Tiny AI Devices Invade The Maker Moment

The Xpider by Maker Collider featuring a camera equipped with a hardware accelerated neuron memory chip for rapid image recognition

The tiny white orb-shaped robot scuttled across the carpet, it’s flashing headlamp illuminating the floor before it. “It can recognize faces,” said the hardware engineer in charge of implementing the compact internals of the Xpider. “We are working on a software layer to make it easy to drag-and-drop commands using the onboard neural network engine.

As I have toured the world attending hardware conferences and Maker Faires, the theme of providing small edge devices with more intelligence has grown stronger with each passing month. More and more inventive developers and teams seem to be working on solving the next big problem facing the Maker Movement: How to make AI-enabled hardware and perceptual computing gadgets usable to a wider audience of developers.

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Tiny FPGAs Present Intriguing IoT AI Opportunities, Adoption Hampered By Ease-Of-Use

The new TinyFPGA A-series

Recently, the TinyFPGA series from designer Luke Valenty received coverage from the open-source hardware press. While FPGA enthusiasts rejoiced at the news of a tiny FPGA form-factor, little discussion occurred as to why a small FPGA for makers is an interesting phenomenon.

So what is so great about FPGAs and why should anyone care that they are now tiny? A few reasons, some of them quite intriguing.
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My new role at ARM

tl;dr: I am leaving my role at Intel’s Makers and Innovators Group to join ARM Holdings, a subsidiary of SoftBank. At ARM, I will be moving to Seattle and greatly expanding my work on global IoT and robotics ecosystems.

After four years at Intel traveling the world building a global ecosystem around the Intel Edison, Intel Curie, Intel Joule and the Arduino 101 inventor platforms, I am leaving Intel to join ARM Holdings. At ARM, I will be taking on the role of Sr. IoT Ecosystem Development Manager where I will continue my work spanning robots, drones, IoT, makers, medical devices, musical instruments, developer experience, underwater ROVs and perceptual computing (and much more).

While at Intel, I enjoyed working with the most talented hardware and software teams from around the world. I got to train tens of thousands of developers how to connect their IoT devices to the cloud at more than 60 events and helped to launch both AWS IoT and Azure IoT support for Intel Edison. I also witnessed, first hand, the astonishing expansion of IoT solutions being made possible by low-cost, open-source computing.

Why ARM? Because I am serious about working on the future of IoT and robotics. Last year, 17.7 billion chips using ARM technologies were sold. It is projected that another 100 billion ARM-based chips will sold between 2017 and 2021. That represents a huge opportunity to work with thousands of people building thousands of solutions to problems that have never been solved before. I am doubling down on my commitment to IoT; ARM seems like a wonderful place to do that.

So that’s it really, I look forward to meeting many new inventors building many new projects all around the world and finding ways to help them succeed through ecosystem development. The Internet of Things has barely even begun and I have already learned so much from so many of you out there.

Thanks again and looking forward to the next adventure, Rex St. John

Follow my IoT adventures on Twitter: https://twitter.com/rexstjohn

Reaching Out: A Key Habit For Ecosystem Evangelists

Hello, my name is Rex St. John and I spent the last 4 years traveling the world developing global ecosystem at Intel Mashery and Intel’s Makers and Innovators Group. As a result of my work on developer ecosystems, I have created a framework (tactics, habits, philosophies, strategies etc) for effective ecosystem development for hardware, API and cloud services.

I wanted to take a moment here share a habit that I believe every ecosystem development manager and technical evangelist should have in order to achieve maximum success in their job. Once you learn to do this and ingrain the habit on yourself, you are going to see your ecosystem development and evangelism results skyrocket!

The Habit Of Reaching Out

Ecosystem development managers and evangelists are very similar to CEOs: Their #1 job is recruiting the top talent in the industry, from all around the globe to their particular platform. As a result, great ecosystem managers should always looking to find and establish communications with the best they can get. The reason? Because you need the very best individuals and teams from around the world to use your platform so you can grow, improve and win! 

There is, however, one catch before you can achieve ecosystem nirvana: The thing that stops you from locating and developing these partners is…drum roll not having a systematic habit for automatically finding and reaching out to high-value partners on an ongoing basis! And that is what this article is here to help you learn how to do!

A few years ago, I ran across a very interesting platform extension for the Intel Edison from a new company who had posted their draft designs on Twitter. Not knowing what to do with this particular developer, I showed the project to my manager at the time (Delyn Simons of Intel Mashery). Her response? “Reach out and talk to them!”  Four years later, this particular developer was among the most productive and valuable members of the Intel Edison ecosystem and ultimately went on to produce products which made them the #1 seller of the platform in their particular geographic region.

In my experience, 85% of the time that I have located a developer, partner or small team who I considered to be in the top 5% of the industry, I found that I was the only person from any company that partner was talking with directly. Let me repeat this jaw-dropping statistic: Most of the very top talent out there in the wild has little, if any, direct internal support, relationship or contact with the hardware, software or cloud platform companies on which they rely. 

Once you realize the extreme leverage and value a single top partner can deliver to your organization, this statistic becomes even more fascinating. I have seen situations where a single partner, even a very small team, was absolutely critical to the success of a platform or plugged a gap which was impossible for anyone else to fill. I have seen a small team, with one project, deliver millions of dollars in value to other customers in the space of a few months for only a few thousand dollars in direct spend.

All that power and more can be yours for free…but only if you reach out. 
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The Memoirs of the Mashquatch

The infamous Mashquatch

Today I wrapped up my last day at Intel. After numerous Maker Faires and what feels like hundreds of hackathons and workshops, I thought I would  summarize what happened in a blog post while I can still remember it.

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Last Day @ Intel

After three+ years doing internet of things all over the world and training developers at 60+ hackathons, workshops, roadshows and Maker Faires I am ending my stint at Intel to work on much bigger (internet of) things and turning in my badge and very well used MacBook.

 

Introducing Kai Kingsley St. John

Originally scheduled for April 6th, my son decided to arrive several weeks early. Welcome Kai St. John to the family 3/22.

Want Sales? Think Of Couches.

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You probably have a crappy old couch that sort of stinks like apple juice and has popcorn kernels lodges in the cracks. Every time you make eye contact with your cat as she sharpens her claws on the corner of that couch, you think about replacing it…but something stops you.

What exactly is that something? Well – your mind fires up a projector and plays a horror movie for you.

In this horror movie, you have to break your couch apart, drag the pieces downstairs, unload all the hockey equipment from your trunk, load the couch into the trunk, drive the couch to the dump and dispose of it. Then you have to drive for 45 minutes to an Ikea, sit on 12 different couches to find a good one, trek across the Ikea warehouse floor, find the box, stand in line for two hours behind screaming children, buy the couch, drive it back to your house….

This horror movie causes you immediately shut down your mental projector and go back to eating popcorn, ignoring your cat and sipping apple juice. Every time.

This reaction is not unlike what happens when you attempt to sell a customer on your product or service. Even if your product perfectly matches your customer’s needs and solves their problems, the horror movie in your customer’s head about the terrible risks involved with your product will stop them from buying it.

Now lets imagine a different movie about how that couch gets replaced.

Imagine if all you needed to do to test out a new couch was snap your fingers. Your existing couch then stands up on robotic legs, walks down your stairs and returns itself to Ikea. Then you snap your fingers again and a new couch walks down the street, up seven flights of stairs and then sits itself down in your living room.

If this was the installation process for couches, imagine how many more would get sold. You could evaluate new couches every day of the week. Couch sales would skyrocket!

If you are in sales, business development or product management, you should think about couches when you design your product or promotion. The question you need to ask yourself is: How can you make your couch fly into a customer’s home as though carried magically on robot legs? How can you eliminate every single perceived risk of installing your couch  in the minds of your target audience?

Don’t like it? We will come and get it it. Don’t want to install it, don’t worry we will install it. Have an old couch? We will come to your house and get rid of it.

Maybe you can’t put robot legs on couches, but there are a lot of other options that can be explored to enhance the installation speed of your product into a customer’s “home.” Certain couches move through hallways faster: Couches that are modular and can be broken into pieces or are thoughtfully designed to fit down common hallways, staircases and other obvious yet common obstacles.

Couches with a 30-day free trial and free move-in which includes the fact that your movers will get rid of the old couch for you will sell faster than anything.

So when it is time to design your offer, deal or product – Think of couches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

RISC-V Workshop

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Was down in the bay area yesterday attending the latest RISC-V Workshop. The excitement around RISC-V is palpable, people seem really engaged in the possibility of a truly open source approach to hardware. Having worked in open source hardware evangelism with makers for the last few years, this may be a game changing innovation.

Side note, just backed the HiFive1 on Supply Frame, looking forward to experimenting.

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The Strange World Of Open-Source Pancreas Hacking

This is a Closed Loop Artificial Pancreas System consisting of a compute module and a 900 MHz radio. While it may not be pretty, it is actually keeping someone alive.

Opinions and views expressed in this blog do not reflect those of my employer and are wholly my own.

I have been lucky and gotten to travel the world and meet many interesting people building many interesting hardware projects with compute modules. Some of the more interesting projects come from the the OpenAPS movement, who are using compute modules to help Type I Diabetes sufferers manage their condition. I wanted to write a blog about what is going on in the OpenAPS movement and share some of the interesting hardware projects being built by hackers to manage their conditions.

A compute module is a tiny, cheap computer you can stick into things to make them smart (and often add Linux / Windows IoT and wireless connectivity).

Open source hardware hacking of life-sustaining equipment is highly dangerous and legally vague, why would anyone take this risk? Because current government regulations have delayed the creation of convenient systems for Type I Diabetes management until several years from now. As a result, the OpenAPS “We Are Not Waiting” movement has been born.
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