Turn Your Dumb AC Into A Smart One with Ambi Climate
Air conditioner owners usually have a love/hate relationship with their units. Sure they cool down the room but often you spend most of your time fiddling around with the remote to turn the temperature up or down to keep up with the changing climate. Cue Ambi Climate, a new IoT device that can detect the conditions around it and control your A/C for you so you can live comfortably and never have to pick up the remote again.
[[MORE]]Ambi Climate works with existing infrared air conditioner units. The device is equipped with sensors that detect sunlight, temperature, humidity and other elements in order to make some calculated choices to make the indoors comfortable while being energy efficient. Like Nest, the device also learns from your own preferences and daily routine, and will tailor your indoor climate around you and your family. 
If you want more manual control of your unit, Ambi also allows you to sync your A/C with your smartphone and gives you access to both monitor and control it wherever you are. 
Ambi Climate has already raised more than double its crowdfunding goal on Kickstarter with 35 days to go. Backers can grab this little guy for $99 and its expected to ship in January of 2015

Turn Your Dumb AC Into A Smart One with Ambi Climate

Air conditioner owners usually have a love/hate relationship with their units. Sure they cool down the room but often you spend most of your time fiddling around with the remote to turn the temperature up or down to keep up with the changing climate. Cue Ambi Climate, a new IoT device that can detect the conditions around it and control your A/C for you so you can live comfortably and never have to pick up the remote again.

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Gartner Highlights Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015
Gartner unveiled the ten technology trends to watch out for in 2015 while at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando this week. The trends cover three themes: the merging of the real and virtual worlds, the advent of intelligence everywhere, and the technology impact of the digital business shift.
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Wearables made the list under the first trend “Computing Everywhere”. "Phones and wearable devices are now part of an expanded computing environment that includes such things as consumer electronics and connected screens in the workplace and public space," said David Cearley, vice president & Gartner Fellow in a Gartner press release. 
Also in this trend category sit IoT and 3D printing. Gartner breaks down the opportunities in IoT into four categories: Manage, Monetize, Operate and Extend. And predicts that 3D printing will reach a tipping point over the next three years due to lower cost units. 
But as to the adoption and investment in these trends, Gartner is quick to point out that some will see faster growth than others. "We have identified the top 10 technology trends that organizations cannot afford to ignore in their strategic planning processes," said David Cearley, vice president & Gartner Fellow. "This does not necessarily mean adoption and investment in all of the trends at the same rate, but companies should look to make deliberate decisions about them during the next two years."
 

Gartner Highlights Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015

Gartner unveiled the ten technology trends to watch out for in 2015 while at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando this week. The trends cover three themes: the merging of the real and virtual worlds, the advent of intelligence everywhere, and the technology impact of the digital business shift.

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5 Things We Learned from Designers of Things
Our minds are still spinning from all that we learned at the Designers of Things conference in San Francisco last week. The event featured some of the leading experts from Iot, wearable tech and 3D printing. To help you wade through all the golden nuggets of information, we’ve put together five of the things we learned from this year’s event.
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1. If your product doesn’t become “smart”, it will be considered dumb
Adam Justice of Grid Connect was one of our Micro Talk speakers on the second day of Designers of Things. The VP of an IoT company, Justice told us a story about a ceiling fan that he recently bought for his house. The ordinary fan was functional but what caught his eye soon after was a model that allowed him to control it with his smartphone. Justice used this example to stress the importance of connectivity in future products, stating that we are soon reaching a point where products that are not connected, or “smart”, will soon be considered dumb.  
2. Products will need to move beyond smart, to become “wise”
Beyond being connected, our keynote speaker, Gadi Amit, stressed that products need to start to become “wise”. Amit taught us that being “smart” doesn’t necessarily mean that a thing has intelligence. He pictured a world in which wearables and other connected items are equipped with context and machine learning that will add even more value to our lives.
3. Prototyping Solutions for Real Problems 

Our closing keynote is one we won’t forget. It’s not everyday you see a keynote that involves pipe cleaners and plasticine but these were the tools that TV host Dr. Mike North used to teach us that playing and prototyping can be one in the same. North asked the audience to team up and identify a real problem our teammate was having and then asked us to solve for it. In just fifteen minutes, team presented hardware solutions for snoring, trekking around in the snow and encouraging people to connect in real life rather than be on your phone. 
4. Good things happen when you open up your IP
Duann Scott from Shapeways taught us that when brands work with the creative community by opening up their IP and collaborating on designs, everyone wins. The Shapeways SuperFanArt parntership with Hasbro has allowed 3D printing designers to play with brands like My Little Pony and Transformers and has resulted in new designs, new revenue and accolades from the press and the community itself.  
5. Wearables can make old things new again
Gesture-tech, Myo, from Thalmic Labs showed us that wearable technology can give new life to something that has been around for a while. Chris Goodine, Developer Evangelist from Thalmic, walked our audience through a hands-on intensive class to get them to code the classic game Tetris to be played with your hands using the Myo. Watching the teams play Tetris with their hands in their air rather than tapping, clicking proved new interfaces are going to allow us to see things in a whole new light.
Were you at Designers of Things this year? What were some of the lessons you learned? Leave them in the comments. 

5 Things We Learned from Designers of Things

Our minds are still spinning from all that we learned at the Designers of Things conference in San Francisco last week. The event featured some of the leading experts from Iot, wearable tech and 3D printing. To help you wade through all the golden nuggets of information, we’ve put together five of the things we learned from this year’s event.

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Creating Successful Voice Interactions With Connected Products
Voice is increasingly becoming a necessary and very powerful input especially for the wearable and IoT categories which often have devices with small screens or no screens at all. When building a product that uses voice, it’s essential that the first interactions with a user are positive and successful, or you risk losing them completely. To help guide designers and developers in creating this first great experience, Tanya Kraljic, a principal interaction and dialog designer at Nuance Communications, imparted some tips at this week’s Designers of Things conference.
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Before you add voice to your product, its important to answer a couple of essential questions about what you are creating. These questions are the same whether you are building a talking toaster, a smart thermostat or interactions within a connected car: what will it do, what will it understand, what will it know about and how will it sound. 
With this in mind, Kraljic recommends starting off any voice interacxtion with an introduction. This doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out tutorial but it does need to be effective and simple enough so that it establishes a successful interaction. To continue this positive experience, Kraljic suggests that voice systems use language that comes naturally to the user by anticipating basic commands that mimic natural behaviors. Most users will often start with simple phrases, so figuring out what these phrases are in context to overall user experience will go a long way in creating successful voice interactions.
But just as important as recognizing, interpreting and responding to what the user is saying is assuring the user that the system is listening and is still there. Kraljic stressed the importance of conversational feedback in a voice system which can be achieved by using visual or audible cues. Pulsing circles, waving lines or even just the use of the word “Listening” are all great ways to incorporate cues into the experience that reassures them that the system is still there when they are talking.
Using on-screen visuals to encourage users to speak about a specific topic is another way to create a successful voice experience. Kraljic pointed out that users will often speak about what they see on screen and suggested that displaying relevant and/or coaching information on the screen during the voice interaction is a proactive way to provide guidance for the user. 
This interplay between voice and other forms of input and feedback such as touch and haptics is also an important one. “Users expect modalities to work together,” she said. She gave the example of a smartwatch which uses voice to initiate a call and then allow the user to select the correct caller from a list on the screen in which they would tap from. 
Despite doing your best to set up a successful voice experience for users, there will be times when things don’t work as planned. But that’s to be expected says Kraljic. “Human communication doesn’t always succeed either,” she said. “It’s ok to have an error in a voice system as long as users know how to fix it”. Letting users know that the command they gave was incorrect and guiding them to use the right one is an opportunity to turn it all around.  

Creating Successful Voice Interactions With Connected Products

Voice is increasingly becoming a necessary and very powerful input especially for the wearable and IoT categories which often have devices with small screens or no screens at all. When building a product that uses voice, it’s essential that the first interactions with a user are positive and successful, or you risk losing them completely. To help guide designers and developers in creating this first great experience, Tanya Kraljic, a principal interaction and dialog designer at Nuance Communications, imparted some tips at this week’s Designers of Things conference.

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How 3DM and IOT Is Bringing On The Industrial Renaissance
Samir Shah is passionate about bringing manufacturing back to North America. His talk at Designers of Things this morning began with the grim fact that here in the Western world our manufacturing economies are suffering because he says, “we hung on to the buying and handed over the making part”. But Shah sees us bringing manufacturing home on a local level in a shift he calls the “Intelligent Industrial Renaissance”.
[[MORE]]Shah is the co-founder of 4AXYZ, a leader in 3D printing wood space through their proprietary additive manufacturing process called S.A.M. or Stratified Addictive Manufacturing. His company has created a 3D printer that extrudes, bonds, compacts and mills items out of wood. The company only has one machine but the dream is to have hubs and nodes of these types of machines all over the USA to change the way that we produce and buy goods.
Shah sees 3D printing as being able to bring manufacturing back to the US but in new way. 3D manufacturing will afford consumers the ability to customize, the ability for artists to make money off their crafted goods and retailers to avoid having to house inventory with the risk that it won’t sell. 

The ability to digital distribute goods will reverse traditional manufacturing conventions. In this world, the manufacturing process involves digitally distributing CAD files and shipping raw material to allow for production to happen locally without a real need to ship the final product itself. In this scenario, items are printed JIT: just in time which means that customers will be able to get their goods in days or hours rather than weeks and months. On the wood side, Shah indicated that a six person dining set with a four foot table could be printed in just under 10 hours for a consumer.

Equipping local cities with the ability to manufacturer will create new jobs here in the West but Shah admits that the number of jobs won’t be the same as the number required for commercial manufacturing in the East because the machines being used for 3D manufacturing are much more advanced and efficient.
But perhaps new jobs will be created from making these products smart. The “intelligence” in Shah’s “Intelligent Industrial Renaissance” comes from embedding connectivity and sensors into goods to equip them with things like wireless charging, the ability to gather data or to be controlled. The inclusion of IoT components during the 3D manufacturing process not only wakes up “dumb” devices to give them another purpose but it also adds another layer of personalization for the consumer.  Shah used the example of a lamp that could be made with wireless charging or ordered with the ability to sense motion to turn on and off.
Shah and his team are currently adding connected components by embedding them into a product as its being printed but he sees the use of flexible chips and sensors as taking this a step further.

How 3DM and IOT Is Bringing On The Industrial Renaissance

Samir Shah is passionate about bringing manufacturing back to North America. His talk at Designers of Things this morning began with the grim fact that here in the Western world our manufacturing economies are suffering because he says, “we hung on to the buying and handed over the making part”. But Shah sees us bringing manufacturing home on a local level in a shift he calls the “Intelligent Industrial Renaissance”.

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Designing For Experience, Not Data
Gadi Amit of NewDealDesign has been the designing force behind many exciting products making the news. His team has worked on the fitness tracker Fitbit, light field camera Lytro, and the modular smartphone project from Google called Project Ara. In his keynote session at Designers of Things this morning, Amit shed light on the the major design elements necessary to create compelling connected products like wearable tech.
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For Amit, designing a product starts with looking at the convergence of software, hardware and the cloud. Once the right balance is found between these three elements, the design process layers on the services the product has to offer and finally the branding necessary to communicate the product to the users. 
Essential, is also finding the right balance between what Amit calls “IQ and EQ” or intellectual thinking and emotional thinking. He stressed that experience and not data is what the average person is looking for in tech. “Most technology today isn’t utilitarian,” he said. “It’s something you need to feel good about”. 
But even though technology has the ability to connect us, Amit warns that it also risks alienate us from each other despite the fact that we are in the same room. He showed the audience a picture of two people sitting at the same dinner table on their smartphones ignoring each other as an example of what behavior products today are encouraging. For Amit, successful product designs are those that truly connect people while still catering to our social and digital demands.
When it comes to wearables in particular, Amit broke down a couple of factors that need to be thought of when designing this type of product. Size was at the top of this list. He pointed to the wrist as an example, leaning on his Fitbit experience. As wearables are worn on the body, and all bodies are not created equal, designers need to consider how to work around this challenge. 
Just as varied as size is Fashion. What people consider fashionable differs from one person to another and also changes regularly for an individual as they grow and evolve which makes it hard to solve for. But finding that right amount of fashion to include in your product design is essential. 
To help people feel more invested in their devices and be less likely to throw them away, Amit introduced the idea of co-creation. Involving users in the creation process forms a bond between the individual and the device. This can be achieved through things like 3D printing, or modular products like Project Ara, establishes a stronger relationship with tech. 
Perhaps the most powerful take-away from Amit’s keynote was that although the design of the the hardware is a complex challenge for designers, it is in the product’s use of data that is the hardest nut to crack. Wearable technologies today may be considered “smart” devices but Amit doesn’t believe so.  He sees a need to for “smart” devices to do more than just gather information and data. The real shift, he say, is to create “wise” devices that filter this data and provide you with the information you need when you need it an in the right way.

Designing For Experience, Not Data

Gadi Amit of NewDealDesign has been the designing force behind many exciting products making the news. His team has worked on the fitness tracker Fitbit, light field camera Lytro, and the modular smartphone project from Google called Project Ara. In his keynote session at Designers of Things this morning, Amit shed light on the the major design elements necessary to create compelling connected products like wearable tech.

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The Evolution of Technologies Necessary for Wearable Tech Success
The Designers of Things conference kicked off this morning with a session from Atmel’s VP and GM of Wireless Solutions, Kaivan Karimi, who broke down the evolution of technologies necessary for wearable devices to succeed. 
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Karimi began by making it clear that wearables are a subset of the Internet of Things (IoT) which is the wider umbrella of connected things. The umbrella is so wide that Karimi said “to say the Internet of Things is like saying sunlight, it covers everything”. The shift to devices that collect data make up what Karimi suggests is today’s premise: “If you can’t track it, you can’t improve it”.  
Despite the fact that wearable technology is a niched subset of the vast universe of IoT, Karimi stressed that the wearable tech space is not a single segment and broke it out into three categories. High-end or local processing wearables include smartwatches that run stand-alone systems such as Android Wear, Tizen for the Gear line of devices and the upcoming Apple Watch. Mid-range wearables are more smartphone accessories. They use thin client models and rely on applications on the smartphone. The third category, low-end or limited devices usually with no display or limited user interface and act more as a sensor aggregator. This category includes devices such as Fitbit, Polar Loop and other fitness trackers. 
Karimi gave six reasons why wearables have seen fast adoption so far. The fact that wearables integrate with our lives was one. And their ease of use was another. Price, fashion & health cross-fertilization, the quantified self movement and the potential to save lives rounded out his list.
But security and privacy concerns are what he says will inhibit the growth of wearable tech and IoT in general. But securing the Internet of Things will be necessary. Karimi depicted at time in the near future where hacker’s could open your back door, turn off the streetlights in your neighborhood and even take control of your toaster oven. Creating the necessary hierarchal gateways to protect access to connected devices and its data will be key in a connected tomorrow.
Major advancemetns in technologies like semi-conductors are attributed to growth of wearable tech, says Karimi. Semi-conductors are getting faster, cheaper, smaller and more powerful yet less power consuming which make them well suited for small devices that need to be on all day. 
But one of wearables biggest allies will be contextual computing, which Karimi says will be the dominant computing paradigm of the future. The use of big data, sensor fusion, personal history, GPS and social media will allow computers to know who we are which in turn will let them better serve us.
It doesn’t stop at wearables like fitness trackers and smartwatches. Karimi also teased the audience with new form factors coming down the chain including new intimate technologies let you feel connected to your spouse from afar and a pill that you ingest to authenticate yourself. He also pointed to the tattoo technology of MC10 as an example of where sensor technology is headed.

The Evolution of Technologies Necessary for Wearable Tech Success

The Designers of Things conference kicked off this morning with a session from Atmel’s VP and GM of Wireless Solutions, Kaivan Karimi, who broke down the evolution of technologies necessary for wearable devices to succeed. 

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Three of Tech’s Hottest Trends Collide Tomorrow at Designers of Things
The world is changing. 3D printing is bringing manufacturing to the masses, the Internet is spreading out from our computers to connect all things in the Internet of Things and we are starting to get even more intimate with our technology by wearing it as clothing and accessories with wearable tech. These three shifts all have huge individual impacts on how we live our everyday lives as well as have influence on each other. One of the common threads between 3D printing, IoT and wearable tech is the ability to use this technology to design solutions that solve for real problems in our world which is at the core of tomorrow’s conference in San Francisco, Designers of Things.
[[MORE]]Beginning tomorrow, the Mission Bay Conference Center in downtown San Francisco will be the home to three of the hottest topics in technology today. Designers of Things is bringing together designers, developers and innovators in an event that is jam packed with live demos, technical sessions and networking parties.
We’ve spent the past few months featuring many of the speakers who are voicing their thoughts and experience at the conference these next two days. Most recently was a conversation with Duann Scott from Shapeways who spoke to us about his experience in “making really cool things” with 3D printing when brands like Hasbro open up their IP to the creative community. The Shapeways-Hasbro partnership allowed select designers to collaborate with the uber popular “My Little Pony” franchise in building new creations under this brand and selling it on the Shapeways platform.
Back in July, we caught up with Karl Martin, CEO and Founder of Toronto-based Bionym, a wearable tech company behind the Nymi, a wristband to identify who you are and then relays your identity to any connected thing via Bluetooth. As Martin explained, identity isn’t just about security and passwords but also about preferences and customization opening up opportunities to use the Nymi to do anything from opening smart doors and accessing your email to changing the music station and lighting in an environment you walk into while wearing it. 
“Sensing” environments is something Adam Justice from GridConnect knows well. In a recent featured speaker post, Justice talked to us about ConnectSense, his company’s line of sensors for the home which track anything from motion to light. And we spent considerable time discussing the importance of a great first experience for new technology, which he explained, was striving to make technology “stupid easy” for the end user so that they are not overwhelmed. 
Scott, Martin and Justice all join us beginning tomorrow as we continue these types of conversations live on stage in San Francisco. For those of you who are not able to make it to the conference, we will be live tweeting from the @DoThingsCon Twitter account and posting featured sessions on the blog so be sure to follow-us and check back here soon.

Three of Tech’s Hottest Trends Collide Tomorrow at Designers of Things

The world is changing. 3D printing is bringing manufacturing to the masses, the Internet is spreading out from our computers to connect all things in the Internet of Things and we are starting to get even more intimate with our technology by wearing it as clothing and accessories with wearable tech. These three shifts all have huge individual impacts on how we live our everyday lives as well as have influence on each other. One of the common threads between 3D printing, IoT and wearable tech is the ability to use this technology to design solutions that solve for real problems in our world which is at the core of tomorrow’s conference in San Francisco, Designers of Things.

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The Cloud as the Backbone of the Internet of Things
According to Cisco, over 50 billion things are expected to be connected to the internet by 2020. This includes everything from the bulb in your lamp to the knob on your front door. Behind the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and sensors these devices are all equipped with is one of the most important ingredients of the internet of things - the cloud.
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The importance of the cloud is core to Ayla Networks, a proud sponsor of the Designers of Things conference which starts tomorrow in San Francisco. The company offers a cloud-based platform as an agile service for connected devices which accelerates development, support and ongoing enhancements for IoT products. 
With the IoT space being quite broad, we asked Senior Director of Product Marketing Ayla Networks, Rod McLane what areas the company is focusing the most attention on.  McLane told us that connected home, the industrial space such as HVAC and water treatment systems and wearables or the connected person especially in health are seeing the most activity. 
Across all areas, McLane noted that focusing on the consumer rather than the technology was key. “What can we do to enable the person to lead a better life and get more out of their everyday activities,” he told us. 
As Ayla is a cloud-based platform, its solution empowers manufacturers to make changes to functionality without the need to replace the hardware. This is a huge bonus for the consumer. “You aren’t going to replace your thermostat every three years,” he points out. Instead, manufacturers can push new firmware to the existing device to bug fix or add additional features. This agility also allows the manufacturers to adapt to the ever changing landscape of IoT which not only sees new entrants on a frequent basis but is also at a time of flux when it comes to standards. 
Security is constant part of the conversation with IoT and with good reason. As McLane points out you don’t want someone to “hack into your fridge to spoil your food or hack into your connected door to get into your home.” Ayla Networks treats security very seriously and has worked in three levels of protection including the use of SSL, unique keys and working with the chip makers to install an Ayla agent on the hardware.
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This article is part of our article series for Designers of Things Conference which takes place September 23-24, 2014 at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, California. Ayla Networks is a proud sponsor of Designers of Things.

The Cloud as the Backbone of the Internet of Things

According to Cisco, over 50 billion things are expected to be connected to the internet by 2020. This includes everything from the bulb in your lamp to the knob on your front door. Behind the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and sensors these devices are all equipped with is one of the most important ingredients of the internet of things - the cloud.

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Talking to our Tech: Featured Speaker Tanya Kraljic
If there is one mark of the future, it’s the ability to talk to our tech and have it respond and take action. From Hal 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey to KITT in Knight Rider, we have been fascinated with a time when we can interact with our computers just as naturally as we do with each other. Although we are still a few years out from real intelligent conversations with our devices, the ability to converse with computers is entirely plausible with today’s technology. And it will become an even more critical input for the growing number of connected devices that fall under the umbrella of wearable technology and the Internet of Things.   
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Voice has already come a long way in just a couple of years when it was just starting to be used in applications and was predominantly found in enterprise environments such as customer care centers. Today you can find voice in apps, gaming systems, home automation, robots and wearables. “It is becoming ubiquitous,” Tanya Kraljic, principal interaction and dialog designer at Nuance Communications, told Designers of Things. “As the technology evolves, people realize that it is a natural way to interact with technology”. 
Headquartered in Massachusetts, Nuance is a leader in speech and imaging applications and is reinventing the relationship between people and technology. Its technology is a driving force behind the voice recognition capabilities of Siri, Apple’s voice assistant and powers apps from AccuWeather, Domino’s Pizza and others. 
Kraljic says that she has seen a significant leap in voice systems in the four years she has worked for the company from simply understanding a set of certain words in the form of dictation to understanding natural language to allow you to actually converse with your tech. “You can tell the system in your own words what you want, and what you need and not have to worry about how to express that. The systems will understand you and take the initiative,” she said. 
Of course there is still more work to be done. Kraljic believes the next leap will be in creating intelligent systems which will inform dialogues and will be more aware of you, your past, your preferences and use sensors to gain more context of the environment. “We are in a great place for recognition and natural language understanding. Now we need to push the boundaries of intelligence,” explained Kraljic.
Kraljic points to wearables in helping to expedite advancements in voice especially as many have small screens or no screens at all and rely heavily on voice for interaction. Devices like Google Glass and hearables, like Motorola’s Hint, are just two examples of devices which use voice as a primary input. “Everyone of these devices that comes out pushes the voice experience a little further,” she said.  And although talking to our tech still seems a little awkward she believes that social norms will change out of a matter of convenience and use value.  
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This article is part of our featured speaker series for Designers of Things Conference which takes place September 23-24, 2014 at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, California. Get your VIP and Tech passes by clicking here. Tanya Kraljic will be speaking about Designing Voice Interfaces for Wearables and Other Form Factors at the event.

Talking to our Tech: Featured Speaker Tanya Kraljic

If there is one mark of the future, it’s the ability to talk to our tech and have it respond and take action. From Hal 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey to KITT in Knight Rider, we have been fascinated with a time when we can interact with our computers just as naturally as we do with each other. Although we are still a few years out from real intelligent conversations with our devices, the ability to converse with computers is entirely plausible with today’s technology. And it will become an even more critical input for the growing number of connected devices that fall under the umbrella of wearable technology and the Internet of Things.   

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Making The Internet of Things “Easy Stupid”: Featured Speaker Adam Justice
The rise of “smart” things is coming! But while a connected home, car, workplace and everything in between offers a lot of benefits it also has the potential to be a complete data driven nightmare for consumers. To avoid this, IoT companies need to provide a positive experience that drives value which is exactly the focus for Home Automation and Business Monitoring company, GridConnect.
[[MORE]]GridConnect offers a line of sensors for consumers called ConnectSense. The sensors track anything from motion to temperature and humidity to motion and lights. Its sensors are all Wi-Fi based and battery powered and link up to the cloud where users can get access to dashboards and setup alerts via the ConnectSense web app. 
GridConnect has been in the machine-to-machine business for 12 years mainly on the enterprise side of things. VP and General Manager, Adam Justice, says that the falling price of sensors and connectivity has contributed to the move of IoT into the masses. Beyond the components, he also adds that people’s growing trust and familiarity with the cloud has greatly assisted the adoption of connected things.
In order for IoT to succeed with consumers, Justice explained that its imperative that consumer’s first experiences with a smart thing is a positive one. “We realize that we may be the first connected experience for the consumer so we want it to be a great one. You need one really great experience to give you that AHA moment to show you what is possible,” he told us. Just as powerful, he says, is a horrible experience which can scare consumers away, making it harder to get them back.
He explained that one of the ways to create this positive experience is to make the setup and use of connected sensors “stupid easy”. Just as critical is not overwhelming users with data but instead give them something they can use. The ability to set alerts and get notifications and even hook connected things into smart meters for energy optimization are just a few of these benefits. 
For those creating products, Justice explained that adding connectivity to a product opens up a lot of opportunities. One of them is the data to better the product. “You can learn about how consumers are using your product,” he explained. “For example, a washer dryer may have twenty functions but users may only use five of them”. 
Eventually, Justice sees IoT as becoming ubiquitous. “Eventually, it will come to a point when if your product is not smart than it is dumb,” he said. 
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This article is part of our featured speaker series for Designers of Things Conference which takes place September 23-24, 2014 at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, California. Get your VIP and Tech passes by clicking here. 

Making The Internet of Things “Easy Stupid”: Featured Speaker Adam Justice

The rise of “smart” things is coming! But while a connected home, car, workplace and everything in between offers a lot of benefits it also has the potential to be a complete data driven nightmare for consumers. To avoid this, IoT companies need to provide a positive experience that drives value which is exactly the focus for Home Automation and Business Monitoring company, GridConnect.

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Talking About Cool Ideas with Proto Labs
Proto Labs has seen its fair share of cool ideas. The world’s fastest injection molding, additive manufacturing and CNC machining service implemented its Cool Idea! Award program back in 2011 to identify and assist innovative inventors in getting their product to market
[[MORE]]Each year the program awards up to $250,000 of its manufacturing services to assist them in creating fully functional parts for prototyping, design iterations, testing or even an initial production run. Of the recipients from last year is Everpurse, a purse that integrates a smartphone charging system into the accessory and D-Rev, a low-cost knee prosthetic for above-the-knee amputee living in developing countries. 
We caught up with Proto Labs’ Marketing Manager, Sarah Braun, who was brought on board back in 2011 to kick of the program. She told us that solving real problems and a social good factor were key elements in judging the products the company considers for the award, as were originality, marketability and of course the “cool factor”.
One of the first winners that stood out to Braun was Truflavorware, a line of flatware created by Ohio-based Dan Ladanyi. The set of plastic utensils were designed specifically for chemotherapy patients so that they could avoid the taste of metal in their mouth while still using a fork and knife that felt like metal.
Braun told us that one of the biggest trends over the years has been an increase in connected IoT and wearables products. As is Robotics. This year’s winners include a low-cost motor and propeller unit designed for aquatic exploration and a home-based autonomous robot.  
Proto Labs expects to announce its next winner on October 7. Winners will be posted on the Cool Awards section of the Proto Labs website. 
Photo: Everpurse
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This article is part of our featured series for Designers of Things Conference which takes place September 23-24, 2014 at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, California. Get your VIP and Tech passes by clicking here. 
Proto Labs wants you to join them at DoT 2014 with a complimentary pass. For more information on their limited quantities of free passes, reach out to coolidea@protolabs.com by September 16th with DoT 2014 in the subject line.

Talking About Cool Ideas with Proto Labs

Proto Labs has seen its fair share of cool ideas. The world’s fastest injection molding, additive manufacturing and CNC machining service implemented its Cool Idea! Award program back in 2011 to identify and assist innovative inventors in getting their product to market

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Last Week to Register for DoT 2014 with Special Pricing
Advance rates for Designers of Things expire Friday, September 12. Register this week to save up to $150 on your VIP, Tech or Demo Pass.
All pass holders will gain access to the Demo Hall, featuring cutting-edge technologies from innovative companies, including Autodesk, Freescale and Grid Connect. Join them and other participating companies to learn about new products, interact with designers and developers, and establish relationships with the brightest minds in wearable tech, 3D printing and IoT. Additionally, pass holders are invited to attend on-site parties hosted by Shapeways and Proto Labs after the Demo Hall closes on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
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VIP and Tech pass holders can also access a wide range of talks, intensives and workshops covering these technologies, including: Designing for 24/7 Wearability with Nirav “Rav” Sheth  from MC10, Designing Voice Interfaces for Wearables and Other Form Factors with Tanya Kraljic from Nuance Communications, and Wireless Connectivity and Wearables: The What, How, and Why with Cary Bran from Plantronics.
Visit the session scheduler on the Designers of Things Conference website for the full session listing or download the Official DoT 2014 app.

DoT 2014 will take place September 23-24, 2014 at the Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF in San Francisco, California.

Last Week to Register for DoT 2014 with Special Pricing

Advance rates for Designers of Things expire Friday, September 12. Register this week to save up to $150 on your VIP, Tech or Demo Pass.

All pass holders will gain access to the Demo Hall, featuring cutting-edge technologies from innovative companies, including Autodesk, Freescale and Grid Connect. Join them and other participating companies to learn about new products, interact with designers and developers, and establish relationships with the brightest minds in wearable tech, 3D printing and IoT. Additionally, pass holders are invited to attend on-site parties hosted by Shapeways and Proto Labs after the Demo Hall closes on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

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The Padlock Gets Disrupted with Noke
I currently have three padlocks in a drawer all without keys. That’s pretty much the story with most padlocks. They do the trick but you often risk locking the item you are protecting away for good because the keys are just so tiny and are easy to lose. And we all know that combination locks aren’t any better. That’s why I am pretty excited about Noke, the first bluetooth padlock which is crowdfunding on Kickstarter.
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Noke (pronounced No + Key) uses Bluetooth technology to connect to a smartphone to check if the authentication key is available. Once there is a match, the lock opens up. There are no keys. No combinations. And better yet, you don’t even need to take your phone out of your pocket. You simply push the shackle on the lock and as long as your phone is in range (10 feet), the lock will open and you are on your way.
Noke also lets you easily share access to a lock by sending time-based invites to your friends via the Noke smartphone app. The app keeps a history of when the lock is used which adds an extra level of visibility you obviously wouldn’t get with a traditional dumb lock.
But what if your phone dies? Well, the FUZ Designs, the company behind the product, has a patent-pending solution called Quick-Click technology. This allows you to set a code which you input on the lock by pressing the shackle. Key in the code and the lock will release.
Backers can grab a Noke right now at $59 which is $30 off retail. At the time of this article, FUZ Designs has raised over $230,000 from its campaign which had an original goal of $100,000 with 27 days to go. I’ve already started to empty my drawers in anticipation.  

The Padlock Gets Disrupted with Noke

I currently have three padlocks in a drawer all without keys. That’s pretty much the story with most padlocks. They do the trick but you often risk locking the item you are protecting away for good because the keys are just so tiny and are easy to lose. And we all know that combination locks aren’t any better. That’s why I am pretty excited about Noke, the first bluetooth padlock which is crowdfunding on Kickstarter.

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The “Lego” of IoT, LittleBits, Coming to Radio Shack in August
Tinkering just got easier. Technology retailer, Radio Shack, will be piloting distribution of LittleBits in select stores in August. LittleBits is a modular electronic system that snap together with magnets making it easy to create workable electronics without the need to solder, wire or even program.
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The magnet connectors are a huge draw for the electronic kit as is the color coding they use on each module to make it easy to understand what the components do and how they should be put together. LittleBits uses a four color system to indicate which modules are for power, output, input or are wires and if you are stuck on ideas the kits come with starter projects to help you get making. As the LittleBits library currently has 264 modules, the sky is the limit to create inventions with this system, catering to young makers to engineers and agencies looking to rapid prototype. 
To connect creations made with LittleBits to the Internet of Things, LittleBits has introduced cloudBit. Like other modules, cloudBit connects to other modules in the LittleBits library using magnets. Once given a power source, it enables the creation to talk to the internet and vice versa. For programmers, LittleBits offers a cloud API or the LittleBits Arduino module for customization. But if that’s not your thing, they have also support automating services through IFTTT. This allows users to create inventions which trigger events on popular online services like Facebook, Instagram and hardware systems like NEST and Philips Hue.
For a limited time, LittleBits is offering its Cloud Starter Bundle for $99. The kit includes six modules, wall power and mounting boards and is ready to go create intro projects like building a remote pet feeder or modifying your doorbell to text you when someone is at your door.  
According to a report by Bloomberg, Radio Shack expects to roll out LittleBits in over 2,000 stores in the Fall and is just one of many inventions that it will stock its shelves with in an effort to re-invent the chain and increase sales.

The “Lego” of IoT, LittleBits, Coming to Radio Shack in August

Tinkering just got easier. Technology retailer, Radio Shack, will be piloting distribution of LittleBits in select stores in August. LittleBits is a modular electronic system that snap together with magnets making it easy to create workable electronics without the need to solder, wire or even program.

Read More