One of the perks of blogging here is being able to get a press invitation to lots of events, often in interesting locations I never even knew existed. Tonight it was a Broadcom event in SPUR here in San Francisco. The evening was about the Internet of Things (IoT). Everyone knows that IoT is sort of hype, but it is also a real opportunity. Not that there is just one market some big guy can dominate, but it is lots of little markets for stuff you would never think of.
So here are a few of the “things” I saw this evening:
- a wireless toothbrush. whenever you use it it uploads data on how long you brushed and where to the cloud. so you can track how conscientious you are. Or more likely, your kids are
- a big red flashing light with a Bud logo on it, sold in Canada. You set it up with your favorite hockey team (Sharks round here!) and when a game is about to start or when the team scores the light flashes and it shouts for the team. I think it suggests you have a Bud too. They produced a few as a small project, they sold out instantly and since then they have made lots
- a little toy for kids that records voicemail and when they reply it feeds it back to your mobile phone
Broadcom was actually talking about a platform called Wiced. It is a prototyping kit for people wanting to build IoT projects. It has multiple sensors (temperature, humidity, gyroscopes etc) and Bluetooth connectivity. So you can be up and running in literally minutes. Although Broadcom are a chip company, of course, it comes with a full software stack and support for iOS and Android Apps, big data stuff in the cloud and so on. They announced the product just recently and already there are companies with Apps and more.
A lot of the key IoS things are built-in: tamperproof encryption, authentication and privacy controls. In some IoS areas such as games we don’t care that much about this stuff. But other areas, such as medical devices or our cars then we care a lot. These are life critical areas, to say the least.
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One thing that makes IoT so interesting is that there are no large dominant companies. It is an open field. Lots of devices and ideas, thousands of players, no monopolies, and a low barrier to entry for startups. Some parts of the business will end up being SoCs I’m sure, but for now most of it is integrating microcontrollers, sensors and more. Get the Broadcom chip and add software, for example. If it is a big success you can cost reduce it later. But for now it is all about getting stuff to market and seeing what people are interested in. As the old saying goes, throw it against the wall and see what sticks.