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Posts Tagged ‘Internet of Everything

4 Implications of Apple’s HomeKit

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HomeKit defines a language, API, taxonomy (albeit for IOS devices only) to discover, pair, and control home automation devices (more about it here). The technology is very interesting, but it has implications and raises questions:

1. AllSeen/AllJoyn defines a protocol for a proximal network (i.e. local to the premise) and is limited to Wi-Fi with some support for Bluetooth. HomeKit is solving a very similar if not identical challenge. What would manufacturers prefer – AllJoyn/AllSeen or HomeKit? With limited resources would they give priority to AllSeen/AllJoyn?

2. The basis of HomeKit, appears to be a common database where information on the Accessories is stored – there location within home, the common name given to them, rooms they are in etc. Would for example the IOS App for Comcast Xfinity Home or AT&T Digital Life be willing to give access to their devices to other app developers? I am willing to bet because their solutions are anchored on professionally managed security, they probably will not.

3. AT&T and Comcast (as an example because their home automation & security service is widely deployed in the US) may not open up access to devices their systems control in their IOS apps however consumer apps for Philips Hue or NetAtmo using HomeKit would probably allow access. Do you think the likes of Philips Hue or NetAtmo would be ok with that? Or would be their policy controls in place during app approval or access controls allowing some degree of control to Philips and NetAtmo as an example?

4. HomeKit will have complex scripting capabilities – going beyond what IFTTT can do. HomeKit possibly solves the software challenge much better than Revolv with its consolidated app for controlling many things through its hardware (in reality controlling the Wi-Fi or Ethernet connected devices such as Philips Hue or Sonos does not require their hardware/gateway). What role do companies like IFTTT (from a HomeAutomation perspective only, not the many other functions it provides. IFTTT has simple if-then rules only today operating through the latency of an internet connection) or Revolv play with HomeKit? Did Apple disintermediate the likes of IFTTT for Home Automation and Revolv?

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Written by Ashu Joshi

June 10, 2014 at 9:50 pm

8 Things to know about HomeKit

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I had an opportunity to review Apple’s HomeKit (by reading here, here and here), here is a short summary of what it is, and how it works:

1. HomeKit is positioned very well tIMG_2623o solve the the “App Fragmentation” problem on the IOS device – it is a framework that will enable having an application that can control multiple Home Automation devices through a single User Interface. The foundational premise of HomeKit for solving the challenge is to have a common database, and a common taxonomy. Apps using HomeKit will store the information related to the Home Automation devices (or Accessories as Apple calls them) in common database locally on the IOS device. Apple is enabling developers to go after the really hard part of having the best user experience of using home automation by coming up with HomeKit.

2. Apple with its HomeKit has defined a common language and hierarchy to discover, define, and communicate with devices – or what are called “Accessories” in the Apple parlance. The root of the hierarchy starts with the “Home”, then works its way down to the “Room” and to “Accessory”. Accessory is the “thing” – the lamp or the switch that controls the lamp – and it has characteristics. There are ’services’ associated with Accessories.

3. Zones, Scenes, and Service Groups can be created.

4. HomeKit supports APIs for discovering, pairing, and organizing accessories, and associated actions with them using the extensive, but simple to use HomeKit framework. Accessories, and services to an extent can be assigned names – and here is the interesting part – because they have ‘names’ – Siri can be leveraged. Xcode will support a simulator that would mimic accessories supporting the HomeKit protocol – allowing developers to get started.

5. Common accessories such as Garage Door Openers, Lights are defined and to open up the eco-system – both Custom Accessories and Custom Services can be defined by manufacturers and partners.

6. There is “HomeKit” protocol defined between the IOS device and the Accessory (or the thing/device). The APIs on the HomeKit leverage this protocol to communicate with the accessory.

7. While no specific mention of ZigBee or Z-Wave was made, non-HomeKit accessories or things will be supported using the notion of a “bridge” [for example the Philips Hue bridge, whose functioning I covered here]. The bridge would be a device or piece of software that can translate between the HomeKit protocol and whatever is on the other side.

8. My guess is that ‘licensing’ the HomeKit protocol is covered under the MFi program (just as AirPlay is Apple-licensed protocol).

 

Written by Ashu Joshi

June 4, 2014 at 7:14 pm

IoT Stories (Week Ending May 31st 2014)

Pew Research Center recently released a report titled The Internet of Things Will Thrive By 2025. This was, obviously, picked up by many news and blog sites. Washington Post’s Mohana Ravindranath wrote about it in a post titled “Some see possible drawbacks in ‘Internet of Things’”, and provides a good summary.  The post has one typo – it claims 1,900 people responded, whereas actually of the 12,000 people canvassed 1,606 responded. He has summarized inputs fromVint Cerf, Andrew Bridges, John Senall and Miguel Alcaine. Mohana has captured good set of quotes from one of the authors of the report – Lee Rainie, director of Pew’s Internet & American Life Project. Wired has good summary of the report as well.

Scot Stelter over at RFID Journal mentions the report but points out the lack of coverage in that report with respect to RFID, his post (RFID Stakeholders Need to Prepare for the Internet of Things) has good insight into how RFID will be important, and professionals in the RFID field need to be prepared for IoT.

Alain Louchez over at InformationWeek takes another Pew Research report and explains how the manufacturing in the US can benefit with the aging workforce and IoT.

Last week was the week before Apple’s WWDC – and lot of speculation on how Apple is going to play in Home Automation and IoT started out by Financial Times in Apple seeks to work Jobs magic on the internet of  things (paywall). GIgaOm’s Stacey Higginbotham explains it well in Here’s how Apple’s smart home program will work.  EETimes in “Apple’s IoT ‘Good Housekeeping’ Label: MFi “ gets into a little bit more detail and indicate that it involves around the MFi program (just as Stacey’s post) but indicate that it would support ZigBee protocol as well. Roger Kay at Forbes jumped in with “Will Apple Play Nice On The Internet Of Things?“. Roger makes the case that Apple won’t be in a position to dominate unlike the Smartphone or Tablet segment. While I agree with that analysis, Apple may continue to influence and benefit because Smartphones & Tablets will be an integral part of most IoT solutions.

The Economist gets into the over-hype around IoT – a very nice and thought provoking article titled The internet of nothings. It covers the chart put together by ZDNet on showing the surge in Google search aassociated with IoT, how the acquisition of Nest marks a tipping point. Two interesting observations:

#1. The post points out the real challenge is connecting the Cloud and the Node (Sensor or Actuator):

Devising sensors and algorithms to handle the front- and back-ends of the IoT are the easy part. Unfortunately, few developers are tackling the really difficult bit in the middle—the myriad infrastructural gaps that lie between the sensors in things at the edge of the internet, and the data collection and analysis performed by servers in the cloud at the centre.

#2. It questions the numbers being published (on number of connected devices) especially claims being made by Cisco:

…while Cisco Systems, a network-equipment firm in California, expects there to be no fewer than 50 billion. Cisco is so enamoured of the IoT that it has installed a “connections counter” on its website. On May 26th, the number of “things” connected to the internet was over 12.4 billion and counting.

The vast majority of the billions of things connected to the internet on Cisco’s website, for instance, are not the toasters, refrigerators, thermostats, smoke detectors, pace-makers and insulin pumps that the IoT’s true believers enthuse about. Almost exclusively, they are existing smartphones, tablets, computers and routers, plus a surprising number of industrial components used to beam performance statistics back to corporate headquarters.

Talking about Google, Business Insider is covering its rumor to buy DropCam (originally reported by The Information). It is probably pure speculation but if it bears fruit – Google could be really powerful in combining Dropcam, Nest, and Android (and YouTube/GoogleTV/Chromecast in the living room) and bringing order to Home Automation & Monitoring.  Dropcam cameras have motion detection, Nest has a proximity sensor and between the two they could make for a solid, self-managed security system as well.

This week’s links also has a story with a cliche headline “With ‘Internet of Things,’ your fridge will know when milk is low“. This resulted in an interesting exchange on Twitter which you can read here. The blog post title is misleading because the focus is more on security. It has been distributed over many different websites – for example you can find it here and here.

Intel, Qualcomm and Freescale are three semiconductor companies that tend to show up in IoT Articles. This week I came across a post by Lee Schafer that starts off going over the Texas Instruments Launchpad:

On the Texas Instruments eStore it takes only $19.99 to jump into “the Internet of things” by purchasing a Connected LaunchPad unit to bring an everyday device onto the Internet. Better be patient, however, because they are sold out.

Finally a post on Wired is definitely worth reading – ‘Beautiful mistakes’ will form groundwork for the internet of things. The essence of the post:

Similarly, it will take user-generated products and hacked physical connections for brands to make sense of the internet of things. It will be ugly, soldered-together networked devices (not the gamified toothbrush) that will light the way for them. Beautiful mistakes and unexpected outcomes that will form their strategies.

 

Written by Ashu Joshi

June 2, 2014 at 12:41 pm

3 Internet of Everything Trends from 2013

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We are well past the customary Happy New Year greetings timeframe into 2014, and on the heels of the first big acquisition in the IoT/IoE space, I wanted to recap key announcements and initiatives from 2013 that have set the stage for 2014:

Formation of Dedicated Divisions

One trend in 2013 was for major companies to re-organize themselves to create groups or divisions within for Internet of Everything – chief among them were Cisco Systems and Intel. They joined IBM, I think, was the pioneer to organize itself around the Smarter Planet initiative. It is not clear to me if the group is formed around Wind River which it had acquired or Wind River has been moved to this new group. GE made several announcements and is heavily investing in their initiative that they have tagged as Industrial Internet.

Bosch followed at CES 2014 with its announcement forming Bosch Connected Devices & Solutions.

Alliances & Standards

The second observable trend was groups forming as a part of Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) and Open Source Initiatives. Two major announcements were the formation of a Smarthome alliance by ABB, Bosch, Cisco and LG and Qualcomm releasing its AllJoyn framework to the Open Source Community and forming the AllSeen alliance.

IBM had open-sourced the MQTT standard and in 2013 it was adopted by Oasis and bunch of companies to be advanced as a reliable messaging protocol for IoT.

Money Flow: Crowd-funding, Exits & Investments

Corporate investors ranked high in investments made in the IoT/IoE space in 2013.

Crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo continued to be major sources of funding for IoT startups likes Canary. Lifx which was funded in 2012 on Kickstarter, launched their bulbs in 2013.

Crowd-funded companies from 2012 brought in VC-led investments in 2013 – chief among them SmartThings and Variable Inc. (Node).

Tado, Revolv, Arrayent, Zoneoff, Ayla, Fitbit, Dropcam, EstimoteWithings, and Netatmo are some of the key startups in the IoT/IoE space raising money in 2013.

Sensinode was acquired by ARM – an interesting case signaling ARM wants to be in the IoT/IoE market beyond providing semiconductor IP. ThingWorx was acquired by PTC.

In summary, the three trends above will increase the momentum making 2014 a watershed year in IoT/IoE.

Written by Ashu Joshi

January 19, 2014 at 8:16 pm