Ten Great DIY/IoT Concepts That Are Here & Now

The meaning behind the letters in DIY are readily understood by people. IoT does not immediately spark recognition…yet. IoT stands for “Internet of Things” and refers to the amazing connection between various devices as well as connecting things via the internet. Since the world is becoming rapidly more technologically reliant, it makes sense designers would develop new ways to connect various technologies together.

Can DIY and IoT be fused together? Absolutely! Here are ten truly awesome DIY IoT projects:

Build a Robot

Who wouldn’t want their own robot? Okay, but how do you build one? No one needs to dream of classic science-fiction works such as I Robot anymore to figure out the answer. Windows IoT allows for easily building a mini-robot – a start.

Drone via Voice

The uses for Amazon’s Echo technology is far more diverse than people realize. The technology can be integrated into drone’s allowing for the voice command of the flying device. Just don’t go hoarse trying to use it.

Maintain a Weather Station

Data about the weather comes from all sorts of different sources. Combining all those sources into one central data hub makes it easier to get weather stats without fishing all over the internet.There’s another DIY IoT methodology.

Keeping Tabs on a Car

It would be tough to steal a car if the engine was remotely shut off. A new smartphone app can control the engine ignition, air conditioner, and, in time, more. Real-time tracking of where the car is could aid in tracking the vehicle down if someone absconds with it.

Auto-Tinting for Windows

Sensors built into the windows control the tinting of the windows when a bit too much hit warms up the surface. Once the tint darkens, heat is kept out and comfort is boosted.

Facial Recognition Door Locks

Remember the talking door knocker from The Wizard of Oz? A modern high-tech version has emerged. By utilizing advanced facial recognition software produced by Microsoft, a door’s lock can open for those it recognizing. No more stumbling for keys after this system is set up.

Animal Attack Wi-Fi

This is an intriguing concept, but one people might not want to try for themselves. Adding a device capable of hacking Wi-Fi to a dog or cat’s collar is innovative, but doing so may get you in trouble.

The Magic Mirror

A fairy tale can come true in the form of a talking mirror. Building up a smart mirror allow it to display more than a reflection. The mirror can present all manner of different data including weather, news feeds, and more.

Helping Animal Life in Rivers and Streams

Microsoft Azure can track the temperatures of creeks, streams, and more allowing the system to aid in reintroducing Salmon to the waters and maintaining a proper ecosystem.

Automatic Car Wreck Response

Wow – this one could literally be a lifesaver. A communications system is hooked up to a car and, when an accident occurs, first responders are notified immediately. Such a system could help in a multitude of different serious scenarios.

These 10 are only the beginning of what is sure to be an extremely long list. A lot of DIY IoT greatness is sure to emerge in time.

The Internet of Things Timeline

The internet of things is not a new entity, though many are not aware that it has been around for a while. Modern industry and people like to add new names to an old idea to keep it fresh, but IoT is not something that just happened. It is a decades old and rapidly evolving concept.

Not sure that you believe us? Take a look at the IoT Timeline and see where it came from. Then visit our 2017 projections and see where its going.

IoT Timeline of historical events




Is IoT Security Woefully Inadequate? Recent Events Indicate that It May Be So.

On October 21, a cybersecurity attack took place on connected devices. This attack on the Internet of things was unlike anything that has taken place in the past, and security experts fear that this historic attack is one that is only a small sample of things to come.

The attack primarily affected websites that utilized internet enabled platforms and delivered a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. The IoT security attack took advantage of passwords that were set up by manufacturers, and had never been reset, allowing the cybercriminals a good number of systems that they could exploit.

What we’ve learned, is that there are people who are gaining a great deal of experience with impacting connected devices. So while it might seem small with a series of cameras, tomorrow it could be a power plant, or other series of devices that could result in a dangerous outcome. Companies need to be proactive and to secure their devices, and work on security updates on some of the backdoor items that criminals are finding. It is with better, more secure systems that the devices on the Internet of Things can be protected. As it stands right now, passwords and usernames can easily be stolen, and this can lead to a dangerous outcome. IoT security simply isn’t the best it can be.

In fact, doctors are even stepping in to voice their concerns about IoT security. When the latest series of attacks on the IoT came to light, Dick Cheney stated that his heart implants wireless access was disabled because of fear that someone would attack him. While the increased awareness of the threats is good, it shouldn’t dishearten those who want to break into the realm of the internet of things. All this means is that you need to take the time to explore how to make your networks more secure and work on security.

While a DDOS attack could potentially cripple a network, there are dozens of ways that you can prevent it from ever happening. That way, you can continue to utilize the system at hand, and never have to worry about a denial of service crippling your network in the process. After all, the IoT security is improving and IoT should improve your digital experience, not create a more stressful one.

Unique New Uses of IoT

With more than 25 billion internet connected devices expected to hit the world by 2020, it comes as little surprise that more companies are embracing the evolving IoT technology. There are quite a few companies that have created an incredible world of possibility with IoT.

Johnnie Walker is an example of a company that one wouldn’t expect. When a bottle of their Blue Label is open, it will send messages and information to the cell phone of the individual drinking. This is a full interactive experience that will ensure that the individual is reminded to be responsible while drinking, at the same time enhancing the experience they have.

John Deere has also created a unique experience with IoT technology. With the data that their tractors and other farm equipment pulls, they can tell farmers what the nutrient and irrigation needs are of the area they are working on. This will help to produce better, richer crops for farmers, and ensure they have the best yield possible during the season.

Even the Magic Kingdom has begun to utilize IoT. Disney World now uses RFID tags that allows users to have a better experience in the park. With their wrist bands, users can connect a payment method and purchase items just by tapping the wristband at a register. They can also check into rides and give Disney a better understanding of how people are moving in the park, and what their most popular attractions are at any given time.

Perhaps the most bizarre use of IoT is with cattle. Farmers are now working with companies who can help them to monitor where their cattle are at any given time. This allows them to monitor herds and if someone attempts to steal a cow, the rancher is provided with detailed location in a manner of seconds to help them begin legal action if needed.

As IoT continues to evolve, so are the ways that the world will use this powerful technology. It is important to take the time to consider all the possibilities out there and to expand on the potential that we have with it.

Hacker Duet Exposes More Problems in Vehicular IoT

The hacker duo who exposed the original dangers of jeep hacking for WIRED magazine a year ago, has done it again. The duo whose main purpose is to help reduce the dangers that people face thanks to connected driving devices.

This arsenal of attacks could potentially prove fatal if the technology were to get in the hands of someone else. In their latest effort, they show how quickly a Jeep can be controlled from outside of the vehicle, and how during normal driving conditions, they can cause the wheel to jerk to one side and cause a person to veer into other lanes of traffic to their death.

While some may take fear from these presentations, others look at them as a new understanding of the internet of things. With the revelations so far, Chrysler has taken the time to fix the coding work. This helps to close additional avenues. Although, it doesn’t mean everything is out of the woods just yet. As long as there are hackers, there will be someone who is vested in finding security flaws that will allow them to gain control of a device. While some of the security flaws may lead to minor annoyances like messing with the clock in the vehicle, or the radio changing channels, it can be worse.

In this case, the duo have used new technology and techniques that are still allowing them to bypass the safeguards in place, so they are able to prove just how dangerous this technology is. This information can then be utilized by Chrysler, and other companies that utilize the internet of things, so that they can help to reduce any future danger to the consumers who purchase their products. The dup go a step further and pinpoints for the manufacturer what is happening and why it is happening. That way, when they write future code they are able to create a solution that provides safety.

Sigma Z-Wave Enters the Public Domain

Business and Marketing Concepts, Illustration of Standard Deviation Diagram, Gaussian Bell or Normal Distribution Curve Population Pyramid Chart for Sample Size Determination.

If you’ve been following the various low powered networks and personal wireless networks that are used for IoT, you would have noticed that the majority of them are closed source and protected by intellectual property law. This is not only a bad thing for development, but it can also limit the functionality and interoperability of IoT devices that operate on different network protocols.

This week, Sigma has made an unexpected move by opening up their Z-Wave standard to developers, royalty-free, increasing the potential for new and innovative devices. Previously, only members of the Sigma Z-Wave Alliance had full access to the standard, and even then they were limited by a non-disclosure agreement. It is expected that by inviting more developers to explore the network and create prototypes for it, Z-Wave will have a stronger chance of becoming the leading mesh network for personal home use.

This is not the first time that Sigma has released their intellectual property into the wild. Less than half a decade ago, they made their ITU G.9959 radio design available to other developers, which means that startups and even large companies can incorporate the design, royalty-free. Of course, Sigma has reasons for sharing their technology, and clearly they want to become the key player in IoT networks. With more than 30 billion IoT devices expected to be in deployment within the next 5 years, it is no surprise the Sigma is trying all they can do to gain a strong position in the consumer, corporate, and industrial markets.

Sigma is So Far Enjoying Significant Market Penetration

So far, their strategy appears to be working. They’ve supplied more than 50 million Z-Wave microchips that are now in home appliances and other devices, and their technology is used by 90% of the security companies in the US that use IoT based systems.

Despite this latest news, Sigma can’t afford to slow down. They’ll need to continually develop new technologies and iterate on their current systems, especially if they want to remain competitive with Zigbee and Bluetooth. Bluetooth is of particular concern, especially as Bluetooth 5 is right around the corner, offering 4x the bandwidth of the previous spec, and 10x the range. Bluetooth is hugely popular in consumer electronics, and users are familiar with the name and the basics of how the technology works.

At this stage, Sigma is showing that they’re not afraid of taking risks to be competitive, but it will take up to a year before we are able to see which company is truly dominating the mesh network landscape.

The Industrial Revolutions: A Brief History

Fourth Industrial Revolution

cc by SA 4.0 image of industrial revolutions

Image by Christoph Roser at AllAboutLean.com


What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 or, as it is also known the fourth industrial revolution is the trend that is currently coming into play of automating the manufacturing processes and the use of IoT and other technologies to make industrial processes more readily accomplished. It is working hand in hand with things like the internet of things, cloud computing and cyber-physical computing.

Using Industry 4.0, we create what are called smart processes and smart computing.

According to Wikipedia, “Within the modular structured smart factories, cyber-physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralized decisions. Over the Internet of Things, cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real time, and via the Internet of Services, both internal and cross-organizational services are offered and used by participants of the value chain.”

The term Industry 4.0 or fourth industrial revolution began in the German government with a project that they had created that was markedly high tech. It promoted computerized manufacturing and provided the reasons for that manufacturing to take place as well as how industry 4.0 would play out with other areas of manufacturing such as logistics and supply.

Industry 4.0 provides for changes in the way in which we work. It makes our work smarter and faster and in most cases will save a great deal of money for the factories and businesses which embrace it. For those that do not embrace the fourth industrial revolution, they will be hard pressed to keep up to those who have introduced smarter factories. Better manufacturing, better use of space and better safety results are just a few of the things that Industry 4.0 provides.

For those who embrace Industry 4.0 the results can be faster, better, more profitable results from their business. What’s not to love about that.

Legislating the IoT

While he Internet of Things is a relatively new concept, it does have a few years now since the inception. It is beginning to take shape and to evolve more rapidly, changing the way that we live in dramatic ways.

What is Iot?

IoT or the internet of things, very simply put is a networked set of devices and items that may not traditionally be part of what you would consider computers. IoT is the use of the internet to control objects and services that impact people’s day to day life. These devices may include fitness devices, shoes, clothing, home appliances, automation, security and even medical devices.

These devices send and receive data and may be reviewed and analyzed to assist in our day to day living.

Of inordinate concern to data experts and security personnel is how great the impact may be on our privacy. In fact there is a lot of pressure by legislators to regulate the way in which the IoT is used and to create laws forcing companies to use specific types of security, to control the people who use that specific area of IoT and to cause companies to be held liable for problems with it.

That, sadly is a double edged sword. Much like the legislation of the internet opens the door for controlling many areas of the internet such as the free exchange of ideas and the development of open source materials and software, or the Net Neutrality opens the door and sets a precedent for the lawmakers of the US to legislate other areas of the internet, so too does legislating IoT set a dangerous precedent.

While it IS necessary to control and to provide for the security of devices such as insulin pumps and other medical devices, the concern is that if heavy legislation surrounds anything that may be linked to or connected to an IoT network, the delays and the slowing in development that may result could threaten the core of the IoT movement.

Whats your take on legislating Iot and where does security begin and is legislating it going to bring innovation to an end?

Top Three Skills for Data Security Pros

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Security in IoT is also a necessity

Top Three Skills for Data Security Pros

What you need to succeed in data security? Compliance, Governance and Data Security Experts

If 2016 shapes up anything like the last quarter of 2015, data security in the IOT will continue to be a hot topic for all of us working to protect our work in the Cloud. In my last article, I discussed several trends that we are monitoring at SoftNet Search’s IOT practice area. This time, I will weigh in on the kinds of people who will fulfill the needs of companies who are staying ahead of data security trends.

IT Headcount Going Up

According to all the people that matter, IT will continue to hire data security and other pros in 2016. For example, Computerworld’s recent survey showed that “37% of the 182 IT professionals who responded to the survey said they plan to increase head count in the upcoming year — that’s a significant jump from last year, when only 24% said they planned to add new staff. Moreover, 24% of those polled this year listed “attracting new talent” as first among their business priorities for the next 12 months.”

So how will they find the data security specialists they need? They will focus on these top three skills:

1) Security (General) – General security projects rated number two in the “most important IT projects that survey respondents have underway.” General security specialists, including data security pros, will command higher salaries, with Robert Half Technology 2016 Salary Guide predicting a 5% to 7% rise this year, hitting a range of 100K to 200K on average.

2) Compliance– Small-to-medium sized businesses are racing to ensure that their compliance policies are up to speed, especially if they’re working in the IOT. Healthcare continues to head up the compliance market in this field, with financial services and consumer privacy goals (customer information safety) coming in a close second and third, respectively. Data security specialists and database analysts will continue to command higher salaries—and a track record of managing big data in the cloud – and providing compliance leadership for functional business partners—is a must. Computerworld again: “Exactly 50% of the IT professionals who participated in our Forecast 2016 survey said they plan to increase spending on security technologies in the next 12 months.” Making sure these technologies include built-in compliance gate keeping will be top of mind for data security leaders all throughout 2016.

3) Governance– Many large corporations have a lock on their governance policies because they have the headcount to ensure that Cloud and SaaS solutions across the enterprise fold into their existing governance plans. They can also pull together IT governance committees to get ahead of this issue and ensure that data security guardrails are firmly in place via smart governance plans.

Who owns your data security governance policy?

The problem is, many companies have had to institute ad hoc governance because they don’t have the time to control these policies in a centralized way. Functional, siloed IT business partners might “own” the governance policies for say, customer information, with others guarding HR or manufacturing data. Data security pros with backgrounds in IT governance can help answer IT leaders’ most pressing governance questions in an enterprise-wide manner and ensure that governance rules don’t languish in silos, making your company prone to breaches of policy. Hire someone to answer these questions:

  • How to start instituting a cohesive governance strategy that grows with the company (and its technologies)?
  • Who should we include on our team
  • How long it will take until the governance policy works on its own to cover all of our technologies and foreseeable ones?
  • Who should manage the project and become accountable from the beginning?


If your data security pros don’t have the answers to these questions or have not worked as a team to define governance for the IOT, chances are they will need to get up to speed—and quickly.


What doesn’t work as well?

We’ve watched some companies hire a consultant to help the Corporate Governance Officers (CGOs) with the IT end of their jobs. The problem with that solution is that IOT and cloud-based data security and governance should not be placed on the table in front of a bunch of lawyers that, no matter how skilled, can’t be expected to keep up with best practices in the field. Hiring internal IT governance headcount, if even on a contract basis, works better in the long run and will cost you thousands less without costing you your peace of mind.


If you’d like to know more about the highly-skilled data security specialists I’ve seen in my practice; or if your enterprise requires help with IT compliance, governance or data security in general, definitely give me a shout.