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This Week in the Internet of Things: Friday Favorites

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The Internet of Things is developing and buzzing all around us. Throughout the week we come across innovative projects, brilliant articles and posts that support and feature the innovators and companies that make our business possible. Here’s our list of favorites from this week’s journey on the Web.

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Taking the Internet of Things to the Farm | How We Get to Next

10 Perfect DIY Projects for Makers Who Love Their Pets | Makezine

4 Ways the Internet of Things Brings us Closer to ‘The Jetsons’ | Mashable

Quality Assured with the Internet of Things | M2M Now

Arduino TRE Developer Edition, 2nd Round of Beta Testing | Arduino Blog

Please tell us in the comments below or Tweet us, @DigiDotCom- we would love to share your findings too. You can also follow all of the commentary and discussion with the hashtag #FridayFavorites.

An Idea Worth Spreading: Internet of Things TED Talks

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We’ve gathered these Internet of Things related TED talks to peak your interest, stir your curiosity and inspire you. We’ll continue to collect riveting talks about or related to the Internet of Things by remarkable people, free to the world thanks to TED.

Massimo Banzi: How Arduino is open-sourcing imagination

Massimo Banzi helped invent the Arduino (along with Tom Igoe and others), a tiny, easy-to-use open-source microcontroller that’s inspired thousands of people around the world to make cool things — from toys to satellite gear. Because, as he says, “You don’t need anyone’s permission to make something great.


Kevin Kelly on the next 5,000 days of the web

At the 2007 EG conference, Kevin Kelly shares a fun stat: The World Wide Web, as we know it, is only 5,000 days old. Now, Kelly asks, how can we predict what’s coming in the next 5,000 days?

 

Kristina Höök: Living in an Internet of Things World

Kristina Höök is a Professor in Human-Machine Interaction at the Department of Computer and Systems Sciences and an employee at SICS, the Swedish Institute of Computer Science. Kristina was a founder of the Mobile Life Centre. Her research focuses on bodily and emotional interaction. She will talk about “The Internet of Things” – uniquely identifiable objects virtually represented in an Internet-like structure. www.tedxkth.com TEDxKTH – ICT as a Game Changer


Vijay Kumar: Robots that fly … and cooperate

In his lab at Penn, Vijay Kumar and his team build flying quadrotors, small, agile robots that swarm, sense each other, and form ad hoc teams — for construction, surveying disasters and far more.


Tim Berners: Lee on the next Web

20 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. For his next project, he’s building a web for open, linked data that could do for numbers what the Web did for words, pictures, video: unlock our data and reframe the way we use it together.

 

Andy Stanford-Clark: Innovation Begins at Home

Dr Andy Stanford-Clark is a Distinguished Engineer and Master Inventor at IBM UK. He specializes in technologies which are helping to make the planet smarter, by analysing and reacting to data from remote sensors.

 

 

John Barrett: The Internet of Things

Dr. John Barrett is Head of Academic Studies at the Nimbus Centre for Embedded Systems Research at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Group Director of the Centre’s Smart Systems Integration Research Group. His research is focused on packaging, miniaturisation and embedding of smart systems in materials, objects and structures.

 

 

Arlen Nipper: The Internet of Things is Just Getting Started

Arlen Nipper has been designing embedded computer hardware and software for 33 years.  Across his entire career, Arlen has been passionate about applying embedded computer technology to existing paradigm problems in the industrial controls and automation market sector.

 

David Cuartielles – Open Source Hardware

David is the creator and co-founder of Arduino, which is an open-source single-board microcontroller, descendant of the open-source Wiring Platform, designed to make the process of using electronics in multidisciplinary projects more accessible

Rodolphe el-Khoury: Designing for the Internet of Things

 As co-director of RAD Lab, el-Khoury researches architectural applications for information technology aiming for enhanced responsiveness and sustainability in buildings and cities.

Chris Rezendes: Rethink Money and Meaning with the Internet of Things

Chris Rezendes, founder and president of INEX Advisors, talks about the emergence of the Internet of Things. While the focus of the IoT has been on profit, Rezendes argues for a broader perspective. From water wells in Africa to America’s own transportation infrastructure, the Internet of Things can help us put people above machines, faces before screens, and find the path for “AND.”

 

The is just the beginning of what we hope will be a growing list of TED videos, and meaningful Internet of Things conversations. Let us know if you would like to add a video to this list in the comments section or on Twitter.

Today’s Industrial Internet of Things Solutions Are Built, Not Bought

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-Every industry and solution requires a
 

The article “Don’t hold your breath for the industrial IoT platform” by Cormac Foster caused quite the buzz when it made its debut on Gigaom last month. With rebuttals from industry players like Mike Dolbec, managing director of Venture Capital GE Software, we took notice.

What stood out the most? Despite the tensions expressed in reader comments, we agree with Foster and thought that some of the best points of the piece were overlooked.

What others overlooked is that Foster isn’t downplaying the role of the Industrial Internet of Things. He’s simply pointing to its enormity.

“The industrial IoT will eventually eclipse consumer markets, in terms of both the number of connected devices and the volume and value of connections. But the market’s potential is so large because it’s not just one market.”

We couldn’t agree more. The Industrial IoT is a mega trend, and its economic value add will show that in time. It is not a single market, but rather a market of markets. For example, our business at Digi International spans over half a dozen different vertical industries and even more underlying applications and use cases.

Different solutions may require different hardware approaches, networking technologies, cloud data storage, reporting and security requirements. We’ve had to learn the different languages of proprietary machines–becoming ‘machine linguists’ in the process.

To approach this vast “megatrend” landscape requires a versatile toolkit of wireless and embedded technologies and software and integration services, because each customer use case and scenario has its own optimized solution.

In the industrial world, you build an IoT solution, you don’t buy one. You might be able to go and buy a wearable at Best Buy or Target, but here in the Industrial IoT there’s no one-size fits all standard today. Furthermore, a lot of new entrants in the supplier space offer one point solution or one point product. They have a single hammer, so everyone’s problem is declared a nail. That’s why their ability to deliver value to customers is limited.

Industrial Internet of Things solutions today are about creating a strategic competitive advantage for your business. If it were easy to do–if you could just buy one off the shelf and implement it–would it be a real advantage? For how long? As early adopters of IoT realize the business benefits of lower costs or the ability to deliver superior customer service, laggards will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

As I said before, every industry and solution requires a different combination of technologies and approaches to get the job done. A solution for a city looking to reduce their electricity bill using a smart street lighting system is completely different than a medical device maker who needs to bluetooth-enable products. The same goes for someone deploying precision agriculture equipment, or industrial fuel tanks.

For example, wireless mesh networking technology often powers smart street lighting IoT projects, which can reduce electricity costs that can account for a big chunk of a city’s energy expenses. One of our customers’ systems, which gives city crews a view into every light and its status via a web application, helps cities save up to 85 percent on energy costs. And, with reduced CO2 emissions, it also helps to protect the environment.

The Bottom Line: There’s No Panacea or Single Standard today

Our IoT customer solutions span dozens of industries and hundreds of applications– each with different business goals and technology needs. So, yes, we have to agree with Foster. There’s no one Industrial IoT platform. We wouldn’t hold our breathe either. Internet of Things systems for commercial use are created with industry and application specifications in mind, as they should be. As Foster said, “the market’s potential is so large because it’s not just one market.”

Interested in learning more about today’s Industrial Internet of Things solutions? Here are a number of customers who are experiencing the benefits.

Home is Where the Heat is: Heat Seek is Helping NYC Keep Warm

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heatseekDecember is here, and with it, so are the single-digit temperatures. Many of us know how unbearable the cold can be during the dead of winter. Whether you’re dealing with it on your daily commute, outside taking the dog for a walk, or trying to get some groceries, the cold has a way of making you just want to get back to the warmth and comfort of your home. But, for many, this problem persists even when they’re home. Digi’s customer, Heat Seek NYC, wants to make this a problem of the past.

For those at the mercy of a landlord, resolving heating issues can be a lengthy and bureaucratic process. Did you know NYC handles over 200,000 heating complaints every year? In order to provide proof of poor heating, tenants are tasked with manually recording the temperatures of their apartments.

A group of New York City residents recognized this as a major public issue and founded Heat Seek NYC to efficiently address this overwhelming number of complaints and ensure no New York City resident has to spend winter in a cold home.

HeatSeekPartsTheir wireless sensor system automatically records apartment temperatures– streamlining the way NYC handles heating complaints and solves disputes between tenants and landlords.

Let’s take a look and see how Heat Seek built this wireless sensor network.

The sensor network is built entirely with off-the-shelf components. The low-cost temperature sensors connect via XBee using DigiMesh technology to create a reliable network that can easily connect throughout a building. Then, the team turned a Raspberry Pi into a cellular gateway enabling it to transmit temp. data, which is sent to a server to be accessed by residents, advocates, and lawyers. Additionally, Heat Seek is working to give the housing department (HPD) access to data to assist building inspectors. As the team transitions from prototype to a production version of their system they’re evaluating the ConnectPort X4 and Device Cloud for their connectivity and remote management needs.

This public record of heating complaints is used to generate The Cold Map.

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After winning the NYC BigApps Challenge and a successfully funded Kickstarter, Heat Seek has had a busy 2014 getting the business off the ground. The goal is to install 1,000 sensors throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx this year!

Not only does Heat Seek provide a system of accountability, but they also enable landlords to heat their buildings more effectively. Want to learn more about Heat Seek? Check out a demo and see how a landlord can use it to reduce heating violations and keep tenants warm.

Yantra 3.0 Connects Technology with Cultural Traditions in Nepal

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This guest blog post has been authored by Sakar Pudasaini, co-founder of Karkhana. Sakar founded Karkhana in 2012 after meeting co-founders Sunoj Shrestha, Pavitra Gautam, and Suresh Ghimire at a Google Developer Group Bar Camp. Since then, the company has been creating innovative ways for students to learn through experimentation, collaboration, and play in the classroom. Visit Karkhana’s website to find out what’s next!

When we decided to turn Yantra from just a robotics competition into an Art|Tech|Science festival we had no idea what such an event would involve. We knew our goal was to create an event that fostered learning by connecting our culture’s values and traditions to new technology and artwork. So with that in mind, we set out to create a festival that featured art that the people of Nepal could relate to, while being fun to interact and play with. And, we are glad it ended up looking pretty cool! You can see for yourself in the video below:

Karkhana‘s teachers, all of whom are tinkerers, had worked on lots of geeky projects but we had no experience creating art. What we needed was to identify the right collaborators. When we were put in touch with Artree Nepal, we found exactly what we were looking for. A team of visual artists – sculptors, painters, printmakers and animators – they were genuinely curious about how they could bring more interactivity into their work.

As the Artree and Karkhana teams began to talk we found a connection around the idea that we could dig into our cultural heritage for inspiration. Could we take an object familiar to millions of Nepalis and reinterpret it someway? Can we help younger people rediscover the brilliance of things they discounted as not-modern by infusing technology? Could we make ‘high tech’ seem less daunting for the older folks by using the familiar? After a bit of conversation we did a little brainstorm and came up with a bunch of ideas.

Several ideas were appealing but none had the simple elegance and strong emotional appeal of the mane (prayer wheel). Not only is the mane a familiar sight in many stupas, monasteries and shrines around the country, it is also fun to play with. Each of us present at the brainstorming session had a fond memory of playing with the giant mane at the Swayambhunath stupa as kids. So we went off to do some field observations…


So now we had the device and the interaction, but we needed the narrative. What story did we want to tell? The story mattered even more because of the nature of the prayer wheel. The traditional mane has a mantra carved into it (and hundreds of mantras inside). It is believed that when the mane completes a revolution the net effect is equal to having said each of those mantras once. We needed to come up with not just a story, but also a mantra, we believed in enough and wanted others ‘say’.

 

It did not take long to realize that all the collaborators believed in learning by playing and exploring. So the mane would tell a story of kids learning while doing fun stuff like running experiments, chasing butterflies, and making things. The video below shows you the end result. The mane is a combination of plastic and copper, of modern materials and older metalwork techniques.


We have also repurposed the mane as a user-interface that controls animation. Each of the copper reliefs has a corresponding animated story that plays when you turn the mane. If you turn it fast, the animation moves fast. When you slow it down, the animation slows. And when you spin the mane backwards, you see the story in reverse.

YANTRA TupperwareOk. Now for the geeky stuff. To make it work we used an accelerometer/gyro sensor, an Arduino, two XBee radios and bit of code in Processing. The whole set up inside the prayer wheel was encapsulated inside a incredibly sophisticated casing i.e. a cheap tupperware box  ;-)

The Artree team drew the characters and the different settings for each story. Mekh Limbu, the lead animator, then took photos of the different settings and moved the characters to perform various actions accordingly. His team then used the different photo frames to make the animation using Adobe Flash. We then extracted the different frames from the animation and placed them into different folders. Then we used Processing to load the image sequences once the XBee (connected to the laptop) received serial data from the XBee transmitter (inside the mane).

You can find all the code at: https://github.com/dipeshwor/yantraMane

 

The Emerging Requirements for Next-Generation Single-Board Computers

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With the Internet of Things and machine-to-machine computing, application demands are increasing. From medical diagnostics and transportation to precision agriculture and entertainment, engineers today are challenged to find new ways to design in greater intelligence, connectivity, and performance. Not to mention that it’s required to do so while cutting costs, power consumption and size. Single Board Computers (SBC) are an ideal platform for quick and focused product design. They continue to evolve in sophistication, and the range of possibilities continues to expand.  As those capabilities grow, so do the choices for design engineers.  But what are the factors that matter most in SBC evaluation and selection?

Design needs always vary by application criteria, industry, and deployment environment, but the following criteria can serve as a springboard for the evaluation of SBC options.

  1. Processor Platform

At the heart of every SBC is the underlying application processor platform. Traditionally, the majority of SBCs were based on x86 platforms and somewhat derived from the typical desktop PC motherboard form factor. This is still evident in some of the form factor variants that are being utilized—Pico-ITX, Mini-ITX, microATX, EmbATX, and others. They range from “standalone” models to stackable solutions, like PC/104, to specialized “blades” for use in rack systems. ARM-based System-on-Chip (SoC) platforms are becoming more capable with an extended reach into the x86 performance bracket, low power consumption, broad operating system support and cost-effectiveness, the SBC now also is an extremely viable option for a host of new applications as well as potential replacement for existing x86 based solutions.

  1. Form Factorindustries_industrial_agriculture

SBCs are available in a wide variety of available “standard” form factors and continue to shrink, giving designers much greater latitude in how they create innovative devices and applications that can leverage a much higher level of computing power.  For instance, it’s possible today to create a compact SBC built on an ARM-based System-on-Module (SoM) solution with integrated, pre-certified 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity in a footprint of just 50×50 mm, only 5-7 mm high. Such an SBC can provide scalable single to quad core Cortex-A9 SoC performance with a complete set of integrated peripherals and interfaces, from storage (SATA, SD) to user interface (up to four display, capacitive multi-touch). A level of computing power and flexibility paired with dramatically reduced power consumption and at a price point that was unthinkable at that size just a few years ago.

In addition, choosing an SBC design based on a SoM provides an almost seamless migration path to direct component integration once an application warrants a custom carrier board design due to increased volume and/or application-specific customization requirements. Given that the SoM stays the same when used on the customer board design, software transition is in principle minimal and the SBC may also act as a reference design for the customized product development effort.

  1. Reliability, Longevity, Availability

SBCs are often used in very specialized and environmentally challenging embedded applications. Specific industry standards related tests for temperature, shock, and vibration will ensure that the platform is able to operate reliably without failure.

The selection of components an SBC is designed with also has a significant importance in respect to product long-term availability. For example, a product like Digi International’s ConnectCore® 6 SBC is built using industrial temperature rated components, which contribute to overall reliability and long-term availability of parts.

Digi’s SBC is also built around the scalable ConnectCore 6 SoM. The ConnectCore 6 SOM is a Freescale i.MX6 based surface mount multichip module with integrated wireless connectivity. It eliminates the need for high-density module connectors, expensive multilevel board designs. It also increases durability in rugged environments and offers a unique long-term availability approach for embedded, industrial-grade Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Last but not least, it also enables you to move to a fully integrated, customized product design utilizing the single-component SoM without the traditional design complexities of a discrete design approach.

  1. Low Power Consumption

Today’s ARM-based SBC designs – even those that leverage quad-core processors – can achieve excellent power efficiency in both mobile and fixed-power applications. The inherent design advantages of the ARM platform and its advanced power-saving modes enable you to minimize and tune power consumption for applications, load, temperature, time of day, users, and other application specific criteria.  What’s more, it also helps you create thermally sound designs appropriate for the usage environment without the mandatory need for active cooling, which affects design complexity, longevity and most importantly reliability over time.

  1. Connectivity

The Internet of Things (IoT) is pervasive throughout almost all applications in virtually all vertical markets. Fully integrated and complete connectivity options must be considered and designed into a product from the beginning. Options include: Wi-Fi connectivity link to an existing network, serving Wi-Fi connectivity to clients connecting to your product for configuration or services, Bluetooth Classic for user device integration, Bluetooth Low Energy for data acquisition from low-power sensors, or even Ethernet for mandating wired network connections.

With connectivity comes the need for security and trusted communication. The next generation of SBCs are equipped with Bluetooth 4.0 capabilities and fully pre-certified 802.11a/b/g/n (2.4 and 5 GHz), software and driver support enterprise-grade Wi-Fi security such as WPA/WPA2-Enterprise, cellular connectivity, and other options to ensure your device is tied into larger computing grids. The SBC can be integrated into any existing IT environment.

Lastly, taking advantage of a secure cloud-enabled software platform such as Device Cloud allows you to build products for the IoT almost immediately, without any need to develop a costly and proprietary cloud infrastructure.

  1. Open Platforms

Most SBCs support industry-standard operating systems, including Linux, Android, and Microsoft Windows Embedded Compact. This reduces learning curves and costs while reducing risk and accelerating development activities.

However, engineers invariably want to customize and refine their device designs as well as make sure that access to relevant software and hardware design components is available right from the start. Be sure your chosen SBC provides full and royalty-free access to source code of the software platform support.

On the hardware side, access to functional and verified reference designs is as important as choosing a supplier that is established and present both locally and globally with their own and partner resources.

industries_medical_medical_devicesMedical Devices

For manufacturers in the life sciences industry, innovation is a non-negotiable requirement.  Product complexity—including the inherent need for products to have seamless wireless connectivity—continues to grow, making it essential to have efficient designs that leverage reliable components with the power and simplicity that reduce points of failure, including support for the long product lifecycles in this industry.

Medical and healthcare devices need to become connected in order to create efficiencies in areas such as patient safety, reimbursement, or even asset management/tracking. The complex and lengthy regulatory approvals further drive the need to shorten time-to-market and focus on core competencies instead of spending time on basic core system design efforts.

The right SBC or SoM solution plays an integral role in bringing innovative medical products to market quickly. As a result, device manufacturers are increasingly relying on them for devices such as infusion pumps, ventilators, implantable cardiac defibrillators, ECGs, bedside terminals, patient monitors, AEDs, and more.

Precision Agriculture

Today, farmers are able to more finely tune their crop management by observing, measuring, and responding to variability in their crops. For instance, crop-yield sensors mounted on GPS-equipped combines can use industrial-grade, ruggedized SBCs and SoMs to measure and analyze data related to chlorophyll levels, soil moisture – even aerial and satellite imagery. It then can intelligently operate variable-rate seeders, sprayers, and other farming equipment to optimize crop yields. Wireless connectivity for cellular or Wi-Fi network connectivity plus sensor integration through technologies such as Bluetooth Low Energy adds a powerful, real-time connectivity to agriculture that drives a new level of efficiency.

Transportation

With focus on operational efficiency and safety, transportation applications are driving the need for connected and intelligent devices.

In situations that require rugged reliability that eliminates vibration concerns, embedded SBC and SoM solutions play a valuable role. In taxis, solutions can help optimize electric vehicles by controlling engine components while providing a fully integrated, state-of-the-art in-vehicle operator interface. In buses, monitoring systems can report emissions levels and the solution can operate fare-collection systems. On a commercial vessel, embedded solutions power connected navigation systems or highly sophisticated fish finders.

Consider taking advantage of connected SBCs and SoMs when building your next product. Significantly reduce your design risk while shortening your time-to-market, without sacrificing design flexibility.

 

This Week in the Internet of Things: Friday Favorites

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The Internet of Things is developing and buzzing all around us. Throughout the week we come across innovative projects, brilliant articles and posts that support and feature the innovators and companies that make our business possible. Here’s our list of favorites from this week’s journey on the Web.

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5 Ways Product Design Needs to Evolve for the Internet of Things | Harvard Business Review

Elements of Connected Products by Jordan Husney | Slideshare

How Formula One Teams are Using Big Data to Gain an Edge | Forbes

Internet of Things as Art: How Sensor can Transform Public Spaces | Biz Journal

10 Enterprise IoT Deployments with Actual Results | Network World

Please tell us in the comments below or Tweet us, @DigiDotCom- we would love to share your findings too. You can also follow all of the commentary and discussion with the hashtag #FridayFavorites.

Future of Healthcare: Life Science Intersecting with the Exponential Increase in Computing Power

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Life science is intersecting with the exponential increase in computing power, and as President and Managing Partner of Google Ventures (GV), Bill Maris sees great opportunities for new technology in the field. Today, Maris addressed a crowd of entrepreneurs and change makers at one of Chicago’s greatest startup and technology hubs, 1871.

Bill MarisAs we see with our customers’ Internet of Things deployments, every sector, from life sciences to retail and transportation, exponential increases in computing capacity open doors for advances that few see coming.

Maris summed up how technology has grown over the last 20 years: “What is 320,000 times better than it was before? Tech.”

As Maris pointed out, today we all have a device in our hands that connects us to the sum of human knowledge. And, the capacity of computer technology is on an exponential curve. In a world where you’re on an exponential curve, everything changes very quickly.

Pulling a page from Slack Founder Stewart Butterfield, Maris shared two photos to make his point. First, he showed a photo of the crowd at the 2008 presidential inauguration. How were people documenting the experience? With cameras— cameras with film. Fast forward to 2012, and how did people document that event? Digitally, with their phones. Each photo shows thousands of people with cameras and phones respectively. The pictures, side-by-side, paint the radical change that happened in less than four short years.

What does this have to do with technological advances in life sciences?

Everything, because the field of life sciences is currently experiencing this exponential curve, as it somewhat has in the past.

In the 1800s, Bloodletting basins were used to collect blood that was taken from a patient to cure or prevent illness and disease. When the basin was full, the patient was thought to be treated. In the 1950s medical professionals used the “iron lung,” a negative pressure ventilator. Today, the negative form of pressure ventilation has been entirely replaced by positive pressure ventilation or biphasic cuirass ventilation.Then, in 1957, the first chemical synthesis of penicillin was completed.

Today, exponential curves are steeper than ever. The Human Genome Project is a great example. In 2002, people thought it was impossible to sequence the genome to 100%. Here’s how the evolution looked: 1990: 0%; 2002: 1%; 2003: 100%.

So, what does the world look like in 2034? “Think about those exponential curves, and apply that math. This could mean diagnoses before you know you’re sick. You don’t change the oil in the car only when the car breaks down,” Maris said.

A major theme of Maris’ talk about the future warned that we should also look to make sure that technology is distributed and that its creators and adopters consider access. In our work, we’ve seen companies use technology as a means of creating access— a project by Orange Business Services and Almerys, Cardiauvergne, being a great example.   

In today’s world of exponential curves, what’s your business doing to ensure your evolution? How are you using computing power to impact patient and customer outcomes and revenue? We saw Maris’ talk as an invitation to beg the question. We’d love to hear about your innovations in the comments section below.

More on the innovations of Digi customers around the globe.

Bill Maris founded Google Ventures in 2009 and oversees all of the fund’s global activities. GV is one of the most active investors in the world, with approximately $1.6 billion under management, more than 250 portfolio companies and offices in Mountain View, San Francisco, Boston, New York, and London. The fund’s early track record includes investments in pioneers like Uber, Nest, DocuSign, and Cloudera; IPOs like Foundation Medicine and RetailMeNot; and exits to industry leaders like Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo.

Photo credit: Hyde Park Angels