The IoT company behind the curtain

Greenwave Chief Scientist Jim Hunter explores the promise of the Internet of things -- and the challenges it still faces

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Instead of thinking about the technology that I'm interacting with, start thinking about it as employees and start to raise your expectations of what you would expect of employees when you communicate with them. I need to be able to trust my employee. I need to make sure my employee does the job I hired him to do reliably and they have to be able to work well with others.

+ ALSO: How to develop applications for the Internet of things +

If you use that analogy, IoT in general is not as successful as you think it might be or should be and you see the problem. The problem is there's a breakdown between the consumer and the people that make the technology because they speak a different language. The opportunity of a platform like ours is to actually reduce that usability gap.

Is this something that you ultimately see corporations will use as well to bring more order to their own IoT initiatives or to have more outreach to their own consumers?

Absolutely, because it does several things. The value of IoT is there are a lot of stakeholders that can benefit and the consumer is just one of those. The manufacturer of a device can get a better outlook of how that device is being used, provided the consumer shares that information. That's valuable. The provider then can deploy solutions that used to take months of refresh, they can do it in a matter of hours. The provider that can actually offer brand new services without owning a truck, there's a lot of value there.

You take that into the commercial space and look at use cases that may be in boardrooms, use cases that may be around where people work, live and sleep and you get a lot of different use cases that follow the same model. I want more convenience. I want to save energy whether the energy is direct energy, whether it's production energy, whether that's just sanity. With any of these things, technology can help. Given the right platform it has the opportunity to make those lives better and hand-in-hand with that is efficiency. The ability to know more is really what we're talking about and to engage with something that is understandable and something that I can grasp is really important. When I want to talk to something I should be able to talk to something. If I want to gesture at something, if I want to send a message to something, I should be able to do that without having to open a proprietary app to make that possible.

What's a good analogy for this product, for this set of capabilities? Is it an IoT operating system?

My analogies are probably a little bit more esoteric. I think about it as the UN. We have the ability to translate into and out of languages, into and out of complexities. Ultimately, there needs to be a common piece in between that. The best analogy for me in thinking through this as I'm talking here is a company. What you're doing is you're making your technology a company with all the requirements that you would put on a company to be successful. It has to be able to communicate, it has to have a good culture, it has to do what it's supposed to do and do it efficiently. I think that the technology around you is a company that should work hand in hand with yours. I wouldn't actually break it down to a technology, to a router, an OS or anything like that. I would actually keep it at a high level and say what we're doing is allowing you to build a company of technology.

When you hear the conversations that take place about IoT these days, what do you think people are getting wrong?

For me, the first fail that has yet to be really understood is that the moniker 'IoT' is actually a challenge. When you call it Internet of things, you're setting up an unrealistic paradigm. You're expecting that it will be business as usual for the Internet. The Internet was built on this idea that if I'm sitting in front of a screen and I type my information in, whoever is at the other end has the right to use and disburse [that] as needed. There was a subtle agreement that we made with ourselves that that's OK.

But the slippery slope is now it's 24/7 strapped to our body and it's not the same equation. Some companies are plodding along thinking it's Internet of things when it's actually the Internet of You and the things that you have, that you're at the center of. I believe that the companies that are building business models expecting they're going to be able to take everyone's data and generate revenue without exchanging value are the ones that are going to be surprised at the end of the day.

Parliament and congress and governments around the world are starting to become aware of the implications and that there's some danger in the information that's being created. Ultimately, I think the protective nature of governments or other groups are really going to push to keep the ownership of the data. We saw it a little bit in the energy sector -- who owns the data from your meter?

Ultimately it was decided that the consumer actually owns that data. I think that we see the same thing here, we just haven't come to grips with the fact that we can't just take it. We just can't take that data any time we want and turn it into new information and sell it. I think there are some fails in companies that decide they're going to do that. And alongside of that, the companies that are deciding that are for the most part the same companies that are deciding that they're going to be software companies and service companies when they actually are hardware companies. A couple have made that transition, but there are very few that can actually successfully make that transition. Most of them are going to fail.

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