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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That comes to the final thing. There are companies, big ones out there, that are making decisions that affect us all and those decisions are pretty big. For example, this whole Revolv thing is a great example of something that can just rip the waters with regards to how consumers [view IoT], especially if somebody was to exploit it. This idea that a large corporation [Google] can take $299 that you spent two years ago and just make them invalid, make the device that you paid for a doorstop, not because they turned off the service but because they actually bricked your device without offering a refund, without offering interaction. Companies that do things like that are creating a challenge for the rest of us because the next time you have to buy a product you're going to consider what has happened before you make that purchase.

Jim, who is your competition?

In different vertical markets, you see different competitors. We were on Home Depot store shelves with a company that made light bulbs, a very large manufacturer, 800,000 bulbs a year. In that case we're competitors with companies like Ayla Networks or Arrayent, companies that work with a lot of good manufacturers and help them to get a better picture of their devices.

One of our clearest competitors has been taken out by Cisco and that was Jasper. We thought Jasper was the best, the most aligned to our model and our thinking. When we talk about the media core and the media aspect of IoT, companies that provide media products, over-the-top media products or set-top boxes to the end service providers. That would be a clear competitor like a Huawei or Arris or Actiontec.

In the case of connected home, there are some companies that we actually cooperate with. We've got a good relationship with iControl. Z-Wave, for example, we work with, but ultimately they power other companies as well. The key when we look at this is when you think about competitors, is that really the right question? I think the bigger question is: Who are your partners? When you've got as much noise across the landscape as you have in IoT, the big opportunity from a business perspective is partnering. Companies need to come together to offer different parts of the solution for a seamless experience for the stakeholders in the group.

The other thing is that there is a lot of concern emerging these days about security in IoT. How do you address that?   

Before Greenwave, Martin was in Cisco through the acquisition of his company called KiSS Technology, which was the first connected DVD player. The thinking from the very beginning was that this data that's being generated is not data at all, it's content. Content has a very well understood management and security nature to it because if it's content that's generated by a studio, it's backed up by the FBI.

The Creative Commons act identifies content and how you share it and the laws and penalties around taking that information. Because of that, services or people or processes are allowed to or entitled to access the different layers, different pieces of data. We look at it the same way. We look at security as an entitlements management system.

Then there's the standards stuff. There's the architecture in the core, there's the architecture in the home. A lot of people fail in architecture in the home as soon as they decide: 'Well, let the consumer just connect in and see their camera'. No, that's a fail. If you allow them to connect into the home that means you're manipulating the firewall. You have all these IP addresses that get posted online by hacking sites and the whole failure came because you didn't have cloud protection.  

You allowed somebody to go directly to the home. From the architecture security perspective, you make sure that you use proper processes. For example, cameras in the home are streamed up to a server and whenever you look at a camera stream you look at the server just like you would look at a Netflix piece of content. You don't go directly into a person's DVD collection to look at their DVD. You go up to Netflix and you get the Netflix shared document that's in a safe and controlled space.

The third thing is, of course, using HTTPS and MD5 Hash and the right layers of security as necessary throughout the system. I think that these things, good principles, good practice, good architecture, create the security boundaries that actually several companies fail at.

What should people expect from Greenwave in the coming year?

You will hear more about our engagement with companies in North America. We're growing -- by the end of the year we will probably be at about 300 employees. You'll see more about usability and user interaction and I think that's key. You'll hear about more things that we're doing with voice. You'll see us start to use some gesture products. You'll start to find a lot more natural interactions with technology and we're going to build on that.

This story, "The IoT company behind the curtain" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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