By Vicki Matranga
Design Programs Coordinator
The connected world faces new and complex questions for society and personal life. Tom Boettcher, the opening speaker of the Innovation Theater’s four-day schedule, is uniquely positioned to outline some answers about the Internet of Things. Tom is a Mensan, electrical engineer and founding CEO of HumanLabs, Inc. Not only a scientist, he is also a world-class athlete and an artist who has performed on great stages in the U.S. and Europe.
Tom, you worked to create the beginnings of what we now call the Internet of Things, having started your career at perhaps the greatest private research facility in the history of innovation, ATT’s Bell Labs. How did that position lead you to housewares?
Bell Labs gave the world the foundation for almost everything we associate with the modern, connected digital lifestyle, including the transistor, the laser, information theory, UNIX Operating system, C and C++ programming languages, cellphone CDMA and TDMA … even the Big Bang! Labs had a tactile force-feedback system with stereoscopic computer display and early haptics. As founder of the Enterprise Architecture Center of Excellence for Bell Labs, my responsibility was to provide the pathway for organizations to conceptualize and operate upon their entire information infrastructure. The natural outgrowth was to start HumanLabs as a way to bring these connected informational capabilities, of which sensing is one, to individuals for their benefit. Isn’t the home the perfect place to ground all these miraculous new capabilities?
The Internet of Things seems so complicated. How will you explain it to our audience?
It is important to remember that the IoT does not stray from the original vision of interconnected information capability. By providing a basis of understanding for what IoT comprises, I will be able to share some compelling and fun models of where things are heading for our housewares audience.
Internet of Things? Internet of Thinks!
Innovation Theater, Lakeside Center, room E350
March 5, Saturday 11:30 am – 12:20 pm
Tom, you last presented in the Innovation Theater in 2012, and offered an insightful view of how the individual will align with the home. It seemed amazing then, but it turns out your predictions came to pass. How did you know?
I consulted the Magic 8 Ball, of course. Kidding aside, HumanLabs is in the business of helping organizations prepare their products and services for the most pertinent technologies, guiding ideation, design, patenting, and development scenarios. Back then, our analysis suggested the sliding cost of sensor technology and production would accelerate, offering a basis for flourishing capabilities like cancer sensors equivalent to a dog’s nose. Remember the dog’s nose slide and the sensor fork? Ambient home monitoring and the measured self are realistic behaviors today.
As inventor of the Personal Dataspace, you were recently honored to be awarded the closing chapter in CRC Press’ academic compilation work, “Computation for Humanity”. Tell us more your work at HumanLabs.
The book is a rather broad guide for solving human/machine problems with computational application. Similar to Google’s general world view, HumanLabs deploys algorithmically controlled computation as a method for developing artificial intelligence models that organizations and individuals can leverage for their own benefit. In the end, you might say that we support this year’s theme of “Informing Innovation.”
Tell us about how HumanLabs also works with athletes.
Likewise, we help individuals harness the latest capabilities for optimal performance and risk mitigation. We have even worked with Formula One teams on a variety of human-based capabilities, from telemetry to increased action/reaction time and improved awareness. Team owners were happy because their crash rates went down and podium finishes went up. We even picked up a heart murmur missed on one well-known world-class driver.
You are also a world-class athlete?
I like to consider myself a practitioner of our particular form of performance art. I’ve set several world standards in open water butterfly swimming, including a first-ever all butterfly 3K open water at the World Masters Swimming Championships in 2014.
And you are also a performance artist—a dancer.
Yes, I have made myself a test case for optimal alignment of the human form with neuromuscular research guided by HumanLabs’ sensing capabilities. As a result, I have won roles through audition with Paris Opera Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Royal Ballet, Joffrey, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. This second career in dance performance that has taken me to the stages at Lincoln and Kennedy Center. We even helped productions with our time and motion studies.
Give us a preview of what’s in store for our Show audience in your talk as the first speaker on Saturday morning.
Yes, the Internet of Things! I plan to present the various scenarios of present-day home IoT development, showing how standards play a key role in market development. I will then show how the current capabilities will lead toward artificial intelligence applications with a few surprises in store.
Thank you, Tom, for this glimpse into your world which connects so many creative pursuits. Such a dizzying array of achievements, it’s hard to imagine your schedule. We’re honored that you will share your expertise with our Show audience on Saturday, March 5 at 11:30 am at the Innovation Theater, Lakeside Center room E350.
To learn more about Tom Boettcher, contact:
Human Labs, Inc.
175 E. Delaware Place
Floor 89 Suite 5
Chicago IL 60611
Innovation fuels the housewares industry. Learn from experts about how to develop and launch new products and services to better reach your customers. Critical topics such as global design trends, the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) category, omni-channel retailing, branding, the needs of distinct consumer age groups, the future of food and more– all impact the home goods market. Sunday and Monday programs in the Innovation Theater will also include presentations related to connected/smart products.
Be sure to attend the free executive-level educational sessions at the Innovation Theater. These programs will give you a fresh perspective as you walk the Show and will inspire, inform and improve your business.