February 13, 2013
The power of M2M is the ability to enable drastic changes in an industry. To do things differently. To change the game. Like in the early days of Internet we still focus on connecting things. That is good and makes us faster, cheaper, greener, etc. But it doesn’t change the game. It is when the technology is used to completely re-think and re-design something the power is released.
A wonderful example is thermostats. The “father of the iPod”, Tony Fadell, created the “learning thermostat” after having stumbled over expensive, dumb and ugly thermostats for the green house he was building. He created the gorgeously designed Nest which has been shipping for more than a year now. It is said to be compatible with 95% of the American and Canadian low voltage residential heating and cooling market by now. This little sexy device can remove some 20% of the heating and cooling energy bill and cost $250 US. Nest is now shipping 40-50K units per months and investors continue betting on Nest which now is said to be valued to $800 million US.
People normally don’t bother about thermostats but this easy to install and use, wonderfully designed and intelligent darling that saves people money has become a best-seller at Amazon, at Lowe’s and on Apple’s online store. It uses a number of sensors to understand the life-style of the household and adjusts heating and cooling in an optimal way. Beyond the information on the device itself it communicates with people’s smartphones and pads.
Innovative new approaches in established industries are always challenged by established players and Nest is already involved in legal battles. But I think we only have seen the beginning of Nest. Now they address consumers right away, seducing them with design and a good cause. But the device is Wi-Fi and ZigBee enabled thus ready for the Utilities and the Smart Grids. Is there a reason for a Utility to install another device in a home where a Nest already is in place?
November 9, 2012
Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) has been worked on for some twenty years. The idea to look at traffic and transportation using a holistic approach is great and rarely disputed. And the effects when ready would be fantastic! Efficiency, safety, sustainability and convenience, all the key promises of M2M, are there. But still the development is quite slow. Of course we need to remember that a lot of these issues are infrastructure related thus complex and time-consuming to develop. And a multimodal transportation approach require integrated organizations which is yet another complex thing to change. There are also many stakeholders and a lot of legislation involved.
But still I believe there are ways to drastically speed up the process: by leveraging the rapid development in technology in combination with innovation and pragmatism we could make things happen fast. Examples of key things to leverage are
- the open data movement to allow entrepreneurs to drive innovation
- the smartphones and pads to allow users of the transportation systems to access the information they need to make qualified decisions
- crowd sourcing and other innovative ways to collect data
- entrepreneurs to drive creativity, innovation and choice
A very good example of an ITS type application which is in place and leverage all of these is Waze.
It is the world’s fastest growing community-based traffic and navigation app
and it is free. They claim 30 million users already and they even get help to edit the maps from their users. It started as an open-source mapping project in 2006 and Waze was founded 2008. The company is backed by serious investors and the business model is based on location-based advertising. The level of innovation is high and you can for example connect your Facebook account to see where your friends are.
Think about this: First came GPS devices integrated into cars for maybe 3-5K$, then came mobile GPS devices, often with better maps and features, for about 1/10 of the price and now this, for free. The power of what today’s technology and modern ways of working can do is immense. The services are continuously improved and by using one device for many things we even help save the planet.
I am focusing a lot on ITS and together with our partners and entrepreneurs we have numerous concepts and ideas (including dynamIQ parking™ which we launched at ITS World Congress) leveraging modern technology and ways of working to make drastic ITS progress. Let’s get going!
October 30, 2012
ITS World Congress in Vienna is over. A well organized high-profile event with ministers, a grand opening event and a grand ball. The large exhibition halls were full of technology and complex drawings, the seminar program extensive and ministers from all over the world attended. We have seen the movie before: there was full agreement among delegates, speakers and exhibitors also at the 19:th ITS World Congress that ITS is important to save the world, increase safety and security and improve efficiency for people, organizations and societies. A lot of things are happening in the field but still too many “one road here and one road there pilots”.
But there are three fairly new enablers in the ITS market that can make things happen big way:
- – the smartphones and pads allowing us to visualize complex things and deliver relevant real-time information for powerful decision-making
- – the Open Data initiatives carried out in Europe and elsewhere enabling developers to access enormous amounts of relevant data for innovative ITS solutions
- – the rapidly growing M2M market is feeding Service Enablers with data and together with the Open Data sources this enables faster and more cost efficient development and maintenance of applications.
We have what we need to start taking real advantage of ITS now. Decision makers need to be brave enough to make the right decisions: ensure a strategy for management of data, use of M2M, etc. then go from pilots to action, open up the data and let the entrepreneurs figure out what users want. This will help us realize the benefits of ITS in terms of efficiency, sustainability, security and convenience.