They’re teachers and technologists, educators and opportunists, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts. Some are focused on energy, others on automotive; some have the consumer in mind, while others are tackling healthcare head-on. Their backgrounds are diverse and market segments varied, but their drive to succeed and vision for achievement couldn’t be more comparable.
With each new year comes new opportunity and new challenge, and the 10 individuals named Pioneers for 2010 carry on the tradition of the men and women honored before them, championing change and innovation in the M2M (machine-to-machine) technology marketplace.
Looking forward, the task at hand for these individuals is to continue forging new ground in the face of a changing marketplace. As new markets open up and customer segments expand, the opportunities become vast, as do the challenges. But what makes these individuals so unique to begin with is their ability to push forward and forge new ground in the face of adversity.
On the pages that follow we honor 10 individuals that are truly pioneering a new direction in M2M technology. Check out past Pioneers winners at www.m2mmag.com.
Jeffrey Bezos, President and CEO, Amazon.com, www.amazon.com
Kindle Starts the Fire
Jeff Bezos, president and CEO, Amazon.com, www.amazon.com, Seattle, Wash., recently said, “Long-form reading is losing ground to short-form reading.” He continued that long-form remained an essential way of teaching; some things just can’t be condensed to a short format. The goal at Amazon.com, the company that Bezos founded, was going to be to provide long-form reading with some of the best features allowed by the modern era of wireless electronics, all wrapped up in the ereader known as Kindle. The Kindle has radically transformed Amazon’s ebook sales, which now account for 10% of the titles it sells.
Bezos has always been interested in anything that can be revolutionized by computers. He graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton University in 1986. Then, in 1994, he designed a business model that leveraged the Internet’s ability to deliver huge amounts of information rapidly and efficiently to create Amazon.com Inc. But retail was only a start as Bezos saw other areas that could benefit from computer technology.
A spokesperson for Bezos recalls, “We (Amazon.com) as a company have been thinking about ebooks for some time. We experimented with them on our site. Several years ago we decided that if ebooks were going to take off that there needed to be a device that made the experience of ebooks better.”
When Amazon started out to improve upon the book, its bread and butter product in the retail segment, it knew that an audacious goal had been set for the company. The book has been the standard since the first century and despite many attempts, there had not been a practical, portable reader that made reading digital books better than reading physical books. “If we were going to be successful, we knew that we could not try to ‘outbook the book’—we had to take everything we love about books and add breakthrough modern day conveniences,” Bezos’ spokesperson recalls.
She continues, “The number-one design goal for Kindle was to make Kindle disappear. We wanted people to become so engrossed by the story within that they forget they are reading on a device. To do this, we set a few requirements for ourselves:
“Kindle had to have ubiquitous wireless access—we had to let customers think of a book, anywhere they were, and have it in a minute. So we built our own wireless delivery system, Amazon Whispernet, that makes this possible. Kindle had to offer an engrossing reading experience—we had to make people forget they were reading on a device. So we gave Kindle an electronic paper screen that reads like real paper, and a design that makes it easy to hold and navigate for long-form reading.”
The latest version, the Kindle DX with global wireless, now has the convenience of wireless content delivery in more than 100 countries.
By changing the way people interact with the written word while connecting them wirelessly throughout the world, Bezos has truly led a pioneering effort in M2M.
Roy Buol, Mayor, Dubuque, Iowa, www.cityofdubuque.org
In 2009, IBM, www.ibm.com, Armonk, N.Y., announced the first U.S. city to be part of its Smart City program: Dubuque, Iowa. During the next several years, sensors, software, and Internet computing will give the city’s government and citizens the digital tools to measure, monitor, and alter the way they use water and electricity.
The goal, says IBM, is to develop and pilot a systematic mechanism to give consumers and businesses the necessary information for making informed decisions about how they consume resources like electricity, water, natural gas, and oil. Based on that criteria, it is easy to see why Dubuque was tops on the list, given its track record of successful public/private partnerships and strong belief in sustainability from both its citizens and businesses.
Dubuque’s effort to become the “Smartest City” represents the work of many people and was led by one pioneering mayor, Roy Buol, who campaigned on a “sustainability” platform in 2005 and has been working to keep that promise ever since. “The whole sustainability thing for me really began when my wife and I started being blessed with children—we now have seven grandchildren. All the discussion on climate change and its effect really piqued my interest and the more I got involved in it, read and researched it, the more interest I had in trying to come up with solutions.”
Dubuque developed a citizens’ task force, a group that actually developed the sustainability program and brought it back to the city council for final approval. This, along with the public/private partnerships it created, was a key reason why Dubuque was chosen for the Smart City program. According to Buol, “They chose us to model after because they know you need citizen input and buy-in when talking about putting meters in people’s homes and gathering information. You have to have a population that believes in the benefits of sustainability.”
Although the program is just starting, there is a feeling that success will benefit everyone. Buol sees the potential and has a vision for how it will contribute to lowering energy consumption.
Buol says, “It has tremendous potential to not only change how we view and consume energy and resources but also how to use realtime information to save money. The individual homeowner can look at how they use energy and change their behavior based on realtime information so they can not only reduce usage but save money in the process.”
The first phase will involve installing digital water and electricity meters in 250 homes and businesses. The smart water meters include special low-flow sensing technology from a local manufacturer that will help the public works department and residences reduce water use and detect leaks. An estimated 30% of households use water unnecessarily because of undetected leakage in faucets and toilets.
The smart electric meters will help households track their energy use and conserve. They will be able to go to a Website and set household temperatures a few degrees cooler in the winter or warmer in the summer and see the savings in energy use and monthly bills.
Buol was the first Dubuque mayor to join the U.S. Conference of Mayors in the city’s 176-year history. He joined the mayor’s climate p