IoT Agenda

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October 19, 2017  3:02 PM

2018: The year blockchain, AI and IoT technology converge

Tiana Laurence Tiana Laurence Profile: Tiana Laurence
ai, Artificial intelligence, Blockchain, Internet of Things, iot, IoT devices, iot security, Security

Technology is filled with buzzwords that come and go. However, three key ideas that have grown in stature and relevance over recent years are blockchain technology, artificial intelligence and the internet of things. These three emerging technologies represent different aspects of the data world, and 2018 may be the tipping point in their convergence. The result? Three different pieces of technology will start working together in a seamless ecosystem, and the result is a more connected, more efficient and more secure world.

In order to see how these technologies might work together, it’s essential to understand their specifics. Let’s take a closer look.

Blockchain: Blockchains have been around for nearly a decade and first came to prominence with the rise of bitcoin. Blockchains are a database platform with several key market differentiations. First, they are decentralized, removing single authority over the data. Second, many are publicly vetted through a network of users. Third, data is permanent as each record is recorded in a block and linked to adjacent records, making them immutable and linear. For more information, see my book, Blockchain for Dummies.

AI: This term brings up many stereotypes from sci-fi, mostly involving the dystopian end of the world. However, AI is just as likely to bring about a better world as it is to end it. Current AI simply represented learning algorithms that can adjust and make decisions based on processing high volumes of data. An example of this is Apple’s Siri. Siri learns your schedule, habits and likes/dislikes by merely tracking data of individual decisions. When patterns are recognized, Siri can make decisions about recommendations and options. AI can be used in all sorts of applications, from B2B to B2C, and in the process, make things faster and easier for the end user. For more information, see Max Tegmark’s book, Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.

IoT: The internet of things is already here thanks to a combination of Wi-Fi, data networks and Bluetooth connecting devices. The emerging smart home is an example of IoT, where the idea is that all of the “things” are connected to the internet: refrigerator, TV, thermostat and more. As more and more everyday devices go online, IoT becomes increasingly mainstream and part of daily life. For more information, see Bruce Sinclair’s book, IoT Inc.

How these technologies work together

All three of these technologies have been ramping up over the past decade. After years of hype and expectations, 2018 looks to be the year of convergence, and the ecosystem begins with the blockchain.

Blockchain technology is rebuilding the underpinnings of the internet. One of the fundamental issues that prevent the more widespread use of IoT and AI is security vulnerabilities inherent within the internet as it stands now. Blockchain technologies can help solve a lot of these issues by doing three things: They allow users to conduct commerce directly, both providing a payment mechanism and communication channel. Blockchain networks can also be used to create indexed records that are linear and permanent, allowing others to reference them globally without censorship. The third thing that blockchain technology allows its users to do is to act as their own certificate authority. Senator Elizabeth Warren stated following the Equifax hack that “people should own their own data;” individuals acting as their own certificate authority is how they could start controlling their own data.

Blockchain represents the glue that holds this ecosystem together because it is responsible for storing and guarding records. With transparency and permanence inherently part of its operational model, hacking becomes nearly impossible. This protects against the biggest threat — outside usurping of device and record control. Such threats have appeared in many forms over recent years, from the mass Mirai distributed denial-of-service attack driven by bots in 2016 to notable stories of children learning to hack into their smart toys. With IoT, every connected device is a vulnerable point of entry, and with AI making decisions for users, the risks have never been more significant. A scalable, secure and easily vetted platform that blockchains create is a level of security that even has governments exploring it for official uses.

Because while the current focus is on smart refrigerators and TVs, the stakes become infinitely higher when we look into the future. Smart medical devices may represent a new way of saving lives by being driven with AI capable of making on-the-fly life-saving decisions through biometric data. Yet, consider the power of that device should someone hack into it — such a threat creates a new form of terrorism. Similarly, self-driving cars are already common enough that states are making laws for them as technology companies like Google evolve their capabilities. The goal of these vehicles is to make transportation more efficient and safer by taking the human element out of the equation. However, hacking into their systems creates a danger for all drivers on the road. Considering that hackers have already been able to demonstrate that they can take over control of Tesla vehicles, the need to secure data powering smart vehicle AI is literally a matter of life and death.

Thus, the most significant leap forward in connectivity and AI will not come from what the technology is capable of, but instead its success or failure matters solely on the security and dependability of the data powering it. Without the ability to have maximum secured data, any impressive uses of AI or IoT devices ultimately become nothing more than a glorified tech demo if it can’t be trusted once released into the world and open to nefarious users. For the convergence of these incredible technologies to truly take place, they must be secure experiences. Because of that, 2018 marks the first time that these technologies can take advantage of the others’ capabilities, and together, they may form the foundation of an ecosystem that will change the way humanity lives, works and plays. This could lead to all sorts of changes, from the marriage of RFID and NFC chips and blockchain as new personal identification to cryptocurrencies being used to power transactions between AI and IoT devices. Change is coming, and if there was ever a time to make sure humanity gets it right, it would be now.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

October 19, 2017  12:50 PM

Product as a service, brought to you by IoT

Kevin Kostiner Profile: Kevin Kostiner
consumers, Customer service, Customers, Internet of Things, iot, IoT applications, IoT devices, manufacturers, Manufacturing, products, Service providers, subscriptions

The internet of things is changing our world. Small changes right now, with many things happening in the background. For most people, the real impact of IoT will come into focus only when those changes have a direct and noticeable influence on their lives.

Other than the evolution of our cities, roads and transportation into smart, connected and autonomous environments, the greatest changes will be seen in how we relate to companies with whom we do business. These relationships are simple, we spend our money to buy and own things those companies produce.

Imagine a world in which buying and owning most things is a concept only seen in Ken Burns documentaries. Titled The Ownership Culture, the camera follows a family buying tires for “their” car as narrator Neil deGrasse Tyson marvels, “Buying tires! An old family tradition, wasting hard-earned money owning things instead of investing in fun. This poor family probably missed traveling on a jungle safari that year. How sad a time that was!”

It will be a while until we hear Tyson utter those words; for now we continue to live in a buy-it-to-own-it world where our lives are a cycle of earn and spend. Consider:

  • $600 bucks for new tires
  • $2,300 for that new “smart” refrigerator
  • Garage door broke? $800 for a new one, plus $250 installation
  • New carpeting for the house, $4,500
  • Back-to-school clothes shopping at the mall (really, people are still doing this!), $850
  • Nike Cross Trainers, $135
  • $3,500 for patio furniture and a fire pit
  • Camping gear from REI, $1,250

Saving money for summer vacation is nearly impossible with all these cash outlays!

In the very near future, the influence of the internet of things will grow as the term “as a service” gains mainstream acceptance. Consider these soon-to-be-heard advertisements:

  • Home Depot: “Garage door as a service. For a fee of only $29.95 per month, you get a new Chamberlain smart garage door installed including lifetime maintenance. Chamberlain, the leader in bringing intelligence to your garage door, believes your garage door should do a lot more than open and close.”
  • Lumber Liquidators: “Try our new flooring-as-a-service program, where we install smart laminate flooring throughout your home starting at only $29.95 per month. Smart laminate flooring monitors activity, moisture, dirt levels and can even act as your security system, providing the most comfortable, secure and clean environment for your bare feet. Go smart and go back to bare; your feet will thank you!”
  • Nike: “Our new smart Cross Trainers monitor every aspect of your performance AND tell you when it’s time for a new pair. Only $24.95 per month for the rest of your life and you never buy a pair again. When they’ve reached trade-in time, the attractive LED lights will flash and sounds of birds chirping will tell you to expect a new pair to arrive within 24 hours. It’s like dollar shave club, only for your feet!”
  • REI: “The forests are getting crowded. It’s gotten to the point where you can’t find your tent at the end of a long day hiking and enjoying nature. With our new smart tent, you will have no trouble finding your campsite, where a lit, warm and inviting tent will be waiting for you. Only $44.95 per month, and that includes unlimited cloud storage and built-in Wi-Fi to upload your photos, video and statistics each night.”

This is the consumer view.

Consider the dramatic impact on the manufacturers of all this stuff: They make it, sell it and then start over the next day.

Manufacturing companies make things that must be sold to realize revenue for the company. On Monday, they sell 100 things — and Monday is good. Tuesday shows up and whatever they did on Monday, now a distant memory for this new day, starts at zero sales. Every day is like this, starting from zero. For revenue only arrives with the sale of new items. Even if they sold a record-breaking number of things every day for a month, the next month starts at zero.

It’s an endless cycle of make, sell, make, sell … with no end in sight unless the goal is to go out of business. If it’s a public company, this cycle is even more vicious as shareholders demand that revenue levels keep rising quarter after quarter, year after year. Don’t hit the market’s forecasts for growth in one quarter and the stock price is hammered.

You have consumers endlessly spending money to own things and manufacturers making things in an endless cycle of birth and death every day. Our current system is way overdue for that IoT-driven change!

Manufacturers will evolve into as-a-service providers while consumers will start saving all that cash, making fee payments instead. That is the future. Buying and ownership are going to fade slowly away. Not completely and not immediately, but it’s going.

What can you do to prepare? Learn self-control so all that cash piles up and you can stop working and start enjoying life long before “retirement” (whatever that really means). Oh, and invest in airline and hotel stocks before you do. Since you won’t be burdened by owning so much stuff, you’ll be free to travel all the time. Marriott and Southwest Air are going to love this change!

Freedom, brought to you by the internet of things!

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.


October 19, 2017  10:42 AM

Growing IoT platforms: A new way to create value

Helena Lisachuk Profile: Helena Lisachuk
Internet of Things, iot, IoT devices, IoT platform, monetisation, partners, partnership, platform, value

What makes grass green?

A simple question, with a complex answer. It turns out plant cells cannot harness sunlight and water on their own. Rather, they require the services of a broker, chloroplasts, to bring together the raw materials and make energy.

How do you make money from IoT?

Another simple question with a complex answer, and, like plant cells, the answer may lie in facilitators, or platforms, to support companies in making use of the technological raw materials offered to them.

Going green: How platforms create value

To understand why a platform may be necessary for IoT, we need to first understand what IoT is and why companies and consumers might benefit from it. IoT is fundamentally an architecture and not a single technology itself.[i] That is to say that IoT connects existing technologies in a specific way (described by the information value loop in Figure 1) to enable people and companies to accomplish entirely new things, and in doing so, it creates value for them.[ii]

However, given the diverse nature of IoT technology, it is unlikely that any single company will have all of the devices or expertise in-house needed at every stage of the information value loop. Rather, even the biggest companies likely must choose from a vast array of technology and integration partners to make relatively simple IoT applications work. Beyond merely the physical sensors, elements as diverse as managing RESTful services, API management or data analytics models, all must come together seamlessly and work the first time. Therefore, one of the big challenges facing businesses that seek value from IoT is coordinating the many elements needed to come together simultaneously. That coordinator could be an IoT platform.

A platform is typically a space — physical or virtual — for two parties to meet in order to create value.[i] More precisely, the platform represents a two-sided market — one where the platform can affect the volume of transactions on one side, while balancing the price paid by the other side. IoT platforms operate in a similar manner. They create value, not by making any specific product, but rather by connecting previously disconnected supply and demand.

But why platforms? Why not sell any other IoT product or service? The secret to success of platforms is hidden in the relationship between supply and demand. If platforms create value by giving both supply and demand options from which to choose, then the more solution options a platform offers the more users it can attract. And the more users it can attract, the platform becomes even more attractive to solution developers, creating a flywheel effect called positive network effect (see Figure 2). We can quantify just how beneficial this effect can be to platform owners by using Metcalfe’s Law, the principle which states that the value of a network is directly proportional to the square if its participants.[ii] Therefore, wider participation from ecosystem of partners offers more potential value for all of those partners — and does so exponentially!

Planting the seed: First steps to take towards creating an IoT platform

With the potential to create so much value, many companies want to dive in headfirst into creating an IoT platform. While there are obstacles on this journey, there are a number of key factors to consider as you begin building your platform:

  1. Identify the ecosystem partners needed to create value. It is rare that any single company is able to provide all of the technology and expertise necessary to make a solution work — an ecosystem of partners is usually needed to achieve your goals with IoT. Identifying that group of partners is the critical first step towards platform development (see Figure 3).
  2. Understand where there are gaps in the vendor ecosystem. In any ecosystem, there will be gaps and imperfect connections between participants. When you know value is created by the flow of information, you will be better positioned to identify where there are gaps or bottlenecks in that flow. Addressing those areas — through partnership, acquisition or development — will be key to creating value.
  3. Fill that gap. Once a gap or slowdown in information flow is identified, a potential platform must move to fill that gap. This will involve external activities to position the platform with customers and developers, but will almost certainly require new internal capabilities as well. For example, a company transitioning from a single product to a platform will likely need to add data scientists, design thinkers, cybersecurity, privacy specialists, IT as a customer-facing function and product managers focused on bundled offerings.
  4. Race to scale. Finally, survival for many platforms rests with rapidly harnessing the network effect to attract more customers and more developers. This process reaches far beyond mere advertising or marketing, ultimately touching the core of the business. Platforms can capture value unequally from both sides — whether by charging supply, demand or both. Understanding how ecosystem partners assign value to the platform is critical to attracting more stakeholders and achieving positive network effects.

While these factors can seem to be daunting challenges, they are merely part of the process. Just as a plant does not go from seed to tree overnight, there is no need to have every answer at the start. Organizations and ecosystems often use prototyping to learn about the potential of digital platforms. So, think big, but start small, and then scale fast those ideas that prove to be viable. And while the creation of a new platform can be a difficult and daunting process — especially for companies used to selling products — understanding the core principles of platforms can help you turn this technology into a valuable source of business that gets bottom line results.

[i] Holdowsky, Mahto, Raynor, and Cotteleer. Inside the Internet of Things: A primer on the technologies building IoT. Deloitte University Press. August, 2015.

[ii] Michael Raynor and Mark Cotteleer. The More Things Change: Value creation, value capture, and the Internet of Things. Deloitte University Press. Deloitte Review Issue 17. July 27, 2015.

[iii] Andrei Hagiu and Julian Wright (2011). Multi-Sided Platforms, Harvard Working Paper 12-024.

[iv] James Hendler and Jennifer Golbeck (2008). Metcalfe’s Law, Web 2.0, and the Semantic Web (PDF).

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.


October 18, 2017  4:09 PM

Rethinking data through edge computing: Four phases for IIoT infrastructure

Jason Andersen Jason Andersen Profile: Jason Andersen
Business Analytics, Data Analytics, Edge computing, Enterprise IoT, IIoT, Industrial IoT, Internet of Things, iot, IoT analytics, IoT data, Real time analytics

As industrial enterprises continue to move toward fully embracing the industrial internet of things, however tentatively that may be, we can observe an evolution in how operational technology (OT) teams are thinking.

Until more recently, OT teams have been reluctant to change and caught viewing their environment as a flat line — focused solely on their automation equipment and tools within their environment that made automation possible — not as having the potential for growth and adaptation.

However, a major shift in mindset is starting to take place. We’re now seeing engineers at more and more organizations place higher importance on data produced by their automation systems than on the tools needed to make them happen. This change in priority reflects the increasing potential that data and advanced analytics offer enterprises in untapped business value.

So, what’s driving this change of focus from applications to data? It’s not only due to the tremendous growth in data, but also due to the increase in soft computing at the edge, which is closer to production processes.

Four phases to true IIoT infrastructure

  1. Currently, most industrial enterprises are in the “informed” stage, where they are starting to understand and realize the potential of IIoT, but have not made strides in tapping its potential. However, many are beginning to look ahead and think more tactically about progressing to the next phases.
  2. The next step in the progression to a true IIoT infrastructure is the “insightful” step, where enterprises are implementing business analytics to drive new insights and increased efficiencies in their business models.
  3. Once companies have implemented business analytics, they can then advance to the “intelligent” phase, where linking elements in the infrastructure enables real-time optimization.
  4. The ultimate and final phase is the “invisible” stage, where artificial intelligence processes all of the data and makes real-time decisions with no human interaction.

One major component stalling multiple industries from beginning this transition is their perceived ROI. Many “old fashioned” industries are hesitant to change, as they’re not realizing the full potential or believe the costs associated with implementing new infrastructure to be too high. Consequently, most industrial enterprises are still in the informed stage.

However, there are many industries, like food and beverage, which are actively embracing IIoT technologies. They are already realizing the value of data through production efficiency and improved product safety and quality — critical components for protecting brand reputation. As technology progresses, I predict these holdouts will begin to recognize real-time analytics as an essential component of a modern industrial enterprise — or find themselves playing catch-up.

Those enterprises that already understand the value of data have an opportunity to use it as a catalyst to modernize infrastructure. Going forward, that infrastructure will need to be scalable and flexible to accelerate data growth and allow for new ways to use real-time data analytics. As enterprises become increasingly dependent on data, it will be important for them to consider how to protect their business’ valuable data. That will mean incorporating data availability as a key business requirement, not as an afterthought.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.


October 18, 2017  1:01 PM

The high-tech skills gap and education

Josh Garrett Profile: Josh Garrett
"IT occupations", Education, Internet of Things, iot, IT jobs, IT skills, jobs

On Sept. 26, Software.org: the BSA Foundation released a new report titled “The Economic Impact of Software.” The study details the rapid growth of the software industry in the United States and its resulting impact across the economy — both at national and state levels.

The study found that the total direct value the software industry added to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) is $564.4 billion, and that there are currently more than 2.9 million jobs in the U.S. software industry. That’s an increase of 14.6% since 2014.

When you look at the number of software jobs — including software developers, web designers and project coordinators across all industries — it jumps to 10.5 million.

The software industry also pays well. According to the study mentioned above, the average U.S. software developer’s wage is $104,360 — more than twice the annual wage average for all U.S. occupations ($49,630).

The high-tech skills gap

So, why is it that U.S. tech companies seem to have so much trouble finding qualified candidates to fill these high-tech, high-paying jobs? Some technology is growing so fast that as soon as a position is filled, another role is needed; there is a continuous demand for that particular technology’s skill set.

Another explanation for this skills gap is that the talents most needed by software employers are not being taught in today’s education system. According to Gallup, fewer than half — only 40% — of schools offer computer science classes despite the fact that nine out of 10 parents surveyed wanted their children to learn computer science. In another study, students named computer science their favorite subject.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts there will be 1.4 million technology-related job openings in 2020, but only 400,000 graduates with the skills required to fill them. That means there will be 1 million unfilled high-tech job openings by 2020. These openings will be found in every industry across the economy — from retail to healthcare and manufacturing to financial services.

These jobs will also be available across the United States. The states with the most direct impact on the software industry, whether through direct GDP, job growth or research and development investment, include California, New York, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington.

How do we fill the gap?

One of the most effective and efficient ways to fill this software skills gap is to increase investments in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as well as computer science education.

Many organizations work directly with local schools to connect students with internships, apprenticeships, mentoring and other learning opportunities. Some programs even allow students to earn college credits or gain an industry certification while still in high school.

Diverse, skilled workforce initiatives are another priority for many organizations. Through these initiatives, companies often contribute by sponsoring K-12 initiatives in underserved communities, working directly with colleges committed to minority populations, and promoting programs that encourage girls and women to study science and engineering.

Another way to make computer science fundamental is through legislation and recommending state policies to make computer science central to K-12 education in the U.S. Currently, only 10 states have created K-12 computer science standards.

For example, Indiana’s computer science academic standards for grades three, four and five include learning about binary numbers, algorithms, troubleshooting, programming languages, crowdsourcing and the responsible use of technology and information.

In Nov. 2016, the Florida Senate passed a first-of-its-kind proposal to allow computer programming to fulfill a foreign language requirement for high school students. The legislation ultimately failed after going nowhere in the Florida House of Representatives, but it has brought light to the subject and given states a new, creative approach to address the issue.

The Code.org Advocacy Coalition supports the implementation of the following policies to make computer science a fundamental part of the K-12 education system:

  • Create a state plan for K-12 computer science
  • Define computer science and establish rigorous K-12 computer science academic standards
  • Fund computer science professional development and support course development
  • Implement a clear certification pathway for computer science teachers
  • Incentivize higher education institutions to offer computer science to pre-service teachers
  • Establish dedicated computer science positions in state and local education agencies
  • Require that all high schools offer computer science with an appropriate implementation timeline and financial resources
  • Allow computer science to satisfy a core graduation requirement
  • Clearly define computer science education in federal policy and programs
  • Use federal policies that influence teacher preparation programs at colleges and universities to grow a computer science teaching workforce
  • Adequately support computer science education by devoting a portion of STEM funding available from 13 federal agencies

These potential legislative changes, combined with investment in the education system, will allow the software industry to maintain its growth and innovation while also providing skilled employees for years to come.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.


October 18, 2017  11:30 AM

Debunking the agent vs. agentless approach to IoT security

Pedro Abreu Profile: Pedro Abreu
agent, Agentless, cybersecurity, Internet of Things, iot, iot security, Network security, security in IOT, software agents

In today’s ever-changing threat environment, there is an ongoing debate about which network security approach is best for protecting IoT environments — agent or agentless. Each technique impacts the efficiency of IT operations and overall network security compliance differently, however, when it comes to IoT security, taking an agentless approach is ultimately more effective. Here’s why.

What is an agent?

Agents are a piece of software that companies or manufacturers install in computers, laptops and mobile phones that have capabilities to manage and protect them. An example of an agent is antivirus software that resides in a computer to check for malware. Agents work well to secure these traditional devices since they are built with common operating systems (OSes), such as Windows, Mac, Android and iPhone. The problem, however, is with non-traditional devices — for example, internet of things devices such as IP-connected printers, HVACs, smart lightbulbs and conference calling systems — that have unique OSes and prevent organizations from installing an agent. As a result, traditional security agents are not capable of offering the visibility and control necessary to protect against cyberthreats.

For example, let’s take a deeper look at one of the most common IoT devices found in an enterprise: a printer. Printers are essentially computers, but are built with different capabilities than traditional devices and, because of this, there is often not a place to install an agent. This concept, the inability to install an agent, applies true for all non-traditional devices without traditional (or closed) OSes, leaving organizations vulnerable to IoT hacks and even data theft. That’s where an agentless approach to network security comes in.

The agentless advantage

Agentless security technologies make the invisible, visible (that is, illuminate the devices that agent-based software cannot see). These bring visibility to blind spots in enterprise networks with their ability to identify, classify and protect devices without traditional OSes. With an agentless technology, today’s IoT devices can be discovered in real time, classified with the proper user and device information, monitored for irregular behavior, and even blocked or isolated if needed. Agentless network security can also reduce IT support costs by automating asset management and proactively targeting remediation activities, such as limiting access to the internet.

Taking the burden off IT

An agentless security strategy also helps optimize the security investments an organization already made. Most companies have already invested in tons of different security tools that are mostly blind to these new IoT devices. By orchestrating information sharing from your agentless technology, you can break down siloes and automate and accelerate threat response.

For example, during the Mirai attack last fall, hundreds of thousands of digital cameras were compromised and performed a distributed denial-of-service attack on Dyn, a large DNS provider, bringing down most of the internet in the East Coast of the U.S. for several hours. Organizations with an agentless security method would be able to identify the digital cameras in their environment and share this information with their firewall technology to prevent them from communicating with the internet (except for patches and updates). Ultimately, an agentless approach can make your other investments in security tools more effective.

Your enterprise IoT security strategy

Knowing that there is an estimated 28 billion devices expected to connect to networks in the next couple of years — and that the cost of a data breach is approximately $3.6 million — organizations cannot afford to have these rogue devices going unnoticed and unprotected. We’ve already experienced one high-profile IoT breach with the Mirai botnet in Oct. 2016, and it’s only a matter of time until the next large-scale attack will surface. The time is now for both C-levels and IT managers to ask themselves if their IoT is truly secure and, if not, how they can change their strategy to protect it effectively.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.


October 17, 2017  3:08 PM

Transmitting signals in an IoT PCB

Zulki Khan Profile: Zulki Khan
Circuit, designers, Internet of Things, iot, IoT devices, IoT hardware, PCB, reliability

Effectively transmitting electronic signals in an IoT product relies heavily on how device packaging, traces, routing and vias are designed in IoT rigid-flex or flex circuitry. Component or device packaging includes micro ball grid arrays (micro BGAs), quad-flat no-leads (QFN) and dual-flat no-leads (DFN). These electronic device packages are less than the size of a pencil eraser in some cases.

The IoT circuit designer creates signal traces and routing patterns on the rigid-flex or flex circuit. At the same time, he designs in via locations on the circuit. Vias provide the electronic connections between the different layers of a circuit board.

Today, the smaller electronic device packaging is characterized by extremely tight pitch of 0.25 – 0.20 millimeter (mm) and below. Pitch refers to the spacing between one lead or ball and the next one. There are literally hundreds of leads or tiny balls used to connect a packaged device to the flex circuit of an IoT product to conduct electronic signals.

The width or size of the 0.25 or 0.20 mm pitch is equivalent to the width of one strand of a thinly sliced human hair into multiple strands. That’s how tight pitch sizes are these days.

So, how does this tight pitch affect the IoT rigid-flex or flex circuit layout?

It affects the layout in the sense that when you are doing the fanning out of these traces through the micro devices, you have to make sure you are using the right thickness of the traces. You must have the right amount of spacing between those traces, as well.

In some cases, due to constraint requirements, you have to “neck down” the traces when you are routing between the micro package BGA balls or bumps and signals pass through those tiny balls or bumps. “Neck down” refers to trimming the width of a trace in between two locations of a BGA ball or a QFN bump.

This also means you have to be able to make sure that the current is passing through. This can become an issue if you are doing the length matching. The reason is typically when length matching of two traces is performed, not only the lengths have to be matched, but the width of these traces have to be matched within 5-10% of each other as well.

Traces in today’s technology dealing with three mils can be fabricated. However, producing two mil traces for an IoT rigid-flex or flex circuit requires an experienced fabrication house.

Avoid overly thin traces. Three mils could be a thin trace. But if it’s a smaller device, the recommendation is to not go any lower than two or even one mil, which most likely gets over-etched in the fabrication process during the etching stage of manufacturing.

You also have to keep in mind the tolerances that are involved with manufacturing processes. Sometimes, traces are over-etched and at other times, traces are under-etched if the tank chemistry is not properly maintained.

Now, via sizes range from eight to four mils. An eight mil via is a comfortable mechanical drill. A four mil via is at the edge where in some cases you may have to go to laser drilling. That will increase the fabrication cost and limit the fab shops that can do that. Device placement could be an issue due to finer via sizes, depending on the aspect ratio of the flex circuit. It could become a challenge using four mil vias when using thicker than 0.062″ thick board.

The idea is to keep the number of vias to a minimum because keeping the vias to a smaller number increases reliability. If it’s a smaller IoT device and you have too many vias, the space for trace routing is blocked going from one point to the next.

It’s best to minimize via size and reduce the number of vias, but still get signals across the circuitry and back.

It is also important to assure that the smallest via is small enough to carry the current. But it should be large enough to withstand flex circuitry bends and twists when it goes through mechanical stress of bending and twisting.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.


October 17, 2017  12:33 PM

How influencers, speakers and bloggers accelerate IoT adoption

Francisco Maroto Profile: Francisco Maroto
Blog, bloggers, conference, Conferences, Enterprise IoT, Internet of Things, iot, Speakers

When I started my venture four years ago as an independent IoT advisor, one of the goals I set was to get a great reputation and personal brand in the IoT world and to become a reputed influencer, a followed blogger and a famous speaker.

I have worked very hard to achieve this, although it would have been much easier if I had chosen to work for a big company, reputed analyst firm or tech web journal.

What are influencers doing to accelerate IoT adoption?

IoT influencers are individuals who have the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of their (real or perceived) authority, knowledge, position or relationship. IoT influencers share what’s in store for IoT. They keep you up to date with the latest IoT news and discussions, and get interesting viewpoints and expert analysis on IoT developments. Unfortunately, not all IoT influencers are experts.

In 2015, these were the 10 internet of things influencers you needed to know. In 2016, these were the 16 IoT influencers you needed to follow. In 2017, Onalytica published the top 100 IoT influencers and brands, which looked at all the individuals engaging on Twitter to bringĀ us a list of the top 100 most influential individuals in the IoTĀ landscape.

Companies adore us to get our likes and shares. Event organizers use us as a demand to increase the number of attendees. We make presentations, moderate panels, write articles all for the prestige and future opportunities and sometimes you the flight and hotel expenses are paid.

What are speakers doing to accelerate IoT adoption?

Speaking at an IoT event is very complicated, and not for everyone. There are speakers who are claimed by all IoT events; organizers pride themselves on organizing the best conferences. It is what I call “the IoT usual suspects.” Their speaking skills are undeniable, but especially it depends on their position in the industry, whether in organizations or committees, large corporations or government roles. Indeed, some of them do not have much time to do anything other than speaking in events. Today in the U.S., Asia next week, and before returning home, two more events in Europe.

There are also all-star IoT speakers; their IoT-focused sessions are very expected and commented, I call them “the IoT visionaries.” IoT visionaries illuminate the incredible breadth and scope of the internet of things. Sensors, intelligent gateways, wearables, protocols, networks, beacons, big data, security, platforms, new business models and many more topics are all covered by this group of speakers. The speakers come from the entire spectrum of IoT technology and services providers, and often have diverse backgrounds that encompass the richness of IoT.

There are three main reasons to accept an “IoT casual speaker” in a congress or event. The organizers may not have the budget to pay an IoT visionary or star speaker and need to complete the agenda with someone that helps attract visitors. The second reason is because an IoT casual speaker may insist and insist that they have an interesting subject for a session. And the third reason may be if you are replacing someone else in the last minute. In any case, it is an honor, pleasure or compliment that you cannot refuse.

“Local IoT speakers” are the inspiration center of your IoT event. Finding extraordinary IoT local speakers isn’t always an easy task. It’s actually not only the person you should be searching for, but the person’s power to attract your local target audience. IoT local speakers are important because they are familiar with the country/city’s IoT market challenges, research and opportunities. They can be a good source to inspire local companies and people to collaborate, to connect and to improve the local IoT community.

What are bloggers doing to accelerate IoT adoption?

M2M bloggers have been evangelizing on machine-to-machine and later on the internet of things. Without their articles and their insistence, we would not have achieved the IoT hype so soon.

As a popular IoT blogger, when I publish a post, I like to think that I am inspiring others. When I share my post with you, I hope that you find it interesting and useful enough to click in a like, share or follow link. There are many hours of work on it in which I delve deeper into the matters I want to talk about, hours of searching and filtering content, hours of deciding how to articulate the most significant and meaningful ideas, hours of summarizing the most important thoughts. But I am proud to invest my time, energy and IoT view into a free piece of writing to anybody who wants to read it.

If you are a new IoT blogger, my advice is first you need to think in which subject you are interested: devices, wearables, protocols, technologies, platforms, industrial internet, smart home, smart cities, business models and use cases — everything and anything! Then learn as much as you can and share your knowledge and experience with your readers.

Key takeaways

IoT influencers, bloggers and speakers are not synonymous of IoT experts, but all of them are helping speed the adoption of the internet of things.

If you are interested in this topic, I recommend my articles:

Thanks in advance for your likes and shares!

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.


October 16, 2017  11:51 AM

A roadmap for connected car security

Chris Penrose Chris Penrose Profile: Chris Penrose
Collaboration, Connected car, Internet of Things, iot, IoT hardware, iot security, security in IOT

The age of connected vehicles is bringing exciting new innovations and transportation options. Yet, as more connected vehicles take the road each day, the need for strong security protocols continues to increase. Security protections are essential to maximize the benefits of connected cars, and keep drivers and passengers safe.

Like a roadmap, here’s where we’re going and four ways that we’re going to get there.

  1. Emphasize the societal benefits of connected cars. Connected vehicles provide tremendous value to consumers and our communities. Connected vehicles can help prevent crashes, reduce traffic congestion and lower carbon emissions. And beyond these benefits, connected vehicles offer convenience, maintenance insights and backseat entertainment options.
  2. Understand the four types of cybersecurity risks and threats. To reap the benefits of connected vehicles, we need to understand and prepare for the major security risks and threats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has identified four areas of risk associated with cyberthreats related to data control: privacy and security, fraudulent commercial transactions, non-safety operational interference, and safety-related operational interference. The dangers range from access to the owner’s, driver’s or passenger’s personal and financial information to outright loss of physical control of the connected vehicle. But by understanding these cyberthreats, we can put effective security measures in place to address them.
  3. Implement an end-to end security approach. Cars have more connection points than ever before — from communicating with the cloud, connecting to servers hosted by the manufacturer to streaming entertainment for passengers. More connection points means more opportunity to exploit security vulnerabilities. A layered, end-to-end security approach can minimize these risks. This requires highly secure communication outside of the vehicle, as well as within the internal vehicle platform. Layered, end-to-end security inside the vehicle spans between car makers and their suppliers — both software and hardware — along all the critical data and communication paths that connect the vehicle to upstream applications and services in the cloud.
  4. Foster an ecosystem of collaborators. Telecom companies and car manufacturers need to collaborate now more than ever. As connected car functionality becomes more network connected, and as software updates and downloads become more dependent on network connectivity, the interdependence of these two platforms will only increase. As the relationship grows, so should the collaboration between telecom companies and car manufacturers. This is necessary to deliver greater platform-to-platform security, improved end-to-end security and, most importantly, increased safety for the vehicle’s occupants and their surrounding environment.

By bringing together telecom companies and car manufacturers to collaborate around connected vehicle security, we’ll ultimately realize increased road safety, improved reliability of connected vehicles, enhanced customer experience and more. And we’ll all get to our final destination with a safer, more secure ride.

To learn more about current initiatives in cybersecurity and how telecommunications companies and OEMs can work together, download the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions’ white paper.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.


October 13, 2017  11:50 AM

Know your ‘IoT rights’ — or deploy IoT the hard way

Don Reeves Profile: Don Reeves
Internet of Things, iot, IOT Network, Network management, SLA, standards, Wireless

For all the promises of IoT, there are just as many unknowns.

The IoT marketplace is exceedingly complex, has many moving parts, sees a massive influx of new devices being connected annually and has seen many organizations propose new “standards” or “platforms.” The industrial IoT segment is evolving, and maturity is well beyond the horizon. And no single vision of a desirable future is sure to emerge.

This is a market where the certainties are few.

But there is one point of relative certainty: Connectivity matters. In fact, outside of security, nothing matters more. Wireless IoT architects must carefully consider their options for a host network on which to deliver their IoT services. There are many choices. Proprietary or standards-based? Regional or global technology? Fully upgradeable over the air, or not? Licensed or unlicensed spectrum? Architected for high security from inception, or security as an add-on? Mesh or star architecture? The available technologies differ markedly in their approach, creating challenges for IoT architects (and IoT customers in general) trying to make informed infrastructure decisions.

And, let’s face it: It’s hard to know in advance every potential application you, as a customer, can build on your network. Not only do you have to face the current challenge, but you also don’t want to limit your capabilities before you’ve even started by selecting a future-constrained network technology.

But, even with the inevitable uncertainty that comes with all emerging technologies, one thing is certain: You can know your IoT rights. Those rights do not have to be enacted, ratified or even codified. They’re yours simply by asking for them. So, let me propose “10 IoT rights” for your consideration. And let me say that these rights can become part of a stated covenant — and contractual obligations — between you and your network provider of choice.

Ten IoT rights

Customers should be able to expect and demand …

  1. The right to ubiquitous coverage, even in areas obstructed or excluded from carrier networks.
  2. The right to a technology based on open industry standards. No network should be locked into a single vendor’s products or proprietary platform.
  3. The right to persistent safeguards from unauthorized access and detection. In short, security standards that enable true military-grade security.
  4. The right to leverage a large and diverse ecosystem of providers. Customers should expect network technologies 1) with a breadth of vendor support, 2) with a variety of device options offering an array of features and functionality, and 3) offering prices driven by market competition.
  5. The right to consistent performance for every device, everywhere. IoT devices can be located anywhere, including in remote or obstructed environments, and in both sparse rural and dense urban areas. Expect and demand that IoT devices have a direct and unbroken connection to network towers or gateways, even in harsh environments.
  6. The right to power-efficient devices that communicate as often as you need them. IoT network operators should deploy power-efficient communication modules, which extend the service life of battery-powered devices.
  7. The right to use a platform that has been proven at scale. Field trials alone are not sufficient to demonstrate real-life scalability. In fact, the only true test for an IoT network is actual performance, day in and day out over years.
  8. The right to guaranteed service levels. When it comes to networks that connect critical IoT devices, customers should get what they pay for. That means network providers should deliver iron-clad SLAs as part of every IoT network agreement.
  9. The right to massive scalability. The largest IoT networks will look small a decade from now. But making a large network larger is less of a challenge than managing that network and deriving maximum value from it. Ask and expect your provider to guarantee massive scalability of its network.
  10. The right for your network to live long (and without failure). The best IoT devices are built to last 15 years (including the battery). However, IoT networks can live far longer than that if they have the flexibility to adapt and offer now capabilities as technologies evolve. Look for an end-to-end network designed to be future-proof.

As for choosing a network architecture for industrial IoT, here’s my recommendation: If you, as a customer, are weighing the merits of Wi-SUN, LoRaWAN and NB-IoT in determining your IoT network architecture of choice, make these 10 IoT rights your guidepost.

I invite your comments.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.


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