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Smart Home Summit – how do we all capture value from the connected home?

Smart Home1
The recent Smart Home Summit was certainly a hotbed of debate. Our own Jon Carter, UK head of business development, took to the stage to encourage all players to partner and embrace openness, so that every company has the opportunity to benefit from the connected home sector, gain market share and drive growth.

Delegates from a host of industries, including telcos and utility providers, to retailers and device manufacturers, attended the Smart Home Summit to hear about:

•    What will drive mass adoption of the connected home?
•    How do device manufacturers ensure privacy and security?
•    Are telecoms operators the best positioned to win in the connected home race?

These were just some of the discussions, but the main topic was making the connected home a reality, through partnerships and new business models.

It is now evident that the connected home market presents a huge opportunity for many different parties engaged in services, including security, energy and entertainment. According to Strategy Analytics, a typical European household currently has just under nine connected items in the home today, but this number is expected to grow as many more devices are launched and consumers embrace the connected home concept.

Smart Home2
By working together and using an open approach, manufacturers, utilities, insurers and retailers can collaborate on growth opportunities around new devices and services, while each company focuses on its own customers.

While companies that own customer relationships will be working to educate consumers on the benefits of a connected home, we all need to consider how we avoid a silo approach, so that devices and technologies are interoperable and not overly complex.

Speakers such as Nina Bhatia, Managing Director Commercial & Connected Homes, British Gas, made a key point: “Technology and user experience need to be so simple and reliable so that once people ‘get it’ they quickly don’t think about it as technology and can’t live without it.”

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We are beyond the early adopter phase and we now need to ensure that the connected home is relevant to the mass market. Joey Tang, business unit manager at retailer Euronics, revealed how “72% of [our] customers didn’t know about connected homes, but after understanding it, 75% showed an intention to buy”.

Sense of urgency
This positive outlook underlines a sense of urgency as companies explore technology options. But how do we achieve volume from such a complex market, with different platforms and approaches without a common connection? If only one player wins, then where does that leave everyone else?

In his presentation, Jon revealed how open platforms can help to bring new propositions to market quickly, and provide balance in a sector that is prone to domination by major technology vendors.
He also explored how companies can access new target groups and improve existing customer relationships – for example, utility providers can help consumers to visualise energy use, and subsequently reduce bills.

Fundamentally, success in this sector is about standards and interoperability. Open platforms that provide the underlying infrastructure and applications will be the key to success in the connected home. Martin Garner of CCS Insight, for example, believes that, “open APIs [application program interfaces] are not enough for an ecosystem”. So open platforms as well as standards such as HomeMatic in Germany and ZigBee in the UK are crucial.

The market will be driven by the developer community, and we are working with a number of partners in Germany and across Europe, such as Eclipse SmartHome, an open source project for the connected home.

We have already had a great deal of success with open platforms. Our Tolino e-reader has a larger share than Amazon Kindle in Germany, at 43%, and is now available in five European countries. The e-reader has an entirely open approach, and brings together competing publishers, booksellers and authors.

Likewise, we have our ‘white label’ Connected Home Platform that acts as an enabler for companies looking to deliver connected home services. Our partners in a more than 30 strong community include Miele, Samsung, Kärcher, Bosch Junkers, Logitech and many more.

Read the report
At the Smart Home Summit, we also launched ‘How to create growth from the connected home’ and the new Connected Home Platform website. The report sets out how connected homes will have huge impact across multiple industries, but will be both a significant opportunity and a threat to many diverse European businesses.

We detail seven opportunities that could be exploited by telcos, utilities, retailers, insurers, warranty providers, home assistance providers, and appliance and consumer hardware manufacturers.

We believe that much of the change in the coming IoT revolution will be about value shifting from one sector to another. One of the most crucial insights in our report is that businesses will need to move from just selling consumer hardware, to hardware-based services, which will impact their models, margins and routes to markets.

To date, the connected home market has been too focused on technology for technology’s sake, and has overlooked the customer and their needs. Beyond this, there needs to be greater willingness to partner to realise growth.

And the winners will be those that are prepared to innovate, take risks, and be willing to lead in a nascent market.


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  • Alok Bharadwaj: Before connected homes, connected offices have begun to create impact on the way business is being transacted in B2B space. We will see multiple times impact when B2C domain begins to shift towards service than hardware purchases. ...

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Avatar and the cities of tomorrow

By now, the Internet of Things has not only found its way to many areas of our everyday life but also to the arts. We have already covered what the M2M industry can learn from dystopian Hollywood productions like The Matrix or The Terminator. This time we are taking you on a journey to the remote planet Pandora. How smart is the forest of the Na’vi in James Cameron’s movie Avatar?

Avatar and the smart city concept have one thing in common: They attract a lot of attention – be it among film aficionados or municipal administrations. However, looking deeper into the matter, there is more to it. They are centered on a common vision: the smart living environment. At first sight, this comparison might seem odd, considering that Avatar is set on a forest planet that has nothing in common with a human city of concrete and metal. However, the Academy Award-winning film can teach us more about smart cities and the Internet of Things than one might expect.

Smart city concept
Smart cities are built on new information and communication technologies. Sensors collect data from all different kinds of sources within the city, such as traffic, water management, waste management or energy supply. Within the smart city, one center collects the data, which in turn connects all the different infrastructure objects with each other, creating a single holistic network. A smart city can adapt quickly and automatically to external shocks and promises higher efficiency. Resources are only allocated to areas where they are needed and in the exact quantity required, thereby minimizing possible losses. For example, in traffic the flow of cars, buses and other road users is optimized with the help of algorithms. The system can control traffic in the most efficient way, for instance, by means of adaptive traffic light controls.

Avatar – the plot
Avatar is set in the mid-22nd century. On a distant planet called Pandora humans are hunting for a rare mineral to solve an ecological crisis on Earth. However, the indigenous Na’vi defend their planet. For this reason, Colonel Quaritch sends out ex-marine Jake Sully on a mission piloting an avatar – a remote controlled alien body that will enable him to become a part of the tribe. Jake tries to gain the trust of the  Na’vi and get them to relocate. The story takes a turn when he meets the Na’vi woman Neytiri. She teaches him the values her tribe shares. The Na’vi have a deep connection to the forest, a network of energy that flows through all living things. All energy is only borrowed and with their death the energy that flows through them has to return to its origins. The Tree of Souls is their most sacred place. Eywa is a global being centered at the Tree of Souls. It is the guiding force and deity of Pandora and the Na’vi. The tribe believes Eywa keeps the ecosystem of Pandora in equilibrium. Ex-marine Jake immerses himself into their world and fights to protect the Na’vi.

A forest like a smart city
Eywa is more than just a single tree. It is very powerful because it has or connects to natural sensors everywhere. These sensors supply real-time information about people, the environment, resources, and so on. Networking is central to Eywa and the Internet of Things. The Pandorian forest is full of sensors, for example, when the Na’vi walk at night. The surfaces they walk on are illuminated with each step they make and everything they touch lights up. There is a kind of electrochemical communication between tree roots that is similar to urban infrastructure components in a smart city. In the movie it is compared to synapses between neurons. Each tree has 104 connections to the trees around it and there are 1012 trees on Pandora – more connections than the human brain. Pandora is a global network and the Na’vi can access it. They live in a smart environment and can upload or download information, i.e. memories, just as urban smart city dwellers can. Furthermore, the tribe are able to connect directly to animals by their pigtails. This allows the Na’vi to tame the animals and use them for their purposes, especially for hunting. This clearly resembles urban dwellers sharing mobility options like car or bike sharing.
Resuming the similarities, one can’t help but notice that the forest in Avatar is the prototype of a smart city. All units are connected with each other, creating an environment of harmony. Eywa is the origin of all energy and the Pandorian version of the Internet of Things. The Na’vi as the inhabitants of this world are part of the connections but also users of the network. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the present realization of the smart city concept is on its path but still has a long way to go to reach the ideal of Pandora.
Now it is your turn: What are your favorite movies or books dealing with smart cities, the Internet of Things or machine-to-machine communication (M2M)? Share your favorites with us!


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M2M Summit 2015: Keep it simple and secure


M2M solutions are driving the networking of our everyday lives forward on a massive scale. The opportunities seem almost unlimited. At this year’s M2M Summit in Düsseldorf it was clear, however, that along with the success stories the industry has yet to work on standardization and security solutions that are suitable for a mass market.

“In the future, economic growth will mainly be internet-based and data-driven. That will result in a whole range of new business models, and it will also modernize existing forms of business activity and will thus lead established companies to find new ways to grow,” Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, wrote in his M2M Journal message of greeting. At the M2M Summit, Gabriel was represented by his State Secretary Matthias Machnig, who said in his keynote speech that small and midrange enterprises must be made fit for digitalization. Many SMEs, he said, were currently uncertain – and reluctant to go in for digitalization for fear of, say, losing know-how.

Dr. Alexander Lautz, Senior Vice President M2M, Deutsche Telekom, also sensed uncertainty among small and midrange enterprises. “We are constantly overloading customers with technical details and terminology. They aren’t much interested in them,” he said, “what they want is simply a secure and reliable solution to their problem.” That was why the industry must reduce complexity in customer communications and applications. An important step in this direction in his own company is, Dr. Lautz said, the Cloud of Things, a cloud-based administration platform for M2M solutions. It especially helps small and midrange businesses to manage their machine park simply and centrally. The platform also provides rudimentary functions for further processing of the data acquired.


Electric scooter in the cloud

The M2M Summit’s 650 visitors were able to gain a clearer idea of the benefits of the Cloud of Things at the Deutsche Telekom booth, where a connected Kumpan electric scooter was showcased. The cloud platform enables owners of the scooter to check the battery charge level or the scooter’s location, for example, via an app. Along with the Cloud of Things, Telekom also presented the Multi-Domestic Service (MDS), an offering from the Global M2M Association (GMA). GMA members include, in addition to Deutsche Telekom, Orange, TeliaSonera, Telecom Italia, Bell Canada, SoftBank and – a recent new member – Swisscom. The jointly organized MDS is intended to facilitate the provision of global M2M services on the basis of a common infrastructure and an eSIM solution.
Along with simplicity, issues that dominated the talks and discussions in Düsseldorf were standardization and security. Prof. Dr. Axel Sikora of University of Applied Sciences in Offenburg gave in his keynote address an introduction to the subject of standardization. At present, he said, more than 200 standardization organizations were active in information and communication technology. Sikora saw a risk of there being too many standards. That was why in his address he sought to structure a conflict situation. “Originally,” he said, “standards were developed by public bodies, state organizations, or generic engineering organizations. What we have seen in recent years is that the significance of these public bodies has diminished dramatically. Recent activities have been by industry sector alliances that build independent standards.” Also, the heterogeneous landscape led to different viewpoints, i.e. the emergence of device, framework, gateway, and cloud-oriented standards.

M2M and IoT security the greatest challenge

The experts see interoperability as the least of their problems. Drawing up standards for secure machine-to-machine communication is, they say, much more important. The security of M2M applications is currently considered to be the most serious challenge that the industry faces. Yet there is little readiness to spend more on the security of M2M solutions. That is why the providers manufacture them at as low a cost as possible. With secure products and solutions requiring powerful hardware and more energy, the subject of security is deliberately ignored.

Läetitia Jay, VP M2M Solutions & Services at Gemalto, emphasized that although integrating security might entail costs at the same time it helped to create confidence. In her keynote she advised users first to identify the security gaps and then to evaluate the risks that they posed. The next step should be to eliminate the security gaps. Jay stressed that security was a process and must therefore be constantly checked and improved. Svetlana Grant, Project Director at the GSMA, raised the issue of security in her speech too. She pointed out that the industry could take a major step forward by means of small campaigns such as calling on users to choose secure passwords.





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Business Wall of Fame: The keyholders of Hungary

Business Wall of Fame Event1The winners of this year’s Business Wall of Fame competition have been announced. In the end, Accessium made the running for the overall best Internet of Things solution of all countries with the ten-member jury. The Hungarian company offers a cloud-based administration platform for electronic locking systems. All about M2M presents the winner and its solution.

Installing electrical locking systems has always posed a challenge for facilities managers. If the system was connected to the building’s IT infrastructure, cable ducts often had to be laid to all of the doors. Furthermore, the IT infrastructure was seldom designed to function reliably round the clock. If wireless connections were used as an alternative, their administration proved to be time-consuming. To close an entry point an employee had to reconfigure the lock on the spot via a near-field radio link.

Accessium founder Péter Berende aimed to change all that. That is why he and his team developed e-Access, a cloud-based access control system for buildings with electronic door locks. The hub of e-Access is the EAMC01 control module. It is equipped with a SIM card and can be installed independently of the building’s IT environment. One control module  is able to connect up to 100 electronic locks from which 40 locks can be wireless. Connecting a lock takes only a few minutes. Facilities managers can then manage the connected doors via a Web portal.

Cross-location access management

For companies with several locations the benefits are self-evident. They can even set up employees’ access rights across locations. “We created e-Access because we saw the need for small and medium businesses to protect their premises against unlawful entry and theft. It is a very cost effective solution and extremely easy to set up and operate. As an added benefit, the power consumption of e-Access is so minimal that the system can be run on solar power alone,” Berende explains.

The solution certainly convinced the Business Wall of Fame jury. They were positively surprised by the many innovative IoT solutions that were submitted in the contest, but where Accessium was concerned, the ease of installation and cross-location administration of the solution clinched matters. Until now Accessium has mainly done business in Hungary. Berende had already been planning to internationalize, but with the Telekom partnership in eight European countries internationalization is now going ahead much faster than expected. “We are delighted to have gained momentum here with the competition and at the same time to have gained in Telekom a strong partner for the further expansion of our business,” Berende said.

More pictures of the Award Ceremony can be found at the Business Wall of Fame’s Facebook page.

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How startups and corporations can jointly take the Internet of Things forward

hubraumTo implement innovations you need the creativity and flexibility of a startup and the knowhow and resources of a corporate group. Uniting the best of both worlds, the ‘challenge up!’ startup initiative seeks to fire up the development of the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things is a breeding ground for new ideas. That plays into the hands of startups as a matter of principle. They mostly have fresh ideas and are able to develop them fast thanks to their compact structure. At the same time, however, scarce resources and a lack of knowhow slow them down. Corporations could solve this dilemma.

As a rule, startups with good ideas are merely on the shopping list as far as large corporations are concerned. Intel, Cisco, and Deutsche Telekom (with hub:raum) have now adopted a different approach. At the Mobile World Congress in March these three launched a joint startup program, ‘Challenge Up!’, that aims to make market entry easier for young companies and to establish contacts with potential partners.

More than 300 applicants

IoT startups from the EMEA region had until the end of May to apply to join the program. During the application phase the startups continued to develop their projects with the aid of experts and mentors from Intel, Cisco, and Deutsche Telekom.

At the end of this phase a jury had to nominate the best 20 of more than 300 applicants to go forward into the next round. The Top 20 were invited to Krakow for intensive training. Along with intensive coaching, mentorship sessions, workshops and lectures were on the agenda. At the end of five days in Poland a jury named the 12 winners.

Better treatment of diabetes patients

They include, for example, the Danish startup Admetsys, which has developed Smart Pancreas, a system that measures and controls the blood glucose levels of diabetics automatically while they are in hospital. Admetsys shows in detail how it works and the benefits it offers in this video:

Admetsys – Diabetic treatment. Revolutionized. from Domaso on Vimeo.

The team at ProGlove, in contrast, has developed a smart glove that could make work processes significantly simpler in the future. It is a wearable that incorporates inter alia a computing unit, various sensors, an RFID module and a display. What it looks like and what it can do can be seen in this video:

The other startups’ ideas are also worth a look. Here is a brief overview:

ComfyLight: The Swiss startup has developed a smart light bulb with both a motion and a brightness sensor that can log into an LAN via a wireless module. If the user is not at home the system switches on and off automatically to deter burglars. If a burglar does gain access to the home, the system raises the alarm by means of light signals. The domain leads to the IoT platform of the Romanian startup of the same name. If companies connect their equipment fleets via the platform they can collect machine data centrally, evaluate it via a dashboard and even send control commands to their machines.

Hi-Park: Can’t find anywhere to park? The Israeli startup Hi-Park’s solution could be the answer. Instead of equipping individual parking spaces with sensors the company relies on existing devices: smartphones. If the smartphone’s camera keeps an eye on the roadside as the user is driving along, image recognition software analyzes whether parking spaces are free or in use. On the basis of this information the app directs motorists to the nearest free parking space.

Ifinity: The Polish startup Ifinity aims to achieve no less than change the way we interact with our environment. It does so by relying on beacons. In Warsaw these small Bluetooth transmitters already help people with impaired vision to move around town independently.

n-Join: Transforming a factory into a smart factory requires the utmost precision in process analysis. That is where the Israeli startup n-Join kicks in. Its software analyzes plant and machinery data continuously, recognizes production process anomalies and visualizes wear and tear of critical components meticulously.

OORT: The Polish startup OORT has big plans. Based on Bluetooth the company is in the process of setting up an open ecosystem for home or office use. Devices are connected via a hub and users can control connected devices and automate processes via an app or the web portal. When, for example, users leave their home, lighting and heating are switched off and the alarm system is switched on.

Senic: Would you like to control your smart home via your smartphone? The German startup Senic does not rate that at all highly. Instead, the team has developed a kind of universal remote control for all connected devices and even your laptop by means of Bluetooth. It can be operated by a control wheel, button or touchscreen interface or – contactlessly – by means of certain gestures.

SEMSEYE: When planning shift schedules for their employees, retails have hitherto had to rely on instinct and experience. Semseye, a Lithuanian startup, aims to change this state of affairs. It has developed a device that quantifies customer footfall. Users can check the data in real time on a web portal and are better able to decide when how many employees are needed in the store.

Taggalo: Until now, online traders have been a step ahead of retailers in the field of customer contact. On the Web the customer journey is easy to individualize on the basis of customer data. In retail that has been a much more elaborate process. The Italian startup Taggalo aims to change that. It has developed sensors that record indicators such as store traffic or how long customers stay in the store and visualize them in real time on a platform.

Waylay: If you have already taken the first step toward Industrie 4.0 by connecting plant and machinery, Waylay will take you on the next steps in the journey. The Belgian startup’s platform enables users to realize complex automation concepts. Sensors and actuators can be incorporated via the REST-based architecture, and so can CRM or ERP systems.

Until November, participating startups will be working intensively with Cisco, Intel and Deutsche Telekom mentors on developing their business. This will include appearances in Krakow, Berlin, Dublin and London. To gain an impression of the startups and their ideas, your next opportunity will be on September 5 during the 2015 Startup Night in Berlin and on September 6 at IFA. If you want to meet with the Challenge Up! Teams or get more information, please contact either Holger Sbrzesny (Holger.Sbrzesny[at] or Andreas Dönges (a.doenges[at]

The startups that come through the program successfully will qualify for possible co-investment by the three corporate sponsors or by leading corporate venture funds. Details will be available at the ‘challenge up!’ summit to be held at the unBoundDigital technology conference in London on November 30 and December 1, 2015.

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