Is Hardware Merely a Vehicle for Software in This Age of IoT?

by Serena Xu and Jessica Leader

Aug. 25, 2017

 

The relationship between hardware and the software is the heart of a successful IoT product. This underlying message was discussed during a panel this week at Google Launchpad titled “Conquering Software Complexities with IoT Systems.” Led by Emily Fritze, the Director of Marketing and Business Development at Powerhouse, FreeWire’s software team engaged in a conversation about distributed energy assets, the value of data, and what it means to applying intelligence to a business model. The panel consisted of Jawann Swislow, CIO and acting CTO, Mark Langer, Senior Software Engineer, and Forrest North, VP of Systems Integration.

“We are looking for data that allows for insights into better operations or new potential markets,” says Jawann. He went on to explain that by tying user data to data of the Mobi units, energy usage can be predicted. Overestimation of energy needs is commonplace when using remote power sources, resulting in wasted energy. “Diesel generators use energy just to stay on and the fuel use is not reflective of the actual energy needs. Large ones will actually require a load to be put on just to keep the system balanced. But with data collection on our Mobis, we’re able to give the user exactly the power and energy that they need for their next job.”

Echoing Jawann, Mark explained why he’s bullish on the potential of industrial IoT. “Consumer IoT space is limited. Only so many people want to give up their privacy to turn on a light bulb. However, if data was used to save everyone thirty minutes of traffic, it’s a different story. Industry will want to move to more intelligence. Businesses want the data to inform decisions for the next purchase cycle. Utilities, for example, sometimes have to start assessing purchasing decisions ten years ahead.”  

The team all agreed that one needs to not only consider FreeWire’s past in terms of how to learn and develop a better product, but it’s future as well. “When you architect a system, it's not just about what controls you have. It's a question of what are the items down the roadmap, and how can that inform what we do now,” Mark went on to say. “The more data we have, the better we can understand our systems, and then use that to design in the future.”

As FreeWire’s newest hire, Forrest pulled in his outside experience to analyze the company’s position in the market. “Companies need this solution,” he said. “Right now, there are parts in our energy system that are essentially still black boxes. Through our data, people will actually be able to understand their energy usage better.”

Unlike other companies performing data collection, FreeWire’s aim is not to sell any personal data or use the hardware as a means to gain user behavioral patterns to be leveraged in advertising. Instead, the two facets work together, creating a holistic solution that can remove great friction points in mobility and energy management.

See a video excerpt from the panel. 

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