless power stories, and they’re different from what we’ve seen and from each other. In an attempt to find a unifying theme as I bring them into the discussion, the common denominator seems to be their ability to “aim” their power at a device that needs charging.
Let’s back up, however, and start with a quick review.
Sensor Platforms and ARM Propose Framework
It might just be the end of another lurch.
Technology doesn’t evolve in a smooth, continuous fashion. Someone has an idea for something totally new and makes it happen. And someone else sees that idea and thinks, “OK, that’s pretty cool, but I have a better way to do it.” And someone else looks on, shakes her head at the pitiful, primitive attempts underway and puts forth yet another approach that does its tricks even more efficiently and elegantly.
And so, from that original brainstorm comes a flurry of innovation. Each modification benefits from hindsight, having in hand the results of those that came before. This goes on for a while until some asymptote is approached and the activity level mellows out. And then, sometime hence, yet another new brainstorm occurs, and the process repeats.
M5100 and M5150 Add Tasty Virtualization to the MIPS Recipe
If multiple CPUs aren’t enough for you, how about multiple operating systems on one CPU? That’s what virtualization is all about, and MIPS now offers it in its low-end range of embedded microprocessor cores.
The CPU company that’s part of Imagination Technologies recently rolled out two sibling processors for embedded designers who have the budget for SoC development. The new M5100 and M5150 CPU cores add virtualization to the already familiar MIPS 32-bit architecture.
The M in the product name tells you that these are comparatively low-end MIPS processor designs, as opposed to the midrange I-series or the performance-oriented P-series. If you’re still stuck on the previously (short-lived) product names, this would be a microAptiv, not an interAptiv or proAptiv. Got all that?
Microchip's 8-bit Challenge
There is a common assumption that innovation cannot be inspired in the world of 8-bit microcontrollers. If that is the case, then why haven’t they disappeared like the telegraph or the 8-track tape? Perhaps it's because we still need them and sometimes they are just what the doctor (or engineer as the case may be) ordered. In this week’s Fish Fry, I check out some cool new 8-bit MCUs from Microchip Technology with Greg Robinson (VP - Microchip Technology) and we dive down into the guts of these new 8-bit masterpieces - from the intelligent analog features to the digital pin placement capabilities. Also this week, we investigate how Israeli start-up StoreDot plans to revolutionize battery technology. (Hint: It includes chemically synthesized bio-organic peptide molecules!)