Vognition, SAM Labs and Make!Sense lower barrier to IoTs

IOT photo

By Dennis Clemente

It seems simple enough. How do we connect to this 7.1-trillion Internet of Things (IoTs) market by 2020? Having our voice work for it is a good start, for sure, especially when the world will have 50 billion devices by then.

That’s what What Are Minds For, Inc. (WRM4) and its natural voice control platform Vognition hopes people will do. Last October 2, WRM4 presented along with SAM Labs and Make!Sense at the Internet of Things meetup at Pivotal Labs’ offices in midtown Manhattan.

Michael Liguori talked about how Vognition is cutting its teeth into IoTs, consumer electronics and other remote connected devices and services. “We integrate our solution into our customer’s apps by adding the microphone button into it such as home automation, security, transportation and data manipulation,” he said. In layman’s terms, these could be greenhouses, cars, food orders, entertainment, even videogames.

Liguori showed how it can control your thermostat by having Siri accept his request to lower and increase room temperature.

The platform reportedly allows industry voice engines (such as Nuance) to operate a wide range of connected devices. Developers through a series of API’s can control devices without building complex applications, as they currently do now, for each device.

“We have built and refined it for over 4 years,” he said.

Alon Sicherman of Sam Labs presented next. The London based startup, which recently joined the Microsoft Ventures UK Accelerator program, has created a pioneering Development Kit that lowers the barriers of entry into the Internet of Everything market.

Sicherman showed how anyone, even students, can connect everyday objects to the Internet using SAM.

“We are opening IoTs to everyone,” he said. “You don’t have to be a genius. There’s no coding necessary. Your idea becomes a product in minutes.”

SAM carries a modular library of sensors or sensor actor modules, including a button, slider, pressure, tilt and proximity.

How does Sam work? There’s an all-in-one package to connect to IoTs using Bluetooth. One can just drag and drop modules.

“There are no compiling and predefined relations. Custom code is in java script,” he said. It is also Preloaded with social media and IoT APIs.

Last presenter was Stephen Lewis of Make!Sense, It’s an easy-to-use platform for making learning fun and interactive. It’s a universal interface system that allows you to quickly and easily connect different types of sensors to your computer or smartphone.

You can use Make!Sense to observe movement, moisture, light, temperature, even your own heartbeat! If you’re curious about it, you can probably Make!Sense of it.

Science writer Steven Johnson talks about ‘How We Got to Now’

steven johnson

By Dennis Clemente

Steven Johnson, author of “How We Got To Now: Six Innovations That Made The Modern World,” likes to tell little-known success stories, sometimes or precisely because they are overshadowed by other bigger inventions or innovation and because people thought little of their connection with each other.

At the Huge UX meetup last September 30, for instance, the bestselling science writer cited the printing press as an example of how it was also connected to other inventions. When the printing press produced books, it also revealed human farsightedness that gave rise to lens-making for eyeglasses and later the telescope and microscope.

“People didn’t know they were farsighted until they read from a print that was too small to read. The discovery of the printing press created a demand for spectacles,” he said.

Johnson’s talk was about his book and his new PBS series this October about the history of technology and how gaining such historical perspective can certainly help us derive insights from it, especially in today’s startup world.

Johnson told one story after another from his latest book. Another interesting story was from an interesting man called Clarence Birdseye who got the idea for flash-freezing from ice-fishing. He discovered eating fish frozen after a days to be edible. Where most of us would just sleep after eating, he bothered to ask why the fish tasted good. He would follow little trails (in his mind), experimenting with other food, even vegetable, before coming up with an industrial product that made refrigeration possible.

“(Birdseye) was just curious (even if he had) no clearly defined path,” he said, as most of his examples confirmed. The other key points in Johnson’s talk included the following, paraphrasing here:

• We are in a complicated dance with innovation. We’re led by what technology is allowing us to do. It has flexibility
• When you are trying to get genuinely new ideas and pushing the envelope, you can have these crucial blind spots, because you are working at the edges of possibilities.
• Conscious of patent protection will only make you build walls within yourself
• Focus is not a big deal to him. You want to be a little distracted
• Invention overlaps with innovation but it’s almost the same thing
• When you are pushing the envelope, you get extraordinary insights.
• Don’t assume that technology has its own deterministic logic
• Ideas become imaginable at a certain point in time

Johnson is also the author of “Where Good Ideas Come From” and “Everything Bad is Good for You.” He is one of the foremost experts on the intersection between science, technology and personal experience. He recently gave a presentation at TED Talks.

Numberfire predicts sports winners through its analytics

By Dennis Clemente

Who wants to be a millionaire? Nik Bonaddio did when he won $100,000 on the TV game show and launched Numberfire. That’s the way to get funded without going the VC route.

It’s a great story that Numberfire COO Adam Kaplan liked telling his audience last September 29 at the New York Sports Tech Meetup sponsored by GameChanger in downtown Manhattan. He also took the opportunity to announce the release of its app.

Numberfire has since been working with the likes of ESPN and FIFA, providing unstructured data and leveraging mathematical modeling to mine it for insight that predicts players and team performance.

It’s a long way from ex-jocks giving their own forecasts.

“It’s not based on emotion. It’s quantitative and based on rigorous mathematical modeling. Calculated and delivered on demand,” Kaplan said.

How does it all work? He said Numberfire ingests live data and regression modeling.

An analogy that Bonaddio likes to use from his past interviews is the common cold. You know when you’re going to get a cold. In sports, it can be the same way.

The data Numberfire uses to make projections is reportedly of public record.

Today, Numberfire offers analytics for the NFL, NBA and other sports organizations like the FIFA World Cup where it also leveraged its analytic capabilities in real time.

Numberfire’s monetization model is based on subscription content services and native display ads in various devices.

“We turn analytics into multiplatform products that deliver engagement, revenue and positive user experiences,” he said.

The meetup was also co-organized by Stainless Code. It uses advanced semantic technology to allow easy integration of their metadata logging tools in real-time video workflows. Current clients include Major League Baseball and Turner Sports.

Sponsors of the meetup were GameChanger and SportsData. GameChanger provides scorekeeping, stats, live GameStream and recap stories for thousands of amateur teams. SportsData, subsidiary of Sportradar, provides real-time scores, stats, play-by-by, and other sports info for 40+ sports, 800+ leagues, and 200,000+ events.