Posts Tagged ‘M2M’
Verizon is getting aggressive in growing its IoT business. Verizon’s first foray in IoT was in Smart Home when they launched a service around the solution from 4Home (acquired by Motorola, my guess is that the acquisition was influenced by Verizon?). It was a DIY service unlike its peers who had launched managed services (Comcast, AT&T, Cox, ADT), and IMO it was dead on arrival. It limped along for 4 years and finally shut down.
Verizon’s strategy also seemed uncertain when they acquired Hughes Telematics back in June of 2012. Hughes Telematics is based in Atlanta – and I have only heard of anecdotes and rumors of that division constantly losing people or being laid off since 2012. It felt that their Connected Car strategy was falling apart.
However recent events point to a different story – they are getting serious about this space. They have announced two back to back acquisitions. First with Telogis in June of this year and it was followed by Fleetmatics in August. Verizon certainly has heft between the three acquisitions in the Connected Car & Telematics space.
And to keep the momentum rolling – Verizon announced that it is acquiring Sensity Systems, a Smart City startup last week.
The question though is does it have the internal organizational strength and discipline to make the most of all of these acquisitions. Remember that they have also announced that they are acquiring Yahoo!
List of all the VZ Acquisitions as compiled by Crunchbase: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/verizon/acquisitions
Here is list of analysis on the acquisitions worth reading:
Rethinking the Internet of Things: A Scalable Approach to Connecting Everything (which BTW is free for the Kindle Edition) makes the case for a Non-IP (non Internet Protocol) stack approach for “things” to be connected. While I am in agreement in the author, the approach seems to be all or nothing – which is not true either. I feel that for constrained devices, that emit limited data and require low bandwidth – a non-IP approach makes sense. I am not entirely clear on how many of those billions of connected devices are really simple/constrained devices.
There would be three categories of “things” based on how they connect to the Internet:
1. Devices/Things that have the resources (CPU/Memory/Connectivity) to support and run the TCP/IP stack similar or identical to ones found in PCs/Macs/Tablets/Smartphones.
2. Simple, Standalone Devices or Things: More like sensors that have limited resources making it unsuitable even for running the constrained version of IP stack – 6LoWPAN and its variants – will need to support a connectivity protocol/stack that is ideal for the low bandwidth, long battery life requirements.
BTW these type of devices/things have been around for decades now – however getting them connected to the “Internet” allows making their data available, and hence unlocking the value.
3. Complex Devices/Things – These are hybrid of 1 and 2 that is they have their own “network” not based on IP – and may leverage connectivity/protocol specific to its industry or use case. And it has a integrated gateway or bridge that takes relevant data back and forth between IP and its internal Non-IP network. A great example of this is an Automobile (now popularly in the IoT vernacular being called “Connected Car”) – the automobile makes use of CAN Bus (since the 1980s). Autos are now connecting up to the Internet using Wi-Fi or 3G/LTE (or both), and they are building in functionality to go back and forth over an IP connection to the CAN Bus as well.
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?
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.
Money Flow: Crowd-funding, Exits & Investments
Corporate investors ranked high in investments made in the IoT/IoE space in 2013.
In summary, the three trends above will increase the momentum making 2014 a watershed year in IoT/IoE.
Yes, Nest is going to revolutionize, and jazz up the world of thermostats. But if you want something more legacy looking, and a bit more affordable and connected look at the Radio Thermostat Company of America (RTCOA) which has been around for 30 years. RTCOA offers three versions of “connected” thermostats: WiFi, Zigbee and ZWave. And to manage their designs/SKUs they have adopted USNAP. I believe leveraging USNAP was a fantastic idea – without introducing new models – the same model can accommodate support for multiple connectivity standards.
I have tried both the WiFi and Zigbee versions of the CT-30 model of their thermostat. The WiFi version appears to be powered by Marvell WiFi Controllers and RTCOA has made the APIs and discovery protocol available to developers. The discovery protocol uses Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP). RTCOA makes apps available for IOS and Android.