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Mister Beacon Episode #160

Mr. Beacon Ambient IoT News: CES 2023

January 09, 2023

This week on the Mr. Beacon Ambient IoT podcast, we’re launching our news segment with coverage from CES 2023. I’m joined by my colleague Bret Small to discuss the recent trends and technologies coming out of CES this year related to ambient IoT.

Articles mentioned:

Energous, and OSRAM collaborate to develop agricultural sensor applications; https://www.iot-now.com/2023/0...;

Globalstar Signs Commercial Agreement with Wiagro to Supply IoT Transmitters for Agtech Applications; https://iotbusinessnews.com/20...;

Scientists Plan to Stop Livestock Diseases and Cattle Theft with 7 Million 5G-IoT Devices Connected to Satellite Constellation; https://iotbusinessnews.com/20...;

Berg Insight says 31 million North Americans used connected care solutions in 2022; https://iotbusinessnews.com/20...;

babyark Launches the World’s Safest Car Seat at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show; https://iotbusinessnews.com/20...;

8 key technologies transforming the future of global supply chains; https://iotbusinessnews.com/20...;


  • Steve Statler 00:00

    Welcome to the Mr. Beacon podcast. And this is a bit of a milestone for us. We are doing an experiment, including a friend and colleague of mine, Brett small in the show. And Mr. Beacon ambient IoT podcast is sponsored by William, bringing intelligence to every single thing. Brett, welcome to the Mr. Beacon podcast, partly as an interviewee, but primarily as a as a co host.

    Bret Small 00:34

    Thank you, Steve. It's great to be here.

    Steve Statler 00:37

    Well, so why to people? The reason is, we want to start covering news. So it is really challenging to keep up with everything that's going on in the IoT industry, especially this ambient section that we are really focused on. So we're gonna give this a trial. For a few weeks, we'll see how it goes. Give us your feedback. And so, you know, before we launch into our news coverage, I just want to say a few words about what we're gonna focus on versus what all the other excellent IoT podcasts focus focus on. Stacey on IoT is one of my favorites, and we're not going to be competing with with what she does. Our focus is Ambien IoT, and by that we define ambient IoT as technology that is super low cost. And therefore it can be ambient, it can be everywhere, technologies, that stories and technologies that have to do with connecting to the cloud, everyday things as opposed to expensive things. So we will prioritize news, where the sensors are small. If they're paper thin, all the better. If they're low cost, that's good. And part of what we think of as Ambien IoT is something that spans the whole life of a product. So the enterprise bit which is the manufacturing, and the consumer bit, which is when you use it. So our view of Ambien IoT is that the intelligence, the connectivity and the sensing span the entire lifecycle, and that's where we get the real benefit, rather than these kinds of stovepipe applications. So we're interested in news about the progress towards ubiquity, and ultimately, anything where the connections are driving us, not to millions, but to billions into trillions. So, Brett, that's my definition of ambient IoT. Does that make sense to you? Have you got anything you want to add to that?

    Bret Small 03:06

    I think that absolutely makes a lot of sense. I think that one or the two additional components that that I might peripherally add would be that, as Steve mentioned, part of the entire lifecycle is placing us well within the circular economy, of greater reuse of all assets. And whether those are tags or whether those are reused returnable containers, or whatever kinds of things those are that we're keeping track of. And the other thing is that some people kind of think as the the world of IoT is being divided between kind of enterprise or to consumer. I think, as Steve explained, we're really focused on both, as there are use cases and applicability to the kinds of technologies that Steve was talking about, with regards to very low cost items. Very easily maintained items, items that can be reused. And we see those kinds of use cases in both the consumer as well as the enterprise space. So we'll be covering both of those realms in this segment.

    Steve Statler 04:08

    Very good. And, Brett, you posed a question to me when we started this about, well, what's our position going to be we both work for William? Is there going to be any bias? And that was a really good questions. Very tough one. And, you know, from my perspective, we are going to try and be unbiased but the reality is we will be working at Willie out we have a perspective on Ambien IoT, which is being you know, it's actually a pretty good perspective. We have some really amazing deployments, hundreds of millions, billions of these postage stamp computers and we feel like a product is right at the vanguard of ambient IoT. But what I would say is we pledged to cover competitive products in a positive way, we want to platform, we believe that it's in everyone's interest to move the industry forward to build this category. And there is no silver bullet or maybe to move away from weaponry, you need hammer hammers, you need screwdrivers, you need saws. And so, you know, we're definitely going to try and steer clear of the blind evangelism that doesn't. That assumes that what really up does is the every solution and the only solution. And to that end, actually, one of your stories is about competitive technology. But before we get into the news, last thing, we should introduce you, Brett, can you give us a quick overview and tell us tell us a bit about yourself?

    Bret Small 05:59

    Sure, thanks. Yes. So I, my my world of professional world started in in manufacturing, I was one of the people that wore a bunny suit inside of a semiconductor manufacturing facility in in Dallas, Texas, for for Texas Instruments for nearly 10 years after I completed my master's degree. And at that point in time, I kind of decided that being seen enough of cleanrooms, and bunny suits, and I became involved in kind of enterprise software sales. Selling primarily, what was back then called statistical process control, now would probably be called Business Analytics, in terms of looking at manufacturing data, how to optimize yield and optimize throughput for semiconductor wafer manufacturing. And when I went to work for an enterprise software company, I went to work for an mes company that acquired 15 or 20 companies during the acquisition phase at that point in time. And that kind of melded into a couple of different places working for a number of different great people that I learned a lot about technical sales, technical presentation, and I landed after a couple of stints at a company called arrow Scout, which was one of the original kind of, we used to refer to as it was IoT before IoT was cool. It was one of the original Wi Fi based RTLs companies did a lot of work in healthcare did a lot of work in manufacturing. As Cisco and other access point vendors were kind of carpeting the planet with regards to Wi Fi access points, we sold small little devices that are now deemed expensive. Back then were in the 75 to $95 range. To keep track of things as they moved around inside, we used to refer to it as GPS for indoors, keeping track of assets, knowing where they were monitoring them, making sure that you had enough of them and not too many of them. That kind of was a eight or 10 year experience, fantastic experience I got through to grow a worldwide team. That company got acquired by Stanley healthcare, a division of Stanley Black and Decker, it's subsequently been sold to secure a toss. And when that occurred, as of a year or so later, I went to work for the BLE group, blue vision was the name of the company had recently been acquired by each ID at that point in time. So I got to learn about a new technology that was doing similar things to what aeroscout was doing but at a half or a third of the price point with regards to both infrastructure as well as tag cost. So that was a an interesting little startup inside of a much larger corporation. And and from that, I was there for about five or six years kind of organized things from small company into kind of a larger company with regards to the sales process and the the technical aspects of selling the the BLE solution inside of a much larger kind of commodity company, which we change ID and on balances. And Steve and I had kind of worked together as as cohorts, on different sides of the different companies. And when I was ready to make the next change in my career, I was able to join Willie out there been there for now all of about three and a half months. It's been a great, great environment, fantastic technology and keeping with the theme of less expensive again, the price has dropped by now an order of magnitude or more with regards to the infrastructure and the and the tags themselves. So enabling in a whole new realm of use cases that weren't possible with either the BLE technology or in the Wi Fi technology. So I'm waxing poetically. Steve so I'll stop now, but that's a little bit of the background of of how I got here.

    Steve Statler 09:54

    Wonderful. And then what is your day job? Williard

    Bret Small 09:57

    so my day job at Willie out is primary I like to deal with the technical analysts that that cover the space. As Steve mentioned in the intro, the world of ambient IoT is still kind of a new term. The folks that represent Gartner and ABI Research and IDC and, and other organizations are still learning about it. So my job is basically to be a little bit of an evangelist with regards to the kinds of things that we are accomplishing for customers, and explaining what our technology does. It's not a fix all widget, but to explain the kind of the parameter space around which the willie out solution provides a good solution and supply chain management and in healthcare and in manufacturing, and a lot of places that traditionally have been underserved by kind of passive RFID or unserved with regards to no technology really fitting the use case and the ROI requirements. So that's what I spend most of my days doing

    Steve Statler 10:56

    excellence. So I think that we'll get some good opportunities to see interesting things on your radar and bring it up to this group, we're still going to continue with the Mr. Beacon Hallmark, in depth interviews, getting to know important companies drilling into key issues and technologies. That is the backbone of the podcast, but we'll have this experiment for a little bit on the news. And if you like it, we will continue it. So let's get on with it. Brett, what you on this new segment, what do we got planned to cover? Okay,

    Bret Small 11:35

    well, today, as you know, Steve, since you're on the floor at CES for the last several days, and will be for the next several days. We'll talk about a couple of the things there. There have been a couple of product releases. I was noticing today in the news, several stories relating to kind of connected agriculture or the IoT of agriculture, relating to various different components from racing to storage to, to consumption. So we'll talk a little bit more about some of those. Talk a little bit about the highlights of some healthcare IoT, probably one of the areas that's the largest segment of an maybe older section of IoT connectivity, at least in the US some kind of novel product releases that that I've seen in the news, and then some supply chain trends, that a couple of research organizations are starting to put together as key components of what to look for.

    Steve Statler 12:35

    Excellent. And, you know, one of those stories is the the Lufthansa Sodaq pod group announcement, which is billed as the first commercial, Smart Label tracking device, which is fighting talk, because I would say that Willie out is also got something very similar, but the what they're doing is different. And so we'll drill into that. But before we get into the CES stuff, then we discussed giving you an update on standards. And those of you who are regulars to Mr. Beacon, ambient IoT will have heard the interview with Emma Hi, who's our the Willie, representative on three GPP. And he gave us an update, end of last year, final couple of weeks in September about the latest of what's been going on with three GPP. So I want to dive into that because there's progress, which is important progress. And for those of you don't know, three GPP. They're the the industry group that defines what's going to be in the 5g and 60 standards. And they have a multi structured, multi layer approach to this. So they have a services and systems architecture stream, which looks at requirements and architecture, security and all that sort of stuff. There's a RAND group radio access network group that is follows on and gets into the details. And then there's a core network and terminals group that basically is involved in the handoff of the standards as they start to mature. So it's a bit like an assembly line. The assembly line that we're interested in is going into something called release 19. So 5g 4g 3g in the future 16 You're all kind of marketing terms, the really definitive chapters in this standard are the releases. And so release nine is basically the bit that's being worked on now, there's a technical report, it's about to finish. The technical specification will have been wrapped up. It was scheduled to wrap up on December the 23rd. So there aren't technical details in this. But what it does do is it covers the use cases. And some of the architecture considerations that are going to be manifested in the standard coming to a phone near you. So basically, there's been voting, there's been an agreement, the pledge to include Ambien IoT into this telco standard. That's all gone through. And a number of use cases were voted on and approved. One that Willie up put forward was around the farm to store tracking of reusable transport items or plastic crates. And those of you that have followed us will know that there's some really, very practical benefits for putting these crates that in the past have been done online, are kind of expensive. There's all sorts of environmental benefits to them. But they're expensive. So if you can track them, then you can allow yourself to run a pool of crates with maybe 30% Less crates, makes the whole reusable, sustainable packaging, a more viable by tracking it. And you can also stop shrink, and you can start looking at the condition of what's in the crates that was outlined voted on and approved. But there were also other submissions from Qualcomm, from Apple from others and Qualcomm proposed some really interesting use cases around asset tracking and finding remote lost items. So the kind of asset tracking that goes on with products that go on to, into through the shipping system, planes, trains, automobiles, finding remote lost items can find my standard that goes beyond the proprietary standards of you know, what's what's offered. Apple was interested in and proposed and was when there was acceptance of a concept around privacy, being able to activate and react to deactivate and then reactivate ambient IoT tags. So there's many reasons why you'd want to turn these tags on and off. Maybe people for privacy reasons don't want something to be tracked. But if it's on a product that you want to return to a store, then maybe that's a reason for re activating it. And then additional use cases that were passed. Through this kind of first, one of the first stages of the standards process were around agriculture, monitoring, monitoring plants and cattle. automobile manufacturing is expensive to make cars, tracking the parts and tools, indoor positioning, Ambien IoT for light switches, and some fundamental inventory use cases as well. So that is the you know, that's what went in to into the standard. And I have to say, I'm really excited by by the work that's going in there. What do you think, but

    Bret Small 19:15

    I think that there's a lot of momentum that's now actually building around this ambient IoT term, I guess originally coined by three GPP. And I like you am in quite enthused that making fast progress. I think that this harbor is a almost infrastructure list kind of capability that's going to be available, probably sooner than we know it with regards to being able to track and trace around the globe.

    Steve Statler 19:44

    Yeah. So final thing is kind of timelines. So this process, the kind of the architecture process will continue over the next couple of years. There'll be the work on the radio access network is is likely to is going to start this year and the whole thing should wrap up towards the towards the end of 2025. So this is not something that's going to happen overnight. But of course, Ambien IoT is available for that. The Bluetooth SIG is already has a protocol which we're using, which many other companies are using I triple E has a role. They're looking at this stuff. Wi Fi has been used as, as Brett, you, you talked about in when you were talking about the history, but it's really interesting to see, I triple E's focus on this area. And they have something called a MP. So their work stream is not a done deal. But the ANP standard, as they're calling it now is being worked on by the partners, IEEE that focuses on the 802 11 communication standards. So that's it on the standards, updates. What's what's next for us to talk about?

    Bret Small 21:23

    Great, I think the next thing we talked about was perhaps a little bit of a highlight about one of the product announcements of many product announcements at CES from the pod Sodaq. And Lufthansa joint press release on what they describe as the quote unquote first commercial Smart Label tracking device at CES. My understanding of this, although I've not yet seen it is that it's a small printed battery. That is reusable lifespan of six to nine months, that can be attached to a package. slightly thicker, I guess then several sheets of paper, maybe thick cardboard, that will transmit some pieces of information, apparently temperature, maybe even light sensitivity with regards to where the package is. So similar to maybe an air pod, but at a much smaller price point. And at a much tinier size.

    Steve Statler 22:21

    I love that profile. I love the love the size, I'm just looking at the picture of it and they activate it by you actually cut the corner off of the of the tag. And that's the thing that turns it on, which I think is beautiful. And for those of you that are interested in some of the people behind this, we actually had Sodaq on the Mr. Beacon podcast. Ali is one of the founders, one of the leaders, they're really amazing company, they focus on sustainability, circular economy applications, we've actually found ourselves working with them. partly as a result of the conversations we started off on this show. But I think this is really promising.

    Bret Small 23:13

    Excellent. So other stories in the news was looking through several and it seems like as has always been the case agriculture or the IoT of agriculture is is gaining more traction as the technology price points become lower. And they're kind of three that I sort of thought worked hand in hand. There's a joint announcement between Osram and energist on collaborating to develop low cost agricultural sensors for basically being able to grow plants more effectively and being able to monitor them through soil condition through humidity through water levels to optimize output of crops, soybeans, corn grain, etc. which kind of goes into a second story. Global star has recently signed a commercial agreement with y agro to supply IoT transmitters for ag tech applications. What these are is what are sometimes in the field called the silo stacks. There are very large piles basically of crops, sometimes it's siloed. Sometimes it's harvested grain, that are stored outside and covered with giant plastic, four or five millimeter thick sheets and can be stored in outside ambient temperatures even in freezing cold, because for the most part, they age well in those conditions, but if the humidity is not right or the temperature is not right under the plastic, you can have spoilage of the produce. So this kind of ingenious sensor punches through that plastic and can monitor the temperature the humidity of the actual stored grain of the stored silage itself, primarily for large farms today. Even farmers will go out and inspect every week, every other week or so with regards to the conditions. This allows that to be done automatically and even remotely. And then the third story kind of in the series of of agriculture, IoT is one where scientists plan to substantially reduce livestock diseases by being able to track cattle today, of course, they're tracked with ear tags or, or some sort of a passive or barcode, but 5g IoT devices embedded inside of those ear tags. So they would know what cattle were in proximity to what other cattle, which is one of the mechanisms by which foot and mouth, hoof and mouth disease spreads other communicable diseases amongst livestock. So again, a way to be able to monitor and to control. cattle in the field generally are inside of warehouses, livestock warehouses, with regards to disease spread. So those I caught made kind of a nice tritium of three different stories all related to IoT, and agriculture in its application today.

    Steve Statler 26:10

    Very nice. And I think this is a great example of starting to connect at the beginning of the lifecycle of a product. And, you know, once you start doing that, then you can start to continue the traceability all the way to the consumer, and get a handle on recalls and people understanding the provenance. And I as a, as a devout carnivore, I've always wanted to be able to select meat that I know that, you know, the the animals been looked after, well, and so I'm kind of optimistic and hopeful that if we start to get visibility on the supply chain back to the farm, then those of us that feel like we should be vegetarians, but just can't bring ourselves to do I can at least have the satisfaction of knowing that whatever we vet is had a decent life for it ended up on our plate. All right. So what's next then, Brett.

    Bret Small 27:18

    So just two quick other things on the floor at CES that that I saw were interesting. Actually, before that, going from going from newest applications of IoT and agricultural to one of the more established healthcare IoT continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Most recent estimate is over 31 million USA folks had some sort of a connected healthcare experience last year, whether that was a video with a doctor during COVID. Whether that was an interaction based upon a machine, a very large percentage of those are sleep apnea machines that are connected to a network. Typically, insurance companies only will reimburse for sleep apnea machines, if they can prove that they're covered, people are actually using them. So that's why it's a strong ROI with regards to using that. So healthcare IoT continues to grow. Basically, one out of 10 Americans now have some component of that, that they used in 2022. Related to that, a new feature at the safest car seat, baby arc, a new company released a product at the CES show, it kind of makes sense. The in car seats have been improved over the last decade, substantially in almost every sort of passenger car around the globe. But car seats or babies really haven't done anything in the last 10 years. So this is a new look at how to be able to monitor whether the baby's in the seat, whether the seat is properly installed. Heaven forbid the baby's left inside the car, all sorts of technology enhancements around the IoT baby seat, as as baby Ark is calling it. Excellent. And then finally, around the IoT supply chains. As is always the case at the end of the year, various different organizations look at five top key technologies, eight top key technologies, looking at supply chain is no different. Looking at this list from at least looking at how supply chain is being transformed IoT track and trace in the top three in several different organizations list as key features, improving the supply chain by the use of IoT. And that's all the news this week for the links of each of these new stories. Please see our website. And you can find more detail about any of them.

    Steve Statler 29:46

    Brad, thanks for putting the time and do the thing that many of us don't have the time to do and helping us keep track of things. Let's do it again. All right.

    Bret Small 29:57

    Thank you. This has been a great time. Thanks, guys.