Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Weather powered by the Internet of Things, cloud and analytics

Earlier today, IBM announced the creation of a new Internet of Things (IoT) unit and announced a partnership with the Weather Company (parent company of the Weather Channel) to leverage IBM cloud and analytics.  I wanted to share my personal experience installing and using my first home weather station leveraging the same technologies (IoT, cloud, analytics) albeit on a somewhat smaller scale.

Last November, I purchased an Ambient WS-1400-IP home weather station.  My key requirements were low cost (<$200) and cloud integration with Weather Underground (owned by the Weather Channel).  The WS-1400-IP met these requirements and it was easy to install and configure. 
I installed the outdoor sensor array on a tripod on my shed.  The sensor array is self-contained, wireless and uses a solar panel to charge the three AAA rechargeable batteries (included).  There are no wires or cables. 

Data captured by the sensor array includes temperature, wind speed, wind direction, humidity, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, UV and solar radiation. The WS-1400-IP doesn't include a console for viewing weather data to keep costs low.  Instead there is a smartphone and tablet app (iOS and Android) to view weather data.  A web browser can also be used.  

The ObserverIP device connects easily to the Internet and Weather Underground (free!) to share data with the Weather Channel and the National Weather Service to aid in weather prediction

I installed a D-Link DCS-934L surveillance camera ($50 from Groupon) and connected it to my Weather Underground account.  The camera has a built-in FTP server and I configured it to upload a picture, once a minute, to Weather Underground.  

In short, setting up and using the home weather station with my kids has been a great experience and I highly recommend it.  My weather station has been up and running for four months now without any major problems.  I did have to reboot the ObserverIP device once when data wasn't being transmitted to Weather Underground but that has been the only issue.  I also had to clean the sensor array of heavy snowfall a few times but I haven't had any issues with the sensor running out of power due to lack of sun (solar power).

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My impressions of the Windows Phone 10 technical preview

Microsoft released the first Windows Phone 10 technical preview and I upgraded my Nokia Lumia 635 smartphone.   While there isn't much new functionality in the first technical preview, I upgraded to see how Microsoft would make the preview available and what the upgrade process would be like.

Microsoft uses the same "Windows Insider" program that they use on the PC.   I'm been running Windows 10 technical preview on my Lenovo X200 laptop since it was released last fall.

Windows Phone 10 technical preview is easily installed via the new Windows Insider mobile app.  The app is available via the Windows phone app store.  However, at present, there are a limited number of Windows Phones that support the preview:  Lumia 630, Lumia 635, Lumia 636, Lumia 638, Lumia 730, Lumia 830.  Support for additional phones is coming.  If you don't see the app in the catalog then your phone can't be upgraded at this time.  Upgrading involves just clicking a few buttons and a few reboots of the phone.  No PC required!  New features:
  • Full-size Background Image for Start: We believe phones should be intensely personal – so we’ve added another option to customize the start screen with a full-size background image.
  • More Quick Actions in Action Center: We’ve increased the number of quick actions available to you. Windows Phone 8.1 has four programmable quick actions – but with Windows 10 you also get an expanded view that can now have up to three rows.
  • Interactive Notifications: Notifications are now interactive, allowing you to take action directly like dismissing an alarm, or seeing images for maps. For example, for text messages, when the toast pops, you can quickly reply inline via text or voice.
  • Significantly enhanced speech-to-text capability: You can talk to virtually any data field you choose. Your words show up as you speak them – and punctuation appears automatically.  This feature is smart enough to understand when to use ‘two’ – the number — instead of ‘too’ as in ‘also’.
  • More powerful Photos app: From your very first launch, Photos will show the aggregated set of all your local photos and all your OneDrive photos

More details on Microsoft's blog.  Microsoft is expected to release regular updates with new features prior to the anticipated release in the September, 2015 timeframe. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show 2015

I returned from the National Retail Federation (NRF) “Big Show” in New York City last week. IBM had one of the largest booths on the expo floor and showcased a wide range of Smarter Retail and Smarter Commerce solutions. A few of the key highlights:

  • IBM keynote session "Unique and Distinct: The New Customer Experience" by Terry Jones
  • Chairman, Wayblazer, Founder, Travelocity.com and Founding Chairman, Kayak.com and John Mesberg, IBM General Manager, Smarter Commerce / Smarter Cities.  A summary of the keynote can be found on IBMCIA.com
  • Demos of the first wave of IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps including sales assist and pick & pack
  • Power of Insight (the retailer perspective) Understand trends and lifestyle changes by securing and using variety of data (IoT, social, images, on-line, transactions) and apply analytics and cognitive computing to identify on-trend categories, product affinities and new areas for growth.  Dynamic consumer segmentation can determine best ways to engage based on individuals’ lifecycle needs, lifetime value. 
  • The New Storefront (the consumer perspective) Bring the excitement, interactivity and engagement of on-line commerce into stores in real-time, in-context, and gather insights from physical and digital worlds to understand and interact seamlessly with customers. Dynamically adjust to consumers’ lifestyle needs, wants and aspirations, and deliver flexible engagement, order and fulfillment options, including co-developing products and producing on demand.
  • Fulfill on Demand (the retailer perspective) Supply chain is the next competitive battlefield, where omni-channel retailers have advantages over pure-plays and other disruptors. Orchestrate operations, marketing and merchandising to grow sales across channels, and how to optimize store and supply chain fulfillment strategy and ensure flexible infrastructure via Cloud Computing.

IBM Solution Demonstration - the ‘How’
  • Customer Intelligence (Business Analytics)
  • Omni-Channel Merchandising (ExperienceOne – DemandTec)
  • Marketing (ExperienceOne - Unica, Xtify, Silverpop)
  • Customer Experience (ExperienceOne - Coremetrics, TeaLeaf)
  • Commerce (WebSphere Commerce)
  • Inventory Optmization (Decision Optimization)
  • Order Management (Sterling)
  • Point of Commerce (Toshiba)

Monday, January 05, 2015

2014 Mobile Technology Year in Review and Looking Ahead to 2015

The most important new mobile device for me in 2014 was the Apple iPhone 6.  The world's best smartphone got bigger and better with the introduction of two larger screen sizes, iOS 8 and integration with Mac via OS/X Yosemite.

Android took a big step forward in 2014 with the release of Lollipop 5.   As usual, Nexus devices, like the excellent Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet got the upgrade first.  Deployment of Lollipop 5 will continue via mobile carriers in 2015.   There were some excellent Android devices released in 2014 including the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Samsung Galaxy S5, as well as great handsets from LG and Motorola.

2014 saw the introduction of new Windows Phones from Nokia and HTC in addition to BlackBerry but no major OS releases.  Both platforms are expected to receive major updates in 2015.  Additional perspectives on 2015:
  • Apple diversifies beyond iPhones and iPads and embraces the Internet of Things with the Apple Watch and HomeKit (home automation).   Watch for details at CES
  • Google releases Android 6 which includes fingerprint recognition and Android Work for businesses
  • Microsoft ships Windows 10 for desktops and smartphones.  This is a critical release for Microsoft after a disappointing release of Windows 8.  In addition, Windows Phone remains a  distant third in terms of worldwide adoption behind Google Android and Apple iOS. 

On a personal note, here's a brief summary of my year at IBM:

  • Traveled 121,585 miles to 24 cities and 9 countries meeting with clients, presenting at conferences and meeting with other IBM employees.  My conference presentations were viewed over 16,000 times on SlideShare
  • Published 41 blog posts here on on ChrisPepin.com and 7 posts on IBM Mobile Business Insights blog
  • Twitter followers grew by over 10% to 2,600.  Inside IBM, my social business eminence score is in the top one tenth of one percent of all IBM employees.
  • I left IBM MobileFirst Services in July to return to the IBM Office of the CIO for an exciting new position as manager for mobile and workplace evangelism. 

IBM and Apple announced their historic mobile partnership in 2014 and delivered on the commitment to deliver the first wave of MobileFirst iOS apps.   Inside IBM, we're continuing on the journey we began several years ago to become a mobile business.   I've included an infographic below on IBM's progress to date.  While we've made great progress, there is still much work to do in terms of mobile adoption. Watch this blog for more details on IBM's continued journey to leverage mobile, cloud and social technologies in 2015. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How to enable and use AppleTV peer-to-peer AirPlay discovery and playback

One of the great new features of Apple iOS 8 is the ability to wirelessly connect iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch to Apple TV without first connecting to a wi-fi network. Previously, it was necessary to connect both your AppleTV and your iPhone/iPad to the same wi-fi network. Here are a few examples of where this feature is useful:
  • A sales rep brings their AppleTV with them to a client site and connects it to the client's projector. The sales rep delivers a presentation wirelessly from their iPad 
  • Enterprises equip their conference rooms with AppleTVs. Employees, clients and contractors can display their iOS screens wirelessly without connecting to a wi-fi network 

  • Latest model of Apple TV (REV/A) running the latest 7.x firmware. The model number A1469 is printed in very small type on the bottom of the AppleTV. Note that there are three versions of the black "hockey puck" Apple TV and only the latest model has this capability 
  • iPhone or iPad running iOS 8.x with wifi and Bluetooth enabled 

How to:
  • Tap on AirPlay on your iPhone or iPad, select your AppleTV. Your mobile device will be mirrored to the display. I've created a video below that shows the feature in action