On November 20, we held the Demystifying IoT TechDay. Our mission? To explore and explode some of the myths surrounding IoT and to report back on the current state of the technology.
We spoke to five insiders in the field for their takes on some of the most prevalent myths surrounding the Internet of Things.
– Afzal Mangal, Head of Embedded IoT Strategy at Deutsche Telekom IoT
“The idea that IoT should always start with a business case? Bullshit. After all, a business case is just research to establish the feasibility of what you’re working on. A business case isn’t a magic wand: I can show you plenty of use cases where the business case looked great but the people who were supposed to use it weren’t ready for it or there was no use for it, so there was no market need. Just look at Egg Minder — this was a smart egg tray, you could get it for $80 and it let you know whether or not you have eggs at home when you were at the supermarket. It doesn’t exist anymore because there was no real demand for it.
If you ask me, truly successful IoT starts with intrinsic motivation — working because of the right motivation. To increase safety, for example or to work on optimisation. Everyone knows it’s bad for the economy when trains get stuck and delayed — what can we do to reduce the amount of trains that are delayed? I think everyone tries to work due to intrinsic motivation but it doesn’t happen often. It’s just something that’s wrong with society.”
– Kim Kordel, IoT Business Consultant at Bosch Software Innovations
“I believe that the foundation of this myth is that we usually encounter IoT products at home, where we can see and experience them so the functionalities of this technology are tangible and visible to us. But from what I’ve experienced, IoT is mostly used in industry, such as in manufacturing or in agriculture for example, as well as in other domains. It’s often used in situations where you would usually employ a “rule of thumb” to guide you — where you don’t have concrete data to guide you, and where you can now measure something with IoT technology.
One particularly good example was one I came across at an IoT fair. A guy from an open source IoT platform I met there told me that he was working with a chicken farmer. Apparently chickens follow a pattern of social behaviour where they isolate sick chickens — so whenever a chicken spends more than 30 minutes alone (and chickens usually hang out with at least two or three friends), this signals that they potentially have an illness. They thought of a simple IoT solution that monitors the chickens and so being able to isolate any chicken who had been on their own for a while from the group to prevent them from infecting the other chickens. So this is a cool example of how IoT can solve many specific problems – but you need domain knowledge for that.”
– Andreas Schulz, Senior Product Manager Connected Devices at Deutsche Telekom
“IoT companies have expertise in their “thing” (the T in IoT). For example, maybe they’re experts in building a smoke detector, in building a water pump or home security. But they don’t have a thousand person development department for cellular technology like, say, Apple or Samsung. As such, implementing remote SIM provisioning – a specification allowing consumers to remotely activate the subscriber identification module embedded in an IoT device – might seem intimidating since they’re not experts in the cellular side of things. But in a way, it doesn’t really matter that these same IoT companies don’t have extensive expertise here since they can simply buy a preconfigured cellular module or pay a module vendor.
A module vendor is a company which takes an LTE modem, the piece of tech you need to connect to a mobile network, and builds infrastructure around the product which makes it very easy to use. This infrastructure allows users remote access, so users can instantly set up their smartwatch remotely, for example. These thing makers can then build their App around it and instruct the module e.g. ‘load profile from server’, ‘enable profile’, ‘connect’, ‘disconnect’. Easy!
In a nutshell? Out-of-the-box solutions are already available on the market, so you can just get your eSIM and build your UI.”
– Alexander Wehrmeister, Product manager IoT at T-Systems
“It’s not simply about connecting stuff, it’s all about the why — namely, why are you connecting this thing? For example, if you connect a door, simply knowing whether a door is open or closed doesn’t make much sense. But if you bring in additional questions like how often it’s open and what kind of door it is, this can be valuable for your client.
For example, maybe the door isn’t a door, but a toilet lid — then knowing how often it’s been opened and shut again might mean that the cleaners know how often they should clean. So you always need to think about business logic, not just raw data. that’s why we’re partnering with a lot of companies with experience in facility management and other stuff because we don’t know much about cleaning processes. But working with people with experience in the field and combining their expertise with our data? That brings benefits.”
– Rasmus Kjellén, Supply Chain Manager, Minut
“This myth is so prevalent because so many everyday products in our homes nowadays are connected. You constantly hear horror stories about personnel spying on or listening in on customers, and there’s also been an increase in the popularity of movies featuring cyber attacks.
Take the movie The Fast and Furious as an example, where multiple old cars are taken control of by an AI. This isn’t technically possible — it’s sci-fi! —however it does shed light on security concerns. Some cars can be hacked and everything that is connected is vulnerable to attacks, I think. But ultimately, it’s a question of how much effort a company has put into making sure their systems can’t be broken into or that your security camera can’t be hacked into, allowing someone to spy on you.
I think the bigger problem is a trust issue between the users and the larger corporations. We also see manufactures that sell cheaper products where security was never a priority. Everybody says “somebody can just hack this” about IoT products. But have any of these people ever heard of anyone who has actually had their system hacked? Of course, there are possibly some companies that haven’t set up the correct security protocol, and maybe that’s why the product is cheaper or doesn’t have a monthly fee, but I don’t think there’s a particularly big risk of getting hacked.”
Wish you’d been at our IoT event or want to visit our space? On December 10, we’re hosting a hubraum-style take on a traditional Christmas market at our Berlin campus. Think: not just food and Glühwein, but tours, pitches and cutting-edge tech! Come for the food, leave with new contacts, and get to know Europe’s first tech incubator. Click to register here.