Spending on IoT Expected to Grow to $520B

According to a new report from consulting firm Bain & Co, big companies plan to double their annual spending on smart, Internet-connected devices like video surveillance cameras and industrial sensors by 2021 to an annual total of $520 billion from $235 billion spent in 2017.

In its previous 2016 survey about IoT spend, Bain projected $450 billion for 2020 which included purchases of devices, software, and related services.  The higher forecast shows businesses are increasing their appetite for connected devices alongside  growing consumer demand  for everything “smart” in their homes including cameras, thermostats, speakers and connected light bulbs.

Connected video surveillance cameras and sensors that measure throughput or alert when parts are wearing out, usually send their information to the cloud for analysis. But newer products are moving the smarts to the edge – meaning that the products themselves will have more powerful compute engines and AI algorithms built-in, making them more independent and cost effective to operate – thus boosting sales.

Not surprisingly, Bain found that not all connected devices have caught on as much as previously expected – primarily due to security concerns, complex integration paths and uncertain ROIs.  Many companies hoped that collecting extensive data about their equipment would help with predictive maintenance, reducing costs and streamlining operations.  That has been harder to prove-out.

In one example, Bain pointed to elevator manufacturer Schindler working with GE  to collect sensor data from 60,000 elevators. But a lack of historical data and problems integrating different data formats made predicting maintenance needs difficult which has caused  interest in predictive maintenance use cases to wane.

Interest in remote monitoring, on the other hand, has risen because it tends to be a standalone application with clear customer benefits.  

As Bain notes, “the next few years will be critical to the development of IoT markets as leaders continue to make gains and expand their industry-specific offers. Incumbents that fail to move quickly enough to address customers’ needs are likely to get leapfrogged by more nimble competitors. Device makers, in particular, run the risk of seeing software and analytics competitors capture the value of solutions, leaving them to deliver lower-profitability hardware components.”

Removing barriers to adoption is critical – utilizing proven technology and service providers that understand customer pain points and have experience delivering end-to-end, secure, scalable systems is imperative. 

The Next Frontier in Digital Health

Digital health was prominently displayed at CES this year with lots of floor space dedicated to the industry and a cornucopia of health and fitness-focused wearable devices debuting in Las Vegas.

The declining costs of hardware components, the ubiquity of smartphones and the need for consumers to cut their medical costs is spurring innovation in many areas of digital health.  Given these trends, the line between health and fitness devices is blurring.   Every consumer electronics company from Sony to LG to Samsung is either getting into the game or thinking about it.  But as activity tracking becomes increasingly more commoditized, health device makers need to step-up their offerings and focus on disease management and improving outcomes.   Every patient consumer wants simple interfaces that engage them and allows them to gain valuable insights into their health and wellbeing – not achieved by the current cadre of activity sensors.

Health device makers and wellness apps wanting to provide real value for their customers are moving beyond step counting and integrating into connected health services in the cloud.  These services use a holistic approach to engaging the provider and patient in managing adherence and compliance and by extension – outcomes.    Incorporating physicians, pharmacists, therapists and trainers as part of an integrated “care-team” allows for meaningful patient engagement easing compliance and allowing patients to become “emotionally” accountable for using the app or device as directed by their care-team.   For healthcare providers, this same integration made possible by ubiquitous connectivity – allows them to think and engage beyond the practical aspects of care – the exam, laboratory test or simple disease management.

The past year has proved that many pieces are in place (desire, policy, market demand, innovation, investment, etc.) for a radical transformation in healthcare. We’re beginning to see many aspects of our health and wellness reimagined.  There is now a growing community of stakeholders who understand that change is not only possible, but inevitable, and best of all are taking action to see those changes come true.  The next step in this tectonic shift, is leveraging a higher level of connectivity where data, devices and humans are optimally connected to enable good care decisions – shifting the cost curve and encouraging accountability and adherence beyond what’s offered by today’s consumer health devices.

Source: Smithsonian Magazine
Source: Smithsonian Magazine

Will AllSeen (formerly AllJoyn) have the same fate as other Internet of Things standards that have been tried in the past?


The reason we are where we are today, with smart home hubs having 7 radios to provide frequency and protocol interoperability between “all” smart connected devices in your home is because many years ago we started with a small light weight protocol called ZigBee and at some point, it gathered an alliance around it.  With multiple constituencies all pulling in different directions, the protocol became unwieldy and too heavy for what it was intended.  Then we had Z-Wave and the Z-Wave Alliance, same dilemma although with a smaller number of players influencing the outcome.  We also have Bluetooth with the Bluetooth SIG, Insteon, 6LoWPAN and so many others.  They all promise the same thing, to be able to tap and control a whole ecosystem of products and devices seamlessly. But, they’ve all failed to garner a huge following across a spectrum of products – thus the consumer is forced to pay more for solutions that promise to play well together with others because interoperability across protocols is non existent – unless you include multiple radios in a single hub.

Here comes Qualcomm to the rescue.  Qualcomm’s goal is to offer developers and consumers an experience that works across all platforms, manufacturers and devices.  But is this possible?  Sure, ad-hoc WiFi can provide the connectivity fabric between all devices, but is that sufficient?  Many IoT devices are part of a purposeful solution that doesn’t necessarily adhere to the notion of continuous connectivity and command-and-control from a single interface.  Thus, a battery-operated sensor with a 10-year battery life can’t be expected to respond to continuous low-level WiFi beacons – nor should it.  In cases like these, it is best to leave the protocol implementation to the manufacturer of the device who has intimate knowledge of functional and customer requirements.  AllSeen, of course, does not solve the physical layer protocol dilemma that has precluded IoT to cross the proverbial chasm.

When HTML was first written, it was done so by one man, Tim Berners-Lee, whose mission was to have a markup language that web browsers could use to interpret and compose text, images and other materials into visual web pages.  He was not conflicted by a consortium with competing interests nor was there 10+ other protocols in existence promising to deliver the same thing.  In AllSeen’s case, fragmentation and competitive forces will prevent it from making great strides for many years to come.  It’ll take a lot more than open-source, the Linux Foundation and a few examples to get everyone on board.

2014 is the year of the internet of things—no, seriously, we mean it this time

It’s fair to say that more people have heard of the “internet of things” than have experienced it. There is breathless press coverage of the phenomenon—always patiently re-explained by tech pundits as the trend by which all of our most mundane possessions will become internet-connected—each time novel, if obscure, inventions make a name off successful Kickstarter campaigns. These are invariably coupled with estimates that the internet of things will be a multi-trillion dollar business.

Keeping your kids off the internet will be a lot harder when their toys are already in it. Source: Toymail
Keeping your kids off the internet will be a lot harder when their toys are already in it. Source: Toymail

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How do you design fitness trackers for people that really need them?

Too many products look like they were designed by men in Silicon Valley for men in Silicon
Valley, says one wearable tech CEO.  The people in real life who wear Nike Fuelbands, Jawbone Ups and Fitbits may not be models, but they tend not to be the people most in need of extra fitness motivation.  So how do you get the less-fit masses to join the fitness-tracking bandwagon?

Photo: Nike Fuelband - Giga Om
Photo: Nike Fuelband – GigaOM

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GE CEO Jeff Immelt’s Big Data Bet: “We’re betting on the industrial Internet”

“Take the jet engine. It has about 20 sensors that capture real-time continuous data — temperature, engine performance, etc. If I can take that data and use it to model a consumer outcome — say, more time on the wing or less fuel burn — that’s worth an awful lot of money to my customers. A 1 percent change in fuel burn for an airline is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Immelt. All Things Digital

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Healthcare, Consumerized

‘Consumerization’ is happening in the healthcare market – an ongoing trend of turning patients into consumers. Patients are increasingly using their smartphones and tablets to access and manage healthcare information from anywhere at any time. These devices enable them to take a more active role in their care experience and empower them to choose their own care alternatives.

Image: Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE
Image: Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE

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