Me and My Big Thoughts


Sensor DropTag – Better for Real-time Shipment Tracking and Delivery Locker Value

Could this little sensor be valuable to identify mishandled packages and eventually real-time shipment tracking?

The company behind this sensor Cambridge Consultants shows how this inexpensive DropTag sensor when packaged within or attached to a package can give the recipient full disclosure if the package was dropped during shipment.

Once the package arrives within 150 feet of the recipient, the DropTag will relay all data to the recipient’s smartphone over the Bluetooth connection. Using a simple interface, the smartphone application would indicate if the package was handled properly or dropped along the way. Assuming the recipient is available to receive a package they will be able to check to see if the contents are intact before signing off on the delivery.

Bubble wrap hasn’t become scarce and paper is still plentiful so good packing techniques these days does a pretty good job. I don’t really see a case here for wide adoption. However, the application of utilizing this sensor to enable real-time tracking may be really compelling.  Today shipping information is obtained only at each stage when the label has been scanned at the various distribution spots and then data collected and displayed to the end-users by FedEx, USPS and UPS.  I do see  the disruption in the end-to-end shipping chain of custody starting to change. In my neck of the woods the last-mile usually is fulfilled by the US Post Office but the long haul from UPS and even FedEx ground.

Newer services like package delivery lockers that Amazon is testing with Staples and 7-11 and also others in delivery and retail could benefit from the Sensor Drop Tag value for it’s ability to give status on the route and speed of delivery.  Time stamp for perishables and possibly add a temperature in transit reading to ensure that the chocolate dipped dried apricots are delivered fresh and  not melted.  The ease, convenience and carbon footprint reduction instead of driving all over town may speed this model to market.  Having the data to know who handled the package, how long it took, and what conditions it encountered may open new opportunities for retail and merchants.

Pinoccio – IoT getting easier

Pinoccio an IoT ecosystem with all the key components for success:

  • Open to Arduino programming,
  • Smaller devices that snap with each other that can easily create a meshed network and
  • An easy to use platform if you chose to use it.

What continues to impress me is that IoT is really changing the possibilities for making things smarter; ourselves, our homes, and our environment.  Pinoccio seems so accessible and easy to set-up that I think that even I might be able to create something useful.  Make sure to check out the video and support this Indiegogo project if you think so too!

Me want WeMo

I like things that are designed well and easy to use. My experience with timers like these below have been notoriously difficult to use. It seems I would set something at opposite times of the day because I wasn’t sure if the pins up or pins down meant that the device would get power.

No more guessing, Belkin’s WeMo is an IOS app controlled device that will easily replace my old timers. What I really like is the ability to quickly set an automated time at different times on different days and because I can turn the socket on or off  via remote connection to make it look like real-life activity within the house when we may be away for periods of time.

The clapper was cool but this is better!

V-Chip blood tests create their own infographic

We do take healthcare for granted and one of the basic diagnostic wellness tests is a blood work-up. But the process of going to the lab and waiting for the tests may be over soon.  V-Chip produces results quickly without the need for a lab. It self-creates parameter levels that can then be read by a professional.

For underdeveloped areas this kind of test for only $10.00 can help to quickly diagnose and creates a nice visual of the results. For patients – a few drops of blood over drawing full vials will help to promote this innovation. Do you consider this an infographic?

Learn more from the Co.Design full article

Things on the Internet vs. Internet of Things

Pockets of industry are taking items we normally use and improving them or they are creating new ones that capitalize on new/smaller/cheaper sensors and compute/communicate models that interact and add value to day-to-day business and lives.  Just having a compute device that utilizes the internet maybe even captures some interesting big-data in itself does not fall into the category of Internet of Things.

A recent TechRepublic top 10 posting augmenting their Internet of Things editorial focus is only 50% accurate if you agree with my definition above.  10 ways to make the Internet of Things pay-off could be a better article. See what I would add and my rating of the 10 areas of focus.

1: POS (point of sales) systems

A lot more comes through these systems than mere transactions for goods and services. Enterprises can also study associated Big Data that can be gleaned from these transactions, such as where sales took place and which products were sold. Analyzing this input can help with the design of correct product mixes that are targeted to the buying patterns at particular locations.

Not IoT : Yes this is a great use case for big data but the POS device is not providing any more relevant data than the details of the transaction. IoT would be identifying a customer  and be able to track their steps throughout the store and what merchandise they glanced at along the way through 3d sensors and heat mapping. This data then can feed into promotions or customized shopping services for that individual automatically (damn straight I want paper over plastic) at the point of transaction. Device connecting to other devices that influence or enhance the experience that’s the pay-off of Internet of Things.

2: Mechanical IoT readings

If your company uses mechanical devices to measure consumer consumption (e.g., utility companies), you can collect data from these devices over the Internet. Your customer relationship management can go a long way if you start monitoring usage and then presenting online reports and suggestions for optimizing usage that can save customers money. Many electrical and gas utilities have already begun doing this.

Simple IoT: Changing and enhancing the energy delivery process and feedback mechanisms  to optimize resources is one of the key areas of promise for IoT.  IoT advanced is going to the next level where conditions can set triggers to control the flow of limited resources.  PG&E has SmartAC program where a  device enables a home-owners air-conditioners to operate in a slightly lower power through the command from PG&E in times of high energy utilization.  Pay-off to the environment.

3: Web user intelligence

Third-party Web data aggregators use IoT automation to help you better understand your customers by monitoring their activities on your Web site and in social media channels like Facebook. By monitoring individual customers’ online activities across the Web, e-tailers are now getting a better sense of who their top customers are, what goods they prefer, and whether they influence others to buy.

Not IoT: This is just Internet intelligence or big data. IoT would be an eye tracking device like one being developed by Fujistu that coordinated with what was being displayed to collect where one was focused on the page. With so many scrollable and aggregated feed services now upon -click throughs alone are not enough to understand what content or celements have captured a readers attention.

4: Remote IT fixes

Secure IoT tunneling over Internet to remote devices allows IT to remotely fix many PC and mobile device problems for end users, thereby saving the time and expense of travel to remote sites.

Not IoT: The description is missing a point. If the remote device auto-triggers a problem and ‘phones home’ for assistance then this would be a use case for IoT.  Kiosks can now phone or alert home when dispensing merchandise is low or a mechanical component s in distress

5: Surveillance

M2M hookups over Internet enable security alarm and camera integration with central IT systems. They can immediately notify IT or facilities management whenever there is a potential security breach or a machine failure problem.

Simple IoT: In this case having the devices auto-notify adds value to alert to unauthorized or suspicious behavior. Conventionally these systems collectively can provide a richer remote diagnostic of the situation.

6: Robotics

IoT now enables high-speed, high-quality Internet to connect experts with distant situations in the field. The technology is being used in medicine, where a surgeon in Toronto can perform a procedure on an individual in the Arctic by directing a robot at the remote location (via Internet) to perform the operation.

Yes IoT: Telemedicine is a great growth field and could help with providing care for low resourced areas. Even better use case is when things will provide richer data to provide for personalized care like this hard pill to swallow that integrates with an app and helps to manage medicine intake.

7: Carbon mapping

Researchers in Arizona are using street-level sensors connected over the Internet to map carbon emissions in cities — a capability that could identify the greatest sources of carbon emissions and help combat global warming. The technology could be used by government agencies to monitor for carbon emissions compliance or by enterprises themselves in their environmental sustainability initiatives.

Yes IoT:There is a whole growth industry in urban management with IoT. Intellistreets supposedly backed by DHS is a good example, read a Huff post on the possibilities.

8: Transportation effectiveness

The transportation industry is wiring delivery trucks with sensors that monitor driving distances and times, track truck locations, and even assess driving habits. Activity is reported over the Internet and then collected into reports that are used to evaluate driver performance and the effectiveness of routes. The same technology is used to redirect trucks to new delivery routes if there is a coverage problem.

Yes IoT: A much closer to home use case is Progressive SnapShot providing customized insurance based on tracked driving habits.

9: Network traffic routing

Network router failures can be auto-detected for failover to keep the network up and running. Network traffic can also be load-leveled and auto-routed to the best Internet channel to facilitate traffic flow.

Not IoT: Just Internet Infrastructure.

10: GPSes (global positioning systems) and lost mobile devices

Thirty million cell phones were lost or stolen in 2011 alone. Being able to auto-detect a missing device and to totally shut it down protects information assets and gives IT security managers welcome headache relief.

Not IoT: Just mobile device management. But if a device could assist in tracking mobile phones, or any other thing that tends to wander off  (young children) and trigger and alert the amount of lost items would dramatically decrease. Check out hipkey for enabling tracking and an IOS app to that helps to find these devices.  Smartphones giving humans access to the internet vs. devices utilizing the internet to interact with their humans.

Things on the Internet vs. Internet of Things – what’s your definition?

Smart Sutures can Aide in Healing

Smart sutures with flexible micro sensors and heating could help in healing by detecting and reacting to infections. Potential to also have drug infused polymer to administer healing drugs.  Next step making the sutures wireless.  I’m envisioning a bandaid like device holding the power source and transmitter for these sutures I wonder what the engineers will actually design.

Comic Book for IoT

If your interested in Internet of Things I just stumbled upon a comic book that the EU funded to get across to ordinary non-technical people the huge range of applications that smart connected sensors could do to change their lives. 20 scenarios are depicted and explained. It’s a great way to communicate the power of a connected network. Now go read the comic book.

Low Power Long Range Wireless = Dash7

Bluetooth and WiFi aren’t the only players in town for wireless connectivity.  The features below show the potential with a globally available spectrum, established standards, and ability to ‘bend’ around metal objects.  Are we looking at the Superman of wireless potential?

DASH7 features include:

  • Operation at 433 MHz, globally available, unlicensed spectrum
  • Based on ISO 18000-7 standard
  • Multi-year battery life
  • Range of up to 2 km (potentially farther)
  • Penetration of concrete walls, water, and ability to “bend” around metal objects
  • Data transfer at up to 27.77kpbs (potentially as high as 250kpbs)
  • Sensor & security support

Read this article from that gives more insight into the possibilities that this might have with creating wireless sensor networks

Twine Tweets or Texts Alerts

Another great wifi package with built in sensors from Twine. Get the ability to monitor temperature, moisture and orientation through wifi connection to receive alerts through twitter, email and text. The genius of this clever device is that there is no programming needed all configuration can now be made through an on-line easy to use website.

What I love about this concept is the tag ‘Listen to the world. Talk to the web’ and the great rubberized aqua retro color of it all.  Unfortunately getting a direct tweet that my basement is flooding as alerted by the moisture sensor is the best use case described on their website and after this last hurricane I really didn’t need a sensor to tell me this fact.  Maybe you can come up with some use cases for Twine.


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