[Log In] []

Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management

All our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them. — Walt Disney

Monday, April 27, 2015

#IoT: iHouse, House+ or SmartHome? Something else?

Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
3:18 pm


Recently, there has been a flurry of articles about IoT and home automation, spurred by Apple’s announcement of HomeKit and Google’s announcement that Nest is buying DropCam. Yesterday, I read an interesting article about how WSJ Tech Columnist Christopher Mims visited SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson to “see how he’s turned his home into one of the “smartest” homes in America.”


I applaud this focus on an area of technology that could indeed be of direct benefit to my family and me. But it also raises questions:

As an Mac, iPhone and iPad user, will I be able to extend the useful Apple platform in to a virtual iHouse?

Will Google/Nest/DropCam morph into a useful House+ platform?  Will it interoperate with my Apple stuff or will I have to switch?

Will another more independent company such as SmartThings really make possible a SmartHome?

How much of this will be really useful and easy to use, rather than be a series of geeky science fair projects?  

It was interesting to read Christopher Mims comments about how SmartThings home automation does lots of cool stuff, but not necessarily in an easier way.  Maybe using an iPhone to control everything isn’t really easier than using fashioned light switches or manually adjusting old thermostats.

What I hope emerges are systems that deliver real value to me while being drop-dead simple to use.  Here are a few things I really look forward to:

  1. Coordination of all four AC/Heating zones and ten ceiling fans in my house for optimum comfort and electricity savings, rather than just individual controls provided by Nest and others.
  2. Coordinated control of all ten irrigation circuits for our yard (both sprinkler and drip irrigation) based on weather reports, humidity sensors and soil moisture sensors to optimize water savings and plant health.
  3. Integration of home alarm, garage door and car ignition controls into a single device, preferably my phone, to minimize my frustration and size of my key chain.

The state of the industry right now seems a little bit like the computer industry in the IMSAI computer kit era, when hobbyists could buy lots of components and patch together (sort of) working computers.  Hopefully, the recent IoT announcements will bring real progress beyond the hobbyist phase.


MyFitnessPal – #IoT Ecosystem

Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, May 30, 2014
8:35 am



One of the key enablers to substantial growth in the Internet of Things marketplace will be the progressive emergence of integrated ecosystems of devices and software systems that interact in meaningful ways.  I currently use the FitBit One device to track the steps I take each day and record the food I eat in the MyFitnessPal iPhone app.

As I was browsing the MyFitnessPal website recently, I noticed a growing number of partner applications that interact with MyFitnessPal in some way.  Upon further inspection this morning, I counted 51 apps that interact with MyFitness Pal.  The website lists four devices that are integrated for weight management:

  1. Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale
  2. Withings Wi-Fi Scale
  3. iHealth Wireless Scales
  4. Wahoo Balance Scale

Seven devices are listed for activity monitoring

  1. BodyMedia FIT
  2. Fitbit Tracker
  3. Striiv Play Smart Pedometer
  4. Fitbug Air Tracker
  5. Jawbone UP
  6. Lumo Back Posture Sensor
  7. Withings Pulse

I am currently very impressed with the useful integration between the FitBit tracker and the MyFitnessPal app that I use daily.  If the other apps and devices are as well integrated, this fairly simple, but growing ecosystem has great potential.



Project Morpheus: Safe Landing

Space Travel
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, May 30, 2014
8:01 am


I love this photo that dropped into my email box this morning.  According to the NASA News Services:

NASA demonstrated that it can land an unmanned spacecraft on a rugged planetary surface in the pitch dark in a May 28, 2014 free-flight test of the Morpheus prototype lander and Autonomous Landing Hazard Avoidance Technology, or ALHAT. 


Further explanation from NASA:

Project Morpheus tests NASA’s ALHAT and an engine that runs on liquid oxygen and methane, which are green propellants. These new capabilities could be used in future efforts to deliver cargo to planetary surfaces. The landing facility provides the lander with the kind of field necessary for realistic testing, complete with rocks, craters and hazards to avoid. Morpheus’ ALHAT payload allows it to navigate to clear landing sites amidst rocks, craters and other hazards during its descent.


Thank You, Valiant Soldiers, for Preserving our Freedom!

Yellow Jeep Journey
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, May 26, 2014
12:37 pm


May I raise my voice with countless others on this Memorial Day to pay tribute to valiant soldiers who fought and often died to preserve the freedoms we enjoy.


I found this photo on a blog post that referenced an article by a British war correspondent embedded with the American army. He reported on the GI battle uniforms, vehicles, equipment and supplies.  His comment on the American Jeeps:

The jeeps … were unmatched, and the Germans loved to capture them for their own use.”

It appears that this photo is of President Roosevelt visiting the US troops. Quite the presidential limousine, don’t you think?

Again, thank you, thank you soldiers, for your valiant service, for a job well done.

Roll on Yellow Jeep Journey!


#IoT for Employee Management

Identity, Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, May 12, 2014
4:27 pm


Ready to monitor, track and analyze employee behavior using the latest IoT technology?  Just ask Dilbert (aka Employee 3452378).

Dilbert 140511


Value of #IoT in Public Sector

Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, May 12, 2014
2:50 pm



The future of the Internet of Things will depend on how much real value can be realized from highly connected systems.  I enjoyed reading the Information Week article “Internet of Things: 8 Cost-Cutting Ideas for Government,” which reported on a Cisco study, “Internet of Everything: A $4.6 Trillion Public-Sector Opportunity:”

The virtual connection of data from people, processes, and things — the Internet of Things, or as Cisco calls it, the Internet of Everything (IOE) — promises a world of new economic opportunities. Now a new study has put a value on that opportunity and concludes that the public sector could see as much as $4.6 trillion in IOE-related savings and revenues worldwide over the next decade.

Eight areas with the most potential value are listed below, with potential 10-Year Value shown in parentheses:

  1. Smart Parking ($41billion)
  2. Water Management ($39 billion)
  3. Gas Monitoring ($69 billion)
  4. Chronic Disease Management ($146 billion)
  5. Road Pricing ($18 billion)
  6. Telework ($125 billion)
  7. Connected Learning ($258 billion)
  8. Connected Militarized Defense (1.5 trillion)

Those are big numbers!

The estimate is separate from $14.4 trillion in additional value Cisco predicts the private sector will derive from new efficiencies and services resulting from data linkages over the Internet.

“If you look back a decade from today at the impact of the Internet of Everything, I predict you will see it will be five to 10 times more impactful than the whole Internet has been today,” said Cisco CEO John Chambers

Whether or not Cisco is completely correct in its analysis is somewhat beside the point.  There are huge opportunities for innovation and application ahead of us.





#YJJ Architecture: Vehicle Telematics

Internet of Things, Yellow Jeep Journey, YJJ Architecture
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, April 28, 2014
2:26 pm


Having explored very high level architectures for both the vehicle and cloud  I will begin to review on this blog some currently available (or soon to be available) products that may fit somewhat into the structure I have outlined.  I don’t expect an exact fit, but this will help me to narrow my choices about what technologies I should test first.


The first is a forthcoming product from Kynetx  named Fuse   Kynetx claims that “Fuse combines a sensor, a mobile app and the Cloud to create a new experience around owning and using a car.” The system includes three basic parts:

  1. A device that plugs into the OBD II port on your car, has a GPS and cellular connection, and constantly stream data from your car.
  2. A mobile app for interacting with the data.
  3. A personal cloud platform, under the car owner’s control, where the data is stored and processed.

Phil Windley, founder and CEO of Kynetx and well-known author and innovator, posted an interesting article on his blog yesterday: “Fuse is a Telemetrics Platform for Your Car: Trips on Your Calendar.”

I particularly like three things about the Fuse approach:

  1. The ODB II monitoring device has both cellular and GPS connections, allowing it to monitor the vehicle while the driver is not in it.  Other devices I have seen require the driver’s smartphone to provide connectivity beyond the vehicle.
  2. The Personal Cloud Platform from Kynetx is an innovative approach to providing a repository and programmable functionality in a highly personalized, privacy-protected manner.  While this approach is quite different than the enterprise-centric architecture proposed by Oracle, it may be better suited for my Yellow Jeep Journey objectives.
  3. Fuse will have a published event-driven API to access and manipulate functionality.

I don’t know if it will allow other inputs from the vehicle that are not available through the ODB II port interface.  Sensors like GPS, accelerometers, magnetometers, etc., may require a separate interface.

I pre-ordered a couple of the Fuse devices during its Kickstarter campaign a couple of months ago.  I anxiously await delivery, which should be in about 2 months.


#YJJ Architecture: Services in the Cloud

Yellow Jeep Journey, YJJ Architecture
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
6:42 pm


On April 5th, I posted a high level architecture diagram of sensors, subsystem controllers, gateway and supporting functions that will need to exist on the Jeep.  Today’s post offers a high level diagram of functionality that should exist in the Yellow Jeep Cloud. This roughly follows the structure of the Oracle IoT Platform I described in my March 22nd post.



One basic design objective is that all functions will be exposed as secure API’s that could be consumed by web apps or mobile apps as needed.  Therefore, the primary interface to the open Internet is a secure API gateway.  This may operate in conjunction with an enterprise service bus that manages a catalog of available services and API’s.

For the purpose of this post, available services are divided into five major categories, with three major data repositories:

First, the data repositories:

Data Repository.  This is the database where all data from the Jeep (or many Jeeps) will be collected and stored for functional processing or analysis.

Device Repository.  This database will be used to maintain a complete catalog of all available and used devices, along with capabilities pertaining to each device.

User Directory.  This directory will be used to maintain all users, access rights and credentials necessary to access data services and applications in the YJJ cloud.

Now, the functional elements:

Functional Services.  These services are really the focal point of the YJJ cloud.  It is this functionality that will make the the data collected and used from the Jeeps used.  Some functions may be quite generic, such as data ingest, event processing and data analytics, but I anticipate that a set of #YJJ-specifc services (yet to be defined) will be the most important set of functions in this group.

Device Management.  A complete catalog of devices authorized to connect to the YJJ Cloud will need to be maintained, and secure access rules enforced.  Functions to discover, register and manage changes to this large network of devices will be required.

User Management.  All users that will access YJJ data, services, APIs or applications will need to be registered and access rights be appropriately granted.  

Access Management. Access Management or Control functionality will be needed to enforce security polity for application access by users as well as to secure the APIs that can be used by external applications for accessing YJJ functionality.

Administration Services.  Common administration services will be needed to monitor the health of system components and provide auditing and reporting functions.

This provides a very high level view of my thoughts for YJJ Cloud functionality.  Much more definition is needed for each set of services.  Stay tuned!

Roll on Yellow Jeep Journey!



#YJJ Architecture: Devices on the Jeep

Yellow Jeep Journey, YJJ Architecture
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, April 4, 2014
2:10 pm


The following diagram illustrates how the the sensors I proposed would map onto the general Oracle Internet of Things reference architecture I recently discussed.

At the first level, this diagram shows possible raw sensors and the device controllers responsible for configuring and monitoring the sensors.  The gateway device would aggregate the data and forward that data in either raw or summarized form to the data ingest function in the cloud.  Intermediate storage at the gateway level would allow the Jeep to continue to operate in cases where wireless communication is not available.  The gateway would also provide local APIs what could be consumed by a user interface app on an iPad via Wi-Fi connection.


Of course, a lot more detail is needed.  Each little subsystem could become quite complex. What fun!

Roll on Yellow Jeep Journey!



#YJJ Architecture: Psychokinetic Energy Sensor

Yellow Jeep Journey, YJJ Architecture
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
5:04 pm



Today, I learned of a new sensor I will absolutely need to add to the #YJJ Architecture instrumentation list  The IPSO Alliance announced a new Psychokinetc Energy (PKE) smart sensor:

This new product will allow consumers to remotely monitor paranormal activity in their home and work environments. It is currently under patent review.

Boy, this new sensor should help to identify the ghosts of old Willys Jeeps that might be hanging around and help ferret out mysterious, phantom engine anomalies! The Internet of Things may have just crossed over into the Twilight Zone!

The sensor comes with an impressive list of product features:

  • Unprecedented sensitivity – up to 300 meter detection zone
  • Quadcore technology – track multiple entities simultaneously
  • Astral Positioning System enables real time map tracking/Google maps overlay
  • Connecting multiple systems enables wider coverage
  • Sends alerts via SMS and Twitter to avoid supranatural interference
  • False positive detection software filters out non psychokinetic activity
  • Internet enabled
  • iPhone™/Android™ Applications
  • IPv6 compatibility
  • Supports optional Home Entity Management System (HEMS)
  • Google Glass™ and IP-based actuator interfaces: sense activity, record and share

For more information, please contact:

  • Laff Sonyu, IPSO Marketing Director (marketing@ipso-alliance.org)
  • Hugh Morris, Grid Connect Marketing Lead (marketing@gridconnect.com)

Roll on Yellow Jeep Journey!

Copyright © 2005-2013, Mark G. Dixon. All Rights Reserved.
Powered by WordPress.