Blog: Carving out the secret sauce

Carving out the secret sauce

New market entrants do not necessarily see the existing business vertical as an integrated unit like the current range of well established companies. Newcomers experiment, simplify and carve out what has value or they redefine the service to what customers really want but never got.

Here follow a few examples of companies following that recipe:

Newcomers carving out the ‘secret sauce’

A largely unobserved but vital ingredient in Apple’s success with the iPhone was to isolate the regulated part of the functionality. A major contributor to the mobile phone paradigm shift from each-product-its-own-software-variant into the huge app eco systems of iOS and Android releases is attributed to eroding the originally mandatory FCC/ITU (telecom approval bodies) approval for the complete phone including software, menu texts & graphics.  It started in small scale with the shipment of phones with the Java engine encapsulated which created a cradle for small separated apps. Apple’s iPhone however changed the mobile market as the cellular data connectivity from the beginning was a small corner of a general computing device that mainly used WiFi and apps for many other purposes than traditional phones. Thus, the FCC/ITU lost control of the rest of the entity but Apple still certified each radio module proving specification compliance.

Medical equipment going digital

A similar development may face medical equipment verticals outside FDA’s traditional regulatory control of the industry. Potentially disruption looms from new business models of sensory gadgets – including sending digital data to an already FDA-approved cloud, compliant to harsh data storage regulations in every relevant market.

Industry automation is data analysis

The German company Beckhoff has developed PC-based connectors for PLC’s, industry data busses and proprietary industry software. By offering software updates and a flexible hardware set-up they can virtually take any industry set-up and create centralised, cloud-based data analysis, clear trend visualisation and simplified handling of big data. For a production company this means that they can abstract the otherwise technical and not value-creating discussion about interfaces and protocols to the much more important discussion of faster and better engineering.

The automobile industry is changing

With Tesla as the prime example, the automobile industry has realised, that the value of service and continuous updates constitute a significant change of customers’ preferences to a car manufacturer’s value proposition.

Tesla has managed to comply to automobile regulations while continuously updating the product in a software fashion. For Tesla customers, this has changed their perception of a car from an “as is” product to a changing entity.

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Positioning technologies currently applied across industries:

Global Navigational Satellite System: Outdoor positioning requires line-of-sight to satellites, e.g. GPS: the tracking device calculates its position from 4 satellites’ timing signals then transmits to receiving network
–    via local data network, e.g. wifi, proprietary Wide Area Network
–    via public/global data network, e.g. 3G/4G

Active RFID: A local wireless positioning infrastructure built on premises indoor or outdoor calculates the position based on Time of Flight from emitted signal & ID from the tracking device to at least 3 receivers or when passing through a portal. The network is operating in frequency areas such as 2.4 GHz WiFi, 868 MHz, 3.7 GHz (UWB – Ultra Wide Band), the former integrating with existing data network, the latter promising an impressive 0.3 m accuracy. Tracking devices are battery powered.

Passive RFID: Proximity tracking devices are passive tags detected and identified by a reader within close range. Example: Price tags with built-in RFID will set off an alarm if leaving the store. Numerous proprietary systems are on the market. NFC (Near Field Communications) signifies a system where the reader performs the identification by almost touching the tag.

Beacons: Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals sent from a fixed position to a mobile device, which then roughly calculates its proximity based on the fading of the signal strength. For robotic vacuum cleaners an infrared light beacon can be used to guide the vehicle towards the charging station.

Dead Reckoning: Measure via incremental counting of driving wheels’ rotation and steering wheel’s angle. Small variations in sizes of wheel or slip of the surface may introduce an accumulated error, hence this method is often combined with other systems for obtaining an exact re-positioning reset.

Scan and draw map: Laser beam reflections are measured and used for calculating the perimeter of a room and objects. Used for instance when positioning fork-lifts in storage facilities.

Visual recognition: The most advanced degree of vision is required in fully autonomous vehicles using Laser/Radar (Lidar) for recognition of all kinds of object and obstructions. A much simpler method can be used for calculating a position indoor tracking printed 2D barcodes placed at regular intervals in a matrix across the ceiling. An upwards facing camera identifies each pattern and the skewed projection of the viewed angle.

Inertia: A relative movement detection likewise classical gyroscopes in aircrafts now miniaturised to be contained on a chip. From a known starting position and velocity this method measures acceleration as well as rotation in all 3 dimensions which describes any change in movement.

Magnetic field: a digital compass (on chip) can identify the orientation provided no other magnetic signals are causing distortion.

Mix and Improve: Multiple of the listed technologies supplement each other, well-proven or novel, each contributing to precision and robustness of the system. Set a fixpoint via portals or a visual reference to reset dead reckoning & relative movement; supplement satellite signal with known fixpoint: “real time kinematics” refines GPS accuracy to mere centimetres; combine Dead Reckoning and visual recognition of 2D barcodes in the ceiling.

LoRaWAN: A low power wide area network with wide reach. An open standard that runs at unlicensed frequencies, where you establish a network with gateways.

Sigfox: A low power wide area network reminiscent of LoRa. Offered in Denmark by IoT Danmark, which operates the nationwide network that integrates seamlessly to other national Sigfox networks in the world.

NFC: Used especially for wireless cash payments.

Zigbee: Used especially for home automation in smart homes, for example. lighting control.

NB-IoT: Telecommunications companies’ IoT standard. A low-frequency version of the LTE network.

2-3-4G Network: Millions of devices are connected to a small SIM card, which runs primarily over 2G, but also 3G and 4G.

Wifi: The most established standard, especially used for short-range networks, for example. in production facilities.

CATM1: A low power wide area network, especially used in the United States.