The “Internet of Things” From an Austin Perspective: GigaOm Meetup
GigaOm’s Stacey Higginbotham (@gigastacey) hosted an evening for technologists, customers and thought leaders in Austin to connect and discuss the opportunities and emerging trends related to the Internet of Things on July 18th. Our technology clients love the Internet of Things, but everyone has a different idea of what it means and which piece of the pie will take off.
These were my key takeaways from the event:
- Even little ol’ me, with no actual engineering experience, can develop apps that give direction such as “If X, then Y.” “If I meet my weight watcher’s points today, then unlock the wine cabinet.” “If my 3 year old pees on the potty, then dispense five M&Ms.” Possibilities are endless, but you get the idea.
- Starbucks spends more on healthcare than coffee beans? No wonder my coffee is almost $4.
- Apparently, they are going to upgrade the Wii in such a way that will make it impossible for me to score a 300 in bowling unless I can really do it at a bowling alley. WTH?
There were other cool tidbits I learned as well, but all revolved around the three ideas above.
“If X, Then Y”
WigWag, an Austin start-up and KickStarter company, is trying to make programming easy so that anyone can design an app that allows things in your home to do something and then trigger another
response. Stacey joked… "can I develop an app that says 'If my FitBit doesn’t record a certain amount of steps in a 24 hour period, then, my refrigerator locks until it’s done.'" That’s extreme,
but technically, Founder Ed Hemphill says that is exactly the point. Anyone can program an app to do whatever it wants. The website says, “When the temperature goes up, turn on the fan. When a door opens, send me a Tweet. You don't need a PhD in nerd to figure out how to make things happen automatically with WigWag. You can drive it all from our app with a few taps.” Very cool.
Healthy Lifestyles = Reduction in Healthcare Costs
Filament Labs, another Austin start-up created a mobile app, HealthSpark, to promote healthy
lifestyles. CEO Jason Bornhorst explained that consumers can input their information, and the app tracks activity and then recommends healthy alternatives or additional healthy activities to increase what they are currently doing. Filament Labs recently announced a partnership with Aetna to support their CarePass platform. Ultimately, Aetna hopes apps like these will help consumers stay healthy, thereby reducing visits to the doctor and reducing overall healthcare costs. They gave the Starbucks example above to show what a big part healthcare costs are for companies. This seems like it would mesh well with the healthcare reform efforts taking place in the U.S.
“Gaming” the Game Becomes More Difficult
My client, Freescale Semiconductor, leader in embedded devices related to the Internet of Things, discussed sensor fusion at the event. Freescale’s Kaivan Karimi, executive director for global strategy and business development, explained that sensor fusion enables context-awareness, which has huge potential for the Internet of Things. For example, when playing a game like the Wii, the sensors can measure your emotions and tension thereby adjusting the game as such. However, these capabilities spark significant privacy concerns that need to be addressed. Massive amounts of context-aware data will become available which he explained will leave people vulnerable to privacy violations especially in the U.S. where we “click our privacy away one app at a time.”
All in all, I thought it was a great discussion, and I enjoyed sticking around for several hours afterwards discussing the industry with attendees. I would definitely recommend attending a GigaOm meetup if they come to your city!