I am CTO of an energy management company, with an Internet of Things (IoT) solution to connect, monitor, analyze, and control equipment remotely. AMA about IoT, large databases, data visualization.

Uwe Meding
Sep 22, 2017

Architected and designed the energy monitoring IoT platform and cloud software products. The platform is largely based on the Java stack and a modern web stack of technologies (Embedded Java, enterprise Java, HBase/Hadoop, Angular JS, D3 etc)

The platform is designed to connect, monitor, analyze, and control equipment remotelty.

Ask me anything about IoT, large databases, data visualization.

uwe says:

This AMA will end Sep 22, 2017 3PM EDT


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Thanks everyone for your questions! This was great fun! Find or follow me here:

Sep 22, 4:11PM EDT0

What one factor would most accelerate the benefits of the IOT?

Sep 22, 3:59AM EDT1

IoT technologies are always part of some larger product. For example, if you take a FitBit on its own, it does pretty much nothing. The bluetooth integration with the smart-phone, and the smart-phones access to the internet create channels of communiation. Of course you also need a good chunk of software that brings all of this to life. There are a lot of moving parts until you have a complete product.

I think if there is one factor it would be connectivity - some IoT products seem to get confused with losing (and reacquiring) connections along their communications path. 

Sep 22, 9:49AM EDT0

Thanks for your answer - what would you say is the answer in order to ensuring better connectivity?  And would you say that Bluetooth, wireless and other signals have an effect on the quality of our free spaces around us?  For instance there seems to be emerging proof that these invisible waves and signals seem to be affecting wildlife.  What is your take on this?

Sep 22, 1:50PM EDT0

What is quantum tech and could it take off ?

Sep 21, 1:15PM EDT1

Not really an IoT topic. Quantum computing uses a quantum effects to to help compute some fairly complex problems. It does not follow the compute models we have become accustomed to. It is in its early stages really still. Will it take off? Good question - I don't think the verdict is out yet. So far it looks like it may only be useful for certain problem classes but not general purpose.

Sep 22, 9:12AM EDT0

Thank you so much for answering my question.  I'm excited to see what this will bring in the future.  

Sep 22, 1:23PM EDT1

What was the first recognised IoT device?

Sep 21, 12:47PM EDT1

I don't think there is a particular point in time when IoT started. As a technology, it has been around for a long time (under different names). We have been connecting devices to the internet since it was created way back when. What has changed though is that lots of technologies converged and got really cheap.

  • Sensors are really cheap
  • Bandwidth is cheap
  • Powerful microcontrollers are cheap
  • Wireless coverage is everywhere
  • Big data availability
Sep 21, 5:05PM EDT0

Thank you for your response - I have to ask the question, seeing as how all of these things are so cheap and available nowadays, how come there is at times still such a big price to pay on the consumer side of things?  

Sep 22, 1:41PM EDT0

What are the great advantages of IOT?

Sep 21, 10:36AM EDT1

The IoT is an umbrella term that includes multiple different categories:

  • Wireless Sensor Networks
  • Low power embedded systems
  • RFID enabled tracking
  • Use of mobile phones to interact with the real world (e.g. sensing)
  • Devices that connect via Bluetooth enabled mobile phones to the Internet
  • Smart Homes
  • Connected Cars
  • Internet-connected wearables
  • And many more

IoT brings formerly inert objects into the dynamic world of information technology. It encompasses a range of technologies, from sensors that monitor environmental conditions to RFID tags that can allow users to interact with things. In the world of IoT, everything produces data that can be gathered and analyzed. Once-passive objects become dynamic, capable of conducting remote updates and on-the-fly improvements. Fundamentally, IoT means a shift from reactive to proactive systems; from delayed problem management to automatic sense-and-respond capabilities.

Sep 21, 4:28PM EDT0
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What could go wrong if this was badly programmed?

Sep 20, 5:00PM EDT1

Lot's of things! On 'simpler' side, the system just won't work, or the system performance is just bad, unreliable, and overall frustrating. Many of those things can be fixed - a lot of the times without too much trouble.

More complex are unresolved issues about the security and privacy of user data. I believe that security is an important requirement for growth in IoT applications.  The real challenge lies in using available technology to implement end-to-end security solutions for the entire IoT stack—cloud, servers, and devices. Overall security is only as good as its weakest point.

Sep 21, 7:50AM EDT0
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What’s the biggest risk associated with the Internet of Things?

Sep 20, 8:29AM EDT1

Security and privacy are on the top of my list.

IoT systems that have interfaces to the public internet (which is the majority) are especially at risk. It is critical the IoT implementors take the necessary measures to protect the control and network operations. All all critical network signaling streams must be behind firewalls, and only be accessible through carefully build secure tunnels from "trusted"  systems.

The concerns about privacy and security of the information gathered by smart devices must be addressed early on. When these devices begin to easily track people's behavior and location and exchange that data with other devices, privacy becomes a huge issue. It's one we are always going to struggle with as more and more sensors and devices are connected to each other.

Sep 20, 5:09PM EDT0
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What kind of things can be done or achieved with the IoT?

Sep 20, 4:09AM EDT1

The IoT is a fast-growing phenomenon where formerly dumb devices get circuits and sensors to become smart gadgets, that are connected to the internet. It is a combination of connectivity, internet, software on one side and physical means like sensors, actuators on the other side.

The exciting aspect of IoT systems is that they are much more than putting these parts together - the real potential comes from establishing services in top of the connectivity. That in turn forces a transformation to different business models for the manufacturers, and users of IoT systems.

Applications stretch over a vast array of sectors:

  • Wearables (like FitBits, or the Apple watch)
  • Building and home automation
  • Smart manufacturing
  • Smart cities
  • Health care
  • Automotive
Sep 20, 4:51PM EDT0

Do you think that soon we will all be living in "smart homes"?  Where we can literally control the majority of electrical connected devices in the home from wherever we may be in the world?  I know this is already happening, but will it take off?  And how would we ensure that a manual override could be safey administered if and when things should go wrong?

Sep 22, 4:42PM EDT0

Do you think that these are the houses of the future with automated systems all over?

Sep 19, 11:49PM EDT1

It is definitely a growing sector. I think the current prices for the technology generally restricts the market to premium or enthusiast customers. It seems to me that various applications need to be integrated to spur more interest. The infrastructure needed is widely available however.

Sep 20, 3:50PM EDT0

Thanks for your answer.

Sep 22, 2:37PM EDT1

What role does the network play in the Internet of Everything?

Sep 19, 10:08PM EDT1

I assume by network you mean the internet. I view the internet as the one infrastructure that pulls everything together. There are really no limits to where you can send data. Almost like the road system, that is used and shared for commerce, personal transport, public transport. 

Sep 20, 3:42PM EDT0
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What’s one policy change that would accelerate the benefits of the IoT?

Sep 19, 2:00PM EDT1

As far as I know there are no particular public policies around IoT - just the general ones that govern internet access, copyrights, etc.. There are no barriers to entry.

Each corporation, however, has their own policies, and rules about how internet-connected systems are managed. Some are really straight-forward, others can be very tedious to frustrating. 

Other policies depend on the application, and are determined by their sector (rightly so I think). For example, an IoT product the designated for health care facilities must follow Hipaa rules and most likely a whole host of other regulations. Products designated for a say smart grid applications must pass UL safety rules.

Sep 20, 3:34PM EDT0

Do you feel there should eventually be some global policies covering the internet and indeed the IoT to ensure safety for it's users?

Sep 22, 1:44PM EDT0

How many vehicles will be connected by 2020 in your view?

Sep 19, 9:25AM EDT1

2020 is about 2.5 yrs away, I would think only a few percent (if that) more compared to today. Builtin vehicle technologies change at a fairly slow pace. Aftermarket devices are a little different, but overall I don't think there will be much of a change.

That being said, I believe Bluetooth technologies in the car are entirely underutilized (and totally overused for audio apps imho). Imagine if you had small bluetooth enabled sensors/devices paired with a smart phone that is connected to the internet.

Sep 20, 12:56PM EDT0

Interesting, thank you for answering.  Don't you think though with an advancement in automobile connected smart technology we could do a whole lot more in regards to watching and improving our fuel consumption, etc, thereby solving or at the very least being able to improve our individual environmental carbon footprint?

Sep 22, 4:43PM EDT0

Why is IoT becoming such a huge industry?

Sep 19, 6:23AM EDT1

The two main enablers I see are communication and compute miniturization. Today, internet access is easy and cheap through a number of protocols and services (cable, fiber, mobile, etc). Similarly, Arduinos and ARM processors, which are mostly at the heart of an IoT system are small, cheap, and have a phenomenal compute power.

Both these aspects make it possible to have "things" everywhere (pretty much).

Sep 20, 11:49AM EDT0

How can you ensure safety of the appliances, etc that are being controlled remotely in whichever way?

Sep 19, 5:55AM EDT1

Depends somewhat on the industry or application. There are different regulatory bodies that govern various industries. For example, the Underwriters Lab (UL) sets the safety standards for electrical applications. For medical and health care applications, there are a whole host of other bodies.

Sep 20, 11:02AM EDT0

Is there for instance, a real possibility that hackers could control remotely several real-life machines connected to the IoT, similar to what was portrayed in the latest Fast and Furious film?

Sep 22, 5:11PM EDT0

Have you done any market research to see if this idea would and could actually make it onto the main markets?

Sep 19, 5:44AM EDT1

There is actually a lot of market research that went into it. Once you get over the cool and geeky aspects of making an IoT system work initially, you really have no more than a proof of concept really. After that you need to step back and look at the entire solution and do the market research homework like you would on any other product.

Sep 20, 10:38AM EDT0

Thank you.  

Sep 22, 8:32PM EDT0

What's the funniest thing that has gone wrong since you started on this?

Sep 19, 5:20AM EDT1

Ha! Plenty of things...

This one sticks out: in the early days of developing the energy measurement sensors we installed them almost everywhere in our test facility where we had access to wires. Including the bathroom lights, coffee machine, and refrigerator. Quite funnny (and quite wrong) when we correlated the data and figured out (more like confirmed) the dyamics between test engineer, coffee, refrigerator, and bathroom...

Sep 21, 8:39AM EDT0

Lol!  I bet there was some very enlightening data to be found on that!  Haha!  Taking this into consideration, do you think there could ever be too much monitoring, through measurement and data recording done through the IoT?

Sep 22, 4:27PM EDT1

How could cybersecurity affect the development and Implementation of the Internet of Things?

Sep 19, 1:59AM EDT1

IoT security is a huge problem that needs to be built-in right from the start. As reports about IoT security breaches, stolen identities, and big box stores being hacked continue to rise, we can only hope that companies are improving their security systems to prevent further cyber attacks.

Sep 22, 9:00AM EDT0

How can we guarantee safety now though with the market being so accessible and open to developers from all over the globe - many of which may be great at building programs, apps and working with connectivity in general, but perhaps they are missing security measure knowledge or training on how to implement the security measures properly?

Sep 22, 4:38PM EDT0

What do you regard as the most interesting use of the Internet of Things?

Sep 19, 1:51AM EDT1

Personally, I find the possibilities of wearable devices for health and fitness monitoring, watches, and even human implanted devices that tie into augmented reality fascinating. 

Sep 19, 4:31PM EDT0
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Why do so many people not know what IoT is in your opinion?

Sep 19, 12:48AM EDT1

The end users of a product that use IoT components don't really care I think. For them, the magic is in the overall product and what it can do. I view IoT more a as an overarching term for many different technologies that we need to make devices communicate, interact, or control something. 

Sep 19, 3:36PM EDT0

Thanks for your answer - I agree, I think most end-users seriously just look for the experience and don't really care much as to how things function..  It's a shame really though that society is turning this way more and more in recent years..

Sep 22, 1:58PM EDT0

What exactly is the Internet of Things?

Sep 18, 6:58PM EDT1

In my definition it is pretty much any device (thing) that hooks up and communicates through the internet in some fashion. I suppose, the more narrow view is to exclude general purpose devices (PC, laptops, etc) from that and try and limit to things that connected to the internet but have a limited or no user interface. For example, a Nest controller, a home security system, or a FitBit device.

Sep 19, 2:50PM EDT0

Thanks - that makes sense to me now..  So basically anything that uses the internet to connect and make changes or monitor things right?

Sep 22, 5:10PM EDT0
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