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We are thrilled to have both attended IoT World Europe 2015 in Berlin this week and also won its prestigious Hackathon- Best Solution for Industry 4.0. This whole year, our dedicated IoT department has been working on some very exciting proprietary IoT solutions revolving around the ‘smart home’, so it was a perfect opportunity for us to showcase some of these talents.

Competition was fierce at this year’s IoT World Hackathon with the opportunity to present to key industry figureheads such as Cisco, SigFox, Anarem and Broadcom. Our Co-Lead on our internal Internet of Things Workgroup, Ross Feehan, was challenged to create a novel solution to Industry 4.0 within 30 hours- starting at 9am on Tuesday with the final presentation and working demo at 3pm on Wednesday.

Armed with his chosen Anaren’s Bluetooth Smart Development kit (A20737A-MSDK1), Ross quickly rose to the challenge and developed an innovative solution to a global food supply issue which he called Truck Sense. When 3pm rolled round, we then stood and delivered a ten minute presentation to the industry figureheads and exhibition attendees followed by a tense live demonstration.

The judging panel from Cisco, SigFox and Anaren then judged all entries based on their function, design, inter-operability, connection with the Internet of Things, and adherence to the challenge. And we were thrilled to hear that we won and our office now has another trophy on display.

This is just the start of an exciting development programme for IoT. We are now back from Berlin and working hard on more innovative IoT solutions and applications. The Internet of Things is already changing our world, improving people’s lives and solving global issues- and we are excited to be at the forefront of this.

To find out more about our work in IoT, or how the Internet of Things can help your business, contact us today on +44 (0) 207 112 7100 or email contact@apppli.com

Who’s excited about Apple’s WatchOS2 update launching this autumn? I, for one, am still not convinced.

Last month, I wrote in Wearable Tech about how difficult it is to justify the cost and real benefits of current wearables. Let’s face it, at the moment the Apple Watch is nothing more than a very expensive phone accessory. Until it can offer real standalone benefits without needing the trusty iPhone by its side, it will only be bought by early adopters and Apple fanatics. Apple Pay is making headway with this, allowing users contactless payments of up to £20 (sometimes more) on the tfl network and associated retailers while leaving your phone at home. BUT, you still generally need an iPhone to get anything out of your iWatch. And this is not exciting enough to inspire your everyday person to rush to the store to buy it.

So will WatchOS2 change this?

Clearly there’s a lot of superficial features, which Apple promises will provide an even ‘more personal experience.’ Updates such as new watch faces, Time Travel, Nightstand mode and the ability to, wait for it, actually reply to emails and communicate directly through the watch.  But all of these are nice to haves for existing owners, not revolutionary breakthroughs that will encourage new excited buyers to line up outside their local Apple Store to hand over their hard earned cash.

The possibilities opened up by native apps however is heading more in the right direction. Developers will now be able to create native apps specifically for the iWatch, with access to the smartwatch’s sensors and controls. Which yes, most likely means another onslaught of fitness trackers which I’ve discussed previously. But also allows for far more exciting possibilities by plugging into the internet of things, something which Insteon, by way of example, is starting to address. The Insteon app on Apple watch enables users to control and monitor their home from their wrist, doing everything from locking and unlocking doors, controlling heating and even streaming from wifi cameras around their home.

Tetherless wi-fi also means that you can connect to open wi-fi networks and finally leave your iPhone at home, well for some things, which will at the very least give the illusion that you no longer simply own an iPhone accessory.

Is this enough to inspire me to rush out and spend £300+ on an Apple Watch? Not yet, no. Lots of things still need to be addressed, such as battery life, the general dependence on the iPhone, and in turn developers need to start thinking about the iWatch as a standalone device and innovate accordingly. With WatchOS2 definitely starting to head the Apple Watch in right direction, I for one am excited for the day that Apple finally announces the Watch as a new standalone product, not just an accessory.  On that day I’ll be heading the queue at my local Apple Store and all but begging them to take £300+ off me.

We’ve seen how collecting data on land with projects such as Harvard’s connected forest is making discoveries about climate change. But that only paints a small part of the picture. 71% of our earth’s surface is covered by ocean- and around 95% of this underwater world remains unexplored. The ocean plays an integral role in climate change. So how can the internet of things help uncover vital clues from the ocean’s depths?

This is a challenge that Michael Fedak, biology professor at the University of St Andrews, set out to solve. As a member of the global Marine Mammals Exploring the Oceans Pole to Pole Consortium (MEOP), Fedak started to work with elephant seals in the 80s. Why elephant seals? They traverse the globe from the Arctic to Antarctic and dive to depths of 2000m, so in tracking them scientists are able to gather unique oceanic data in the remote polar regions and thereby uncover how the oceans are being affected by climate change.

Fedak admits that the thought of tracking such huge animals in such a harsh environment seemed “outlandish” and he was met with a lot of resistance. However, the advent of the internet of things has made this project a reality and revolutionised research on marine mammals. Fedak and his team created a smart ‘tag’ that includes sensors, storage memory and a computer programmed with specialised software that manages the whole process, from capturing data to compressing and submitting it to satellites.

To capture seasonal changes, the tags must collect data for up to 11 months. To enable this, Fedak and his team created specialised software that makes smart decisions about when to collect data and when to transmit. The tags are programmed to favour data from the deepest dives and only collect a few readings a day even though it has the capability to transmit to a satellite up to 250 times a day. (It is worth noting here, that such technological developments don’t just benefit biologists, but anyone looking to develop IoT systems).

And then of course, there is both the ethical and practical challenge of how to attach these tags to the animals themselves without harming them. This had to be carefully planned; elephant seals weigh up to two tonnes and enjoy rolling around on the shore, so a glued on tag would be easily knocked off. The solution? The tags are attached with adhesive to hair on the seals’ heads or necks, and fall off when they shed their hair annually. And of course, once the sensors are attached, it is easy to monitor the seals’ wellbeing.

Fedak’s revolutionary IoT technology is now being used around the world, with different teams of experts attaching the sensors and monitoring the data. This global network is at the heart of the MEOP, and all of the data is collated in one single database. Collectively, the sensors have gathered 400,000 data profiles on the temperature and density of sea water, which is being shared globally via an open web portal with the aim to help us understand how the oceans are being affected by climate change.

Forget about IoT’s poster child- the connected fridge; the importance of this emerging technology goes far beyond remembering to order milk. From experimental forests to tracking elephant seals and smart beehives, scientists and technologists worldwide are running pioneering projects to examine climate change, save honeybees from extinction and even save humanity itself. In this series, we’ll explore some of the most innovative IoT projects taking place right now and their fundamental effects:

And we’re not talking about small scale projects here. Harvard has wired up a whole forest in central Massachusetts with thousands of IoT sensors in order to track real time changes and patterns in global climate change. Harvard has been gathering data here since 1907 when they first acquired the land. Until recently however, the technologies used posed many problems, from lightning strikes and animals chewing through wires to the practicalities of lack of access points for wi-fi networks.

The real advantage of the Internet of Things is the ability to create a hybrid network that doesn’t rely on one technology alone but can combine sensors, frequencies and access points to intelligently combat these problems. Instead of running cables through the forest, the scientists built five towers that communicate via 5.8-gigahertz radio links capable of very high data rates. To avoid foliage interfering with signal, 900-megahertz radios are used to transmit through leaves and branches. And undoubtedly the most substantial advance is in data collection. The deployment of IoT has stopped the scientists having to physically trek around the forest and rely on monthly data collection and now instead provides millions of observations every day.

So what exactly are the scientists measuring? Originally the site was used to solely track trees and vegetation, but since the Harvard Forest became a Long-Term Ecological Research Site (LTER) in 1988, they study the whole ecosystem from soil to streams, insects to air. As such, phenology has become the core mission of the Harvard Forest- that is the study of natural cycles. It is built upon the premise that everything in the natural world is inextricably intertwined, that even the tiniest microorganism can shape the fate of the towering oak. Ultimately, in understanding and unravelling these connections, the scientists will be able to predict what will happen in this part of the world as the planet warms.

Each experimental site in the forest has different sensors and devices associated with it, from ‘sap-flux’ sensors for trees to atmospheric sensors measuring the air and Raspberry-Pi acoustic sensors to measure animals and insects. The knowledge gathered through these networks is already uncovering fundamental discoveries about nature, its biological processes and how they have changed over the past 25 years. Through this knowledge and the ongoing study, scientists are on track to formulate strategies to combat the worst effects of climate change across the globe.

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It’s the time of year again where all the movers and shakers in mobile head to Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress 2015. Our very own MD Joo Teoh has been reporting live from the Catalan sunshine for the Drum. Check out his latest reports here:

Why MWC2015 Could be Mistaken for a Car (or Wristwatch) Show

MWC 2015 could be easily be mistaken for a car show. I had a choice of sitting in a Ford, a Porsche, an Audi S7, a Fiat Abarth, or a Chrysler. All with smart driver interfaces, voice enabled controls, driver persona management, even sports score alerts. Read Full Article

MWC2015: Three Big Ideas from Three ‘Small’ Brands

The big players are getting their day to, of course, from dual curved screens (Samsung Galaxy S6) to smart folding bikes (Ford’s MoDe:Me). I will write more about the big brands tomorrow, but today, I have spotted three big things from three less well-known companies. Read Full Article

 

Mobile will be at the core of an increasing number of human interactions in 2015. From wearables to nearables to the internet of things, the growth in connectivity and the emergence of new ecosystems will create a plethora of new opportunities for marketers.

“In the B2B space, marketers need to remember that people expect the same quality of experience in their professional interactions as they enjoy in their private interactions. Predicting what people want before they’ve registered their first tap; connecting intention to action to satisfaction seamlessly; and creating more profound, emotive interactions between people, will be the hallmarks of best in class mobile experiences in 2015.

Check out our CEO’s opinion alongside other industry professionals in the full article here: http://b2bmarketing.net/knowledgebank/demand-generation/features/b2b-marketing-predictions-2015

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We are thrilled to have spoken and exhibited at the Financial Times Innovate Event last week. Our MD, Joo Teoh, stole the show on Thursday morning by leading a thought-provoking presentation on the customer of the future.

Millenials are fundamentally different from previous generations. At least that’s what the mainstream media seems to suggest. We weren’t convinced. And with millenials likely to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, brands need to find out how to engage this audience now.

We conducted our own research to compare how Gen X-ers differ from Millennials in how they value things like money, family, jobs, happiness, innovation and privacy. Contrary to expectation, our research revealed that the customer of the future is likely to have very similar values to the customer of the past and of the present.

Check out the full video of our insights on this here: http://bit.ly/1yb2GMG

 

 

If you don’t yet know how much technology has impacted your life, wait until your mum tells you how many layers of clothing your newborn MUST wear at 25 degrees Celsius.

Perhaps no other area of life is more steeped in piles of ‘received wisdom’ than motherhood and child rearing. And perhaps no other area of life benefits more fully from what technology has to offer.

Everything started for me in the early days of pregnancy. The excitement that accompanied the anticipation of the next baby scan was somewhat tempered by the ability to peek into my baby’s weekly development on any of the pregnancy apps on the app stores. The Pregnancy Sprout App, for instance, felt like a personal and informed companion that prepared me with a stash of (non-crazy questions) for my doctor’s visits, provided me with weekly advice and tips, gave me a sense of how my baby looks like through anatomically accurate 3D fetal imagery and even helped me prepare my hospital bag before bringing my little baby boy home.

Once the adventure of motherhood began, Babycenter was, and still is six months later, one invaluable source of reliable advice. Every concern you might have about your baby, from how to deal with a mild skin rash to when to switch to solids and start potty training your child, someone in the Babycenter community has had before you and there is a tried and tested answer for you.

If, like me, you are a compulsive tracker of everything baby related, you must know about BabyConnect. This tracking platform (web, iPhone and Android apps) tracks everything from food intake to vaccines, medicines, baby growth and milestones and, what’s even better, it synchronises it with your baby’s caregivers so that you never miss anything. On top of this all, there are apps to organise shopping lists and plan meals, mobile solutions to keep track of your finances and know exactly where your kids are at any point in time. I will cover all of these, however, in a future post.

I am certain that technology has made my pregnancy and my parenting more relaxed, less anxious and less clueless than my mother’s. And there is an added, non-negligible benefit: that I have a valid basis for brushing off her advice in a way in which she, when she had me thirty odd years ago, could not brush off her mother’s.

The technology debate is particularly interesting when you speak to parents of young children. I know some parents who say they will not give their children mobile phones or tablets until they are at school. To some extent, I agree, but if children learn best with technology it’s all for the good, right?

One of our designers here at HQ made a valid point, “The younger generations learn best with big shapes, bold colours and very, very simple menus” If these rules are followed then actually it could be a good thing to encourage children to start learning on mobile devices at a young age.

Here are a few examples of educational apps currently popular in the app stores that cater for the very young through to teenagers.  The Guardian has a pretty awesome list for parents to look at here. Our favourites are:

1. Endless Alphabet – This is an excellent place to start from as young as needed. The design element is obviously aimed at the very young, as seen in the chosen colour schemes. It provides exactly what it says on the tin – endless fun for the child and endless repetition for the parents. A superb place to start for alphabet learning with a fantastically simple interface.

2. Duolingo – A FREE app that allows users to learn up to 6 languages (English, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese) Long gone are the days of my French oral being played on a tape, YES a tape, and me having to quickly write down what I hear. Welcome to the new age! An age where everyone has mobile phones so an app that teaches languages on that device must only be a good thing. No more excuses for not learning your French verbs.

3. SquiggleFish –  A creative app – based in an aquarium – the user gets to draw and colour in fish and other marine creatures and put them into their aquarium! This app cleverly introduces colours and shapes to children. The app has a range of choices in the free, basic version, but a wealth of other activities can be purchased from within the app, at the tap of a screen. Guaranteed to keep the little ones happy for a little longer.

So, given how dramatically things have changed in twelve short years, what will things look like in twelve years from now?  As I am writing this article there is a pair of Google Glasses on my desk.

I wonder if there will be ‘whiteboards’ on the glass screens – that will display what the lecturer or teacher is writing on an interactive board at the front of the class. Will there be a need for actually coming into school at all or could the generations of the future be educated virtually either at home or in ‘learning dens?’ I think this is what is most exciting, we have this new technology in the form of wearables but how it will benefit and change how we work from day to day is still very much unknown.

Will this be the next stage of the educational evolution? Will my children be reading books on Google Glasses or virtual copies in holograms? The only welcome constant is change, and I welcome the change that  technology will continue to bring to the space of learning and education. Your children won’t be able to pull a sickie in 12 years time…