Connected Home: Art of the Possible


Sachin Mahajan, TELUS

I have a connected light bulb in my living room. Whenever India plays a cricket match, it turns blue, telling me to switch on the TV and kick back. If I wanted to, I could have the bulb flick on and off a couple of times every time somebody tags me in a photo on Facebook, or BuzzFeed uploads a new article on technology that interests me. I’m also thinking about buying a IoT enabled or connected lock for my front door. It would send me a text message when somebody knocks on the door, so I’d know about it even if I was on the other side of the world. Thanks to a small video camera at the door, I could use my smartphone to see who it is, and to unlock the door if I wanted to let the visitor in. I can do all of this thanks to Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology and an industry  of really cool apps that’s growing by the day.

Home security

IoT enabled home security solutions have been around for a while. You can have a system installed professionally, or you can do it yourself. Cameras can be activated by motion, sending images to your smartphone or tablet so you know what’s happening inside your home. You can be alerted if something unexpected takes place, and you can check visitors at the door. It’s up to you how much you are able to control. You can even extend it to personal security inside the home, say for seniors. There’s an app that will alert you on your smartphone if your 80 year old parent has fallen, or if there’s been no activity in their home for the last 18 hours.


This is where the really cool innovation is happening. Take the connected lock I described above and imagine how realtors could use it. Today, many realtors still hang a dropbox with a key in it on the front door of a house they’re selling. Often, they use the same combination for all their dropboxes. That could be a security nightmare. But with connected locks, realtors could simply use their smartphones to check every prospective purchaser at the door and decide whether or not to open up to them.

Energy management

There’s already a plethora of devices that can do amazing things. For example, there’s the Google Nest. It’s only about $250 and you can easily install it yourself. It learns your patterns and preferences and automates them, controlling the furnace or air conditioning just the way you like it, and saving you as much as 20% on your energy bill. I paid over $700 for electricity last year, I could have saved $140! The great thing about the Nest is that it also understands hand gestures. So if you’re cooking something that you know is going to be smoky, you can wave your hand and Nest will switch off your smoke detector for the next 20 minutes.

What’s next for the connected home?

You wake up in the morning and put on your slim biometric bracelet. It identifies you by your heartbeat, which is as unique as your fingerprints so nobody else can pretend to be you. Your thermostat registers that you’re awake and quickly adjusts the temperature to your preference. You go through your morning routines and prepare to leave for work. The front door unlocks as you approach it and locks itself behind you. You walk up to your car and unlock it with a wave of your hand. Along the way, you stop for a coffee, wave your bracelet over the cash register and the cost of your latte is debited directly from your bank account. At the office, your desk lamp switches on when you enter and your computer boots up and logs you in. You finish early because you’re leaving on a business trip, wave your arm again and everything switches off.  Later, at your hotel, you wave your arm at the TV set and it starts up, ready to resume the Netflix show you were watching the night before, at the exact spot you stopped it. Actually, this isn’t a prediction of something that may happen sometime in the future. The technology for everything I’ve described here is available right now . And it’s all thanks to the magic of M2M. I think you can see from all this that M2M really is the “art of the possible“. That’s why TELUS is putting so much emphasis on it, working with partners who are turning science fiction into reality, today.


The promise of M2M/IoT…


Sachin Mahajan, TELUS

It’s 1998 all over again- the technology hype of IoT/M2M is hitting it’s peak! There is intense excitement at all levels from CEO’s to analysts to grass roots developers; expecting a windfall overnight, so to speak.  Well, I really wouldn’t blame them given the hype created by the latest acquisitions of Google Nest,Thingworx (IoT Platform)and a few others. The ecosystem and all other external/internal factors are coming together to make it a tangible reality in the short term- but let’s peel the onion a little bit to better understand how we monetize it and make a decent return on invested capital.

Like building a house where you have different contractors come do the flooring, wiring, painting etc in the M2M world we have 4 different components- the app provider, system integrator, connectivity provider and hardware manufacturer. Off the lot the hardware manufacturers take home abt 30-40% of the revenue, and the rest split 3 ways for the other 3 today. Going fwd., given the fast commoditization of the bit pipe the connectivity providers will be left with 2-3% of the ecosystem’s revenues and hence the large scramble from operators to move up or down the value chain- namely fabricating solutions/apps for their customers.Clearly, ‎the smarts lie in choosing the right application group to cater to. At last count we had 12 different industries, 58 application groups and thousands of use cases to tap into. Despite all the hype and the choices, the majority of the revenue is coming from a few applications, namely in the IIoT space.
Outside of logistics, fleet and asset tracking there is not a significant revenue stream today, but in the next 3-4 years, the hope is nearly 50-60% would be attributed to healthcare, public safety and connected buildings. Secondly, when i first started talking to clients to know what they wanted…the common feedback was that we love IoT but feel as if we are standing in an Ikea without a wrench or a manual trying to put together a solution which we have no idea about. Wouldn’t it be great if the traditional telcos sold as IoT in a box, and charged us a monthly subscription fee which we were used to paying. The third learning I had was that there are certain IoT solutions which are not vertical specific but more horizontal-ized and cut across almost all industries, and that really is the sweet spot most companies should focus on.

Regardless, its a very exciting time. The power of IoT has not necessarily been unleashed completely, but we are getting there. Things which were considered science projects a few years back are now coming to life and everyone wants a part of it. Drones are delivering couriers, a tap on a phone and a cab shows up and chances are it might not even have a driver. Imagine the look on the face of a cop who pulled up a driverless car a few months back to give them a ticket for impeding traffic, just to find out that it was driven by an algorithm. My plants text me when they need to be watered.…my house tweets whenever there is a knock on the door…what a fascinating fascinating world, wit IoT truly unlocking “The Art of the Possible”!