FeibusTech Blog

Remote Monitoring Gets Real at Connect2Health

2020-02-02T14:24:24-07:00October 22nd, 2018|

The future’s long seemed rosy for remote patient monitoring as a great way to expand the footprint of care in this country and around the globe. And while long-term prospects are still huge, the segment is really starting to take off in the here and now.

That was certainly the vibe at the Connected Health Conference in Boston last week. But you can see for yourself. I produced a suite of videos at the show on behalf of Intel. Once you see them, I think you’ll agree that remote monitoring is here NOW – and the Intel Health Application Platform is a growing part of it.

Reid Oakes, HP’s head of healthcare. Reid and I discuss agile care, the importance of data for quality care, and HP’s collaboration with Intel to make that all possible.

Jennifer Esposito, GM of Intel’s Health & Life Sciences Group. Last day of the show. I caught up with Jennifer on the show floor to discuss the big takeaways from Connected Health.

Intel and Aventyn share results of a promising new study. Filmed on the show floor and on location at Dignity Health’s Mercy Gilbert Medical Center in Arizona, the pilot gives us a glimpse of what’s possible with remote patient monitoring.

Enrique Estrada, Director of Strategic Solutions, Care Innovations. At Connected Health, Care Innovations unveiled a kit that enables a new level of flexibility to respond to patients’ changing conditions. It’s based on iHAP, Intel’s home health hub.

Barry Reinhold, President & CTO, LNI (Lamprey Networks). The underlying standards are critical to give providers the ability to mix and match personal health devices and ship the data into the electronic medical records. Barry explains why Continua and FHIR are so important to the underlying framework – and why it’s a big deal that Intel’s health application platform supports both.

Smart Speaker & Mesh WiFi: Netgear Jumpstarts New Category

2020-02-02T14:28:37-07:00August 30th, 2018|

Netgear today unveiled Orbi Voice, a first-of-its-kind hybrid product that merges the best of two fast-growing smart home products: whole-home mesh Wi-Fi and high-quality smart speakers.

The speaker is co-developed and co-branded with premium audio maker Harman Kardon. But it’s more than just a great-sounding speaker. Orbi Voice also acts as a mesh-network satellite. So rather than slowing Wi-Fi with real-time bandwidth demands – as many intelligent speakers do – Orbi Voice actually improves performance by managing communications as well as extending the network into far corners of the home.

Orbi Voice is powered by Qualcomm chipsets, and makes use of the wireless pioneer’s latest self-organizing network, or SON, technology.

So, better together! I’m sure we’ll be seeing more combination mesh Wi-Fi/smart speaker combinations, at different price points. Speaking of which …

If you already have an Orbi mesh system, you can buy the Orbi Voice Satellite as a standalone item, for $299.99. Or you can pick up a kit for $429.99. Those are suggested retail prices, so you might be able to find them for less.

I’ll be adding the Orbi Voice Satellite to my Orbi Pro network soon. So stay tuned for my thoughts on this category-creating product!

Downsizing the Big Data Problem

2020-03-12T18:52:51-07:00August 1st, 2018|

Machine learning, the most common foundation for building artificial intelligence algorithms, absolutely requires big data to identify patterns. That turns out to be one of the biggest hurdles for AI today.

Researchers often don’t have enough data to give them a sample size large enough to draw conclusions. Combining multiple data stores to build a sufficiently large set can be a very expensive, time-consuming and labor-intensive process.

Montefiore Health Systems in New York seems to have overcome this tyranny of big data in the healthcare space. Their sophisticated PALM platform is able to blend multiple data stores and churn out life-saving AI algorithms with a speed and ease that few believed possible.

In cooperation with Intel, Montefiore embedded Mike Feibus, FeibusTech’s Principal Analyst, into the healthcare system to learn more about this game-changing new platform, and how Intel Xeon Scalable processors are helping to drive the PALM team’s success. Don’t miss Embedded Analyst: AI Without Borders, FeibusTech’s compelling new Research Brief.

Galaxy Tab S4: Now, Windows on an Android Tablet

2020-02-02T14:33:00-07:00August 1st, 2018|

Just to clarify, I mean to say that you can now have multiple windows open for all your Android apps – that’s windows with a lower-case “w.” We’re not talking Microsoft Windows. The Tab S4, announced today, features DeX, Samsung’s multitasking productivity platform for Android. That’s not unusual for a flagship device from the electronics giant. What is new, however, is that DeX will run right on the tablet, even without an external display attached.

That means you can edit a Word document in one window while watching a livestream in another. That’s actually what I’ll be doing from the beach next week, when Samsung holds its annual Unpacked reveal in New York City! And one nice DeX enhancement with this version: you can now resize any window, not just DeX-aware apps.

There’s no dock for the S4. An external display connects via the USB-C port. Of course, if you’re interested in the Tab S4 as a productivity device, then you’ll want the optional keyboard. It’s $149.99, though it’s 50 percent off if you buy it with your Tab S4 by midnight … on September 8th. (The Tab S4 itself starts at $649.99 for the 64GB version.)

The specs were well-leaked in recent weeks, for the most part. Just to call out a couple highlights: a larger, 10.5-inch display packed into the same form factor as the Tab S3, Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of system memory, 64GB or 256GB of storage, 13MP and 8MP cameras and a beefy 7,300mAh battery for all-day operation – and fast charging to boot. LTE is optional. Qualcomm’s 2×2 802.11ac is standard, which means a stronger Wi-Fi signal for faster connections and better range. The device also has Bluetooth 5.0, which is faster and lower power than previous versions. Here is Samsung’s Tab S4 press release.

Speaking of Bluetooth, the Tab S4 has one other nice touch: it supports Bluetooth mice, which means you can really be in full-on desktop mode with the POGO-attached keyboard, a Bluetooth mouse and a large display, bouncing between all the open applications just like you would on a Windows desktop.

This time, I do mean Windows with a capital “W.”

I’ll have one of these bad boys in hand soon, so stay tuned for a more detailed run-through. And also the Note9, which, you know, we’ll talk more about next week!

Afraid of Needles? Help is On the Way

2020-02-02T14:34:29-07:00July 8th, 2018|

As many as one in four of us HATE needles. Some will even go so far as to forego the care we need just to steer clear of syringes.

Finally, needle-free innovations are beginning to poke their way through. Find out more. Check out my latest on what’s here, and what’s coming soon, in the Tech section of USA TODAY. If you’re only interested in hearing about it, then head on over to iHeart Radio, where I talk about my column on The Daily Dive. Feel free to skip over the important issues of the day and head straight to my segment. It begins at the 13-minute mark.

If it’s not big, then it’s just data

2020-02-02T14:38:14-07:00May 17th, 2018|

Machine learning requires mounds of data to be able to characterize problems, craft and apply fixes, Mojo Networks CEO tells Wi-Fi industry.

 

Mojo Networks’ data is really big. That’s a critical component of its self-healing networks. Because when it comes to getting things done with artificial intelligence, size does matter.

How big? Mojo CEO Rick Wilmer told the audience at the Wi-Now industry event in Redwood City, Calif., that the company’s platform is managing 50 million Wi-Fi connections per week. Those connections are being made on half a million active access points.

“The amount of data we have access to is mind-bending,” he said.

Wilmer said that a perfect storm of capabilities has come together to make self-healing networks a reality: effectively limitless cloud storage and compute, fast wireless networking and powerful microprocessors inside wireless access points.

“This next generation of cloud Wi-Fi is focused on new use cases, and making networks run better,” he said. “We can now do things that even 10 years we wouldn’t have imagined were possible.”

Scale, Wilmer said, is critical to spotting issues. An on-premise IT manager may not recognize an unusual performance problem because the network has experienced only one or two occurrences. Mojo’s machine learning algorithms, meanwhile, characterize problems, determine what’s responsible for the degradation and then restore the network to full force.

Despite a rapid growth in data from existing deployments as well as traffic coming from new customers, visits to Cognitive UI, the platform’s management dashboard, are declining. Wilmer was alarmed when he first saw that a month ago. So the company polled customers to find out why.

As it happens, Wilmer had nothing to worry about:

“The answer from customers was, ‘everything’s just working. So why would I look at the UI? I only look at the UI if I have a problem to solve.’”

That poses an interesting question: could we get to the point where dashboards go the way of the dinosaur?

“I think that potential is real,” he said.

In addition to keeping the network humming, big data will also fuel new applications, he said. On Mojo’s roadmap is a user community around the data that would enable IT administrators to benchmark network performance against similar organizations.

“So if I was an IT administrator of a K-12 school campus with 500 to 1,000 students, I could go to the Mojo community, and see how my DNS latency compares against my peers when running Google G Suite for Education.”

That would give community members the ability to help each other – with real data in real time to back it up.

“To me that takes the concept of community to a whole different level,” he said.

Indeed, it’s not just the amount of data that’s mind-bending. It’s also the new applications the data makes possible.

The Beginning of the End of Passwords

2020-02-02T14:43:07-07:00April 4th, 2018|

When it comes to enterprise security, people are the weakest link. They give away their passwords by clicking on phishing emails. And by storing them on Post-It Notes and spreadsheets. And by making them easy to guess with passwords like ‘Password’ and ‘Password123.’

Now, finally, technology is at the point where IT managers can actually dispense with passwords. So the network is secure. And employees get access quickly and painlessly.

Everbody wins! Find out how. Read my latest CIO Magazine column HERE.

This Is Facebook’s Tylenol Moment

2020-02-02T14:36:20-07:00March 23rd, 2018|

Facebook’s latest crisis of trust has landed the mega-social network at a crucial crossroads, and its relevancy just may be hanging in the balance. To survive, CEO Mark Zuckerberg needs to snag a page from James Burke’s playbook. Burke, the late CEO of Johnson & Johnson, successfully navigated his company through the Tylenol scare 35 years ago.

Find out how – and see what lessons there are for Facebook. Read my latest CIO Magazine column HERE.

Open Wi-Fi: A Cure for TS?

2020-02-02T14:48:34-07:00March 19th, 2018|

Have you ever faced a purchasing decision so weighty and daunting that you delayed or avoided it altogether?

I have a name for the phenomenon. I call it “Threshold Syndrome,” or TS. People with TS know that what they want is waiting for them on the other side of the proverbial door. But the gravity of the decision keeps them from passing through. They worry that the cost of making a bad choice could be life-altering. So they linger in the doorway.

IT buyers know TS all too well. They typically come down with it when they take on new network deployments. Because they know that once they pull the trigger, they’ll be locked into a vendors’ system. Which means that they go as the vendor goes. If the vendor raises prices for new hardware or tacks on maintenance fees for new services, then they pay more. And if the vendor is late with new hardware, then the state-of-the-network lags.

Fortunately for network decision-makers, an antidote for TS is gaining momentum in the marketplace: open Wi-Fi. By giving IT the power to mix and match compatible hardware, software and services from different vendors, open Wi-Fi effectively breaks down big deployment decisions into smaller, more palatable choices. If the access points turn out to be disappointing, for example, IT can turn to a different supplier for upgrade and expansion.

Naturally, prices will come down and quality will rise once vendors are forced to compete at every turn. It’s one reason FeibusTech is forecasting growth in enterprise Wi-Fi deployments to accelerate.

Open Wi-Fi is gaining steam in the marketplace. At the Open Compute Project’s annual US Summit this week, in fact, the 3,000 or so attendees and exhibitors will be treated to Wi-Fi connectivity by way of the first-ever all-open, large-scale deployment, courtesy Mojo Networks and Edgecore Networks. It’s a significant, if symbolic, milestone in the legitimacy of open Wi-Fi.

And, in the process, we’re one step closer to stamping out TS in the enterprise.

OCP: One Small Step for Open Wi-Fi …

2020-02-09T12:43:39-07:00March 15th, 2018|

Facebook founded the Open Compute Project seven years ago with a vision of building powerful, cost-efficient datacenters and networks. So imagine how demotivating it would have been for attendees and exhibiters at the OCP’s US Summit next week in San Jose to be forced to connect to the internet over pricey, proprietary Wi-Fi networks.

Two OCP members decided that was unacceptable, and decided to do something about it. So together, Mojo Networks and Edgecore Networks built the first large large-scale open Wi-Fi network for the 3,000 Summit attendees and exhibitors, spanning 75,000 square feet of the San Jose Convention Center. Mojo’s cloud-managed suite, Cognitive WiFi, is serving as the network’s operating system for Edgecore’s access points.

Now that’s motivation!

3 Things You Must Get Right in Healthcare’s Digital Transformation

2020-02-02T14:53:23-07:00March 13th, 2018|

Live from HIMSS: Digitizing Healthcare Without Introducing Risk

We are LIVE from #HIMSS18 with Cisco’s Barbara Casey, Exponential Medicine’s Daniel Kraft, and analyst Mike Feibus. Tune in now to learn about digitizing healthcare without introducing risk.

Posted by Cisco on Tuesday, March 6, 2018

At HIMSS last week, I participated in a Facebook Live roundtable discussion with Singularity University’s Dr. Daniel Kraft and Cisco’s Global Director of Healthcare and Life sciences, Barbara Casey. We didn’t come up with all the answers. But hopefully our checklist will help your transformation go a little smoother.

Highlights From CES Digital Health Summit and Last Gadget Standing

2019-12-14T19:21:52-07:00February 8th, 2018|

Conversation with David Rhew, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Head of Healthcare and Fitness at Samsung, and Rob Flippo, CEO at MobileHelp, talking about the user experience and simplifying healthcare tech for emergency response applications. Watch the video to learn more about the advances in the data collection and what that means for the consumer, and where the wearable technology is going towards prevention and connection to emergency services.

 

Rebecca Madsen, Chief Consumer Officer at United Healthcare, and Naimish Patel, Vice President Client Solutions at Rally Health, Inc. discuss how healthcare companies are partnering with health tech solutions to bridge the gap to consumers. From finding a primary care to contracted rates and understand co-pays, applications and real time integration between the payer and provider is the future of consumer healthcare.

 

 

With privacy being a forefront concern among smartphone and connected tech users, Joshua Konowe, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Silent Circle, introduces us to their new product, GoSilent. David Pogue, Founder of Yahoo Tech, brings up objections for the mobile firewall that claims to protect your data by connecting to any existing network.

 

Buyers’ Guide: Gateways for Remote Patient Monitoring

2020-03-12T18:46:05-07:00January 30th, 2018|

Remote patient monitoring is taking off, driven in part by a desire to improve care and in part by necessity to help ease the nation’s growing healthcare burden Many healthcare systems, as a consequence, are adding remote patient monitoring programs to their offerings.

Decision-makers at healthcare systems not only need to choose which connected devices to include in kits. More importantly, they need to select a platform to engage patients, collect the data and transmit it securely back to the EHR.

FeibusTech has produced a research brief, commissioned by Intel, to help those guide decision-makers through the process. The brief, Remote Patient Monitoring Gateways: Key Considerations for Choosing the Best Option for your Remote Patient Monitoring Programs, is now available for download.

Post CES ‘Most Mentioned’ and More

2020-02-02T15:39:06-07:00January 18th, 2018|

Following CES 2018, I have plenty to explore in healthtech, especially the design, metrics, and integrations on the verge with wearables, hearables, and other health tech trends. I’ll be touching on insights with Samsung and MobileHealth emergency response system.

Pay attention to directional changes in the health sector in regards to diabetes & hearing aids.

Non-intrusive data collection is huge, but more importantly, what consumers can gain from the metrics without the data overload.

 

Notice the twitter ‘most mentioned’ – if you’re on twitter, follow me here for updates.

Plus an honorable mention in DigiObs TOP 15 INFLUENCERS:

 

FT INSIGHTS: 2018 CES Preview

2020-02-09T12:39:29-07:00January 5th, 2018|

With CES fast approaching, I’m breaking down my predictions for the hot trends and themes for 2018. It’s an exciting time for healthtech, from sleeptech to hearables. Voice assist, such as Google Voice, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa will be expanding throughout your home this year. Mixed reality, augmented reality and virtual reality, have grown up with new developments for business application. Find out when you can catch me at the Digital Health Summit at CES, and watch more on my Youtube Channel here.

The Incredible Disappearing Ethernet Cable

2020-03-12T18:37:13-07:00October 31st, 2017|

Evidence that the digital transformation in the workplace is under way abounds. In conference rooms, break rooms and other common areas in buildings and around campus, employees are working and collaborating wirelessly using their personal devices and other office equipment.

Connections of new wireless equipment already outnumber wired devices by a 6:1 ratio, and that number is forecasted to grow to more than 30:1 by 2022, FeibusTech forecasts.

There is another more subtle artifact of the transformation. Although Ethernet jacks are still commonplace in offices, conference rooms and other work areas, the cables used to connect devices to the network via those jacks are disappearing.

If you are an IT decision-maker planning your organization’s digital transformation, the growing paucity of Ethernet cables is telling you something. Read the new FeibusTech research brief, and find out what it means for your deployment plans.

Intel, Flex Inject Choice into Home Health Market

2020-02-02T15:47:47-07:00October 19th, 2017|

Intel and Flex revealed today that they have partnered on a remote patient monitoring platform that gives care providers a new level of flexibility and choice.

Flex is now offering the Flex IoT Compute Engine, built around Intel’s Health Application Platform, a compact gateway that remote care providers can use to anchor monitoring kits that are reliable, secure and simple to use.

Remote patient monitoring is one of the fastest-growing segments in healthcare because it has such great potential to slash hospital readmissions and, consequently, lower costs for our overburdened healthcare system. Constant monitoring helps ensure patients are complying with recovery plans, and also helps spot signs of trouble early, so providers can react before things spiral.

Intel and Flextronics believe the openness of the platform will draw remote care providers, because they want to be able to choose which cloud services to use. And they also want to maintain control of their patients’ data from end to end.

I’ll be in Boston next week for the Connected Health Conference, meeting with – among others – remote care providers. I’ll see what they have to say about the potential for this market, and also get a sense for what they’re looking for in home-health gateways that anchor their platforms.

I’ll report back soon. So watch this space!

(produced in cooperation with Intel)

Will Your Doc Ever Prescribe a Fitbit?

2019-12-14T19:36:55-07:00September 12th, 2017|

Validic co-founder and CEO Drew Schiller is in a great position to answer that question, because his company is the go-to liaison between electronic medical records and data flowing from wearables and other connected devices. In this latest FTInsights video interview, Drew shares his thoughts on the state of wearables in health and wellness, and the future for connected devices in the clinical workflow.

How Healthy Are You, Really?

2020-02-02T15:57:00-07:00August 29th, 2017|

Good question! You have a fitness band. So you know how many steps you take each day. But you’re not much closer to answering the critical question, how healthy are you, really?

VO2max is a valuable metric for evaluating fitness and health. Unfortunately, it’s been a very difficult metric to gather, requiring extensive lab tests. That’s changing now, thanks in no small part to wearables metrics pioneer Firstbeat. The V02max metric is now available on Firstbeat-equipped wearables like the vivosmart 3 from Garmin, the Huawei Band 2 Pro and the Jabra Elite Sport hearables. That, in turn, is empowering wearables vendors to give us some good old-fashioned fitness assessment and advice.

In our latest FT Insight video interview, we speak with Aki Pulkinnen, who heads up Firstbeat’s consumer business, about the importance of VO2max, what it means for this new band of wearables – and for your health.

Can Navy ships be hacked?

2020-02-02T16:02:45-07:00August 28th, 2017|

Two fatal crashes in Asian waters by US Navy ships in as many months has some people wondering if the vessels’ on-board systems were hacked. What are the chances? What would a hack like that entail? Talk radio host Jon Grayson asks the questions. Mike Feibus has the answers. Listen on SoundCloud HERE, or click below.

 

 

Galaxy Note: Cure for the Aches and Pains of Packrat-itis

2020-02-02T16:07:16-07:00July 10th, 2017|

What a difference a day makes.

I went into the “Road Warrior Challenge” that Samsung Business  sponsored with a few pre-set expectations. I knew at the outset, for example, that I’d lightened my load with the new Galaxy Book. By swapping out my old tablet, laptop and their respective power supplies – the latter an old-style “brick” – for Samsung’s brand-new 2-in-1 notebook, I shed more than two pounds from my overstuffed, chiropractor-friendly backpack.

I also knew that I’d be pulling out the sleek, stylish Galaxy Book with pride, because I’d used it enough back in AZ to know it’s an attention getter. And that’s even before I would wow folks by unlocking the notebook with the fingerprint scanner on my Galaxy S8+ smartphone (more on that later)!

And I knew that the Galaxy Book had plenty of giddyap from the built-in 7th-generation Core i5 from Intel. I knew I had all the storage I needed. (I don’t just carry the world on my shoulders courtesy my backpack. I’m also a digital packrat. So I added a 256GB SD card to double the on-board 256GB SD storage capacity. Plenty of room – even for me!)

I got hooked on the accompanying pen before I arrived in NYC for the Challenge. A quick click and my notepad is open and ready for me to write. Very convenient!

Finally, I knew that battery life on the Galaxy Book was good, and charging was quick. So I felt confident I could coast through the daylong Road Warrior Challenge without worrying about whether the Galaxy Book would also make it through.

Indeed, after using the Galaxy Book for a couple weeks at home, I didn’t think there was anything left the Road Warrior Challenge could teach me. But I was wrong. Thanks to the Challenge, I found the Galaxy Book liberating in ways I didn’t expect.

For example, Samsung Flow – the app that enables the cool unlocking-the-notebook-with-your-phone trick – has more than that to offer road warriors like me. Once you use Flow to sign into the Galaxy Book, it automatically checks to see if the notebook has a Wi-Fi connection. If it doesn’t, then it offers up the Galaxy S8 as a mobile hotspot.

I didn’t fully appreciate this feature before the Road Warrior Challenge. Because up until yesterday, I was just roving between my home broadband network and public hot spots at my local haunts. So I was never pining for connectivity. Like I was on the Staten Island Ferry. And in Battery Park. And on the High Line. And even at Samsung 837.

If you’ve never used a notebook with built-in cellular connectivity, then I guarantee you don’t appreciate how liberating it is to hit the internet running every time you open your laptop. Because you don’t appreciate what a hassle it is to open your laptop and enable your smartphone’s hotspot before you can start surfing until you no longer have to do that.

It’s a real game-changer. And Flow’s one-click connectivity is near-cellular quality. Like, really near. It will spoil you. Unless, of course, you’ve already had built-in cellular in a laptop.

Here’s a second, more subtle benefit I’m now hip to, courtesy the Road Warrior Challenge. The power supply is not a brick. It’s a modified USB charger that’s only slightly larger than the one you’re probably using right now to replenish your smartphone. I knew it was going to lighten my load.

But I didn’t know it would fast-charge my Samsung smartphone as well as my Galaxy Book. Which means I can quick-charge both devices, keeping them powered all day, by carrying with me just one USB charger and one cable.

Think about that for a second. That should really enable me to just leave behind my backbreaking pack in the hotel room. Right?

I don’t know. I mean, what if I lost an earbud fitting on the road, and needed a spare? Or if I got something caught in my teeth and needed floss? Or if I tore something and needed duct tape to hold it together?

Yes, I’m serious!

So OK, maybe I’m not ready just yet to ditch my scale-tipping pack. But after the Road Warrior Challenge, at least I’m now able to leave it behind. Sometimes.

That might sound like a baby step. But it’s a big step for me. Thanks, Samsung!

Find out more about the Samsung Road Warrior Challenge. Check out #AskMikeF and @SamsungBizUSA on Twitter.

 

 

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Medical-Grade Wearables Coming Soon

2020-02-02T16:09:37-07:00July 8th, 2017|

Many clinicians believe that there are wearables, and then there are clinical devices. And never the twain shall meet.

Until now. Biotricity and CardiacSense are two startups with wearable technology that’s now going through the FDA approval process for use in healthcare.

Watch my video to learn more about it. For more, check out my interviews with executives from both Biotricity and CardiacSense. They’re both available to view on my YouTube channel.

Bioelectronics: Shocking Alternative to Drugs

2020-02-02T16:12:54-07:00July 8th, 2017|

Treating a wide variety of ailments not with drugs, but with electric signals, is not far off. See how Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is working to make that a reality.

Mesh Network 2.0: Q&A with Qualcomm’s Rahul Patel

2020-02-02T16:14:13-07:00June 15th, 2017|

The new category of whole-home Wi-Fi, or mesh networks, has really shaken up the router market. That’s because it delivers everything consumers want: a network that is easy to set up, effortless to secure and maintain and blankets the home with great coverage to all of the family’s growing collection of devices.

What could be better than that?

Plenty, actually. Qualcomm is now unveiling what I call Mesh Network 2.0, the next generation of whole-home Wi-Fi. The wireless pioneer is improving on existing capabilities and adding new features, including:

  • Integrated voice assist, to give hardware vendors the ability to easily extend intelligent speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Microsoft Cortana,
  • IoT radios, to enable devices on the Wi-Fi network to interact directly with thermostats, security systems and other smart home devices, and
  • Powerline, to help extend wireless networks in homes with walls that block radio waves.

Qualcomm is also making its distributed Self-Organizing Network (SON) technology available for license to internet service providers, so they can add mesh networking to their home gateways.

On the eve of this announcement, I caught up with Rahul Patel, Senior Vice president and General Manager of Qualcomm’s Connectivity business unit. We took a few moments to take stock in how far the industry has come, as well as what lies ahead.

Question: What Qualcomm has done with home Wi-Fi is really commendable, because the market had gotten so out of touch with what consumers needed. Still, it was a risky move to switch gears at a time when the industry was so obsessed with higher peak bandwidth numbers. What gave you the confidence you could be successful?

Answer: Because, as you said, the market had gotten so out of touch. What we’re delivering is so much better suited for what’s happening on home networks today that it was only a matter of time before it became successful.

Still, we are pleasantly surprised, but not shocked, by how fast mesh network systems have come on. And how much consumers were willing to pay to solve their home Wi-Fi problems. It just goes to show you that if you solve real-world problems – rather than just deliver technology – people see the value.

Question: And OEMs are on board now?

Answer: Oh yes, definitely. Sales are growing, new designs continue to be announced. ASPs are rising. And we expect they’re seeing other benefits, too. Support calls and returns are coming down, and that contributes directly to the bottom line.

You know, it’s interesting. The lower support calls has really gotten the attention of the carriers. Many consumers just use the Wi-Fi that’s built into the gateway they get from the cable company or the phone company. Anytime a customer calls them up to solve a Wi-Fi problem, it cuts into their profits.

Question: So that’s why you are offering the carrier-grade SON features for license?

Answer: That’s right. That will really give the carriers a lot of flexibility to offer mesh network bundles – and get to market sooner with their existing hardware designs.

Question: It’s interesting that you’re also announcing integrated voice assist capabilities. Typically, people think of voice assist as something you connect to the network, not something that comes with the network.

Answer: It’s both. The more places in the home you can communicate with your assistant, the more valuable the assistant becomes. So maybe your Echo is in the kitchen. Now, if the router is in the living room, then you can ask Alexa a question there too. And maybe hear the answer through the home theater system.

If you have a mesh node in the bedroom, then it means you can ask Alexa to, say, add shaving cream to the shopping list. Or turn down the thermostat.

Question: That’s another big piece of this announcement, yes?

Answer: Oh yes. Lots of IoT hardware communicates over wireless networks that are completely separate from Wi-Fi. So that’s why we’re adding Bluetooth, 802.15.4 and our own CSRmesh to the home networking platform. That way, you don’t need to worry about buying separate hubs for things like lighting and security. Just connect them right up to the network.

And then you can control them with an app. Or with your voice assistant.

And if you asked your voice assistant to put shaving cream on the shopping list, then it could use the Bluetooth speaker you have in the bedroom to respond.

Question: All of this really does add a whole new layer of interoperability to the home network. When will we start to see Mesh Network 2.0 products, Rahul?

Answer: Watch for them this year!