Friday, May 1, 2015

Windows 10 for the IoT is out, runs on Raspberry Pi 2 as promised, also on Arduino and 2 Intel boards

A milestone in the world of IoT happened this week at Microsoft's Build conference in San Francisco when Microsoft revealed Windows 10 for the #IoT.  Its big for Microsoft in that the "Windows Everywhere" mantra finally comes true.  Its big for the IoT development world because Microsoft is so ubiquitous in our lives at work and at home.

If you look at the Win10 IoT page,  its very #Maker and #Kickstarter like:

There are examples of projects, cloud connections (of course!) and a Github code community.  Its all very nicely done and its going to be interesting to see how fast its adopted.  Are you going buy that Raspberry Pi 2 now?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

An inexpensive building block for the IoT, get yours on Kickstarter quick!

In many of my posts I have talked about all the building blocks and interdependencies of the #IoT and how its not that easy to pull it all together so when I saw this Kickstarter project that solves one of the major connectivity issues I was intrigued.

Getting your data from the sensor to the cloud is non trivial and there are so many connectivity issues but this little device takes advantage of the nearly ubiquitous cellular infrastructure (at least in urban areas) to get you up and running.  The board has pretty impressive hardware with an STMicro ARM Cortex-M3 controller on board and a cellular modem:

In order to make the cellular data plan simple the team have basically become a carrier so they can offer connectivity of up to 20,000 messages or 1MB for $2.99 a month (extra MB are $0.99) so its not crazy expensive the way some older M2M systems always seemed to be. 

Right now you can get the board and 2 months of free data for $39 so why not order one and get yourself connected?  4500 other people have ordered one and they blew through their target, seems like a winner to me.  What do you think?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How the IoT will be built; ARM, IBM & Freescale IoT starter kit

Today (Feb 24, 2015) is the first day of the influential Embedded World event in Germany and as such its a platform for companies to announce new products and set the stage for the coming year. Embedded World is not a very sexy event like CES or Mobile World Congress but you can see into the slightly murky technology crystal ball and see what's likely to happen next. As I expected Embedded World will be dominated by everything IoT simply because its going to be the biggest growth driver of electronics in this decade and you'd be a fool to miss it. So right on the first day of the event,  ARM, IBM and Freescale get out of the gate fast with an IoT starter kit, you can read the details here.

An interesting hidden point here is that the IoT is complex (read my 7 basic needs of the IoT blog) and no single company, not IBM, Microsoft, Google, Apple or Intel has all the pieces to make it work so the future will be all about partnerships, ecosystems and collaboration.  Easier said than done!

So here we have 3 major players getting together to make life easier for developers; software from ARM, hardware from Freescale and the Big Blue Cloud.  Even with these 3 heavy hitters the connectivity layer is still missing (unless IBM does deals with carriers) and there will be questions about security.

I haven't researched the IBM IoT Foundation yet but it does seem to remove many barriers to getting the IoT up and working so its seems like a great tool and they have made it easy to try and test:

Check out the IoT foundation here:

This week I will read the tea leaves from Embedded World and drop my thoughts here just as I did for CES over on the ARM Community last month.

What's exciting you about the IoT?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Predicting the future using CES, and my blogs over on the ARM community

Happy New Year to you,   my blogging here has been infrequent because I'm full time consulting for ARM and having a blast.  Some of my work at ARM is on content so I am still fully #IoT immersed and as I come up to the second anniversary of this blog (launched May 2013) I am even more excited about the potential of the IoT.

Two fun initiatives I worked on at ARM over the last few months were very IoT centric, namely wearables and crowdfunding.  Looking at wearables was a great education in the power of connectivity and a window into what the IoT can do for us personally.  I have a hunch that wearables in all their forms are going to make the IoT so much a part of our everyday lives it will help grow the market much faster than I anticipated in 2013.

Another ARM project was looking at the phenomenon which is Kickstarter and how its become a powerhouse of electronics design.  There is a page over on featuring ARM powered devices that shows the diversity of products being funded and virtually all could be categorized as IoT.  An interview I did with Cyril Ebersweiler of HAXLR8R shows how crowdfunding is fundamentally changing the way electronics are designed and get to market.  If you only have time to read one blog today then this is the one I would reccomend. 

Then of course we start the year with the craziness of CES so I decided to take an imaginary behind the scenes look at what we might see at CES 2016 based on the new semiconductors being announced.  Its a multi part series, part 1 is here.

As the IoT hype cycle continues I am still incredibly optimistic about what we will see over the next few years and will keep you posted.  

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Where and what have I been posting and some thinking about my second year in the IoT

Back in September I promised to get the blog rolling again and even though you haven't seen anything here I have been cheating and posting elsewhere (see below for links).  The reason for this is I have moved on to being (for the first time in my life) a tech marketing consultant.  Never thought it would happen but its actually a lot of fun and I'm lucky enough to have as my first client a company who has changed the world of electronics in a profound way and that is ARM.  Interestingly whenever I tell people about ARM unless they are tech insiders and live in our "bubble" I often get blank stares.  I then ask if they have a mobile phone and when they answer yes I say there's a 95% chance you are using ARM every day.  People then say "oh, ARM is a chip maker?" and I have to say "no, ARM is an IP company, they sell their intellectual property to companies who want to put it in their own chips, companies like Freescale, Samsung and Texas Instruments for example".  I have this conversation all the time and now intimately know the challenge ARM faces telling their incredible story.

So where are my blogs these days?  Well you can find some on and I got a lot of traffic and 126 comments on this one about the demise of Radio Shack.  I have also been posting on the ARM Connected Community and have met some interesting folks at ARM and their partner companies, here's a good example on a new audio product using an ARM Cortex-M4

I'm still just as excited about the IoT because its actually inevitable, the history of Semiconductor technology points the way and it will be a societal game changer.  More to come on this on one of my various blogs.  Stay in touch and let me know if I can anything to help you in any way.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rebooting the blog

Since I started irregularly blogging about the IoT in May 2013, I knew it was going to be big because it’s a waypoint in the logical and somewhat orderly march of technology (subject of my next long form blog).  What I didn’t know was how up and down my career was going to be along the way.  I’m out of Avnet after less than a year due to a reorg but I learned a lot and am grateful to have worked with some great people and got to see electronics distribution from the inside.

I’m now busy looking for my next challenge and happily I think the combination of the IoT boom and the absolute revolution going on in B2B marketing is going to present many opportunities for me to pursue.  I also want to thank my own "social network" who have been extraordinarily generous with their advice, connections and time in guiding me to the next thing.  My karmic debt is rising and I will pay it back to you and anybody else I can help, please get in touch and I will do what I can.

Getting back to the IoT, the level of activity is rising daily and it’s hard to get through all the announcements, acquisitions and cool applications I see emerging.  Even the number of IoT blogs and tweets has risen dramatically.  Now I have time to analyze and think about all things IoT there is a lot to write about and share so my posting frequency will rise again!

Hope to see you on this page again soon and please stay in touch.


David Blaza

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Will a strong IoT ecosystem beat out the push for standards?

Last week I attended a breakfast event on IoT organized by SEMI at their HQ in San Jose.  There seems to be an IoT event every week in Silicon Valley right now but this one was just down the street from the new Avnet office where I’m based so hard to pass up. If you are following all things IoT then you know you can spend hours a day reading about it and the bandwagon gets bigger every day which explains why SEMI jumped aboard.  SEMI is the industry group for semiconductor equipment manufacturers so very upstream of semiconductor companies and OEM’s who use chips in their products.  I suppose SEMI sees IoT as huge end market opportunity that will eventually create demand for new fabs which will be filled by their members gear.  

The speaker roster had someone from Applied Materials on it but the really interesting content came from Gartner, Synopsys and ARM who all have a lot to say about IoT.

Karen Bartleson had a big role in that she was speaking on behalf of the IEEE standards association and also her employer, Synopsys who will benefit from IoT as chipmakers need to buy more tools to design the silicon for IoT.  Karen talked about the “Open Stand” process  and how the standards sausage is made, she also noted there are currently 900 standards underway in the IEEE-SA which was many more than I imagined, to me a hundred would seem to be enough, clearly I need to take a deeper look at the world of standards. Karen said the IoT standard will be called IEEE2030 because that’s the year that the standard will be complete. At first I thought she was joking, but no, it really is called IEE2030, check out this standards set courtesy of the IEEE:

All joking aside, Karen raised an important issue which is when a new technology inflection point occurs (and I see the IoT as important as the PC and mobile eras) there is a period of turmoil and opportunity that changes the world forever.  It’s in this primordial soup of technology evolution that fortunes are made and lost and why you should care about what’s going on in the world of IoT.  

I started this blog in May of 2013 and kicked it off with my 7 essential elements of IoT success with standards being one of them but I didn’t realize at the time that standards would take so long.  

So the big question has to be why will it take another 16 years to get a set of standards for the IoT?  

Past experience is always a guide I suppose and the IEEE has been in the standards game for decades so they should know, but the other factor is the electronics industry itself and deep vested interests.  The formation of new groups (Industrial Internet Consortium for example) to push collaboration and standards by Intel, Qualcomm, Microsoft, AT&T, GE etc. combined with the plethora (and I do mean plethora) of other standards bodies beyond the IEEE who have a hand in this (ITU, IPSO, SIA, UL, NIST etc..) could mean years of stalemate and argument with vested interests lobbying for an advantage. A great PhD project would be to look at how setting standards accelerated (or slowed) innovation.  In Karen’s defense of the timeline the IoT extends well beyond the chip and the system to homes, cars, grids and cities where replacement and upgrades happen slowly so maybe 2030 is the right number. 

At the session I got another gem from Al Velosa of Gartner who pointed out that no single company has a strong IoT ecosystem yet and this explains why many of the major players in technology are jockeying for position with their own consortia and alliances rather than waiting for the IEEE to make the sausage.  Most large companies in and around technology see that billions of connected devices generating zettabytes of data will create revenue opportunities that dwarf their current businesses and they don’t want to be the next DEC, Wang, Nokia or Blackberry.  

So if you want to really understand how the IoT will play out then watch the formation of ecosystems whether by alliances or mergers and acquisitions through 2014 (Zebra buying the Motorola bar code business yesterday is a great example).  Here are the 4 areas of ecosystems development that need to connect as defined by Gartner:

It’s fairly easy to see who has the deepest pockets but it’s also noteworthy that a lot of the new companies in IoT are crowd funded startups; something I have written about before and strongly believe will bring us some new dominant players over time.  Many crowd funded startups lean heavily on open source hardware and software and this in itself may be way the IoT brings about standards much faster than the tortuous IEEE route.  Open source levels the playing field for everyone and that’s not necessarily embraced by the incumbents in a market (think Apple and Android for a defining example).  

So here’s a hypothesis to end with; does a large thriving ecosystem negate the need for standards?   This happened in the PC market and to some extent in the mobile phone market.  Can we wait until 2030 for a set of standards to rally around?