IoT and integration–beyond simply a mesh network…

As I write and talk about IoT with various people and groups I have shared my three buckets a number of times. They seems to resonate with people. The concept is simple, there are devices you leave (home, office etc.) that you want to connect to. They are sensors or produce useful information you need to have. Those are stayables. There are devices you wear and use that screen as a service to have quick information available. Those are wearables. finally the last one is portable and it in most cases represents the device you carry with you that connects you to the other devices.

The next part of IoT that I’ve talked about a lot is the overall reality of bandwidth, personal privacy (and beyond that security) and integration. I realized that I haven’t really talked a lot about integration and it is one of the big three concerns.

In a mesh network the transitional reality of receivers becomes the issue. Football is a great example to consider for this. One quarterback, one ball and multiple choices for receivers. Receivers are engaged one at a time. The reality of sensors is similar today. Sensors are engaged normally one receiver at a time, although many more sensors now broadcast so you could in effect have multiple receivers. So a formalized connection is required. Be it a Bluetooth pairing or a connection to a secure wi-fi and then hardware coded to go out to the Internet.

Interesting problem of tomorrow – what happens when there are 300 sensors in your house call clamoring for your mobile devices attention as you walk through the house? That will drain your battery faster than talking to Aunt Jean for 12 hours will.

Integration becomes an interesting question. First off there would have to be two types of security applied. Information that you don’t care if everyone knows (your current weather from your personal station, anything you’ve shared publicly such as photos and videos and anything you publish (blogs etc). Information that is private (PII). Once we establish the rules around these two types of data we can start to create the integration points.

The second component of integration is the data. Data analytics is the meshing of what people call Big Data with the concept of delivery. The analytics are how you present the information for the user to act on. In the broad swath that is IoT integration you have to also consider the attributes of the receiver. I’ve talked about the concept of the screen as a service many times. Where the intelligence is in what is presented on the screen. Weather information on your watch face – useful. An entire spreadsheet with graphs showing the economic impact of a new item your company is selling on your watch – useless. Unless of course you are selling smart watches than showing your sales figures on your watch is – priceless.

The third (and while not final overall final for today) concept then is how do you get the information to the right device at the right time. Where data is the JIT attributed (just-in-time). Information has a life cycle. The value of information considers time, delivery and once delivered usability or ease of consumption. The three rules for this that I follow are below:

  1. Timely information (not out of date)
  2. Delivery doesn’t derail other activities (don’t use all my bandwidth to deliver the information unless it is life threatening information)
  3. Mind the gap

I did in fact steal the last one from the London Metro. What Mind the gap means is make sure the device you are sending to is capable of presenting the information you are sending. That excel sheet you just sent that ended up on the screen of my smart watch – overloaded the smart watch and made it reboot.

more to come…


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

The convergence of IoT and VR…

There is a point of intersection probably a year or two years in the future where IoT and VR collide. Where remote video sensors are strung together to create a VR environment for a number of events. Police and groups that report the news do that today. To show every view of an event so as to determine what really happened or in some cases the who of the activity.

That intersection will continue to expand. Traffic cameras can be merged to recreate accidents and determine fault or lack of fault. Flight and other activities can be filmed in 360 degrees to make Video Games more immersive. In the future we could create VR immersive movies that create not only the holistic 360 degree view but expand that. You watch in a phone booth and the temperature is dropped so that Antarctica feels colder than the room you were in before (not too cold we don’t want to accidentally freeze people to death, just cold air blowing on you as part of the immersive experience).

Like the MMOG’s of today (Massive Multiplayer On-line Game) you would in the VR world have your avatar. Much like Second Life offered just a view years ago, but the experience more specific to you. In Second Life you moved about with your keyboard. In the new reality of VR the Hololens goes two ways. One on you and one on the universe. The one on you tracking your movements. The goal to create an immersive experience. A Matrix if you will, although without intent to control you.

Your VR experience could then include both work and home. Your personal presence device adding the ability to be two places at one time. No longer missing a 1/2 day of work to let the repairman into the house. Instead you let the repairman in with your personal presence device. Unless of course you have a fur bearing security system on top of the electronic security system. Then your personal presence device would be operational at work and you would be home letting the fur bearing security system know that the repair person was invited into their home.

That convergence brings such an interesting potential. Remember the vacation photos you took last year? The ones you have your FireTV play for you to remind you of the beach? Instead it becomes an immersive experience. One that surrounds you with the sounds, the feeling, perhaps even the smell of the beach. An immersive VR experience.

So close that convergence of IoT and VR. So close you can see it there just over the horizon. You just can’t touch it yet.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Thinking about portable IoT lifestyle devices…

I’ve been looking for a bag lately. One that will support the IoT lifestyle. There are several that have looked interesting on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I have backed a couple to see in the end if they will fit the bill.

I need a bag that supports the portable end of the IoT. The various sensors and components that connect to your cellular device or tablet and allow you to measure the world around you. It needs to have a semi-rigid pocket for fragile IoT portables. I would like solar capabilities for when you are well away from power. I have a power brick, but being able to trickle in additional power buys you two-three hours when traveling.

So far I am still looking. It might be time for me to design the perfect bag and launch the KS campaign. I just don’t have time to spend managing the campaign.

Oh well.

The lifestyle components of the IoT will begin to appear. Wearables will be the first big splash, and frankly are already here. Exercise bands are now acceptable to wear in public as part of your standard daily attire.

Next in the lifestyle march will be bags that better fit the IoT portable bucket. Pockets that protect fragile sensors. Pockets that allow sensors to operate without taking them out of the bag and so on. Scanners at airports, government offices, corporations will have to change not for a security threat but from espionage. Getting information from sensors you shouldn’t get. I guess in the end it would be a security thing for airports. If you can send 20 passengers through with undetected video equipment you will know the process and procedures of that airport.

Today there are software applications that understand the concept of where you are (GPS) and where you should be (address of meeting) and can automatically notify other people you are running late,

But the lifestyle bag isn’t here yet. The easily added to your existing bag and removed when you are moving around without your computer. A bag that mixes power, network and security features to protect you. For example an oft tried trick is to set-up a fake network and see who comes to play. Having a device in your bag that automates the connection but creates a fairly robust firewall between your device and the network would be a portable wonder. In fact the bag could head well down the path I talked about in The Syncverse.

It isn’t just about where the information is. Its about can I secure that information and ultimately where is the right place for that information. There is the concept of storage tiers for information (1-5 or more) depending upon the need for that information. Simply put some information is needed right now and that is normally called Tier One storage. Data that is needed but can have a slight delay (less than 5 minutes) is normally Tier 2 storage and so on. Each tier of storage lower is cheaper than the higher tiers. You can do the same with information you need. Intelligent synchronization not only syncs relevant data to the device you are holding but also prepares the information you may need.

Your bag could have short term secure storage that you can use to augment your cellular device or tablet. Information on that short term storage is encrypted making it useless if stolen (or at least really hard to get at). That would allow the organizational security to move data off the cellular device. Ultimately that device remains the weak link in IoT security.

Like I said the lifestyle IoT devices will follow the wearable explosion that is coming.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Family History project recap and statistics…

Today is a Family history project math day.


The graph shows the distribution of pictures I’ve taken over the years. The years in question are at the bottom of the image and start in 1971 (my first camera) and move to the later years when I was having children.

Two quick findings:

  1. Having kids increases the number of pictures you take
  2. The transition from my father taking most of the pictures to me taking most of the pictures occurs first for my family in 1991 and then for the whole family around 2001.

I suspect most people have a similar curve. When you are younger you really don’t have a lot of interest in picture taking. With digital however I suspect my children’s curve to be slightly different with the steep rise (increased pictures) occurring earlier in life. In the early years the cost of taking pictures was higher for me than it would be for them.

Average pictures taken per year  
1971 to 1988 42.88235
1988 to 1990 29.5
1990 to 2001 500
2001 to now 4642.857

1988 to 1990 I was recovering from divorce and didn’t often taken pictures. Interesting because around 1992 the pictures actually exceed 500 per year as that is when my daughter was born. They increased again in 1998 as that was when the boys were born.

I find the numbers intriguing. As I said my own children will have different numbers. Of the pictures Jakki has taken I have 2400 of them stored on the network. That puts her roughly 1700 pictures ahead of me. Plus, I don’t have all her pictures. Like her grandfather she only shares the pictures she thinks are good.

The fun of a family history project is discovering and recovering events that happened long ago, or yesterday. The current stats for the Andersen Family History Project are:

9500 scans of pictures (Joan Ralstin, Ralstin Family and Barb and Scott family pictures)

10400 scans of slides (Hans O Andersen and Henry O Andersen)

288 blogs

It has been a wonderful project so far. Lots of great memories and in the end a few sad ones as well.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Diving into IoT and CSTEAM…a conversation about a conversation…

So I’ve been doing a CSTEAM IoT presentation. (interesting discussion yesterday – (IoT is the Internet of Things. iOt is the Internet OF things). As part of that presentation I’ve been showing what you can do with connections. From temperature probes to UV probes and then connecting to sensors not in the room with us.

The other side of the presentation is about what you can do with the data. I know that probably brings a smile to a couple of my data analytics friends faces. We talk about the impact of the data and the value of the data from remote sensors.

We talk about the sensors you can connect to that present data in a finished form for you to consume. Traffic sensors are the quick one as are weather sensors. Everyone quickly (particularly in the great metropolitan parking lot known as the District of Columbia) gets the value of traffic cameras and traffic flow senor data. Weather data they understand as well. We talk about the national broadcast DC temperature and the reality of the suburban temperature. On most days DC is normally 5-8 degrees warmer than it is in the suburbs. The presence of more green makes it colder. Plus the presence of less asphalt.

All of this resulting in a talk that covers all components of a CSTEAM conversation. Well, for older students the art piece is in learning the value of a design that is aesthetically pleasing. The way I’ve been doing this is showing them a raw feed of data from a weather sensor and the finished application version of the same data. All the information is in the raw data its just a little harder to parse in the 5 seconds or so I leave it on the screen. It helps show the value of making things look good though.

All of this the art of the possible. Then we talk a little about the reality of risk. The television show “Person of Interest” offers a great view of what is possible with too much control. But we also talk about the value proposition of IoT going forward. That you can connect with and communicate with other people regardless of where you are. Air travel made the world flat, IoT and the concept of personal presence makes everyone next door.

Finally I end with a joke. A computer chip made yesterday at 3 pm walks into a bar. All the other patrons laugh. The chip say’s what did I do? The patrons say “Your so yesterday.”

Its not a good joke and half the kids groan the other half laugh. My kids just look at me and say “dad your jokes are making us want to move out.”


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Some rules for creators and backers of crowd funding campaigns…

As crowd funding continues to head on an upwards path there are some interesting phenomena occurring. First off let me say that less than 2% of all the projects I’ve backed have had poor or no communication.

I am debating right now if that would in fact qualify for poor customer service and free me from my no names blog rule. I will debate that internally for a couple more days.

Interestingly there are a number of communications templates that campaigns use. I am intrigued and have worked with several campaigns on that very problem. I think as many marketing professionals will tell you it’s a balancing act. Update too often and people will start to ignore it and then forget it. Don’t update enough and your backers will get frustrated.

Personally the least effective is communicating but starting off each time with we are sorry. I think I am going to do an informal poll amongst my friends that back projects and see what the fialure rate really is.

campaign Rule number 1: establish a communications rhythm and stick to it.

The next interesting style is overly technical. For these blasts the creators share everything that is going on. That style is much better as a short regular burst (see rule 1) and then a link to a blog so people can geek out. I like to geek out right before the item ships to see the design decisions and other concepts.

campaign Rule number 2: Your audience is wide and varied make sure you communication is concise and non-technical. Blog the technical details they are important, just don’t blast them out to everyone.

Adhering to these two simple rules will actually decrease your negative comments (where is it? Is this campaign a rip off). Keeping the backers informed in a consistent manner will ultimately make the campaign easier to run. You don’t have to go into crisis communication mode.

The other side of the rules needs to apply to backers. I am not sure how to implement the rules of social backing. If you back a project assume the timeline they present with the campaign is optimistic. Assume that there will be issues. In part because where once there were 100 open campaigns any 30 days now there are 2000 or more. As a backer read about the projects that have failed and in the end why they failed.

Backer Rule One: if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

As a backer it behooves us to treat every single campaign like you would a traditional manufacturing company. If Sony announces a new TV for June 2015 and they end up not being able to ship it until July do we stand in front of their US offices protesting? Campaigns are the same way. The only difference being the distance between marketing and delivery isn’t as great. So they have to be optimistic in their timeline. If they said it’s a project that will take 5 years to deliver no one would back it.

Backer Rule Two: Everyone involved is doing there best. Backers are patiently waiting and innovators are happily innovating. Yelling at each other doesn’t do anyone any good.

There are many more campaign and backer rules that I have. I will share more backer rules. The campaign rules I share with campaigns that approach me for help. You can reach me for campaign help here.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow!

Capability buckets, home devices and the impact of IoT…

I was thinking about capability buckets and home devices yesterday on my short (114 minutes to go 30 miles) drive home. I was thinking about printers for some unknown reason.

Roughly 5 years ago I got a color laser printer. I had waited for the prices to come down from the original color lasers (2000 plus). They finally did so I got one. we used it frequently and still use it to this day. It was a simple connect and print device.

But the capability “print” is not a huge bucket now compared to what it was when we first got the printer. There were a number of projects the family was involved in then that required a lot of color prints. Now we print on occasion but for the most part the color inkjet printer is good enough.

So we are donating the big color printer. We no longer need that level of color laser printing in the house. We can operate with a smaller printer that still does color laser prints but also now serves a secondary backup role – fax machine. That in the end allows me to get rid of two stand alone devices (fax machine and color laser) and combine into a single machine. I gain space back and in the end have fewer devices in the house.

That got me thinking about the impact of IoT on devices. What devices will as IoT activated replace other devices people have today. For example, Keecker (on Kickstarter here) got me thinking. They call Keecker the first homepod. I think it is actually the first portable home theater. Instead of having a number of devices in a single place you simply have Keecker come to you. This allows you to have what you need literally at your fingertips in any room of the house. From music to videos. The example I am going to use for this is the other day I was installing something in the house. I had to balance my phone to watch the excellent YouTube video on how to install the device. With Keecker (coming soon!!!!!) I would have simple put my phone down and had Keecker display what I was watching right where I was installing the device.

In the end that is a new capability bucket that can be filled by a device that also fills other capability buckets (portable radio, portable TV, portable video phone, portable meeting device).

The number of capabilities that we will be able to add to devices is simply amazing. Embracing this IoT capability onslaught will help us make the world a better place with technology. From the Internet of illness (published on CloudTweaks) to what is the CO and CO2 level of my house the IoT technology impact is going to be huge. From your health, to staying healthy by having people who are sick stay home the impact of technology on our lives is already great and going to get even better!


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Talking self-promotion, career protection and the simple architecture movement…

As I’ve noted a few times on my blog I seek the simple architectural answer when designing solutions. I try to avoid overly complicated designs and solutions in the end. It is part of what I have dubbed the Simple Architecture movement.

That said there is a place for complexity in the universe beyond Rube Goldberg devices. But the complexity of the view doesn’t always mean the solution that drove the view was complex.

For example, I was reviewing some old pictures and realized there are some very complex and intricate systems created by nature. The process of creation is simple, erosion or freezing but the result is complex.

Beyond that IT solutions that start complex and then well in the end if they start complex they run into two problems.

  1. Hit by the bus
  2. Cannot easily patch or manage

Hit by the bus is the bane of IT projects. It means that one person is a driver or so integral to the overall project that if they aren’t there the project will have issues or fail. We hear people say the phrase all the time but in the end Hit by the Bus is not part of the simple architecture movement. It is in fact a form of complexity.

The other side of complexity is the reality of patching and managing the environment. The harder it is to patch an environment the more over time you run into the complexity issues of solution drift and security risk. Solution drift is the Delta between the baseline (what we believed is deployed) and reality (what is actually deployed). The more complex the patching process the greater in the end the risk created.

Why is it then that sometimes software and solution architects seek complexity? Over documenting or under documenting a solution to the point of creating the hit by a bus issue? Job security.

I started the simple architecture movement with a posting nearly ten years ago (Difference Architectures) on MSDN. The reason for the original post was an internal argument about the size of architecture documents given to the customer and complexity. I broke up the various deliverables I thought ought to be included with an architecture. I struggled to convince my team members that they didn’t need to include every single mouse click in the overall architecture document – that was best included in configuration and operations guides.

Over time the customer started to agree with me which was the only thing that changed the teams mind. The risk of producing a smaller less “Thud-able” architecture and therefore jeopardize their careers was too much for them. There is a negative perception of self-promotion that I personally think is stupid. The only reason I think its stupid has to do with the fact that there are people that don’t do self-promotion but in the end don’t do anything that will jeopardize their careers. They belittle people that self-promote but then in the end they are risk free since whenever their career started.

Effectively my career protection is a pattern that isn’t communications but is actually personal style. So what you end up with is people so motivated to protect their careers that in the end they are paralyzed.

They create massive Thud Factor architectures not because it is the right thing to do for the customer but rather it is the right thing for them to do for their careers. They stand in front of you decrying the foul nature of self-promotion but in the end they seldom venture outside the safety of career protection zone.

Oh well. If you ring fence cow manure its still manure.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

The world is flat, but our lens’ should be curved…

“If we take but one view of everything in the end all we see is what we have chosen to see.” Sandler Boggs

In the exceptional book The World is Flat, the concept of the speed of transportation flattening the globe is presented. I’ve listened to that book three times and continue to find new information each time.

Globalization introduces new cultural variances and speeds up the world economy. Of course the reality of that speeding is that things that once would created a ripple in the world economic pool may now create many impacts rather than one. A flat economy throughout the world creates interdependence.

What worries me however is the opening statement Sandler made in a poem many years ago. Well it was during a poetry reading in describing a specific poem but still part of that poem was thinking about the concept of viewpoints.

Software Architects talk about views and viewpoints. What you see and you see it from. But at times if we aren’t careful we run afoul of the concept of only seeing what we wanted to see or choose to see.

Truly the world is flat. Truly we are one collective group “human.” I have been fortunate enough to travel throughout the world and I am happy to report that smiles are the same everywhere. From child to adult, a smile means a smile. Everything else is different but a smile is still a smile.

Our technology makes reaching people easier. Many years ago my father traveled for business. He was able to call home on rare occasions and would write us letters. He would be gone for one or two months at a time and we missed him. Later in life I also traveled for business but I was able to call home once a day in Europe and twice a day in Asia. The difference is immeasurable.

But we remain a world filled with strife and anger. As if the founding fathers of this country wrote a different paragraph. We hold these truths to be self evident. As long as you are like us. Was that the intended lens of the dream? That all be equal that are like us?

I hear people say they are in technology to change the world. It is in the end an interesting application of service. I wonder however, do they truly mean that? There are crowd funding campaigns that are working diligently to change the world. To create clean water around the world. To create new ways of capturing energy to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. To make the world a better place. Technology is changing the world all around us. Go to a hospital and watch technology save someone’s life.

Yet we still have the lens of here and now. We publish data not always to inform but sometimes to manipulate. For example when you compare test scores across 100 million people you tend to move towards the lower side of the mean as the overall average. If you compare that to a nation with 10 million people they would normally tend towards the higher side of the mean. To raise or impact 10 million it costs significantly (1/10th) of what it costs to raise the 100 million.

Don’t like American schools – then raise your property taxes and pay more. US schools that have strong tax bases score higher on tests – those that don’t have strong tax bases don’t. Follow the money – its how you impact test scores. You see in the end the world is flat – which means AMERICA is flat as well. We are a nation with potential.

That is the lens. Problems that are local are seen as systemic. Problems that are systemic are seen as regional (multi-nation) and so on. Flat doesn’t mean the same it simply means that you can effectively get from Washington DC to Washington DC flying continuously in less than a day. It took 3 months in a ship that leaked to get from Europe to America and even longer to Australia in the early 1800’s.

Yes the world is flat, but our lens should be curved.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

My nearly monthly Indiegogo and Kickstarter project post…

I haven’t done my Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects I think are cool for awhile so here goes.


The first is ODIN the first virtual mouse. Campaign link here. The interesting thing about this is like the laser keyboards that have been around for the past 3 or so years, this creates a laser mouse. I suspect it will, like the keyboards take some initial adjustment. I use the keyboard on the go with my iPad all the time. I don’t use the keyboard with my laptop but perhaps with this project I may start doing that.

This is my second time backing a Pebble project. My first Pebble Watch was damaged in an accident. My second watch became my daughters somehow. So this is a Pebble watch for me. I’ve looked at the Apple Watch (interesting but expensive) and frankly the Pebble remains the best smart watch I’ve seen. Yes I know I do post on Twitter and Facebook about things my smart watch does, those are jokes. So far this new campaign has taken off well.


I considered buying an induction cooktop a few months ago. By the time you got everything needed in the end it was rather expensive. Along come Paragon. First I like this campaign because it is a large company embracing the new world of crowd funding – kind of lends credibility to the crowd-funding movement in a big way. Second this whole set-up gives you and induction cooktop at a considerably less $$$ point. Cheap is good, right?

This next project is the first of many in this area I suspect. OVRVision Pro is a VR camera. USB 3.0 connection VR camera that offerings an interesting starting point for Virtual reality. 3d cameras have been out for awhile (I love my Sony Bloggie). VR camera’s are the new it thing (the Microsoft Hololens making a huge splash). To me VR is the next phase of the IoT explosion in that the IoT expressed in a VR environment would make the information presented that much more valuable. Imagine being able to connect to your home automation system and see everything in your home, not just video feeds but temperature, environmental variables, sound/noise and security. It would change the world of baby monitors!


When I first started backing and helping campaigns about three years ago there were a number of campaigns that were truly future looking. If you by the way want advice about your potential market and stumbling blocks from an experienced IoT and other new technology person please go here. I’ve noticed the explosion not only of new cutting edge technologies but also that each one is just a little bit more advanced. Very cool!

On the other side, I see a lot more “help me buy an iPhone, help me start college with a new computer. My X broke, I need a new one. So on and so forth, in the end if you want me to help – don’t post it without a really good story. I don’t back projects with sad looking teenagers asking for a car. I have those at home – thanks anyway.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.