Today’s guest is no stranger to the Killer Innovations Show, John Osborne II, Chairman of the Board of the Zigbee Alliance and General – Manager of Leedarson North America, joins us at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). On this week’s show, we will discuss the growth of IoT devices and the trend of consolidation within IoT.
The Zigbee Alliance
With the recent scale-up of the device connectivity arena, what’s Zigbee been up to? John says that Zigbee has formed together with Apple, Google, and Amazon, to drive the industry into a common direction. If we can accomplish what we are trying to do with the big four, it will drive the industry towards consolidation. Consumers can go to stores and buy the product they want rather than focusing on specific brands. We don’t want this to be just another standard. Instead, we want to take the top existing technologies and put them together. We’ve seen more and more large companies desiring consolidation.
LEEDARSON and IoT
I get a lot of inquiries from listeners on the show with ideas for IoT devices. With your experience, what advice would you give to someone with these ideas? The company I work for, LEEDARSON, specializes in that. Whether one comes with a design ready to be built, or they have an idea, we can walk them through it. We try to educate, as well as walk them through the design process, and occasionally do real-time iterations. We’re happy to help whether they’re a multi-billion-dollar company or someone new to the industry. Sometimes people come in with similar ideas for devices that we already have. We’ll modify their idea, make it compliant, package it, and ship it to them. Others come in with great ideas about different devices, and we’ll test them and possibly do a joint development. We don’t strictly manufacture. We are involved in many different things.
Advancing IoT Products
What unique applications of IoT have you seen? John says there are very few significant new ideas. It’s mostly the same products being improved over time. The most changes we’ve seen are on the AI side. We’re trying to get the end device smart enough to operate without the cloud. Recently, I’ve seen some cool new things in the lighting arena. Lighting has been recently tied to entertainment. If you’re playing Fortnite, you want the room around you to emulate what is happening. However, this can often be tricky.
In the case of many IoT devices, there is a cost lift to each of these modified products. What is that cost lift? John says people want more functionality at a lower price. For example, people are willing to pay about $5 premium on a smart bulb. That is a target we are all shooting for. Today, it is at around $10 premium. What are the other barriers holding people from buying IoT devices? Most people won’t just throw away their already purchased light bulbs. LED bulbs last a long time, so people get comfortable with them. We need to figure out how to incentivize people to swap out a good bulb for something more connected.
As Chairman of Zigbee, what else have you been working on? Part of what we have been dealing with is whether we’re a technology or an alliance. We may be changing the name soon. We’ve been partnering with different entities and working to put our differences aside to reach common goals. We have also been working on consolidating internal protocols to gain more flexibility. Some massive changes are coming for Zigbee. With all these groups newly combining, do you see this continuing over the next 4-5 years? These organizations have assigned full-time resources into it, as it is essential to them. I believe we will see this consolidation grow a lot over the next couple of years.
About our Guest: John Osborne II
John Osborne is currently General Manager at LEEDARSON North America and Chairman of the Board of the Zigbee Alliance. In these capacities, he helps educate and grow the IoT market globally. LEEDARSON is a global provider in traditional and connected lighting and sensors. The Zigbee Alliance is the premier Internet of Things (IoT) standards development organization since 2002. John has extensive experience in new product development, rapid product commercialization, systems innovations, and operations improvement. He has demonstrated the ability to manage and inspire multi-cultural, internal-external teams. He is a skilled communicator and presenter and has a sound background in budgeting, resource allocation, and operations efficiency.
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To learn more about the growth of IoT devices and the trend of consolidation within IoT, listen to this week's show: Where is IoT Going? #CES2020.