Pascal Portelli, SVP solutions strategy & portfolio management at Technicolor’s Connected Home unit, on why the ‘Internet of Things’ really needs to become ‘Services of Things’, and how service providers can use software robots to maximise their opportunities.
Pascal will be speaking at the Digital Home World Summit 2013 event, taking place in London on 18th-19th June. For more information and to register, please visit www.digitalhomeworldsummit.com.
How excited are you about the Internet of Things, and why?
We think that connected objects and their associated services are going to be part of our daily life more than ever.
It is already the case today, with smartphones, TVs, tablets etc being connected to several services or with products associated to a specific service.
However, the Internet of Things will stay restricted if it does not transform itself into what we call the Services of Things. In the end all these connected objects must communicate and share information, content and status with each other to deliver intelligent and ambient operations that really are the future of the connected home.
This is really exciting because devices can be more than connected – they can all be interconnected and speak with one another.
What do you think will be the biggest initial difficulties encountered by users?
We see three difficulties: firstly interoperability, as many players have launched connected devices using different and sometimes competing technologies, operating systems, language protocols etc, and this is starting to be a big problem for ISPs that they need to anticipate now.
Secondly, complexity of developments: developers of new applications have to face similar problems as they have to develop multiple versions of the same application for different operating systems, languages, technologies… This is really slowing down innovation.
And thirdly, security: we are living in a time of true technological revolution, in which a lot of people feel out of sync or suspicious about their personal data being used against their will or stolen. Privacy must be ensured.
How might these be overcome?
The Internet of Things needs a universal communication language, a sort of universal mother tongue. By unifying all proprietary ecosystems, by making products and applications communicate with each other, a new generation of services can be imagined.
We’ve had this in mind when developing Qeo, our software framework for connected devices. Based on a publish/subscribe protocol, any Qeo-enabled object or application can share its status, its actions, its content or anything else that has been decided to be published to others that have subscribed to it.
For instance, a video doorbell can share its camera so that a visitor can be seen on any active screen within the home when it rings. Similarly a user who receives a video call on a tablet can transfer it immediately to a TV screen. The movie will pause and play again once the call is closed. New usages are countless.
For developers, the Internet of Things is a big playground. Qeo allows them to develop their apps without worrying about the underlying technology, OS or ecosystem. It is available to them under the form of libraries and APIs and can be very easily embedded to any existing software, be it in a home gateway, a set-top box, a server in the cloud or any other consumer electronic equipment.
In terms of security, we have a unique research lab dedicated to this area that we take very seriously in order to secure the content we receive from the studios for post-production, the content we distribute through our digital distribution platforms and the content that is generated from usages within the user’s connected home.
When all of this is perfectly secured we can then ensure the usage of this data is above all done to enrich the entertainment and home services, that it is non-intrusive and of benefit to the user.
How do you believe service providers can maximise the opportunities created by the Internet of Things?
We think that software robots – an intelligent entity with reasoning capabilities that provides helpful services to the household – can be the next big thing for services providers to increase consumer loyalty and improve ARPU.
From connected objects to services, we work on ambient solutions which aggregate useful information during the day, interpret them, and propose automated tasks to the household.
For instance, if the agenda of one of the family members, or traffic jam does not allow watching a TV show that seems interesting (based on data usage) then the system can programme a recording. Similarly, if a friend arrives at home while no one is present, the system can identify the person, recognise he is a friend and establish a video call with a mobile phone via the doorbell camera.
According to us, automation of tasks interpreted from a flow of information shared across devices or applications is a real opportunity for services providers. They can better know their customers, propose truly personalised/individual services at a level of granularity never seen today and keep the ownership of the connected home business ahead of new over-the-top competitors and retailers.