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Q&A: Gemalto using IOT to protect billions while saving trees & bees

Head of M2M Segment Marketing Manfred Kube discusses the future of M2M and IoT.


The company is the world’s largest SIM cards manufacturer and its solutions are making the elderly live longer independently, saving bees in California using IoT and keeping trees untouched in the Brazilian Amazon.

Following on George Osborne’s announcement of £40 million for the UK’s IoT industry and the parties’ manifestos that established a very clear view on where the country needs to be in five years, CBR spoke with Manfred Kube Gemalto’s Head of M2M Segment Marketing.

CBR: Could you give our readers an introduction to Gemalto, what do you do?

MK: It is very likely that most people are actually carrying a Gemalto product in their pocket. It could be a SIM card, it could be an electronic passport.

Gemalto is a digital security company, waving trust to billions through our SIM cards business, through our governmental programs, healthcare cards but also technology for the IoT and M2M communication, and that’s what we provide: security solutions because we think it all starts with trust. Trust is a central point, so is the IoT.

We offer a variety of different building blocks all along the value chain enabling our customers to build IoT solutions and enabling the connectivity from the hardware site. We offer cellular modules and have dedicated offering for M2M SIM cards. Gemalto calls these the MIMs [Machine Identity Module] and they are specifically geared for this particular market. Furthermore, we also offer cloud based solutions to enable those IoT end-to-end applications.

Gemalto has many options along the value chain to allow our customers to market faster without them having to reinvent the wheel and build on something that is proven for liable and secure.

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CBR: How is Gemalto embracing the IoT and what are you working on within the M2M business?

MK: In the old days IoT was more like M2M technology, what today people would call Industrial IoT. This would connect machines to the cloud remotely accessing these machines, getting data from them and using the data for formed business decisions to optimise processes. We have seen and enabled this for 20 years.

This new trend, like for instance with wearable technology which really experienced a break through last year, with home automation, where we see a new business are with a sort of sparkle in the consumer space, and that’s what a lot of people describe as consumer IoT, which is probably a lot more visible than the traditional industrial IoT solutions.

At such, we definitely enable those solutions through connectivity that Gemalto can provide through hardware but also services, and is important to point out: the on demand connectivity. If we think about IoT devices that we want to use in different countries, today is a real pain for those companies manufacturing those devices because you would need to know where this device goes, and then preinstall a SIM card, for instance right at the point of manufacturing, really making the whole logistics very complicated.

Gemalto has solutions that break pain points, which we call on demand connectivity. The way it works is for example, when someone switches their device on, the device will then automatically download securely over the air, sort of the final SIM card operator credentials. They would only need to produce one variant, and when users switch it on, it improves their experience, removing all the complexity that has been injuring the wide spread adoption up to today. This will be a game changer for the industry.

The services Gemalto provides, and if we think about wearables, like Fitbit or smart wrist bands, something like that and even more to come for sure, what people don’t really consider with several reports from out there that support this, is that not many people consider security.

Trust enabled by security is our DNA at Gemalto. We have technology like embedded secure elements that can really enable the security and trust in an easy to use way. We believe that for wide spread adoption people have to trust the technology in this space, and of course with people talking now about smart cities, we believe this will become ever more important, and we are very well positioned to support these developments.

CBR: You have mentioned you are a digital security company, reaching out to billions. Who are your customers?

MK: It is very diverse. One analyst counted around 300 odd verticals, and our goal is to provide all these horizontal solutions, that can be used in all these different solutions, with a few verticals that we have special solutions for. For instance the automotive market, a great topic that everyone relates to and finds exciting, with self driving cars and vehicle to vehicle communication that can be enabled with our technology, and traditionally, these automotive vendors have waited until the technology was more mature and then used it in cars.

Automotive customers are really becoming early adopters, using really high bandwidth LTE applications to enable in-car entertainment systems, street view navigation, automatic breakdown calls and much more. There is a lot of development happening in that space.

Other industries like utilities – smart metering for instance – are definitely a hot topic for the smart city. In addition for healthcare, and in particular mobile healthcare, our M2M IoT technology is used very much on a consumers base and around fitness applications as well as in professional applications, like home monitoring devices for chronic patients or for the elderly to be allowed to live independently for longer.

All those areas are areas where our technology is bringing value and enabling processes to run more smoothly and in some cases even allows for entire new business models.

The sky is the limit. Imagination is the limit with IoT.

CBR: Are there no limits to the IoT?

MK: For example, we powered a project in the Brazilian Amazon rain forest to protect trees. A government agency planted cellular modules in trees to stop illegal deforestation.

We have one of our customers based in California, saving bees by integrating IoT technology in the beehives to protect the bees.

On a larger scale, we see that this is really used in enterprises and becomes part of the way those companies do business.

Gemalto recently showed a demo with SAP where we integrated our technology in delivery vans to improve online shoppers’ experience, by sending them precise notifications when their delivery would take place.

Our technology can interface very easily to those big data services like SAP for instance.

CBR: Looking into the future, where do you think we will be in five years time when IoT becomes more mainstream?

MK: Gemalto has been monitoring markets globally very closely, being active as Gemalto all around the globe, and I would definitely say the US and the UK, and especially London are really a hot place for innovation.

In the US for example, we have seen this in several open innovation programs that we have been running for instance last year. There is really a lot of innovative ideas coming from this geographic locations.

In 5 years I believe IoT will really touch our lives in so many ways that we can only dream off. It will really improve the way we interact. IoT will surround us; will become invisible and unobtrusive, it will be omnipresent.

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