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L.L.Bean to embed IoT sensors in coats and boots

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L.L. Bean Inc. wants to test the combination of blockchain and Internet of Things technology to understand how people use its outdoor gear.

In a test due to begin this year, L.L. Bean plans to ship a line of coats and boots with sewn-in sensors that send data to the public Ethereum blockchain platform. The retailer is building a data tracking and analytics system to use customer data stored on Ethereum. Loomia, a Brooklyn-based technology company, plans to provide sheets of flexible circuitry to embed in the apparel, along with a small hardware device that uses near-field communication signals to collect data from the circuits while the customers wears the garments.

Chad Leeder, innovation specialist at the outdoors gear provider, says the information, likely to include temperature, frequency of wear and number of washes, could show whether customers use the products as intended and whether new products live up to supplier promises. Insights could be funneled into product development, marketing and supplier negotiations, he says.

Although L.L. Bean has collected customer comments for years, the data from this system would be more quantified, Mr. Leeder says. “Digital, quantifiable data about how customers are actually using a product — we’ve never had that data before.”

Blockchain technology is well-suited for the test because the ledger encrypts data and lets many sources make updates continuously, he says.

More at source link:

https://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2018/02/07/l-l-bean-to-link-boots-coats-to-a-blockchain/

https://www.inc.com/erik-sherman/ll-beans-new-iot-blockchain-tech-combo-is-very-smart-and-incredibly-creepy.html

 

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Kinda creepy. I mean, I know I carry a phone around that is a giant tracking and data-capture device, but that's a communication device, we know it connects to things. Having my boots talking to the Bean mothership is on a different level. 

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Well I suppose your boots could sign off or not on a 5 mile hike. :)

I wonder if L.L.Bean will provide data to Search and Rescue?

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Guys, you are missing the point of what blockchain data is, how it is stored, mined and used. Here's a decent primer on it. It can't be used for real-time SAR activities any more than a phone can.

The tech on how this all works -- the blockchain, as well as the Loomia gadgets -- is highly prorietary; though I am concerned about them using a public blockchain as opposed to a private one. I would not buy any such gear myself. As @FireStone said, it is a bit creepy that my gear can relay ANY information I don't want it to, not to mention the RF exposure and other creepy things about the data.

I'll pass.

Edited by Col. Flagg
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27 minutes ago, Col. Flagg said:

Guys, you are missing the point of what blockchain data is, how it is stored, mined and used. Here's a decent primer on it. It can't be used for real-time SAR activities any more than a phone can.

 

Huh? GPS blockchain systems and devices already exist.  SAR has been finding lost hikers via the hiker's smart phones for some time.

https://www.coaspire.com/blockchain/

https://futurefive.co.nz/story/g-me-launches-blockchain-backed-gps-device/

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3 minutes ago, RememberSchiff said:

Huh? GPS blockchain systems and devices already exist.  SAR has been finding lost hikers via the hiker's smart phones for some time.

https://www.coaspire.com/blockchain/

https://futurefive.co.nz/story/g-me-launches-blockchain-backed-gps-device/

Read what I said. It is no more effective than cell phones or any other device with similar communications capabilities. 

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I think it’s pretty clear that this technology can’t do anything real time a phone can’t do. There’s nothing to disagree about because it can’t. 

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18 hours ago, RememberSchiff said:

sheets of flexible circuitry to embed in the apparel, along with a small hardware device that uses near-field communication signals to collect data from the circuits

Near field communications (NFC) is very short range stuff. This is the same tech that lets you wave your phone at the reader to pay for things.  The "small hardware device" will be retrieving the data from your garments so it will be a very intentional thing - not some stealthy thing that you have no control over.

Edited by jjlash

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25 minutes ago, RememberSchiff said:

I guess we agree to disagree again.

So enlighten me. How exactly does the Ethereum blockchain and mercury protocol communicate with a device in the back-country different from a cell phone or a sat-nav device? I'd love to learn more.

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1 hour ago, Col. Flagg said:

So enlighten me. How exactly does the Ethereum blockchain and mercury protocol communicate with a device in the back-country different from a cell phone or a sat-nav device? I'd love to learn more.

See the links I provided above as a start.  Look at this tech as adding more functionality to current phones, etc. For example, medical vitals data (from clothing sensors) is added to the chain so rescuers can respond accordingly.  If real-time is not available, then last known chain data could be useful. My understanding is blockchain data can be shared more readily for alerts to those nearby and family.

Would I buy LLbean clothing with their stated purposed IoT sensors? No.

Edited by RememberSchiff
clarity

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12 minutes ago, RememberSchiff said:

See the links I provided above as a start.  Look at this tech as adding more functionality to current phones, etc. For example, medical vitals data (from clothing sensors) is added to the chain so rescuers can respond accordingly.  If real-time is not available, then last known chain data could be useful. My understanding is blockchain data can be shared more readily for alerts to those nearby and family.

Would I buy LLbean clothing with their stated purposed IoT sensors? No.

You are addressing the DATA that the tech can give to SAR resources. This has NOTHING to do with what I said.

*I* said that the tech cannot communicate to the SAR teams in real-time any better than a phone can; meaning all that data is useless unless you can FIND the person first.

The use of this tech is no better than the last ping from a cell tower or from a transponder on a satellite. You're missing the key point in all of this: It is not the data but the networking of these devices to the grid. Data is all well and good, but it is useless unless you can find someone faster.

Edited by Col. Flagg

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Depending on what IoT sensors in use, it can give you intel beyond just the location so your response is more appropriate (smarter).

Edited by RememberSchiff

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2 minutes ago, RememberSchiff said:

Depending on what IoT sensors in use, it can give you intel beyond just the location so your response is more appropriate (smarter).

Meh...and how exactly will it communicate that data to SAR teams? You have to FIND them first. 

Unless you are aware of some new way to cover the back country with network coverage -- which every wireless and telco would LOVE to have -- you are making a moot point.

I will make this simple: How will this device find a network -- by which it can tell SAR teams where someone is -- any better than a cell or satellite device?

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4 minutes ago, Col. Flagg said:

Meh...and how exactly will it communicate that data to SAR teams? You have to FIND them first. 

Unless you are aware of some new way to cover the back country with network coverage -- which every wireless and telco would LOVE to have -- you are making a moot point.

I will make this simple: How will this device find a network -- by which it can tell SAR teams where someone is -- any better than a cell or satellite device?

Let's stay focused. We were given a working cellphone and cellphone network at the start of this discussion. 

Who initiates the distress call, is it the hiker? What if he is incapacitated? What if he is dead?  Say the hiker has medical IoT sensors in his clothing to chain medical data via a working phone whether the user is conscious or not.   So data is returned and shared, the hiker is at this location and has this pulse, temp, BP,  respiration rate or he does not (He's dead Jim).  The weather is getting worse,  do you dispatch a SAR team ASAP or do you wait until the weather clears and send a Recovery team? 

The recent Mt. Hood rescue comes to mind. 

 

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