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IoT Insiders Newsletter: Doubling Down on Privacy & Security

The latest edition of our IoT Insiders newsletter features the latest, most important headlines in IoT security and the Connected Home -- two central themes from the Consortium's industry taskforces. In addition, we've published the results from our Twitter surveys on a variety of key IoT topics along with updates from our member companies. If you or a friend/colleague are exploring promising career opportunities in IoT, be sure to check out our new IoT job listings in this edition.

All that and more in our newest newsletter (click here to read).

To be added to the subscribers list for future newsletters, sign up here. Or if you know anyone that wants to stay up-to-date on IoT insider news, share this link with your colleagues and network.

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IoTC Member Updates: February 2017

Honeywell is searching for expert software developers at locations across the US. These engineers will work on innovative solutions in the connected home. Visit the careers site to see the roles currently open or send an email to Scott.harkins@honeywell.com. 

Chirp and EDF Energy - the world’s largest nuclear energy and electricity manufacturer - launched its unique Industrial IoT solution to create the first ever “Smart PowerPlant,” using sound instead of radio frequencies to transmit connections between devices. Also, Chirp's technology scores an in-depth profile in The Verge.

Verizon acquired LQD WiFi, a private smart city infrastructure company. Their technology bolsters Verizon's smart city offerings for municipalities, private developers, academic institutions and entertainment venues.

UCIC and McLean, VA based startup Witlingo announced an active joint partnership to deliver fully conversational capabilities to consumer products, including cars, TV sets, humanoid robots, and household appliances. Read the press release.

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Securifi’s Almond 3 is a finalist in the Privacy and Security category for SXSW 2017 innovation awards, and was named a CES 2017 Innovation Awards Honoree.

Cirrent and Comcast announce ZipKey support for Comcast customers. Cirrent's ZipKey technology enables devices to find a Wi-Fi connection instantly out of the box, and will be deployed as part of Comcast's new home networking solution. Read more on CNET.

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Clearblade has been rated as Leading Vendor in MachNation’s 2016 IoT Application Enablement Platform Scorecard. MachNation's ScoreCard is the industry's largest independent evaluation of IoT platforms. Read the press release.

After the completion of their first successful program this year, Techstars IoT is opening applications for their next program which will kick off in July. Read more about it here and apply.

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Belkin has released two new products, the WeMo Mini Smart Plug that connects everyday household items to your Wemo app; and the Linksys Velop, a whole-home WiFi mesh networking solution.

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IoT Leaders Profile: Nate Williams

Beginning this month, we are introducing a new series called IoT Leaders – whereby we pose a short series of questions to a stand-out executive/entrepreneur who specializes in wearables, home automation, connected retail, connected cars or smart cities.

Our first profile is of Nate Williams, the Chief Revenue Officer of August Home, Inc and board advisor to the IoTC.

Nate is one of the most positive, provocative, and connected leaders in IoT -- a rising star well known in Smart Home circles.  He has crafted some of the most progressive deals to date in the IoT sector with a variety of partners that include Verizon, Apple, Airbnb, and Coldwell Banker.  Nate’s experience spans enterprise (Greenwave, Motorola) and consumer IoT (August). 

In addition to being an active angel investor and advisor, Nate can often be found cycling competitively in Northern California and spending quality time with his three young children.

What was your introduction into the IoT sector?

In 2005, fresh out of graduate school at UCLA I was asked to research Home Automation trends in support of our product development planning at Intel Corporation. In addition to assisting Intel Capital on the due diligence of iControl (early pioneer in Smart Home Security), I also analyzed the trends of convergence between Media and Automation. This eventually led me to meet the founding team at 4Home, where I joined as the first “business hire” and ultimately became the #2 in the company. Motorola Mobility acquired 4Home in 2010 and I joined the Management team of their Software & Services group running Marketing and Business Development. Motorola Mobility was acquired by Google in 2011.

Over 10 years and several strategic transactions later, I still feel the sense of awe and enthusiasm about the possibilities of IoT to not only impact industries but also improve lives. I have dedicated my career to being an operator, investor, and cheerleader for the sector and along the way met some great folks!

How did you get affiliated with IoTC? what is your role there?

I became affiliated with the Internet of Things Consortium through Jason Johnson (Founder & CEO of August).  I knew he had been gathering smart minds around SF to discuss opportunities in IoT. Those informal “jam sessions” became some of the early foundations of the IoTC and I volunteered to jump in as a Board Advisor in 2014.

My current role at IoTC is chairing the membership committee in support of Greg and the IoTC staff.  In my role, I leverage my relationships across the industry to bring new partners into the consortium and perform due diligence on prospective members. What separates the IoTC from many other interest groups (besides not proposing standards!) is that we have an invitation-only membership policy. We screen the prospective companies and members to ensure that they will contribute to the industry, not only maximize their company’s agenda. So many members including Jim Hunter from Greenwave and JP Abello from Nielsen are committed to deliver on the promise of IoT.

Name a big IoT trend that isn't getting enough attention.

The Enterprise IoT sector continues to lag behind Consumer IoT in terms of attention and press. The sheer scope and scale of the Enterprise opportunity is massive and something I believe we’ll see much more attention on in the coming year. The power of IoT to tectonically impact an industry, whether it is transportation, manufacturing, medical, or utilities is unmatched. At one point Cisco had calculated IoT could provide 14 trillion dollars of economic value in the next 10 years.

Because I have the pleasure of leading August’s go-to-market efforts in the consumer space, I have developed a fairly good sense of what opportunities can scale in the B2C or B2B channels. For example, enterprise grade IoT platforms like Greenwave Systems (my former startup) combine the agility of a consumer startup with the deep technical expertise and international footprint of a large Enterprise player.

Are there any sites/people/articles or books that have really inspired you lately?

Site = Twitter, between following IoTC and other main influencers I am getting a firehouse of great data.

People = One of my mentors is the former SVP of Corporate Development at Cisco and Enterprise Angel Investor Dan Scheinman. Dan is involved with some of the most innovative companies in Enterprise right now such as Arista Networks, Zoom, Greenwave, and Sentinel One. It was really inspiring for me to hear about how he developed his vetting process for angel investments and how to be “value add” as an investor. It certainly reinforced how I want to help the startups I advise/invest.

Articles = I absolutely loved Jason Rosenthal’s post “How to Build a Hard Tech Startup” on Medium. Totally insightful around leading hardware teams developing cutting edge technology literally breaking new boundaries along the way. Inspiring!

Books = I blogged about my reading Habits in 2016, but I would say the most inspiring book I’ve read in the past year was “Mans Search for Meaning”. As a father of 3, very important that I can align my vocation with my values.

In 5 years, where will we see you?

Continuing to be associated with the most disruptive entrepreneurs and startups in the Internet of Things industry. Firstly, I love the challenge of taking a new product/service and working across the permutations to find product/market fit. At Greenwave, we found that with a massively impactful and very strategic relationship with Verizon. At August, we used hero integrations with Alexa, Siri, and Google/Nest to make our Smart Lock a hero product in over 5,000 doors in US and Canada. Along the way, I’ve also got to help early stage IoT startups such as Roost, Matterport, Cirrent, and Data Science as an Angel Investor and Advisor. Transitioning from player to coach/cheerleader as I build teams and deploy capital is something that challenges me and I look forward to opportunities where I can increase the global impact of my work.

So in 2022 I would expect to see me back from CES 2022 (possibly) recovering from the annual “show cold” but with (hopefully) another year of IoTC success stories and learning under my belt!

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#IoTCatCES: Happy Hour & IoT Showcase

What better way to celebrate our first anniversary than with a CES Happy Hour & IoT Showcase? The evening reception took place on Friday, January 6th and was centrally located right outside of the Las Vegas Convention Center. IoTC member NXP provided an impressive array of hands-on IoT demos for our guests with their Smarter World Tour truck (NXP's traveling "IoT Lab on Wheels"), and their spectacular exhibit tent. Thanks to all the special guests who joined in our birthday celebration with drinks, appetizers, music, and excellent IoT networking. Executives from companies such as Belkin, Canary, Comcast, Indiegogo, Nielsen, Qualcomm, Verizon, and many more were in attendance. 

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#IoTCatCES: Media & Entertainment in the 'Third Wave' with ESPN, Nielsen, Nissan & more

In an event co-hosted with Disney Media Networks, the IoTC convened a panel of experts at CES to explore how media & entertainment will evolve in the Third Wave age of IoT. Held on Thursday, January 5th at the Four Seasons Hotel of Las Vegas, the "Future of Connected Screens" event was comprised of executives from ESPN, Nielsen, Nissan, Parks Associates, Team One, and Brand InnovatorsBrett Sappington from Parks Associates kicked the morning off with some valuable research charting the steady growth of connected device ownership by consumers, along with data on how newer technologies like Virtual Reality, wearables, connected cars, and voice recognition/command are starting to gain traction. 

The panel conversation then delved into some of the most exciting opportunities in connected screens for businesses, including the success of voice-control technology like the Amazon Echo, and the potential for virtual reality to transform entertainment. The group also discussed how data collected from IoT devices can augment storytelling experiences for marketers & advertisers, but that better measurement capabilities would be an important precedent to unlocking advertiser investment, which would in turn subsidize and accelerate consumer adoption of IoT.

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Happy Birthday to the IoTC

The Internet of Things Consortium is celebrating our first anniversary at CES 2017! To prepare for the special occasion, we've been hard at work gearing up for an exciting slate of activities at the biggest show in technology.

Wednesday, January 4th: VR + Brands @ The Palazzo

The IoTC is teaming up with Comcast Ventures to host an executive dinner and roundtable discussion on Virtual Reality. We'll be joined by executives from Pepsico, Hasbro, NextVR, Baobab Studios, and more to lead a conversation on how marketers can collaborate with VR content creators to tell more immersive and more powerful stories for brands.

Thursday, January 5th: The Future of Connected Screens @ Four Seasons Hotel

In partnership with Disney Media Networks, the IoTC will be leading a breakfast panel discussion exploring the future of how media will be consumed in the age of IoT. On the panel will be executives from Nissan, ESPN and more sharing their expert insights on what businesses should anticipate as common household appliances, automobiles and everyday objects all become connected

Thursday, January 5th: Connections Summit at CES by Parks Associates @Venetian

Hosted by our partner Parks Associates, the Connections Summit at CES features discussions analyzing trends in smart homes and IoT for consumers while identifying opportunities for companies. For more information on the conference, visit here. IoTC members receive registration discounts, as well as a limited number of complimentary passes.

Friday, January 6th: CES Happy Hour and IoT Tech Showcase by IoTC & NXP @Las Vegas Convention Center Central Plaza

The IoTC will be co-hosting an evening reception with NXP at the center of all the CES action, the LVCC. Guests will be able to tour NXP's Smarter World Tour truck, a giant traveling showcase of all the latest in IoT technology. It promises to be a fun evening of drinks, appetizers, networking, and interactive hands-on IoT demos.

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Smart Cities: Executive Dinner & Summit

The #IoTCinBoston week continued on Tuesday with our second "Connected Conversations," a series of executive roundtable dinners in partnership with CBS Interactive. The evening's hosts were IoTC CEO Greg Kahn along with Jason Hiner, Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Larry Dignan, Global Editor in Chief of ZDNet. Together they led a guided group discussion exploring the future of Smart Cities over cocktails, appetizers, and dinner. In the spirit of public-private sector partnership, the group of 30 dinner guests included senior executives from local government such as New Haven, Kansas City, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as well corporations such as Verizon, GE, Liberty Mutual, NXP, and Autodesk. The conversation varied in Smart Cities topics from government policy and funding to investments in infrastructure and academic institutions, leading to a lively exchange of opinions, ideas, and knowledge.

On Wednesday, in partnership with the inaugural launch of the Smart Cities Summit, the IoTC led a panel discussion on Sharing Economies for modern cities. Joseph Tam of the IoTC moderated a conversation examining the impact of services such as Airbnb, Lyft, and Uber on local economies along with what new opportunities they engender for cities making IoT and smart city investments. On the panel were Nichole Mace, VP of Product and Member Experience at Zipcar, Tyler George, General Manager of Lyft, Melanie Nutter, Principal of Nutter Consulting, and David Miller, CEO of RideLeads. Together, the group painted a hopeful vision for the convergence of the sharing economy and smart city initiatives, one where more opportunities are created for the workforce, where cities are more environmentally sustainable, where underserved communities in cities have greater access, and where we're all inspired to build the next generation of jobs.

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IoTC Members Meeting in Boston: Educate. Partner. Inspire.

This Monday, the IoTC kicked off a big week of activities in Boston with our quarterly members meeting. The meeting was graciously hosted by Liberty Mutual at their headquarters, where our hosts were joined by IoTC members traveling from all parts including Tel Aviv, Toronto, Seattle, Los Angeles, Austin, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and more. With a theme of "Educate. Partner. Inspire.," the afternoon featured knowledge sharing of best-in-class IoT ideas and solutions, thought provoking presentations, and plenty of engaging discussions.

CEO & President Greg Kahn outlined IoTC's plans for 2017 and also led a discussion on some of the emerging trends and predictions around IoT for the new year. Chris Rezendes, Founder of IoT Impact Labs and advisor to the IoTC, presented the inspiring work of his organization to "instrument the physical world," deploying early stage IoT technology for small businesses, cities, and more. Kwik is one of our newest members and its Founder & CEO, Ofer Klein, discussed how their "Press to Order" button product is uniquely facilitating connected commerce and how its technology empowers brands to sell direct to consumers. Leor Grebler, CEO of fellow IoTC member UCIC, walked us through the recent history and the future of ambient voice technology, an especially hot IoT topic du jour popularized by devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home. Bringing us to close was Chad Lovell, Managing Director of Strategic Partnerships at Liberty Mutual, who delivered an exclusive inside look at their strategic approach to developing innovative insurance products for smart homes, next-gen vehicles, and the sharing economy.

The lively discussions, networking, and bonding carried on well after the meeting as everyone convened for the IoTC Happy Hour. Capped off with a few rounds of drinks and bites, Monday could not have been a more amazing start to #IoTCinBoston week.

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IoTC at Smart Home Summit and ad:tech

The IoTC went coast-to-coast this week, speaking at the Smart Home Summit in Palo Alto on Tuesday, November 1st, and then again at the ad:tech conference in New York on Thursday, November 3rd. 

At the Smart Home Summit, IoTC CEO & President Greg Kahn was joined by fellow IoTC members Scott Harkins of Honeywell and Nate Williams of August to discuss the critical role of partnerships for companies in the smart home ecosystem and how to best forge successful partnerships. Also on the panel were Anoop Mohan of Comcast and Brett Worthington of SmartThings.

At ad:tech, the leading advertising and marketing technology conference, IoTC Advisor Ohad Zeira of Verizon led a panel discussion on "IoT and the Marketing Revolution." The panel included IoTC member John Burbank of Nielsen along with executives from IBM, Philips, Kiip, and Hiku. Ohad moderated a lively discussion on the hot topic of how advertisers can leverage data from IoT sensors and devices for the targeting of ads, but the panelists also shared some great insights on how IoT can augment brand storytelling and brand experiences for marketers.

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Dyn DDoS Attack: what happened and what we can do to stop future attacks

The IoT Consortium takes IoT security and privacy threats extremely seriously. The Mirai botnet DDoS attack that took down the Dyn DNS service Friday, October 21st affected many of the most popular US web sites, causing massive service disruptions and widespread damage on an unprecedented scale. The simplicity and accessibility of this hack also exposed in a very public manner the extreme vulnerability of the current consumer IoT ecosystem and the urgency of identifying and rapidly deploying robust protective measures across the entire industry.

To that order, the IoT Consortium has formed a Privacy & Security Committee comprised of leading consumer IoT manufacturers to promote and coordinate industry-wide collaboration on this critical issue. Its long term goal is to build and maintain consumer's trust in the connected devices that are increasingly becoming part of our everyday lives, and foster the development an healthy IoT consumer ecosystem that can safely add value to the global Internet economy.

Released just weeks ago as an open source malware, the Mirai botnet continuously scans the Internet for common consumer IoT devices such as web-connected cameras, thermostats, smart TVs and digital video recorders. Leveraging the fact that many consumers neglect to change the default username and password in their rush to setup these devices, it uses a short list of the common default usernames and passwords, (such as "admin", "123" and "password") to break into these relatively unprotected devices. In a very short time, Mirai was able to gain access and recruit hundreds of thousands of connected devices to flood specific targets with traffic requests, effectively forcing them offline. 

Currently the quickest fix is for consumers to reboot their devices and immediately change the default username and password, to prevent them to become re-infected. However its unreasonable to expect that most consumers will do this on their own, and the IoT Consortium recommends that manufacturers commit to pushing firmware updates to all their devices that require changing the default username and password both as part of the initial setup process and as part of the software update. Consumers should also be strongly advised to avoid re-using critically important passwords, such as those of their email or bank accounts and home WiFi routers.

The IoT Consortium welcomes and encourages all IoT device manufacturers to join and participate in this community effort, and help make the IoT into a more secure and trusted place for consumers. For more information, please contact Greg Kahn at greg@iofthings.org or our privacy and security subcommittee co-leaders JP Abello (jeanpierre.abello@nielsen.com) and Jim Hunter (jim.hunter@greenwavereality.com).

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IoTC to present keynote at Chain Store Age's Executive Conference

This Thursday, October 27th, the IoTC's CEO & President, Greg Kahn, will be presenting a Keynote session on the future of Connected Retail at Chain Store Age's X/SPECS Executive Conference. Chain Store Age (CSA) is the leading news publication for the retail industry and X/SPECS is a 3-day exclusive event for executives from top retailers to discuss the evolution of physical stores and the retail experience. Below is a description of the IoTC's keynote presentation, titled "The Internet of Things: What Does it Mean for You?"

By 2026, the Internet of Things (IoT) will be a routine part of consumers’ daily lives, but it has already impacted retail – with more changes on the way. Learn about how customer experience will be elevated, and the store will be enriched, by a next level in personalization – think RFID, beacons, mobile devices, video, connected retail displays and more.

Facilities management will also see transformation as IoT creates “smart” building operations with enhanced facilities intelligence. Systems that control everything from heating and air conditioning to lighting and security will be integrated, changing the way we operate, maintain and manage stores. The future is here.

You may find more information about the event at its website: http://www.xspecsshow.com/

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October IoTC Executive Roundtable: Marrying IoT with Insurance

Interest in IoT from the insurance industry continues to take off this year with a flurry of investment and partnership activity from the likes of AXA, Liberty Mutual, Transamerica, and more. IoT technologies such as smart homes, connected cars and wearable fitness monitors can have an extraordinary impact on how insurers assess and manage risk for home, auto, and health policies. This month's roundtable asked execs from our IoTC member companies for their expert analysis and perspectives on the increasing alliance between the IoT and insurance industries.

Roel Peeters, Founder & CEO of Roost
Is strategic investment in, and partnership with the IoT industry a smarter model for insurance companies or in-house development of IoT technology? The IoT industry is still nascent.  Requirements from insurance companies are imprecise at best.  With that combination, partnerships and strategic investments are the more prudent approach to hedge their bets on a variety of new solutions and methodologies.  As IoT matures, in-house development could make sense, maybe kick-started with targeted M&A.
How will a marriage between IoT and insurers benefit consumers? IoT can change the insurance industry from purely an indemnification business to also be in the protection business.  IoT can help prevent losses or reduce the severity of losses.  Insurers will be incentivized to subsidize (or give away for free) relevant IoT products.  Furthermore, this will lead to better customer experience and lower insurance premiums.  

Phil Lewer, Business Development & Marketing Director at NXP
Are investments and partnerships a smarter model than in-house development for insurance companies? The connected home’s success is predicated on partnerships. No one company can do it all. The insurance industry’s fundamental business model is based on the profitable sales of risk management instruments. Technology is already playing a role in giving insurance companies the real time data that they need to offer more aggressive rates at potentially higher levels of profitability based on the measurement of actual behaviors. The technology required to pull this together requires architectures based on the design and development of sensors, tied together via networks into the cloud and the software to do the sensor fusion and analytics. It’s a massive undertaking. By sticking to their core competency of insurance services, insurance companies can leverage the multitude of technology companies that are already providing the key pieces of IoT and can influence those companies to develop the products that they may need for future services.
What are the consumer benefits? IoT delivers accurate sensing data to insurers allowing them to base rates on actual rather than predicted behaviors. This means that lower risk individuals can pay lower premiums – not having to subsidize those who are higher risk. If an insurance company knows you have an automatic water shut off valve based on leak detection, they know your risk of flooding is negligible. Your rates go down and their pay out goes down. It’s a win-win.

Andrew Thomas, Co-Founder & CRO of Skybell
What are the consumer benefits? 
The two driving motivators around IoT products are safety and savings. Consumers will benefit as they see their premiums and costs drop with the products backed by their insurance carrier. 
What kinds of IoT companies are best positioned to work with insurers? It all boils down to impacting the bottom-line. Damage from water (flooding), fire and hail are the most common claims that impact a carrier’s bottom line. I see water sensors, smoke alarms and fast-action weather alert systems as the best positioned to work with insurers.

Jim Poole, VP Business Development at Equinix
Are investments and partnerships a smarter model than in-house development for insurance companies? 
Without a doubt.  If you look at the market, you’ve got a lot of investment funding development in numerous different areas:  autos, sensors, weather, networks, cloud platforms, etc. The list goes on and on. Trying to do in-house development in such a dynamic environment is a questionable exercise versus utilizing best-in-breed solutions from vendors trying to fix very specific market issues.
What are the consumer benefits? IoT obviously has the potential to dramatically impact the insurance industry. If self-driving cars become a reality, the impact on accident rates would dramatically change the demand for CURRENT insurance products. However, insurance is one of the few products that can more easily adjust to the needs of consumers. Just because I don’t need the same type of insurance I had when I drove a car every day, doesn’t mean I don’t need insurance for when I decide I don’t want to take a self-driving auto.  Also, more generally, insurance often deals with trying to model scenarios that are potentially BETTER understood with the aid of IoT.  For example, flood or fire insurance that might be better tailored for users if we can lower the incidence of accidents which occur due to product failures versus less predictable “acts of God”, such as storms or forest fires.

Eric Forti, Business Development Manager at Jarden
Partnerships and investments or in-house development? Product development isn’t a forte for most insurance companies and therefore is a likely stumbling block for them successfully navigating the space. There are many companies out there that specialize in product development that would ultimately offer better experiences for consumers.
What are the consumer benefits? Having IoT devices in homes could make trends visible to insurance companies and allow them to educate consumers in new ways (e.g. there are a lot of burglaries in homes within X miles of yours and they’re trying windows first. Make sure they’re locked!) I guess another way of looking at this is, if the insurance companies incentivize consumers to install IoT devices what are the drawbacks for a consumer?
Does B2B/industrial IoT or B2C/consumer IoT hold more promise for insurance companies? I think both the consumer and the businesses have an opportunity to benefit. Utility companies could install monitors and kill switches then strike deals with insurance companies as a result. This is a clear financial benefit for the businesses providing incremental services. Ultimately if the insurance company’s costs go down, the consumer should also see a savings. Outside of a financial benefit there are opportunities for the consumer to get better service as a result of being connected through IoT. When companies learn your habits they can point out unwanted deviations and/or offer you products and services to enhance your experience.

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How to Invest in IoT + Insurance Startups

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The Internet of Insurance conference was held this Tuesday, September 27 in New York, where the IoTC's Joseph Tam moderated a panel discussion on "IoT start-up investment – Key strategies to avoid making rookie mistakes." The panel of esteemed speakers featured IoTC member Roel Peeters of Roost as well as seasoned "InsurTech" investors and VC veterans including Dan Reed of American Family Ventures, Georg Schwegler of Transamerica Ventures and Victor Pascucci of Munich Re/ HSB Ventures. In a discussion filled with valuable advice on creating successful investment partnerships between IoT startups and insurance companies, the panelists also spoke of the unique market forces that are driving the surge in such activity -- totaling $2.12 billion in investment since 2010 and growing 9X in 2015 alone. The IoTC was honored to help foster and lead insightful dialogue on the growing alliance between IoT and insurance.

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IoTC Members Meeting in NYC and "Connected Conversations" Dinner with CNET

IoTC members gathered in New York this Tuesday, September 20th, for the second quarterly IoTC Members Meeting. "Inspire. Educate. Partner" served as the theme for the day, with an agenda that included networking, knowledge sharing, IoTC and industry committee updates, and some special guest keynote presentations. David Siroty of Coldwell Banker spoke of their compelling approach to IoT storytelling for the home buying and selling community while Ben Hayes of Nielsen and Jim Halpert of DLA Piper spoke to critical regulatory considerations and legal best practices around IoT privacy and security.

The evening saw the launch of IoTC's new dinner series partnership with CBS Interactive called "Connected Conversations." IoTC members were joined by execs and senior editors from CBS Interactive for a roundtable dinner discussion on the current and future state of Smart Homes. IoTC President Greg Kahn and CNET's Editor at Large, Brian Cooley, served as the hosts for a night of excellent food, drinks, company and lively discourse. 

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Huffington Post names IoTC as Top Expert in IoT

A big congratulations to Greg Kahn, Jenny Fielding and Michael Wolf of the IoTC on being selected in the Huffington Post to an elite list of "top journalists, analysts and thought-leaders in the Internet of Things." We at the IoTC are all beaming with pride! Take the Huff Po's advice and click on their profiles below to follow them on Twitter.

Read the story on Huffington Post here

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IoTC Welcomes Chris Rezendes and David Horowitz to Advisory Board

The IoTC is privileged to announce that we are joined by two new and prestigious members on our Advisory Board, Chris Rezendes of INEX IoT Impact Labs and David Horowitz of Touchdown Ventures.

Chris Rezendes is the Founder of INEX Advisors, INEX IoT Impact LABS and IoT Capital Partners. INEX Advisors serves Fortune 5000 enterprise, industrial and technology companies seeking to enhance existing businesses and develop new business models through the deployment of Internet-of-Things (IoT) solutions. Impact LABS is an IoT commercialization accelerator that live-pilots early-stage IoT solutions in the field with small and mid-sized businesses. Current Sponsors include: Analog Devices, Dell , Foley and Lardner, GE, INEX, Intel and PTC/ ThingWORX. IoT Capital Partners is an IoT-dedicated early stage investment vehicle under construction with experienced early-stage tech investor Roger Krakoff. Currently, our team holds positions in 15 early stage IoT companies.

Chris is also the Co-Organizer of the IoT Meetup Boston/ New England (>2,300 members) that meets monthly. Chris speaks often at local, regional, national and global events focused on IoT, innovation, impact investing and a number of industry events where IoT has significant potential. He grew up Fall River, MA and graduated from Harvard University.

David is the co-founder and CEO of Touchdown Ventures, a firm that partners with leading corporations to manage their corporate venture capital investments. Prior to starting Touchdown Ventures, David was a founding partner and Managing Director at Comcast Ventures for 14 years. David joined Comcast Ventures in 2000 as one of the first employees of the venture capital group. At Comcast Ventures, David focused on investments in digital media, advertising technology, digital home, education and financial technology. David managed investments in Entropic (NASDAQ: ENTR), Intellon (NASDAQ: ITLN), Invite Media (acquired by Google), LinkShare (acquired by Rakuten), Nuera Communications (acquired by Audicodes), Rubicon Project (NYSE: RUBI), and XOS Digital (acquired by JumpTV/Neulion.) David also led investments in several prominent privately-held companies including BlackArrow, Ninth Decimal, SnagFilms, UberMedia, Videology, Visible World, and Zero Fox. 

Prior to Comcast Ventures, David worked in investment banking at Bear Stearns. David also started and runs the South Jersey Technology Networking Group. David graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration with highest honors from the University of Michigan.

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Should the “I” in IoT stand for Insights?

By Greg Kahn

Stacey Higginbotham, a reporter for Fortune, went on a rant last year about the smart home industry. In Stacey’s words,

the companies building products for the smart home show a shocking lack of respect for the consumer they hope to buy into the idea.

Stacey offers that smart products are expensive, complicated to install, and don’t work together.

That got me thinking: how can companies better understand consumers? Focus groups, ethnographies, social media, syndicated research, and personal observation are all ways to tap into the customer’s psyche. Each method has its benefits and drawbacks. What is clear to me is that the IoT industry needs more consumer insights.

Yes, we’ve all seen the lofty projections by many firms estimating that IoT will become a multi-trillion dollar market by 2020. But what will it take for consumers to buy in? What will it take for connected devices to move from frustrating gadgets to – as Ohad Zeira of Verizon says – “automagical experiences“?

As a starting point, the IoT industry needs to better understand the individuals who will potentially buy into this ecosystem. Urban/rural, black/white/yellow, male/female, Christian/Jewish/Muslim/Hindu, European/American/Asian/African, sports fanatic/book worm, foodie or health-nut. How can we humanize technology? What devices and services will make their lives easier, and which will make their experiences better?

A year ago, the Internet of Things Consortium commissioned a study to better understand consumers’ expectations of IoT providers. Among the top things consumers wanted to see in a connected home ecosystem was voice activation on connected devices (see chart).

It’s no wonder that Amazon’s Echo has had such rapid adoption in the United States – it fulfills that promise. Yet, I still can’t turn on my television, shower, or oven using voice control.

So here’s a call to action for the IoT industry: before we develop another smart watch, thermostat, connected dashboard, or parking meter, let’s invest some money to better understand the people that will interact with these devices. With the right insights, we just might deliver automagical experiences after all.

This post was originally published on GamingTechLaw.com. Click here to view the original post.

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Inc. names IoTC "Top Influencer" in IoT

We're honored that 3 members of the IoTC have been named on Inc.'s list of the "best experts and influencers in the Internet of Things that you need to follow to stay ahead of the curve." Congratulations to our CEO & President Greg Kahn, our Advisor Jenny Fielding of Techstars, and our member Michael Wolf of NextMarket Insights on joining a special and very exclusive club!

Read the feature on Inc.com here

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Smart Kitchen Summit CONVENES TOP LEADERS IN FOOD TECH

We're proud to feature the Smart Kitchen Summit this month, created by IoTC member, NextMarket Insights. The Summit will be held in Seattle on October 5 and 6. IoTC members qualify for a discount on attendance (email us for the code).

We checked in with NextMarket Insights CEO Michael Wolf on the smart kitchen space and how it is impacting the IoT-at-large. 

What significant changes have you seen in the smart kitchen space since the first year of the event last year?
There’s been a slow but growing awareness of how significant the resulting change from technology will be on food and cooking across the technology, media and investor landscape.  People have realized that the 'war dividend' of technology investment and advancement in IT and mobility from the past two decades - whether it’s cloud, mobile, AI, data - will be just as impactful on this segment as elsewhere.

Have there been any standout smart kitchen success stories? (e.g. Products/services)
It’s more nascent than other areas of smart home, but I would say a few areas:

  • ...in new cooking products, I would point to sous vide. Anova is doing volume of around 400k units and expects to ship one million units next year, which is a fast-ramp in line with what we saw for early days in smart home as with the Nest Thermostat.
  • In more traditional appliances, there’s been a dramatic shift in understanding over the past year among manufacturers in the need to not only add connectivity through Wi-Fi, but the bigger opportunity lies in software around analytics and automation. 
  • Lastly, Amazon has been hugely successful in both its connected commerce (Dash Replenishment) in raising awareness around how IoT and smart home can be the foundation for a service platform. 

What are some of the main challenges you're observing in consumer adoption of smart kitchen appliances?
Consumers are very fixed in their behavior around cooking and the kitchen, as these are behaviors that are shaped since they were born. Product manufacturers have to create products that delivery enough value to endure any switching cost away from what is tried and true. At the same time, the kitchen is the home’s primary makerspace, so there’s also the unique challenge of making products that are more than just cool gadgets, but become important tools that get used every day and not pushed to the back of the drawer. 

What's your favorite smart kitchen device?
I just received my PicoBrew Pico home beer brewing appliance (which I backed on Kickstarter), so I am having fun making beer using IoT technology.

What can other IoT sectors learn from the smart kitchen corner of the IoT ecosystem?
It seems that, more than other segments of IoT, kitchen seems to recognize earlier in its transformation life cycle that long term this will be an orchestra of various parts of the ecosystem. There’s a recognition that this silos probably won’t work well since no one can control the entire value chain (as is the case with, say, digital music distribution). Appliances companies are becoming content companies, food brands are working with hardware and retailers, and everyone is becoming a service provider. The opportunity around food and technology is massive, and the kitchen is where it all comes together.

How are product manufacturers and retailers working together?
In some cases, they are working on building experiential retail to show consumers the value and vision.  It’s early and consumers don’t necessarily know why they’d want a smart kitchen, so companies like Innit are working with Pirch in influencer markets like Manhattan to create showcases of what a fully realized smart kitchen can look like. Other retailers that are more mass-market and high-volume, such as Target, are doubling down on new categories like sous vide and rolling it out to more consumers as see adoption of the category, particularly among Millennials. 

How will smart pantries and fridges fuel potential for the grocery sector, both online, and brick-and-mortar?
It’s early, but we are seeing how sensors and awareness around food inventory, particularly when it’s connected to a commerce system, will move the point of sale from retail, mobile or browser to the point of storage and consumption.  We think that’s what Amazon is aiming for with Dash and its happening. We also think meal planning becomes more connected over time, meaning consumers can plan meals around what they have in inventory in real time as well as instantly order and have food delivered based on what they want to cook that week or that evening. 

What kinds of partnerships will be critical to the success of the smart kitchen sector, both IoT and beyond?
For core technology, appliance and device makers will need to work with cloud, software, silicon and service technology providers to enable new and interesting products that help reinvent cooking in new and useful ways. Appliance and food brands will need to work together to make sure food information is properly communicated and understood. Everyone will need to work with content providers and become content providers themselves. Lastly, companies will need to work with commerce, logistics and security providers to make sure food and cooking built on new technology and service layers work well and works safely, since eating is about the most important thing we do to ensure we are happy and healthy.

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July IoTC Insiders: Executive Roundtable on the Success of Amazon Echo

This month we held a roundtable of execs from our member companies to gather inputs on Amazon’s Alexa, asking them specifically, What did Amazon do particularly well relating to the creation, marketing and distribution of Amazon Echo? ...and, Can other companies easily replicate this success, or is there something unique about Amazon's position that has brought them this success?

Goran Kukic, VP Digital Services, North America, Nestle
What did Amazon do well? Instead of going for the niche market, Amazon was the first to do it ‘just-right’ in packaging a number of different value propositions to make this purchase compelling for the consumer. Always listening device with an amazing speaker that delivers news, traffic, music, etc. but also facilitating shopping lists, cooking timers found a way in living rooms and kitchens.
Can other companies easily replicate this success? There’s no doubt that many companies will try to follow (opening of Siri SDK, Google Home) and will probably ‘technically’ be the same and better, but will be difficult to replicate paring with Amazon Prime service and compete with Amazon e-Commerce model.

Jenny Fielding, Managing Director, Techstars
What did Amazon do well? This is the first time we’ve seen voice technology working to make consumers’ lives better (voice assistants have not broken into the home automation space before and voice recognition phone prompts have left many of us scarred!).  For the consumer, it's a small price to pay for a glimpse of the future bridging the gap between what consumer technology does today and what science fiction and movies have depicted of the future. And leave it to Amazon to make it affordable, simple and human using sophisticated speech recognition and natural language processing in the backend that makes Alexa feel like a family member. 
Can other companies easily replicate this success? Other companies can easily replicate the technology (and we are seeing loads of start-ups entering this space), however, distribution is where Amazon is miles ahead. Marketing and distributing is the hardest part of IoT so the fact that they are grabbing market share now will keep them ahead for a while.

Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist, Greenwave Systems
What did Amazon do well? There’s no doubt that Amazon created a magical product with Echo/Alexa.  They did a wonderful job identifying what the industry needed, and what it did not need. It did not need another hub, another standard, another cost, or another new complicated technology to learn. What it did need, was a voice.  While it is the best selling smart home device of all time, it is not a smart home device -- it does not control lights, thermostats, or any other smart device.  It does however, enable a simple way for makers of these things to consistently put their products within the range of their owner's voice. The team did a wonderful job positioning the Alexa in the developer community.  As a creator of an Alexa skill, I respect the ease of implementation of their developer kit.  Within just a few weeks, we built a fully interactive Alexa interaction, YouTube videos of which can be found here. They marketed the product very well, and the upsell to Dot was brilliant.  Limiting the product's availability by requiring users to use their Echo to order a Dot was inspired.
Can other companies easily replicate this success? When Google announced their Speech API, I wrote this article on VentureBeat to share my views.  As it stands today, Alexa has risks of relevance based on it's relatively limited knowledge base, as opposed to a company in possession of tomes of information like a search engine.  It also has been built around a voice app model, which could be challenging to scale into a person’s life if they have to know keywords to "launch the app" and start a given conversation topic. Google, Baidu, Yahoo and Bing are extremely well informed (in that order), especially when compared to Amazon. Amazon does have other things going for it with AWS ties to vendors, the massive marketplace through which to sell many of the things in our lives, and provision them into our lives at point of purchase, but they have yet to fully take advantage of either of these.

Steve Svajian, CEO / Co-Founder, Anova Culinary
What did Amazon do well? Amazon Echo is interesting because our interaction with technology changes as it begins to drop into background, while still being a device we engage with regularly. By using speech, Echo is moving us away from the screen, and creating a more natural user experience. In creating Echo, Amazon saw the need for a device that wouldn’t require its users to have their phone on them at all times. Amazon did particularly well marketing Amazon as a companion in the kitchen, because when we're busy preparing food and our hands aren't free, it enables us to have access to information much more easily.
Can other companies easily replicate this success? Aside from Amazon, Google and Apple can easily replicate the success of Echo. Amazon, Google, and Apple all have the unique ability to create an ecosystem of products that connect to a hub that operates like Echo.

Jean-Pierre (JP) Abello, Director, Global Engineering R&D for IoT, Nielsen
What did Amazon do well? Amazon did a particularly good job with the quality of voice recognition in noisy environments, and the simplicity of use of the device.  With Alexa, voice has finally become good enough to become the primary user interface instead of touch screens, buttons, etc.
Can other companies easily replicate this success? I think this success could be easily replicated and even exceeded by the likes of Google and Apple. These companies have the advantage of potentially achieving much deeper integrations with search and other products they fully control. Amazon initially believed that the Echo would lead customers to more impulse buying on their web store, but what happened instead is the Echo became a better and more convenient way for people to interface with a host of other services, from music to weather forecasts, home automation control, etc.  Amazon had the courage to innovate in this category and got the first mover advantage, however others have the potential to do even better via deeper integrations into their core consumer products.

Linda Bernardi, Founder / CEO, StraTerra Partners
What did Amazon do well? In the creation of Alexa and Echo, Amazon focused on ease of use and integration. That enabled rapid and seamless integration by any level of user and removal of complexity from the process. It was a gradual release, spread by word of mouth vs. releasing it all at once with a huge bang, so we started seeing Echo and Alexa gradually which created market excitement. I actually think it was too quiet of an introduction in that if you weren’t following Amazon-specific news, going to conferences or related events, there seemed to not be a high level of marketing effort the way Apple or Microsoft would do. The key was user experience which was much more organic from my lens. This is in line with how Amazon develops products and services: Develop it to perfection, enhance the user experience and people will come. Not market it first and develop later! It worked.
Can other companies easily replicate this success? Amazon’s key to success is to hype less, develop more and build things perfectly and flawlessly. While there have been a few products pulled off the market, almost 99% are perfect. Prime is revolutionizing the consumer experience and spreading to grocery shopping, food delivery, care services, etc. and the key to its success has been to make sure it works perfectly. Other companies can replicate this but with high degrees of difficulty as it means a higher investment -- Amazon is lean and highly efficient and its agility and speed is extremely difficult to replicate, while other organizations are generally fat and inefficient. What is difficult to replicate is the company’s culture: A relentless pursuit of doing complex things and expecting a lot from themselves, from from leadership to all levels and they have to perform constantly. Many are trying to emulate Amazon, but it would be somewhat difficult unless their organizations also changed massively.

Ram Malasani, Founder, CEO, Securifi
What did Amazon do well? The general consensus in 2014 was that Echo is an interesting but ultimately goofy product. But it’s now being labeled as the next revolutionary interface. There are a few reasons - initial low expectations, far-field voice recognition that actually works, and aggressively building the growing Alexa skills ecosystem through third parties.
Can other companies easily replicate this success? It’s not going to be easy but I would bet on Google. The contender has to have mastery of several technologies including voice recognition, search and not to mention generating developer interest. All of this is right up Google's alley. Google Home might also have a hardware cost advantage as its built off their low cost Chromecast platform. And lastly Home also comes with wireless multi-room audio, like Sonos speakers, which gives it an edge over Echo speakers.

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