Posted on May 23rd, 2016
05/23/2016 @Rise, 43 W 23rd St, NY
A panel discussion was followed by a presentation by SIGFOX.
Jenny Fielding, Managing Director, TechStars, Moderator
Haytham Elhawary, Co-founder & CEO, Kinetic
Mike Kochanik, CRO, Flowthings.com
Deepak Krishnamurthy, Chief Strategy Officer, SAP
Ajay Kulkarni, Co-founder & CEO, iobeam
Allen Proithis, President, Sigfox NA
Francois Oudot, Sigfox
The panel focused on B2B IoT making the following points
- The emphasis on the internet of things has shifted toward B2B from B2C. Much of this has occurred since B2B applications can have a measurable effect on profitability
- The challenge in industrial IoT is integrating changes into the current business flow. One needs to understand how a device is used and why workers or facilities would use or not use a device. There is no substitute for understanding the business or spending time in the facility. Competitive pressures also demand that the knowledge be provided quickly.
- Cyber security is an increasing important issue with encryption key management insufficient while other methods are still being developed.
- For a small company to compete, it needs to solve a real problem and provide ROI, but most importantly, it needs to sell a vision.
Following the panel, Allen Proithis and Francois Oudot @SIGFOX talked about an alternative connectivity solution that overcomes the factors now limiting networks of IoT devices
- Battery Life
Instead of using convention networks, such as cellular or wi-fi, SIGFOX proposes a network that is
- Energy efficient – ultra narrow band, devices wake up to transit => low power consumption
- Simplicity – out-of-the-box no pairing required
- Low cost – license free ISM band, license-free standardized, low cost subscription model
- Ubiquitous connectivity – one cloud, world-wide.
Their network sacrifices bandwidth (12 byte messages) and quick response time (2 to 3 second latency) in exchange for low cost broad coverage (5 to 50 miles by one station). It is designed for devices that communicate very infrequently with the cloud and can communicate with short (12 byte) messages. Example applications are
- Preventative maintenance – washing machine failures
- Mail pick-up – button on mailbox requesting a pickup
- Leak prevention – water systems
- Livestock management
- Smart supply chain
- Forest fire prevention – smoke detection
- Launched in Western Europe. Expanding to Germany, US,…
- Your phone does lots of network signally since it needs to tell the cell tower your location. Can save a lot of battery is you only signal when you have a message.
- Message is 26 bytes including device ID and authentication hash – payload is up to 12 bytes
- Communication is bi-directional.
- Compatible with most chips on the market
HardwiredNYC: #hardware startups, #drones, #VC, #AutonomousVehicles
Posted on May 12th, 2016
05/11/2016 @WeWork, 115 West 18th Street, 4th floor, NY
There were six presentations starting with two brief introductions to companies and their products. Three speakers talked about products and investing in hardware. Adam Jonas closed the evening by describing a roadmap for the future of cars.
- Adam Jonas, Head of Global Auto Research Team, Morgan Stanley (Adam will discuss the autonomous vehicle market)
- Dan Burton, Founder and CEO of DroneBase (drone marketplace)
- Avidan Ross, Founder of Root/Ventures (early-stage hardware VC firm)
- Jonathan Frankel, Founder and CEO of Nucleus (smart home intercom)
In the first presentation, George Popescu@lampix talked about their product which projects a desktop image on any surface so that surface becomes a computer screen, a shared documents or piece of paper, etc. A projector shines an image on the surface making the surface a touch screen, drawing pad, etc. to view, edit or share materials.
Next, David @samlabs showed physical devices that can linked to each other using a visual interface. In this way push buttons can control lights, motors, tweets, cameras, etc. creating ways a non-programmer can prototype a hardware device.
Some configurations are monitoring the taking of medication from a medication box, squeezing a pillow to send a message, counting twitter tweets and activate motors when a hashtag is tweeted.
The product is somewhat similar to that offered by LittleBits.
Jonathan Frankel @nucleuslife.com (Intercom system which connects anyone to anyone, anywhere using a tablet like a home intercom.) spoke about how to increase the odds of success as a hardware startup:
- Keep it simple, stupid – hardware has a lot of complexity. When possible choose off-the shelf. Otherwise costly and requires extra time; also better interoperability, supply chain, lead times, avoids unknown unknowns.
- Cash flow > BOM . need to manage growth as well as the financing arrangements
- Hire DB / sales early – crowdfunding may not work, so you need to start selling early
- Carpe diem – small window of opportunities. Seizing them makes the difference.
- In-person > video > phone > email
- Get out more – network, network, network
- Put away the NDAs – being open gets you feedback and partners
- Who is on your mailing list? – follow-up with selected people on your email list
- Don’t work insanely hard – you need to have the emotional fortitude to overcome the valleys. So take some time off. Okay to mix business and pleasure.
NucleusLife elected to do a private presale (in favor of crowdfunding) since they wanted the ability to brand and control the entire experience start to finish. They also felt that their customer base was different from the early adopters
Next, Matt Turck interviewed Avidan Ross @Routeventures (seeds hardware startups). His interests are in physical products, with the emphasis on being an enabler in disrupting established businesses: they especially like low cost robotics and connectivity. They invest in only 6 to 8 deals per year so they can have lots of contact and input with each startup.
Their investments back their belief that robots are best when working in conjunction with humans
- Shapertools – handtools that assist the user when doing precision work
- Superflex – light weight clothing with actuation to augment human capabilities such as performing tasks involving standing and running.
- Plethera – software that works with 3-d plots (solidworks) to help you optimize the milling process.
They avoid one-off IoT products and hardware whose only advantage is lower production costs. They instead look for long term value and want to avoid the future struggle to maintain margins as technology and competition change over time. In the same vein, they want to price appropriately and don’t believe that products using Arduino’s or Raspberry Pi’s are scalable.
Design is important, but not core to IoT. Function comes before looks.
Dan Burton @ Dronebase talked about the rapidly evolving use of drones and their changing uses: real estate, mining inventory management, construction monitoring, etc. For instance, only within the past year has drone pilot become a profession.
Drone capabilities are increasing rapidly as a new generation of drones is created every 6 months. This has lead to the same dynamics as in smartphones, where retail products are often at the cutting edge lead by DJI. This means that most professional work is done with off-the shelf drones.
The systems making up a drone: software, gimbals, cameras, autopilots are all getting better exponentially. Battery technology lags.
Currently top end drones are accurate to 2 cm. One of the most promising next steps would be a light-weight Lidar system to get accuracy within 1mm.
Adam Jonas @MorganStanley gave a roadmap of how cars might evolve. He considered two dimensions:
- driver driven vs. autonomous
- owned vs car sharing
Based on these two dichotomies, he sees a rapid transition from owned-driver driven to shared-autonomous model of car usage. With this transition comes a change in point of view from number of vehicles sold to the number of miles traversed in a year. This transition will also create many economic winners and losers, but it is less clear who wins and who loses. Even with a transition from gas to electric cars, it is unclear whether the world-wide demand for gasoline increases (more mileage) or decreases (greater efficiency in energy usage).
#InternetOfThings NY #21 Smart #HomeSecurity / Security of #SmartHome
Posted on July 24th, 2015
IoT meetup NYC #iotNY @lindadrabik
07/23/2015 @ Cardozo Law School room 206, 55 Fifth Ave, NY
The meetup had two speakers and three presentations by IoT hackathon award winners
In the first presentation Andrey Katsman @Canary (a home security system) spoke about the differences between most programming and software development for IoT. The three main differences he highlighted were
- specific to hardware
- better performance
- greater robustness
One of the key differences is the need for precision especially in coordinating the timing of the program to the timing of actions to be performed in the physical world. This is especially important for safety (self-driving vehicles).
Andrey recommended several ways to minimize errors. These include
- unit tests
- statistical analysis, be as scientific as possible
- analyze the math (e.g. roundoff errors)
- collect data and visualize it
- chart how the logic should behave
- study your data sheets,
He next talked about precise timing
- real time means done exactly as expected
- hard real time is the goal
- soft real time means we are close enough to satisfy the task (just good enough)
- goal is deterministic control of all peripherals
and how do we get there
- use lower level language (compilers try to optimize the code & garbage collector can cause problems)
- be mindful of how hardware is called
- delay of a sensor reporting results – problems with blocking & time delay
- memory mapping – compiler needs to know about it
- know the limitations about your processor – e.g. how are threads handled especially on a single core processor
- make sure your processor can handle the network
- plan for firewalls
- plan for encryption.
He then talked about how low level drivers can be tricky – unexpected behavior since it might be trying to optimize specific targets that may or may not be consistent with your assumptions such as how they are initialized,
Next, Sanjay Sarma @ MIT spoke via speaker phone on the ongoing challenges facing IoT.
He noted that historically the most successfully technologies were eventually dominated by a single technology (e.g. packets to create the internet, internal combustion engines, AC current). But IoT has many ways to connect thing (e.g. Zigbee, Wifi,…) and networks such as those in cars are not secure and idiosyncratic. Standardization and protocols will make security better. He proposes creating everything as an avatar in the virtual world. In a world with massively pervasive sensors, anything you buy will also include an avatar in the virtual world.
The evening was concluded by three lighting talks
Goodsleep talked about monitoring the humidity, temp, light, accelerometer, sound, VOC in the bedroom to assist in getting a good night’s sleep.
Microexpression talked about using a state machine to map text to Morse code
TeamImpact talked about sensors to save lives and better understand the effects of head trauma. They use accelerometers to measure head impacts which can be compared to historical trends, benchmarked against ones cohort and epidemiologically studied.
#Prototyping a tech hardware product – best practices and opportunities
Posted on April 2nd, 2015
04/01/2015 Secaucus Library, 1379 Paterson Plank Road, Secaucus, NJ
David A. Rosen, CEO of TechX Foundry moderated 3 short presentations and a panel discussion by the followed presenters:
Dave MacFie @CimQuest spoke about the types of #3-d printing and their uses and tradeoffs. He started by saying that 3-d printing can be use in any of these steps in development and production
- Concept models
- Functional prototypes
- Manufacturing tools
- End-use parts
Design support : 1 & 2 are well established and widely used
Direct digital manufacturing: 3 & 4 are emerging areas
He made several recommendations
- Get a printer since it’s much faster to do it in house which allows you to iterate quicker. You can therefore test more models which leads to more innovation.
- Design with prototyping in mind – think about 3-d printing
- Consider using 3-d printed as a manufacturing tool. But consider that a 3d printed part may have different properties than an injection-molded part.
- Be prepared to do some finishing by hand since parts often don’t look pretty. Alternatively, you can use other processes that give a better finish
- Use a good 3d CAD model. Different models will be better at rending fine detail. Also check that the number of facets is adequate on curved surfaces. CAD models vary: Solidworks – good. Sketchup – less so.
- In production, the orientation of the part and the build style matter. Decisions can affect – strength vs speed vs aesthetics.
- If “I will wait for newer technology”, you will always be waiting. His view is that technology is not fundamentally changing now. It’s mainly going through a refinement stage.
During the Q&A, Dave spoke about some of the tradeoffs for specific types of 3-d printers:
Stereo lithography – (UV exposure converts a liquid to a solid) – pro: gives a fine finish con: degrades over time since affected by exposure to UV light.
Selector laser beam (fuse powder) – pro: durable product con: rough finish
Powder binder (corn starch, plastics,…) – ink jet with a liquid glue : pro: fast printing & can inject dyes to color logos, con: better for conceptual since it is not functional.
He recommended the Medical Design & Manufacturing show at the Javits Center in June as a way to see the wide range of 3-d printers.
Next, Tor Alden – @HSD: innovation & idea development, spoke about invention (this is not a product e.g. a patent) vs innovation (technology that makes it happen) and routes to take to go from prototype to production.
Some points he made were
- Understand the value of what you are doing. Create prototypes. See Lean startup – Eric Ries
- But it’s hard to be an early startup. 1 in 1000 succeed.
- What is the value proposition? What is the market opportunity?
- Crowd funding examples: Rockethub, indiegogo, kickstarter, medStartr – but not a lot of success, no path
- Grants – e.g. DARPA, NIH, SBIR/STIR – geared for early stage dev, harder to pivot, more lead time needed
- Venture funds – profitable in 5 to 8 years, take a lot of equity, look for large addressable market
- Rapid prototyping can even be simple as a foam study model or 3d printing.
- Consider a virtual product for testing; use fluid dynamic analysis using finite element analysis
- Key selling point is level of professionalism: experts, product idea, packaging, quality of graphics, size of audience…
- May need to make a decision about manufacturability (# of parts and how they are assembled) vs aesthetics of the finished product
Next, Amado Batour talked about his experience founding switch2health, which created wearables that track physical activities and reward and was eventually acquired by fitbit. He distilled his experiences into the following points:
- Have a plan and have money – in the best of all worlds
- Know who is making your stuff – due diligence on the supplier is essential
- Nothing beats a product demo – try doing stuff, get items into the hands of people
- Communicate in any way you can – be specific, especially with your suppliers
- A prototype is not a manufacturable product – first consider how to get first 50 pieces out. Then consider how to get the next 500 pieces produced, etc.
- Work with really smart people
- Understand your limits – know what you cannot do – e.g. you might not want to build boxes since you can buy nice enclosures from third parties
- Presentation really, really matters – hire a good designer to brand your stuff. E.g. go to behance or 99designs to get it designed
- Document the crap out of everything – photograph everything, you will always find it useful.
- Do challenging side projects for your own good – e.g. he is creating a robot which stimulated him to learn more about 3-d printing, arduino, etc. it’s about iterating. Prototyping will teach you how to solve problems.