Roberto Pellegrini is the best person to ask about the Internet of Things . He’s not only the VP of IoT Innovation, but he also works for the company that’s innovative to the bone – ADB. Glueglue has the chance to collaborate with ADB and translate the people’s needs into appealing and functional user interfaces of smart home appliances. As powerful as it sounds, it is the IoT that introduces the new smart era and changes the way we’re looking at our TVs, phones and even kitchen appliances.
Could you give us an overview of what you do as VP of IoT Innovation & Product Marketing?
I take care of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that allow brands to make their products connected and help them innovate their business model. In simple terms, I travel the world and meet various industry sectors’ players and help them devise how to apply IoT to solve their problems. It’s all about finding out how to apply IoT technologies to a number of sectors that range from automotive through home appliances to cooking and professional food services.
Speaking of Internet of things, what are the emerging trends in this sector?
Generally speaking, the extension of IoT to sectors normally thought as traditional, such as agriculture. As ADB, our main track of innovation is Artificial Intelligence applied to IoT. As an example, one declination of AI is the possibility to interact with products via voice commands or to have products that would take care of recognizing images without any help.
Another big track is using Artificial Intelligence to analyze data and get some insight, some actionable intelligence on the products we’re using or creating.
Is this the innovation that’s behind ADB global? Applying IoT solutions and always trying to use what the new technology has to offer to improve people’s lives?
Yes. Definitely. We also draw inspiration from the company’s presence in the sectors of multimedia, video technologies and broadband connectivity.
What is the role of the IoT approach in augmenting the user experience of traditional products? How do you do that?
By using big data storage and the statistics. We foresee what might happen and what could happen with a product and prepare certain actions to take in a situation of a problem. We predict and always try to know in advance how and in what ways the product might break or be improved.
Another application of our solutions relates to making IoT with traditional products augmented thanks to mobile Apps: it is not uncommon for brands to lose users’ engagement due to complicated user interfaces that do not facilitate the discovery of all the product’s features.
How do you let brands transform their traditional products into a “living one” that provides the reports on itself and its context once sold?
By “giving voice” to their products through a software (we call it the “agent”) through which the product can tell” how it is performing and how it is being used, via our data collection cloud. This allows the product manufacturer to not lose contact with the product once sold, and learn how to improve its behavior during its lifetime, so it is more useful for the user.
Always knowing the status of a product allows not only react swiftly to a failure condition but also to anticipate it. For example, in the professional sectors, we apply data analysis algorithms to predict that a product might have a certain type of failure based on the history of its usage.
This is the way the technology can help people
If you had to use a culinary metaphor, how would you describe the correlation between IoT?
Interestingly enough, I’ve got something to say about culinary metaphors since we actually collaborate with brands from the food industry. In fact, the application of Internet of Things to the food and cooking sectors is one of our main innovation tracks at ADB.
IoT and the internet open new opportunities in the “food journey” i.e. how people get to enjoy food, from the initial search and discovery to the actual cooking and serving.
Take for example the traditional cookbook: it was once limited to texts on a book, and maybe photos, while it can now be a highly interactive multimedia experience, assisted via a mobile App.
The novelty of our Internet of Things solution is that we allow creating apps that guide you through recipe steps, and that take care of sending specific commands and configuration to your oven or other kitchen appliances, so you can concentrate on the culinary details, rather than on the technicalities of the appliances. So while you take care of the manual process, the app takes care of the technical stuff. For example, the Artificial Intelligence might check the level of hardness of the crust and report it to you.
Our goal is – and we insist on that – to create a feeling of having the assistance of an app, to facilitate the cooking process. This is the angle we’re applying the Internet of Things, and in this case, UX would be the very process of cooking.
This is mind-blowing. It could revolutionize the way we cook at home. Following this logic, how futuristic is the idea of having my TV brew coffee for me while I’m on my way home?
That’s a possible scenario. And we’re not that far away from achieving that. In fact, the connected coffee machine would be autonomous enough to take care of it alone.
Sounds quite… overwhelming
Let’s continue to see it as a means rather than an end. The ultimate goal is improving people’s quality of life. The redemption of technology here is: I enjoy a nice meal, I appreciate the flavors of nature. Let’s put it in perspective. Besides, this is the way the technology can help people. Especially those in need. It’s going be a long technological process obviously, and we’re fully embracing that, but in the meantime, we should not forget what our main goal is and that, in the end, it’s about having a system that facilitates our daily routine. These solutions are emerging on the market more and more, so it’s also pretty interesting to watch them grow.
Could you elaborate on the idea of the Self-reporting and “living” digital product?
As we discussed, by inserting in the product our software “agent” we let a product report about itself and accept instructions from the external world.
This is the foundation for the future generation of products that, complemented by Artificial Intelligence, can update themselves to offer new functionalities to the users, and ultimately remain useful and relevant for longer.
What kind of advice would you give to a 20-year-old self?
In fact, my advice to a 20-years old may apply to anyone of us, of any age: we are living in an exciting era where internet technologies have democratized knowledge and have lowered many of the barriers that once stood between our creativity and the tools to make them real.
These tools are now easily accessible and often free and enable any individual to unleash creativity to build innovative applications and services.
Young people in their twenties have the advantage of an age of maximum energy, enthusiasm and hopes, so they should really feel empowered in a way their parents were not: from them we expect the new WhatsApps, Ubers, and Airbnbs of the next decade!
Roberto Pellegrini is VP of IoT Innovation and Product Marketing at ADB. In over 20 years of experience in the ICT sector, he has held management positions in R&D, Project Management, System Engineering, Product Management, Strategy and Innovation. He has led the introduction of innovations in the area of remote device management, fixed mobile convergence, software platforms for the connected home, Internet of Things system solutions and data analytics. He has authored technical consultancies on IoT and connected home system engineering for both internet service providers and verticals product vendors.
He has been the contributor to innovation projects which have been awarded public funding in the fields of Health Care, Smart Home and Smart Grid. Roberto holds a M.Sc. Degree in Electronics Engineering from the Politecnico of Milano.