Posts Tagged ‘Internet of Things’

International CES 2014: A tipping point for the Internet of Things?

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
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Cisco’s shopping cart

As predicted, the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show simply overflowed with examples of IoT finally becoming a marketplace reality – from the connected home to the connected automobile to digital health – as well as large companies vying for the opportunity to merge cloud and mobile technologies with sensors and MEMS technology.

In his keynote presentation John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, predicted that “2014 would be the transformational pivot point for IoT” and that the total cost benefit going forward could be as high as $19 trillion for both public and private sectors. He foresees retail, for example, gaining at least $1.5 trillion in benefits from the implementation of smart shopping carts that both assist and track customers.

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FootLogger demo

The pace, scale and potential impact of IoT emergence has drawn attention from multiple interested parties associated with policy and regulations. During a panel discussion on this subject, FTC Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen encouraged governments to better understand the effects and benefits of innovation on society, and to assess whether existing laws or regulations in the market place can right any potential threats. Adam Thierer, senior research fellow with the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, warned against the “precautionary principle” model which curtails innovation until it can be proven to not be a serious threat to society. He sees the EU as following this worldview in its approach to privacy and IoT, and he strongly endorses the principle of “permissionless innovation” fostered by the U.S. which deems that experimentation with new technologies and business models should generally be permitted by default. In reality, evolution of IoT will most likely be a combination of all three due to the explosive growth and diversity of the technology globally.

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FashionTEQ notification ring

In another session on MEMS and sensor fusion, Mike Luna, CTO of Jawbone, pointed out that technology on its own is not the key to success. Luna believes that the real challenge for companies such as Jawbone, Nike and Fitbit with their new wearable products will be ensuring that they seamlessly fit into consumers’ everyday lives. Key to this is making sure that they do not adversely react with bodily or external substances, so that they can just be worn and forgotten. Only then can consistent and reliable data be obtained from them and used in such areas as health, sports or general lifestyle enhancement. These new wearables not only communicate with smartphones but with one another and, according to Luna, are in effect creating the Internet of Me, where they become hubs for connection and exchange of data. For wearable technology to really take off I believe that people need to feel socially comfortable with it, and I was interested to see the large number of European, Asian and American companies pursuing the fashion vector for wearables, whether it was notification jewelry such as pendants and rings, or watches that blended style with technology.

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Multiple eyewear options

Rival eyewear products were also abundant at this year’s CES, some incorporating cameras that stream everyday life or automatically take pictures to create an individual’s video blog. Others focused on the industrial space, creating safety glasses with video streaming capability that can be used for training, diagnostic or quality assurance purposes, for example on a production line when a video recording of the process could prove useful. Add to this the increased use of augmented reality, as seen in Googles Glass, and the production and education environment of the future looks very different.

Judging by the technologies on display at this year’s CES, the future is closer than most of us realize. Conference speaker Rob Nail, CEO and Associate Founder of Singularity University, warned, however, that humans are not educated to cope with the exponential technology growth curve that we are currently experiencing. Worse still, he presented evidence that we have limited capability to forecast it. The good news is that, when we finally accept what’s happening, we apparently adapt very quickly! Over the next year it will be interesting to see if the Internet of Everything turns out to be the fundamental tipping point that keynote speaker John Chambers predicts, or if it’s merely one of many on the accelerating exponential technology curve referenced above.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Has Google Seeded the Future of Mobile?

Monday, February 10th, 2014

This past week’s news was dominated by Apple struggling to fulfill Wall Street’s expectations, Samsung’s proposal to reinvent itself as a software company and, the coup de grace, Google selling Motorola to Lenovo. All of these events reveal an industry in transition.

Smartphones, as we know, have transformed the mobile experience for consumers but have hardly changed since the iPhone was introduced in 2007. They have become faster, bigger and have more sensors but they remain square, slim screens that in developed markets cost around $400. In this scenario Samsung and Apple have thrived, sucking out 90% of the industry profitability.

ARA Motorola projectClearly, the future for smartphones lies in the emerging markets where the next 2 to 3 billion devices will be sold and the price point will be closer to $100. So will these two giants still dominate or will Chinese players such as Lenovo, Huawei, ZTE, Coolpad and an army of white label manufacturers take over this space? Is the smartphone/mobile industry about to enter the commoditization phase?

Against this background it was interesting to see that Google is holding on to the Advanced Technology team that is developing the Ara endoskeleton phone design system, which was revealed late last year. Also revealed was a partnership with Phonebloks with the intent of creating an ecosystem of hardware developers to work with the software developers that support Android. The initial offerings will probably not be successful but the following should be taken into consideration:  for the past few years chip manufacturers have been producing ever more capable systems on chip designs, two examples being Qualcomm’s Snapdragon that dominates the smartphone space and Intel’s Edison for the M2M and Internet of Things space. With the advent of 3D manufacturing and ever more capable components, the concept of a spine that acts as a connector may be the catalyst for a fundamental rethink of devices.

Eco-mobIt is no coincidence that ZTE presented a concept design, Eco-Mobius, at CES 2014 that uses a sliding track enabling users to assemble and disassemble screens, core processors, memory, camera and battery; here the concept of “customize your own device” seems to coincide with a growing interest in wearables. The future may well see the fusion of these two trends with fashion styling enabling devices to fit seamlessly into peoples’ lives.

Discussions around the Internet of Things, Internet of Everything and the Internet of Me are all about the future pervasiveness of mobile connectivity across multiple industries as well as the “always on” digital world we live in. These modular architecture concepts that Google and ZTE are experimenting with will help facilitate this. But, more importantly, since Google excels at building ecosystems, if they succeed in creating an ecosystem of hardware developers to fuse with software companies, the future of mobile will see a complete change. Google may well have seeded the future direction of the industry in a way that only a few of us have foreseen.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

2014: The Year of Digital Renaissance?

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Digi Renaissance firework 2013As fireworks fill the skies tonight and 2013 comes to a close, it seems a good time to reflect on the current state of the telecoms and ICT industries, and what has changed in the last five years. Having just participated in the 2013 ITU Telecom World Conference in Bangkok, this gave me the opportunity to assess whether the Digital Renaissance that we at KeySo Global have being predicting has in fact transpired.

In 2009 the world was reeling from 12 months of global financial turbulence and anxiety levels were high. WiMAX was causing angst for U.S. carriers and the iPhone was forcing the rethinking of how Wi-Fi and cellular could effectively inter-operate. Data congestion on overloaded 3G networks designed for voice was reaching critical levels as operators adjusted to the realities of YouTube video upload and downloads. The European markets and technology suppliers were firmly in control of the industry, with Nokia the dominant handset supplier controlling 38% of the 1.1 billion phones sold that year. Apple, on the other hand, was gaining credibility and achieved a respectable 2%. ICT was the main theme of the conference as cellular held center stage with 67% market penetration, having enabled 4.6 billion people globally to have access to personal communication capability. In 2009 the prime discussion, therefore, was around internet connection and the role that mobile could play here.

graphic oneFast forward to the 2013 conference in Asia and the global economy, having experienced five years of unprecedented instability, is still in a volatile state where virtually every treasured economic rulebook has been proven ineffective in controlling a 24/7 interconnected digital world. This has been facilitated in part due to cellular penetration reaching 96% and 6.8 billon people having access to cellular – 3.5 billion of whom are in the Asia Pacific region. More significantly, the number of people now online has increased from 26% to 39%. The single biggest contributor to this has been mobile broadband access which has grown from below 10% in 2009 to 30% penetration this year. This growth is closely tied to smartphone growth as well as the availability of lower cost data packages.  In 2009 smartphonesgraphic 2 accounted for approximately 10% of handset shipments, whereas in the 3rd quarter of 2013 smartphones totaled 250 million units, over 55% of total phone shipments that quarter. The biggest loser in this dramatic shift in emphasis towards smartphones and operating systems has been Nokia, but others such as Sony Ericsson, Kyocera, Sharp, Rim, HTC and Motorola have been damaged along the way, to greater or lesser degrees, by the shift to an Android world.

In conclusion, we are living in a far more connected world than we were five years ago. However, the extent to which the interconnection of this increasingly complex human digital and physical world is understood is limited and the ripple effects of these technologies on industry structures have only just started to appear. Telecoms and ICT are certainly not immune to these, as we have seen, but within the next five years we will see the boundary industries of automotive, medical, retail, utilities and manufacturing become increasingly subject to the transformative effects of the mobile internet.

Of greater interest will be the unanticipated consequences that will undoubtedly emerge from the mobile internet and Internet of Things blending with big data analytics, and the unavoidable impact this will have on digital life and behaviors. As an increasingly urbanized planet adopts these technologies to facilitate ever smarter cities, the opportunities for ICT to make a difference to societies are colossal – but the question is how to bring the people along with these changes, and instill trust in them that technology will be used for good and that ethical government will prevail? Clearly, the recent Snowden revelations on the NSA and other agencies have given everyone pause for thought.

As we enter 2014, it is clear that the Digital Renaissance is technically well underway but the structural and behavioral implications are only just beginning to emerge and, when they do surface, I suspect that the predominant challenges we face will be societal. In shaping the future of this brave new world we need to engage its citizens, understand their needs and manage the “Faustian bargain” that will be a fine balance between a surveillance state and the right to privacy. None of these challenges are unsurmountable but they are ones that will need careful monitoring, open conversations and perseverance on the part of governments, industry and citizens around the globe.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

The Value of a Global Mobile Mindset

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Over breakfast the other morning with a former Motorola colleague, we reflected on how we had both been part of teams and companies that had created two exponential growth industries:  cellular and, most recently, the mobile internet – both technologies and industries that have drastically changed and still are re-shaping lives, societies and economies today.

Being part of this transformation can’t help but influence and shape you as an individual; to have lived through an era where the rate of growth outstripped supply of components and capacity on a global basis was no trivial experience.

As a result of this, having a “global mobile mindset” has become part of my DNA. I believe that I intuitively think differently, and deliberately look for the inter-connections and the multiplier effects. Boundaries and borders between business, industry and nation states are historic and do not reflect the flows of knowledge and trade that are enabled in a digital mobile world.  I look at how humans interact with systems, things and other people whilst in motion. Nothing that used to be static or fixed remains that way any longer, and the systems and business models that support the current status quo are subject to continuous disruption.  I tend to assess each situation that I encounter with this broad and open minded approach, and pose the question “how can mobility fundamentally change current assumptions or remove existing constraints?”

As part of my consultancy practice, I now apply this honed intuitive capability and process to help traditional companies and industries look at how the mobile internet, as well as the emerging Internet of Things, can create seismic opportunities for growth. I have translated over 30 years of international experience and best practices into an adaptive solution to client needs. However, there are only a handful of companies that are readily open to this approach; the reason being that strategic innovation requires venturing away from familiar ground into uncharted territory – and that requires courage and leadership.

As a manager, do you consider yourself to be a strategic visionary or digital leader of change that intuitively senses the impending shifts in your industry? If so, you are our natural client and we can help. What we bring are unique insights, frameworks and valuable experience that can help you reshape the way you perceive your industry, and an adaptive methodology to accelerate the strategic innovation plan needed to drive your company into the digital age.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Mobile Industry Trends and Beyond

Saturday, August 4th, 2012



The mobile industry is a global business that generates $1.5 trillion in revenue every year, approximately 1.5% of the world’s GDP. Throughout its 30 year history the industry has become ever more inextricably intertwined with the global economy. The World Bank estimates that for every 10% increase in mobile penetration the GDP in developed countries increases by 0.6%, in developing countries by 0.8% and for low income countries GDP increases by 1.4 %.

The bottom line is that wireless communications are impacting our personal and business lives because the physical networks are, in the words of President Clinton, “facilitating networks of collaboration and cooperation” that make boundaries transparent between countries, industries, societies and cultures. As the connected world shrinks in a virtual sense, possibility expands in a real sense as boundaries blur and new and previously unforeseen opportunities emerge globally. It is against this background that it becomes critical for industry leaders to make themselves aware of the emerging mobile trends and the implications they have on the global economic landscape, and more specifically on their own businesses.

Emerging Mobile Trends

  1. Mobile technology is disrupting business models and consumer habits, not just within Telecoms but also neighboring industries. The medical, utility, transportation, education and banking industries are all experiencing a shift from simple communication to total connectivity anywhere that mobility facilitates. Some are embracing the opportunities that this brings faster than others, resulting in significant redistribution of wealth along multiple value chains. Industry structures will most likely change as companies look at horizontal and vertical integration to acquire “Super Stacks” of intellectual property in order to exert increased control over their business model.
  2. Over the Top (OTT) Communication Services, easily downloaded from “App Stores”, are encouraging consumers to explore different ways of communicating, wherever they are and with whom they want, across multiple platforms. Voice has become just another bit of data in the new networked world. Consequently there is gradual recognition that mobile operators do not have a monopoly on the provision of voice over their networks; this could ultimately be the end of the existing subsidy model for phones and smartphones.
  3. Network architecture is being rethought to handle the masses of data resulting from the unprecedented growth in uploading and sharing of video from mobile phones. The traditional asymmetric network design has been found wanting and has forced a more symmetric heterogeneous networks (Het-Nets) structure that encompasses multiple technologies, spectrum and access capabilities, including offload to Wi-Fi. This frantic scramble by operators to provide the vision and reality of “anywhere – anytime – anyhow connectivity” has a significant cost implication at a time when the industry economics are in flux.
  4. Clouds of Things” captures the convergence of five rapidly developing vectors of technology: the Internet of Things, Hybrid Clouds, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality. “Clouds of Things” will provide intelligent management, control, utilization and distribution of resources. This convergence of capability will be driven by the needs of smart cities as the increasing flight to urbanization continues. It is forecast that by the year 2016 thirty percent of the global population will be living in cities.
  5. Smart connected homes are becoming a reality as embedded and “black box” connectivity become simple to use and install, or come as part of a home automation package from cable companies, utilities or security firms. This will allow enhanced and remote management of all of the connected consumer electronic devices within a household. Smart home management will be facilitated by personal tablets and smartphones linked to augmented reality and will inevitably result in peoples’ social behaviors adapting and changing.
  6. The Mobile Wallet, utilizing Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, could revolutionize online and offline commerce as it is currently understood. This technology appears to be closer to reality in 2012 than ever before and is being deployed in millions of smartphones by multiple manufacturers.  However, in the developed markets there is need for systems and infrastructure change in order to handle mobile wallet transactions; this requires the agreement of many parties with vested interests, many of which are not yet aligned. Unless the complex industry value chain (retailers, card issuers, banks, mobile operators, internet intermediaries to name but a few) can meet consumers’ expectations for “elegant” mobile solutions (simplicity of use, privacy and security) then adoption by users will be inhibited.
  7. Smart devices, together with consumer adoption of “there’s an app for that”, revealed the enormous power and flexibility of the mobile internet. Beyond web apps, HTML5 is the next evolution of the mobile web. It is a comprehensive app development platform that can be used on multiple browsers and phone operating systems. Businesses providing services and content are attracted to HTML5 to overcome the following issues: the fragmentation of Android across an increasing number of device manufacturers and Apple app store economics that takes 30% of each app transaction while restricting these businesses access to their own subscriber information.
  8. Seamless connections management software, with varying degrees of capability, will soon become common place on devices to meet consumers’ expectations for simple, elegant, lower cost access everywhere across the world. It will also enable operators to load- balance across increasingly complex networks using multiple technologies and spectrum. This software will also help operators address the challenge that IT managers face in aligning Bring Your Own Device (BOYD) requirements with corporate security needs.
  9. Green ownership philosophies and government policy are focusing attention on ecological and energy saving issues. It is forcing a rethink of the total cost of ownership calculation for networks and, by default, the cost of consumer and enterprise services. This calculation becomes more complex now that it has to address an increased number of factors: the traditional economic pressures that are compounded by the exponential rise in data traffic, the increasing expectation of customers for access anywhere, as well as the impact of environmental pollution and concerns about energy efficiency.
  10. Mobile discovery will increasingly become the focus of mobile marketing specialists in the same way that SEO is an integral part of internet marketing today. Addressing the abundance of apps, services and information is a new type of problem. Mobile operators are complicating this situation by starting to mine vast amounts of subscriber data. They are blending this intelligence with offerings from a rich ecosystem of service and content providers, and creating unique personalized propositions for consumers that are targeted by location and context. With this diversity of offering, the challenge for small businesses and app developers is how to stand out in this operator and app store dominated environment? This is the emerging art and science of mobile discovery.

For more information about any of the above contact us at +1847-478-1633 or

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Convergence Trends and Innovation at CES 2012

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

A shorter article on this subject was first published as Convergence Trends and Innovation at CES 2012 on Technorati.

The Consumer Electronics Show 2012 statistics (153,000 attendees, 34,000 international attendees, 3,100 exhibitors, 1.86 million square feet of exhibit space, and 20,000 new products) give an indication of the scale and diversity of attendance but give no color to the reality of convergence that will occur between Digital World technologies and the digital lives of consumers over the next 12 to 18 months. In the next couple of paragraphs I’ve highlighted some of the exciting convergence trends that we see emerging.

Interactive Gestures in the Living Room

TV’s seem to be getting bigger and thinner with brighter 3D Hi Def capability that in some cases requires no glasses. If you can see beyond the existing concept of the TV, you realize that the center of the living room is becoming internet connected and consequently smarter in its ability to offer a variety of interactive services to augment viewing. This increased smartness requires new paradigms for interaction with other devices and sources of information, media and preferences. Thisrequirement to share is being enhanced by the increasing use of Wi-Fi Direct in multiple devices finding their way on to the living room couch. Interestingly, the world of gaming has provided the consumer electronics industry with new perspectives of how to interact with couch surfers and their devices via gestures. Think iPhone type scrolling, pinching point and zoom capability but with hand gestures to enable scrolling through TV guides to select, explore and expand videos or TV programs.

Digital Interactive Cockpits

One really interesting demonstration was a see-through LCD TV where you could see a static bowl of fruit behind the screen as TV/video images appeared on the screen. Where could this innovation lead?  Ford, Mercedes and Kia were showing the way in which new display technology and processing power will enhance the dashboard. Although it was not found at this year’s CES, the concept of a clear LCD windscreen can’t be that far off! This coupled with gesture capability being demonstrated by Mercedes and other enhanced augmented display technologies, will revolutionize the way vehicles are controlled. The real challenge that the automotive industry faces is adapting the rapid cycle of development of ICT technology into their traditional 7 year product development cycles.

Connected Medicine

The medical world is also on the verge of experiencing the power of connectivity in the form of devices, apps and cloud solutions that monitor everything from diet to diabetes to heart rate with full ECG capability built into phones. Again, the rapid pace of technology development is struggling against bureaucratic approval processes and the ability of the existing health care industry to adjust procedures and personnel to adapt and handle the opportunities that these new solutions deliver. Imagine a scenario where monitoring devices are given away to people for free as part of their health plan, with the revenue being generated from the monitoring services. The opportunity to reduce hospital visits and enhance health regimes that elevate overall health levels benefits everyone but requires structural and procedure shifts to accommodate the change.

Device Proliferation Drives Differentiation

The explosion in smartphone and tablet devices with common operating systems (Android & IOS) and brilliant high resolution screen technologies and interfaces have enabled much of the convergence technology above. Sony, for example, demonstrated their new 2 screen tablet that closes like a clam shell and which has an on screen keyboard. As usual CES did not disappoint with multiple devices being announced that continue a trend of increased thinness, lighter weight, solid state memory, and more powerful processors than were in PC’s only a year or so ago. These are seemingly available from an ever increasing number of Chinese and Asian vendors, undoubtedly increasing price pressure as they all struggle to differentiate themselves.

Differentiation is difficult but a small (Fujitsu & Toshiba) number of vendors at the show are producing waterproof phones and tablets. Equally, vendors are exploring the space between tablets and smartphone’s in the 5 inch screen category. Samsung was hyping the note with their “S Pen” where artists drew caricatures on the screen that were then printed and displayed. The introduction of natural interfaces such as drawing, voice recognition, touch and gesture will most definitely enhance our ability to better utilize the devices and incorporate them in to our lives.

Dolby & Video Chat

From a technology perspective, 5.1 Dolby quality sound was demonstrated by Qualcomm who emphasize that the processing power of their chipsets now enable HD sound processed from 5 microphones on the device. Amateur video will never be the same again! Equally, the use of 5 microphones also means that noise cancelling and filtering will in the future allow much clearer video chat in areas of high ambient noise.

Redefining Human Interactivity

This is just a snapshot of some of the convergence trends and innovative thinking on display at this year’s CES, prompted by the availability and accessibility of a wide variety of new Digital Life technologies. As one final thought for consideration, Ericsson demonstrated how the human body can be used as a conductor for transferring data from one device to another. With one touch of your smartphone, you can transfer the video that you just took directly onto your TV. With the advent of the Internet of Things, the concept of the human body as a node within the net and a transfer mechanism for data means the Digital World is fast becoming the truly interactive place we knew it would be!

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC


Is the Internet of Things Waiting for a Hero?

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

We live in a world where smart technology abounds. Every day more and more physical objects are embedded with sensors that link wirelessly to one another and devices communicate to make our lives simpler – the Internet of Things is becoming a reality! Every brave new world needs a hero and today’s digital world is no exception.

The question is who will become the hero of the Internet of the Things? Who will be the new Vince Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee or Steve Jobs? Who will be the father of something that virally transforms the intangible into something concrete, powerful and awe inspiring? These thoughts occurred to me during a recent roundtable about the Internet of Things organized by the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies (C-PET), for which I am an advisor.

At this roundtable we discussed this year’s “Internet of Things Conference” in Brussels, where the vision of 50 billion enabled devices being connected by the year 2020 caused much excitement. Concern was expressed, however, about the diverse cultural differences affecting European and the US approaches to the regulation and standardization of this new technology.

The European Union has established an Internet of Things expert group, with six subgroups that focus on identity, privacy, security, ethics, architecture and standards. Their goal is to issue a report by the end of the year that will be used for public consultation during 2012, with an impact assessment delivered by July and regulations determined by the end of 2012.

Concern was expressed about the European human right’s requirement for the “right to be forgotten” and the ability to “silence the chips”, which means that people can effectively go “off the grid” and manage their own “digital footprint”. In other words, individuals should be able to control what digital information is collected about them, know where it is stored in the cloud and who has access to it. This is in stark contrast to the US approach to Internet of Things technology which lacks any apparent coordinated activity or consultation.

This technological phenomenon is set to transform the nature of society and business as we know it, and on a global scale. To the average person, the Internet of Things is still an inanimate and intangible possibility in the same way that the Internet was back in the early 90’s. The fundamental difference is that the pace of development, innovation and adoption of this new technology will bring change far faster than regulations can keep pace with.

At the IoT conference in June, reference was made to three different technology cultures – those of West Coast USA, East Coast USA and Europe. The West Coast is about prototyping innovation and believing that the possible is inevitable. The East Coast is about profit and power, where the possible is threatening and lawyers line up to litigate. In Europe a precautionary and philosophical stance is taken to ensure the rights of people are not infringed, and the possibility is considered but its implementation is delayed.

Back in 1995, Nicholas Negroponte wrote in his book “Being Digital”: “we must knowingly create safe digital environments”. Today, however, the pace of technological change makes it very difficult for governments to define regulations that ensure the safety, security and well-being of their citizens, particularly when those technologies are global and worldwide cooperation and collaboration is required.

Why do I believe that a hero is needed for the Internet of Things? It’s the Double Power Principle: all technologies have the power for good as well as ill, and most of the time it’s up to us to knowingly lead the way and harness that power for good use. To enable the power of the Internet of Things, it would require someone with vision to capture people’s imaginations and inspire innovation and new ideas, to dispel their fear of this new technology and to take advantage of the abundance of efficiencies that this revolution can enable.

The probability is that it will not be one single hero in one particular country. Most likely it will be a collection of open innovators who are connected globally and share their ideas across communities. The concept of 6 billion people leveraging 50 billion devices for the purpose of solving global issues and enhancing the well-being of mankind is the kind of thing that myths are made of. Every myth has a hero – and the hero here would be one who could traverse cultural boundaries to ensure that the Internet of Things becomes seamlessly incorporated into our digital lives.

To obtain a copy of our white paper on “The Internet of Things” contact us at or call us at +1-847-478-1633.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Will the connected living room become your Digital Life control center?

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Do you or other members of your family sit down to watch TV at night, laptop open and smart phone at your side? Are you simultaneously checking 3 or 4 digital devices with screens of varying sizes – the local news channel on TV, emails or Facebook on your laptop, a video or book on your tablet, and text messaging or chatting on your phone? If the answer is yes – then your living room is half way to being a digital life control center!

With more people than ever working independently or remotely, the old definitions of rooms are changing and all rooms are transforming into “digital life hubs”. A recent study identified that smartphones are so pervasive that they are replacing alarm clocks on nightstands, and are the last thing at night and first thing in the morning that people reach for!

One question that’s often asked is who is really in control of the living room today and who will be in control of these digital hubs in five year’s time? To a certain extent the consumer has control, being able to program their viewing preferences remotely from their smartphone (checking TV listings and scheduling DVR recordings etc) and watch programs at their own convenience and in their own time. But they still don’t necessarily have all the tools they want, or unified platform to hold them.   

Microsoft always claimed that the PC was the control mechanism for online access in the home but gradually the ultimate power is being handed over to the cable companies and the set-top box. These companies are rapidly realizing that, to satisfy the Digital Life needs of today’s consumer, internet-delivered content (for entertainment, information, phone service etc) via one single box needs to be personalized and also delivered to multiple screens in multiple rooms!

In a recent article in the Financial Times about last week’s Cable Show in Chicago, it was reported that cable companies such as Comcast, Time Warner and ESPN are starting to leverage digital mobile communications and remote storage and software design in order to advance the living room connection one step further for the consumer and improve their TV watching experience.

Cloud TV is one trend that will gain momentum this year as those cable companies with enough foresight will be looking to use the power of the web to their advantage. As one analyst at Morgan Stanley puts it: “The company that integrates online, traditional linear channels, video on demand and (digital video recorders) online across multiple platforms in an easy to use interface has tremendous upside in terms of video market share, and more importantly video pricing.”

The other exciting aspect of the digital hub / living room is the way devices will start to interact with set top boxes and other consumer devices. As the Internet of Things moves into the house, and smart devices constantly monitor and update the status of household appliances, the multiple screens will become the hub for command and control as well as entertainment, information and communication. Smart device manufacturers that jump on the bandwagon early and address the consumer’s need for personal, secure enterprise grade services, blended with easy to use and control smart information, will win the hearts and minds of the digital generation.

To take advantage of this space, companies will have to act fast and embrace the new converged digital technologies available to them so that the existing multiple screens can seamlessly access, process and move content, information and services between them, creating a fully amalgamated Digital Life experience!

To find out how converged digital technologies can lead to better connectivity and collaboration for both your business and home-based employees, contact us at, +1-847-478-1633 or visit our website

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

How smart perspectives can reveal untapped opportunities

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the development of smart cities around the world that are taking advantage of emerging technologies to better manage scare resources. In a recent Fast Company article on water, this exact same trend was highlighted but it also reinforced another major theme that we at KeySo Global are passionate about, namely reframing perspectives.

Water is a resource that, in the developed world, is in plentiful supply and therefore tends to be taken for granted. We get up in the morning, head to the bathroom, run the shower, flush the toilet, make tea, brush our teeth, grab a bottle of water on our way out of the door and think nothing of it.

Those businesses that rely on water for their manufacturing processes, however, and take the economic value of water more seriously, are starting to think about and use it differently. One example given in this article is of a wool washing company in one of the driest areas of Australia. It became so concerned about the volume and cost of the expensive mains water it was using for its processes, that it came across the idea of using storm water that the town had been siphoning away instead, and for 2/3 of the price. Necessity spurred this company to look outside its traditional supply chain boundaries and, as a result, a new type of water utility was developed that benefitted both business and local government.

IBM not only talks about designing and building the smart planet, it has gone one step further and has seized Digital World opportunities with both hands! By changing the way it perceived itself – as not just a computing company – and adopting a more flexible and innovative business model, IBM has been able to create a new lucrative business – around water.

At its microchip plant in Burlington, IBM uses ultrapure water to produce semiconductors. Its monthly water bill for this amounts to $100,000. Wanting to find a way to use less water and use it more smartly, IBM took a step back and looked at the water cycle as a whole. It refined its processes and made them more efficient, so that between 2000 and 2009 the Burlington plant managed to cut its water usage by 29%.

Recognizing that water isn’t “smart” (most meters are still read manually) and that it’s crucial that it be better managed, IBM plans to take innovation to the next level – into Digital Life – by introducing a new age of “smart water”. Water sensors connected to computers that can analyze an individual household’s water consumption will mean that, in future, consumers will have a better understanding and appreciation of this valuable resource.

These examples of both a global multinational and a small backwoods company rethinking their existing processes, assumptions and methods are indicative of the necessity in these rapidly changing times to look beyond the confines of your traditional business models. Sometimes, if an urgent need doesn’t prompt this change of thinking, then an external perspective based on new insights can act as the trigger. It’s then that you can discover untapped opportunities afforded by Digital World technologies that are very often right there for the taking – you may just need help identifying them. We would be delighted to assist you with this nudge into the digital world. Just give us a call at +1 847-478-1633 or visit our website at Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

Smart city architects – would Aristotle and Steve Jobs make a good team?

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Smart City InforgraphAristotle and Steve Jobs would, I believe, have worked well side by side.

While researching for his book the “Politics”, Aristotle studied the Greek city/state of Polis and questioned why people live together? He concluded that “the city… is a partnership for living well”.

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, said “Man is the creator of change in this world. As such he should be above systems and structures, not subordinate to them”. The design philosophy of the iPhone, iPad, iPod and iTunes reflects this, enabling simple usage that adapts seamlessly into a person’s lifestyle. Business at Apple has become the “art of life”.

What has this to do with smart cities? About three months ago I wrote a paper about the Internet of Things (IoT) based on an all-day discussion at the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies (C-PET), a Washington based think tank. This paper addresses the challenges associated with this emerging technology, and examines some of the considerations from a government and regulatory perspective.

The paper covers topics such as the state of global collaboration, innovation, government and industry partnerships, infrastructure development, cost and motivational factors that prompt government and industry to pursue and develop these technologies on a global basis. It also touches upon four main areas of concern for society: privacy, control, security and elitism. At the heart of these issues is the principle of double power; that although this technology has the power to greatly enhance the way we live, it also has the opportunity to do significant harm to things we hold dear.

The Internet of Things, along with other Information Communication Technologies (ICT), are key enablers in the future world of smart grids, smart buildings and smart cities. The concept of smart cities has been emerging around the globe; in China it addresses the anticipated 350m people likely to move to urban living in the next 10 years; in other countries smart cities are being developed to take advantage of emerging technologies and to combine new concepts of urban living with better management of scarce resources.

Convergence of technologies has resulted in the creation of vast and ever more complex networks or systems. Within the systems, most attention tends to be paid to the components (IoT, ICT) making them up but really the true value of a complex system lies in the interaction between all the components. Smart cities are an extension of these complex systems and they will languish or flourish based, not on the technology used, but on the interaction facilitated between machine to machine, machine to humans, and humans to humans.

The principles of business as the “art of life” and the city as a “partnership for living well” should guide the holistic systems architecture and integration of IoT and ICT technologies into smart cities of the future. This should ensure that smart cities do not fall prey to the double power issue. More significantly, smart cities should be designed to foster communities of people, linked together through smart networks, which enable partnerships to grow and flourish. As a global community, we should listen to philosophers of the past and embrace practitioners of the present, to encourage the creation of smart cities in which we can live our smart lives to the fullest.

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