Kate Carruthers is a marketer, technologist and educator. She sometimes feels like being a revolutionary cat . Kate has diverse experience in business and technology and is deeply interested in creating sustainable futures for all living things. She is a technologist, marketer and educator who blogs at Aide-Memoire and can be found on Twitter @kcarruthers
Hey Kate, I always find innovators describe themselves differently. I have heard you refer to yourself as ‘Revolutionary Cat’ in the past? Why that term?
I say that sometimes I feel like being a revolutionary cat . The reason for saying it is that sometimes I see the way the world is and want to change it for the better. By that I mean changes away from command and control models for society and business and towards collaborative and sustainable models.
You are currently working on an amazing initiative called Moore’s Cloud?
What is it and how did it all get started?
My friend Mark Pesce called me late one night earlier in the year to tell me his new idea for an invention. We realised that his invention was the beginning of the internet of things for ordinary people. Light by Moore s Cloud is a beautiful, intelligent, connected and playful light. It is powered by an app ecosystem that makes it easy to being automating devices within the home. The Light is just the beginning, and Moore s Cloud is in the business of creating connected consumer devices for the internet of things. I like to joke that it bring the internet of things home.
You have adopted a radical way of approaching this project. A crowd
funding open hardware, open software, openly transparency business. Why
was it important to your team to go down this route, knowing that it
might be difficult?
Both Mark and I have long spoken about the need for new business models that are open and transparent. We have called for new models for running businesses that are not based on fear and lack of trust. We believe that collaboration and the power of networked communities is an enormous asset for businesses.
You mentioned that Moore’s cloud is ‘illumination as service’? What s
Up until now light or illumination in a household or business context has been binary. Lights were either on or off. They were either bright or dim. They were either white or coloured. The technology to create fine-grained control of illumination and colour was expensive and it was hard to do. With Light by Moore s Cloud we have made beautiful, controllable, playful light accessible at a price that makes sense to a broad consumer base. The Light retails for $99. It is driven by simple apps on a smartphone, tablet or computer using the kinds of interfaces we are all used to. What this means for developers is that they can create apps for the Light that enable people to create sophisticated illumination effects at the touch of a button. What was once complicated and expensive is now accessible and simple. For example we have already built an app that lets you take a photo of a pretty flower with your smartphone and use the app to change the Light
to match the colour of the flower. This means a small business could change the ambience in their store to match new stock that arrived just by changing the colour scheme for their Lights before they open in the morning.
In one of your blog posts, you mentioned the new game changer is the
internet of things? You said “metadata becomes increasingly important
and enables the continued development of augmented reality applications
such as those made possible by technologies such as Google Glass”. Could
you explain what the internet of things is and how Moore’s cloud is a
reflection of this?
The internet of things is an idea that has been kicking around for a over a decade. It is the next generation of the internet. Until now the internet has been mainly about connecting people with content via HTML and hyperlinks, with the main evolution being from pure text to images and video.
Next comes things, devices that are connected via the internet, that can make our lives easier and change the way we do things at a social and business level. In the early days of the internet just getting connected was a laborious and technical process that only a few people could bother with. Now 2 year olds have iPads and connect to the internet to play games. As the technology, telecommunications and software industries evolved with the internet they have hidden much of the complexity involved in getting connected.
Moore s Cloud is in the business of creating devices for the internet of things. We have the skills and capability to abstract away from users much of the complexity in connecting devices to each other and getting them to interact in useful ways. We are in the business of creating user experiences that make the internet of things easy to participate in and
to enable consumers to access devices and information in new ways.
In the next decade we are going to the rise of new business fuelled by
technologies that don’t yet exist. How do business prepare for this and
become ready for embracing the disruption that lies on the horizon?
This kind of change is not a new phenomenon. The hand loom weavers of the late 18th and early 19th century fought against the introduction of new technology that was destroying their livelihood, the original Luddites. We have previously seen the disruption of the transport industry by the introduction of trains, which killed canals as a viable
transport business in the 19th century. In retail, the department store business model destroyed many small stores when they were introduced in the late 19th century, and the introduction of shopping malls in the mid-20th century killed many a high street shopping strip. And now we see modern retailers facing disruption of their business model from
At business school we learned to analyse the environment within which businesses operate political, economic, social, technological, environmental, legal but very few people seem to undertake this kind of analyse on a regular basis outside of college. Few business embrace well known techniques such as scenario planning, and very few look at
anything beyond what they do now.
As Clayton Christensen famously noted, there is an innovators dilemma where a business needs to keep doing what is good and profitable now while still looking to the future. But it is the disruptive innovations that shift the playing field for businesses. We saw that when Apple introduced the iPhone. While everyone else in the mobile phone was evolving and improving their products, Apple innovated and created a whole new playing field. From that disruptive innovation we are still seeing traditional mobile phone companies like Nokia, Motorola, and RIM still attempting catch up.
The first thing that business people can do is to become aware of these issues. The second thing is to ensure that someone in the business is asking what if questions on a regular basis, and that those questions are being considered by the business leaders. The final thing that companies can do is find their own disruptive innovations this can be
done organically, by acquisition or by partnership.
Where can readers find more about your work, Moore s cloud, especially
your Kickstarter campaign?
People can follow our entire business journey on our blog at http://blog.moorescloud.com and they back our Kickstarter campaign here http://moorescloud.com/kickstarter
For the folks who are interested in all of the technical, hardware and software information we also have a technical blog at dev.moorescloud.com/