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Big Auto Fearing IoT!!

Big Auto Fearing IoT!!
by Al Gharakhanian on 12-28-2015 at 7:00 am

 In my advisory role I routinely interact with many customers and IoT thought leaders and invariably get acquainted with their point of views. I find most of these insights unique, informative, and most interestingly unmentioned in major news outlets. My intention for posting this is to share some of these findings with you.

Yet Another IoT Wireless Proposal !!
As if having eight IoT wireless proposals was not enough, we got a new one a couple of weeks ago. The technology is named Starfishand has been developed by Silver Spring. They announced the initial rollouts to take place in 7 cites in US, Europe, and India. Silver Spring is the leading manufacturer of “Smart Grid” connectivity equipment mostly sold to electric and gas utility companies worldwide. Starfish is a IPv6 mesh-based technology built on the Wi-SUN interoperability standard of IEEE 802.15.4g and allegedly can deliver 1.2 Mbps speeds, 10ms latency and up to 50 miles point-to-point range. While in-depth and meaningful information about Starfish is scant, the following are a few notable characteristics:


  • Like SigFox and LoRa, Starfish is based on sub-GHz ISM band
  • Similar to SigFox, Silver Spring intends to be a service provider and not just an equipment company (yet another example of a traditional hardware company vying for a recurring subscription business model)
  • The initial rollout of this public network will be based on their legacy-installed base (nearly 25M nodes). It is unclear how a public network can be deployed using equipment owned by third parties
  • No cost or power consumption information is available and the existing implementation is based on a Systems-on-Chip (SoC) developed by Silver Spring bolted to an off -the-shelf radio chip

    So why is there so much interest to gain a foothold on an IoT Wireless technology? The rationale is pretty simple. Consider billions or even trillion of dollars that has been spent by wireless operators to build a worldwide cellular infrastructure. Such a massive investment has been well justified since eventually every world citizen able to use and afford a mobile phone will have one. Now imagine a world that each person that has one mobile handset is surrounded by dozens of “smart things” that need to communicate with each other. This presents an enormous business opportunity for the carriers both in terms of subscription fees as well as valuable data collected. Promoters of winning connectivity technology for IoT will enjoy a tremendous tail wind when it comes to monetizing the IoT build out.

    Nuances in Home Automation Gadgets

    Most people envision connected thermostats, smoke detectors, and smart lighting when they hear the term “Home Automation”. We have come a long way and Home Automation (HA) devices are covering a much wider territory. This category now encompasses home security, music distribution, IoT, and Remote Health Monitoring in addition to temperature and lighting control. The advent of flexible voice-driven HA hubs such as Amazon’s Echo has eased the task of controlling wares around the house using voice commands.

    Reviewing the nuances of the upcoming CES show in Las Vegas, the following conclusions can be drawn:


  • The sheer number of connectivity protocols is mind bugling. We now have DECT, ULE, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Thread, Weave, AllSeen, OIC, Insteon, EnOcean, WiFi, and BLE Mesh. BLE (Bluetooth low energy) Mesh is the latest entrant to the HA arena. This is essentially enhanced Low Energy Bluetooth (BTLE) in order to extend its reach and up its data rate
  • There is now a new product category added to the HA mix. The category consists of detectors and sensors for home use that are able to perform Audio & Video Analytics. Such wireless sensors contain a camera and/or a microphone and can capture and analyze images and relay their findings to the control Hub. As an example, they are able to detect motion, recognize faces, and detect fire and smoke. On the audio side, the devices are able to analyze the captured sounds and identify a cry for help or slurred speech of elderly suggesting a stroke
  • There is a trend to build devices that have multiple functionalities. One notable example is a new product from MYXYTY that is essentially a floor-standing 360-degree Bluetooth speaker but it also integrates LED lighting, camera, microphone, pico-projector, and even a perfume diffuser.
  • On the service side, there are an increasing number of companies such as iControl, and Zonoff that are capitalizing on the complexities involved in product selection, installation, and the management of all these new gadget. Their value proposition is to handle A-Z of the home automation issues of homes and offices

    Big Auto Fearing IoT !!
    Alphabet and Apple are aggressively pressing carmakers to install variations of their operating systems in the car entertainment systems (head units) for many good reasons. This obviously has many benefits for the consumer in the form of added connectivity, device integration, and a slew of innovative services. The parties that gain the most from this trend are the ones that own the operating system. Alphabets and Apples of the world are essentially able to extend their footprint into millions of vehicles. They are able to collect tons of valuable user data and a can now establish a new eCommerce front not to mention pushing targeted advertisement to the drivers and passengers.

    Major automakers view this as a loss of valuable territory. They don’t want to end up like Samsung that pays a heavy price in profit margins just because they don’t have control over the mobile OS. German behemoths are particularly worried about this loss of control since they employ one out of seven worker in Germany and they have not been particularly successful in developing a homegrown operating system.

    Happy Holidays & Peace on Earth
    Al Gharakhanian

    We at Upsideclosely track the developments in the emerging field of Internet of Things (IoT). Our mission is to discern facts from fiction. We are committed in helping our clients make the optimal product planning and strategic decisions

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