Is a growth rate of 8 billion IoT devices per year, for the next five years right?

I opened my settings tab and turned on my Bluetooth yesterday. I was in a lunch location that is one of my favorites. I was doing a science experiment. How many BT devices have no security or 0000 as their passkey? First off the numbers that were there, without any security was scary (it is a restaurant that seats about 100 people). I always turn my Bluetooth off when I enter a restaurant. First off because of the problem I encountered and secondly because I don’t want to accidentally interact with my device while having lunch with someone.

(I simply started the connection I did not attempt to finish the connection nor Hijack the devices. I did tell the person I was having lunch with that his earbud didn’t have a passcode but none of the devices were hijacked or touched in anyway). P.S a rule of thumb, if you are distracted while carrying your cellular device TURN OFF YOUR WI-FI and Bluetooth before you enter the place you will be distracted in. It is a simple security measure that gives you a quick level of protection.

Many years ago there was a huge discussion about the concept of Message Security vs. Message Hygiene. Where both sides were right, and actually saying similar things, but from different angles. Device security has two sides as well. There is the “secure by default” camp and the “secure by design” camp. Wandering from my table to the bathroom I found 22 devices that had no or 0000 as their passkeys.

First off, it made me realize that the 12 billion devices that are deployed in the IoT universe (or a little more than 1.5 devices per person alive today) are actually distributed differently than you would think. Analysts project and discuss the devices and talk about global deployment. But the reality is that these devices are actually deployed in Southeast Asia, Europe and North America). South America is growing but where the average is 1.5 per person globally, I suspect the real numbers are more like 3 to 4 per person in North America, 1-2 per person in Europe and roughly 1 per person in Asia. That distribution (wholly an estimate on my part) doesn’t take into account the reality of economic change.

If you, however, consider the reality of bandwidth and power, Africa may in fact become the huge growth area for IoT devices. Today the continent has vast areas with limited service (as does South America) that would greatly benefit from the reality of IoT.

So I wonder if the projections of 8-10 billion new devices per year are actually true. In fact, I suspect as the abilities within the sensors begin to increase rapidly the rate of growth may as well. I watched a recent video talking about intelligent farming. Where the farmer would actually utilize IoT water sensors to determine what parts of his or her field needed water and how much water was needed. The same could be done for blights and pests, thought out the world. Now these devices would need to be reliable, low cost and with no valuable components. (Valuable components, left outside anywhere in the world sometimes grow legs and walk away).

As I look around my hosue I have between 12 and 15 IoT devices deployed per family member or just short of 100 deployed devices currently. If we assume that as a gadget person I am probably ahead of a number of curves, let’s just say that 50 devices is the new normal, in roughly three years. That would mean that there would be between 16 and 17 billion devices deployed in the US with another 7 to 8 billion or so million deployed in Canada. Add to that Europe and you would have another 35-40 billion devices deployed. Now Asia, without infrastructure in many countries IoT devices are going to take off, as they operate independent of traditional networks often (connected to your cellular device) we could have more than 75 billion devices deployed. Many of these IoT devices are assembled in Asia, so that number might be light. That would legitimately push the IoT impact from 50 billion devices as the analysts are saying by 2020 to more than 100 billion or more devices by 2020.

I can think, right now of 30 projects that will be done by #mysmartcity in the next two years. Each of those will in order to save money, deploy 100’s of sensors in buildings. 100’s of sensors on streets and everywhere we go. As more and more cars have driver projection systems (by the way those are IoT devices in your car) we will continue to see an explosion.

I suspect the growth rate will be closer to 20 billion devices per year with a ramping process. 12 billion deployed to the beginning of 2016. Another 10 billion deployed in 2016. 15 or so billion devices deployed in 2017. Growing to 18 billion by 2018 and then 20 billion a year or more 2019 and beyond. The easy way to verify these numbers is to simply look at the number of IoT projects on Kickstarter, GoFundMe and IndieGoGo. Frankly my numbers may be a bit light.

Connections are increasing at a rapid rate. The impact of the many devices that are possible with an expanding Internet, are massive. You can quickly find and utilize information that impacts you directly. The rise of IoT is the pre-dawn of the true information age. When I can walk down the street and find get any bit of information I need, that is the information age and a dream fulfilled.


IoT futurist…

A suggestion for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and a disclaimer for my cool tech posts…

I am a gadget geek. Well, in fairness to the world, I am a geek. But gadgets in particular are something that interest me. So I first have to put this permanent disclaimer in front of what I post. I am a person that believes in the possible. Therefore, I back Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns. I do not go to casinos and put money on the blackjack table often. I have, and usually win money doing so, but I do not do so often. I will however bet money on technology.

At the same time, I work with a number of campaigns. They reach out to me as a serial backer, but also for connections. What I have gained from these campaigns is a number of really cool gadgets. But more importantly I have come to understand the mind of innovators a lot more.

In part, I have boiled that learning into two distinct books. The first is a book I published on the overall change in how Innovators operate in the world at large. The second is around how we share information in the world. The first book talks mostly about the reality of innovation today. What once was, working a major company in the R&D department or other group in the company and slowly getting your innovation noticed, isn’t the way anyone. You can quickly post a project on one of the many crowd-funding sites and if your idea catches people eyes, you will get backers. It is interesting to me because for many years I have worked in IT. In IT of old, sales and marketing were seen as bad. But now, in order to make your dream real, you have to both sell and market it. IT and your dream, now are about sales and marketing as well.

It is also however about bridging the gap that is created in the new Innovation paradigm. I love the dreams presented by many innovators. But the reason that innovations took so long in the past was that the R&D department built out all the other components. I can see people running away from the screen right now – what is he babbling about now. Once upon a time, innovators had a support system. A reality checker if you will. The system around them created the training, documentation and other components of innovation that innovators don’t always like.

So the reality of crowd-funding is we’ve changed innovation. We have changed how innovators can build their dreams. But we have also changed the process of supporting those innovations. We no longer have the documentation teams of large companies making sure the manuals ship with the product. (my favorite product from Kickstarter literally had a single photocopies sheet of paper on how to set it up. Yes, the market you are selling to is much more technical, but one-page?).

Hence the inter-generational knowledge transfer system. A way for large and small organizations to build a knowledge capture system that engages and involves the user community to produce better information and reduce the impact of someone leaving the company or organization.

All that said, there is the final lingering reality of my recommendations. I am a technical person. My knowledge and core competencies have to do with enterprise platform management. I have worked with companies all around the world to help them better understand the technology they have deployed and the systems they have built to support their business. I am pretty good at picking up a technology or grabbing software and figuring out what it was intended to do. Based on that self-declaration I have to put a provision in front of every device I review and share on my blog.

I am technical. I back cool technology that I think will change the game. I am willing to risk a little money (the advantage of KS and IG is you don’t ever have to waste the full retail price of an item). I know that I can get the device to work for me. I am willing to risk some money.

Those two statements are what I believe to be the crowd-funders mantra. If you can’t say both, don’t back a project. If you can’t willingly lose money, don’t back a project. If I were Kickstarter and Indiegogo I would start a SuperBacker group. I would tell Superbackers that they get a badge so campaigns know who they are. Superbackers agree to NEVER threaten campaigns that are running late. They agree that the dream of innovation is greater than any one, or any 100 failures.

That way innovators can go to KS or IG and say who are the Superbackers in the area of theater backing or the area of movie backing? Who are the Superbackers for phone add-on’s or for new technology? KS and IG can give that list of Superbackers to the campaign and they can start with a base of people who aren’t going to threaten to sue them the second the campaign is late.


Proud SuperBacker!

The concept of smart watches is evolving. Semi review Apple iWatch Series 2, plus a discussion of security…

First off, I was one of the original backers of the Pebble Smart Watch. I wore a Pebble from the day they shipped the very first crowd funded devices (in 2012 or so) until two weeks ago. This is not my giving up on the Pebble, two family members are still wearing them. This is my succumbing to the dark side because of the cookies.

Automation, information and analysis are the three key components of why we have IoT solutions expanding rapidly. Human beings are not truly as effective with repetitive tasks as they are with coming up with ways to well automate the repetitive tasks. Human planting evolved from digging by hand, to using a plow, to having a horse or donkey pull the plow to tractors. Automation is a component of what we do.

So why launch into a discussion of automation when talking about a watch? The concept is simple frankly. I called it in 2012, Screen as a Service. I modified it to be SCRaaS so that it fit the as a service model. I’ve seen and added a number of devices to the overall concept. Nexdock, an external screen for your cellular phone allows you to operate your cell phone like a laptop. PopSlate allows you have an external battery and second screen for your cellular device. And the Pebble Smart Watch, allows you to modify and interact with your cellular device by checking your wrist. Except that there is more, so much more.

The Series 2 iWatch changes the game. Look I stayed away from the Apple Watch at first. It was expensive and the Pebble could do everything it could do. Except that it is apple and they control the environment. So the reality that was the iWatch Series 2 was a huge step forward.

· I can use my watch as a phone. (ok the watch as a speaker phone) Literally answer, talk to people and connect with just the watch. It means I am free to leave my phone anywhere in my hosue, or anywhere at work and I can still directly interact with the phone. The dream started when I first saw Dick Tracey’s watch phone has arrived!

· I can also dictate and respond to text messages DIRECTLY on the watch

· It has an integrated GPS

· I can connect to my home automation system from my watch. Scenes, lights, media sources are now all available on my watch.

The what and why of my technology journey is complex. I have over the years felt that the circular slide rule I got when I was 13 was part of the path. That may be as much a testament to my father as anything else. But if the dream started there, Dick Tracey was a contributor to what was possible.

In my concept SCRaaS, the reality is that you can effectively from any device consume the screen that is available. But the other side of that is that any screen becomes an interactive platform. You can manage the notifications on any screen. You can use the screen as a tool to consume information and respond quickly.

This new found capability does however require a level of security. The first thing to turn off on the new iWatch is the “let your iPhone unlock your watch.” Why? If someone hacks your phone they then have your watch as well. Why would you care? I mean if your phone is hacked its bad. Why would someone getting your watch as well be worse? Because the watch can turn on the video camera and audio of your phone remotely. You just expanded the range a hacker has to attack. So a different pass code for the watch and the phone. Change your passcodes reasonably often. I am struggling to do so every 90 days but that’s probably what you should do.

SCRaaS is here. There are shipping devices now that make your personal device into a powerhouse. Something that you can carry, and leave your laptop at home.


Futurist, and SCRaaS fan…

They are coming, are you ready?: The IoT/CPS revolution is near…

I shared the IDC study on IoT and the issues/concerns for implementation etc they found. I’ve seen a couple of other studies that found the reality of IoT integration and skills as well as security and management to be concerns.

First off, IoT security is an interesting problem. It’s interesting because it won’t only impact large corporations and government agencies. It will impact everyone. All of us. From a compromised watch on your wrist that is recording everything onto your compromised cellular phone and sending that off to someone in another country. To simply enabling physical security holes in systems, blind spots and other ways for people to access places they shouldn’t be able to be in. The potential is limitless when considering the reality of security.

At the same time, the world is hurtling down the IoT highway at a rate of more than a billion new devices every year. I talked about the concept from a connected to my phone and using my phone’s network and processor to co-processing but connected to software on my phone for data collection IoT devices. There are many more out there. Devices that will connect to your Wi-Fi network in your home to provide you with critical information.

I have personally over the past few months been publishing a few ideas that I think will solve some of the initial issues facing full on IoT implementations. First off, the concept of modular security for IoT devices (or more broadly the US Government National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) ululated guidelines around Cyber Physical Systems (CPS). Modular security simply moves the device security to a single chip. Certainly that presents a risk, in that the chip can be identified and compromised. But the value proposition is replacing the security chip not the IoT device. The other concept is that of Mesh sensor systems. This is a system that is self-reliant and interactive. Where there are multiple connects between the IoT mesh and the world. In a mesh network scenario, the CPS devices are smart enough to know their direct connection isn’t working, so I move my critical data to another form of communication. Mesh network IoT/CPS systems present another bad actor risk, where I block the direct connection of a series of IoT/CPS devices and offer a false network for the data to be pushed to. In that scenario there may be IoT/CPS capabilities to be utilized that I won’t talk about here. But one of the easy ways this particular security hole would be a two-way validation on the security chips of a mesh. Not knowing the size of anyone mesh, and no one device knowing how many others it is connected to, would increase the ability of the system to reveal hacked devices quickly.

The most intriguing thing however in the IDC study was the sudden appearance of skills as a problem for IoT/CPS implementations going forward. I’ve actually predicted part of this problem more than 3 years ago in my innovation series of blogs. The reality of innovation is that some of the people that would normally be cutting edge driver sin companies, have moved on to crowd funding opportunities. I talked about that in my book on innovation. There is an environmental issue that causes innovators to move to startup’s. In part this is a distinct issue of inter-generational knowledge transfer and in part an enablement of a new market.

One thing organizations can do is consider building an IGKT that aligns with their organizational goals but is also adaptive enough that it can support new ideas and new thinking. This is not forcing the boiling of the great ocean of knowledge management to get a teaspoon of table salt. This represents a multi-party system that is designed to support Knowledge Transfer. You will lose some innovative thinking to Crowd Funding. You will also lose some historical organizational reference points to retirement. This system better enables the development of people and processes to capture information. The goal of the system is to remove the expert tradition from your organization and create a vibrant growing creative and inspiring organization.

There isn’t one answer to the problems 40 billion IoT/CPS devices will create. There are however things that can be done now, that will reduce the impact of risk then. When you are up to your neck in water, surrounded by alligators it is hard to remember your assigned job was drain the swamp.


Yea though my sensors tell me everything I will not fear checking the actual weather myself!

A visit to a museum tomorrow, that covers today…

The art of the possible, can you with what exists now, make something happen? It is the innovators dilemma truly. Can you build it? The marketing and sales dilemma happens after that (can you sell it?) and *is it something people need/want?). Bound around every leap forward is the two, three, four or more steps sideways and backwards. Things that missed.

Evolution, Revolution or scrap heap seems sometimes to be the three options. There is also just beyond evolutionary (market not quite ready) or evolutionary (not possible based on what is available today). So there are more than the three. When I was eight or so the Pet Rock craze happened. My father wouldn’t buy me one, instead he gave me a rock called Jim. I didn’t see the humor nor the message until I was older at the time I felt like throwing Jim. I didn’t then, but I understand now. Part of jumping the edges of innovation is a willingness to buy a rock, and pretend it is a pet. You will make mistakes on the cutting edge of dreams.

That is the joy of being a Kickstarter and Indiegogo fanatic. I know I’ve picked some duds. Projects that were more marketing than technology. PT Barnum standing in front of a tent hawking the amazing bearded lizard that smokes cigars and talks about Niche. A talking lizard sure, rare. One that openly talks about Niche, wow beyond amazing. The fact that you buy a conversation with one priceless! You get the idea. Something that is too good to be true.

As a technologist I try to apply that marketing lens to the projects I post. I have shared more than 100 projects on my blogs in the past five years. During that time 1 has been cancelled (it happened last week) and 99 are still either in flight or have landed. My 99% success rate measured only in the fact that only one of the projects has been cancelled to date. Cancelled projects that return all monies raised (as the one I just posted about) are ok. Ones that take the money and disappear, not so much. Or ones that realize the technology they are dreaming about is not possible now.

It is a mentality to be a crowd funding backer. Not to be angry and stomp your feet but to know the difference. The old Latin Phrase Caveat Emptor, let the buyer beware truly applies to crowdfunding. If it sounds too good to be true, check it. It probably is. 1st generation anything is potentially just a collector’s item (remember the first 3d pen?) or it is the precursor to a 2nd, 3rd and so on generation device.

Someday my collection of early IoT and crowd funded devices will look good in a museum. Collectible because people will want to remember how we used to create 3d objects. (you had a 3d pen? OMG ROFL oh yeah and the only reason for using OMG and ROFL is that in museums there are text speak translators, no one talks like that anymore anyway). The concept of the future is one that is shrouded as it should be in mystery. You cannot see past the silken veil that hides tomorrow. Someday historians looking back will laugh at the analysts calling this the information age. “You couldn’t even think commands for your wearable devices then. Information age, they were the dark ages of technology. They recharged their batteries! Can you believe that every night they plugged their devices in and then when they woke up they used BLUETHOOTH to connect them. So primitive. So not the information age).

Someday the world will maintain a Wi-Fi presence only for museums to display how pre-information age technology from 2020 worked. We don’t allow the non-integrated non-secure network to connect to the rest of the world. But it does connect between the two museums. So you can sort of understand the reality they lived with in 2020.

An 8-year-old kid, with his mother at that museum, tugging on her coat. “Look mom, I think that man over there has something wrong with him. HE IS TALKING TO his device.” “No Billy,” the mom answers “that is called a cellular phone. They used to carry those so that they could talk to each other. Before we had the embedded universal system.” The 8-year old’s eyes huge, his mouth open the sound “OOOO” escaping into the museum air.

The evolution and revolution pieces are growing around us. Technology is changing rapidly. Eventually we will reach the glorious information age. Where information moves easily and freely and the concept of security is ubiquitous.


Future information age dreamer

Just another Shameless review : iPhone 7 plus

It is funny, I was back in the day, an Apple fan boy. I went away from Apple products for many years. But was pulled back in by the iPhone. Recently I upgraded my iPhone to the new 7 plus. I know there are many people that hate the lack of a 3.5 mm audio plug. I don’t really care at this point. I don’t use headphones other than the noise cancelling headphones when I am flying, so the impact of no audio jack is little to none on my use.

What I am most impressed and most intrigued with is both the new Series 2 iWatch and the fit and finish of the iPhone 7. First off, back when the first integrated Kindle came out (Amazon owns Audible) that played Audible books and stored Kindle eBooks, I could fit all my eBooks and my audible books on a single device. I took my Kindle with me and used it as the audible book player in the car. Sometimes, when you are stuck in Washington DC traffic it is nice to listen to someone reading a book to you. I cannot however keep all my audible and kindle books on my Kindle anymore. 30 gig of audible exceeds the capacity of my device to handle everything. So I am pulling down all the audible files onto the new iPhone 7.

1. First cool feature – 256 gig of ram. Amazing storage.

I don’t like the new home button. It is far too sensitive and my fingers are too large so it has been an initial learning curve for me. That is going to take some getting used to!

Let’s talk about the upgrade experience. Windows 10 is the first really easy Windows upgrade. It does however require you to have all your drivers up to date and current. With the iOS 10 upgrade Apple changed the upgrade game again. My wife has an older iPhone 5s. Well she did. It is on iOS 9 and she wanted to upgrade to my old iPhone 6s plus since I was getting the new 7. I had already upgraded the 6s plus to iOS 10. So I started off by backing up both the 5s and the 6s plus. Then I upgraded to the new iPhone 7 plus and in a matter of 30 minutes or so, had my applications, folders and the vast majority of settings on my new phone. I had however a compatibility issue between my wife’s old phone and her new phone. At least I thought I did. I was in a hurry and did the move from her iOS 9 phone to her new iOS 10 phone without upgrading the OS on the 5s first. It worked perfectly. I was shocked that you could easily move between OS’s and phones. Awesome job Apple!

2. When upgrades are easy it makes customer’s happy. THE UPGRADE was nearly painless (we did have to input a few settings that didn’t carry over. But, given that the settings that didn’t move were passwords, I am actually happy that I had to reenter the passwords).

The screen is brighter, as expected, frankly every single iPhone since the first one I had (the 4) when returning to Apple Fan Boy status, has improved the screen. So I won’t give kudos for a better screen. Camera remains a continued improvement. But again expected so no Kudo. Water resistant makes the devices a little more resilient but would have preferred water proof. So no value there.

Faster process and graphics co-processing is good. Functional integration with the Apple iCloud remains a core component of the OS.

iOS 10 is a good improvement, although with every new release there are always little annoying issues. Again the home button change is my only annoyance at this point, but it has been a tougher than expected learning curve. Size wise the 7 plus is roughly the same size as the 6s plus. A little different (narrower).

I have tried most of the day to day applications I use and they function as expected. I am slowly but surely trying all the external connection devices I have (that used the 3.5 audio jack not lightening) and wandering around looking for a battery pack for the device. So far, being as it is new, the battery packs are not yet released. The lightening to audio jack is released, but as always I am looking for different. I think personally a battery case with a 4000 mAh battery, two lightening jacks and an on the top 3.5 audio jack (if you think about phone positioning, charging on one end and audio out on the other makes more logical sense). I suspect that is a great product idea, if you build it, send me a link and I will help you get a customer base!


Apple Fan Boy, again.

The new IDC study on the Internet of things, and solving one of the problems raised…

The recently published IDC study on the Internet of Things (link here) provides a lot of confirmation for me. The top reasons to utilize IoT don’t resonate with me (increased productivity, process automation and time to market) because frankly I think all three are actually increased productivity. But the numbers represented are interesting.

This study comes to the conclusion that it is all about the data. They catch that security is a huge issue but they miss data movement and management as issues. But that is more a function of people not considering the reality of what you are collecting.

More than, at this point, 60% of all information generated by IoT devices is never used. It is discarded through automated systems that filter what humans need to act on. That percentage will continue to rise, because frankly the projected growth of IoT objects will increase. In fact, most analysts put the number of IoT devices in 4 years to be 4 times what it is today.

The interesting problem for me that they talk about in the IDC study is that of IoT skills. Building skills is something I have a lot of my career figuring out ways to do. I started as an elementary school teacher, my first attempt at building a knowledge transfer system was the creation of the Virtual, and in-person Society of Dead Teachers. Modeled after the movie Dead Poet’s Society and the meetings in the forgotten cave. Except our meetings were normally on Friday and normally at Chi-Chi’s restaurant. It was in the creation of the virtual forum for the society that we grew rapidly. We were voted one of the friendliest listserv’s on the internet twice (once by Kent State University and once by the University of Berlin).

That was the first knowledge transfer system I built. I’ve done this now many times. Another model that I tried as part of the Society of Dead Teachers was the publication of the magazine for the group. Called “Kindle the Flame” the magazine focused on reviewing and discussing technology and ways it could be used, and impact classrooms.

All of this before I built my third system. The third system physically existed before I got involved. What I built was a network people contributing to the system. I was then asked to be part of the team that was redesigning the new system to implement that system. In this new system we mixed the concept of SME’s, Communities of practice and the collection of Intellectual capital. The system worked but we were missing one component.

We were missing the training piece.

In the last attempt I put together of this system I took a broader view. Creating a repository of templates and useful standardized internal information. I built a list of SME’s that could operate independently of central management to quickly solve problems. Then with a phenomenal team we built an education system that mixed online classes, virtual discussions, in-person classes, Vendor provided training materials and a virtual lab that students could quickly log into and practice.

I documented that in my new book. The Edison Scale, or Inter-generational knowledge transfer. The concept is mixing people who know things (SME’s) with information that is known good (has worked to solve problems before) along with vendor provided reference architectures and training materials. Layer over that key and specific training developed internally to assure proper information consumption and you have the system.

It is designed in the book, other than a few pieces that are still in my head. You see, with the information age just ahead of us (yes we are NOT THERE) and the IoT deluge coming, building an Edison Scale system will provide a framework to both encourage young innovators to stay put, but will also create an environment where the existing expert systems disappear. There is nothing worse than an expert hoarding their information because that is how they got to where they are.

There are still a few ideas in my head that I haven’t worked out yet, but will continue to build them and share them on my blog.


Innovation, Intellectual Capital, Training, it is all there and not in a locked PDF file…