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Leading Manufacturers Form Alliance to Deliver Safe, Interoperable Appliances


4 January 2022 – Seven leading manufacturers in the connected home space today announced the launch of the Home Connectivity Alliance (HCA) to provide consumers with safer, simpler and more interoperable options in their connected home.

The seven founding members of the HCA are:

  • American Standard Heating and Air Conditioning
  • Arçelik
  • The Electrolux Group
  • Haier
  • GE Appliances
  • Samsung, and
  • Trane Residential

 

Device interoperability to expand consumer choice

HCA’s goal is to provide consumers with more choices for their connected home through C2C (Cloud-to-Cloud) interoperability, supporting the compatibility of devices across brands.

Yoon Ho Choi, President, Home Connectivity Alliance and Global Head of Planning & Partnerships, Home IoT Business, Samsung Electronics (above), said: “A simple and secure connected home has been a long-standing dream for the industry, and it is time to make it a reality. Consumer homes are filled with long-life appliances and systems from multiple manufacturers. Consumers should have the flexibility to purchase and use multiple brands of appliances that work together and not be locked into a single platform.

“We believe that manufacturers who truly understand their consumers’ needs, will lead the way in building an interoperable connected home ecosystem.”

Uncompromising safety and data privacy

Along with interoperability, consumer safety and data privacy are key pillars of HCA’s mission. Driven by the exponential growth of big data, consumer privacy and data protection have become top priorities for device manufacturers. New smart features on connected devices (like remote diagnostics, remote start/stop, etc.) provide a new layer of convenience. However, unauthorized access to such features would lead to consumer dissatisfaction and mistrust. Connected device manufacturers hold the responsibility to protect consumers from these risks and to safeguard data generated by these devices.

In addition, complex smart devices with moving and mechanical parts–including those with high voltage electrical components and heating elements–require safety expertise from companies that understand these devices best. Leveraging the collective background, experience and knowledge across its manufacturer membership base, HCA will prioritize consumer safety in the digital landscape.

Katherine Shin, Secretary at Home Connectivity Alliance and Vice President of Customer Experience for the Residential HVAC and Supply business at Trane Technologies, provides said, “Forming this alliance allows us to re-envision the power of smart and personalized comfort. Imagine a scenario in which your home appliances and HVAC system recognize your family’s lifestyle patterns and automatically adjust their settings to maximize comfort, reduce energy consumption, and deliver the ideal smart home experience. Not only is this beneficial for the consumer; utility companies can better manage peak demand and manufacturers can provide more energy-efficient products. Together we are building a more sustainable future.”

“We also recognize that smart products collect a lot of data, which makes this scenario possible, yet must be utilized in a secure environment. HCA aims to be the collective voice for home electronics data privacy, where we will agree upon industry standards to protect our consumers’ data.” 

Innovation and thought leadership in the connected home space

HCA members have the opportunity to innovate, influence industry trends, share expertise across peers and become leaders in expanding the connected home ecosystem.

Through collaboration with other standards organizations and governing entities, HCA promises to foster fair competition and drive innovation to provide the safest, most feature-rich connected home experience for consumers. 

Nihat Bayız, Chief Production & Technology Officer at Arçelik said, “As a technology first business and a trusted lifestyle solutions provider, Arçelik is proud to be a founding member of the Home Connectivity Alliance, working alongside other leading global brands to create a seamless smart home ecosystem. In an increasingly data-driven and digital world, consumer safety needs to be prioritized. To help tackle these areas and safeguard customer data, we’re excited to support cross platform interoperability with HCA cloud-to-cloud scheme that is set to not only make our users’ lives easier, but also help them feel more secure in their digital homes.”

Ola Nilsson, Group CXO and Executive Vice President, The Electrolux Group said,

“Electrolux is focused on sustainable consumer experience innovation that can help shape living For the Better. As the number of connected products continues to grow in homes across the world, the need for cross brand interoperability increases to enable great consumer experiences. This is why we are happy to be part of HCA.”

Shawn Stover, Vice President, SmartHome Solutions, GE Appliances said, “Delivering continuous innovation has become critical in today’s digitally oriented world. The HCA will focus on the longer lifecycle of durable goods, how they integrate in someone’s home and their everyday life. Flexibility and interoperability will be synonymous with the connected home and the work of the HCA will help enable ongoing innovation for cornerstone appliances and systems within the home.”

Jerry Liu, Global Chief Digital Officer, Haier Smart Home Co said “The home appliances are important for everyday life. They have unique characteristics and requirements in the connected home environment. We’re glad that HCA is going to create a collective voice of the industry. Haier looks forward to contributing its deep expertise on appliance connectivity, data security and physical safety with HCA member companies to provide global customers a better experience.”

To learn more about the Home Connectivity Alliance, membership benefits and how to join, please visit www.homeconnectivityalliance.org.

Source: Home Connectivity Alliance (HCA)

The Right Deal at The Right Time – Part 2


Rise of the Enterprise Network Operator

IOT Insights Interview with Sam Colley, CEO, Pod Group

“We believe that going forward, a new type of operator is needed to enable enterprises to own and control their IoT networks so they can maximise the potential benefits of IoT. An Operator that is focused on delivering the infrastructure and tools enterprises need to deploy and scale IoT easily to extract maximum operational efficiency.”

Interview by Abraham Joseph, Editorial Director, IoT Insights

15 September 2021

Congratulations on your deal with G+D. How did the acquisition come about?

Over the last year and a half, we worked with a broker to explore growth opportunities. This led to discussions with G+D over an eight-month period and culminated in G+D acquiring Pod Group in July. For us, it was very important to find the right partner. G+D was well placed to help us accelerate our product ideas, and we were in a good position to help them accelerate some of their ambitions. So it was a very good fit.

In which specific areas does the deal enable you to grow?

It helps us accelerate our eSIM ambitions: the idea of a true global single offering for IoT. G+D is the market leader in eSIM and has a lot of pre-existing relationships with carriers, multinational enterprises and hardware manufacturers. This gives us a different starting position and more credibility to accelerate our Enterprise Network Operator (ENO) strategy. G+D brings best in class eSIM security and management, and Pod Group brings the cellular network elements and the platform to manage the overall solution at enterprise scale. There are considerable product synergies and this enables the combined group to accelerate deployment of ENO solutions which are designed to help enterprises own and control their IoT connectivity, for example, private networks, including those based on 5G.  

What is an Enterprise Network Operator?

It is a relatively new concept, developed by Pod Group. It has been out in the ether for about a year and has received a good reception. People are familiar with the mobile network operator (MNO) and mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) concepts. We believe that going forward, a new type of operator is needed to enable enterprises to own and control their IoT networks so they can maximise the potential benefits of IoT. An Operator that is focused on delivering the infrastructure and tools enterprises need to deploy and scale IoT easily to extract maximum operational efficiency. Your readers can learn more about the ENO concept at www.whatisaneno.com.

How do enterprises respond to the concept of the ENO?

What we are saying resonates with them. They agree with the need for the decentralisation of network ownership and the incorporation of private networks. Also, the idea of ultra-flexible networking infrastructure as a service, enabling them to adopt and scale IoT is very appealing.

How does the Pod Group/G+D offering help enterprises with their networking challenges?

At the moment, there is a lot of focus on building campus networks. However, we see the real value in the future as the hybrid model of campus to public to campus, so that you can track things all the way through supply chains. One of our USPs is that we can enable that seamless roaming from private networks to public networks, and then back into private networks again. Campus networks, including private 5G networks, are a big focus for us. Delivering out-of-the-box solutions for this market is one of our key objectives.  

You mentioned security earlier. Given G+Ds security heritage, what security opportunities does this partnership open for you?

Security has always been a huge focus for us and this partnership helps us boost our capabilities in this area considerably. Prior to the acquisition, we were investigating creating higher levels of security from the SIM card itself, but in early discussions with G+D, it became clear that they were exploring similar concepts, with greater resources.

For private networking, a lot of the focus is on security and that's obviously a natural fit for G+D. The company already works with large enterprises to deliver services based on SIM cards, eSIMs and other platforms. These applications offer tremendous opportunities for the combined G+D-Pod Group offering.

Does the new partnership give rise to conflicts of interest in certain segments or with certain customer groups? If so, how do you plan to resolve these conflicts?

Potentially it could, however, the overriding objective for both G+D and Pod is to create long term partnerships. Therefore, one of our top priorities is ensuring that previous relationships are strengthened or remain unaffected. For example, G+D has many existing carrier relationships and part of Pod’s ENO strategy is to help carriers deal with the long tail of opportunities for eSIM and eSIM management. Pod Group already works with carriers that use its platform to provide value-added services for specific enterprise segments, and we anticipate that there will be many more opportunities to work with G+D’s carrier partners as we move forward. Our aim is to become a more integrated partner focused on delivering additional value to them, rather than a competitor.

What about the big guys like Amazon, Microsoft, etc?  Where do you see them positioned vs G+D and large industrial players looking to build their own solutions?

To some extent, it is good that we have some level of standardisation in large, well-adopted environments. However, this can be bad if you are limited in what your application can do or the technologies and solutions you can adopt.

Given that both Amazon and Microsoft have very significant incubator programmes and partnership communities – usually a precursor to them figuring out what works and what doesn’t, I expect they’ll play an important role in the development of IoT. Nevertheless, we believe that the market needs choice and flexibility, otherwise, innovation will suffer.

Tell me about the team and the brand. Will the name Pod Group disappear?

In the short term, we will remain as Pod Group. G+D wants to hang on to the Pod team. We're small, nimble and flexible. Also, they like our culture. We plan to continue running the business as before, but additionally to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves through G+D. We have a major focus on product integration because that's where the most value can be derived in the short term.  In the future, we plan to evolve as a joint proposition to our various markets.

What about changes to the overall mission of Pod Group?

The mission of becoming an Enterprise Network Operator has not changed. The vision of taking it from a concept that we’re starting to deliver today to delivering the full flexibility of network ownership remains exactly the same. Medium term, this extends in scope to encompass other G+D-led initiatives focused on positive real-world contributions, such as measuring and monitoring environmental impact throughout supply chains.

Both you and Carsten Ahrens (whom I interviewed in Part 1 of this series) mentioned that G+D liked the Pod culture, did you build this culture based on a specific philosophy or did it develop accidentally?

Pod was part of a cultural experiment by its founder Charles Tower-Clark, the philosophy promotes transparency, decentralisation of decision making, autonomy and creativity. We have learnt a lot along the way and I think we have found the right balance between very little structure and control to encourage initiative and creative ideas throughout the team, and just enough to ensure that we are all focused on delivering on the business objectives.  

What role do you see IoT playing in sustainability or other ESG challenges around the world?

IoT helps us monitor and control our impact on the environment. It enables us to track things throughout their life cycles, extract useful data and assess impact, e.g., carbon footprint. We need to exploit IoT more aggressively to make better progress with ESG goals. Also, IoT must be made much more accessible. In addition to government and corporate initiatives, we need real-time tools such as apps on phones that show people exactly what each purchase or decision means for both them and the world.

Do you have an interest in Africa?

Our business development team is currently focused on connectivity in that market but we're seeing a lot of additional demand. Much of this demand is for traditional applications like asset tracking and vehicle tracking. Part of our ENO strategy is to enable MNOs and resellers with turnkey solutions. Today, many carriers in emerging markets are not set up to provide IoT services. We are developing solutions to help them sell IoT applications and connect IoT devices. From a sustainability perspective, there's a lot of interest coming from Africa. We see Africa as one of the larger markets for investment, beyond Latin America and Southeast Asia.

What would you like the world to know about your new vision and capabilities?

Simply this. If you've run into problems delivering connectivity or infrastructure for your IoT application, there is now an end-to-end solution from the very bottom of the connectivity stack to the very top as well as within the connectivity stack itself. Now, you have an array of new technologies and tools to solve problems easily and deliver solutions for what was previously a very challenging environment. For enterprises, our key message is enterprise-grade connectivity is here.

Should all enterprises beat a path to your door, or are you focused on specific segments?

Although the ENO model appeals to enterprises of all sizes and across all sectors, the major benefits of IoT network ownership are likely to be of greatest interest to companies needing better control and security of their networks. For example, utilities, mining companies and oil and gas companies. Another important group is large organisations that are deploying applications that require a uniform approach across different territories. For them, the ENO model resolves many problems, including those previously associated with roaming.

Which of your hobbies have the least to do with technology?

Almost all of them have nothing to do with technology. With home-working, the lines between work time and non-work time are already very blurred. When I’m not working, I like to disconnect completely and enjoy hobbies that give me time to process what I’ve learnt. I love history. Also, I like to read. Currently, I’m reading  Entangled Life, a book about how fungi have shaped and continues to shape our world. It is blowing my mind. The last book I finished was Breathe. It gave me a whole new perspective on how to breathe and how breath can be used to improve well-being and manage anxiety.

What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?

I believe that an individual is only as strong as the team around them and so my advice is to always remember this and not be afraid of not being the smartest person in the room. You will do better if you surround yourself with smarter people than you. Teamwork really does make the dream work!

Download a PDF Copy of this interview.

The Right Deal at The Right Time – Part 1


Carsten Ahrens, CEO G+D Mobile Security

“The Pod Group acquisition enables G+D not only to provide the security, but also to take away the barriers to adoption of IoT. One of the things I am most excited about is the group’s Enterprise Network Operator (ENO) concept”.

Interview by Abraham Joseph, Editorial Director, IoT Insights

3 September 2021

How did the deal come about?

We are always on the lookout for opportunities to develop our business. We see a massive market for IoT, for which we have several key ingredients. Combined with Pod Group, we see an opportunity to expand our scope and take away many of the barriers to wider IoT adoption that many perceive still exist.

For us it was a strategic move. Although the acquisition was relatively small, it is an important part of our future strategy.

How big was the deal? I didn't see any metrics related to it – apart from staff numbers.

We are not disclosing the financial details of the transaction. However, we are happy to talk about the team and the capabilities we are bringing on board.

The team consist of about 50 people, the majority of whom are located in Spain. They are on a great development trajectory and we saw a great opportunity to leverage this based on the reach that we have and the contributions we can make.

What does the deal enable you to do now that you weren't able to do before?

Let me take a moment to explain where we came from and the rationale for the acquisition. There are four core components in our portfolio. The traditional subscriber identification module (SIM) that we are familiar with, the embedded SIM (eSIM), the embedded OS (eOS) which we license as software to OEMs and the SIM/eSIM life cycle management solutions (OTA, SM-SR, SMDP+) including our Identity Service Platform for on-line generation of eSIM profiles (IDSP).

The pluggable SIM is still the majority of our business. However, over the last 10 years we were successful in expanding it into embedded devices primarily for the automotive sector, but also some consumer device manufacturers with software licensing business for our eOS.

We are very proud to have been one of the inventors of the eSIM, along with the carriers and manufacturers like Samsung and Apple. When we began licensing our embedded OS, many of our partners told us that in addition to this solution, it would be extremely useful if we could provide connectivity to the devices and entities – i.e., include operator SIM profiles. We worked with another company to address this requirement initially, but knew that having this capability in-house would enable us to address a broader range of features and security and hence add even greater value.

Our identity service platform (IDSP) is a major investment into our data generation capabilities. We need to do this because we are shipping hundreds of millions of SIMs every year that are today manufactured in batches. So data generation for the cards is also operated in batches. To unleash the full potential of eSIM and IoT, we need to do data generation on the fly, with partners sending us input data and G+D generating profiles and sending them back to devices in near real time.

Security is at the heart of everything G+D is doing. People work with us because they trust our technology. Like many other major IoT industry stakeholders, we believe the eSIM, and the integrated SIM (iSIM), will be important security anchors for IoT.  This is why we are enhancing their features and capabilities to boost security and safety of IoT.

The Pod Group acquisition enables G+D not only to provide the security, but also to take away the barriers to adoption of IoT. Currently, a chipmaker, device maker or software developer trying to build a global solution faces major challenges. The same is true for enterprises that wish to deploy IoT solutions across national boundaries. G+D can contribute by helping to make IoT solutions safe, scalable and seamless to deploy. This is the compelling logic of the Pod Group acquisition.

Do you think concerns about IoT security are overblown?

No I don’t. The Internet of Things is the biggest machine that mankind has ever built  and we need to make it safe. IoT devices are sending data across networks, and increasingly, these data sets are being received by algorithms rather than people and become  training sequences for machine learning. In many emerging scenarios, if data is compromised, we might do the training badly and not find out until it is too late – until there is a catastrophic failure.

At what stage is the deal currently? Has everything been agreed?

The deal is closed and everything is agreed. We are actively working with Pod Group’s CEO, Sam Colley, and the great team he built on the post-merger integration process. Also, we have some technology integration processes to enable the new team to make full use of the wider G+D technology base to address new customers and markets.

We're very excited about the new team, their culture and spirit and are bringing the portfolios together to provide a unique offer to the market.

Has Sam got a new role?  

Sam has the same responsibility as before. We like the way he’s set up the company and the way it operates. So the team will continue as before – led by Sam. Both old and new teams will continue to learn from each other and the new team will have more support to continue down the successful path they have had so far. They will have more tailwind, and the combined group will have a wider portfolio of offerings.

One of the things I am most excited about is the group’s Enterprise Network Operator (ENO) concept. When you speak to Sam, he will explain this in detail. For now, I’ll just summarise and say that it delivers comprehensive new capabilities for enterprises to deploy and manage IoT networks easily across campuses as well as across national boundaries.

In the context of campus networks, 5G will not be an evolution like 4G was. It has the potential to be a revolution. I think the amount of traffic that 5G networks will absorb from other connectivity technology such as LoRA Wan, Sigfox or WLAN is probably much bigger than we anticipate today. In Germany, for example, 140 campus network licences have been awarded. In a recent call with NTT DoCoMo, they confirmed that 40 such licenses have been issued in Japan. Similar campus network initiatives are under way in many other countries. Most of these networks will need eSIMs. This is why I think the combination of the two portfolios will be very attractive.

How does the acquisition alter G+D’s market position?

We are the leading player, with more than 230 operators connected to our eSIM platforms. We have shipped hundreds of millions of embedded operating system licenses for eSIMs. This move we are making will remove many of the roadblocks we discussed. So at the end of the day, it will be good for G+D and for the entire industry as well .

Does the deal create any conflict of interest, for example, with your carrier customers?

We don’t believe that our carrier customers will see the acquisition as competitive although Pod Group has its own core network. Rather, as demonstrated by the types of solutions Pod Group has been offering, the acquisition enables us to bring traffic to our carrier partners and that’s the way they also see it.

One of the challenges in addressing the massive IoT opportunity we talked about earlier is the huge variety of devices and applications on the market. Many carriers have challenges serving this long tail of applications. Many also have difficulties with the very low average revenue per user/connection, associated with many IoT applications. So rather than being competitive, we see the acquisition as supportive – helping our partners unleash opportunities in the long tail.

What are the major priorities for you right now?

One key issue that is top of mind at present is the chip shortage. It is a major crisis for many in the ecosystem. So far, we have been successful in managing the situation and meeting demand for shipments. This is a great accomplishment. We are putting a great deal of effort into qualifying new vendors to continue to be able to support the demand of our customers.

My second major focus area – which I am very excited about – is carriers’ interest in using eSIM as the primary activation mechanism for phones. We are getting geared up to support this at scale. We are running data centres that offer this as a managed service with 99.99% availability and carriers are approaching us with requests for significant capacity increases – in some cases double or triple their existing capacity.

And finally, but not least, as we discussed in the beginning, leveraging the Pod Group acquisition to go after new opportunities together with an expanded team and portfolio.

How do you prioritise the expanded range of opportunities you see in addition to the acquisition?

We have a strong business in automotive and we plan to continue to develop this. For us it's very important to continue to innovate in that segment. An example of our recent innovation is  the concept of dual-SIM dual-active. It is now gaining traction with automakers. It enables the consumer or another party to bring a separate data plan into the vehicle for entertainment and other uses. This combination of a car-centric eSIM and a consumer-centric eSIM is very interesting for many players because it provides greater flexibility to present a variety of propositions to vehicle manufacturers, owners and users. Additionally, we are developing a range of vertical solutions – not necessarily targeted at specific vertical industries. The first is track and trace. This IoT application is not new, but enhanced with the security we can provide, it becomes very attractive to many new stakeholders.

What role do you see IoT playing in helping with sustainability and the other ESG challenges we see around the world?

This is a topic that keeps me very engaged. I'm absolutely convinced that if we get it right, IoT can be a massive contributor to sustainability. It presents us with powerful new tools to sense, monitor, analyse and control the world around us as well as our interactions with (and impact on) it.

Independent of its role in IoT, the eSIM will be a major contributor to sustainability. Building phones and other devices with eSIMs instead of traditional SIM slots will result in tremendous savings in material, time and cost (and in turn the adverse sustainability impacts) associated with the production, logistics, packaging and distribution of traditional SIMs. Billions of SIMs are manufactured and distributed each year. With eSIM all this can be done in a fully digital format. Hence I say, the eSIM is the most sustainable SIM.

Download a PDF copy of this interview.

Blazing the Trail in Insurance Digitisation


An Interview with Marijan Mumdziev, CEO, Amodo

By Abraham Joseph

29 September 2020

“Our mission is to be the ‘go-to’ vendor for insurance industry digitisation – the natural partner for companies wanting to leverage the benefits of IoT and big data.”

“The Financial Times named us one of the top five companies in the field of insurance innovation globally.”

What was the foundation of Amodo?

The company was founded in 2013. I joined in 2015 after buying the shares of the founders.

Amodo is a spinoff from a digital marketing company that had been operating for over 20 years. Prior to the spin-off, the company was focused on fast moving consumer goods and B2C projects. Clients of our digital marketing agency included Nike, Molson Coors, Johnson & Johnson, Volvo, and many other global consumer brands.

It was a project with Volvo that led to the Amodo spin-off. For the first time we were able to access the data coming directly from the car and we realised that we could use our knowhow to engage with clients and deliver additional insights based on these data.

Seven years later, we are having this interview. In the meantime, we built a very robust platform that can collect data from many different sources in addition to cars and use these data to improve many aspects of business performance.

We enable our clients to collect data from aftermarket telematics devices, smartphone sensors, wearable devices, neutral server platforms (based on the initiative sponsored by the European Automotive Manufacturers’ Association), and third-party data platforms.

What is Amodo’s Mission?

Our mission is to be the ‘go-to’ vendor for insurance industry digitisation – the natural partner for insurance companies wanting to leverage the benefits of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and big data.

We aim to remain the key global technology enabler for insurance companies that want to create next generation products and services.

What product or service does Amodo provide?

Amodo enables Insurance companies to launch usage-based insurance (UBI) products such as ‘pay per mile’ and ’pay how you drive’. Many of these solutions are provided through smartphone channels – an ideal way to serve the ever-growing market of digital natives.

We have deployments in many countries, where we capture data from end users. This enables us to continuously improve our algorithms and platform. We offer insurance companies advanced analytics that support their underwriting and risk pricing processes.

Amodo is unique in the market because it uses data and machine learning algorithms beyond mere risk pricing. Also, it enables Insurance companies to execute highly targeted and tailored marketing campaigns that drive data monetization – a major focus of whole industry currently.

For which specific markets to you have detailed data?

Most of our data come from European and Asian markets, but we also have data from North and South American markets. Clearly, we are not talking only about driving data, but overall mobility data, where applicable. These data provide the foundations for tremendous innovation beyond driving behaviour and associated risk pricing. For example, they can be used for other parts of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance portfolio as well as in health and life segments, eventually.

Can you give some examples of customers and projects?

We work with BNP Paribas Cardif in Italy, Porsche Salzburg in Austria, P&V in Belgium, Triglav in Slovenia, AIG in the Asian markets, and others. We collected numerous awards with our clients, where solutions were based on our technology. For example, Porsche Salzburg was voted the Best Digital Project in Austria and AIG Singapore was awarded the best Digital Insurance Project in the Asia-Pacific region.

Most of Amodo’s projects today are in the field of motor Insurance, but as the market and our clients mature, we see usage of our technology in many other fields.

How big is the company?

Today, we are just over 50 people. We expect to reach 60 by the end of 2020. Most of our employees are in Croatia but we aim to expand our team in other European countries starting with Hungary and Austria.

Might people not rebel against being monitored?

Over the last couple of decades, we have learnt that while customers might be reluctant to GIVE their data, they are willing to EXCHANGE data for a product or service they find valuable. This principle applies equally to usage-based insurance. Additionally, new generations of digital natives are shaping market preferences and are less reluctant to share their data.

Some months back, we conducted a detailed study among a couple of thousand respondents in Germany. Despite Germany being known as one of the countries that is most concerned about data privacy, we found that 70% of respondents were willing to share data if offered an appropriate benefit in exchange.

How is COVID-19 affecting Amodo?

The initial reaction of the market to the global pandemic was to wait and see how the situation evolves. Not long after, we witnessed several insurance initiatives move to speed up the pace of digital transformation, making Amodo technology even more relevant than before.

We started couple of new projects shortly after the onset of the pandemic. We think this is indicative of the market direction.

What challenges does COVID pose for the future of the insurance market?

I see the impact as occurring in three stages. Pain in the short term, transformation in the mid-term and much faster growth in the long term.

Short-term pain arises from the panic and dislocation caused by the shutdown in many countries.  

Mid-term, transformation will arise because the industry will need to reduce human interaction significantly. This will speed up digitisation. This aligns perfectly with Amodo's business model and technology.

Longer term is harder to predict, but I see a positive impact. Early industry research supports this view.

Do you think that we may see a permanent reduction in travel and in use of cars?

Based on our analysis, we believe there will be considerable developments in mobility in the coming years. Whether we see a permanent reduction in mobility is uncertain. Even if there is, this does not imply that all segments of the mobility market are going to be impacted in the same way.

We are becoming much more aware of social interactions. Some predictions are that shared mobility services like ridesharing will be adversely impacted due to potential risks to drivers and passengers. Similarly, there is likely to be increased reluctance to use of public transport. Both point to a higher use of personal vehicles in the short and medium term. On the other hand, the economic downturn will make it increasingly difficult to bear costs of owning a car.

There are many major stakeholder groups including car manufacturers, their major suppliers, ride-hailing companies, telecom operators and major IT vendors all interested in the insurance market. How do you see the market developing, and what role do you see for smaller players like Amodo?

We advise our customers not to become service providers for connected cars because this strategy takes them head-to-head with many of the large stakeholders that you mentioned. Rather, we advise them to focus on their strengths and to develop insurance products and insurance bundles which they can entice customers to purchase along with their motor insurance policies.

Today, the big car manufacturers do not want to do the backwards integration necessary to become fully-fledged insurance carriers. They do, however, want to pave the way, should they decide to enter the market in the future.

Penetration of the insurance market – traditionally a commoditized low margin business – is low on the manufacturers’ list of priorities. Most prefer to enable the technology to collect data from the car, and then simply sell the data. This is the basis of our technical integration with BMW and Mercedes. We are simply their pipeline to the insurance industry. We get the data directly from the vehicles and help insurance companies tailor their products based on the data.

For the car manufacturers, this is an easy step: sell and monetize the data today and retain the option to do backward integration in the future to participate more fully in the insurance value chain. Once they do the backward integration and enter the insurance market directly, the best strategy for insurance companies will be horizontalization – enhancing their offerings to address a broader range of their customers’ insurance needs. The Amodo platform provides the foundations for this by enabling data collection from homes and buildings as well as wearables, health monitors and other consumer devices.   

So where next for Amodo? What is the next big market you are planning to conquer?

Currently, we are prioritising the European market. We aim to be the dominant player in this market in near future. The second market we see as having the greatest potential is Asia.  The third is North America.

What stage are you at in terms of your financial goals?

For the first three and a half years we were bootstrapped, mainly by founders’ funds and profitable client projects. Then, in 2016, we raised around $1.5 m US. Currently, we are in the process of executing a second – series A – for $10 m. We raised the first $3.5 m with one investor and are in the process of adding a couple of other investors to complete the round.

What is the purpose of this round? Is it the international expansion that you mentioned?

Initially we will focus on sales and business development. Then in parallel with the growth following these investments, we will focus on extending the product portfolio and associated delivery capacity.  Currently, we are mainly a delivery company, with much greater focus on technology than on sales and marketing. We intend to redress the balance with this round of investment.

What types of investors are you seeking for this round? Are you, for example, looking to get an automotive OEM on board?

Naturally, we are looking for strategic partners – organisations that can contribute more than just a capital.  Of greatest interest are those that are particularly well placed to help with market access.

What are the top three things you would like the world to know about Amodo?

The first is that insurance companies have an ever-increasing need for digitization and automation and that Amodo has been building these technologies for the past seven years.

The second is that digitisation and automation are not just about technology, but also about knowhow and data, and Amodo has all three in abundance.

Finally, that Amodo has delivered more than 30 major projects worldwide and is an ideal partner to help insurance companies speed up their digitisation processes.

What are your top pursuits when you are not working hard on Amodo matters?

When I am not working, I like to spend time with family and friends. Also, I like to read. I am especially interested in business and economic affairs. I like to understand the contexts in which businesses operate, the structure and behaviour of different industries and the macroeconomy in general. Often, I use my interest in business as an icebreaker when meeting new people.

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Cyberus Labs Premiers End-to-end IoT Cybersecurity Solution


By Abraham Joseph

– 29 October 2019 – Cyberus Labs today announced its innovative IoT cybersecurity solution ELIoT Pro (Easy & Lightweight IoT Protector) simultaneously at the IoT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona and the Cybersec Forum in Katowice, Poland.

ELIoT Pro is designed to be simple-to-use and to provide end-to-end security for people, devices and data. It combines secure human-to-machine and machine-to-machine authentication and communication with revolutionary lightweight encryption specifically designed for IoT.

At IoT Solutions World Congress, Jack Wolosewicz, Co-founder, CEO & CTO of Cyberus Labs will be presenting live demonstrations of ELIoT Pro. The presentations will be simulcast in Katowice, Poland, at the Cybersec Forum.

During the Cybersec Forum in Katowice hosted by The Kosciuszko Institute, there will also be a demonstration of the very first pilot integration of ELIoT Pro with the smart city systems of the City of Katowice. The partnership between the City Office of Katowice and Cyberus Labs will increase the level of cybersecurity in the connected city, protecting its citizens from the threats of cybercrime.

“We’re proud to be officially launching ELIoT Pro at two of the biggest events on the European tech calendar”, said Jack Wolosewicz (Cyberus Labs’ Co-founder, CEO & CTO), “With ELIoT Pro, we are introducing a revolutionary solution to IoT cybersecurity - removing the risk of stolen passwords or credentials and preventing, rather than reacting to, security threats. Our comprehensive lightweight encryption is specifically designed for the wide range of IoT devices to make any type of IoT networks safer than ever. A key feature of ELIoT Pro is that it was designed to be fully compliant with current and upcoming EU regulations, so you can rest assured that your IoT network will be fully protected well into the future.”

The development of ELIoT Pro was partially funded by an award Cyberus Labs received from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program via the SME Instrument, an EU initiative that offers Europe's brightest and boldest entrepreneurs the opportunity to request funding for breakthrough ideas that have the potential to create entirely new markets or revolutionise existing markets.

ELIoT Pro will launch commercially in Spring 2020.

Cyberus Labs is located at Booth A171  at the IoT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona and in the Exhibition Area of the Cybersec Forum in Katowice, Poland.

To meet Jack Wolosewicz Cyberus Co-founder, CEO & CTO of Labs at Mobile World Congress and learn more about ELIoT Pro, please email james.elms@cyberuslabs.com.  

UK R&D Tax Credits for the IoT Sector


By Micah Levy -

The IoT sector is intrinsically linked to innovation and growth. The sector is growing at a rapid pace and barriers to adoption are becoming lower in the manufacturing, transportation and utilities sectors, among others.

However, many business owners in the IoT space (and technology space at large) are not aware that investment in creating new products or improving their existing products often enables them to claim significant funds annually through the UK government’s R&D tax credits scheme.

The R&D scheme was set up to incentivise technology innovation and can be lucrative; In a typical case of a company that has less than 500 employees and has an annual turnover of less than £75,000,000 companies can claim back an annual benefit of up to 33% of their eligible R&D expenditure, including salaries, contractor costs, materials and consumables.

In this article we explore the R&D tax credit scheme in the context of the IoT sector and give some examples of activities that would enable companies to claim. Our aim is to encourage business owners in the IoT sector to assess their own eligibility and to explore the scheme further if they are not already claiming.

Software development for IoT

Software development in the IoT sector is rich in opportunities for claiming R&D tax credits. There are two criteria that must be met for a project to qualify. Firstly, there needs to be an advance in technology – in other words, the project should add to the existing pool of knowledge in the industry or yield a product or process that is either new to the industry or appreciably improve existing products or processes. (Please note that the claims process does not involve releasing any of a project’s details or IP to the public).

The second criterion is that there needs to be ‘resolution of technological uncertainty’. This means that in order to qualify, a project should have some degree of uncertainty at the outset about either whether the technical goals can be achieved, or how to achieve the goals in practice.

Software development projects in IoT often involve new integration methods or a high degree of experimentation. Since the sector is still relatively young and IoT technologies are evolving rapidly, developers in the IoT sphere are more likely to use non-standard development methods and architectures. These factors would enable their companies to claim through the scheme.

Below are a few examples of specific software-related activities that are likely to qualify for the scheme:

  • Developing firmware for IoT devices
  • Developing applications that process and analyse large amounts of data from IoT devices
  • Designing machine learning algorithms and neural network applications for IoT ecosystems
  • Developing APIs that make it possible for IoT ecosystems to integrate with legacy systems


The legislation that governs the eligibility of the scheme is purposefully broad and each project should be assessed on its own merits.

Design and manufacture of IoT hardware

Manufacturing in the IoT sector is also intrinsically well-suited to the R&D tax credit scheme because the processes involved often require solving unique or novel technology challenges.

The design process of IoT devices often presents manufacturers with additional considerations and challenges than is the norm (e.g.  connectivity, durability, temperature management etc.) and is likely to require more extensive prototyping and testing. In other cases, manufacturers in the sector may need to make major design changes to existing devices in order to bring them into an IoT ecosystem.

Below are a few examples of manufacturing activities that are likely to qualify:

  • Prototyping new devices
  • Materials testing for the manufacturing process
  • Design changes that allow for integration of sensors, receivers, processors etc.
  • Special considerations for durability or resilience against warm or cold temperatures (e.g. IoT devices that will be used outdoors, in cold storage etc.)
  • Testing of various designs that will result in an optimal battery life or better connectivity.


Edge computing and wireless connectivity types

A project that involves solving latency issues through the use of edge computing is likely to qualify for the R&D scheme. The reason is that these techniques are at the forefront of IoT development. Best practices and industry standards are yet to be established and such projects are likely to involve testing multiple solutions before the optimal one is found.

Another rapidly evolving area of IoT involves wireless connectivity options and the way in which they can optimise IoT solutions in various situations.

Connectivity options include the variants of low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) such as Sigfox, RPMA, LoRaWAN and NB-IoT. Any work that involves finding optimal connectivity solutions for IoT assets is likely to qualify for the scheme because it is likely to involve a significant amount of uncertainty (or risk) that would have to be resolved throughout the project. The R&D tax credit scheme is designed to incentivise these types of activities.

Fixing security vulnerabilities in IoT systems

Projects that solve information security problems of IoT assets at the hardware, software or firmware level are also likely to be eligible for the R&D tax credit scheme. Such projects would typically include many elements that attract the R&D benefit: input of highly qualified specialists, use of methodologies that are not well-established in the industry, a high degree of experimentation and technical problem-solving.

Conclusion

In this article we explored several scenarios in which firms in the IoT sector can take advantage of the R&D tax credit scheme. Given the rapid pace of innovation in IoT and the huge potential of IoT in many industry sectors, for the foreseeable future, there will be many opportunities for IoT innovators to maximise their return on investment in R&D by reclaiming tax annual credits.

About the Author

Micah Levy is Co-founder and Managing Director of Innovation Plus, a boutique advisory firm whose goal is to help companies maximise their claim under the R&D Tax Relief scheme.  Innovation Plus serves clients of all sizes – from start-ups and SMEs to multinationals and investment banks – and operates across a wide range of sectors, including software, manufacturing, green tech and engineering. For more information, please visit www.inplus.co.uk.

GSMA’s 8th Mobile IoT Summit


By Abraham Joseph -

This year, like last, I kicked off MWC with a visit to the GSMA’s Mobile IoT Summit, now in its 8th iteration. This event has turned out to be one of the best places at the go to catch up with the great and the good of IoT and at the same time keep abreast of developments in carrier 5G strategies.

This year, I managed to miss the keynotes but caught most of the panel Mobile IoT Business Opportunity and Maximising Value.

Panel members from left to right:

  • Amaia White, Senior Project Manager (Moderator)
  • Owen Moore, Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder, BeWhere
  • Marie Hogan, Head of Broadband and IoT Business Area Networks, Ericsson
  • Ankur Bhan, Global Head of Worldwide IoT Network Grid (WING), Nokia
  • Dr. Felix Wunderer, VP IoT – Products & Service, T-Systems

In short, the panel saw lots of opportunities across many verticals in every region. But there are challenges too, including business cases, skill sets and device prices.

In the run up to this year’s MWC, the GSMA published a new study valuing the mobile economy at $3.9 trillion and  forecasting a tripling of the number of global IoT connections to 25 billion and a quadrupling of global IoT revenues to $1.1 trillion by 2025.

Other highlights from the report include:

  • The number of 5G connections will reach 1.4 billion by 2025 – 15 per cent of the global total1. By this point, 5G is forecast to account for around 30 per cent of connections in markets such as China and Europe, and around half of the total in the US;

  • An additional 1.4 billion people will start using the mobile internet over the next seven years, bringing the total number of mobile internet subscribers globally to 5 billion by 2025 (more than 60 per cent of the world’s population).

Exhibitors at the event included Huawei, AT&T, Sierra Wireless, Gemalto, BeWhere and Quectel. I spent some time with Huawei, who had the following insightful chart highlighting the opportunity spaces they see for the various cellular IoT technologies.

Huawei Cellular IoT Technology Segmentation Chart

Ring of Security


By Abraham Joseph -

Have you ever found yourself in a tricky situation, and wished you could signal someone – anyone – surreptitiously? Would you like to offer this protection to a loved one or friend? In that case, NIMB has a solution for you. It consists of a smart safety ring and an associated service that is set up and managed via a smartphone application.

The ring uses a Sierra wireless module and works anywhere there is an LTE-M or NB-IoT network service. It does not rely on the mobile phone for connectivity. It can operate for up to 2 weeks on a single charge.

I caught up with and Kathy Romanovskaya, Co-founder NIMB (above) and Nicolas Damour, Director of Technology Partnership Development at Sierra Wireless (below) at the GSMA’s eighth global IOT summit yesterday. Both were keen to show off the ring.

NIMB launched the service in the US, where it is offered in conjunction with AT&T. The ring is free with subscription plans starting at $23.95 per month.

The ring can be ordered in a range of sizes. It triggers an alert when a button on its stem is pressed. In the case of the US service, the alert can be to the emergency services, a number of predetermined contacts or nearby NIMB wearers.

Nicolas Damour

The ring has a broad range of applications in personal safety and security. It turns out, one of the first enquiries the team received was from a company that wished to provide safety and security for its dancers. In this particular case, the key requirement was that the solution was inconspicuous when ‘worn’ by the otherwise naked dancers.

Less obvious, perhaps, are the advantages the ring can offer in situations where legal recourse is required. As Romanovskaya points out, if a sex-attack victim was unable to speak, or otherwise incapacitated, but able to activate the ring, it will be much more difficult for the attacker to argue that consent was given. Moreover, there will be a timestamp, date stamp and geographic location for the incident.

Kathy Romanovskaya

We did not discuss the genesis of the idea. However, Romanovskaya’s profile indicates that she had been the victim of a vicious knife attack.

Romanovskaya and Co-founder Leo Bereschansky are looking for partners outside the US. They and Sierra Wireless and will be demonstrating the smart safety ring at MWC in the GSMA Innovation City, Hall 4, Stand 4A30.

Is This The Most Sustainable Phone in the World?


By Abraham Joseph -

Hot from paying £45 to upgrade the battery on my iPhone 6S, I headed to MWC to check out the latest tech. Did I hear you say luddite? How dare you! I’ll have you know that I have it all worked out. Dutifully, I already bought a leather case in anticipation of upgrading to the iPhone X when Apple forces me. Oops, I meant the XS. Actually, I’m hoping that it will be the iPhone 11 or 12 and that they'll keep the same form factor by the time I succumb.

Like many others, I have method to my ludditism, or madness if you prefer. Aside from the convenience of the 3.5 mm jack for a favourite headphone (or for that matter any old headphone/earphone in an emergency) versus having a dongle in every jacket, bag and family car, plus  the inconvenience of not being able to listen to music while charging, many of us question the necessity (and expense) of upgrading, when the current tech is perfectly useful for our needs.

Tthere is, of course, a broader, much more serious issue at stake resulting from the incessant rush to upgrade and obsolescence: the impact on the planet.

What if it were possible to keep your phone and just upgrade specific components as needed? A new processor, a new camera or a new screen when the need arises. Yes, I know, there have been several attempts at building modular phones in the past, and none has taken hold. However, there is such a thing as miss-timing of market entry.

With growing concerns about climate change and other environmental impacts, might now be the right time for a modular phone? Carsten Waldek, Founder and CEO SHIFT, GmbH (above) thinks so. I bumped into him at Showstoppers at Mobile World Congress.

“This is the most modular phone in the world”, he says, as he pulls various components apart while the phone is still running.

Carsten is on a mission. Inspired, he says, by a trip he made to the Democratic Republic of the Congo several years ago. There, he saw the grave damage that was being done to the environment.

He promises to channel all profits from SHIFT into sustainability and social projects. Also, he wishes to inspire the market to adopt more sustainable practices through his inventions. Hence SHIFT in very open with its intellectual property and will not stop others from copying its designs.

SHIFT has designed ten phone models. However, only two are available currently: the SHIFT 6m and the SHIFT 5me. The former costs €555 and the latter €444.

SHIFTPHONES phones are based on the Android 8 (Oreo) operating system and are available either in a 'light' version (i.e. wthout Google Services) or in a 'G' version (with Google GMS certified). Additional OS options are under Development.

Perfect Entertainment on the Road to Mobility as a Service



By Abraham Joseph -

At the ConnecteDriver and Vehicle show in Brussels a couple of weeks ago, I took a break a break from the excitement over mobility as a service to pick the brains of Benoit Joly Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Connected Mobility & Autonomous Services at Group Renault (right).

In September last year, the Alliance Group (Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi) agreed to partner with Google to use the latter’s Android platform as the foundation of their next generation entertainment systems.

“We are focusing on returning the joy of car ownership and use to the driver,” he says, going on to explain that Renault's new entertainment platform is focused on experience and services and that the company’s strategy is to focus on creating value for customers based on the various services derived from connected vehicles.

He says that the decision to use Android was driven by the need to ensure that the Alliance companies could build their next generation entertainment systems on a standard lifestyle platform. They saw customers’ digital lives and connected cars merging, and in order to facilitate easier interconnection, it would be useful if the technologies were similar.

Now, using Android enables them to connect various solutions together in a much smoother way.

He anticipates a relatively seamless integration with customers’ existing lifestyle technologies such as assistants from Google, Amazon and Microsoft.

First, customers want to get the car connected with their assistants so that when they are at home, they can request the location of the car, or issue instructions to the car, e.g. to turn on the heating before a journey. Similarly, when they’re in the car, they want to access their home assistants to get relevant information or issue commands to their home automation systems.

And what about security? This is a very important topic that they tackle at the Alliance level, he says. “We have a 360° strategy for security. It tackles security in the cloud, in the car down to the lowest level, in the entertainment system and in the communications system.”

He adds, "Over the last couple of years, we have been building a very strong cybersecurity capability and now we have an army of experts that take care of security. Also, we are working with leading players in cybersecurity."

What does he think about the conference’s hot topic – mobility as a service – and what will happen to the vehicle manufacturing industry when MaaS takes off?  “It will be an ecosystem play,” he says, regarding the former. “No one has or will have all the pieces.” Regarding the latter, he points out that whatever happens, for the foreseeable future lots of cars will be made.

IoT Insights will publish a full interview with Benoit next month.