Tag Archives: connected devices

It’s all about connections. And 5 Other Things You Need to Know about the Internet of Things

IoT Demystified, artwork courtesy of Dawn Riziti

I recently asked a professional colleague of mine if they knew what the Internet of Things was.

After a brief paused, they half-said, half-asked, “a marketplace of things you can get on the internet?”

Uh – no. Not even close.

Mind you, since I work in technology, I was more than a bit taken aback.

How are we, in the mobile/tech industry, not up on a rather widely used term of art – at least within the industry?

But then it dawned on me, the Internet of Things (or “IoT” as we say type in the industry) may not be as widely known as I thought.

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never even heard of the “Internet of Things.”

Or, if you’ve heard the expression, you probably nodded along knowingly, without the faintest idea of what it meant.

Apple Watch. Internet of Things.

Nest thermostat. Internet of Things.

Onstar. Internet of Things.

Nowadays, virtually everything can be part of this amorphous Internet of Things, thing.

But that’s not quite explanation enough to help you know what the Internet of Things, actually is.

So here’s a little primer for ya.

According to Wikipedia,

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing infrastructure.

Come again, say what?

The Cloud Computing glossary defines the Internet of Things like so:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a scenario in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IoT has evolved from the convergence of technologies, micro-electromechanical systems and the Internet.

Yeah, that was a whole lot of gobletygook.

But if the concept still escapes you, here are five other things, about the Internet of Things, that may help you to wrap your head around it.

1. IoT promises connections to everything. The new rule for the future is going to be, “anything that can be connected, will be connected.” As a result, that very “connection” is going to allow you to “life hack” like you’ve never before. You’re already able to track your REM sleep patterns, your calories in-and-out, your mood and focus throughout the day. “Know thyself” will be the new thing as we become data crunching champions. No more ‘one-size-fits-all’ consumption because, at our fingertips, will be a ‘personality mosaic’ that informs all of our behaviors and consumption.  

2. IoT will impact consumptive behavior. As the leading brand in the space, Apple will continue to lead the pack with IoT. They’ve already made the biggest impacts in “at will” consumption. Their IoT will invariably provide us all with completely “tailored” lives. The Apple Watch gives developers the ability to create apps, which will enable the reading and tracking of our consumptive habits and offer more and more suggestions tailored to our interests and lifestyles. 

The possibilities for the IoT increase as the cost of technology decreases. A few years ago, you could only get feature rich smart phones with a two year contract from a major carrier. Today, you can cop an iPhone from T-Mobile or a Samsung from Metro PCS without a contact. Companies will pay you to leave your carrier. And that’s because they know that the smart phone users’ consumptive behavior is on fleek.

3. IoT promises increased efficiency and reduced waste. The IoT will to make us all more efficient, by collecting data about our habits and behaviors, and helping us to live more productive lives. Machines that order refills when supplies are low. Alarms that record how often you hit snooze and wake you up at the optimal time so you don’t have to. Cars that calculate travel time and proactively re-route you when they detect increased traffic ahead. Lights that automatically brighten and dim, based on the activity in the room. All of these advances are the Internet of Things, saving money, time, gas, and energy.

4. IoT will change healthcare as we know it. Folks are obsessed with the possibilities that Android Watch and the Google Genomic project will have on healthcare. Think about it. Through the IoT, our genomes, our diseases and our state of health can be all matched up with environmental and behavioral data fed by wearable tech. We’ll actually be able to know more about disease and what triggers certain gene expression, possibly leading to cures and disease prevention by reconciling all of this disparate data.

Lab testing on animals has proven to be highly ineffective and outdated in mimicking/predicting how humans will respond to medications and other environmental influences. But IoT provides the first truly humane opportunity EVER to virtually “test” on humans, by giving medical professionals a unique and benignly intrusive view into the relevant metadata that factors into our general health.

5. IoT has major privacy and security implications. If you follow the news, you may have heard about the hullabaloo over the new Samsung Smart TVs which ‘listen’ to you. It’s really just another form of voice-commanded technology, not unlike Siri, Cortana or Google’s voice assistant, which act on vocal prompts. So while we’re already using this type of technology, the IoT opens up the possibility that virtually every device you interact with will be ‘listening’ to you, actively and passively, monitoring and recording your every action.

The purpose of this listening, tracking and recording is to enable you to live a simpler life, but the implications include the fact that third parties will be able to access ever more granular bits of data about you, your family, your habits, comings and goings. With ‘listening’ televisions and devices everywhere, the IoT brings the very real likelihood that we are going to be sacrificing privacy, as we know it, for convenience.

But it’s not all bad.

Put simply, the internet of this is all about connections.

So let’s review, shall we?

The Internet of Things is connected devices, wired homes, smart buildings, and constant data capture.

It’s smart grids, IPv6, machine-to-machine, intelligent communication.

It’s sensors, RFID, wireless technologies, beacons.

It’s everything. Everywhere. All the time.

Welcome to the Internet of Things.



Filed under advocacy

OmniFocus + Basecamp + Spootnik = Perfect Productivity


As a productivity whore I’ve extolled the virtues of OmniFocus and Basecamp in the past.

In my opinion, these two productivity products are tops in terms of project management, collaboration and milestone tracking.

For those of you unfamiliar with either of these applications, a brief introduction is in order.

OmniFocus (which I’ve written about before) is a personal task manager by The Omni Group built for the Mac OS and iOS devices.

The Omni Group’s website describes OmniFocus as an app “designed to quickly capture your thoughts and ideas to store, manage, and help you process them into actionable to-do items.”

I’ve been using OmniFocus for about three years and it really helps you to work smarter by giving you the tools you need to stay on top of all the things you need to do.

Basecamp (which I’ve also written about) is an online collaboration project management software.

Basecamp’s web-based platform offers to-do lists, wiki-style web-based text documents, calendars, milestone management, file sharing, time tracking, and a messaging system.

Combined, OmniFocus and Basecamp provide all the online tool you need to manage multiple projects.

OmniFocus offers a series of mobile applications, which extend the power and utility the software offers through its desktop application to mobile and tablet devices.

Through the Omnisync servers, activity conducted on one device syncs seamless with all of your connected devices.

Basecamp, which had traditionally focused solely on its web platform, has developed its own applications for mobile and tablet devices, also extending its project management and online collaboration tools to connected devices as well.

Having used the desktop, web and applications with great success, I swear by them.

Notwithstanding, its still challenging working with two platforms that possess independent calendar, time tracking and milestone components.

OmniFocus has a scheduling and forecast function, which lets you see past, present and future events, tasks and milestones.

It synchs with Calendar, and allows you to see your tasks alongside any event, task or to-do that you’ve got scheduled.

Basecamp also has a calendaring function, which lets you schedule events and milestones.

The subscribe feature gives you the ability to have your events show up in Calendar too.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it definitely involves a bit of juggling.

Enter Spootnik.

What’s Spootnik?

Spootnik is an application that connects OmniFocus and Basecamp, allowing you to keep them in sync.

It was developed by Lars Steiger, who wanted to bring both his worlds of productivity together.

Spootnik pulls all of your Basecamp milestones, calendar events, and to-dos into OmniFocus, allowing you to see everything in one place.

It also allows you to make changes and updates to Basecamp items within OmniFocus, and have those updates sync automatically in Basecamp.

Having used Spootnik for over two months now, I am grateful that Lars was so inspired.

It’s put my productivity on ten and there’s no looking back.

If you’re using Basecamp and OmniFocus, I’d definitely advise getting a Spootnik account.

There’s a free 30 day trial, so you can test it out commitment free.

And thank me later.


Filed under apps, iPhone, technology

Is Social the Future of Television? You Better Believe It!

Have you heard of YouToo?

YouToo. Be On TV.

YouToo is the world’s first social tv network allowing viewers to interact with one another over a national cable television network.

Youtoo claims to be “the next frontier of social networking” because it’s both a social network and a television network which uses “advanced technology that makes them work together.”

What about Trendrr?

Trendrr. More signal. Less noise.

Trendrr is a tech solution that helps content producers process and understand the multiple streams of data from television, online, and social media, and put that data to use.

Trendrr measures the social media activities tied to television broadcasts, and the increasingly significant impact that social has on brands and audiences.

You must have heard of Revolt, right?

Sean Combs is launching a new network called Revolt.

Revolt is the new music video cable network of Sean “P Diddy” Combs that’s slated to launch next year on Comcast.

With a focus on artists, Revolt’s mission is to revolutionize the way artists are promoted using social as a platform.

These are just a few of the brands that are focusing on ‘social television‘ the intersection of television, social media, connected devices and audiences.

So what does it all mean?

It means that there is a growing nexus between television and social interaction, and businesses are paying attention.

The recent record-breaking numbers in viewership and social chatter with the Super Bowl, Grammy Awards and the Oscars, aptly demonstrates this point.

More importantly, the availability of low-priced, more powerful smartphones and tablets, means that more people will have the ability to take advantage of these intersections.

Connected devices make it even easier for brands to interact with their audiences, regardless of whether they’re in front of traditional television screens or not.

It also creates opportunities for brands to engage audiences in ways that simply didn’t exist as recent as a year ago.

Twitter hashtags, on-screen QR codes, text calls-to-action, voting and integrated mobile apps are just a few of the methods television programmers have embraced to become more social.

Home shopping networks, like HSN, have been leading the way for years, giving shoppers the ability to browse for products and make purchases from the convenience of their couches, home computers or mobile phones.

I suspect that this trend will continue well into the conceivable future, which will undoubtedly provide even greater opportunities for brands to interact ‘socially’ with their audiences.

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Filed under digital advocacy, social media, technology

Is Google Play the App Store Killer?

Will Google Play unseat the champion?

Google is trying to dethrone Apple for dominance in the app market.

Although Android’s smartphone marketshare far exceeds that of Apple (I think it’s currently approaching 50%), Google’s app store has not seen a commensurate level of success.

The iTunes App Store continues to dwarf the Android App store, and Google is looking to change that.

Yesterday, FierceMobileContent reported that Google is about to scrap the Android app store in favor of Google Play, which is being positioned to compete more effectively with Apple.

Google Play will be a combination of the Android App Market, Google Music and Google’s eBookstore, effectively mirroring Apple’s App Store, iTunes and iBook offerings.

Google Play will give users the ability to access all of their content in the cloud, from any of their connected devices.

Here’s a short video from Google’s blog (obtusely) promoting Google Play.

The video is a well-crafted pitch, but the absence of a real-life demonstration of their offering left me scratching my head.

With iCloud purportedly providing the same level of capability (seamless access to your content across multiple devices, etc.), Google Play is definitely designed to be a head-to-head competitor.

According to Google, current Android App Market customers will be upgraded to Google Play over the course of the next few days.

As an Applephile or Apple purist, I’m simply not convinced that Google Play (or anything Android-related for that matter) can hold a candle to Apple.

Having handled an Android device or two in my day, I can definitively say that the user experience leaves much to be desired.

Perhaps Google Play will create a more seamless experience for Android users –  at least as it relates to accessing and interacting with their content – but I doubt it.

Either way, I’m not sure that this move will really make Google any more competitive in the app market.

As they say, you can lead a horse to water…

…but can you make them download more apps?

Hey, what do I know?

If you’re an Android user, I’d love to hear if this announcement excites you (or not) and how Google Play will (or won’t) impact you.


Filed under apps, branding, mobile, technology

Much Ado About Nothing: Super Bowl XLVI Social Media Post Mortem


When the buzzing stops, and the confetti is swept up from the Canyon of Heroes, the memory of the Giant’s Super Bowl victory will quickly fade from memory.

But Monday (and the next few days) is all about the stats.

How many people watched the game (111.3 million)?

Which commercial generated the most views online (Honda)?

What were the Tweets Per Second (TPS) during the half-time show (10245) and last three minutes of the game (12,000)?

How many social media comments were made during the Super Bowl (12.2 million)?

How many views of the top five commercials were generated (63.5 million)?

From a viewing audience perspective, Super Bowl XLVI was a record breaking/setting year.

What does it all mean?

A big fat donut hole!

It doesn’t mean a friggin’ thing!

Bear with me for a moment.

The real impact of these numbers will be seen in the days, weeks and months that follow.

And it will be judged, not by the bragging rights of the advertisers who created these commercials.

And if I were any one of them, I wouldn’t be bragging too much – this year’s crop of commercials were so blasé.

The success of these uber expensive commercials will be judged by whether their clients, who forked over big bucks for these prime time slots, actually made any money.

Not one cares, really cares, about how often their commercial was watched on YouTube if it doesn’t drive consumer behavior.

If you don’t buy a Coca Cola, Pepsi, bag of Doritos, purchase a Honda, Chevy, Acura, Cadillac, an insurance policy, go to the movies to see The Lorax, Act of Valor, G.I. Joe, or watch Swamp People on tv, then the J.W. Morton & Associates, Wieden & Kennedy, CP&B, and Red Tettemer & Partners of the world failed miserably in the performance of their high-priced jobs.

The reality of the Super Bowl spots is that there is no real way of knowing whether they were effective or not.

Sure we’ll share them, comment upon them, spoof them and they’ll be the fodder of countless water cooler chats.

But how many of us were actually influenced to do anything because we watched them?

For all the Tweets that flashed across connected devices, how many contained a purchase decision?

One problem (as I see it) was that there were no explicit calls to action.

With the exception of GoDaddy (QR code), the NFL Fantasy promotion (short code and keyword), or any of the brands that used hashtags or a Facebook page (and only immediately during the broadcast), there was no way to track the efficacy of any commercial.

For advertisers and marketers, it’s all about the numbers.

And when the biggest driver for the makers of these commercials was views alone, a huge opportunity was lost.

I know you’re thinking, “it’s a commercial, shouldn’t I be looking for as many eyeballs as possible?”

Well yes, and no.

Yes. You get what you paid for. Advertisers witnessed the most highly watched Superbowl of all times (I think). So eyeballs were in abundance.

No. We live in an age where social media is increasingly important.

If you’re looking at social media as another venue to air your commercial, then you’re missing the point.

Social media enables deeper level of engagement than a simple one-way commercial.

But most of the advertisers who created these commercials, missed the point, entirely.

Years from now, when we think about the winners and losers from Super Bowl XLVI, I doubt we’ll remember any of these commercials, but rather, how many missed the opportunity to do something…memorable.

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Filed under branding, digital advocacy, mobile, opinion, social media

Mobile phones everywhere and no (free) public wi-fi!

No public wi-fi? For shame! For shame!

Last week, I wrote a post about how annoying it is to attend a ‘digital’ function, where there is no public wi-fi to jump on.

Equally frustrating is when you attend a function, where the conveners publish their Twitter handles or event hashtags, but leave attendees to their own devices to wade their way through spotty and/or inaccessible cellular signals to post updates to their social media accounts.

I’ve been feeling this frustration for some time now, as evidenced by this unpublished rant from Social Media Week 2010:

“Sitting at the Bands and Fans panel hosted by CMJ at Social Media Week and I’m pissed!

Why? You ask. Because there’s no wifi!

WTF!? How can we be sitting talking about the value of Tweeting and staying connected, when there is no f*#king internet connection?!


I’m just saying. AT&T’s network is crap and I can’t flex on my iPad the way I had intended!

Hootsuite is unresponsive.

Twitter feels like swimming through molasses.

Facebook is kaput!

I am ashamed to be a part of this right now. Ashamed.

Red Bull Space – you should have shame too!

All this great info from J Sider, Marni Wandner, Robbie Mackey and Ariel Hyatt and no wifi!


Needless to say, almost two years later and not much has changed.

Businesses have not adopted offering free wi-fi as a standard.

Even if (as my good friend Rob Underwood noted in my rant last week about the NYC DMC event) the reason for a private wi-fi or an unpublished password is security, when you host one of these functions, setting up a temporary wi-fi network and/or password is a sensible thing to do.

With municipalities across the country looking at implementing free public wi-fi, shouldn’t businesses, retail establishments, cafes, bars and restaurants also look to do the same thing?

How many of we entrepreneurs select meeting spots bases on the availability of wi-fi?

Starbucks has undoubtedly made a butt-load of cash off of folks using their wi-fi (because we know their coffee is…how do you say…crap!)

Anyway, perhaps I’m all sour grapes because I’m on AT&T and their 3G network isn’t worth the technology it’s built on (damn you FCC for interfering with the acquisition of TMobile!!)

Or perhaps, rather, wi-fi is a really important element towards achieving a broader network of connected users and devices.

Whatever the case for adopting a free wi-fi solution may be, know that if I’m coming to an event, and it’s not popping, I’m putting you on full blast!

I feel better.

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Filed under digital advocacy, opinion, rant, Smack talking, technology