RECAP: Innovation Review and Energy

Author: John Feland, CEO and Founder at Argus Insights Inc

While Ceasar had reason to fear the Ides of March, the latest IoT Forum was filled with messages of hope for the Energy sector of the Internet of Things.  We first heard from Scott Ford, CEO of Pepper IoT, highlighting their tremendous success as the Smart Home platform of choice for Swan and Momentum.  With an initial focus on supporting smart security cameras, Pepper is expanding both their capabilities and client base at a rapid pace.  Next, CEO and Co-Founder Clay Melugin of Water Pigeon shared their recent success in an optically based water meter sensor that promises to measure water usage for decades (okay, 20 years) without being replaced.  Their ingenious solution retrofits to existing water meter enclosures without stopping the water or digging up the enclosure. We moved from water to air with eLichens, a novel air quality sensor company, represented by Sam Miri, VP of Business Development.  Using specialized filters, eLichens can optically sense the levels of CO2 and CH4 in the air with a sensor that does not degrade over time the same way that MEMS based solutions do.  Our final start-up of the morning was Australia based Cog.  The high energy pitch from CMO Carl Nerup highlighted how Cog is virtualizing embedded process to enable a new level of security on mobile phones and other connected devices.

Anders Viden, VP of Product Management for BaseN, kicked off the mid morning product pitches with some compelling examples of how their platform handles the millions of messages required to help smart buildings realize the savings from their energy efficiency programs.  BaseN also handles the heavy lifting required for moving from data to analytics to notification for their clients’ customers.  We next heard from John Vignocchi, Senior Director of Alliances for C3 IoT with series of compelling vignette on how C3 IoT’s AI platform makes it simple to deploy production ready AI solutions with pre-vetted SaaS platforms for common AI applications like Predictive Maintenance.  John highlighted a recent effort to help the Air Force improve their preventive maintenance efforts for their E-3 AWACS by mining years worth of text maintenance logs to train the C3-IoT system, resulting in a 28% increase in readiness.

Linda Campbell, Director of Ecosystem at Itron, walked through several compelling case studies of their connectivity solutions.  Fresh from the integration of SilverSpring Networks, Linda shared a vision of how their existing connectivity solutions, that enable the command and control of the grids of many of the utilities around the world, can now be shared with other critical infrastructure, such as water or gas, especially in Smart City implementations.  Itron has enabled electrical utilities to become IoT connectivity providers with visions of become platforms that serve applications well beyond the initial deployment of Smart Meters.

We finished the day, after a delightful lunch of conversations between old friends and new, with a panel discussion.  Panelists included the recently arrived to Silicon Valley, Andrew Bright, Global Head of Strategy and BD of Power Grids for ABB and energy guru and Siemens Digital Grid VP of Marketing, Sonita Lontoh. Joining them at the front of the room were Ulf Lindqvist, Sr. Technical Director of Critical Infrastructure Security at SRI and Matt King, Global Sales and BD Manager at FogHorn. Dr. John Feland, Chair of the IoT Forum, moderated the group in an unpanel format, soliciting questions from the audience that leveraged the four thought leaders that graciously volunteered their time to share their experiences on IoT and Energy.  Given the audience, many were interested in how Telcos could help in the Energy sector’s adoption of the Internet of Things.  There were also questions on how the trends of Decarbonization and Decentralization were creating disruption within the market.  Additionally a theme of securing our energy infrastructure in the face of what one attendee called “the greatest increase in attack surfaces in the history of the world.”  The experts expressed concern with how quickly carriers sunset their connectivity technologies in a market with assets are planned to last twenty plus years.  Additionally, since utilities are guaranteed a return on their CapEx, shifting connectivity to OpEx is not something they can charge customers for.  We also heard that our approaches to security today, with frequent firmware updates and patches, will not work for the Internet of Things.  Our presumptions of always available, high bandwidth connections, for our phones and laptops just does not hold true for the sensors and controllers that govern our utilities.  Pushing intelligence to the edge holds a lot of promise to address some of these challenges.  With a focus on moving insights instead of moving packets, this obscures some of the risk of opening energy infrastructure control to IoT.

We wound down with a heady mix of excitement for the changes coming to the Energy sector, concern for the security threats we have yet to consider, and relief that the only thing stabbed on the Ides of March was a fork into the last churro on the dessert platter.  Join us in May when IoT Forum is collocated with IoT World and the focus will be on Security!

Our thanks to Nokia for hosting us, and, as always members can find presentations from this meeting on the Member Library.

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