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Connected Technologies: What’s possible, why it matters and who’s going to care

By Posted on September 13, 2017

Wayne Snyder
Director, Technology Development

“I don’t know about that!” A recent SNL parody skit pokes fun at the Amazon Echo. I identify with this expression. I’m pragmatic in my day-to-day life and I value proven and efficient solutions that help me live, move, work and play. But my inner circle can also tell you I have an unending passion for exploring ‘”What’s Next”; to understand not just what is technically possible, but why it matters and who’s going to care.

Call it Connected Technologies, call it the Internet of Things, call it the Digital Transformation; call it what you will. Whether you like it or not, cyber is getting married with the physical world all around us, and it’s having a profound impact on traditional vertical markets, business strategy and the customer experience.

There are many factors to consider when expanding horizontally into other markets with emerging connectivity options. Below are a few that resonate well with my work at NextEnergy:

  • Are there partners we can collaborate with to leverage existing talent, tools, resources and in-market expertise?
  • What will customers do differently or better that will add value? Will they pay for it?
  • Are our engineering teams prepared with the knowledge, skills and experience to commercialize at scale now or do we need to rapidly explore low risk, low cost options to test and validate?
  • What level of integration capabilities should our connected product have with other systems? Will it be completely proprietary, provide an API, use open source, or perhaps even have an open source developer community?
  • What wired and/or wireless connectivity methods will optimize the product’s ease of use, performance, reliability, security, and power management?

These factors and more can be explored, tested and demonstrated at NextEnergy in NextEnergy’s smart home, a smart (connected, data driven and interactive) living laboratory for helping partners explore, test and demonstrate opportunities to commercialize products and services. Companies can leverage the NextEnergy’s smart home Internet of Things as well as advanced energy infrastructure such as solar panels, home battery storage and electric vehicle charging to collaborate with cross industry partners to accelerate horizontal market offerings. The NextEnergy’s smart home has many connectivity options and smart devices, some of which are listed below:

  • Amazon Echo and Google Home digital voice assistants
  • Bosch Home Connect platform with coffee maker and refrigerator that can work with Nest and Amazon Echo
  • SmartThings hub
  • Belkin WeMo Insight energy switches
  • Nextek Power Systems DC powered cloud controlled lighting
  • Sensors for location presence, water leaks, temperature, lighting, motion, etc.
  • Industrial energy metering
  • Backend industrial IoT data acquisition platform
  • Highly configurable, ultra-low cost Raspberry Pi’s
  • Communication technologies such as WiFi, Ethernet, Bluetooth Low Energy, 6LoWPAN, ZWave, Zigbee, UPnP, ISO 15118 and Modbus over TCP/IP

Connected Technologies are exponentially enabling new possibilities for integrated, seamless experiences that can add value to how we live, move work and play. NextEnergy’s smart home is a great asset to leverage in order to develop understandings of technical feasibility, business value propositions, and educational merit.


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