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The Last Link Paradox

Charlie Peters from Emerson recently wrote an insightful piece regarding the partnering dilemma that Internet of Things (IoT) businesses face, something he calls the last link paradox. Essentially he says that providers of IoT sensors need to connect to a larger ecosystem, but in the short run that amounts to dancing with the devil: your partner could wipe you out in the long run after you did all of the heavy lifting.

I fundamentally agree with his premise as it has a lot of historical precedent, not the least of which is the continued "last mile" problems experienced by wired and wireless carriers for so many years. His example of home automation demonstrates his point, as he says there is little incentive to innovate the last links in this area. On that point, I have to respectfully disagree. There is a specific demographic whereby there is tremendous incentive to innovate which -- given my occupation -- you can probably guess.

We have a saying here at ONKÖL that "the Internet of Things is wasted on the young."

  • While it's nice to know if your own propane tank is running low, knowing that same information about your Age-In-Place grandma who lives two hours away is much more valuable.
  • Seeing your own heart rate and oxygen saturation levels after a run might help you maintain your fitness, but seeing that same information for your COPD father-in-law could be a life saver.

For almost every home and health monitoring device, the value of the information exhaust goes up exponentially relative to the age of the participant being monitored. In that regard, there is tremendous incentive to innovate the last links in order to make sure that the Age-In-Place elderly can benefit from this burgeoning technology.

At ONKÖL it is our mission to make it easy for IoT sensor providers to deploy their solutions in an elderly household, and for platform providers to gain access to that diverse universe of sensors. And in that regard I am also in agreement Charlie: it is all about that last link.

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