I came across this interview from Stacey Higginbotham on Gigaom with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson and I want to share some highlights.
Alex Hawkinson who has studied at the Carnegie Mellon University achieved his Cognitive Science bachelor in 1994. After that, Hawkinson has worked at different companies and also founded a few. Currently Hawkinson is the chairman and CEO of SmartThings. SmartThings makes the connection from physical objects, ‘things’ to the digital world. When you use SmartThings you can easily monitor, control and automate these ‘things’ from anywhere you want.
SmartThings, as Hawkinson describes it, has three key-pillars.
- A platform which realize the connection from that everyday ‘things’ to the internet
- SmartApps to monitor, control and automate
- A toolkit for makers and developers to create their own smart ‘things’.
On the physical graph and the cloud…
“There are a few different layers to the technology we see needing to exist making the physical graph possible. On the one hand you need to connect the everyday objects in your life and get them connected to the internet and to the cloud. So in order to do that there are a lot of different standards right now for providing connectivity to ‘things’ in the real world. Wi-Fi, (…) Bluetooth and a range of others. And all these different standards have different purposes. (…) As the first layer we needed to create a hub device. (…) And by supporting those open standards we make it possible for consumers to get any of those off the shelve objects and immediately connect them to the smart ‘things’ cloud and control them from anywhere. But on top of that we have made a developer toolkit as well.”
“There is definitely privacy issues. You do not want people watching you or know where you are all times. There is a huge security layer (…) There is the ability to within a household share information or not. My wife and I are very open about sharing that but it is not available to outsiders but, we foresee privacy controls where individuals user could protect their present information from being exposed to other apps that might be running in the same household or location. (…) The community is giving us a lot of more advice.”
On the internet of things and offline networks…
“That off course happens. (…) We are allowing users and developers to define the objects in the connected physical graph in the cloud. An application then, our platform a sort of automatic recognize what components can run locally at hub level. And so it can even it is completely written in the cloud it can push some rules or some of the software down to the hub level. So if the internet connection goes down the hub is still operating all of the local network between the different devices. And so it is going to be possible that for example your presence still trigger the option to unlock the door even if the connection is down at that moment those types of things. And keep in mind that a lot of these object types have a manual interaction as well so, like the light switches they work when the regular light switch. My wife does not carry a smart phone as she walks around the house and everything a sort of works the way she would expect to. And the same goes for the door locks that a sort of code you program from the cloud that it still work even if you are disconnected for a day or something like that.”
These three Q&A’s are only a small part of a great interview. You can listen to the whole podcast here on Gigaom’s website.