Category: Book Reviews

Design Thinking for Internet of Things

To launch an Internet of Things product is easy. The difficulty is to launch a good IoT product that solves a real consumer need or  improves a process in a factory. This means, create something to have an utility and usability and  take advantage of the IoT possibilities. Here, is where design thinking can help you. This trendy path involves company multidisciplinary teams in order to prioritize the user’s preferences or necessities. This is is the center of design thinking, realizing that  people have something to say about the products they will use. If you can include  the possibilities of IoT on it, probably your new product has less risks when you will decide to launch it in the market. With IoT, the product, the “things” can tell you too, how to improve a design. For example, an IoT product sends information about how the consumer use it and you can include these preferences to build another one or to include new features ( the real customer experience). If you know well the customer experience journey, it will be easy to have a good product design.  

Photo by Defi de la Rua
Photo by Delfi de la Rua

Some agencies around the world are now working in Design Thinking for all type of business working with very qualified and multidisciplinary teams. One of them is Altair. They have a specific lab to help companies in product design and include all the process: from the concept design and prototype to the test and prototyping.

AltairTL

Another example well know is Fjordnet a company bought by Accenture in 2013. They have a portfolio of works that you can see at their website. One of them was with the airline company Finnair and the objective was to change the customer experience and improve it with a digital solution around the complete travel of a customer and not only the flight.

Finnair

They are a few product design companies, like Enero, smaller but  specialized in IoT products and design.   

If you want to know more about Design Thinking , here are some book recommendations to start:

Book Designing Connected Products

Book The Design of Everyday Things

Designing Connected Products have been writing for different authors and describes well all the path: From the differences of user experience with Iot products, the technology of connected devices , how to translate the research in products definitions, prototyping,….

If you are new to design and want to start with the basics, a good start is: The Design of Every Day Things was published for first time in 1988. the author Don Norman is an electric Engineer and a Phycologist and he puts in value concepts related with human behaviour, design and things.A must.

 

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Learning about Customer Engagement with IoT products

Nowadays in the Internet of People, many businesses rely on collecting big data on how users surf the web or share content in exchange of free applications such as social media, search engines or websites. Most business analysts state that people are the product and advertising is the income.

Consumers mainly pay for physical products like Cars, TVs, smoke detectors, etc… and these products are more and more connected devices to your smart phone or directly to the Internet. This connection enables the manufacturer to offer new features like real time traffic info for cars or online content for TVs.

Imagine you buy a new car that has embedded connectivity and your dealer ask you these questions: “Are you willing to share data from your car with the manufacturer? And what do you want in exchange?”

Well you can find a similar question Accenture Report, The Internet of Things: the Future of Consumer Adoption”

Survey Accenture

So many customers are willing to share their consumer habits in exchange of a free service or Feature.

If a connected product has an active connection to the Internet then the cost of collecting info on how your customers uses your product is just a few dollars (or euros) per year. Information on customer engagement with a product is something very new and very valuable. For example it helps the designer of the product to understand how the customers use the product and how to design the new version or new features.

So the Marketing potential for manufacturers of connected products is huge. The problem is not technology. The main concern should be how these companies build a relationship with their customers to be:

  • Clearly stated: If you buy a product that collects info on your habits: you should be noticed and be aware of this.
  • Accepted by the consumer: There should be mechanisms for the consumer to “opt-out” is this data exchange.
  • Secure and Private: The manufacturer should provide ways to offer privacy through making data anonymous or control third party info exchange like brands, advertisers, friends and family.
  • Fair: Most users will only accept this data collection if there is an incentive form them.

Brand Research and Analysis companies like Altimeter Group  are already doing reports on how to craft a digital strategy and the possibilities of customer experience in IoT products. On their report you can find their recommended methodology to build your strategy:

4 steps to architecting consumer IoT experiences

Customer Engagement Analysis of connected products should be a priority of any Digital Strategy. Carriots IoT platform is already evolving to support this.

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A good read: OpenAxel’s White Paper on the connection of StartUps with the Industry

Launched in October 2013 and funded within the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union, OPENAXEL (www. OPENAXEL.com) is a 30-month project involving 8 partners (leading accelerators, institutional entities, and specialized innovation consulting firms) from 6 European countries and with wide international exposure. OPENAXEL intends to open the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Europe by identifying the key stakeholders of the acceleration and the ICT industries and fostering coordinated involvement and smart cooperation among them.

OpenAxel WhitePaper CPE

With the OpenAxel WhitePaper on Corporate Startup Engagement , OPENAXEL partners wish to contribute to the lively debate on how to shorten the gap between established corporations and innovative digital startups. The analysis has been focussed on the role of business accelerators in facilitating collaboration initiatives.

 

The white paper start by analysing how large companies engage with start ups, a trend called Corporate StartUp Engagement (CSE). More than half of the world’s 500 biggest

public companies work with startups. Interactions between startups and corporations are

becoming increasingly popular and Europe is in the forefront of CSE.

 

According to OpenAxel “In light of the survey findings, almost all (97%) the European corporations have carefully analysed their needs for open innovation, though implementations are still on their way.”

Companies Motivation to work with Startups. Source OpenAxel WhitePaper
Companies Motivation to work with Startups. Source OpenAxel WhitePaper

 

The report has several interesting Case Studies of European companies doing CSE through several initiatives:

  • Business Plan / Hackathons
  • Partnerships with external accelerators / incubators
  • Corportate Accelerator /Incubator
  • Corportae Venutre Capital
  • Scouting / Consultancy firms

The White Paper is aimed at:

  • Startups and corporations: might find interesting suggestions on best practices and key problems. Additionally, they can find useful tips on how to identify good partners in the accelerators universe.
  • Accelerator managers: might put into use a new set of self-assessment tools to position their business towards both kinds of clients.
  • Policy makers: might survey up-to-date implementations of good practices by European corporations, and a framework to detect accelerators, which could help sustain policies of open innovation.

The document ends with some nice recommendations for the CSE ecosystems and participants. Enjoy the reading!

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Carriots is featured in DZone’s Guide to Developer Programs

Carriots is featured in DZone’s latest research guide, the Guide to Developer Programs. This guide provides a full analysis of developer programs, a directory of the most popular programs, articles outlining why joining the right program could benefit your career, and industry insights detailing how other developers take advantage of developer programs. You can download the free research guide here: bit.ly/1bq8daQ.

With app markets more crowded than ever, it’s hard to stand out among other developers. To solve this problem, many developers are looking to developer programs for support, as well as resources that can’t be found in most out-of-the-box solutions. According to DZone’s Guide to Developer Programs, over 50% of their audience of developers have joined at least one developer program. So what is that attracts so many developers to developer programs?

Tools, Resources, and Community

By joining a developer program, members gain access to essential tools and resources – things like an API, documentation, SDKs, sample applications, and community forums. According to DZone’s research, 72% of survey respondents agreed that organizations with developer programs have higher quality APIs.

Developers also benefit from the community found within a developer program. It can’t be understated – whether collaborating on projects or looking for support, developers can rely on their peers within a program to create better applications. Not to mention, joining a developer program can open doors – 18% of the DZone audience said that they’ve received job offers from working on an open source project, while 12% said they’ve received offers from working on a project in a developer program.

Learn more about how developer programs can impact your career and get help finding the right developer program for you by downloading a copy of the free DZone Guide to Developer Programs.

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Book Review: IoT with the Arduino Yun

Internet of Things with the Arduino Yun - Packt publishingA couple weeks ago, our friends at “Packt Publishing – http://www.packtpub.com/” sent us a copy of the book “Internet of Things with the Arduino Yún“. Without a doubt the book is a good reference for anyone that wants to dive into the world of IoT and the Maker movement.

The book introduces the reader to the basic concepts of electronics, programming and the Internet which are necessary to taking the first steps toward the creation of an Iot project in an easy and didactic way.

Continue reading

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Book Review – M2M for Dummies – Free ebook Download

For those of you that are new to the world of M2M and Internet of Things, a nice book to read is M2M for Dummies edited by Wiley. This ebook is sponsored by RACO wireless and that means you can freely download it here . The book is written by Brian Underdahl, an experienced and prolific writer of this type of manuals.

“M2M for Dummies” ® cover page edited by Wiley ©

The book starts with the basic of M2M technology written in plain English. Writing a dummies book for M2M is far more complex that explaining a software tool like excel. The focus of the book is then explaining the blocks a company will need to integrate to build a M2M solution. Some examples of these type solutions are given in very different sectors form e-health to industry automation. Some of these examples reflect how an exiting solution, like a home alarm system, can be improved by switching a landline connection to a wireless operator.

The second chapter covers very briefly the requirements and implications you must considering when you choose a hardware manufacture, a software application and a telecom operator. All of these arguments are very high level and most case obvious. But is a very good exercise to read them since the obvious is forgotten until problems arise. The arguments related to the IT part of the M2M solutions are correct although it would have been nice to go deeper on some concepts. In contrast the description of connectivity related topics are more detailed. Obviously this book has been advised by RACO, a telecom operator specialized in M2M, and the networking material is based on their expertise.

Chapter three covers all the topics you will have worry when you roll out a M2M solution to provide a service to you customers. Some advises are given on requirements to maintain devices, provide security and customer support. Like before it is a check-list of highly important matters that must care about.

Chapter four covers RACO wireless solutions and benefits as a connectivity provider. Nowadays telecom operators are more than data Carriers. RACO provides a lot of IT services to help you manage your connectivity in M2M projects. They were one first movers in that direction and now even the largest telecom operators follow that path.

Last chapter is a list of 10 facts about M2M. Probably you are already familiar with most of them, although some of them might surprise you like “95% of all M2M systems require just 2G speed”.

Our Conclusion: This book is very basic but only takes 30 minutes to read and you might learn some new concepts. We think that is the spirit of this “for CEOs” “for Dummies” series. Worth reading and sharing among your colleagues and top managers like this one:

Carriots CEO: This guy is far more dangerous than Dilbert’s ® boss!

Enjoy it!

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Book Review: Industrial Internet edited by O’Reilly (Free ebook)

Today we are going to talk about a book that has just been published under the Radar collection of O’reilly publishing. This collection tracks the latest technology trends of the Internet. This report is only available as a free ebook (download from O’reilly website) or on read it online at Safari online books.

Industrial Internet Book Cover

The writer is Jon Bruner, a data journalist, who works at O’Reilly as editor-at-large. Before that, he was data editor at Forbes Magazine. Jon spoke with 50 experts from the industries discussed in this report. General Electric has underwritten this report, and helped finding the industry experts interviewed.

The book starts by perfectly describing the Industrial Internet as the Enterprise Internet of Things where machines become a Web service. The elements of this ecosystem are available anywhere at little cost and composed of:

  • pervasive networks
  • open-source microcontrollers
  • software that collects and analyses massive amounts of data
  • software to control machines and provide intelligence

From the start the author quotes many of the interviews and provides many real examples of projects implementing this concept of Industrial Internet. The diversity of people interviewed offers a broad vision on the matter that is really useful to understand how big this phenomenon is. And we are just at the beginning of this new Industrial Revolution.

Chapter 2 deals with Security and how education will be a crucial part of the effort to keep the Industrial Internet safe. This chapter is too short, perhaps because few works on this topic have been done and published. Certainly, security of machines connected to the Internet will be a hot area of R&D during the future years.

Chapter 3 analyses the impact of Industrial Internet on the following industries:

  • Energy
  • Automotive
  • Transportation
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing

On each sector some projects are described to give you examples of what can be done. But the most interesting feeling you get after reading this chapter is that 99% of the work in Industrial Internet remains to be done. There is a HUGE list of challenges and projects ahead. If you are looking for business opportunities in IOT you should definitely read this chapter.

Chapter 4 reviews Silicon Valley innovation in the Industrial Internet. Obviously we don’t agree with this chapter being so focused on the valey. At Carriots we know that right now MANY poles of innovation are doing great research and product development in this field. Silicon Valey is a hot spot but at the same level as England, Spain, Germany, Sweden, India, or many others. The Future is not what it used to be, designed in California.

Our conclusion on the book: It is an excellent report that can be easily read in a few hours but that keep you thinking for days on this subject and the opportunities to come. Specially recommended to the new comers to the M2M and IOT world

Price of the ebook: FREE. Thanks to General Electric

Where to download it (in fact you buy it for 0$): http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920029755.do

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Book Review: IOT Key Applications and Protocols edited by Wiley and ETSI

On this blog we also want to post reviews of books covering the Internet of Things and Machine to Machine (M2M). We have a nice bookshelf covering a wide range of topics from Making projects with Arduino to implementing new protocols like 6LowPAN or MQTT. Most of the books are edited either by Wiley or by O’Reilly . This topic is very hot recently and for example if you go to Safari books online and you search for books related with Internet of Things, you get over 10.000 items. Well perhaps that search is not working fine but if you search for M2M you get at least 98 items!

The first book we are going to talk about here is published by Wiley with the support of ETSI. If you are not familiar with ETSI you should know that this European Telecommunications Standard Institute is responsible for globally-applicable standards for Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), including fixed, mobile, radio, converged, broadcast and internet technologies. For example GSM was developed by ETSI. ETSI produces a lot of good quality documentation to help you track the future of ICT.

Today’s book: IOT Key Applications and Protocols edited by Wiley and ETSI

Cover Page of The Internet of Things: Key Applications and Protocols

Authors: Olivier Hersent (Actility ), David Boswarthick (ETSI), Omar Elloumi (Alcatel-Lucent)

Price on Amazon : Kindle Edition 71$; Paperback 91$

Wiley book description here.

We bought this book back in December 2011 when it was published. The book is very technical and aimed at engineers who want a broad overview of which protocols are used in the Internet of Things and M2M world and their applications.

The book is structured in 5 parts:

  • Part I: Covers IEEE 802.15.4 (low-rate wireless personal area network) and Power Line Comunications (PLC) for M2M.
  • Part II: Focuses on legacy protocols for building and home automation. The protocols described are BACnet, Lonworks, ModBus, KNX, Zigbee and Z-Wave.
  • Part III: Covers Legacy M2M protocols for Utility Metering. The protocols M-Bus, ANSI C12 and DLSM/COSEM are reviewed in the context of Smart Metering.
  • Part IV: Covers the Next Generation: IP-Based Protocols. Finally we talk about INTERNET PROTOCOLS for IOT! This part covers 6LowPAN, Zigbee Smart Energy 2.0 and ETSI proposed architecture for M2M.
  • Part V: Talks about SmartGrid and the business case of charging Electric Vehicles.

This is our opinion on each part:

Part I is interesting if you want to understand how for example ZigBee works on the Physical Layer. The PLC chapter is not so interesting since this technology has a grey future (in our opinion).

Part II is very interesting if you are involved in Building Automation projects and you need to understand which technologies are available and how they work.

Part III is not very interesting really, unless you want to deal with legacy projects in Utility Metering.

Part IV is strange. The explanation of 6LoWPAN is nice but very technical and aimed at describing the standard. The Chapter on Zigbee Smart Energy 2.0 covers concepts like HTTP REST technology and describes the version 2 of Zigbee (while version is not yet even largely deployed). ZigBee 2.0 redesigns ZigBee SE 1.0 by making it independent from the physical layer and using IP networking and a RESTful design. This approach is very interesting although very similar to existing HTTP RESTful APIs like the one we provide in Carriots. The Chapter on ETSI M2M Architecture is an overview of another interesting book published by Wiley and ETSI covering a very high level architecture proposed by ETSI to address the IOT. This is the book and we are going to review it in another post because it has some very interesting concepts.

Part V is disappointing. The use case of Electric Vehicle Charging is worth reading. But it is the only real example of an IOT implementation on a book that claims to address applicationS. Note: Don’t judge a book by the cover.

Our Conclusion: A very good book to overview and understand layer 1 and 2 protocols used in M2M and IOT, but the applications described are only for the Energy sector (Smart Grid and Electric Vehicle). In fact since the book was published, the cover page has changed to “Applications to the SmartGrid and Building Automation”. Despite the high price the book it is worth buying if you need to understand which protocols have been used and which are the future protocols proposed. As a critic this book, it seems to be very influenced by the French electric lobby. Many other standards used in the world are left behind and more projects of the Industrial Internet could have analysed.

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