Category: innovation

PEOPLE TRUST PEOPLE: The Internet of Things isn’t even so much about things

What the Internet of Things is NOT about

It seems that if your company doesn’t have an IoT strategy nowadays, you might as well quit. But not just any strategy will do. Let’s look at some of the hot topics in IoT today that are unlikely to make a dent in market adoption. Here are some insights from our most recent publication, IoT Developer Megatrends – a short publication on the most important trends for IoT.


Here’s what everyone knows about the Internet of Things. It’s going to be enormous. We’ll have tens of billions of devices by the end of the decade. This is a multi-trillion dollar opportunity over the next years. All the major players in consumer electronics, mobile, cloud, factory automation, enterprise IT and more will be fiercely competing for a piece of that pie. All this information shouts: [tweetable]if your company doesn’t have an IoT strategy you might as well quit[/tweetable].

Not just any strategy, of course. The history of technology is littered with great concepts and engineering feats that never became mainstream products. It’s worth looking at some of the hot topics in IoT today that are unlikely to make a dent in market adoption.

What IoT is not

A lot of the buzz in the media and on industry forums is about the Internet of Things technology itself. Standards. Security. Privacy. Whether to use Bluetooth, Wifi, cellular or mesh networks. If history is any guide, all of these important questions will get solved over time, but none are an actual roadblock to market adoption. iOS and Android didn’t depend on app standards to revolutionize the smartphone industry, for example.

Meanwhile, product designers have discovered IoT and are adding connectivity (internet) and services to their products with blazing speed. Washing machines, socks, ovens, shoes, cars, door locks, toothbrushes and even flower pots are becoming “smart”. The problem with this “product with an app” approach is that all those disconnected, individual apps will soon become impossible for users to manage.

The Internet of Things isn’t even so much about things. For example, companies like Google-owned Waze achieve better traffic intelligence by crowdsourcing smartphone data rather than through an extensive network of road sensors, typical for a Smart City project. True smart cities have taken note, and are starting to use Waze’s data. Waze literally never shipped a thing.

Breaking Free of Internet and Things

Here’s an uncontroversial, but often forgotten truth. [tweetable]The value of IoT products doesn’t come from the technology or the internet or the things[/tweetable]. Value is created in IoT by making sense of data, turning it into knowledge and meaningful action. It’s not the parking sensor that matters, but finding a free parking spot quickly and without frustration.

This perspective on the Internet of Things has some interesting implications. We predict that the most interesting IoT applications in 2020 will use data that already exists today, rather than new sensors.

Why? Value is created by making sense of data, and many data will have more than one possible source (like in the Waze vs traffic sensor example). New devices will be more expensive to build, install and maintain than solutions that mine existing sources of data. When a solution can be found that doesn’t require new sensors or hardware, it will prevail. Already, companies like Cellint use data from mobile network operators to monitor traffic jams in cities.

Internet of Things is not about how to add a service to my product, but about making my product work with every other service. It’s about how all those sensors, devices, things and services can be integrated into the user’s digital lifestyle. IoT is breaking free from Internet and Things.

The number one projector manufacturer in the world is already on 3rd gen AR glasses @epson

Super happy to see our Buddies at Epson Moverio getting so much positive attention. We’ve seen this product evolve over the years and it just keeps getting better. This team is unstoppable.


If you think about augmented reality beyond the smartphone, you’re probably thinking about something like Microsoft’s Hololens, or the Meta 2, or the much-hyped Magic Leap One. You might also think about smartglasses like Google Glass or the Vuzix Blade, or sports-focused products such as the Raptor, by Everysight.

You probably aren’t thinking of Epson.

Epson Moverio smartglasses

However, the company not only makes a smartglasses product, it has released functioning products that have been used by half a million people. And it’s set to vastly expand that number in the very near future.

“There are more people that visit museums in the U.S. than go to all sports events combined,” ARtGlass CEO Greg Werkheiser told me at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. “It’s a huge and competitive market.”

Werkheiser is referencing museums because that’s one of the key places where Epson has been delivering its augmented reality hardware: the Moverio AR platform, now in its third generation.

“We are the number one projector manufacturer in the world,” Epson’s head of augmented reality, Anna Jen, told me. “There are two mini projectors in each side of our smart glasses, and we have patents from the mid-1980’s on projectors being used as wearable glasses.”

If you’ve flown a drone with DJI’s first-person-view glasses, you’ve used Epson’s projectors inches from your eyes. If you’ve gone to a museum in Europe with an augmented audio/video tour adding detail, color, and history to the artifacts, you’ve used the company’s projectors as well.

Now ARtGlass CEO Werkheiser is bringing the technology to the U.S.

“After more than 500,000 actual users — 500,000 more than anyone else — we’re announcing our first iconic sites in the U.S.,” he told me. “You’ll be able to go to George Washinton’s house, stand where he stood, and a hologram of George Washington will welcome you.”

86 million people have visited Washington’s home since 1860, a Mount Vernon representative said.

Few have had the luxury of “meeting” Washington personally, however.

I tried the Moverio third-gen platform personally and was impressed with the weight (or lack thereof), the comfort, and the quality of the images that the smartglasses project into your eyeballs. Most head-mounted AR solutions I’ve tried, including a few at this year’s CES, have weak, limited color, hard-to-focus images that the device attempts to overlay onto your field of vision, and an uncomfortable reading position in the corner of your field of view.

Monocular, or single eye versions like the Google Glass, were particularly challenging for me.

“Monocular solutions have all kinds of problems,” Epson’s Jen told me when I asked her about them. “Reverse imaging is one of them … and also, most people are either right eye or left eye dominant … so big headaches could be coming your way if it’s on the wrong eye.”

Reverse imaging is exactly the problem I had with one of the monocular sport-oriented smartglasses products at CES.

Using the products at museums is a smart way to introduce a product into the market and get feedback about its shortcomings as well as its successes, which is where ARtGlass comes in. It’s also good business for cultural sites, which have a new experience to offer.

“People are staying 100% longer at exhibits now,” says Werkheiser, who cover the cost of content creation for museums and then collects a percentage of the rental income. “It’s a competitive market … if you go in Washington, DC, and see the same thing again and again, the incentive to bring people back is low. So there’s an increase in demand for differentiators.”

The actual devices have a battery life of four to six hours, which is good for a light, head-mounted device, and a 23-degree field of view. That’s not huge, but it is enough to get a large, full-color, very clear video or image.

It’s a trade-off, Epson’s Jen explains, saying that a wider field of view requires heavier optics and more battery life. Epson retails them for $799, but a commercial version with more capabilities will run buyers $1,399.

The augmented reality tours begin today at Highland, the historic home of President James Monroe, while the George Washington AR tours will launch in the spring.

John Koetsier is a journalist, analyst, and speaker. He analyzes and forecasts mobile trends for TUNE. Follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.