About my PhD research: Optimising resilience of remote monitoring medical devices over white space networks




















Since earlier this year, I have finally finalized the problem space I am working on for my PhD – I outline it here. Any comments/ suggestions welcome at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com  

I have discussed before the The opportunities and challenges of White Space spectrum applications and there is considerable interest in the white space applications.  I am focussing on sensor based white space applications for healthcare devices.

Specifically, the overall objective of the research is:

a) understanding sensor based medical devices
b) understand the white space scenario and its differences from existing environments from the perspective of healthcare
c) Identify scenarios including load on network, aggregators, comparison for specific classes of medical devices etc
d) Simulating the above in a white space network simulator and perhaps prototyping if needed
e)  Understanding and presenting the resultsThe focus is on resilience/reliability and on the apparent unreliability of white space transmission and how (1) good reliability can be achieved and (2) medical devices designed to accommodate any transmission problems that do occur.

So, we are interested in reliability/resilience (vs security, privacy, threat scenarios etc)
Image source: Mobile sands blog

Co-chairing – Oxford University – forum Oxford – future technologies conference

Now in it’s fifth year, I co-chair the Oxford University – forum Oxford – future technologies conference and this event continues to grow – and has a great following in academia and industry. Looking forward to meeting many old friends and new friends.

As usual, we will keep it fast, extremely informative, fun and with a sense of community. If you have never attended one of our events, I would highly recommend it .. see Oxford University – forum Oxford – future technologies conference and also below


This one-day conference will continue its annual exploration of mobile technologies with an emphasis this year on NFC payments, Mobile Commerce and the Mobile Web.

Unlike many large, impersonal conferences, ForumOxford is highly interactive, and promotes open communication between participants and speakers. The event is designed with ample Q&A time and opportunities for further discussions of the conference topics during breaks and over lunch.

No sales pitches – this is a conference for presentations, questions, answers and discussions

Speakers at each year’s event include global industry leaders, media specialists, strategists and journalists. Previous conference participants have come from Vodafone, Nokia, Samsung Electronics Research Institute, Qualcomm, Intel, RAC, Telefonica Europe, Qatar Telecom, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Consult Hyperion, EMAP, Symbian, GSMA, BBC, T-Mobile, Informa, SonyBMG Music Entertainment, MTV, Financial Times, Alcatel-Lucent, Three, NXP, Guardian News & Media, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and many more.



Twitter IconFollow @ForumOxford on Twitter Click here!

Not sure if you should attend? Watch this video (3 mins 47 secs): http://www.vimeo.com/15545497

The conference will be chaired by:

  • Ajit Jaokar, Author and Telecoms Specialist
  • Tomi Ahonen, Author, Consultant and Motivational Speaker
Programme details

2011 Conference Speakers – more to be announced in the coming days

  • Dave Birch, Director, Consult HyperionQR code
    Presentation: Identity is the new money
  • Prof William Webb, Chief Technology Officer, Neul
    Presentation: Whitespace spectrum: Not what we originally thought but the key ingredient for the Internet of Everything.
  • Tim Haysom, Head of Developer Marketing, Wholesale Applications Community (WAC)
    Presentation: Web technologies in mobile widgets and enabling long term service revenue through operator APIs
  • Jose Valles, Head of BlueVia (Telefonica)
    Presentation: To be confirmed
  • Dominic Keen, CEO, MoBank
    Presentation: To be confirmed
  • Andy Smith, Client Services Director, Eagle Eye Solutions
    Presentation: How mobile intelligence will change the face of retailing
  • Alistair Crane, Founder and CEO, Grapple Mobile
    Presentation: The Power of Everywhere: The importance of ubiquity across multiple mobile platforms
  • Rich Holdsworth, CEO, Wapple
    Presentation: HTML5 and its ramifications for mobile commerce
  • Peter Swain, CEO, AlwaysOnMessage
    Presentation: The opportunities / disruption Mobile will bring
  • Monty Munford, Content Strategist, Wapple
    Presentation: Pregnant African women want mobile health, but they also want entertainment (a travel fund for African mobile entrepreneurs)
  • Peter-Paul Koch (ppk), Mobile Platform Strategist, Consultant and Trainer (ppk)
    Presentation: Rethinking the Mobile Web
  • Ajit Jaokar, Founder, futuretext
    Presentation: Smart cities
  • Vic Keegan, author of iPhone apps City Poems and Geo Poems and former Tech Writer at The Guardian
    Presentation: Free apps – the end of an era?

09:00 – 17:00 finish followed by the drinks reception

Free WiFi, three-course lunch and refreshments included.

We have a number of meeting rooms which will be freely available to those attending if required.


This conference will be held at the Department for Continuing Education, Rewley House, Oxford.

ForumOxford Online

ForumOxford, the web-discussion forum of the Technology Programme, was established to bring together the best thinkers in the telecoms industry to enable the sharing of ideas on all aspects of mobile applications with other like-minded members of the community. ForumOxford has been a huge success and now has over 2000 members with participants from 87 countries and from six continents. Figures correct as of 9 February 2011.

The lively online debate within ForumOxford’s online environment resulted in numerous approaches asking for a face-to-face event to capitalize on this success. ForumOxford: Future Technologies Conference is the answer to these requests. Furthermore, participation in the ForumOxford: Future Technologies Conference will provide access to the leading bloggers in the emerging web and mobile technology fields and as all those attending last year discovered, a great place to meet others who are leading the way in the world of mobile applications. In a poll by the leading New York publication Fierce Wireless, the top 20 mobile blogs worldwide included as many as six blogs belonging to ForumOxford members.

Ajit Jaokar, conference co-chairperson and moderator of ForumOxford, is an author and telecoms specialist and has recently taught the ‘Designing Multiplatform Apps: TV, Web, Mobile and Automotive Platforms’ CPD course at Oxford University. Ajit also founded Futuretext, which is an innovative publishing and consulting company focused on mobility and digital convergence – he is perfectly positioned to comment on the conference: ‘Creating ForumOxford along with Tomi Ahonen, and watching it grow so rapidly has been a fascinating experience. The high-level sponsorship of our event only goes to emphasise the quality of our membership and discussions. I am thankful for the foresight and support provided by the Oxford University in setting up ForumOxford’.

Tomi Ahonen, conference co-chairperson and independent 3G strategy consultant and author, who teaches the ‘Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media’ and other mobile-related Oxford University CPD courses, comments ‘I am very proud of the high level of professional discussion we maintain within ForumOxford. It makes me very proud to promote the Forum and to recruit new members. I personally keep on learning constantly from the various discussion topics.’

The University of Oxford’s Technology Programme has met the needs of the industry by doubling the number of courses offered in the past year, particularly in emerging fields in the industry such as Web 2.0 and mobile technologies.


Mr Tomi Ahonen

Role: Chair

Mr Tomi T Ahonen is the most published author in the mobile industry who released his twelfth book in 2011. Translated into several languages, he…more is the father of numerous industry tools, theories and concepts, and already referenced in over 100 books by other authors. Lecturing at Oxford University’s short courses on mobile, digital and media, Mr Ahonen has been quoted in over 300 press articles in major media like the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, the Economist and Financial Times, and is often seen on TV. He has presented papers at over 250 conferences in over 40 countries to a cumulative audience of over 100,000 on all six inhabited continents. Tomi’s Twitter feed is @tomiahonen

The Finnish born ex-Nokia executive is now based out of Hong Kong. Tomi Ahonen runs a boutique consulting company that provides strategic consulting services to clients needing support in the digital convergence space from small start-ups to Global 500 sized companies around the world including Axiata, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BBC, BT, China Mobile, CNN, Ericsson, HP, HSBC, IBM, Intel, LG, Motorola, MTV, MTS, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Ogilvy, Orange, BNP Paribas, RIM, SK Telecom, Telenor, TeliaSonera and Vodafone.

Before starting his own consulting company in 2001, Tomi Ahonen headed Nokia’s Global Consulting unit and oversaw Nokia’s 3G Reserach Centre. Before Nokia, he worked for two operators/carriers, Elisa/Radiolinja and Finnet Group in Finland, and started his technology career in New York City at one of the world’s first internet service providers, OCSNY. Mr Ahonen’s accomplishments include creating the world’s first fixed-mobile service bundle; setting the world record for taking market share from the incumbent; and creating the world’s largest multi-operator billing system. Tomi Ahonen holds an MBA from St John’s University New York City. His latest book is The Insider’s Guide to Mobile.


Mr Ajit Jaokar

Role: Chair

Author and Telecoms Specialist

Ajit Jaokar is the founder of the London based publishing and research company futuretext…more (www.futuretext.com) focussed on emerging Web and Mobile technologies -including Web 2.0 and Mobile Web 2.0.

IIn 2009-2010, Ajit was nominated as part of the Global Agenda Council on the Future of the Internet by the world economic forum. He hopes to use this opportunity to further extend the pragmatic viewpoint of the evolution of Telecoms networks in an open ecosystem.

Ajit is best known for his books Mobile Web 2.0, Social Media Marketing. Two new books (‘Open Mobile’ and ‘Implementing Mobile Web 2.0′) are being released in 2009.

His consulting activities include working with companies to define value propositions across the device, network, Web and Social networking stack spanning both technology and strategy. He has worked with a range of commercial and government organizations globally including The European Union, Telecoms Operators, Device manufacturers, social networking companies and security companies in various strategic and visionary roles.

His recent talks and forthcoming talks include: CEBIT 2009;MobileWorld Congress(2007, 2008, 2009); Keynote at O Reilly Web20 expo (April 2007);Keynote at Java One; European Parliament – Brussels – (Electronic Internet Foundation); Stanford University’s Digital visions program;MIT Sloan;Fraunhofer FOKUS ; University of St. Gallen (Switzerland); Mobile Web Strategies (partner event of CTIA in San Francisco).

Ajit lives in London, UK, but has three nationalities (British, Indian and New Zealander) and is proud of all three. He is currently doing a PhD on Privacy and Reputation systems at UCL in London. Ajit is a fan of animation especially Tom and Jerry, Tintin and Asterix and likes the music of ZZ Top and other rock bands.

His blog OpenGardens is one of the top 20 wireless blogs in the world. His latest book is OpenGardens.



Dave Birch

Role: Speaker

Director, Consult Hyperion

David G.W. Birch is a Director of Consult Hyperion, the IT management consultancy that specialises…more in electronic transactions. Here he provides specialist consultancy support to clients around the world, including all of the leading payment brands, major telecommunications providers, governments bodies and international organisations including the OECD. Before helping to found Consult Hyperion in 1986, he spent several years working as a consultant in Europe, the Far East and North America. He graduated from the University of Southampton with a B.Sc (Hons.) in Physics.

Described by The Telegraph as “one of the world’s leading experts on digital money”, by The Independent as a “grade-A geek”, by the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation as “one of the most user-friendly of the UK’s uber-techies” and by Financial World as “mad”, Dave is a member of the editorial board of the E-Finance & Payments Law and Policy Journal, a columnist for SPEED and well-known for his blogs on Digital Money and Digital Identity.

He has lectured to MBA level on the impact of new information and communications technologies, contributed to publications ranging from the Parliamentary IT Review to Prospect and wrote a Guardian column for many years. He is a media commentator on electronic business issues and has appeared on BBC television and radio, Sky and other channels around the world.


Alistair Crane

Role: Speaker

CEO, Grapple Mobile

Alistair Crane, a tenacious and charismatic entrepreneur, is the CEO and Founder of Grapple Mobile, the…more leading mobile and tablet app development agency in Europe and North America. Grapple work with the world’s largest brands and businesses, across all the major sectors, to create apps for multiple mobile devices including iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Nokia, Android and Windows Phone 7.

Alistair possesses rare foresight into the trends in the mobile industry and a deep understanding of how to leverage the mobile channel in order to achieve business objectives.

Before Grapple, Alistair was the Head of Media Solutions at NAVTEQ which was later acquired by Nokia for over £5bn, and prior to that, one of the first members of the launch team for Blyk, an advertiser funded mobile network, founded by the Ex-President of Nokia.

Alistair was recently named one of the “Top 30 Under 30” by leading trade publication Media Week and has been shortlisted for the Rising Star Award at the Media Week Awards later this year. He is regularly invited to speak at international events around the world including The Monaco Media Forum, Ad:Tech, iMedia and The Guardian Changing Media Summit.


Andrew Griffin

Role: Speaker

Head of European Technology Equity Research, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Tim Haysom

Role: Speaker

Head of developer marketing, Wholesale Applications Community (WAC)

Tim Haysom is head of developer marketing at WAC. He leads…more activities to assist new developers in getting their WAC applications to the worldwide market of WAC connected applications stores. He was previously the CMO of the OMTP industry consortium.

Tim has over 20 years of experience in the mobile telecoms industry, working with Operators, Vendors and many in the developer community. He was responsible within OMTP for the first industry activities to use web standards to enable a cross platform approach to application development, known as BONDI. In July 2010, the BONDI activity was transferred into the new WAC organisation and has formed a key component in the latest WAC specifications.

In his spare time, Tim plays the trombone and runs … And runs and runs. Tim holds a B.Eng. degree in Electronics from the University of Southampton.


Rich Holdsworth

Role: Speaker

A recognized name within the mobile industry for having true, proven, foresight into mobile internet Rich has been key in the creation of Wapple…more core technology. Rich has 8 years background in Web and Mobile Development and 8 years within Video Games Creation and Development as Lead Designer on ‘Number 1′ products. He was credited in the Sunday Times for creating the first ever WAP game.


Victor Keegan

Role: Speaker

Victor Keegan is a British journalist and author focusing on economics and technology issues. Born in London in 1940, he has spent most of his…more working life at The Guardian as reporter, financial correspondent, deputy financial editor, economics editor, business editor, duty editor, Chief Leader Writer, Assistant Editor and Online Editor. For 11 years he was a member of the Scott Trust, owner of the Guardian, the Observer and other media interests. He now writes a weekly column on the internet and personal technology and contributes to Guardian Unlimited’s web site and “Comment is Free” blog. He is also curator of the “SLart Gallery” in Second Life. With his colleague, Neil McIntosh, he introduced the Guardian’s first blogs (Technology and Games). In 2001 he started the first-ever text message poetry competition for the Guardian and in August 2003, kickAAS one of the first dedicated political blogs aimed at helping developing countries by abolishing agriculture subsidies. In 2008 he became chairman of a not-for-profit start up World Film Collective, WFC, that encourages youngsters in very poor countries to make and edit films with their mobiles. In 2010 he published two iPhone apps. City Poems links classic poems to the streets of London that inspired them using satellite links. Geo Poems contains all of the poems in his three books linked by geo-tagging to the people and places around the world that inspired them. He also writes poetry, paints, and takes photographs. close

Peter-Paul Koch

Role: Speaker

Peter-Paul Koch is a mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He specialises in HTML, CSS,…more JavaScript, and browser compatibility.

He has won international renown with his browser compatibility research; increasingly also on mobile browsers. He frequently speaks at conferences, has founded Fronteers, the Dutch association of front-end professionals, and advises mobile and desktop browser vendors on their implementation of Web standards.

On the Web he is universally known as ppk.

Currently he has about twenty mobile phones lying around on his desk. The one thing he never does with any of these phones is make a phone call.


Monty Munford

Role: Speaker

PR and Content Strategy, Wapple

Monty Munford is a Content Strategist with more than 15 years’ experience in mobile, digital…more media, web, social and journalism. He returned to the UK in September 2010 after living in India for two years, speaks regularly at industry events and writes on the mobile/social industry for publications such as TechCrunch and The Guardian. He also writes a weekly column on mobile/social media/technology for The Telegraph. He has also appeared with speaking parts in two big-budget Bollywood movies released in 2011.


Andy Smith

Role: Speaker

Peter Swain

Role: Speaker

CEO and Co- Founder, AlwaysOnMessage

As CEO of AlwaysOnMessage (AoM), Peter formed one of the first multi-platform mobile app…more agencies in Europe. Peter sets the tone for the company, with an overarching goal to provide AoM with drive, direction, and the ability to execute. His responsibilities range from creating a cohesive strategy amongst senior management, to ensuring there is a framework for processes and procedures that keeps AoM at the forefront of the mobile app industry, while allowing and encouraging evolution and progression. Peter works closely with the commercial, creative and tech areas of the business to ensure his vision, expertise and experience permeate all of AoM’s activities.

Prior to forming AoM, Peter was the Managing Director of Forward Slash Digital (FSD), one of the UK’s leading digital agencies offering web, intranet, SEO and online marketing. With a client list that included the MoD, Atlas Consortium and EDS, it was through his work at FSD that Peter recognized the significance of smartphone technology and the paradigm shift this had brought both to the market and the world. As a result, Peter shifted his focus and founded AoM.

His digital career has spanned the globe, having experienced great success in Dubai as the founder and MD of The Concept House, a specialist web and digital agency that helped facilitate the evolution of the digital industry in the UAE. As a result, he was appointed an advisor to the Royal Court of Dubai. Peter was also a key member of the prestigious First Tuesday Advisory Panel and was retained to speak regularly on a range of subjects for The British Council and the Institute of International Research.

Peter also works on the Board of Advisors for Media Sandbox, a tech incubator in the South West, and as a guest lecturer on mobile computing and HCI at Queen Mary University of London. He maintains good working relationships with development advocates across all platforms, including Google, Apple, BlackBerry and Microsoft. He is frequently quoted in Wired Magazine, speaks at a variety of conferences such as the global Apps World suite, and has been commissioned by Gartner Inc. to co-author a business report detailing the business steps for a company to utilize mobile successfully. close

Jose Valles

Role: Speaker

Jose has been working for over 10 years in different parts of Telefonica, developing a deep expertise in how to make things happen in a big…more corporation. He also keeps an eye on the entrepreneurial space through his current activity as Head of BlueVia, by starting his career in an SME division and even through running his own company. Positive, bold, enthusiastic and a challenger, Jose has always tried to improve the businesses he has been building and prides himself with the profile of a change agent. From 2009, Jose has been building a concept under the working name “Open Telefonica”, which ended up bringing BlueVia to life. BlueVia represents a great challenge: to position a major telco as relevant within the developer ecosystem. However, the market reaction has been very positive and he is totally focused on making BlueVia grow, gaining industry scale through the WAC initiative and working with developers around the globe to adopt BlueVia’s APIs. Father and husband, Jose is a people person, very talkative, loves travelling to other countries and has lived for long periods in the UK and Czech Republic. Now living in Madrid, he tries to escape as much as possible to the Pyrenees and snowboards as often as he can. close

Prof William Webb

Role: Speaker

Chief Technology Officer, Neul

Professor William Webb BEng, MBA, PhD, CEng, FREng FIET, FIEEE.

William is one of…more the founding directors of Neul, a company developing machine-to-machine technologies and networks, which was formed at the start of 2011.

Prior to this William was a Director at Ofcom where he managed a team providing technical advice and performing research across all areas of Ofcom’s regulatory remit. He also led some of the major reviews conducted by Ofcom including the Spectrum Framework Review, the development of Spectrum Usage Rights and most recently cognitive or white space policy. Previously, William worked for a range of communications consultancies in the UK in the fields of hardware design, computer simulation, propagation modelling, spectrum management and strategy development. William also spent three years providing strategic management across Motorola’s entire communications portfolio, based in Chicago.

William has published 11 books, 80 papers, and 18 patents. He is a Visiting Professor at Surrey University and DeMontfort University, a member of Ofcom’s Spectrum Advisory Board (OSAB) and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the IEEE and the IET where he is as a Vice President. His biography is included in multiple “Who’s Who” publications around the world. William has a first class honours degree in electronics, a PhD and an MBA.




Standards, Mobile, Transparency and IPR






Last week, I attended the The 7th International Conference on STANDARDIZATION and INNOVATION in INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (SIIT2011) in Berlin hosted by Berlin Institute of Technology (a.k.a. Technical University Berlin) and Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems.

This conference comes at an interesting time in the standardization debate and there are three undercurrents in this debate

a)    The EU standardization package with the notion that standards from EU bodies should have some form of preference in EU standardization

b)    The inclusion of IPR in standards, a perennial debate in all recent standardization events

c)    Both of the above are tied to the third theme – innovation. Innovation was the third undercurrent in this conference. There was even talk of ‘first mover advantage’ for standards and ‘fast standards’. Both of which are a curious anomaly when you look at standards historically i.e. by that I mean words like ‘fast moving’ and ‘first mover’ are not normally applied to the placid world of standardization


Let us start with innovation and three events that occurred at the same time in the ICT world

a)    Joe Hewitt, the creator of Firefox posted a sad but insightful post saying the Web is dead unless it gets a new owner

b)    The passing away of Steve Jobs

c)    The impact of mobility – The iPhone has made mobile cool but it has also raised the profile of IPR in mobile devices

If we explore these further,

a)    Joe Hewitt: In his post (link above), Joe Hewitt argues that: The Web has no one who can ensure that the platform acquires cutting edge capabilities in a timely manner (camera access, anyone?). The Web has no one who can ensure that the platform makes real developers happy and productive. The Web has no one to ensure that it is competitive with other platforms, and so increasingly we are seeing developers investing their time in other platforms that serve their needs better.. The arrogance of Web evangelists is staggering. The counterpoint to this discussion is: The web is only interesting because it is a standard. However, whichever way you look at it, the discussion of standards and innovation is at the heart of innovation and developers i.e. if standardization is not fast enough, it risks becoming irrelevant.  To move faster, we need to look at the opposite end of standardization i.e. innovation. Innovation needs incentives and IPR and patents provide that incentive -which brings us to the second point above i.e. the passing away of Steve Jobs.

b)   Steve Jobs: The world mourns the death of Steve Jobs. The guardian claims that Steve Jobs has ushered in a new form of capitalism  - The Telegraph asks: Where will we find the next Steve Jobs? and the New York times and the New York times posts a beautiful, browsable graphic of Steve Jobs’s 317 patents .

Steve Jobs impacted many domains of the ICT industry, but most recently through the iPhone, Steve Jobs’s legacy will have a lasting impact on innovation for mobile devices. The impact of the iPhone and it’s shifting of the IPR scene for mobility is the third development which impacts the standards discussion

c)    The impact of mobility – The iPhone has made mobile cool but it has also raised the profile of IPR. Mary Meeker says that we are at the cusp of the fifth computing cycle and that mobile devices will surpass PCs and other wireline devices. Many people, including me, have long been discussing this ‘cross over’ and its implications. The cross-over point would come around 2014. IDC said the total number of Internet user will grow from 2 billion in 2010 to 2.7 billion in 2015, with 40 percent of the world’s population online.

Obviously, Mobile is important and some would argue that it is more important than the Web itself (to the extent of influencing the future direction of the Web). When the ‘Web meets mobile’ we have two implications: Firstly, the Open vs. Closed argument which has long been talked of but secondly, the IPR implications.  While most companies such as facebook agree that within 1-2 years, they would be a mobile company, (tcrn.ch/q5ZH4C).   most analysts agree that to be a player in mobility today, you have to be a major player in intellectual property (Wanna be a mobile player? Get ready to spend on IP ) and that the value of intellectual property has never been higher in the market (Intellectual Property And Patents Are BIG BUSINESS – All By Themselves)

In a sense, this is not new. Standards like GSM have always included IPR but it has been a closed club of players who cross licensed IPR but shared it with each other to keep others out. This created a successful standard (like GSM) but today, that approach may be too restrictive.

This explains the value and litigation related to IPR in the mobile industry today. Nowhere is this apparent than with Android. History may look at Android as the tech industry’s Helen of Troy: The OS that launched a thousand suits. (Patent madness! A timeline of the Android patent wars).  While at SIIT, we heard that the patent cloud surrounding Android isn’t lifting even with the Motorola acquisition and its top manufacturer (Samsung) signs up with Microsoft by agreeing to pay royalties for Android (Samsung shows lack of confidence in Google)


Based on the above background, let us now consider the two questions of EU standards bodies and IPR within standardization and the complexity involved

1)    Policy makers have to balance a number of considerations: Innovation, Local needs (EU), Social good – need of the public and the rate of change

2)    To quote another Jobsian quote: A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be – Wayne Gretzky. The puck is definitely going towards ‘Mobile’  and here IPR has historically had a role to play

3)    These discussions of competing/collaborating are normal and we see them in the Open Source community as well. There is a discussion brewing in the Open source community as to – who contributed most to hadoop. Yahoo/Hortonworks claims that they are the major contributors but Mike Olson of Cloudera disagrees. (Who Wrote Hadoop? It’s the Community, Stupid. ).  Also, Rackspace to spin off Open stack project to a foundation and  PhoneGap to become an Apache project as Adobe acquires Nitobi.  All three push the limits of collaboration in the open source community.

4)    Industry leaders such as Samsung and HTC are entering into IPR agreements for android but also companies like Samsung are hedging their bets by joining Intel to help develop Tizen, a new OS that merges MeeGo and Limo.

5)    The position to limit / prefer EU bodies only for standardization is complex and confusing. Even on the stage, there were clear conflicts within EU mandated standards bodies and with national standards bodies.  The three EU bodies CEN – European Committee for Standardization (CEN), CENELEC –  European Committee for Electrotechnical Standards and ETSI – European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) had a view but DIN – Deutsches Institut für Normung – the German national standards body – which was a member of CEN had a different position – and a conflict due to its membership at EU level (CENELEC) vs. national level(Germany)

In light of the wider speed of the industry (ex Joe Hewitt emails) and considering that we have a recession, many of the issues of restricting standards bodies seemed surreal and out of place. If diversity reduces risk, then variety is better when it comes to standards bodies.

Comments welcome as usual

Apps for smart cities event








I am happy to announce the Apps for Smart Cities event to be held in Amsterdam in 2012 (end of march). Here is some background how this idea came out and I would welcome your comments/speaking proposals etc. Please email me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com


A couple of weeks ago, I gave the keynote at PICNIC in Amsterdam where I spoke on the topic of ‘What makes a city smart’. My view was, the closer a city behaves to the Internet, the ‘smarter’ it is. While this definition sounds very generic, it is relevant because the Internet is a platform and is thus an enabler of innovation. This innovation is created by the people.  So, in discussion with Appsterdam, we proposed the idea of ‘Apps for Smart cities’ – an event about grassroots innovation for Smart cities. Today, apps are a core component of the Mobile and also the Web ecosystem.  So, most people are familiar with apps – either as developers or as users. When we extend the idea to ‘apps for smart cities’, we get the concept of apps which incorporate both hardware and software.

So, what does a Smart City look like?

I am also on the advisory board of the World Smart Capital   program , which is modelled on the lines of the World design capital. The world smart capital has produced a Smart cities manifesto at PICNIC.

They define a Smart city as:

A city can be defined as smart when investments in human and social capital and traditional (ex transport) and modern(ex ICT) communications infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life with a wise management of natural resources through participatory governance


This is a very comprehensive definition. It is beyond the traditional – IT led – emphasis on  sensors and embedded systems.


The concept of smart city seems to rotate around six areas:

- Smart mobility

-   Smart economy

-   Smart environment

-   Smart living

-   Smart people

-   Smart governance


Obviously, mobility plays an important role especially with mobile phones today which incorporate multiple sensors.  Finally smart cities lead to a change of participatory governance style and emphasis on new challenges like Privacy and Security for citizens.


So, the Apps for smart cities event will focus on creating apps for the above including hardware and software and also mobile devices.

Already, we have some interesting supporters like Pachube and we are pleased to have them aboard. We are also speaking through appsterdam with various other organizations as well. So, watch this space  :)

There is a deeper philosophy behind this:

-          The value of open hardware is in the empowerment of communities  which Chris Anderson has famously termed the next Industrial Revolution or ‘the long tail of things’.

-          The tools of factory production, from electronics assembly to 3-D printing, are now available to individuals, in batches as small as a single unit and “Hardware is becoming much more like software,” as MIT professor Eric von Hippel puts it.

-          As Chris Anderson says: We’ve seen this picture before: It’s what happens just before monolithic industries fragment in the face of countless small entrants, from the music industry to newspapers. Lower the barriers to entry and the crowd pours in. and Thus the new industrial organizational model. It’s built around small pieces, loosely joined. Companies are small, virtual, and informal.

These are the ideas we want to explore in the Apps for Smart Cities event.

We welcome your comments. Contact me on ajit.jaokar at futurtext.com. We are looking for speakers/ sponsors and ideas.

So, what are the toolkits on my radar? (Please free to suggest more)

Apart from arduino ofcourse + Cisco, IBM, Vodafone , here are some more ideas on my radar:


is a modular, open source system for building devices. a US based open source hardware company, quite famous , recently it unveils a plan to corporate with Ford    

Funnel  http://gainer.cc/

Funnel is a toolkit to sketch your idea physically, and consists of software libraries and hardware. By using Funnel, the user can handle sensors and/or actuators with various programming languages such as ActionScript 3, Processing, and Ruby. In addition, the user can set filters to input or outputs ports: range division, filtering (e.g. LPF, HPF), scaling and oscillators. It is actually a  redesigned arduino platform

Gainer  http://gainer.cc/

Gainer is an environment for user interfaces and media installations. By using the Gainer environment, the user can handle sensors and/or actuators with a PC on various programming environments such as Flash, Max/MSP, Processing and so on.

Make controller   http://www.makingthings.com/resources/downloads/

The Make Controller 2.0 & Interface Board Kit includes the Make Controller Version 2.0 and the new Interface Board that makes adding sensors and motors easier than ever! Also available with the Application Board. The Make Controller is built around the AT91SAM7X256, and adds the essential components (like the crystal, voltage regulator, filter capacitors, etc.) required to run it, while bringing almost all the processor’s signal lines out to standard 0.1″ spaced sockets.

Wiring   http://wiring.org.co/

Wiring is an open source programming environment and electronics i/o board for exploring the electronic arts, tangible media, teaching and learning computer programming and prototyping with electronics. It illustrates the concept of programming with electronics and the physical realm of hardware control which are necessary to explore physical interaction design and tangible

Sun SPOTs   https://spots-hardware.dev.java.net/

Project Sun SPOT was created to encourage the development of new applications and devices. It is designed from the ground up to allow programmers who never before worked with embedded devices to think beyond the keyboard, mouse and screen and write programs that interact with each other, the environment and their users in completely new ways. A Java programmer can use standard Java development tools such as NetBeans to write code.

Pinguino    http://pinguino.cc/

Pinguino is an Arduino-like prototyping platform based on 8-bit or powerful 32-bit ©Microchip PIC Microcontrollers with built-in USB module (no FTDI chip).

The evolution of Web standards and implication for innovation










I am at SIIT Berlin and will try and post a few blogs on this theme.

Recently the evolution of Web standards and their implication for innovation is becoming an important discussion point

Here’s why:

1)    Web standards are evolving to HTML5. Here, the standardization process becomes more complex – for example the need to handle multiple devices such as mobile devices, management of IPR and the interplay between Open source and Open standards.

2)    The Cloud now has a key role to play and that role also impacts all standards including Web standards

3)    New organizations like Open Web Foundation also address web standardization in addition to W3C

4)    Policy makers in individual countries are having to balance the issues of standardization versus innovation

5)    The Web is now deployed on a range of device form factors like Tablets and book readers. These devices have different needs and processes for standardization

6)    The browser now has to contend with new content types (like books and music)

7)    The lines between hardware and software are being blurred and this affects standardization and innovation

Firstly, let us consider what’s at stake:

The Web and the Internet had been one of the most revolutionary innovations over the last decade. We know that the Internet has already transformed our life in the last decade. The question is: How will the Web and the Internet evolve in the next decade?

I explore these questions below with some insights

1)    The Internet, as we know it today, has been possible because of a commercial compromise. In the Next Internet, what is holding it up, the author points out that: Nothing we do on the Internet today would have been conceivable, let alone feasible, had these corporations never decided amongst themselves. Similar negotiations and compromises took place, often involving IPR, between various players of the GSM standard before the standard emerged and with it the economic benefits of an ecosystem

2)    As we stare into the spectre of a double dip recession and the International labour organization predicts massive jobs shortfalls especially in the West, policy makers the world over are looking for ways to create new jobs and new economic growth. The EU holds its first ever event on innovation in December 2011 along the lines of the Digital Agenda and the question of innovation, standardization and IPR are intertwined because the Web is a platform and hence a catalyst for growth. But going forward, as the ‘Web meets telecoms’ and other devices (like sensor networks), it will need to balance IPR and incorporate IPR into standards.

3)    We are also at the cusp of the fifth computing cycle. Mary Meeker says that we are at the cusp of the fifth computing cycle and that mobile devices will surpass PCs and other wireline devices. Many people, including me, have long been discussing this ‘cross over’ and its implications.

4)    Finally, Open source hardware will be a key driver to the next wave of innovation. Chris Anderson even calls it the ‘next industrial revolution’.

So, all of the above makes me feel that we are fighting last decade’s battles and ignoring the opportunities and challenges in front of us.

So, here are my thoughts on where we will evolve to:

1)    The distinction between Web standards, Open source and proprietary platforms is blurred: Web standards could act as tools for generation for multiple platforms including proprietary platforms: This idea sounds radical but not so. Nitobi, the darling of the cross platform community (and I am a fan!) already work this way with phonegap. Phonegap recently announced support for the mango platform in addition to iPhone, Android and others it already supports. Thus, the mobile cross-platform application development framework uses JavaScript APIs to use Windows Phone Mango features like: Access Device Information, Add and search Contacts etc. So, we have here a mix of Web standards(phonegap), Open source(platforms for which it generates code) and proprietary standards(iPhone, Mango etc). All co-exist and developers support the platforms.

2)    When Open source meets Web standards, the results are no longer one dimensional: Both Open source and Open standards are polymorphic phrases. However, whichever way you look at it, their amalgamation is non trivial. Nick Allott wrote an excellent blog in context of webinos, which I summarise here and link to the original blog – Open Source – Sustainable development – a synopsis – which shows that Open source platforms have many motivations and are not necessarily as altruistic as the Web is designed to be i.e. available to all.

3)    Computing is not going away –it’s just hiding behind the Cloud .. (gigaom). Gigaom put forward this idea and I summarise/ extend it as below

a)    The device itself becomes low value and a conduit (soon it may come free in a box of cornflakes as someone in the

industry said ..)

b)    The value lies in connecting the dots

c)    Embedded / transparent connectivity(a profitable pipe) will be the future of operators

d)    Brand/content will focus on the end to end superior experience (Amazon for books – Apple originally for music etc).

In this case, the Cloud changes the game

 4)    Innovation at the core of the web will more complex than innovation at the edge: The Web, as we know has always innovated at the edge. But at some point, it will need to innovate at the core. This is more complex and controversial. Companies like Google have proposed spdy  which changes the nature of http and browser specific optimization ex for Chrome (We will strongly encourage Google developers start off targeting Chrome-only whenever possible as this gives us the best end user experience. ….  ) . Ultimately this will lead to ‘Optimised for Chrome ..’ or ‘works best with Chrome’ – that cannot be a good thing for the Web ..

5)    As hardware meets software, the boundaries are blurred. I propose that this world will get more complex – especially in areas such as hardware optimization of javascript.

To conclude, I started with the question of – How web standards will evolve over the next decade.

I think it was Napoleon who said that all his generals are ready and perfectly suited to fight last year’s war! Implying that next year’s battles will be different from last year’s.

It appears that we are also oriented to fight last decade’s battles for the standardization of the Web. The only conclusion is: the next decade’s battles will be different and more complex than last decade’s as I illustrate above.




How would the Internet of things look like if it were driven by NFC (vs RFID)

As NFC catches momentum in Europe and North America, I have been thinking of yet another gedankenexperiment :

How the industry would shape up if the Internet of things were driven by NFC?

To understand this, we have to break down the concepts.

Internet of things

Firstly, Internet of things is a concept driven largely by academia so far.

There are several partially overlapping definitions: (source Wikipedia)

Casagras:[5]: “A global network infrastructure, linking physical and virtual objects through the exploitation of data capture and communication capabilities. This infrastructure includes existing and evolving Internet and network developments. It will offer specific object-identification, sensor and connection capability as the basis for the development of independent cooperative services and applications. These will be characterised by a high degree of autonomous data capture, event transfer, network connectivity and interoperability

SAP:[6]: “A world where physical objects are seamlessly integrated into the information network, and where the physical objects can become active participants in business processes. Services are available to interact with these ‘smart objects’ over the Internet, query and change their state and any information associated with them, taking into account security and privacy issues.

ETP EPOSS:[7]:”The network formed by things/objects having identities, virtual personalities operating in smart spaces using intelligent interfaces to connect and communicate with the users, social and environmental contexts

CERP-IoT: [8]:”Internet of Things (IoT) is an integrated part of Future Internet and could be defined as a dynamic global network infrastructure with self configuring capabilities based on standard and interoperable communication protocols where physical and virtual ‘things’ have identities, physical attributes, and virtual personalities and use intelligent interfaces, and are seamlessly integrated into the information network. In the IoT, ‘things’ are expected to become active participants in business, information and social processes where they are enabled to interact and communicate among themselves and with the environment by exchanging data and information ‘sensed’ about the environment, while reacting autonomously to the ‘real/physical world’ events and influencing it by running processes that trigger actions and create services with or without direct human intervention. Interfaces in the form of services facilitate interactions with these ‘smart things’ over the Internet, query and change their state and any information associated with them, taking into account security and privacy issues.

Other:[9]:”The future Internet of Things links uniquely identifiable things to their virtual representations in the Internet containing or linking to additional information on their identity, status, location or any other business, social or privately relevant information at a financial or non-financial pay-off that exceeds the efforts of information provisioning and offers information access to non-predefined participants. The provided accurate and appropriate information may be accessed in the right quantity and condition, at the right time and place at the right price. The Internet of Things is not synonymous with ubiquitous / pervasive computing, the Internet Protocol (IP), communication technology, embedded devices, its applications, the Internet of People or the Intranet / Extranet of Things, yet it combines aspects and technologies of all of these approaches.

If we identify the common elements for IOT then:

1)      Objects should be uniquely identified

2)      They should be network enabled and hence objects can be queried and activated remotely

3)      Services enabled through such ‘smart objects’ will be co-operative

In addition, some other notes for IOT

1)     The original idea of the Auto-ID Center is based RFID-tags and unique identification through the Electronic Product Code. So, IOT is tied to the idea of RFID/Barcodes

2)     IOT is different from ambient intelligence / pervasive computing / ubiquitous computing which are ideas designed  such that machines modify their behaviour to fit into the environment instead of humans forcing humans to change their behaviour.

3)     There is an alternate view of IOT which is fulfilled by making objects web addressable and that means the object has an agent in the cloud and objects can communicate in the cloud without directly communicating with each other. Ipv6 has a role to play in this space ie if objects become internet addressable

4)     IOT systems will be event driven, complex (ie not deterministic)

5)     But the most important consideration for IOT is the scale: IOT aims for trillions of objects which will lead to billions of parallel and simultaneous interactions requiring massively parallel systems

The uptake of NFC

The original concept for IOT came from the RFID ecosystem. NFC could be seen to be a subset of IOT. NFC is compatible with RFID and the main difference is the range. Also, RFID started with supply chain, asset tracking etc and NFC with transportation. So far, RFID has not become ubiquitous as a technology. But NFC is on the verge of a major uptake in Europe and North America. NFC has applications in access control, access control, consumer electronics, healthcare, information exchange, coupons, payments and transportation.  Thus at an application level, NFC and RFID are comparable.

The uptake of NFC in EU and North America is driven by various factors:

a)     Three different constituencies are driving NFC  - credit cards(visa), telecoms(SIM), Web(Google wallet, paypal)

b)    NFC will show an initial uptake through interactions(informational type requests) and a portion of these could be transactions

Analysis for IOT

As we have seen before, the various definitions of IOT have some common elements. But let us imagine what IOT would look like if NFC were the driving technology

The key requirement to fullfill the true potential of IOT is the scale. Now, if NFC takes off then most of the requirements for IOT could be fulfilled except the scale of interactions. This means, the more emergent/ complex services for IOT may not emerge (at least initially) with NFC but still NFC will be useful.

In addition:

a)     If mobile devices will take up NFC, then we are likely to see more A2P (application to person – ex payment) rather than person to person services. This is good because it provides an initial use case and then as more devices and objects become NFC enabled, more complex use cases will emerge leading to network effects

b)    Hence, the larger scale vision of IOT will not be realised unless you achieve  large scale standardization and interoperability. In the West, I do not see governments attempting this level of standardization. Which makes NFC very significant because much of the promise of IOT will be achieved through NFC but without the scale

c)     Japan, South Korea,Singapore and ofcourse China could achieve standardization in their respective countries. That could achieve scale / IOT vision within their local geographies

d)      China is different since it is a large scale market in addition to a creator of technology. So, internally within China, a lot could be achieved which will add value especially considering the emphasis in China based on the Chinese premier Wen Jiabo’s vision that: Internet + Internet of Things = Wisdom of the Earth.

e)      Can China influence standards? This is a more complex and perhaps a non technological question. But the observation I make it – the rate of uptake of NFC will mean that in the west a parallel ecosystem will develop based on NFC which will mean that influencing standards on a global basis may not be so relevant as a competitive advantage.

Conclusion :

I suspect that NFC will achieve much of the goals for IOT but not on scale but we may see scale in specific geographies where governments can influence standards and achieve interoperability. We saw the same with Korea and Japan for mobile ecosystems. Both achieved high mobile growth within their respective geographies but could not translate it into global uptake.

I also find the alternative view of IOT(that of making objects web addressable) interesting especially when tied to the Cloud

In any case, I love studying ecosystems and IOT will be very interesting ..

Could voicemail be the future of voice?

Still thinking of the MSFT-skype acquisition .. and its impact for voice ..

From my own experience, my phone is always on ‘silent’

i.e. I do not receive calls

All calls go to the voicemail (unless I see who it is and want to pick it up)

However, I do like asynchronous voice: i.e. the ability to call and leave a voicemail

Now, suppose as IP phones become popular, and phone came with a ‘voicemail’ button

This would allow me to directly ‘send a voicemail’ using a single button

I would like to receive such mail as well since it does not disturb me and it often saves writing a longish email.

Telcos wont introduce this because they fear cannibalization of voice

But customers may want it(at least I can see value in it!)

Now, here is the interesting part .. VOIP needs QOS
For that matter, any session based communication needs QOS
but voicemail may not!
and therein lies it’s significance

If you want to pay for good quality voice, you use the ‘normal’ calling feature

But most voice communication may fall outside this remit and thus voicemail could well not be an extra feature but the main service ..

But still I think it is an innovation which could come from Google or MSFT but not from Operators ..

could be wrong but there is a precedence here .. Visual voicemail is a feature customers love .. but the industry never implemented it until the iPhone came along .. so this may not be so far fetched after all!

Image source: mobisite

MSFT acquires Skype – Are we seeing a new type of IP based Telecom Operator?

MSFT acquires Skype -

Are we seeing a new type of Telecom Operator (MSFT + Nokia + Skype) = Internet + Devices + next generation IP comms?

same as

Google + Android + Google Voice

I think so .. and thats indeed exciting and a game changer

This could lead to a deeper alignment, more acquisitions and more pressure on existing Operators to innovate

All good for customers

Does net neutrality apply to machine to machine communications?

Does net neutrality apply to machine to machine communications?

I am exploring this for a talk at LTE summit in Amsterdam next week

In a nutshell

Net neutrality = all packets are created (commercially) equal

It matters because networks are about communication and innovation shifts to the edge of the network

However, this innovation is driven by people(who are at the edge of the network)

So, in a M2M(vs a P2P scenario), there are no ‘people at the edge’ to innovate

Furthermore, network traffic is predictable

Machines don’t want to talk more than what they are designed to

When they do communicate, they often need network level QOS

So, does net neutrality apply to M2M networks?


Image source: Telecoms.com

webinos – the vision explained in a simple video

I have been a part of the Webinos consortium and this simple video encapsulates a (very complex) vision. Feedback welcome

Note that the significance of webinos lies using the WEB (widgets) for interconnecting platforms