IoT & Embedded Technology Blog

IoT Market Complexity Demands Buyer Personas

by Chris Rommel | 12/17/2015

The complexity of the market for IoT products and services creates enormous challenges for the IoT solution marketer. An unlimited set of applications, a complex ecosystem of partners and channels, a wide range of decision makers and influencers, and a continuously changing competitive set can leave the marketer forever chasing his tail. Critical decisions about the content, placement, and timing of marketing messages become extraordinarily difficult in the face of these complex and dynamic conditions. 

Observing these challenges, VDC undertook a disciplined search for tools and methods that could help IoT marketers think and act more strategically, and achieve better results. Read more

The IoT Citizen: A New Class of Developer

by Roy Murdock | 12/14/2015

What is a “Citizen Developer,” and why are we hearing this term with increasing frequency in the industry?

Let’s address the word “developer” first. We are accustomed to thinking of developers as highly technical people with formal training in engineering or computer science, buried in boards and code.

Within a traditional corporate enterprise, developers usually fall into the IT department, where they are tasked with maintaining systems, creating business applications, and allocating spending on IT-related hardware and software. The rise of the IT department grew around the need to purchase and maintain computers, servers, and networking equipment that grew in complexity to support large, dispersed, mission-critical networks and data flows. Read more

VDC Research is attending CES 2016!

by Steve Hoffenberg | 12/10/2015

VDC Research will be attending CES, the giant consumer electronics trade show and conference in Las Vegas in early January. Last year, the conference had more than 170,000 attendees and 3,600 exhibitors with over 2 million square feet of exhibit space, making it the by far the largest electronics industry trade show in the US. In recent years, the show has also become a major showcase of automotive electronics technology.

While we're at CES, we welcome the opportunity to meet with attending vendors to learn more about their embedded solutions and any show-related (or other recent) announcements. Read more

IoT Gateways Paving the Way for New Corporate Relationships

by Daniel Mandell | 12/02/2015

IoT gateways are not only connecting device and sensor networks, they are also accelerating the development of a broad variety of new corporate partnerships and collaborations between hardware suppliers and ISVs, OEMs, MNOs, solution/service providers, and others throughout the broader IoT ecosystem. The past several months have seen a flurry of activity among gateway technology providers of all sizes looking to augment their own portfolios with more functionality, integration support, industry-specific capabilities, and more. The gateway device class will continue to be a critical element of IoT solutions and enabling new channels of distribution for hardware, software, and service providers looking to enter the space. Read more

The Battle for the IoT is Being Fought in the MCU Software Ecosystem

by Chris Rommel | 11/01/2015

System resource restrictions around memory and processing power were one of the fundamental issues that first fueled the development of the embedded operating system ecosystem. Overtime, however, the relative importance of these issues diminished in favor of more robust offerings capable of enabling sophisticated user interfaces and more advanced device connectivity. Now, however, the IoT has catalyzed a new level of market demand for OSs that can operate on MCU-class devices. Read more

Embedded Processor IP Leaders Laying the IoT Foundation

by Daniel Mandell | 10/15/2015

In an effort to foster widespread adoption of their respective architectures and IP, leading embedded processor technology providers have been steadily building IoT-focused development platforms for their engineering ecosystems. ARM, Intel, and Imagination Technologies market comprehensive platforms focused on facilitating interoperability, software development, and security. Each organization is expanding on their development support and embedded hardware and software offerings in an effort to promote the reach of their respective core architectures. Despite some overlap, these leading embedded processor core architecture providers have actually embarked on fairly different paths for the IoT. Read more

LogMeIn Helps Grow the IoT Pie at Xively Xperience

by Steve Hoffenberg | 10/06/2015

Cloud service provider LogMeIn hosted its first Xively Xperience conference on October 1-2, 2015 in Boston. As an invitation-only event, it attracted approximately 200 C-level executives and industry experts for keynotes and panel discussions on the current and future state of the IoT. Although the conference included several demos of technology from LogMeIn and it’s IoT cloud service, by and large it was devoted to the IoT as a whole, and not merely a sales pitch for LogMeIn/Xively. As such, it was more an early market effort to help grow the whole IoT pie, rather than carve out a bigger slice for the host company.

Keynote speakers included Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize Foundation (among his many accomplishments), and renowned inventor Ray Kurzweil (now a Director of Engineering at Google). Speakers and panelists representing a cross-section of Xively customers and ecosystem participants discussed the real-world benefits and risks of implementing IoT. Read more

Security Comes to the Forefront at IoT Security Conference 2015

by Roy Murdock | 09/25/2015

Members of the VDC Team spent the last two days at the inaugural IoT Security event on the beautiful Boston waterfront, where Steve Hoffenberg, VDC’s Director of IoT & Embedded Technology, spoke alongside a diverse and distinguished panel of guests that included various leaders of government, research, and industry.

One of the main themes that emerged throughout the two-day conference was the growing importance and adoption of Security as a Service. If it makes more sense from both a financial and an operations perspective to outsource computing, storage, applications, and infrastructure to specialized providers in order to capitalize on economies of scale and aggregated outside expertise, then it follows that portions of IoT security can also be outsourced effectively. Read more

VDC's Steve Hoffenberg Speaking at IoT Security Conference in Boston

by Steve Hoffenberg | 09/18/2015

VDC's Director of IoT & Embedded Technology will be speaking at the IoT Security conference in Boston, September 22-23. He'll be hosting an Analyst Breakfast Briefing roundtable discussion on Wednesday, September 23, and also on that same day, he'll be participating as a panelist in the session entitled, "Maximizing Technology to Safeguard the Business of IoT." Read more

More Tales from the Road - VDC at ESC Silicon Valley 2015

by Andre Girard | 08/14/2015

In case you missed it, VDC’s IoT & Embedded Technology was recently in Santa Clara for the 2015 Embedded Systems Conference – Silicon Valley. We had the opportunity to meet with and get updates from a number of companies, both at the show and several nearby corporate headquarters. Vendors we spoke with were pleased with the volume and quality of the attendees and many training sessions operated at full capacity.

As we have for the past decade, VDC Research presented the annual Embeddy Award to the organization judged to have announced the most significant advance in the embedded software and hardware industries at ESC. Read more

Lingering Thoughts from NIWeek 2015

by Andre Girard | 08/13/2015

VDC’s IoT and Embedded Technologies team recently attended NIWeek 2015 in Austin, TX. National Instruments (NI) put on an excellent conference and we had the opportunity to take in a great deal. There were inspiring and informative keynote presentations, great partner stories, the heat, interesting panel sessions, helpful one-on-one meetings with NI executives, the strange layout of the Austin Convention Center (it allegedly has a floor 2, but I’m not buying that), demos on the exhibit floor…and, well, did I mention the heat? Read more

IoT Use Cases for Enigma & Homomorphic Encryption

by Roy Murdock | 08/04/2015

Homomorphic encryption is a method of encryption that allows computations to be performed upon fully encrypted data, generating an encrypted result that, after decryption, will match the result of the desired operations on the plaintext, decrypted data. In other words, homomorphic encryption allows a user to manipulate data without needing to decrypt it first.

Daniele Micciancio states the problem that is solved by homomorphic encryption in a 2010 journal article entitled A First Glimpse of Cryptography’s Holy Grail. Read more

Does Windows 10 violate HIPAA?

by Steve Hoffenberg | 08/03/2015

According to Microsoft's privacy statement for Windows 10 (, for the Input Personalization feature, "...your typed and handwritten words are collected to provide you a personalized user dictionary, help you type and write on your device with better character recognition, and provide you with text suggestions as you type or write. Typing data includes a sample of characters and words you type, which we scrub to remove IDs, IP addresses, and other potential identifiers."

Some observers have likened this feature to a keylogger, and it is turned on by default in Windows 10.

In addition, Windows 10 Input Personalization, "collect[s] your voice input, as well your name and nickname, your recent calendar events and the names of the people in your appointments, and information about your contacts including names and nicknames." Read more

PubNub Taps IoT Niche with Real Time Data Streams

by Steve Hoffenberg | 07/13/2015

The tremendous growth potential of the IoT has created a market battle between many large, well-known companies such as Amazon, Cisco, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle. But how do smaller companies and startups become competitive in the race for IoT success? One answer: create or exploit a niche within the IoT. PubNub is a notable entrant in this respect.

Streaming of real time data is useful in a variety of IoT applications, including finance, weather, traffic, communication, E-commerce, security, systems control, home and vehicle automation, advertising, and gaming. Since PubNub's founding in 2009, the company has firmly established itself in the market and claims to be the only global-scale network for real time data streaming for web, mobile, and IoT devices. Read more

Highlights from FTF2015: Seeding Companies with Technology to Create Secure IoT Devices

by Daniel Mandell | 07/01/2015

  • Several new Freescale processors announced from secure MCUs to multicore SoCs
  • FTF product showcases spanned automobiles, hospital beds, IoT gateways, and much more
  • NXP integration ongoing; expected to wrap up end of year
  • Merger adds embedded security capabilities, ID solutions, sensors

Freescale hosted another successful Freescale Technology Forum (FTF) last week in Austin, TX at the brand new JW Marriott and the company kept everyone buzzing with its new product announcements, updates on the NXP merger, and product showcases. In addition, we were treated with expansive and interactive keynotes by CEO Gregg Lowe who demonstrated a variety of ways in which Freescale is fostering an ecosystem dedicated to accelerating the development of next-generation systems as well as Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak. Read more

Microsoft Setting Precedents in Data Sovereignty and Residency

by Steve Hoffenberg | 06/25/2015

Microsoft recently announced that the company will open two datacenters in Canada, to provide its Azure cloud service to the Canadian Government and businesses operating in that country. Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s chief operating officer, said “this substantial investment in a Canadian cloud demonstrates how committed we are to bringing even more opportunity to Canadian businesses and government organizations, helping them fully realize the cost savings and flexibility of the cloud.” (To read the full press release from Microsoft, see here.) In an article in Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper about the announcement, Janet Kennedy, president of Microsoft Canada, said, “there is no technical reason to do it.” The main reasons are data sovereignty and residency.

Data residency deals with where data is physically located and where it should not go without agreement from its owner. Data sovereignty focuses more on why and how a government should protect the data located within its jurisdiction, regardless of its ownership, from foreign government agencies. Read more

Privacy and Security Trends in IoT – Parsing the FTC’s Guidance

by Roy Murdock | 06/19/2015

Privacy and security are both huge concerns for consumers and businesses alike in the evolving IoT landscape. Privacy is the unauthorized use of data by an entity that has been granted access to a dataset. Thus it is generally privacy that forms the relationship between companies and customers, and any breach of this contract is a privacy concern. Security, on the other hand, is the unauthorized use and or/access of data by an entity that has not been granted access to some dataset; e.g. hacking and external security breaches. Both privacy and security goals will be hard to reconcile with the main aim of IoT development: monitoring, collecting, analyzing, and using massive amounts of data.

Whose job is it to protect sensitive data in these rapidly-growing IoT industries? Responsibilities for data privacy and security vary by industry and by country. In the US, when companies are not regulated by another agency (e.g. the Department of Health and Human Services for HIPAA rules on medical patient data), this responsibility usually falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Read more

Samsung Invests in Sigfox. Is the Race Over for Long-Range Low-Power Wireless Competitors?

by Steve Hoffenberg | 06/15/2015

A preliminary market battle has been brewing over the past year between technologies to connect IoT devices via wireless wide area networks. These cellular-type networks allow very low power battery devices to transmit small amounts of data over several miles, a solution highly suitable to many types of IoT devices such weather sensors and smart meters. Entrants in this market include Sigfox, LoRa, and Neul. (In addition, standards organization IEEE is developing the 802.11ah wireless networking protocol for distances up to a kilometer.)

Sigfox announced on June 15 that Samsung’s Artik IoT platform would integrate Sigfox support. Also, noted in the press release, but given less attention, was that Samsung’s venture capital arm is investing in Sigfox. The size of the investment was not disclosed. (See Sigfox press release here.) In February of 2015, Sigfox announced that it had secured from a variety of venture capital firms an investment round totaling $115M, reportedly the largest single VC investment round ever in France, Sigfox’s home country. Read more

IoT Application Platforms – What Company Will Take the Next Bite?

by Andre Girard | 05/18/2015

Few areas of technology or business can match the current levels of interest and anticipation surrounding the internet of things (IoT). Embedded engineering organizations and enterprises alike are struggling to keep pace with the expected rate of IoT change. They are rapidly modifying their business plans to pursue new service revenue opportunities enabled by the IoT. But challenges from tighter time-to-market windows and project requirements that extend far beyond existing internal skill sets is yet again recasting the traditional software build-versus-buy calculation. More organizations now recognize the need for new third-party development and management platforms to help them jumpstart IoT application creation and monetization. Read more

Under Pressure: Your Embedded System Needs to Modernize Requirements Management (RM)

by Andre Girard | 05/15/2015

New variables continue to emerge, making software development in both the embedded/systems and enterprise/IT domains more complex – and in many ways, more similar. For instance, the requirement to design software in accordance with regulatory mandates, which is increasingly common in the embedded industries, now also extends into several segments of the enterprise, such as banking. Likewise, the Cloud and IoT are becoming more of a focal point for technology and innovation in both realms. This is driving an explosion in new software-focused business plans, devices, categories, and features, which are more closely tied to high-value corporate and consumer activities. The future of connected, intelligent products – while providing new opportunities – also raises the expectations for continued content delivery and functionality evolution. Read more

Where To Next For PTC After ColdLight Analytics Acquisition?

by Steve Hoffenberg | 05/08/2015

At this month’s LiveWorx event put on by PTC (formerly known as Parametric Technology Corp.), the news highlight was the company’s acquisition of IoT analytics firm ColdLight. (See press release here.) ColdLight’s Neuron software for cloud or on-premise datacenters applies machine learning technology to M2M and IoT data, automating predictive analytics tasks. The ColdLight acquisition was a logical extension to PTC’s prior acquisition of ThingWorx and Axeda in the IoT space.

At the front end of the product development process, PTC has assembled software offerings for product lifecycle management (Windchill), computer-aided design (Creo), application lifecycle management and systems engineering (Integrity). Combined with service lifecycle management and the IoT pieces, PTC has essentially created a set of end-to-end solutions for IoT product development and deployment. However, VDC believes that PTC could do more to fill out the middle of its end-to-end portfolio. Read more

India Takes Giant Steps Toward Smart Cities

by Steve Hoffenberg | 04/27/2015

With many benefits of IoT becoming apparent, more countries are implementing smart city reforms. This year, India has been the most ambitious in its IoT plans with an allocated budget of Rs. 7060 crores ($1.6 billion USD).

Prior to his May 2014 election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to transform 100 regions of India into smart cities by 2022. As India’s economy continues to rapidly increase with 60% of India’s GDP coming from urban jobs, Modi hopes that the development of new cities will accommodate for the rapid urbanization. By creating satellite cities and improving existing cities, India hopes to improve urban living and increase urban spaces. Read more

RSA Security Conference 2015: Data from Things, and Data about Things

by Steve Hoffenberg | 04/23/2015

At recent trade shows such as CES and Embedded World, attendees couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a sign reading “Internet of Things.” But at this week’s RSA Conference for the cybersecurity industry at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, the focus was squarely on security for conventional IT and cloud computing systems, with IoT-centric offerings sparse. That’s not to say IoT was missing, but rather that it’s presence was relatively low key, which is perhaps a good thing after the past year’s worth of hype. Besides, many system implementations that could be considered IoT are extensions of conventional IT. And increasingly, the IoT is becoming about the Data from Things and Data about Things, rather than the things themselves. With that in mind, in this blog post we’ll highlight two companies at the show with distinct new technologies that are using data in creative ways applicable to cybersecurity and IoT. Read more

Tech Giants Come Together to Steer the IoT

by Daniel Mandell | 04/09/2015

The rising wave of embedded market opportunities is being carried by the Internet of Things. Technology leaders are quickly coming together to ensure their organizations (and hardware solutions) are compatible with new standards and third-party vendors. Open industry groups and alliances will be instrumental in accelerating the development, deployment, and support of end-to-end IoT products and solutions through the next several years - though this will not be the only approach. Read more

IBM’s $3 Billion Stake into IoT: A Low-Risk Gamble

by Steve Hoffenberg | 03/31/2015

IBM has announced it is establishing a new Internet of Things business unit with more than 2,000 consultants, researchers, and developers, and will invest $3 billion in it over the next four years. Three business areas are being highlighted:

IoT Open Cloud Platform for Industries – vertical market oriented big data analytics services

Bluemix IoT Zone – expansion of IBM’s platform-as-a-service to improve development and deployment of IoT apps

IoT Ecosystem – additional partners for secure integration of IoT data and services (existing partners include AT&T and ARM) Read more

With Azure IoT Suite, Microsoft Spreads Further into IoT. Is it Far Enough?

by Steve Hoffenberg | 03/16/2015

On March 16th at Microsoft’s Convergence Conference in Atlanta, the company announced its forthcoming Azure IoT Suite of cloud services. (See official Microsoft announcement here.) Microsoft has existing IoT-oriented services with Azure cloud—including Event Hubs to ingest data, and Stream Analytics (currently in preview testing) to process and analyze data. The announcement did not provide many details on the new services that would be added, but in general terms it said Azure IoT Suite “manages, analyzes and presents [data] as usable information to the people who need it to make better decision.” Specific features mentioned include remote monitoring, asset management and predictive maintenance. Read more

Will Patents Hinder IoT Openness?

by Steve Hoffenberg | 03/12/2015

Coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999, the term “Internet of Things” (IoT) has only recently become a widespread concept. Use of the term began its slow emergence from the tech world in 2003-2004 when popular publications like The Guardian and Scientific American wrote articles on IoT. However, based on Google Trends, interest by tech companies and the public began rising around 2009 with a dramatic increase in 2013, a year filled with smart home appliances and tech giants’ connected device innovations.

To delve more into the increasing interest in the Internet of Things, VDC conducted an analysis of U.S. patent applications and patent awards specifically mentioning “Internet of Things” or “IoT.” In the chart below, the green line represents the number of IoT-specific U.S. patent applications, and the purple line represents the number of IoT-specific patents awarded. (Note that the average award of a U.S. patent takes more than two years from its date of application.) Read more

NXP and Freescale: A Genuine Marriage

by Daniel Mandell | 03/03/2015

NXP’s acquisition of Freescale to form a $40B company is much more than two organizations unifying under a common banner – it is the wedding of leading embedded technology suppliers with similar, yet different, market focus and goals. Both companies provide a rich mix of embedded processors, analog and mixed signal solutions, wireless ICs, and other hardware. While there is some overlap in the companies’ microcontroller, RF, and sensor products, the rest of Freescale and NXP’s offerings are hugely complimentary to each other with cross-selling opportunities in a variety of markets including automotive, consumer electronics, and industrial automation. Read more

IoT Lessons from the Blizzard of 2015

by Steve Hoffenberg | 02/01/2015

A few lessons for the IoT industry in the wake of this week’s blizzard:

Forecasts based on historical patterns represent probabilities, not certainties. Here in the Boston area, we received the full dumpload of predicted snowfall from the blizzard, but in New York City and regions further south, weather forecasters were apologizing for their overestimates. When big data analyses of complex IoT systems make predictions, don’t expect them to be right 100% of the time. Read more

QNX Ex-Owner Harman International Acquires Red Bend Software

by Steve Hoffenberg | 01/22/2015

Harman International is best known as an audio electronics maker, owning numerous brand names targeting consumers and professionals, including AKG, Crown, dbx, Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon, Mark Levinson, and Revel. As old-school “car stereos” have evolved in recent years into multifunction “infotainment systems,” Harman has also become a major player in automotive electronics. Read more

Cybersecurity, Politics, and the State of the Union

by Steve Hoffenberg | 01/22/2015

Even before President Obama’s State of the Union address on January 20th, The White House was touting new cybersecurity initiatives that would be mentioned in the address. Indeed, during his speech, President Obama told a nationwide (and worldwide) TV audience, “To stay one step ahead of our adversaries, I have already sent this Congress legislation that will secure our country from the growing danger of cyber-threats.” This is the first time that the topic of cybersecurity has received such high profile political exposure in the State of the Union, and given the increasing sophistication of hackers, it likely won’t be the last. Cybersecurity is now an integral component of national security. Read more

VDC Research is attending Embedded World 2015!

by Steve Hoffenberg | 01/14/2015

VDC will be making the trip across the Atlantic again this year to visit the largest embedded technology tradeshow of the year, Embedded World in Nuremberg, Germany. Last year, the conference boasted 26,700 visitors and 856 exhibiting companies! Read more