Embedded Systems Conference Boston 2019: The Remaining Talks

Embedded Systems Conference

Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Boston, MA

May 15-16, 2019

I conclude my blog post trilogy about Boston’s 2019 Embedded Systems Conference with coverage of the remaining ESC talks. You can peruse my overview article and my coverage of the robotics talks by following the hotlinks. I made the rounds talking to ESC booth vendors, as well as several vendors showcasing at the collocated BIOMEDevice and Design & Manufacturing New England conferences.

In addition to the three robotics talks featured in yesterday’s article, I was treated to presentations about IoT security, 5G, and cloud-to-edge migration, plus the BIOMEDevice keynote talk.

“How to Secure Your IoT Project”

My first presentation was that of IAR Systems’ Shawn Prestridge, “How to Secure Your IoT Project.” He talked about attack vectors, authentication problems, and hardware options; Root of Trust and Chain of Trust; and did a deep-dive into how to secure devices via a secure workflow.

“Fireside Chat: Discussing Medtech 4.0 and the Future of Care”

Scott Huennekens delivered the BIOMEDevice keynote on Wednesday, “Fireside Chat: Discussing Medtech 4.0 and the Future of Care.” Dubbing himself a forward-looking futurist but also a pragmatics, Huennekens noted that in MedTech 3.0, it’s not just the products, but the products are connected, and it’s about the data. A key point of the presentation was the promotion of open architecture. Per Huennekens, open architecture creates opportunity, closed platforms in medtech are slowing development and growth, and open architectures will improve patient access and outcomes.

Digital surgery and robotic surgery were addressed, as was the importance of diversity of culture and people.

“Wrapping Your Head Around 5G: A Primer for the Enterprise Community”

My telecom background and mid-2000s coverage of the millimeter wave and microwave carrier market is the foundation of my strong interest in 5G, so I was looking forward to this presentation by Verizon’s Joshua Ness and Taru Jain, “Wrapping Your Head Around 5G: A Primer for the Enterprise Community.”

Ness touched upon the history of wireless standards (1G through 5G), the difference in 5G capabilities vs. 4G, and some of what 5G will usher into the future by enabling the growth of edge computing.

Jain noted that 5G will driving the fourth industrial revolution. She noted that the four pillars of 5G are fiber, spectrum, software-defined networks, and multi-access edge compute. And she discussed use cases in retail, manufacturing, and healthcare.

And, worth noting since it was at the Embedded Systems Conference, Ness pointed out that Verizon had just, the day of the presentation, rolled out a narrowband IoT network.

In all, a great introduction to 5G for those unfamiliar with it, and a solid recap for those of us already familiar with the technology.

“How to Migrate Intelligence from the Cloud to Embedded Devices at the Edge”

Arm’s Chris Shore went into great depth about “How to Migrate Intelligence from the Cloud to Embedded Devices at the Edge.”

On the topic of security, Shore noted that security cannot be optional, a recurring theme over the course of the last three Embedded Systems Conferences I attended. He touched upon four types of attacks: communication attacks, lifecycle attacks, physical attacks, and software attacks. He discussed software isolation. And he talked about Arm’s Platform Security Architecture.

On the topic of functional safety, Shore gave examples of the need across the industries of automotive (autonomous driving), industrial (factory automation), healthcare (robotic surgery), transportation (train control systems), avionics (flight systems), and consumer (domestic robots). He talks about the need for security as necessary (but not sufficient) for safety. He touched upon types of fault – random faults vs. systematic faults. And he dove into digital signal processing.

Shore closed his presentation with this remark: “Hope that inspires you to create highly-compute capable, safe, secure edge devices on the IoT.”


As always, the Embedded Systems Conference provided an educational, interesting glimpse into the current and future states of the IoT industry. It’s a shame the ESC is ending its run in Boston; it was an event I always circled on my calendar. As noted in my ESC overview article, the Embedded Systems Conference has partnered with the Drive World Conference & Expo for its next incarnation, in Santa Clara, CA in August – August 27-29, 2019.

Embedded Systems Conference Boston 2019: The Robotics Talks

Embedded Systems Conference

Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Boston, MA

May 15-16, 2019

As I mentioned in my overview article, Boston’s 2019 Embedded Systems Conference included its usual blend of embedded systems/Internet of Things-focused vendors and presentations, but robotics were also at the forefront this year. Or, at least, they were the focus of more of the presentations that caught my attention this year.

“Exploring Real World Applications for Dynamic Robots”

Thursday’s keynote presentation by Boston Dynamics’ Kevin Blankespoor, “Exploring Real World Applications for Dynamic Robots,” discussed the unique capabilities and design-purpose of Boston Dynamics’ quadruped, humanoid, and wheeled robots Spot, Atlas, and Handle. And those in attendance were treated to a demo of Spot led by Boston Dynamics’ Bryan Hollingsworth. Without going into detail, a quadruped robot is great for inspection in industries such as construction, energy, and public safety. A wheeled robot like Handle excels at tasks like moving boxes in warehouses, pallet-building, and unloading trucks. And humanoid robots are great R&D platforms, looking many years into the future.

“Advanced Vision Systems for Safe Human-Robot Interaction”

Veo Robotics’ Patrick Sobalvarro delivered an interesting talk about robot-human interaction, “Advanced Vision Systems for Safe Human-Robot Interaction.” For those of us not familiar with industrial robotics, Sobalvarro provided an exceptionally useful primer regarding the fencing-off of industrial robots and the protocols required when humans enter the robots’ cages in industrial settings. I’ve seen very few presentations about robotics in my career, so I really appreciated the background portion of this presentation; it was informative and set the stage for those of us with limited robotics backgrounds to be able to follow the meatier portions of the talk.

Power and force-limited robots are designed to allow human-robot interactions because if the robots will not injure people if they do come into contact, but they are weak and slow. So Veo Robotics is designing robots that would use a 3D sensing and control system so robots would be able to avoid coming into contact with people entirely.

One of the interesting Q&A questions was about collision avoidance. Veo uses a full-stop safety approach because, as Sobalvarro explained, their customers prefer their robots to follow a planned trajectory, though he could see the possibility of that in the future.

“Introduction to the Robot Operating System”

The PTR Group’s Michael Anderson presented “Introduction to the Robot Operating System.” This presentation dove into the details of ROS, which is “an asynchronous publish/subscribe message-passing middleware.” Designed for writing robot software, of course. Anderson dug deep into the hows and whys of ROS. And noted the differences between ROS and ROS 2. ROS was designed for the single robot use case, while ROS 2 is designed for (among other things) robot swarms.

Coming Next

Those were the three robotics-focused talks I caught at ESC. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s with quick summaries of the other four talks I attended, in and around the time I spent chatting with attendees at their booths.

Embedded Systems Conference Boston 2019: Overview

Embedded Systems Conference

Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Boston, MA

May 15-16, 2019

2019 was my third consecutive year attending the Embedded Systems Conference. An event that brings together key vendors and provides a full slate of interesting talks about the Embedded Systems market, this event co-locates with two others, BIOMEDevice and Design & Manufacturing New England. My usual path through the showcase floor involves meeting all of the ESC vendors and then cherrypicking those from the other conferences involved in tech markets I follow. And, of course, I attend as many of the interesting presentations as I can fit into two days.

This year, as always, the ESC exhibitors were a mix of software, hardware, and consulting services companies, with the usual significant contingent of test and measurement vendors.

The presentations were varied, as well.

A lot of the ESC talks in past years have been security-focused. There were plenty of security talks again this year, but I noticed the robotics portion of the program more this year. I haven’t researched past topics, so the mix may not have been any different, but because one of the two keynotes was robotics-focused it brought the robotics element more to the forefront.

The two keynotes – one each day – were split between the BIOMEDevice program and the ESC/D&M program, to the extent robotics spans both of the co-located non-med conferences.

Wednesday’s keynote featured Scott Huennekens in a “Fireside Chat: Discussing Medtech 4.0 and the Future of Care.” Thursday’s keynote starred Boston Dynamics’ Kevin Blankespoor with “Exploring Real World Applications for Dynamic Robots.”

I also attended a few more Embedded Systems Conferences talks. IAR Systems’ Shawn Prestridge presented “How to Secure Your IoT Project.” Verizon’s Joshua Ness delivered “Wrapping Your Head Around 5G: A Primer for the Enterprise Community.” The PTR Group’s Michael Anderson provided an “Introduction to the Robot Operating System.” ARM’s Chris Shore discussed “How to Migrate Intelligence from the Cloud to Embedded Devices at the Edge.” And Veo Robotics’ Patrick Sobalvarro talked about “Advanced Vision Systems for Safe Human-Robot Interaction.” In subsequent articles, I’ll write about these talks (in varying detail, depending on the quality of my notes).

Looking Ahead

The Embedded Systems Conference has partnered with the Drive World Conference & Expo for its next incarnation, in Santa Clara, CA in August – August 27-29, 2019.

BIOMEDevice returns to Boston next April, April 22-23, 2020, as does Design & Manufacturing New England.

In the meantime, the six-conferences-in-one Advanced Design and Manufacturing conference hits New York, NY June 11-13, 2019. It includes Design & Manufacturing Atlantic – from the D&M New England family – and the Medical Device & Manufacturing East conference, for the medical device contingent.

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase #101: EdTech and CareerTech

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase 101

May 20, 2019

This month, Boston New Technology’s startup showcase, BNT101, featured EdTech and CareerTech startups. It was hosted at Hult International Business School in Cambridge.

Boston New Technology Startup Showcase 101: Hult International Business School in Cambridge, MA

UiPath introduction; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Boston New Technology’s May startup showcase featured seven EdTech and CareerTech startups.

After an hour of food and networking, the presentation portion of the program always begins the same, with a quick introduction. Then the sponsors who are in attendance that evening each to introduce themselves. And after that, sponsors not in attendance generally get recognized with a slide and a mention.

BlocksCAD presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Sponsors who attended BNT101 and introduced themselves were Hult, UiPath, Ink’d Stores, Your Profile Video, The Boston Headshot, Chuck Goldstone Strategies and Stories,and Tom Maloney Coach.

After the quick sponsor introductions, each of the evening’s seven showcasing startups gets to deliver a five-minute presentation, which is followed by a five minute question-and-answer period.

The Family Learning Company presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Below I’ll write a sentence or two about each of the presenting companies. These write-ups are based on material distributed before and during the event, sometimes tweaked based on the content of the presentations. If you’re interested in learning more about one of the companies, don’t rely on my notes; rather, follow the links I provide and contact the companies directly for more information.

Products & Presenters

BlocksCAD is 3D CAD software that helps schools teach coding, math, and design. It makes this sort of learning easier and more engaging, and the company presented statistics showing the split of engagement with it product for boys vs. girls is relatively close to 50/50.

Validated Learning Co. presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

The Family Learning Company showcased its Family Literacy software. The software is designed to help families learn together. The Family Learning Company’s presentation touched upon how it’s designed so parents with literacy shortcomings can help their children learn. Its goal is to improve literacy by connecting adult learners with their children, providing a better literacy outcome for both. During the Q&A period, a question about gamification was asked; that is not in the plans, as it would not improve learning. Also in response to a question, the Family Learning Company envisions this product as being a corporate benefit.

ForagerOne presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Validated Learning Company showcased its Question Xchange peer-to-peer quiz question sharing marketplace. Using crowdsourcing and machine learning, it helps teachers find and share high-quality quiz questions.

ForagerOne is a tool that helps connect students, faculty, and administrators at colleges and universities to improve students’ access to research opportunities by leveraging universities’ internal faculty information and allowing students to get their research interests and backgrounds in front of the faculty members with whom they want to connect.

ArcLive presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

ArcLive gives researchers access to physically historical archives remotely. Important because less than 10% of archival documents are available online. By using a camera and viewing system (with built-in protections against copy-making), researchers can view information they would otherwise have to travel to see. ArcLive touts that the cost of accessing these historical archives through a local surrogate via ArcLive can be half the cost of accessing them via international travel. As an added bonus, it gives researchers the ability to access information at multiple, distant sites, particularly helpful if those additional sites contain smaller amounts of information that would have been otherwise unlikely to have warranted a visit at all.

Passion Analytics presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Passion Analytics‘ PAT is an automated career coach with a natural language user interface. It is designed to guide users through career decisions and to help them find their career passions. To the extent possible, it’s a self-contained product, but if necessary, it will direct users to an actual human. Right now, Passion Analytics is targeting students 18-25.

Unfundable is an academic health research simulation card game that pits players against each other in pursuit of grants. It’s marketed toward high school and early college students and is meant as a way to introduce grant-based research to those potentially interested in careers in that field, with the goal of also appealing to a broader audience.

Unfundable presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Looking Ahead

Boston New Technology is a not-for-profit, community-supported network of 24,000 business professionals focused on Boston’s tech community, with a mission of helping businesses in that community, especially startups, launch and grow. To that end, the group hosts monthly startup showcases in addition to other events.

June’s startup showcase, BNT102, is scheduled for June 10th at Foley Hoag, LLP in Boston’s Seaport District; it will be HealthTech-themed. July’s BNT103 will feature Mobile Apps and Tech, and it’s already scheduled – July 15th back at Hult International Business School in Cambridge. BNT hosts other events each month, as well, so check out BNT’s upcoming event calendar at its website periodically as details are added for those events, too.

Tech in Motion: Smart Cities & Urban Innovation

Smart Cities & Urban Innovation: Demos & Drinks
photo by Geoff Wilbur

Smart Cities & Urban Innovation: Demos & Drinks

A Tech in Motion Boston event held at PTC, Boston, MA

May 15, 2019

On Wednesday, May 15th, I attended an event at PTC’s Boston seaport headquarters. I trust Tech in Motion to put on good events, drawing a very techy crowd and featuring interesting topics. As usual, I wasn’t disappointed. Wednesday’s Smart Cities & Urban Innovation: Demos & Drinks covered the topic of urban tech.

The program featured a presentation by Jaclyn Youngblood and Yifan Lu of Boston’s Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, including a mention of Boston’s Safest Driver Competition.

Before and after the presentation, there was time for networking and for visiting several area companies in the urban innovation space.

BetrSpot is an app that allows people to trade spots. Spots in line. Spots at the bar. It’s a marketplace for physical first-come, first-served spaces.

Beta Blocks is attempting to create smarter, more connected Boston communities.

Cambridge Mobile Telematics is the company whose Drive Well platform is being utilized as part of Boston’s Safest Driver Competition, mentioned above.

Soofa was showing off its cool Soofa Sign community news feed display units – or, as they call, them, “the world’s first outdoor 42” electronic paper display for downtowns, neighborhoods, parks, and campuses.” (I’m enthralled and look forward to trying them out.)

Tolemi is a “governing intelligence” platform. What I recall most about my conversation with them was the detailed maps.

Getaround is a service/app that facilitates peer-to-peer car rental, sort of like an Airbnb for cars. I previously mentioned Getaround very briefly in this article about a Boston New Technology event in September 2018, and I first encountered Getaround at a BNT event earlier in 2018, though I didn’t mention the exhibitors in that write-up. Certainly seems like a product capable of gaining traction in its chosen market.

And I first encountered Zome just last month at Boston New Technology’s April 2019 startup showcase. Zome is a tool for creating and controlling micro power grids, allowing another way to control power grids during peak usage or other energy-constrained periods.

In all, it was a great sampling of city-focused technology. Hosted by PTC, of course, at its seaport district headquarters. The event was held on PTC’s demo floor, which contains showcases of several of PTC’s augmented reality products. And the group of attendees was Tech in Motion’s typically tech-focused audience.

What to Expect Next

Tech in Motion lists its upcoming events all over North America on the Tech in Motion events page. Its next Boston event occurs on July 11th, its “Appy Hour” networking mixer at Back Bay Social. Also note that October 9th date for the 5th annual Timmy Awards.

I attended the Embedded Systems Conference last week, as well, on Wednesday and Thursday. You can expect coverage of some of the presentations I attended at that conference here in the blog over the coming days.

And tonight (Monday, May 20th), I’ll be attending Boston New Technology‘s EdTech and CareerTech startup showcase, BNT101, at Hult International Business School in Cambridge.

Acronis and Boston Red Sox Announce Cyber Protection Partnership

World Series Champion Boston Red Sox Select Acronis as Official Cyber Protection Partner

Acronis Red Sox Day, Fenway Park, Boston, MA

May 10, 2019

On Friday, May 10th, the Boston Red Sox and Acronis, via an event at Fenway Park, announced the Red Sox selection of Acronis as the team’s “Official Cyber Protection Partner.” Presentations by Acronis Vice President and General Manager Patrick Hurley and Boston Red Sox Senior Director of Technology Operations Randy George were followed by a chat with former Red Sox Bob Stanley and Jerry Remy and, later, an appearance by prolific Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.

Patrick Hurley, VP & GM Americas, Acronis
Patrick Hurley; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Acronis, long known for its backup and recovery products, also offers robust cyber protection. The Red Sox, meanwhile, conduct a massive data analytics operation, as is typical of Major League Baseball teams.

Hurley’s presentation discussed Acronis’ service offerings and its partnerships with major professional sports operations around the globe, as featured at the company’s acronis.sport website.

George’s presentation focused more on the ways the Red Sox would utilize Acronis’ capabilities, including increased speed and security of the team’s analytics, plus the impact on back office operations.

Randy George, Senior Director of Technology Operations, Boston Red Sox
Randy George; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Materials about the announcement cited Acronis’ cutting-edge hybrid cloud architecture, disaster recovery, file sync and share, blockchain notarization and e-signature services, multi-machine deployment provisioning, enterprise-level managed file transfer, and anti-malware protection.

Red Sox Vice President of IT Brian Shield was quoted as saying, “We’re thrilled to have Acronis as our Official Cyber Protection Partner. Acronis’ services offer an innovative blend of data protection and cybersecurity that will ensure all of our data, regardless of volume, is safe and secure so it’s available precisely when and where we need it. We look forward to a long and highly successful partnership with Acronis that will benefit our organization on and off the field.”

Bob Stanley and Jerry Remy at Acronis Red Sox Day
Bob Stanley and Jerry Remy; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Hurley added, “Everyone at Acronis – particularly those at our Burlington, MA office – is thrilled that the Red Sox decided to team up with Acronis. As a Boston native and life-long Red Sox fan, the opportunity to contribute to the success of one of baseball’s most storied franchises is very exciting. Acronis shares the Red Sox’s commitment to excellence and with the world’s most secure cyber protection solutions defending their digital environment, they’ll be empowered to achieve even more.”

Additional information about the Acronis-Red Sox partnership can be found here, via this Acronis press release: https://www.acronis.com/en-us/pr/2019/05/10-20-19.html.