Subscribe to our Newsletter | To Post On IoT Central, Click here


platform (4)

A few weeks ago we attended the AIPIA (Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association) World Congress in Amsterdam and one of the opening remarks made was: the technology for connected packaging has been available for some time now and it’s only more recently that brands have stopped watching from the sidelines and taking the plunge into enabling connected packaging for their products.

While there have been some early adopters in the space piloting some innovative projects in the past few years, the bulk of consumer brands and manufacturing companies have preferred a watch and wait approach with various concerns about initiating their own transitions from traditional packaging and systems to connected packaging and smart data driven systems. Many of which were valid concerns given IoT smart products and active / intelligent packaging is still fairly new as a key area of technology and rapidly evolving and changing every few weeks. During our conversations with various stakeholders of the industry there, two thoughts appeared unanimous:

  1. Connected packaging & digitalization of products / smart products is undoubtedly the way forward for all brands that are to compete in the current digitally connected world and is here to stay.
  2. The question is no longer if and when brands and manufacturers will invest in connected packaging but how to go about it in a smart way so as to address the concerns they may have and do it “the right way” so it can scale without hurdles and road blocks in future as the technologies themselves, continue to evolve.

As a technology enabler that has been working on both the technology side as well as understanding the business side and requirements of CPG brands and their product lifecycles, here are some of the top factors to consider (and concerns they address) while making the right choices and getting connected packaging technology right from the get-go:

Centralization Vs Decentralized Systems for Connected Packaging Applications

Consumer transparency, product information delivery, e-labeling, traceablity, product authentication and counterfeit prevention, consumer engagement, loyalty management, waste management, consumer feedback loops, augmented reality, re-ordering & supply chain optimization…these are just some of the many application areas of connected packaging. With multiple individual technology solutions available for each one of these, the concern for brands is “how many different vendors and solutions will we have to manage?”. While each application area has its own set of requirements and merits, managing having product data fragmented across different software systems has its own set of challenges. “How will we ensure data integrity across all these?” “How can we synchronize updates to product data simultaneously on all these different systems?”. From that perspective, centralization of the product / item data makes sense long term. The way we picture it is: when a physical product is manufactured and rolls off the production line, simultaneously a digital twin / digital record for that product should also be generated and tagged to the physical product. As the product rolls off the line and journeys through its lifecycle, through the supply chain, the consumer and beyond, that product is interacted with by multiple connected devices and data about the product is constantly being updated or read via the digital twin via connected devices and the various applications. This approach allows you to first connect the product, give it a digital life alongside its physical one and then build various applications and business processes on top of it rather than a decentralized approach.  

Being Immune from Technology Shifts to Activation Tags & Triggers on the Packaging.

Not very long ago, the humble UPC/EAN/GTIN 2D barcode was the only activation trigger on product packaging. You now have barcodes, datamatrix codes, QR codes, NFC tags, RFID labels, databar, invisible markers, nanoparticle markers, temperature sensors, spoilage sensors, package anti-tampering sensors and a range of different activations and triggers on the packaging. The larger concern is the rapid evolution of technologies and arrival of new ones hitting the market every few months. How do you know which one is going to stand the test of time? One of the smart moves in getting connected packaging right is to decouple the triggers or activation technologies from the product data or software system. Each of these activation tags usually have an identifier which can be used to tie it to the data. If the trigger changes in future, the flexibility to de-link it from the earlier tag and connect it to a new tag using the identifier is inherent. Whereas in a tightly bound system where the tag on the packaging and the software are linked, that flexibility to be immune to changes in tags and activation technology is lost.  

Flexible Architecture That Can Keep Up with the Pace of Change

Change is inevitable and nowhere does it hold more true than the consumer products industry. Requirements within the industries, regulations, compliance rules, data systems, standards for technology all change and get updated faster than ever before. Very often, before a company finally rolls out updates to the their system, the next change has come along sending them back to square one. The software systems used for connected packaging need to factor into their architecture this constant need for updates and changes. The flexibility to update the data model, extend attributes, maintain different versions, control the flow of data, accessibility of data and address changes in business systems, regulation or the real world are essential to deploying a connected packaging solution that can keep up with change and endure.

Ease of Integration & the API Ecosystem

Often decision makers seek out a one-stop solution provider for a specific application or solution to a challenge. For example, counterfeit prevention. This may work well as an approach for a small business but a mid-sized or large organization has highly complex systems with multiple stakeholders, systems and moving parts that need to come together when it comes to product related data systems. Manufacturing IDs and data related to products may reside in SAP or an ERP system. Ingredient information about the product in a PIM software, labeling information in another location, marketing related images and content elsewhere and so on. As a result, ease of integration with other systems both internal for gathering item related data required for connected packaging applications as well as external applications is important to factor in. Any system you select should offer API connectivity to other systems to bring in data or serve data to other systems in order to integrate seamlessly with existing systems and be compatible with the API ecosystem which is really the backbone of digitization and data today.

Phasing Connected Packaging Projects & Scalability

Connected pakaging is not a single project or end goal with a limited time line. It’s an enabler for several applications, use cases and smarter more intelligent business systems as the organization moves ahead. Getting the foundations for the system in place first along with infrastructure and processes in place first allows you to phase different applications, pilot projects individually and then scale rapidly. For example, a brand can start with enabling their packaging to deliver e-labels and instructions on how to use the product to start with. As a second phase, use the packaging  to enable digital warranty activation and later push out engagement via contests as a third phase. With initiatives such as the GS1 Digital Link, a single trigger on the packaging or a single QR code would soon be able to trigger multiple interactions with the product depending on who is scanning it, where they scan it from and other contexts. This would eliminate the need to print different triggers on the packaging every time a new interaction is introduced. The right connected packaging technology selection should enable an organization to deploy different interactions and applications connected to the product in a phased manner and also offer the infrastructure and ability to smart small, test and then scale across thousands of products, millions or billions of serial items as and when required.

All considered, in order to get connected packaging right and make the right decisions from the start, looking at connected packaging from a wide, holistic perspective complete with all the possibilities that will emerge in enabling it in a flexible way, will help invest time, money and effort the right way.

Read more…

With literally hundreds of IoT platforms on the market, how do you know which ones to add to your short list? As a rule of thumb, an IoT platform should connect to Things, manage their identity + security, collect data, store, manage, analyze and visualize that data, integrate with enterprise systems and take action on insights. 

In this podcast, Rob Tiffany walks you through these minimum requirements to help you make an informed choice.

http://theinternetofthings.io/iot-podcast-8-what-to-look-for-in-an-iot-platform/ 

Read more…

Your IoT platform is the heart of your entire IoT solution. Building a reliable and scalable IoT platform is not a piece of cake, which is why these days the market is booming with hundreds of thousands of IoT PaaS (Platform as a Service) vendors. Choosing the right IoT platform for your solution has become more complex than it was ever before. That’s why, in this blog post we have covered some of the best selection criteria to pick the right IoT cloud platform for your needs. Before we delve into this, you first need to know what an IoT platform is. 

What is an IoT Platform?

In simple terms, a platform is a comprehensive set of tools and services which allow developers to build and run an application. However, an IoT platform could have diverse meanings depending on whom you are talking to in the internet of things, IoT ecosystem. For instance, an IoT platform for cloud service providers is their infrastructure, where a developer creates an application. For hardware vendors, an IoT platform is the embedded board where you could write your IoT applications. For the sake of clarity, we are considering an IoT platform as the middleware layer responsible for consuming data from the devices and sensors and providing meaningful and actionable results based on that insight. Generally, an IoT platform offers a device software development kit a.k.a SDK or well defined APIs through which developers and programmers could easily connect to any hardware platform and avail of their cloud-based services.

If you have attended any IoT expo recently, most probably you would have noticed that almost every IoT platform provider claims to be better, faster, safer and smarter than others. Now, how do you make a wise decision in such a competitive landscape and pick the right platform that will reduce your solution risk? Don’t fret, we’ve mentioned below some key selection criteria to choose the right IoT platform. Let us take a quick look. 

Considerations In Choosing The Right IoT Platform

Alas! Today, a cloud IoT platform is opted for based on the effectiveness of the vendor sales pitch. This is mainly because the companies that are trying to get a handle on digital transformation do not possess the requisite knowledge or training in IoT specific areas, and IoT vendors usually woo their customers based on their impressive customer references.  There are some important technical evaluation criteria which are often overlooked.  These need to be kept in mind for choosing the right IoT platform. Let's take a look at them:

#1 Bandwidth

#2 Scalability

#3 Protocol

#4 Security

#5 System Performance

#6 Redundancy and Disaster Recovery

#7 Interoperability

#8 Edge Intelligence 

#9 Budget, developmental skills, and capacity of your in-house team

#10 Your business model and its specific requirements that must be met  

Hope you find this post helpful! If you did, share it with your colleagues and friends as well. For any query related to this post and IoT training in India, you can comment down below. Thanks for your time! 

Read more…

Last week at IoT World, I stopped by the Buddy Platform booth (namely because of their killer Lego set-up). 

Buddy provides data hosting and management solutions for manufacturers and vendors of connected ("IoT") devices. With only a handful of lines of code added to any connected device, Buddy claims that they can host the telemetry data generated by these devices in various regions around the world, as well shape and query the data prior to pushing it into any business intelligence (BI) toolset desired. In addition to telemetry management, Buddy enables M2M scenarios by exposing query results on the telemetry stream via real-time RESTful APIs, as well as a messaging mechanism for external control of devices. 

Prior to IoT World, I sent Buddy CEO and Co-Founder Dave McLauchlan a few questions. Here's what he had to say. 

What is the Buddy Platform?

Buddy Platform is a highly secure, cloud-based platform that takes and processes raw data from hundreds of millions of connected devices, appliances and sensors, then makes it accessible in real-time for businesses. The platform has significant capabilities to manage billions of transactions across millions of devices in real time and at a global scale. 

Buddy’s enterprise-ready solution allows organizations to own the data without investing in data infrastructure. In many cases the companies that make devices with the most potential in their device data are not traditional data companies - they make appliances, vehicles, heavy equipment in farming, mining and manufacturing. These organizations are able to speed up their time to market and skip building out an internal data infrastructure team that can be expensive and resource heavy.

In preparation for massive IoT growth in the next decade, Buddy is focused on how internet connected devices can provide enormous amounts of valuable data to improve and enhance insights and actions across industries. From mining, manufacturing, energy and resources to connected cities, our technology can help businesses improve performance, safety, and functionality across operations. 

We are based in Seattle, WA and have an engineering office in Adelaide, South Australia. In December 2015 we listed on the Australian Securities Exchange under the ticker symbol BUD.

Tell us how mobile is the gateway and hub for IoT.

There is a very strong correlation in the consumer IoT space between mobile applications and IoT devices because mobile apps are the control point. You could say an IoT platform isn’t complete without good, strong mobile support. This approach is a main differentiator for Buddy, our system is a platform for Things and Apps, you can see data from both come through your Buddy account and have a more unified view. Given our heritage as a Mobile as a Backend service, and our capabilities now in IoT we are uniquely positioned against others in the space. 

What trends are you seeing in the silicon industry to address IoT?

More and more silicon organizations, companies and manufacturers are looking to get deeper integration with device management through data management, so that when they sell silicon, the data can be deployed and managed for the customer. Increasingly, customers of silicon vendors are looking for solutions that include a robust, scalable and secure cloud platform. We think this trend will continue, and that has already led to great partnerships between Buddy and companies like Marvell and Gimbal. 

Much of the attention in IoT is focused on consumer technologies, but the real action, often unrealized by the average person, is happening in the industrial sector. What are you most excited about in IoT and what can we expect from it? 

IoT is still managing it’s way through an enormous hype cycle and it’s true, things like wearables and home automation garner much of the attention. While these areas are certainly very exciting because they are the most tangible to people, what’s happening in industrial IOT is just as exciting in that it will also be powering great new experiences and services, but as an enabler rather than being front and center on store shelves. We are seeing great opportunity in the energy sector for IoT, and how that translates into business value for utilities, cities and buildings. Everything from solar panels, to automated meters are becoming connected which means governments, real estate managers and homeowners have a better view into how they are using and producing energy. That translates into cost savings, efficiency and increased awareness that can have real impact in the lives of people, and the health of our environment and planet. 

Photo courtesy of David Oro

 

Read more…

Upcoming IoT Events

More IoT News

Arcadia makes supporting clean energy easier

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to power your home with clean energy, and yet, many Americans don’t know how to make the switch. Luckily, you don’t have to install expensive solar panels or switch utility companies…

Continue

Answering your Huawei ban questions

A lot has happened since we uploaded our most recent video about the Huawei ban last month. Another reprieve has been issued, licenses have been granted and the FCC has officially barred Huawei equipment from U.S. networks. Our viewers had some… Continue

IoT Career Opportunities