Connecting the Dots to Master IoT

Entrepreneurs, Events, High Technology, Innovation, Technology Posted Mar 29, 2019 by Kayla Krause

It started with Watson, and then we were introduced to Alexa – who knew we’d live in a world where devices have their own names? It’s incredible how far the Internet and technology have come –with smart TVs, cell phones that unlock with facial recognition, and self-driving cars. The possibilities seem endless for the future. However, with that comes several challenges such as security, privacy, data sharing, personalization to car insurance, etc., all of which I got to hear – and very much relate to – earlier this week at the MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) Cambridge event, Connected Things.

A few colleagues and I had the opportunity to attend some of the sessions during Monday’s event at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge that ranged from topics on IoT infrastructures and utilities to connected cars and transforming urban spaces. Staying on theme, the sessions touched on how these disruptive technologies are changing organizations and creating more opportunities for new business models and better customer experience.

It was a packed house and standing room only for many of the sessions my colleague JT and I attended including, “Connected Cars will Drive Disruption,” where a talented panel consisting of leaders from Akamai, MIT AgeLab, Amazon and Affectiva, discussed the “connected-ness” of our vehicles and where the future of the auto industry is going and how long it’ll take to get to where it needs to be. Moderated expertly by Kristin Kolodge, executive director at J.D. Power, who is currently creating a new consumer survey focused on measuring driver interactive behavior, and is in the thick of IoT every day.

Hot Topics from Our Smart Cars:

        • I think Michael Archer, Chief IoT Strategist at Akamai, said it best and that we’re now in a “transition from cars being a vehicle, to cars being a technology.” Our user controls are slowly diminishing, to the point where the upcoming generation are not even buying cars, nonetheless, taking their driver’s test!
        • When creating these new cars and features, companies look a lot at personalization. CMO & Head of Product Strategy at Affectiva, Gabi Zijderveld, said they “spend a lot of time evaluating users because different people have different values.” For instance, when you’re parking your car, some vehicles have the “park assist” camera and motion sensors to allow you to see around your car. Some like this feature, but personally, I’m not a fan. I find the motion sensor beeps and the camera to be too distracting and I’d rather be in control of my own vehicle.
        • The panel also agreed that it essentially comes down to trust. How much do you (the consumer) trust this device or the company that produced it? Technology is slowly taking over some of our daily routines and taking away our own control, a la “park assist.” But how reliable is it? How secure is it? These are still some things that we need to capitalize on to gain trust from the consumer.


Catching Up with Co-Founder and Partner, Chris Carleton

Chris also attended the MITEF event on Monday and arrived just in time to catch Vizio CTO Bill Baxter’s opening keynote. Internationally recognized for its TVs and related peripherals, Vizio’s mission—to deliver the ultimate entertainment experience through our community of connected consumers, advertisers, and media content providers—underscores its commitment to IoT and connected devices.

Baxter emphasized that TVs are better positioned than anything else to serve as the hub of the smart home – “King of the Things,” if you will. So, his company is charging forward to claim its space. Doing so involves addressing a multitude of cultural, technical and business issues as Vizio, and others, help shape this brave ever connected new world.

Most Notable Tidbit from Baxter’s Keynote:

        • Among the points Baxter emphasized, the one comment that surprised Chris was that consumers are still watching substantial hours of TV, including those in the youngest demographics. With the flood of devices – mobile and otherwise – constantly competing for our attention, Chris was under the impression that TV time was heading south and he said he grinned as he was wrong in surmising otherwise. And it makes sense that Vizio’s strategy of focusing on IoT, connected devices and planting its flag as the hub of the smart home is driven, at least in part, to keep us all in front of Vizio screens.


Chris also caught the Cognitive Office panel, moderated adeptly by Jonathan Letts, who serves as program manager for facilities digital solutions at Staples. Given that he spends his days teaming with the Staples Digital Innovation team to ideate and build new systems that empower customers, he has a ringside seat to the advancements that IoT and connected devices are playing in the work world.

Featuring executives from Harvard Innovation Labs (iLab), MIT Media Lab spinout Humanyze, Steelcase, Georgia Pacific and Johnson Controls, the panelists shared a thoughtful mix of perspectives spanning the tech/vendor provider and end-user sides alike.

Key Highlights from the Cognitive Office:

            • There was much discussion about how best to collect, integrate, manage and share data when it comes from far flung corners of an organization – and sometimes in just as many formats. Notably, the process of explaining what data is being collected and about who or what, how it will be used and how privacy will be protected remains paramount to increased adoption in this area. The group believes that increasingly larger percentages of workers becoming more comfortable with it – perhaps as they acknowledge that this is already happening in other facets of their lives.
            • Best line of the session went to iLab’s Phil Greenwald, who chuckled that increasingly we’re hearing people talk about data the way they talk about God – “What does the data tell us to do?!”
            • The panelists emphasized, though, that robustly protecting the data (in some cases anonymizing it), using it only for the purposes for which it is being collected, and showcasing demonstrable business and employee benefits fueled by these initiatives remain high on the list of priorities.


Onto the Next One

Talking to Chris afterward, he noted that some of the points raised about different types of hardware and software design, aesthetics, usability and collecting and protecting personal data will play key roles in discussions that will take place when MITEF teams with AGENCY to host The Longevity Revolution is Here on April 11, 2019. Entrepreneurial opportunities abound in a world where we now have more people over the age of 65 than under 5 years old. Many of those opportunities will involve IoT and connected devices. Check out the site for more info and to register: