"iot" entries

Smart building: Building bridges between IT and facilities

Building organizational bridges across the enterprise is critical to ensure successful IoT deployments.

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With the proliferation of IoT-enabled systems and devices across the physical environment, the IoT is already embedded in the enterprise, often deep inside the industrial infrastructure. Generating terabytes of data, sensor-laden objects — lighting, HVAC systems, thermostats, beacons, and others — justify their cost based on the business benefits alone. Whether for energy savings, process efficiency, worker tracking, threat detection, or other purposes, facilities engineering teams are procuring these sensors and systems to address business needs. The challenge? Buildings are getting smarter without explicit or intentional involvement from IT, creating missed opportunities to leverage these assets and their data, and to align with a broader IT strategy.

While IT focuses on the computing and network infrastructure rather than the physical environment, facilities teams are deploying a new layer of smart devices across the infrastructure, without thinking that these objects are actually a series of data-generating nodes on the corporate network. To extract maximum value from these new, smart, networked devices, organizations need to redefine the historically challenged relationship between facilities and IT teams. While facility managers handle everything from plant operations, HVAC systems, maintenance teams, and snow removal, they are now also a new customer or partner for IT as buildings become instrumented. IT teams are subject matter experts and strategic partners that can ensure technology acquisitions within the physical environment will integrate with the other systems across the enterprise.

In fact, for the deployment of IoT technologies across the enterprise, there are obvious questions that IT is particularly well suited to address: Read more…

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The future of car making: Small teams using fewer materials

How we make cars is a bigger environmental issue than how we fuel them.

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Around two billion cars have been built over the last 115 years; twice that number will be built over the next 35-40 years. The environmental and health impacts will be enormous. Some think the solution is electric cars or other low- or zero-emission vehicles. The truth is, if you look at the emissions of a car over its total life, you quickly discover that tailpipe emissions are just the tip of the iceberg.

An 85 kWh electric SUV may not have a tailpipe, but it has an enormous impact on our environment and health. A far greater percentage of a car’s total emissions come from the materials and energy required for manufacturing a car (mining, processing, manufacturing, and disposal of the car ), not the car’s operation. As leading environmental economist and vice chair of the National Academy of Sciences Maureen Cropper notes, “Whether we are talking about a conventional gasoline-powered automobile, an electric vehicle, or a hybrid, most of the damages are actually coming from stages other than just the driving of the vehicle.” If business continues as usual, we could triple the total global pollution generated by automobiles, as we go from two billion to six billion vehicles manufactured.

The conclusion from this is straightforward: how we make our cars is actually a bigger environmental issue than how we fuel our cars. We need to dematerialize — dramatically reduce the material and energy required to build cars — and we need to do it now. Read more…

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Four short links: 23 June 2015

Four short links: 23 June 2015

Irregular Periodicity, Facebook Beacons, Industry 4.0, and Universal Container

  1. Fast Lomb-Scargle Periodograms in Pythona classic method for finding periodicity in irregularly-sampled data.
  2. Facebook Bluetooth Beacons — free for you to use and help people see more information about your business whenever they use Facebook during their visit.
  3. Industry 4.0 — stop gagging at the term. Interesting examples of connectivity and data improving manufacturing. Human-machine interfaces: Logistics company Knapp AG developed a picking technology using augmented reality. Pickers wear a headset that presents vital information on a see-through display, helping them locate items more quickly and precisely. And with both hands free, they can build stronger and more efficient pallets, with fragile items safeguarded. An integrated camera captures serial and lot ID numbers for real-time stock tracking. Error rates are down by 40%, among many other benefits. Digital-to-physical transfer: Local Motors builds cars almost entirely through 3-D printing, with a design crowdsourced from an online community. It can build a new model from scratch in a year, far less than the industry average of six. Vauxhall and GM, among others, still bend a lot of metal, but also use 3-D printing and rapid prototyping to minimize their time to market. (via Quartz)
  4. runCa lightweight universal runtime container, by the Open Container Project. (OCP = multi-vendor initiative in hands of Linux Foundation)
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Connected machines: Taking manufacturing to the next level of IoT

Linking factory machines back to their builders creates an efficient production loop.

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We’ve all seen how connected products can transform industries in areas like home energy management and personal health, and manufacturing is no exception. When products communicate back to their original makers, the manufacturers can detect production flaws well before customers would need to raise warranty claims. Further, product usage data can become the core of value delivered to the customer. Now that we have Fitbit and Jawbone UP, would you ever consider buying a traditional pedometer whose only method of telling you steps is on an LCD display? These ideas can be applied to machines on the factory floor, too.

In a previous blog post on the connected factory, I shared how Cisco’s designs combine best practices from operational technology (OT) and IT into robust and secure networks. I also addressed how wireless connectivity can enable a more effective workforce and how digital transformation with real-time production analytics improves quality.

Now, imagine extending that connectivity beyond the plant floor and internal operations by connecting factory machines back to the machine builders that created them. Manufacturing operations that rely only on data generated within the plant and shared internally are missing an important opportunity. Sharing data with the machine builders who know the machine best can create opportunities to significantly improve machine performance by making those machines smarter. Read more…

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Diversity and good intentions

Supporting nonprofits that encourage diversity in the tech world.

At O’Reilly, we value diversity. At each O’Reilly conference, we choose a worthy nonprofit (particularly those that support diversity in the tech world) that we want to support. In the conference registration process, we invite attendees to make a donation to that organization, which is matched by O’Reilly Media.

Past matching donation recipients included some wonderful organizations, such as the National Center for Women & IT, Code.org, Girls Who Code, PyLadies, Anita Borg Institute, Black Girls Code, Women Who Code, and we’re currently raising money for Code2040 at OSCON.

For Solid 2015, we selected Double Union. A hacker/maker space by and for women seemed like an excellent nonprofit to get support from Solid attendees and O’Reilly.

But we made a mistake. We mentioned Double Union as the recipient of these matching donations and used their logo on the Solid Conference website, without first getting the permission of the Double Union board. That was a mistake that never should have happened.

At Double Union’s request, we’ve removed their name and logo from the conference website. We have also apologized to the Double Union board. Read more…

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Seeed Studio electronics factory walkthrough

An update from the Pop-up Factory project.

As part of the preparations leading up to the Pop-up Factory installation next week at O’Reilly’s Solid Conference, Marcelo Coelho and I went to China to work with sponsor Seeed Studio’s Shenzhen facility in order to produce parts for more than a thousand Alike wristbands.

Working with Seeed project manager Vivian Zhong, we set up in a conference room for the week to organize logistics for getting neoprene straps and assembled printed circuit boards (PCBA) produced and shipped. We also worked with her to source the components that will be used for the manufacturing demonstration in the Pop-up Factory itself at Solid.

In this video, Zhong shows us what’s going on in the factory, all the way from reels of components through various assembly and testing stations. Although the factory is working on many other projects in addition to Alike, we were fortunate enough to catch up to the Alike PCBA as they were in the testing phase. Read more…

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Driven by the Internet of Things: A mountain bike with a voice

Listening to things in the IoT will redefine manufacturing.

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Image courtesy of PTC.

As products get smarter and more connected, we should not only listen to our customers, but we should listen to our products as well. The Internet of Things is changing the world around us, creating a new reality that bridges the physical and digital worlds, and encourages innovation and competitive advantage. It’s not just about the products or things, but about the companies that create them.

Previously, manufacturers relied on customer feedback to maintain and upgrade products; now, product analytics can fix issues before they happen — and create new opportunities for product design and service. This is done by listening to the “voice of the product or data,” where manufacturers can gather, interpret, and feed product data back into the design cycle, enabling a new set of capabilities that builds value for manufacturers and customers, all driven by the IoT.

Imagine listening to the “voice” of a Santa Cruz mountain bike. The bike, pictured above at the opening of the Boston-based IoT event LiveWorx, demonstrates how physical products can be dissected to their digital cores and this knowledge used to predict and resolve problems. The bike, fitted with sensors and a Raspberry Pi computer for connectivity, tracked wheel speed, suspension pressure, and angle of the steering wheel — all of which was connected to the cloud using our ThingWorx IoT platform. As it was ridden around the stage, its motions were displayed inside a computer-aided design (CAD) model. Combining the power of CAD and product lifecycle management (PLM) with our IoT platform, we merged the bike’s real-world physical interactions into the digital world, creating a “digital twin,” an exact digital representation of the physical bike. Read more…

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Practical advice for hardware startups

Entering the hardware space is easier than ever. Succeeding is a different matter.

Photo of 3D printing head by Jonathan Juursema via Wikimedia Commons. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Because of recent innovations in prototyping, crowdfunding, marketing, and manufacturing, it has never been easier — or cheaper — to launch a hardware startup than it is now. But while turning a hardware project into a product is now relatively easy, doing it successfully is still hard.

Renee DiResta and Ryan Vinyard, co-authors of The Hardware Startup, recently got together with Solid Conference chair Jon Bruner to discuss the startup landscape in hardware and the IoT, and what entrepreneurs need to know to build their businesses. Read more…

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“The purpose of the IoT is to give humans superpowers”

Tim O’Reilly and Cory Doctorow talk about the opportunities and challenges presented by the Internet of Things.

In a recent conversation, Tim O’Reilly and Cory Doctorow addressed a wide variety of issues surrounding the evolution of the Internet of Things. We’ve distilled their conversation into a free downloadable report, “Opportunities and Challenges in the IoT: A Conversation with Tim O’Reilly and Cory Doctorow,” in which they address questions from folks on Twitter about security, the impact of the IoT on industry, IoT innovation in the public sector, and much more.

Taking a look at industry, O’Reilly addressed a Twitter question from @leahthehunter regarding which companies and technologies are most profoundly impacting the evolution of the Internet of Things:

I think the biggest mistake people make with the Internet of Things is in thinking that it’s about devices. Sure, there are sexy devices: your Nest thermostat. Your Internet-connected drone, or whatever, and people go, ‘Oh, awesome.’ Yes, and there’s things like smart TVs, but the biggest impact to me seems to be when you start thinking about how sensors and devices can change the way you actually do things. … What really seems interesting is if you take Uber as a model of an Internet of Things company and use that as your icon rather than, say, Nest, you say, ‘Oh wait a minute — what’s really happening here is we’re saying once you have connectivity and sensors out in the world, you can actually completely rethink an industry.’

O’Reilly noted that the biggest opportunities in the IoT lie not in new devices but in rethinking user behavior to design better user experiences and increase value for users. Doctorow agreed, pointing out that he’s interested in the notion of “treating human beings as things that are good at sensing and not things that are there to be sensed.” Read more…

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The smartest way to program smart things: Node.js

The reasons to use Node.js for hardware are simple: it’s standardized, event driven, and has very high productivity.

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Node.js is on the rise for programming hardware. The full Google V8 version helps run Intel’s Edison chip. The IoT community has already embraced Node.js for embedded devices and robotics, with notable examples including Nodebots and Cylon. And now, even smaller devices like Tessel 2 — a development platform for prototyping hardware — are using JavaScript.

Why is this a big deal? It makes programming hardware much simpler — college students can learn Node.js in a weekend. And it makes it possible to build and program an entire IoT device, from start to finish, in less than four hours. This may very well be the future of hardware programming.

Intel principal engineer Michael McCool will be at O’Reilly’s Solid Conference, June 23-25, 2015, to lead a workshop on using Node.js and HTML5 to program the Internet of Things. “In only three and a half hours, we’re going to walk people through building a complete and sophisticated IoT system,” McCool told me in an interview. That includes building a hardware prototype, hardware interfacing, streaming telemetry, building a UI on the phone, and creating an app. “The Web server part is just five lines of code. The rest of it is similarly simple,” he said. “The complete code is only about 200 lines on the embedded device, plus a little bit more…when you add in graphs of things for streaming data.” Read more…

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