Blog Post

Will the Internet of things turn into a Tower of Babel?

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Transcription details:
Date:
18-Oct-2013
Input sound file:
10-16 am Session 1_1004.MP3

Transcription results:
Session name: Building the Internet of Everything near me
Speakers:
Chris Albrecht
Kevin Tofel
Rob Chandhok

Chris Albrecht 00:02
The watch is great but I need somebody to go running for me because that makes it a lot easier for me. All Right, keeping hings rolling I’m going to bring out as I mentioned him earlier, Kevin Tofel, he is not only a Senior Writer with GigaOM but also the Co-Host of our Chrome Show Podcast, which I recommend you all check out. He’s going to be talking with Rob Chandhok, the SVP of Qualcomm Technologies and President, Qualcomm Interactive Platform and they’re going to be discussing building the internet of everything near me. Welcome them now to the stage please.

[Music]
Kevin Tofel 00:39
Have a seat on my chair there Rob. Rob make yourself comfortable? So, Rob and I chatted last night and we’ll probably rehash a little bit about that and it’s unfortunate we have 15 minutes because we could probably talk for about three hours. We really get into this stuff. I’ll leave time for questions I know we have the microphones up front so step up and ask away. It might be hard for me to see you but I’ll call that out with a couple minutes to go. So, first of all Rob thanks for being here, appreciate it. Connecting the internet of things around me; that means so many things. It could me wearable’s, it could mean devices in my home and such. Instead of focusing on cloud connections and such, why don’t we talk first about connecting devices in the home because we were talking earlier about all these connected things in the house that don’t talk to each other. So, what’s Qualcomm thinking about that thinking about that? I know you guys have your AllJoyn initiative so maybe we can talk about that and see how that and see how that fits in.
Rob Chandhok 01:34
First of all really the focus of AllJoyn is thinking about exactly what the title of the talk is about which is the things near me. Sometimes that sort of collapses into the home because we can also identify with, I’d like to be automating those things. But, in all honesty it’s really about discovering things. It’s in a mobile sense too. AllJoyn started as, How do we make mobile phones speak to each other so developers can build multi-device experiences. We started that about three years ago. Now, we’ve branched out into working with consumer electronics and appliance manufacturers. We actually in Burland at EFA showed a Haier air conditioner that actually sent messages that showed up on TV’s and smartphones and multiple languages and even showed up on a watch because a the watch listens to all notifications. So, what we’re looking at with All is how do we build that platform? Sometimes I call it the HTTP of the internet of things that enables in the ecosystem to bloom just like what Tim Berners-Lee did enabled the web to blossom into a huge economy.
Kevin Tofel 02:37
So, is that ecosystem in the Qualcomm vision is that Apps? Or, is that API’s? Is that both? What’s the thought?
Rob Chandhok 02:46
I think it’s probably both but I don’t know that we’re going to create new Apps ecosystems. I think they’re going to live on the devices that we use now. It’s already hard enough to curate the multiple devices that I have. I think a lot of it is actually going to be around inter-operable API’s and not to over sell the point but, again, look to the web as to what worked. When we were able to actually build systems that talked to each other, provide services, the very first real API I would argue in the web was actually the fact that you could fetch an image from another URL and that’s how advertising started. Tim didn’t intend that to be the advertising API but it turned into that. Right? So, I think those API’s if we can standardize them in a way then developers can actually take advantage of them.
Kevin Tofel 03:32
So, I guess the AllJoyn is more of a in-house machine to machine type work?
Rob Chandhok 03:40
It’s really focused on services and a lot about services that have to do more with what people will use. So, some of the things in AllJoyn, I mentioned this notification service, are intended for messages that devices generate or services generate intended to be consumed by people. We stayed away classic M to M in particular because first of all, those economies are going to be highly regulated; you’re going to have governments and utilities and so forth, dealing with that. We don’t want the electric grid to have such a random messages flying around controlling generators and turning things on and off but in your home in your control you have a different standard to sensor. We focused on the consumers side of the internet of things rather than on the industrial side of the internet of things.
Kevin Tofel 04:28
In terms of networks and how that all fits in is this something that works over WiFi? Or, is it something entirely different? A different protocol, a different standard?
Rob Chandhok 04:37
Yes. It’s designed to work over any physical layer. That’s another thing that I think is a course correction the industry has to take which is we have the internet which is very agnostic to the physical layer it runs over. It runs over all kinds of different wired and wireless protocols, right? And, extending the internet App to your mobile phone is something Qualcomm had a large hand in. Yet on the device side we said, Oh, if you’re going to do this cool thing, here’s the radio that you use, it’s Bluetooth or it’s Zigbee or it’s Z-Wave. As a result, the people that one to build an experiences on top of that either have to know all these radios or build boxes that have seven radios in them that do all this tower babble stuff. So, what we try to do is say, Here’s a protocol that developers can think about and then the people who build systems can map it to physical layers and then we can innovate on the radios because new things are coming; 11AH for the internet and things and the WiFi family. Those kinds of things that innovation should happen at a different pace than what we do in the upper layer protocols.
Kevin Tofel 05:38
And, if somebody who is putting together that tower of babble, my home automation systems uses about four different protocols and five different Apps, as a consumer there’s no easy solution out there. And, there have been so many attempts at this and it has just never worked right.
Rob Chandhok 05:54
It’s a classic example of when there’s an App for that and it doesn’t work, right? What we want is there’s an API for that. So, what we want developers to do is compete on the experiences that they will create. What you want is somebody to say, I have a better home controller for you that works with all these devices rather than, My device is better than that device. Because I’m never going to have a single brand and I’m never going to have just a single system in my house. It’s going to evolve over time. Sometimes those timelines are 15 years long. I don’t buy refrigerators that often, right? So, we have to think about that kind of aspect of the system.
Kevin Tofel 06:29
And you guys are open sourcing if I’m not mistaken?
Rob Chandhok 06:31
It has been open sourced for over two years.
Kevin Tofel 06:34
Interesting.
Rob Chandhok 06:34
Which is a shocker to a lot of people that Qualcomm would do that but that’s how strongly we believe it. All the way up to the CEO, Paul, we know that in order to make this ecosystem work it has to have this inter-operability basis. We’re happy to innovate on our product offerings and have our competitors also innovate on it because we want the ecosystem to be created. We want to stop this single point vertical solutions.
Kevin Tofel 07:00
And, actually that almost answers my next question in that what does Qualcomm gain from this?
Rob Chandhok 07:07
The real simple answer is if more things are connected we’ll sell more connectivity. It’s no magic or ulterior motive. We want things to be connected. We’re really good at building connectivity and other people are really good about building experiences and all that stuff.
Kevin Tofel 07:26
All right, let’s switch it up a little bit. You mentioned how this is the consumer focus and being somebody who covers the consumers space, I think I’ve tried every smart watch that’s out there. I’m still wearing one from two years ago because nothing of late has peaked my interest. Although, you guys have something new that you guys – was that last month?
Rob Chandhok 07:45
I setup an up-link on the fourth. Yes, there’s another watch now that’s it’s that day, too, I think [chuckle].
Kevin Tofel 07:51
We’ll leave it at that [chuckle]. So, this is interesting because you guys don’t typically get into the end user space. The chips inside the devices, right?
Rob Chandhok 08:00
Right.
Kevin Tofel 08:01
But, with Toq, the smartwatch, you have a limited run of those going out to folks?
Rob Chandhok 08:07
Yes. We are not turning into a C company. It’s success for us in this market is actually our partners and our customers taking parts of the design and adapting it to their industrial design, their experience and going with it. We did want to make a statement about a couple things; one is we think wearable’s need always on experiences. So, part of the watch, I’m not trying to shill it up here or anything like that, but part of the watch is always on display that we have in the Mirosol technology. Part of it is wireless charge we think is really interesting for wearable’s because as the things that you want to put on your body get smaller being able to put plugs on them gets harder and harder. So, just being able to toss them into a tray and charge them I think is a really good user experience. We want to experiment with that. In addition, the watch does things like talk to things around you because the watch, actually, through its companion App on the phone listen on the Ultra Network as well.
Kevin Tofel 09:04
As far as the watch, it’s showcase in the Mirasol technology that’s surely helping with battery life.
Rob Chandhok 09:11
Yes. For 90 days.
Kevin Tofel 09:13
For folks who aren’t familiar Mirasol it’s been around for a couple years now.
Rob Chandhok 09:16
Yes, it has and we made some forays into the e-reader market but we’re really right now focused on what places the always on really matters. I can tell you you’ve been wearing a watch for a couple years, I haven’t had a part of this project for that long and I now don’t want to take this watch off. Even though I have other really nice watches that I like and they’re more jewelry than they are convenience. This is a productivity thing for me. It’s actually something I want to wear which almost surprised me but delights me.
Kevin Tofel 09:47
Well, for folks who haven’t seen it and I don’t know who you all work with on design, it’s actually a very thin watch by comparison to most–
Rob Chandhok 09:55
Do you want me to take it off?
Kevin Tofel 09:56
I want you to give it to me actually [laughter].
Rob Chandhok 09:59
It has all my texts and calls and that there. So, —
Kevin Tofel 10:01
It’s quite thin compared to say the new Galaxy Gear or my MOTOACTIV that I have been wearing for two years.
Rob Chandhok 10:08
We played around with that that battery is actually down in the band. That’s why we were able to play with it.
Kevin Tofel 10:12
I see. So, here’s your battery here. It makes sense to me here to be able to, as you said, toss it into a tray and have it just charge and not worry about it. What’s the battery life on this?
Rob Chandhok 10:20
Days not weeks.
Kevin Tofel 10:24
Not weeks.
Rob Chandhok 10:25
Somewhere in there.
Kevin Tofel 10:26
And, the fact that it’s always on is nice because most of my smart watches have a very aggressive disablement of the screen to save battery life and every day we have to charge them.
Rob Chandhok 10:35
That’s the interesting thing about Mirasol you can actually do video on it. It is a color display with video but in it’s quieted state it’s actually micro amps of standby current. So, you can actually do things quite differently on there. We were talking a little bit back stage there, I think the opportunity here for those who are making wearable’s is actually to think about what the interfaces are to these devices because I may want to put on a different watch for fitness then put on a different watch productivity, then put on a different watch for fashion. But I don’t want my services to all be disparate from each other. So, I think it’s really important for the industry to think about what does it mean for the Apps that are on my phone already to take advantage of another display or another set of devices that are near me. That makes it harder to do but I think it will also make it better for the consumer.
Kevin Tofel 11:24
It’s a better experience if it’s not as fragmented and such. So, I’m looking, do we have any questions out there? I see nobody at the mic’s right now. There’s one. Would you guide right here by the microphone.
Audience Member 1 11:41
In regards to the AllJoyn, why AllJoyn as oppose to just BLE?
Rob Chandhok 11:45
Well, BLE is a physical layer, right? It doesn’t map to all the other parts of the ecosystem. You can run AllJoyn on top of BLE if you want to. We don’t specifically have a driver for it yet but somebody could do that. We actually run over Bluetooth classic if you want to call it. So, the real thing there is we wanted to separate the physical layer from the protocol layer. There are things in Bluetooth that different about how discovery happens than what we’re trying to model. A lot of the folks that we are working with really want to work either on WiFi or on a mixture of WiFi and power line Ethernet in the home kind of thing. So, BLE is just one radio that you might use.
Kevin Tofel 12:29
Another question over here?
Audience Member 2 12:28
Yes, I’m curious to know how difficult or how easy is it to get consumers to change their behavior? Because it looks like the devices do things that we can already do on other devices. So, how does the industry see the shift towards these particular devices?
Rob Chandhok 12:47
I think first of all that’s a good question. I’m not sure that you make consumers change their behavior. I think what you do is provide value and then tune based on that feedback. So, we’ve been playing with that a lot. For example, what goes on on the watch. One of the things that we did, for example, this is about productivity my calendar is on this watch and I’ve got my calendar at a glance. I don’t know if you can see that or not that acts as a video interview with GigaOm which is the next thing I’m going to do. I wear that during the day like that and as a result I don’t have to pull my phone out of my pocket. Even more importantly when we were first playing with this, I had to go in four clicks to get my calendar even on my wrist and that wasn’t that useful. So, what we started to do is figure out what was easy for people and what made value. When we first started we just did SMS and calls. Then we added taking all the notifications out of the Android notification queue and then letting you pick which applications are allowed to interrupt you on your wrist. And, it’s a subset so, for me, there’s like five Apps that actually are allowed to go to my wrist. So, if you provide that value and get that user feedback, I think what happens is people will sway to it. If it’s just a gadget, I don’t think it’s going to be very interesting for consumers to your point.
Kevin Tofel 14:10
Or, too much noise. If you have everything pushing to your wrist–
Rob Chandhok 14:13
Yes, yes. I definitely don’t want every notification that happens on my phone is not important enough to go to my wrist.
Kevin Tofel 14:19
I think we got time for one more quick question.
Audience Member 2 14:21
Great, thanks. So, when we talk about internet things, obviously, security and trust comes into the picture a lot. We need to trust the device when they are generating the data and the device needs to trust the people who are actually programming the device. So, on the chip level, what’s Qualcomm doing in terms of putting some kind of rule of trust in the chips for the developers?
Rob Chandhok 14:44
Right now we’re not doing anything particular at the chip level other than what we’re already doing in our family’s of chips. We do trust phone with the rude of trust in the silicon and that’s a longer discussion on the side. I think one of the interesting things to think about though is I don’t want to trust devices. I want to trust services, right? And, services are what we know how to build trust around. I know I can get somebody to put an interesting service on the watch. You right, we need a rude of trust in order to be able to have it or I need to get the key material from some where. But, after that, I don’t want to think about this old device model of pairing and trusting that watch. I want to think about the internet model of I build trusted relationships between services. That way I can have five different services on the watch; one that I will publicly talk to things near me and another one that only works with my car. And, they’re very, very different. So, we’re thinking about how you build those trust chains but the big flip we’re trying to get people around is not say we’re pairing devices anymore and devices aren’t what you trust. I don’t trust a server in the racket Google. I trust the Gmail service, right? It’s that kind of subtlety. Good question.
Kevin Tofel 15:48
All right, unfortunately again we could keep going on and on but we have to wrap it up. So, Thank you so much, Rob.
Rob Chandhok 15:55
Great. Appreciate it.
Kevin Tofel 15:54
Thank you for the conversation.
Rob Chandhok 15:56
Thank you.

[applause]

[music]

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