100's of M2M / IoT blog posts.

  • A dog that won’t eat your shoes…

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Sep 24, 2018

    As someone who runs through different parks on a regular basis, I definitely have a lot of interactions with dogs.  As a dog lover, I don’t mind at all actually, and often stop to pet the ones who seem like they want to bust off of their leash just for the opportunity to “say hello”.

    Having a dog comes with a lot of benefits, namely they truly are great companions.  However, there is obviously a downside, such as some dogs who are prone to chewing on many household items.  Enter SpotMini … if you aren’t familiar, watch this short YouTube video and come back … I’ll wait for you.

     

    Ok, now that you have seen SpotMini, let’s talk more about it.  As the video shows, the “animal” can do so more than just be a four-legged companion.  It seems to help with the dishes, be able to run errands and more.  It seems that SpotMini may be an ideal companion for many who are looking for both companionship and for a little extra help around the house.

     

    So, is this the future of the “family dog”?

     

    While I don’t see millions of households abandoning “Fido” in short order, I do see some great opportunities for such an invention.  Its familiar form factor as a dog does help (somewhat) to reduce some of the fear that many would have towards using a robot in the home.  This will be key as one of the main demographics that may benefit would be the elderly, as this could help to alleviate some of the extra burden expected from the health care needed for the aging baby boomer population.

     

    As well, one only has to wonder where this technology will go?  If you just add some of the technology that we have now to this device (such as Alexa, GPS and more), you can see how its value would increase further.  Add in the power of Artificial intelligence to learn patterns and our likes/needs and this device could truly become a lifesaver for many in our society.  One can see how it may help to make many people live more independently for many years.

     

    As well, as time goes on, it would make sense that these devices would become even more life-like …. Just like how the different Terminators did in the movie.  Hey, wait, is that a good thing to compare it to?

     

    Well, to date, there have been no recorded incidents of SpotMini acting up.  In fact, in one video where a man tries to interfere with it opening a door by tapping it with a hockey stick, SpotMini just continued on its mission of opening the door.  Perhaps they have programmed in some “iRobot” code into it (feel free to watch the underrated movie with Will Smith if you do not know what I am talking about).

     

    The Bottom Line

    There is definitely a market for a device like SpotMini in our society, as its flexibility and form factor will be very appealing to many people.  I don’t see it replacing the family dog anytime soon, so you still may have to come home to the odd shoe chewed here and there…..

     

     

  • So, the use of automation will increase the amount of jobs?

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Sep 19, 2018
    Hello and thanks for reading.

    When one thinks of automation, the idea that comes to mind is that it will change how many businesses operate, namely by streamlining production and work.  For many, this is a fancy way of saying that it will put millions out of work.  However, it appears that our friends at the World Economic Forum see things differently.  Click here to read their report.

    I will spare you reading a 147 page report.  It goes into great detail how automation and IoT will change how business is done, what jobs will be in demand and how it will eliminate many jobs.  This is the usual scary story that we hear … but this time, it comes with a twist.

    It estimates that while 75 million jobs will be eliminated in the next 7-10 years, as many as 133 million new ones will emerge.  The jobs being eliminated will mostly be “tasks that have become automated or redundant”, while the jobs being created will be in new products and services to help the world make this transition.  The report goes on to echo what I have said for years in that the most in-demand roles going forward will be in Data analysis, Engineering and skills that are “distinctly human” and cannot be duplicated by machines (such as Sales and Marketing).  The report goes onto say that the majority of current workers will need to have substantial skill training (as much as one year full-time) to adapt to this changing climate.

    So, does this mean that we are all good then, since it will create more jobs than it eliminates?  Far from it, actually …

    Most of the new jobs being created will require specialized degrees, and with the growing economy, these jobs are already not being filled.  So, the current mismatch of the labour pool (where we have millions unemployed who lack the skills to thrive in the new economy, while companies have equally large demand for skilled roles that they cannot fill) will only be made worse.  So, even if the WEF were to be correct, where will these 133 million new skilled workers come from?

    We need to act fast …
    • Start to invest in training for engineering, design, sales, creativity and other key sectors
    • Offer tax breaks and incentives for companies to re-train their key workers
    • Change our focus in post secondary education to get more students to move towards these sectors
    • Start to change how we educate our children, starting as young as age 5, to thrive in this new environment.

    A short plug, if I may … I do cover these topics and more in my E-book (The Internet of Things Made Simple), now available on Amazon and iBooks.
  • Will the public’s current fear of autonomous cars slow down their progress?

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Sep 07, 2018

    Hello and thanks for reading.

    Even as a kid, I had an odd fascination for numbers.  To be clear, I never saw myself going into Accounting as a field, but I was often able to find unusual patterns or anomalies in ways that many people could not.  This perhaps explains why I have had good success in the past as an investor in the stock market … or maybe that is just dumb luck, who knows?

     

    A number of polls have come out in the past few weeks with regards to self-driving cars that seem to be quite contradictory in nature (from the Brookings Institution):

     

    “While 70% of people expect a widespread deployment of self-driving cars within 15 years, 59% said that they would be no safer than human cars while 69% said they were concerned / very concerned about sharing the roads with them”

     

    So, to look at it another way, most people think they will be coming but believe that not only will they not improve safety, there is actually cause for concern to their presence on the road …. Hmm, that is interesting.

     

    Why you may ask?  A commonly cited figure is that 90-95% of all car crashes were caused by three factors that a self driving car might eliminate as they do not get distracted, they do not drive drunk and they can be programmed not to speed.  If you eliminate those things, how would a self-driving car not be safer than driving with the “average” human?

     

    There is a strong reason why I have put the word “average” in quotations.  I think most of us truly need to examine how could of a driver the average person really is.  Sure, if you took away all distractions, they may actually have decent skills, but let’s be realistic.  Humans can be at less than their best behind the wheel for many reasons … here are a few:

     

    Loud kids in the back that need yelling at, looking at your phone to find an address, you had a little too much to drink last night or did not sleep well, your boss just chewed you out in front of the team …. Need I go on?

     

    The average driver driving at their average capability in today’s world is not a great driver and it is likely that a good self-driving car would prove to be as good (or likely much better) than they would be.  Throw in that the road would now be surrounded by other vehicles who aren’t being driven by people who are equally as distracted and how is it that anyone would ever think that a world with self driving cars would not be safer?

     

    Sure, I will be the first to admit that we are not there yet, but in 10-15 years, I am quite certain that we will be. 

     

    To finalize, one thing that seems to separate a good driver from a bad one is being able to anticipate what another driver will do.  In the world of self driving cars, the theory is that not only will one vehicle be able to anticipate the move of another, they will actually communicate it to one another.  Imagine how much better / safer merging onto a highway will be when there are no egos involved?

     

    The Bottom Line

    I am in total agreement that we continue testing before we do any large scale deployments.  However, one only has to look at things rationally to know that this move will make the roads safer and quicker to get around than they are now.

  • Using automation to make our airports safer

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Aug 16, 2018

    Based on the line-ups at most airports, a lot of us fly and we fly quite often.  Despite all of the issues that we seem to have with airlines and with airports, for the most part, they do a decent job in moving us from one place to another.

     

    One of the biggest issues with running an airport is security... I am not referring to the ones who make you take your liquids out of your bag.  I am actually talking about the security of the airport itself, which can be equally as important.  Preventing unwanted people and vehicles from entering into sensitive areas is an important job for any airport, but given theSecurity blog sheer size of the tarmac at most major airports, it is a difficult job.

    Enter in automation … or in this case, an automated vehicle.  The security crew at the Edmonton Airport have worked closely with local technology groups in Alberta to create what is believed to be the first unmanned ATV that has the capability of monitoring the 20Km (12.5 mile) fence that surrounds the airport.

     

    The vehicle is fully autonomous and helps to not only improve the security effectiveness but also aids in doing routine maintenance checks while allowing the staff to focus on other items.

     

    One of the issues at the Edmonton airport, considering its remoteness is the potential for wild animals to attempt to enter.  The patrol unit is capable of not only detecting animals (as opposed to people), but is also able to correctly identify which animal it is.

     

    Like most smart automation deployments, the goal is not to replace any of their existing security staff but rather to allow them to do more with less.  The eventual goal for this unit is to be able to do some remote inspections for other projects, like Oil and Gas sites as well as temporary events.

     

    The Bottom Line

    Let’s chalk this one up to a success story for the moment.  It takes various equipment that has been used in other areas and makes it a viable solution for an actual problem, which is more than many IoT-based solutions tend to do.  If further thinking goes into more solutions like this, the IoT industry will be just fine in the future …

     

  • The simple cellular modem ... the world's best enabler of wealth

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Aug 08, 2018

    As an avid investor, I am often fascinated by what the richest people in the world are investing in.  Sure, it is no guarantee that they will be investing in the best growth opportunities at any given time, but their approach of putting their money to work and protecting your investment dollars is not the worst way to invest your money. 

    One of the philosophies that I use to invest is that I want my money to enable me to provide good value....so a good combination of earning more money with the balance of protecting against excessive downside risk. 

    So, the idea of getting good value (ROI) and enabling are important to me....maybe that is why I like selling cellular modems, the ultimate enabler of wealth, at least for a salesperson.  I mean, where else can one device potentially lead to up to 16 different revenue sources....often many times more than the initial cost of the modem itself? 

    C'mon, 16 different revenue sources? 

    Yep, 16... don't believe me, here they are:

    16 sources of revenue

    So, am I saying that you can make 16 different revenue sources from each modem you sell?  Well, probably not.  Not all services are going to appeal to each customer, sadly.  But, I think it would be realistic to get 5 or more frequently on the same modem sale. 

    As an example, I have seen sale that involve:

    - Antennas

    - Accessories, like cables and brackets

    - Device setup / staging

    - On-site installation services

    - Cellular Airtime, of course

    - On-going break/fix

    - Financing

    So, I got to 7....and it might go up if the customer decides to integrate the data into their ERP solution and is considering powering some sites from a solar panel. 

    The point is......this customer is seeing great value from all of the services, which end up costing many times more than the initial cost of the modem when totaled over the life of the modem. 

    The Bottom Line

    The goal is not to get you to consider selling services/products to your customer that they may not need.  The goal here is to show you how the modem is the ultimate platform to provide services for your customer, ones that will greatly benefit them and add to your sales total. 

    Webinar


    Interested in learning more? Watch this webinar as I walk through all of these services in more detail.  As always, contact your regional Novotech Sales manager for more details.

  • Top 5 things that are hurting your IoT cell signal ​

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Jul 31, 2018

     

    Hello and thanks for reading (or watching).

     

    So, you’ve gone ahead and deployed an IoT solution that uses cellular connectivity…..now, it is important that you are set up in a way that ensures you are always connected.

     

    The first step is ensuring that you have a strong cellular signal, both from a connection standpoint, as well as from a speed standpoint (as speed can fall dramatically as your signal strength decreases).

     

    Here are 5 things that will affect your signal strength, some of which you have control over and some that you do not….

     

    1. The “remoteness” of your application

    Ideally, all IoT deployments would be done with 5 bars of cell coverage, but one of the powers of IoT is to work in areas that aren’t always traditionally covered well by landlines, so this can often mean some remote applications, such as a mining site or at a national park.  Since cell towers are usually built to handle smartphone type traffic (which there is less of it in most remote areas), coverage can be weaker when you leave major urban areas.

     

    2) The amount of “beautiful things” in the way

    Many people appreciate things in nature like rolling hills, rivers and lakes.  However, your IoT device does not share your affinity for these things.  Challenging topology means that not only are there are lot of things blocking your “view” of the cell tower, it is often very challenging to put cell towers in the area in the first place.  This helps to add to the remoteness level of the first point.

     

    3) Windows, Floors and Doors

    Cell towers are designed to maximize outdoor coverage.  This is why cell coverage tends to get better when you step outside of a building, as the signal does not have to fight its way through any obstacles.  Materials like wood and drywall can have some effect on your signal strength, but the real culprits are concrete and metal.

    4) Every aspect of using a phone in a car

    In some ways, it is amazing that cellular signal ever works reliably in a moving car.  First, the concept of moving at highway speeds means that you are constantly changing between cell towers without reducing your signal strength and speed.  However, cars by their nature are not friends to cellular signal.  They have a lot of metal (see point 3) and although they have glass in most directions, it tends to be tinted and most people have their phone below the “glass line” of their car anyways, making it less useful in the first place

    5) Mother Nature

    Trees are beautiful to look at, as can be the rain.  However, Mother Nature is not a friend to the cellular signal of your solution.  Heavy vegetation, along with changes in the atmospheric pressure can have effects on your signal strength at various times of the year.

    In a future blog, we will show the Top 5 ways you can combat these obstacles to increase your
    changes of IoT success!

  • Important information on NEW Tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Jul 24, 2018
    On May 29th, the White House announced the renewal of plans to impose 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. Just last week, the Section 301 tariffs were tabled while the countries negotiated. This link provides a comprehensive list of the affected products  https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/files/Press/Releases/301FRN.pdf.

    The Trump Administration announced that the final tariff list will be published June 15th, and “tariffs will be imposed on those imports July 6th 2018.” All GPS products that Novotech sells are affected by this tariff. We have product in stock at our US facilities but this product will run out and Novotech will have no choice but to charge the tariff.

    If you order GPS from Novotech it is possible that you will have to take additional steps at the border in order to effect payment to the "U S Customs and Border Protection”  

    Below is specific information on payment of Sec 301 “Unfair Trade Practice” duties on imports from China.
     
    On April 3, 2018, President Trump announced his intention to issue “special duties” under Section 301 of the trade act of 1974, for importation of certain articles of Chinese origin.  On June 15th, the USTR released a final list of 818 effected tariff numbers for which the “special duties” will become effective on July 6th. An addition group of 284 tariff numbers was also released, but must undergo further review. Section 301 of the Trade Act allows the imposition of “special duties” in cases where countries engage in unfair trade practices with regards to importations of U.S. origin goods and materials. Duty rates for the affected goods will be 25% and are in addition to any currently applicable duties, taxes or fees.
     
    The effected and proposed tariffs may be review via the links noted below:
     
    Effective July 6, 2018  https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/enforcement/301Investigations/List%201.pdf
     
    Proposed tariffs under review  https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/enforcement/301Investigations/List%202.pdf

    We regret the inconvenience, but strongly recommend that you maintain records on the Tariffs and look for the drawbacks that may be available upon export of your products.
  • IoT Made Simple: Cellular Modem Basics

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Jul 24, 2018

    Hello and thanks for reading.

    As a company who has sold IoT products long before we knew of the term “IoT”, it comes as second nature to the team at Novotech.  However, many of our channel partners and most of our customers are still relatively new to IoT….what it is, what it can do and how it can change your business.  As such, we decided to come out with our new education series, “IoT Made Simple

     

    In this series, we look at some of the common IoT hardware/software products, some of the key applications/markets and most importantly, how it can help your organization.

     

    This week, we look at Cellular modems.

     

    To simplify, we have divided modem deployments into 4 types:

    Mobile (where modems are deployed in vehicles and into mobile offices)

    Temporary (where modems are used to provide communications for temporary applications)

    Permanent  (where modems are used as a permanent method of Internet access”

    Backup (where modems are used to back up an existing landline connection)

     

    Mobile is kind of like it sounds….it usually provides high-speed connectivity (often combined with GPS location data) for a remote team.  This can include things such as Police cars, transit buses or trains.

     

    Temporary applications are ones that are there and they are not!  This may be a very quick one (like a Pop-up store) or a bit longer (like construction of a home).  The idea is that the connectivity is quick to set up and is there as long as it is needed.

     

    Permanent is designed to provide always-on connectivity using cellular modems, often in place of traditional landline connections.  It may be because the cellular connection was more cost effective, quicker to set up, flexible in placement or maybe it is just the preferred method.  The application list is wide here….ranging from communication for a machine to an environmental site to an office at a national park.

     

    Backup is an application that has exploded with the growth of Internet based services like Point of Sale and E-Commerce and it involves using a cellular modem as a failover in the event that a main line is not available.  Just about any business can use this….retail, government, finance, Data centres and much more.

     

    So, what are the business gains to using a cellular modem:

    The actual gains for your business can be as unique as your business is, but here are some common ones:

    • Lower cost, more flexible and quicker installations
    • More Flexible rate plans
    • Can be used in a mobile or rugged environment
    • Allows for a single setup across a region, country or even the world
    • Allows you to manage all devices on a single screen

    Hope you found this useful….watch for more “IoT made simple” posts soon!

  • Is there value in the data gathered by wearables?

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Jun 20, 2018

    Hello and thanks for reading (or watching),

    One of the hottest trends in both consumer goods and technology is the smart wearables (namely smartwatches) that gather different biometric data.  These devices allow you to know about your heart rate, how you are sleeping and in some cases, more advanced metrics like your blood oxygen level.  In addition, there are a ton of other home-based devices that let you gather information like your blood pressure.

    Once you have gathered the data, it is brought to a cloud-based software engine that does it magic by putting the data into a format that you can see……you can see how you are doing now, how you have done over time and it often even offers suggestions to improve your readings.

     

    This all sounds wonderful….but does it actually make a difference in your overall health?

     

    I think it does, and here are a few reasons why:

     

    1) Trend data can be useful

    Taking your blood pressure or looking at your heart rate once gives some indication as to how you are doing now, but if you took it daily under similar conditions for a month, it would show a better baseline as to how you are doing.  This trend can show how a new exercise program, medication or even stress from a new job is helping/hurting your health.

     

    2) Data can be shared

    Most of the software programs allow you to share data with a loved one or with your doctor.  This allows them to keep a closer eye on your health, alerting them of changes that may need to be addressed.

     

    3) Doctor’s offices are the worst place to get an accurate reading

    Even if we are healthy, many of us feel a bit uptight at the doctors office, so the readings from your Blood Pressure and Heart rate are sure to be elevated.  This may give the medical professional the idea that you potentially have hypertension when you may in fact be fine.

    4) Insurance companies seem to believe in them

    Insurance companies are the “Moneyball” of the business world, meaning that they are far more data driven than anyone else.  Insurance companies are starting to offer reduced rates for members who use wearables, so they much also believe in the power of the data.


    The Bottom Line
    Gathering all of the data is only useful in two cases….if you are consistent enough to gather the data each day for at least a month or two to get a good baseline and if you are willing to act on that data.  So, if you have an elevated Blood Pressure, the data will only help if you are willing to change your lifestyle to lower it.  If you are, this data can be life-saving, but if you are not, you might as well not use a wearable at all……
     
  • Novotech Recruits New Sales Director

    by Olivia Hobbs | Jun 14, 2018
    Ottawa, ON, June 7st , 2018  Novotech Technologies, a leading distributor of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) / Internet of Things (IoT) products, services and solutions, is pleased to announce the recent appointment of Chris M. Walsh to the position of Senior Sales Director effective June 1st 2018.

    Chris brings a long track record of success in the cellular industry.  With over 15 years of Sales, Marketing and Business Development experience, Walsh will be a great addition to Novotech’s growing sales team. In his new role at Novotech, Walsh will work closely with our Reseller Channel and vendor partners to help drive new IoT-based business sales.

    “This is an important hire for our company”, says Alex Aubie, Vice President of Sales and Channels at Novotech. “Chris brings incredible market   knowledge and sales expertise to Novotech. His experience in the industry will support Novotech’s commitment to grow its reseller base through knowledgeable salespeople who are focused on our channel strategy”, says Aubie.

    For the past three years in his role as Sales Director at FreeWave Technologies, Walsh was successful in increasing both his sales  and  the number of channel partners in his territory.

    Prior to his time at Freewave, Walsh was key member of the Wireless solutions sales team at GetWireless, CalAmp and MultiTech systems performing roles ranging from Account Management to Channel Development Manager to Area Sales Manager.

    “The world of M2M/IoT offers an unparalleled level of growth, not seen during my years in the business”, says Walsh. “Novotech has always been a leader in delivering M2M/IoT products and solutions to this market. I look forward to being part of such a strong, dedicated and accomplished group.” 

    To contact Chris, please visit his LinkedIn profile

    About Novotech Technologies:
    Through strategic partnerships with many of the world’s most advanced Internet of Things (IoT) manufacturers, Novotech Technologies is a leading distributor of IoT products, services and solutions. Established in 2001, Novotech is headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, with offices throughout Canada and the United States. Visit us @ www.novotech.com | Follow us on Twitter @NovotechM2M
     
  • IoT, gambling and the Supreme Court

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Jun 13, 2018
    Hello and thanks for reading (sorry, no video on this one).

    Recently, the US Supreme Court struck down a previous federal law that prohibited sports gambling.  In a landmark ruling, the court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act which barred state-authorized sports gambling in every other state besides Nevada.

    What implications will this have on sports?  A lot, I am sure, but I am only looking at one angle here.  IoT was already starting to play a big role in sports anyways (we have covered this before on a few previous blog posts about how it was changing sports like Basketball, Golf and Tennis).

    I am wondering if it will change things a bit more now……let me explain.

    IoT is about information and more importantly, what you can do with that information to make educated decisions.  Sports tends to produce a lot of data, ranging from simple math (like how many touchdowns a quarterback threw) to the more complex (some of the stats now are probably Ph.D level math).  Smart gamblers use this data, in conjunction with their own experience, to formulate their bets.

    One of the expected types of bets that is expected to become commonplace (especially among millennials) is the “in-game bet”.  Now, most wagers are placed on something that has to do with the final score (whether it be the game winner or some variation on a team winning by a certain number of points).  In-game wagering has more of a “right now” kind of feel….will a player make this shot, will a team score so many points in this half/quarter, things like that.

    Gamblers may look for a new way to gain an edge, especially on in-game bets, and I think IoT can play a big role in this.  Think about it….knowing that a baseball pitcher’s curveball is not moving as much as earlier in the game may be an indication that he is about to get hit hard and lose the game…..a quarterback’s spirals not spinning as tightly may indicate that their shoulder injury is worse than expected…..and, a change in temperature at a game may favour a team that plays more of its games in a cold environment as opposed to a team that plays in California.  

    I think you get the picture…will these pieces of information truly make someone a better gambler?  I doubt it, but in the hands of some of the more expert ones, I think it will help.  As part of making the game more attractive to viewers, I think we will see more IoT-based stats emerge.
  • An important IoT question…..should you build, buy or integrate?

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Jun 06, 2018
    Thanks for watching (or reading),

    Ok, you’ve decided to add the power of IoT to your products or services.  You are looking forward to real-time communication, increased productivity for your team and a bunch of billing flexibility to differentiate your business.

    So, let’s get started.

    Hold up for a second…..you need to decide if you are going to Build, Buy or Integrate first?  Yes, there are three different ways to connect your solution and each have their own pros and cons.

    Here is a quick overview:

    Build 
    This is where you decide that you need to build a brand new device for connectivity.

    The breakdown:
    • Pros - You get the lowest per unit cost, maximum flexibility and a unique device that none of your competitors have
    • Cons - It will be a costly venture (in terms of Engineering cost and certifications), there will also be on-going testing/design work and it may take you up to 24 months to get to market
    • Ideal for - Those who are familiar with the process of building electronic equipment, have plenty of resources (or are willing to work with a design house) and those doing a lot of units per year (think a minimum of 5000 as a starting point)

    Buy 
    This is where you buy a product that is already certified and ready to go

    The breakdown:
    • Pros - You get to market quickly, have little (or none) certification costs and can integrate quickly into existing software programs
    • Cons - This convenience comes with a cost, as this is the highest price per unit and you also are using a product that your competitors can buy (reducing any advantage)
    • Ideal for - Those looking to get to market quickly, those who are not doing a lot of units per year or those who either don’t have the internal expertise (or can’t spare it) to build or Integrate.

    Integrate 
    This is where you add IoT connectivity directly onto your systemboard, usually in the form of a cellular module or an embedded modem.

    The breakdown:
    • Pros - You don’t have to redesign a brand new product, you get a very low cost per unit for connectivity and it does not take up a lot of space (so can go into most products)
    • Cons - Like the build option, this work does require certain expertise, can take much longer to get to market and depending on how long your product is in the field, it may require you to redesign before your product is end of life.
  • “Your Data may be used against you in a court of law….”

    by Larry Bellehumeur | May 24, 2018

    Hello and thanks for reading/watching….


    I think most of us spent a fair amount of time (maybe too much, actually) watching TV cop shows growing up.  Regardless of the show, one phrase was drilled into our heads on just about every one….”You have the right to remain silent”.  Whether it was from also watching the same shows or from advice, most criminals know to do just that.

     

    However, what if your devices don’t follow the same rules?

     

    Two recent cases caught my attention in the news:

    -  The first one was when the police legally obtained data from a suspect’s pacemaker
        to disprove their alibi

    -   In the 2nd case, a suspect’s Fitbit’s data was used as evidence against a husband in      the trial for murdering his wife.

    Kind of makes you wonder….what else has the potential to “rat you out”?  Maybe your Nest/Ring device, maybe your new smart washing machine (that might tell the police you did laundry right after a crime) or even your new smart Garage door opener?

     

    You might ask….”Don’t I have the right against self-incrimination?”  So far, the courts have looked at these devices as being closer related to a telephone or computer, where usage records have long been used against defendants…..but perhaps this will go to the Supreme Court of most countries for a final determination.

     

    The Bottom Line

    So, will knowing this slow down the “smartening” of our society?  Considering the minuscule response to the privacy concerns at Facebook, I think that most people just consider this to be part of the new way of life….

     

    Thanks for reading, check out more of our video blog posts on our web page and on our YouTube channel….

    Youtube: Novotech Knows
    Blog: Novotech Blog
    Twitter: @NovotechM2M
    LinkedIn: Novotech Company 
    Facebook: Novotech Technologies

  • IoT Made Simple: Cellular Modem Basics

    by Larry Bellehumeur | May 16, 2018

    Hello and thanks for reading/watching. 

    To view a video version of this, click here

    Watch on Youtube

    As a company who has sold IoT products long before we knew of the term “IoT”, it comes as second nature to the team at Novotech.  However, many of our channel partners and most of our customers are still relatively new to IoT….what it is, what it can do and how it can change your business.  As such, we decided to come out with our new education series, “IoT Made Simple” 

    In this series, we look at some of the common IoT hardware/software products, some of the key applications/markets and most importantly, how it can help your organization. 

     

    This week, we look at Cellular modems. 

    To simplify, we have divided modem deployments into 4 types: 

    Mobile: where modems are deployed in vehicles and into mobile offices) 

    Temporary: Where modems are used to provide communications for temporary applications) 

    Permanent:  (where modems are used as a permanent method of Internet access” 

    Backup: where modems are used to back up an existing landline connection.

    Mobile is kind of like it sounds….it usually provides high-speed connectivity (often combined with GPS location data) for a remote team.  This can include things such as Police cars, transit buses or trains. 

    Temporary applications are ones that are there and they are not!  This may be a very quick one (like a Pop-up store) or a bit longer (like construction of a home).  The idea is that the connectivity is quick to set up and is there as long as it is needed. 

    Permanent is designed to provide always-on connectivity using cellular modems, often in place of traditional landline connections.  It may be because the cellular connection was more cost effective, quicker to set up, flexible in placement or maybe it is just the preferred method.  The application list is wide here….ranging from communication for a machine to an environmental site to an office at a national park. 

    Backup is an application that has exploded with the growth of Internet based services like Point of Sale and E-Commerce and it involves using a cellular modem as a failover in the event that a main line is not available.  Just about any business can use this….retail, government, finance, Data centres and much more. 

     

    So, what are the business gains to using a cellular modem: 

    The actual gains for your business can be as unique as your business is, but here are some common ones: 

    Lower cost, more flexible and quicker installations 

    More Flexible rate plans 

    Can be used in a mobile or rugged environment 

    Allows for a single setup across a region, country or even the world 

    Allows you to manage all devices on a single screen 


    Hope you found this useful….watch for more “IoT made simple” posts soon! 


    As always, let Novotech know how we can assist you with any of your M2M & IoT needs!  Check us out at www.novotech.com and follow us on Twitter @NovotechM2M and Linked in. You can also follow me on Twitter @LBNovotechM2M.
  • My (overly) Connected Life - "I have a problem..."

    by Larry Bellehumeur | May 10, 2018

    Video Blog Post - My (overly) Connected Life introduction

    Click to watch

     

    Hello and thanks for reading/watching,

     

    Yes, I may have a problem.  While doing some routine router maintenance at home, I shockingly discovered that I had over 40 devices vying for Internet access!  So, you can say that I have my life is (overly) Connected....so, I decided to make a series of blogs about it to both make fun of myself and to provide some insight.

     

    Among the devices were a slew of personal computing devices (iPads, iPhones and PCs), a number of automation devices (like smart plugs), various consumer electronics (PS4’s, smart cameras, etc) and a bunch of appliances that aren’t needed to be smart (like a stove and crockpot). Still, 40 is a lot....

     

    Is my house just crazy or is this where most houses are heading towards?  Manufacturers are now seeing the value of IoT more than ever before, so you’ll see wireless technology enabling Internet access on just about anything with a system board in it soon enough.  This is for both consumer and business devices, with WiFi/Bluetooth dominating consumer and many business devices offering cellular capability as well.

     

    I hope to do a number of blogs about “My (overly) Connected Life” where I discuss some of the products that are emerging in the world of IoT (including a quick review if I own it, which is likely), a bit about how the technology behind the product works and get a bit of advice as to whether they are worth buying…and hopefully do it in an informative and slightly humorous way.

     

  • **UPDATED** Top 10 Business Reasons to Deploy an IoT Solution

    by Larry Bellehumeur | May 04, 2018

    Watch our new Vlog post on youtube!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iDKAcd4_ao

    Top 10 Reasons to Deploy an IoT Solution

    As someone who grew up in the 1980’s, I was a fan of David Letterman.  One of his favourite bits was his nightly Top 10 list.  The list was usually topical in nature and it brought some laughter to justify staying up that late.  Well, I can’t say that mine will make you laugh, but instead, I do hope to bring some value to your business or organization. 

    I think one of the issues that we have in the IoT space is that we tend to talk too much about technology and not what the actual benefits are.  We use phrases like, “Imagine what you can do with the data you receive!”.  Well, most of us aren’t children and we don’t want to have to imagine.  We need to do a better job in explaining it, in ways that actually make sense to most business owners.

    In honour of Mr. Letterman, here are 10 ways that an IoT solution can help your business:

    10) Reduces your Energy usage

    Nothing drives me nuts more than wasting energy.  It isn’t all about the cost but just it is a waste of valuable resources.  For businesses, it is mostly about the cost.  Things like reduced lighting after-hours, reducing the output of key systems when not in use and not having to drive to a service call are all benefits of IoT Solutions…and they all reduce your Energy usage.

    9) Brings new billing options and flexibility

    It seems that no one wants to build a product and just sell it as a one-time thing anymore.  Businesses are moving towards service and recurring revenue models. One way to do this is to be able to gather information real-time.  When you have this info, you’re able to bill per use, per cycle, per month or however you want to do it.

    8) Improves Safety

    We all know that you are supposed to touch a door during a fire to know if it is safe to open it.  IoT solutions do that, and then some….your team can be warned of potentially dangerous issues before they get there, reducing injuries and costs.

    7) Allows you to spot Trends much earlier

    Want to know why some things sell better than others in your location?  Want to know why your team is not as productive as before?  IoT solutions allow you to not only gather info from the field, but also to make business decisions with it.  You’ll spot trends that you can act on much sooner than before and maybe before your competitors.

    6) Improves the Life Cycle of your Valued Assets

    My wife seems to wear out the brakes on her car much faster than I do on mine, even factoring in the extra distance driven.  One ride with her will show why….she has a heavier braking foot.  Knowing things like this about your equipment usage (and being able to see ideas on how to fix it) will make all of your machinery last longer, making your investments even better.

    5) Reduces Downtime

    Wonder how productive a printing shop is when their machines go down?  Not very.  IoT Solutions help you spot trends (things overheating, alerts to unscheduled maintenance, etc).  You can now make minor repairs before major ones shut you down.

    4) Makes your Products and Services better

    Ever wonder if the engineering changes you made to your product actually helped?  IoT solutions allow you to gather usage data and to spot trends that allow you to gain valuable insights into your customers’ usage and behaviours.

    3) Improves Employee Productivity

    Imagine a school was unexpectedly closed one day….you can bet the guys who pick up the garbage and stock the vending machines wish they knew before they went there for their scheduled stops.  Alert your team to changes, give them the best information and let them access key data remotely – all this will make them more productive.

    2) Reduces Waste and Theft

    Restaurants are usually pretty good at controlling waste, but even they are not immune to spoilage.  Spotting trends, keeping an eye on the temperature of a key fridge and alerts to issues with food during delivery are just a few IoT solutions that cut down on waste.  Not using perishables in your business?  Well, the same solution concepts can also be used to reduce unwanted theft, both internal and external.

    And, the #1 reason….It improves your Customer Service levels

    Let’s face it, in the day of quick manufacturing and Google in everyone’s hand, products and knowledge can be copied faster than ever before.  What differentiates your business is your level of service.  IoT solutions give you amazing tools to help….knowing an outage happens before you get calls, repair issues over the air (and not dispatching a truck) and improved products that meet the customer needs better are just a few of the ways that IoT can help your business.

  • IoT and Climate Change Video Blog Post

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Apr 18, 2018

    Hello and thanks for watching (or reading, if you so desire)

    Filmed out in stunning Kananaskis Country (just west of Calgary, Alberta), this video blog post talks about how IoT can help to slow down the short and long-term effects of climate change.


    Click to watch our new Vlog!
    YouTube-logo

    As with many other applications, IoT can help all of those who may take action to reduce the effects of climate change, including:

      • Municipalities, regions and states
      • Manufacturers
      • Solution providers
      • Government agencies
      • Consumers

    IoT allows for information that was previously not accessible to be gathered in real-time, including:

      • Key environmental levels
      • Usage data of key systems
      • Power usage and draw of key areas
      • Location of vital assets
      • Unwanted downtime

    By allowing this data to be gathered, engineers are able to make systems more reliable, more effective and to reduce unnecessary power usage.  This also allows for systems to run more effectively and can be remotely turned off when not in use…..both of which increase productivity, reduces costs and greenhouse gases.

    The Bottom Line

    No single solution can solve the issues today we are experiencing with climate change.  IoT offers the ability to enhance all solutions to make them more effective, which is good for the bottom line and the environment.

    Stay connected! Follow Novotech on Twitter (@NovotechM2M) or follow me personally (@LBNovotechM2M).  We’re also very active on LinkedIn so follow our company page too

  • When you are the product, you can’t expect privacy…

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Mar 22, 2018

    facebook privacy

    **As a disclosure, I have been a Facebook shareholder since just after it went public**

    I think we all have grown accustom to a certain level of service... you don’t want your food served cold, you expect the dry cleaner to remove the stain and you expect delivery guys not to drag mud into your house.  The thinking is simple… you are the customer and since you are paying for a service/product, you have a right to expect a certain standard of service.  This includes privacy of your transaction as well.

    But, what if you are not the customer?

    The majority of the most popular social media / gaming platforms are free to use.  Some of them, such as games like FarmVille or Roblox, use the possibility that you will use real dollars to buy virtual items as a way to turn a profit.  In other cases, such as Angry Birds, the company is hoping to create a brand for merchandise sales.  Either way, you are the customer and it is reasonable to expect some privacy.

    However, is it reasonable to expect the same when you are the product?

    I am going to take the less popular view and say that you don’t have a right to expect any privacy on these sites.

    My reasoning

    As far as I am aware, no one has ever signed up to Facebook under the threat of a gun, knife or prosecution… they choose to do so on their own.  To my knowledge, Facebook has never had an upgraded model which prevented any kind of advertisements (as many other services have)… you accepted that there were going to be ads based on your likes and wants.

    When you post pictures/status updates of your home, your children, your relationships or anything else, it is reasonable to think that Facebook is using this information to better get to know you.  It doesn’t do this because it likes you, it does this to be able to narrow down the focus for targeted advertisements.  So, if you don’t want Facebook to know something about you, don’t post it.

    However, having said that, there are limitations to this.  I do believe that Facebook is very much at fault in the Cambridge Analytica scandal given that they allowed data to be taken at a much bigger scale than anyone could have reasonably agreed to as well as its methods for accessing it.  But, to revert to my argument, the fact that your data was available to be taken was your choice in the first place.

    The Bottom Line

    While Facebook definitely dropped the ball (and has to answer) for its inability to prevent this kind of action, it still doesn’t change the fact that it is not reasonable to expect privacy in a model that you are the product, not the customer.  If you don’t want advertisers to send you ads about the latest dog food, stop posting pictures of your dog.  Or, you can join the #DeleteFacebook movement and just live your life in person…

  • Why technology is causing some salespeople to lose their ‘dogfighting skills’

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Mar 19, 2018

    Lazy person

    Yes, I need help.  I am quoting Top Gun for about the 500th time in one of my blogs.  However, in my defense, this reference is actually justified, at least in my narrowly-focused mind.

    In the movie, they mentioned how the idea of Top Gun was created to bring back the notion of having pilots rely less on their technology and more on their own skill set.  By focusing more on their skills, they were able to use the technology advances on their planes as an advantage to their opponents whose planes were technologically inferior.

    The same holds true for salespeople in their use of technology.  What brought this blog on was the sheer amount of automated calls/emails that I have been getting lately trying to get me to either buy more of what I have already purchased or to buy new stuff.  It seems that we have gotten way too lazy in the field of Sales, relying way too much on technology rather than old fashioned sales skills.

    Sales sure has changed from the days of "Mad Men".  In those days, salespeople did not have access to tools that we take for granted today, such as email, cellular phones and even fax machines.  All sales were done on the phone or in most cases, in person.  While this definitely helped to improve the close rate (as well as the personal nature of relationships), it definitely limited the amount of customer contact that the average salesperson could have in one day.  It also made it impossible to reach people when they were traveling, at least compared to today.

    Advances like cell phones, availability of email while mobile and online presentation skills such as Webex were intended to make our salespeople more productive. However, have we gone too far past them being used as a tool and instead caused salespeople to forget why most customers choose to deal with them in the first place?

    The need to balance old-school methods vs. the use of technology

    Like everything else in life, moderation is usually the best method.  The reality of sales is that all the emails in the world cannot nearly add up to how effective it is to sit down face to face with your customers.  Customers simply feel more comfortable dealing with a live face than words on a 4" screen.

    However, it does not mean that we have to go back to the old days of handwritten memos and rotary style phones (anyone under 25, please ask your grandparent about them).  We need to use technology to enhance our ability to get back to customers.

    Some examples:

    * Email is a great way to get messaging out to a large number of people.However, I am not sure if I ever replied to something that started out "Dear Sir/Madame" unless it was from the government.  If you take the time to personalize an email, it will be much more effective.

    * Online tools like Webex and GotoMeeting can be very effective, but only for certain applications.  Ideas like training can be good, but they often come across as boring monologues if there is no interaction.

    * M2M can help here as well.A lot of great information can be derived from customers’ equipment.  In fact, systems can be used to automatically detect that a customer's equipment is having issues and make the repair without any user interaction.  However, this is where the personal side comes in....a quick phone call to the customer to let them know what happened, how you detected it and what fixed it goes a long way to customer retention.

    Bottom Line

    I don't think anyone really wants to go back to the days of Mad Men....well, unless you are at a Halloween party.  Technology has enabled companies to do so much more with less, but we can't do that at the cost of sacrificing the ability to better serve our customers.  Technology needs to be used as an aid, not as a method to replace dog-fighting skills.

  • Top 10 Company Departments for Prime IoT Gains

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Feb 26, 2018

    Business People


    Based on the huge popularity of my last post, Top 10 business reasons to deploy an IoT Solution, we decided to do another Top 10 list…

    Traditionally, “SCADA” solutions (what we used to call IoT many years ago) were deployed by the Operations team and there was little, if any, distribution of the valuable data that came from these solutions to other departments.  In contrast to days gone by, today’s IoT solutions are now often linked to a company’s billing, CRM or other platform to maximize its value.

    If you’re still skeptical and still asking, “What’s really in it for me?” or “How does all of this data help my department day to day?”, please keep reading because without a doubt, IoT can help your entire company.

    Here are the Top Ten 10 occupational departments where IoT helps create numerous business advantages:

    1. Sales / Pricing

    Having been involved in Sales for the better part of two decades, this one is near to my heart.  Salespeople are always looking for an edge….what angle or approach can they use to differentiate their product?  IoT solutions give Sales real-time information when they need it….are my client’s systems working when I am about to meet them in person, are they using our products as expected and can we use their utilization data to find a more compelling billing method?

    2. Marketing / Merchandising

    The other department that is close to my heart is Marketing since it goes hand in hand with Sales.  Marketing teams want to know “why”…why is a product preferred, why are customers not buying as often as expected, why is certain product placements working more than others.  The problem is that these questions are often next to impossible to get accurate and honest answers to.  IoT lets you get hard facts….you get better understanding to a products use, why customers are making the decisions they are and real-time feedback as to the effectiveness of your work.

    3. Customer Service

    Many of us, including myself, started out in “CS”.  It is a thankless, tiring and often frustrating job.  What usually makes it frustrating is a lack of information….not knowing when a key system is down, not knowing when a repair person is arriving and not having the ability to fix things remotely.  IoT gives that information….you know what is going on, often before the customer does.  This allows CS to fix things quickly and on the first call (sometimes, even before the customer calls!).

    4. Operations / Quality Assurance

    Another one of the thankless jobs in a company is Operations.  When things are running perfectly, everyone takes you for granted….and you are the first one yelled at when they are not.  IoT has been heavily adopted in the “Ops” space because information has shown to be vital to their success.  Today’s IoT solutions take what you already had and make it better…..better sensor data, better tracking, better reporting and better awareness of uptime brings Ops to a whole new level.

    5. Engineering / Design

    I’ve always joked that getting customer usage data from a Salesperson is like trying to ask a 2-year-old to describe something….tough to make out real info from gibberish.  Engineers are expected to make products faster, lighter and more efficient, but often don’t know exactly what the customers may want or how they use products.  IoT allows you to get real-time usage data that makes their job easier.

    6. Product Development

    “Design a product that our customers want” is often heard from management down to product teams.  However, people’s usage of your products may change….they may use it less, meaning that you can use a less powerful battery, they may use it in colder temperatures than you suggest which may hurt some parts or they may now be using it on battery power when you recommend wall plugs.  Either way, better usage data = better products.

    7. Finance

    You base the return on investment on an expensive purchase lasting five years….what if it is 90% worn out in three years?  Finance departments rely on accurate data for everything, and IoT helps you better insight as to how productive your spending is.  In addition, it helps you change your billing models for customers, such as a move from an outright purchase by a customer to a monthly recurring revenue.

    8. Executive

    Executives are supposed to see all and know all, but they are only as good as the people who work with them and the information they provide.  Bosses are always concerned about macro things such as worker safety, productivity and improving the company’s image.  IoT solutions do all of those things, meaning that your company can do more with less.

    9. Field Service

    The customer says “something is making a funny noise” and you have to go fix it.  Doesn’t it always seem that the part you need is not one you have in the truck?  Getting things like error codes, sensor readings and run time before you go will help you better diagnose the problem….by letting you fix it remotely, by knowing what parts to bring and by knowing if there is a likelihood of a dangerous situation that can cause injury.

    10. IT / Tech

    Doesn’t IoT just make IT’s job harder…..by adding more devices to manage?  Well, it does increase the workload in that way, but it also allows for a more efficient network.  Smart IT companies use IoT solutions to understand work environments (such as when a high temperature may result in equipment damage) to make quick adjustments (like turning on a UPS remotely during a power failure) and to detect major issues (such as a vibration alert that lets you know of an earthquake at a remote location).