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Wi-Fi news from Cognitive Systems Corp.

The Jetsons, an American animated series from the 1960s about a nuclear family living in a satirical version of the twenty-first century, complete with complex and funny inventions, inspired millions to fantasise about the future state of technology and life at home. Smart toothbrushes, robot cleaners, and video phones are just a few examples of technology that were portrayed as science fiction at the time but are now, more than 60 years later, becoming a reality. Since the Jetsons, the concept of the “smart home” has captivated people all over the world. In fact, there were an estimated global 175 million smart homes in 2021, a figure that is expected to skyrocket as people increase their smart device adoption and the value they place on convenience-based applications. Just as the Jetsons predicted the future, tech companies, consumers, and homebuyers are attempting to reimagine what a home will look like in 10, 20, or even 30 years.

The desire for a smart home is rapidly shifting from the future to the present, with 81 percent of consumers more likely to buy a new home equipped with smart technology. Devices are at the heart of the smart home. Comfort, efficiency, information, entertainment, security, and other desired functions must all come from a connected ecosystem of devices working together in the home. But, with much of the Jetsons’ futuristic technology now being realised, what is preventing us from fully embracing the smart home? We have yet to develop truly integrated devices capable of flawlessly interfacing and interacting with one another to provide enhanced smart home functionality.

To provide the home with the intelligence it requires, we need a universal ecosystem through which these devices can communicate. Matter, under development by the Connectivity Standards Alliance, will create the foundation for such an ecosystem of IoT devices, classified by the function or service they provide. While any vendor can create their own device, having a standardized communication protocol would allow any Matter application to communicate with other Matter-compliant devices. As a result, Matter would allow a homeowner to easily connect and have compliant devices interact in a vendor-neutral way. Such a universal ecosystem can also provide a mechanism for sharing WiFi Sensing outputs between IoT devices, resulting in a standardized way for devices to consume or share sensing outputs. Matter will eventually make it easier for other product vendors and/or homeowners to create their own applications based on sensing outputs.

We anticipate five key trends that will shape the future of the smart home, each requiring innovative technology and new approaches to service delivery.

  1. Enhanced Integration Capabilities
  2. Artificial Intelligence-Driven Internet of Things (IoT)
  3. Touchless Technology
  4. High-Speed Network Connection
  5. High Level of Customization

WiFi Sensing’s motion insights may be the untapped technology capable of transforming connected devices into a single integrated ecosystem, ushering our homes into the smart world. WiFi Motion is a rapidly evolving technology that can capitalise on these five trends to help actualize the future of the smart home by targeting the growing willingness of customers to spend on the smart home and serving as a central ecosystem for internet service providers (ISPs) to enter a growing market that generated $90.97 billion in revenue in 2021.

Enhanced Integration Capabilities
The era of isolated single-function devices has come to an end. Consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated with having to set up, connect, and then use devices through dozens of different applications. After all, convenience is the most significant factor in smart home device usage across all demographics. The smart home will not only need to centralise the ecosystem of connected devices, but it will also enable unprecedented inter-device communication to share data and provide new, enhanced features. Modern homes lack the necessary context to make the transition to truly smart homes. WiFi Sensing is the missing link that transforms an existing WiFi network into a dynamic ecosystem of connected devices that can leverage one another for enhanced smart home functionality. Furthermore, by integrating with a native ISP’s mobile app and existing smart devices, WiFi Sensing provides consumers with an intelligent and simple experience. WiFi Motion can activate smart home functions based on motion in the home, such as adjusting the thermostat when you walk in the front door or turning on or off other smart devices based on your natural movements.

Artificial Intelligence-Driven Internet of Things (IoT)
The name itself contains a key concept underlying the smart home: intelligence. While artificial intelligence is no longer as novel as it once was, its potential for providing predictive, intelligent behaviour to IoT devices has only begun to be explored. We believe that future devices will be intelligent by nature, recognising user patterns to establish routines and predict behaviour. Home operations will benefit from unprecedented levels of convenience and efficiency. WiFi Motion learns movement patterns using predictive analytics and AI to enable a truly cognitive home with enhanced capabilities. The need for manual input will become more archaic as our devices become smarter.

Touchless Technology
Touchless technology will come to define the smart home, as seen by the rise in predictive behaviour from connected devices. Ideas for gesture recognition are already inspiring tech companies around the world to look beyond traditional triggers and leverage how people move and interact in their homes. Modern examples of gesture recognition include opening a car trunk by swiping your foot under the back or shaking your wrist to wake up a smartwatch display. Touchless technology will also vastly improve the customer experience by requiring fewer direct points of contact. Customers will no longer have to open multiple apps every time they want something to happen in their homes. WiFi Sensing is an excellent example of touchless technology that does not interfere with the normal routines and habits of users. Smart home functions can be activated simply by moving around as natural. Over time, with additional use, your connected home will also be able to get smarter as it recognises behavioural trends to provide unique, tailored experiences. All without wearables or hardware.

High-Speed Network Connection
The future of the smart home will see a proliferation of IoT devices all connected to a single central network. With rising user expectations for what these devices can do, a consistent, high-speed network connection will go from a luxury to a necessity. Consumers will no longer tolerate lag or downtime, which could have a negative impact on their entire home in the future. Smart devices should not be added at the expense of network connectivity. WiFi is and will continue to be our lifeline as society shifts more and more activities online and into the home. While using IoT devices in the home as motion sensors, our technology does not interfere with their original functions, slow down the network, or affect data usage. In fact, the more devices in the home, the better our technology’s coverage and accuracy.

High Level of Customization
We’ve all heard the expressions “the customer is always right” or “the customer is king.” But in the tech world, we don’t always take that into account. One of the most difficult challenges for businesses looking to improve how they serve their customers at home will be putting the customer first. Service providers will need to offer a diverse range of customizable solutions to retain customers in a cost-competitive, low-loyalty market. Similar to cable demands, customization is based on a core desire to tightly control the service you receive so that you only pay for what you need and not all of the extra features. Similarly, the smart home operates in a personal space. To that end, a user must believe that they can tailor their smart home experience to their specific needs while remaining comfortable and secure. Everyone’s house is unique, so why shouldn’t their smart home be? WiFi Motion was created with the customer in mind. Our app allows users to configure a variety of custom notifications to provide the motion insights they require, while also intelligently learning a user’s patterns to provide a better experience. Depending on a home’s layout and IoT devices, WiFi Motion can be a unique setup for each space. Standard off-the-shelf solutions will no longer suffice.

ISPs as the Smart Home Facilitators
The network and connected devices are the smart home’s hub. As users connect their IoT devices to their existing WiFi, ISPs play a critical role in the facilitation of smart home functionalities. ISPs, with their network infrastructure and ecosystem in place to enable mass adoption, are a natural fit for delivering the future smart home. Their subscribers can enjoy unique smart home benefits like energy savings, comfort, and convenience, increasing customer satisfaction. Conversely, happier customers will improve key ISP metrics like net promoter score and customer retention rate. As the number of IoT devices in a home increases, so will the network’s resolution and, as a result, the ability to precisely automate household settings and tasks. This encourages customers to look to their ISP for help in expanding their home networks.

WiFi Sensing is another critical technology that can capitalise on the anticipated boom in the smart home market. According to Safe Smart Living, 81% of consumers are more likely to buy a new home with smart technology, while Comfy Living reported that 63% of homeowners want their homes to have a smart security system. With the smart home market expected to grow by 25% by 2027, customers have a clear desire to enhance their home environments through new services and experiences. ISPs should aim to lay a foundation of scalable technology to strengthen and expand their services in the coming years. WiFi Motion’s smart home integration creates a core ecosystem that ISPs and other partners can use to provide greater, newer, and innovative value through their own technology or services. WiFi Motion lowers the barrier to entry for smart home technology and opens up a new revenue market for ISPs via a simple WiFi connection.

After a certain age, many people begin to dread their birthday. As the number of candles on their cake grows, so too do their worries about aging. With fears of fragility or disease, old age can feel like an overwhelming amount of possible change. We never want to feel like a burden to our loved ones, or even worse, stuck in our bodies. With so much stigma attached to aging, it’s no surprise that in the United States, Canada, and much of Western Europe, 90 percent of seniors want to stay in their homes for as long as possible, a notion known as ‘Aging in Place.’

Many adult children take on the job of caregivers to help seniors as they age in place. In the United States, for example, 53 million people worked as unpaid, informal caregivers in 2020. Today, panic alarms, wearables, and motion sensors are the principal means of assisting elderly people in their homes, but these solutions are proving ineffective; few people go out of their way to acquire them, and they frequently only purchase them after a crisis, such as an injury or illness. The need to act before it is too late is great. According to one study, one-fourth of seniors who fracture their hip in a fall die within six months of the injury.

The health technology market is only at the beginning of a shift away from such reactive thinking and toward proactive or even preventative methods to assist with aging in place. To be genuinely effective and proactive, a solution must be able to identify and monitor important health indicators to offer caregivers early warning of any concerns so that they may intervene before things worsen. In the medical arena, such prompt action is referred to as critical event intervention.

Caregiver Aware: The New Proactive Healthcare Solution
Our eldercare solution, Caregiver Aware, employs WiFi Motion technology to monitor loved ones as they age in place, providing caregivers with peace of mind and insights into a senior’s health while maintaining their privacy, dignity, and freedom. Caregiver Aware specializes in providing in-depth health insights to its users through AI-driven pattern recognition along with customizable routines and alerts. By equipping caregivers with the right information, the app can help them make proactive healthcare decisions, initiate health-rated conversations, and ultimately ensure that loved ones can age in place with minimal stress. Whether it’s tracking the average amount of sleep at night or if weekly activity levels are suddenly decreasing, Caregiver Aware encourages a proactive approach.

Caregiving can also be extremely overwhelming and taxing. Scenarios that cause caregivers the most worry and anxiety are those during an individual’s treatment that, if not discovered and remedied quickly, will hurt the individual’s result. They may feel as if they are playing catch-up with their loved one’s health because they were left in the dark leading up to a critical event if suitable systems are not in place or if they rely on outmoded reactive methods. Reactive tactics can leave caregivers feeling guilty, wishing they had known more so they could have prevented a crucial event in the first place.

Managing Health Issues Through Key Insights
By arming caregivers with information about their loved ones’ typical behaviours, they are equipped to respond more promptly and, in some situations, prevent a more serious occurrence. Early intervention can look like increased in-home care, visiting them to go for walks together, scheduling a doctor’s appointment to inquire about new medications, enrolling them in physical therapy, or improving their housing to keep them safe. Most importantly, Caregiver Aware is less intrusive and more reliable than counting on your loved one to either recognize unusual patterns in their own health or share health concerns they may be embarrassed about. The behaviourial analytics driven by WiFi Motion takes out much of this guesswork.

Caregiver Aware monitors several common indicators of declining health such as:

  1. Decreased activity levels
  2. Sleeping trouble
  3. Excessive sleep interruptions
  4. Missed activities & events

These fundamental indicators can be tracked via customizable routines and alerts that notify users of significant activity events or their absence. Caregiver Aware offers insights on activity in the home by tracking and comparing the amount or absence of movement occurring in the household each day to typical motion patterns. Similarly, the app tracks sleep patterns by monitoring for inactivity and sleep disturbances throughout the night. Caregivers can also set up customized alerts, including a Rise and Shine Alert notifying them if the household has been up and moving around as usual at the start of the day.

Help Your Customers Take Control of Their Health
The four healthy aging markers described above are essential for understanding a loved one’s health baseline. A significant drop in daily activity compared to usual, for example, could suggest that a person is ill, injured, or in the early stages of muscular atrophy, which could make them more prone to falling. Sleep pattern changes can also be an early indicator of many common maladies and illnesses often encountered by the aging population, like depression, insomnia, or even dementia. The caregiver’s early observation of unusual levels of any of these signs could lead to early action and possible prevention of a more serious occurrence.

There are many benefits to using predictive analytics in proactive healthcare systems. Theis approach is especially important for chronic disease management, early identification, and prevention. In a previous blog, we further investigated the importance of proactive healthcare versus reactive healthcare, which you can read here.

The Changing Demands of Customers
The truth is that customers’ expectations of their ISPs are increasing. Thanks to ever-evolving healthcare technologies and research, the average consumer is becoming considerably more health-conscious than ever before. According to the 2020 ADM OutsideVoice research platform, 77 percent of consumers want to do more to keep healthy in the future. This data emphasises the fact that customers demand more control. They want to be able to take immediate action to enhance and maintain their health, with visible results. The public already places a high value on health technology, with remote patient monitoring services and tools expected to reach 30 million U.S. patients by 2024, according to research from Insider Intelligence. The desire for at-home preventative solutions is increasing, and it will soon become a typical expectation from customers who will look to their internet service providers for solutions that will help them age in place.

ISPs are uniquely positioned to offer a competitive eldercare service with solutions like Caregiver Aware. They have already carefully cultivated relationships with their customers and can leverage their existing infrastructure to offer a WiFi-based motion sensing solution at a fraction of the cost of other services. While many customers might not yet realize the simplicity and peace of mind of an eldercare solution, ISPs have the opportunity to offer a new and attractive service. The unique monitoring insights available with Caregiver Aware that aren’t provided by classic monitoring solutions also give ISPs a competitive advantage allowing them to attract new clients and access the expanding health sector. With a foundational technology like Caregiver Aware, they will be able to add additional capabilities and products for years to come, allowing them to create customised solutions that best suit their customers. Through a customer’s existing wireless network infrastructure, they can utilize motion-based insights as a base service which allows them to prime for future services at additional subscription fees.

How ISPs can Capitalize on Healthcare Tech
Health monitoring is most successful when applied early in a user’s life to increase the amount of data collected to fuel potential analysis. Caregiver Aware is a non-invasive and easy to activate solution designed to be easier for seniors to adopt when they are still healthy and active rather than waiting until an event happens later in life. The earlier in life that Caregiver Aware is activated, the longer the customer’s subscription life cycle is and the more revenue an ISP can target.

Customers are also more willing to pay for healthcare solutions than ever. According to a 2020 PwC Health Research Institute consumer poll, 85% of respondents are eager to utilize DIY healthcare solutions at home, such as remote monitoring. Furthermore, the 2020 McKinsey Future of Wellness survey found that consumers in every country spend the most money on products and services that promote improved health, with 37% planning to spend more on wellness services in the future year. The market for cutting-edge healthcare technologies will only grow in the coming years. ISPs together with Cognitive Systems are in a great position to deliver empowered health monitoring solutions that improve the lives of their consumers, leverage a market set to boom, and future proof for the growth of their own services. Caregiver Aware was created to provide a bridge for service providers to employ data analytics to construct a care-focused ecosystem, which will be a game-changing step in designing future broadband services.

WiFi has become inextricable from daily life. But it hasn’t always been like that. Standards and adoption in the WiFi space today took years of research, iteration, and certification. While some key work has already been accomplished, there is still more that must be done for WiFi Sensing to continue along the road to standardization. But what exactly is it going to take for WiFi Sensing to become fully standardized and adopted in the mass-market? As ubiquitous as WiFi is for communications, so too will WiFi Sensing be for the modern home and beyond. But to pave the road for such a future, core standards must be developed to innovate and unify.

Standardized WiFi Sensing by 2024
The story of WiFi Sensing began about a decade ago with the publication of key academic research. Back then, utilizing WiFi signals for more than device communications was just a concept. This work was largely enabled by specialized research systems. With hardware too expensive to sell as a consumer WiFi product, WiFi Sensing remained largely in the academic space. Some work also began to utilize either unofficial third-party firmware patches or vendor-released research tools, which were specific to a small subset of consumer WiFi chipsets. During this time, it was difficult to get access to all the information necessary to develop a successful WiFi Sensing product.

To Each Vendor Their Own
To facilitate mass adoption of WiFi Sensing, there needs to be an effective transition from academic research to industry integration and application. Not only did it require proven commercial potential, key industry growth and scalability, it also needed to be a part of mainstream WiFi chipsets. But this big step from conceptualization to execution requires proven commercial potential and key industry partnerships for growth and scalability.

Cognitive was founded out of the desire to build a powerful but low-cost and easily scalable device that could leverage insights about changes in radiofrequency signals. That, however, would require us to design our own chip: the R10. The core advantage of the R10 was that it was mostly software-based in its interface with RF signals and so could be used for many different applications, simply by writing new software. By accessing channel state information not typically exposed in commercial chipsets, we were able to develop and refine our motion detection algorithms and build our consumer proof-of-concept product, Aura Home, the first solution of its kind in market which launched December 2017 and sold through Amazon. However, for the technology to be successful alongside pre-existing WiFi chips, we knew we would have to partner with key chipset companies like QualcommBroadcomOnsemi, and MaxLinear. But through this experience, it became apparent that without a standard, each vendor would implement things in a slightly different way, presenting a core challenge and requiring significant time and resources to design a technology capable of operating with all the different possible implementations. Standardization is important to enable vendor compliance and ensure compatibility among different vendors. Service and technology providers rely on utilizing a fixed set of features to efficiently and reliably provide their solutions. This is where WiFi Sensing standardization comes in, bringing all industry experts together to discuss and establish a baseline of key processes.

These efforts towards standardization will also have a noticeable positive impact on customers. With the development of new features and capabilities for WiFi Sensing, ISPs can deliver innovative consumer products to increase customer satisfaction through motion insights and analytics. Standardization is also extremely important to consumers because they want confidence that all the different products they purchase will simply work together and behave as expected. The 802.11bf standard is especially important for consumers as it opens up the possibility of endless potential applications in the home by using common devices instead of expensive, dedicated motion sensing hardware. WiFi is what it is today because there has been a standard or blueprint that describes exactly how anybody can build the components necessary to interact and function with the rest of the network. For WiFi Sensing to achieve its true market penetration potential, this blueprint needs to first be developed. Additionally, each product that receives the Wi-Fi logo and stamp must go through the certification program run by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Consumers look for that logo and stamp as a sign that the product not only has been designed with the IEEE 802.11 standard in mind, but has also gone through compliance testing.

How WiFi Motion is Leading the Journey
Innovation requires continuous, dedicated effort with the investment of key industry partners to see mass adoption and scalability — Cognitive’s WiFi Motion entered the market February 2020 as a camera-free home monitoring solution and is now available from 79 ISPs in over 65 countries. As WiFi Sensing continues along its journey, standardization will be the catalyst for endless new advanced features and services that redefine how the world uses WiFi. But the road doesn’t end there. WiFi Sensing needs companies like Cognitive with the technological, artificial intelligence, and algorithms expertise to create a robust network to provide faster adoption and greater accessibility. ISPs around the globe are already leveraging WiFi Motion to introduce their customers to the unlimited possibilities of WiFi Sensing. By joining WiFi Motion’s journey early, these companies are uniquely positioned to take advantage of new features as standards are developed. Only through collaboration will WiFi Sensing become a robust option for every wireless network and allow WiFi Motion to grow into a foundational ecosystem for WiFi Sensing.

The Road Ahead Is Clear: A Bright Future for WiFi Sensing
While the road to standardization can often seem nebulous, there are some key steps that aid the process in setting up a timeframe. The first step is to get interested people together to develop a standard. This was officially achieved when IEEE 802.11’s TGbf formed in October 2020. The next step is to develop the standard, which TGbf is currently working on, where the first draft is targeted to be released in March 2022. As per the IEEE process, the entire standard work being performed by TGbf is expected to be fully completed by September 2024. Once there is a written standard, a certification program is required to ensure all different vendor implementations are compliant with the standard. This will be completed by the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) as a parallel branch. Finally, it will take time for certified products to make their way into the hands of consumers, – but once they do, Cognitive’s technology will be ready to leverage the latest capabilities.

Through our involvement with these associations, we have gained a vast amount of knowledge as to what is necessary to build a successful sensing system. We also have a deeper understanding of some of the technological limitations that the current state of sensing presents. We want to continue to contribute to this field, encourage collaboration, and ultimately ensure there are tools available to help push the limits of WiFi even further in the future. Standardization is a naturally slow process but crucial for building a strong foundation for WiFi Sensing and future WiFi-based services. Cognitive wants to make sure that the standards being created not only have a complete feature set for modern challenges but are also positioned to gain widespread adoption in the future.

The Major Players in WiFi Sensing Standardization
The work towards standardization is ultimately a collaborative process only possible through the combined expertise of various organizations, companies, and individuals invested in the future of WiFi. There are three key players in this space: IEEE 802.11 Task Group bf (TGbf), the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), and the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA).

At the IEEE level, 802.11 is a group that owns, maintains, and develops the medium access control (MAC) and physical layer (PHY) specifications for WiFi. The MAC and PHY layer specs describe features, capabilities, and mechanisms that govern the operation of the lowest layers. Further, TGbf will produce an amendment to existing 802.11 standards that will ultimately build upon what already exists to enhance WiFi Sensing. It is important to understand that TGbF is an amendment, not a complete redesign of what already exists. In fact, within the scope of the TGbf project, there will not be any PHY layer changes or modifications for sub-7 GHz operation or descriptions. By utilizing IoT devices already connected to a home’s native network, a larger motion sensing coverage area can be created without requiring additional traditional security devices that might be more intrusive.

The WFA, on the other hand, works with specifications developed by the IEEE to create and test a certification program to ensure each implementation conforms to the standard. Components that pass all the defined tests and conform to the required standards receive the trademark WiFi logo and can be marketed and sold as such. The process of certification is extremely important as it quickly establishes trust with vendors, providing confidence that all due diligence has been performed. Specifically, for consumers, that means that they can feel confident in taking home a certain product that has passed specific levels of testing.

Finally, the WBA consists of a group of network operators and technology innovators who want to offer their customers seamless connectivity (i.e., allowing roaming between partner networks, billing exchanges, etc.). Utilizing their collective industry and research expertise, this group is focused on enhancing services, applications, connectivity, and customer experiences. Cognitive first got involved with the WBA when we were looking for the right platform to develop our technology that would benefit its members through various working groups. At the time, the WBA was the perfect fit, as they had a large network operator base and a number of technology providers. Together, we established the Wi-Fi Sensing Group, where we have been working to help not only introduce the technology, but also raise awareness of its current and future capabilities, and ultimately help with getting people ready for adoption. Part of the group’s work has also been helping publish Wi-Fi Sensing focused whitepapers, which highlights technological gaps that with standard support could further improve the technology. To date, the WBA has published three whitepapers in order to advance the field and stimulate critical thought around the technology. Topics include recommendations for early adoption of WiFi Sensinghow to evaluate a WiFi Sensing system, and factors that can impact the performance of a WiFi Sensing system (will be publicly available in spring 2020).

2021 has been a year that many are glad to finally see the tail-end of. No one would have expected what lay in store for the world when I was writing my predictions piece looking ahead at 2019. Almost two years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the world is still feeling its effect. The tech industry, like countless others around the globe, is still experiencing the impact. Some good and some bad. However, such times have also brought to light great perseverance, innovation, and bravery. But, with the end finally in sight, both myself and Cognitive Systems are excited for what 2022 has in store. As we look ahead, I am most excited to see WiFi technology and WiFi Sensing enabling a truly smart future for the home and helping set new standards for connected devices.

HOW CAN WE GET THE WIRELESS INDUSTRY BACK ON TRACK?
As I alluded to above, there were few left untouched by the pandemic. With all the challenges associated with fighting back, supply chain issues became one of the defining features of the last few years. The world had very much shifted to be focused on procurement; a challenge we will continue to see being prevalent over the next year and into 2023 as we attempt to get those supply chains back in gear for people to be able to deliver new hardware solutions or products.

Unfortunately, the challenges of delivering hardware to customers and the gradual ramp-up back to pre-COVID production volumes, are having a detrimental effect on technological innovation. WiFi 6 and WiFi 7 are very much the big-ticket items in the hopper for the wireless industry. Companies are already producing demos while chip design is ongoing. But this development process is being curtailed by the silicone and chip shortages needed to innovate within the typical timeline. For example, now you might have to order chips, in some cases, 18 months before you actually need them. Demand is just too great. In fact, right now, many delivery drivers are even struggling to fit all of their packages in one truck at a time. Shipping processes have had to evolve. And so, it’s clear that an emerging theme in tech this past year has been that disruptions to the supply chain are hindering the development and deployment of new technology. The delivery of new technologies is simply going to take longer as access to hardware remains the #1 problem.

I believe companies will have to innovate if they can’t deliver their hardware. They will have to take what they already have and try to improve on it some other way. The only logical way to really do that is through software. If you can’t deliver more products into the market because of procurement then you have to work with your available resources and improve through software upgrades instead. As well, companies will have to scale their timelines and look further ahead to avoid or best prepare for these types of challenges in the future. I predict that an increased focus on software solutions and hardware being built to accommodate software innovation will become necessary. Producers in tech will need to ensure that their product has enough processing power to support all this software innovation that is outpacing them currently. Luckily, these problems will eventually rectify themselves as we settle into a post-COVID reality and industries can finally pivot. But, it will fundamentally change how companies and entire industries approach planning and supply chain management.

WHO IS DRIVING THE FUTURE OF THE SMART HOME?
When the average user thinks about the future of the smart home, they’re probably imagining something from the Jetsons. It’s much more likely that in the future, the smart home will look similar to what we have now, instead of some radical futuristic change. Ultimately though, the future is currently being decided by the industry, not the user. As smart device adoption and ecosystem integration are still scaling up, we as consumers are still following the trends fed to us by connected device manufacturers based on what they think belongs in a smart home. I mean, many of us wouldn’t even consider our own homes smart, even if most of us own something like smart plugs, a voice assistant, a smart TV, etc. Since the industry seems to be driving the smart home, you can expect to see devices and products focused on more gimmicky solutions based on companies creating what they believe the consumer wants versus what they actually want. Right now, the biggest focus as spurred by consumption are entertainment and convenience, but the smart home will eventually peak at a point where users just don’t need anything else.

As the market becomes more saturated with connected devices, I expect brand-driven ecosystems to continue to be in demand, namely a combination of a central network based around one company (such as Apple or Google) combined with devices from third parties which easily work with that central brand. I think we will see this hit the market in one of two ways, either full packages of technology that work together or a variety of separate devices that lead to more organic growth such as how you now need the iPhone to control your Apple watch. Both have the potential to overcome current market challenges. Take for example a common choice to charge wearables at night. Now suddenly you have a gap in coverage during a critical time period. Companies need to think about devices such as a charging station that doubles as a tracker to fill that gap. Layer motion intelligence into the mix and you can add more context without more hardware. These large companies know that while they will be the central piece and likely the biggest benefactors, they need compatible third-party companies so they can offer these new features and services. They can’t and won’t be able to dominate all the different smart home/IoT industries. That’s why we see many of these larger players deeply involved in associations like IEEE and Matter who are pushing for standards and initiatives that will help them safely expose CSI to work with more tech partners.

WILL VOICE ASSISTANTS FINALLY MATCH HUMAN COMMUNICATION?
Voice assistants are easily one of the most common smart devices, whether that be through your phone, smart speakers, TV, or dozens of other systems that can be activated with a few simple words. They are used for a variety of reasons such as setting timers or alarms, playing music, making phone calls, etc. However, the problem with these devices is that they require very specific input to work well. For example, in order to trigger a Google Home, you would have to say the phrase “Hey Google” and then speak a pre-defined selection of options. If you mess up these phrases or typical commands then the voice assistant usually can’t recognize what you want. That’s why there’s still much growth in the future of voice assistants – one that will see greater flexibility and modularity. Eventually, voice recognition will evolve into something closer to talking to an actual human being that is able to recognize nuances in conversation and understand conversations like a human would. And I expect that we could easily see that become a reality within the next 4 years or so.

My main takeaway from the bright future of voice recognition is that it closely mirrors what I see to be the future of WiFi Motion. When voice assistants were still in their infancy, many linguistics experts believed the technology would never take off. Now they’re everywhere. Voice recognition grew as a result of companies being willing to invest in the technology and expand functions that had seemed previously impossible. This is the same type of critical mass needed for motion intelligence to achieve some of these far-out functionalities. As well, WiFi Motion needs time to learn through people using it. This is similar to how voice recognition can listen to changes in audio frequencies and thus develop a much wider and more substantial set of training data to understand, for example, how “dog” can be said with different intonations or accents or even languages. WiFi Motion doesn’t yet have the same extensive data set to know that maybe you’ve stood up from a chair. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be able to in the future. The more the market and general interest grow, the more we will be able to build out further applications.

WHAT’S NEXT IN HEALTHTECH: AGING IN PLACE?
I want to grow old at home. In fact, 9 out of 10 U.S. adults would prefer that to a retirement home or assisted living facility. It’s only natural to want to live where you feel the most comfortable. New technologies are making a future where this is more realistic. This desire is only growing, especially as developing technologies are emerging to make this desire a real possibility. COVID, specifically, has also shown us how vulnerable our long-term care system is. But, the last two years have created a new opportunity for tech in seniors’ homes. Simple changes brought upon by the pandemic, such as Zoom calls or FaceTiming with elderly loved ones, are opening their minds and onboarding them to the benefits of technology. Going forward, technology companies will need to keep this new, growing industry in mind as they create tech that can fit the expectations of seniors. In particular, accessibility, ease of use, and quick setup are going to be key markers for successful tech in this market. As well, preventative care is currently and will continue to be a huge trend, and it’s something that Cognitive has designed our entire caregiving solution around. The opportunity to identify illnesses or injuries before they become critical and need hospital intervention is going to become even more important. As the huge baby boomer generation continues to age, they will eventually overwhelm our hospital systems if the industry doesn’t focus on developing technology and products to support early intervention before something becomes critical.

That’s why I think there is a very palpable appetite for supporting technology and services allowing people to age in place gracefully. You can even see that from the number of startups in this space alone. I believe that aging in place will not only be the norm but also the most affordable option versus a retirement home. After all, the more normalized this concept becomes the more affordable it will be as well.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR COGNITIVE?
While the world around us is changing at often times a blistering speed, the one thing that remains is that people want innovative and helpful technology. WiFi Sensing has the real potential to not only contribute to many of these forecasts, but truly change the WiFi and smart home industries. I’m excited to see WiFi Sensing become accepted on a larger scale through standardization and thus become essential in homes. I believe that WiFi Motion will be standard in 5 years, meaning motion capabilities in nearly every router or gateway.

Can WiFi Help Solve the Caregiver Crisis

The following article was authored by our Head of Marketing, Susan Gallotti, about how she used WiFi Motion to help her mother age in place.

My mom has always been set in her ways. She was a woman of routine who would do the groceries every Saturday at 8 A.M like clockwork and vacuum the main floor every afternoon at 3 P.M. just before us kids and our dad would come home. It was hard for me to have that picture of my mom in my head change as she got older. I always knew the day would come when I had to take care of my mom, but I didn’t realize exactly how hard that would be. While being a caretaker can be extremely rewarding, it is also exhausting and draining to manage alongside other conflicting priorities, and for me personally, my own stress and anxieties. Working for Cognitive at the time, I was lucky to have access to WiFi Motion, which helped reduce the stress of becoming a caretaker for my mom.

As a true product of her 1950s upbringing, being the perfect housewife for my mom meant being the caretaker of the family and home. Her top concerns were always organizing the home, her sanctuary, and keeping her family healthy, happy, and well fed. So naturally, everything in our home had its right place. When I was younger, I can remember being constantly trapped in a cycle of grabbing a new water glass, placing it down somewhere, and coming back only to find it missing because my mom put it back in the sink. Rinse and repeat. And dinner was always sacred for her. Never having worked a day in her life, my mom loved being able to have a delicious, warm meal ready when the family came home at the end of the day. If I was lucky, it would be my favorite: spaghetti and meatballs.

As my mom got older, much of this reality changed for her. Her children had grown up and moved away to start families of their own and her husband, my father, unfortunately passed away. Suddenly, my mom, who thrived off of being a homemaker, now faced the reality of aging alone in her home without others to tend to. For someone like my mom, who was a bit of an introvert and a homebody, being left to one’s own devices for the majority of her days left her feeling without purpose. The woman who had always seen herself as the caretaker of the family no longer had family at home to take care of. She was the kind of person that was great at taking care of others, but not so great about caring for herself. So, she never complained or voiced any concerns about her comfort or health to me or my siblings. You see, my mom never wanted to be a burden. Admitting she needed help was the last thing she wanted to do. This would result in her refusing to call a repairman or a family member if the plumping or appliances in her house needed work. Instead, she’d just let the problem sit for months until the next time it happened to conveniently come up on one of our visits from out of town.

Taking Stress Out of the Equation
And for a time, that’s how things were in our family. More and more, my sister and I found ourselves pulled in a million directions, attempting to juggle demanding careers and raising children. I developed the worrying realization that my mom was quickly approaching the age where she would need a more watchful eye and I wasn’t sure how I was going to make add taking care of her to my already overwhelming list of responsibilities. Also knowing my mom, I wasn’t even sure that she would accept the help.

Since my mom was living alone, my sister and I were constantly worried about her. We weren’t sure if she was getting enough exercise, if she was safe, or even if she was eating right. However, since we were managing our own busy jobs, all we could do was regularly check-in with her through phone calls. My mom has always been bad with technology though. Being used to rotary phones and fearful about telemarketing calls, she had the frustrating habit of leaving the phone off the hook, no matter how many times we reminded her not to. My sister and I would spend hours, sometimes days, trying to reach her by phone, trying to juggle our work and family commitments to figure out who had the time to drive to check on her.

One time, we had been unable to reach my mom all night, but my sister and I had busy work days with looming deadlines, so both of us spent the day stressed and anxious, trying to re-organize commitments so that one of us could drive over to check in on her. Imagine how frustrated we were when we showed up only to see our mom absolutely fine at home, with the phone off the hook again. Annoyed that we had to reschedule meetings or fall behind on projects, we’d let out our irritation on our mom, even though she didn’t know better. When all that emotion finally boiled over and our mom was left looking guilty over yet another innocent mistake, we knew we couldn’t keep barging in on her, putting our lives on hold, and having everyone feel so frustrated. The guilt-ridden exchanges lessened once we got WiFi Motion set up in her home. It would be as simple as my sister texting me to say “I can’t reach mom.” I would open up the Live Motion view on the WiFi Motion app and immediately be able to relay back to her that there was movement near the kitchen less than an hour ago. That would prevent the emotional tsunami from even getting underway. It freed us to continue about our days without all the stress of letting our imaginations get the best of us.

Fearful of change, my mother’s worst-case scenario was to move out of the house that she had helped build and lived in for almost five decades. As well, my mom has always been a bit fearful about going out into the normal everyday world. As she aged, she wanted less and less to go grocery shopping or even to the hairdresser. But on the flip side, mom was scared of living alone. She would obsessively check that the garage door was closed or that the windows and doors were locked.

We needed something that would allow her to age in place confidently and comfortably while providing my sister and I with peace of mind. We wanted to take a proactive approach to keeping her safe, happy, and healthy that would ultimately break the vicious cycle of anger, guilt, and frustration. Parents shouldn’t have to be accountable to their kids, after all.

This emotional turmoil I experienced was only made worse by how busy my life was at the time, and how stressed that made me about being a caregiver. I was working a full-time job, commuting over an hour and a half each day, juggling the shifting schedules of my kids’ extracurriculars and my husband’s shift work, keeping my dog happy and healthy, and all while having to remember to check in on my mom regularly for mundane things such as taking out the garbage or buying groceries. A simple phone call from my mom saying “the fridge died again” would be enough to send me into a panic attack in the corner. It forces you to feel angry at the responsibilities thrust upon you, but then guilty for feeling that way.

I never expected to be taking care of a parent while I was still raising my own children. This is the part of being a caregiver that no one wants to talk about. When you’re overwhelmed in your personal or professional life, you don’t want to have to deal with a parent’s demands on your time but then that leaves you feeling guilty about not being a better child or losing your temper at your parent. The anxieties with caring for an aging parent inevitably bleed into other relationships in your life such as your spouse, children, or siblings as you have to keep more and more plates spinning at the same time. Simply put, being a caretaker is an emotional rollercoaster. It’s rarely convenient, often fraught with awkward conversations, frays on your last nerves, and pulls on your deepest heartstrings. Those feelings can take a serious toll on your own health.

Luckily, at the time I was working with Cognitive and was immersed in their WiFi Motion technology. Dealing with all of this in my personal life made me that much more passionate about the possibilities behind our technology. While its eldercare applications were yet to be explored, I could see the potential for a simple system that would allow my sister and I to remotely check on my mom and gain insights into her daily life. No more frantic check ins. No more anxieties about her safety. We wanted to be able to catch problems before they became too serious. Especially since we knew that mom could be obstinate when it came to asking for help or being truthful about her daily life.

Bringing WiFi Sensing into the Home
I would describe my mom as having been technologically inept. Before bringing WiFi Motion into her home, she didn’t even have an internet connection. In a way, setting up the router and pods for the monitoring system was a soft onboarding for her into the world of technology. Sure, she didn’t fully understand everything you could do with a connected device but she knew it was active in her home. After all, there was no device she had to manage or wear. She didn’t even need to understand the technology for it to work. She could go about her day and my sister and I could look into her well-being with Live Motion.

While this setup was great for quick check ins, it also helped us learn things about my mom that we would never have thought to ask about. For example, we noticed that she wasn’t leaving the house very often – even though during our visits she would tell us that she took regular walks. Or, we noticed less movement in the kitchen. Cooking had always been such an important thing for my mother, especially as a mom and wife. Now living alone, she had lost that sense of purpose when it came to cooking. A simple thing like knowing that she was not spending as much time in the kitchen was enough to prompt me to buy my mom some new frozen dinners that she would have never purchased for herself, helping her discover some new meals that were interesting to her and easy to make so she’d be more likely to eat a regular and balanced diet. It was these tiny insights about her behaviour that provided us with information to make small changes that supported her living at home but weren’t confrontational or would threaten her independence.

Giving Mom Space to be Herself
We wanted to make sure our mom was still living the way she wanted without feeling like a burden. After all, she saw herself as the caretaker, not the other way around. With WiFi Motion, we could get back to what mattered to my mom – being the rock of the family and home. Visiting my mom was no longer this big emotional tsunami that would leave people more hurt than before. We could focus on just spending time with our mom and enjoying her company now that we had a bit of visibility into her health and activity. We were finally able to get back to spaghetti and meatballs and leaving glasses where they shouldn’t be; the latter trait being one that I recently discovered is perhaps inheritable. After being chastised by one of my own kids for twice putting his water glass into the dishwasher when he wanted to use it as a hydration reminder, I couldn’t help but think of my mom and smile. It’s those happy moments that I am glad dominate my memory of her in her old age. Miss you, mom.

If there’s one place we should all feel safe and relaxed, it’s in our own home. But ironically, because the security of our home is so important to us, it’s also a major point of anxiety. The contentment we’re all looking for often eludes us because of one thing: the unknown.

“Did that noise come from downstairs?” “Did the repairman arrive and leave at the appropriate time?” “Is the baby sleeping through the night?” “Have the kids been in the TV room all day?”

When we don’t know, concern sets in. Enter WiFi Motion – a motion intelligence system that can be used for home monitoring. It gives you the information you need to put your mind at ease, providing solutions to inherently personal problems. It does all of this simply by using your existing WiFi ecosystem. From a single-family home to multi-unit building, from a big family to a person living alone, these everyday insights can alleviate some of the nagging stresses of daily life.

To learn more about the ways in which individuals and families alike are benefitting from this convenient technology, we interviewed two users with very different home environments. What we discovered is despite their differences, WiFi Motion enabled them both to go about their day with an extra layer of security for themselves and/or their loved ones.

Ease concerns about living alone
For Amanda, living alone doesn’t mean she’s losing sleep over personal security – the information she needs to feel safe and sound is right at her finger tips.

Amanda has always looked forward to living on her own, but as someone who tends to fixate on small sounds or oddities, she was seeking a solution that could help her get excited at the idea. Today, she lives in a large condo building and uses WiFi Motion to put her mind at ease and confirm there was no unusual activity in her apartment.

“I knew moving into such a large building with multiple residents, I was bound to hear the odd sound every now and then. Normally they are easy enough to ignore, but there was one night in particular I kept hearing this sporadic noise while trying to sleep and I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. Every time I thought it had stopped and was about to fall asleep, it would start again. The unease of not knowing where it was coming from was enough to keep me up most of the night. Having the ability to quickly check my phone and confirm there was no activity in my unit or see when motion was last detected has certainly helped my sleep schedule.” she says.

Motion detection insights also help when she gets home at the end of the day. She can easily check her app as she’s entering the building to reassure herself that there was no motion inside while she was away. “When I’m leaving my place early in the morning and not arriving home until late at night, knowing that I can easily confirm that nothing went on in my unit while I was away is comforting.”

She can also make sure building maintenance workers are acting with integrity in her home and confirm that they didn’t linger, especially in private rooms they don’t need to be in. Ultimately, Amanda enjoys the freedoms of living alone while feeling comfortable and protected in her own personal haven.

Families gain a clear conscience
Geordie who lives with his wife and young son, appreciates that he can monitor not only the security of his property, but the activity and sleeping patterns of the whole family.

On top of typical home security concerns, families have the added stress for the safety of their spouse and kids – and Geordie’s family is no different. Often on the go, he can have a clear conscience that his properties are secure, his children are where they’re supposed to be, and can understand the activity and sleeping patterns of the whole household. With today’s busy family lifestyles, having WiFi Motion within the home is like a third set of non-intrusive eyes when parents are occupied or away.

“With young kids, you wish you could have eyes everywhere, all the time,” Geordie explains. “My wife is a teacher and has recently gone back to working in the classroom. We both like having the ability to see the activity patterns in our home and see how our son and his caretaker are spending their day without the caretaker feeling uneasy that she is being watched.” He appreciates that he can receive notifications while at work about the activity in his home right from his apple watch. WiFi Motion can let him know that his son and caretaker are home from the park, that there is activity in the playroom downstairs, or that his son is getting ready to take a nap in his bedroom.

Geordie’s family also has a cottage, and he has added peace of mind there too. WiFi Motion works together with the existing security system to provide further insights they did not get with just the security system alone. “When we’re at the cottage, we can check to make sure there’s no unusual motion at home. And when we’re at home, we can also keep tabs on the cottage. We have the ability to monitor both at our fingertips.”

He also uses WiFi Motion to learn more about his family’s health-related habits. He can conveniently make sure his son is getting a full night’s rest or check in to see household activity throughout the day. “There are so many things to consider when ensuring your child’s development is on track and having access to these insights is just one more tool in my parenting toolbelt.”

Home Security made simple
WiFi Motion is, for anyone who wants a little extra peace of mind. While Amanda and Geordie live very different home lives, the one thing they share, as we all do, is a desire to feel comfortable, safe, and happy in our homes. These reassuring insights make this a reality—without having to install any cameras, motion sensors, or other hardware. WiFi Motion is layered onto an existing router, without compromising their original functions, network speed or privacy. It’s home security made simple. Turns out, security is as much a feeling as a tool and WiFi Motion is the perfect way to get both.

It is no surprise that WiFi has come a long way since it was first introduced to consumers in 1997. Today, people around the world rely on WiFi as the number one way to communicate and stay connected. However, despite its impressive evolution over the past 20 years, the standards that dictate how our WiFi networks operate are getting an upgrade.

Enter 802.11bf: the latest standard in the IEEE 802.11™ family that is the core technology behind WiFi. For the first time ever, WiFi will officially be used for something other than communication, as this new standard will transform WiFi from a communication-only technology to a fully-fledged sensing paradigm.

As the leaders in the WiFi Sensing space, we are thrilled about the endless possibilities 802.11bf could unlock for the entire industry. This new standard is going to maximize the features, efficiencies and capabilities of WiFi Sensing, with a platform to introduce a wide range of new and life-changing applications.

The key advantage of this new standard is that there will be a defined set of expected inputs and outputs for each wireless device that is specifically related to WiFi Sensing. These regulations will enable wireless devices to behave in a specific, deterministic way. This will ensure that bandwidth is allocated more effectively, allowing the network to operate efficiently and easily support the uptake of motion sensing. Not only will this improve the efficiency and reliability of existing applications, it will open the door for many more.

Why we need a new standard

WiFi permeates our lives – it is in most of our homes, offices and increasingly in many public spaces. Despite this considerable popularity and widespread adoption, using WiFi for motion sensing is still a relatively novel concept. As a result, there is no existing standard governing WiFi Sensing…until now. The implementation of this new standard will aid its mass adoption. 802.11bf will:

  • Make existing WiFi Sensing technologies more efficient and reliable
    • How? By improving bandwidth allocation so that WiFi Sensing can be performed more reliably without impacting WiFi performance, and by adding more smart devices to the overall ecosystem, ensuring sure they work together seamlessly
  • Open the door for new WiFi Sensing applications in the home (e.g., energy management) and elsewhere (e.g., enterprise and hospitality offerings)
    • How? By defining a list of required testing protocols that a device must meet to be WiFi Sensing certified.
  • Bring the predictive smart home closer to reality
    • How? The standardized methods for WiFi Sensing will enable more advanced use cases that will allow for improvements to existing applications. Mass adoption and more connected devices will introduce an exciting future for the advanced smart home.

The benefits of 802.11bf will span industry-wide

Standardization will benefit the entire industry and WiFi users across the globe. It will allow companies involved at every stage in the deployment process to seamlessly work together. It will ensure compatible devices are primed to enable new, useful motion sensing features. Ultimately, this results in a better customer experience.

Simplified Integration

Standardization will make it easier for OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and Service Providers to incorporate sensing insights into their products. It provides a trusted gateway for adoption, with clear protocol and specifications, reducing the integration cycle. This provides the flexibility to work with multiple chipset vendors, instead of being locked in with just one.

Improved Timelines for Chipset Vendors

Similarly, chipset vendors are no longer limited to working with only one service vendor to layer WiFi Sensing onto their products. They will be able to integrate their chipsets with different companies without needing a custom process each time. The addition of new features and advanced updates is seamless and completed at the firmware level, meaning a new customer experience can be delivered easily and affordably.

Consistent Experience for End User

Abridged implementation and guidelines will, of course, appear to the consumer as a consistent experience regardless of provider or device. The introduction of IoT devices designated to work with WiFi Sensing will help the industry move towards a more seamless customer experience. Just as with WiFi connectivity, reliability and accessibility are crucial to cement WiFi Sensing as a trusted technology that will ultimately benefit us all.

Connecting People and Brands via Motion Insights

Standardization will also allow brands to benefit from this new technology. Devices that meet the standard would be recognized as optimal for WiFi Sensing and will have a higher probability of being selected as sensors. Due to their heightened visibility in the app, consumers are more likely to view devices most commonly used as sensors as a valuable part of their WiFi Sensing services.

How IEEE 802.11bf came to be

Early in our work with WiFi Motion, we identified several challenges that could be best solved through industry-wide cooperation. This new technology has the potential to change the course of WiFi forever, but ease of implementation and a smooth user experience are crucial to its success.

For WiFi Sensing to truly flourish and become scalable, we knew that collaboration with industry groups was the first step. We partnered with the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) to form the first WiFi Sensing Work Group. Our very own Senior Mixed-Signal Architect, Chris Beg, was integral in getting this group off the ground and presenting findings to the WBA. The first WiFi Sensing white paper was published by the group in October 2019, outlining current use cases as well as areas where the technology could grow and improve.

From there, the group’s discoveries and recommendations were brought to the IEEE. On September 29, the IEEE approved IEEE 802.11bf for WiFi Sensing. To bring this standard to life, the IEEE is responsible for defining the components, features and mechanisms that can be productized. The end result will see a list of rules and requirements that a device will have to meet to support WiFi Sensing. Throughout this process, the IEEE will work in tandem with the WiFi Alliance. The WiFi Alliance will then create the test and certification program, ensuring products meet the criteria to be WiFi Sensing certified.

The IEEE anticipates having the first draft of their proposed standard by January 2022.

A standard with endless possibility

In just over three years, 802.11bf will not only impact those with a commercial interest in WiFi, it will advance sensing to help improve the lives of people around the world. It will open up a world of new application possibilities, especially for those working alongside pioneers Cognitive Systems to unlock the full potential of WiFi Sensing. From software developers to internet service providers, and down the delivery pipeline to the end user, we are expanding our understanding of what WiFi can be used for and how it can function within our day-to-day lives. With the 802.11bf standard, the future of WiFi is in motion.

But wait…what about privacy?

We know it is important to address privacy concerns, as 802.11bf will increase the prevalence of this relatively new technology. WiFi Sensing requires the same level of governing around privacy as any other WiFi technology and is more private than most commonly used smart devices.

At Cognitive Systems, we are committed to protecting your privacy, and we take comfort in knowing that this standard will allow us to continue to do so. WiFi Motion is inherently private by design, measuring only binary data that represents changes in WiFi signals to sense motion. Unlike cameras and VoIP systems, it cannot see you, hear you or identify you.

The word “diversity” is pervasive, especially when it comes to the workplace, but do we fully understand its importance? Yes, diversity is about everyone getting their fair shot – but it’s also a smart business decision. When the talent pool is larger and more diverse, everyone brings unique perspectives and experience to the table. Better solutions are found. Breakthroughs are achieved. Innovation happens. Everyone wins.

The importance of diversity was illustrated clearly for me while working on a group exercise for my MBA. We were “stranded” in the arctic with a list of 20 items to prioritize in order to survive. First, we did the exercise on our own. Then, we repeated the exercise with a group of people with similar genders and ethnicities. In the third round, we completed the same task with a more diverse group. The results spoke for themselves: the more diverse the group, the better the outcome and the much greater chance of survival. Although the example is anecdotal, research supports the results. Companies that are gender, ethnically and culturally diverse are more likely to financially outperform their industry peers.

Anyone working in STEM knows we have a diversity problem, with women particularly underrepresented. According to Statistics Canada, women made up only 34% of STEM bachelor’s degree holders in 2016, and only 23% of science and technology workers among Canadians aged 25 to 64. What amazing ideas, breakthroughs and collaborative opportunities have we missed out on as a result? Conversely, since STEM jobs are at the forefront of innovation with some of the highest salaries, what fulfilling careers have women been missing out on?

This is an area I spend a lot of time thinking about, and, in light of International Women’s Day, I hosted a virtual roundtable for the women I work with at Cognitive Systems. I wanted to get their perspectives as women working in tech and kick off an important conversation that should be an ongoing one – not just something we focus on once a year. We need to hear both the good and the bad, and openly discuss our concerns and experiences, so that we can work together to make things better.

Still Room for Improvement

In our discussion, we talked about representation in school, in recruitment and in the workplace. We agreed that progress has been made in education, with more women than ever pursuing degrees in STEM. Unfortunately, we aren’t yet seeing this translate at the same pace into the working world.

One colleague mentioned an important disconnect, observing that women often only apply for a role if they meet 100% of the job requirements, whereas men are less hesitant to apply even if they meet only some of the criteria. In my experience working in tech and reviewing resumes, I’ve found support for this theory. The smaller number of women applicants tend to meet all job requirements. Of course, qualified men apply as well, but there are a lot more who don’t tick every box.

How can we address this in recruitment, so that more women are encouraged to apply? For starters, we can be more deliberate in the way we word job descriptions and promote flexibility in role requirements to encourage a diverse range of applicants. Hiring for specific skills is certainly important, but hiring someone who is motivated to learn and is a good cultural fit is equally important for success.

Another solution is to make best use of co-op programs. At Cognitive, we provide our co-ops with challenging and meaningful work that advances our corporate goals. During our roundtable, one of our students revealed that Cognitive had exceeded her expectations with respect to how she would be treated and the importance of the work she would do. It was disheartening to hear that she had low expectations, but I’m glad we were able to deliver more. By encouraging more young women to apply for co-op roles and leveraging their strengths, we hope they will be excited to continue a career in STEM.

Something else to think about is that not all positions in our industry need to embody traditional ideas of what a “tech job” should be. A company cannot operate solely based on the hard skills of engineering. Developing an idea, product or service is only one part of the equation – many other roles make important contributions that are essential to organizational success. Shining a brighter light on these roles and the soft skills required to perform them should encourage greater diversity in applicants, and not just women.

What do women love about working in STEM?

By increasing diversity in STEM, we are ultimately driving greater success for everyone, and there are many reasons for women to join these industries. My colleagues who participated in the roundtable had some important takeaways to share:

“I like that my work contributes to new ideas that have never been done before. I also like that I’m constantly learning, especially because the tech field is always improving and innovating.” – Safa

“I like being able to directly contribute to innovation and break new ground. Coming up with solutions to make the world a better and easier place for people makes working in tech feel very meaningful.” – Sarmina

“One of the biggest appeals that people might not think of is the creativity involved, every day presents a new challenge and a new puzzle to solve. I am constantly learning, building upon what I know and forced to use my knowledge to solve new problems that have never been tackled before.” – Emilie

“I love that technology is the cross-road between logical and creative. Knowing how something functions and its limitations and then challenging those to create new and exciting things.” – Katie

A few key pieces of advice for women interested in STEM also emerged from our discussion:

  • Don’t be afraid to fail because it’s just part of the process. Fall down, make mistakes, and move forward unapologetically.
  • There is nothing wrong with asking for help.
  • Look for guidance from other successful women in STEM and don’t be afraid to forge your own path.
  • You don’t necessarily need to be an engineer. There are lots of ways to work in STEM outside of traditional “tech” roles.

For increased diversity and inclusion in the STEM workforce, there’s work to be done. Supporting meaningful co-op placements and ensuring hiring practices encourage applicants with diverse backgrounds are small steps we can take today to ensure even more breakthroughs in our future.

I’ll leave you with one quote from our roundtable that really stood out for me:

“I always had a curiosity about the world around me and was inspired by the endless possibilities that STEM offers. With the tools you develop working in STEM you can do anything. Studying STEM means learning how to learn, how to break down a problem, challenge your own assumptions and think outside of the box. Everything you learn just spawns more questions and feeds the hunger within you to keep learning.” – Emilie

WiFi Motion™ enables service providers to create next-gen customer experiences

WATERLOO, Ontario–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Cognitive Systems Corp. announced today an integration with Airties to offer its patented WiFi Motion technology across Airties’ portfolio of WiFi 6 solutions. Cognitive’s WiFi Motion will make it easier than ever for service providers to access this revolutionary sensing technology.

“As a pioneer and leader in Wi-Fi sensing, we are pleased to be working with Cognitive Systems on new Wi-Fi 6 solutions” Tweet this

Over the past six years, Cognitive Systems has designed, developed, and implemented the first and most sophisticated WiFi-enabled motion sensing software on the market. WiFi Motion leverages connected IoT devices to turn the entire home into a motion-sensing network, introducing an innovative way to use WiFi. With 37 ISPs currently offering WiFi Motion around the globe, millions of homes already have access to this new service and its growing number of applications.

“Service providers are looking for new ways to differentiate from competitors and retain customers. Our priority is providing smart WiFi solutions that offer value beyond connectivity,” said Taj Manku, Co-Founder and CEO of Cognitive Systems. “Like us, Airties aims to shape the next generation of wireless solutions and see the possibilities for motion sensing, from smarter home monitoring to a higher standard of eldercare. We’re doing the legwork with their Wi-Fi 6 portfolio to get WiFi Motion ready for some forward-thinking Airties service providers who want to offer these benefits to their customers as soon as possible.”

Cognitive Systems and Airties share a commitment to staying ahead of the market, both by being active members of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and closely following emerging trends. In addition to the current home monitoring capabilities, WiFi Motion’s highly anticipated eldercare solution will bring peace of mind to caregivers by providing discreet wellness monitoring without the need for cameras or wearable devices. The market for remote wellness monitoring products is growing rapidly. Soon customers will be able to receive notifications and gain valuable insights into not only their homes but also the homes of loved ones.

“As a pioneer and leader in Wi-Fi sensing, we are pleased to be working with Cognitive Systems on new Wi-Fi 6 solutions,” said Metin Taskin, Co-Founder and CTO of Airties. “Cognitive’s product roadmap has a realistic game plan for both implementation and longevity. The integration of WiFi Motion and Airties can enable service providers to offer innovative value-add Wi-Fi services to their customers.”

About Cognitive Systems
Cognitive Systems Corp. is on a mission to transform the way WiFi networks are used. Its flagship technology, WiFi Motion™, uses wireless signals to sense motion in the home. WiFi Motion harnesses artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to reliably identify and localize motion for the smart home, home monitoring, and wellness monitoring markets. This patented technology is layered onto existing WiFi networks without additional hardware to enhance service provider and router manufacturer offerings.
www.cognitivesystems.com
https://www.linkedin.com/company/cognitive-systems-corp-/

About Airties
Founded in 2004, Airties is the most widely deployed provider of managed in-home Wi-Fi solutions to operators around the globe. The company offers Smart Wi-Fi software, a cloud-based management platform, and Mesh extenders. Service providers turn to Airties for the design, implementation, and ongoing optimization of their customers’ broadband experience. With an installed base of over 30 million homes, Airties’ customers include: Altice USA, AT&T, Singtel, Sky, Telia, Telstra, and many others. More information is available at www.Airties.com.

WATERLOO, Ontario–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Cognitive Systems Corp. today announced that its patented WiFi Motion™ technology is now standard for customers developing products using Broadcom’s new WiFi 6 mesh and access point solutions. First available in February 2020 on select WiFi 5 chips, Cognitive Systems’ revolutionary WiFi sensing solution is gaining momentum in WiFi 6 deployments. Wide enablement of WiFi Motion on all Broadcom WiFi 6 access point silicon will open up a multitude of motion sensing opportunities in the growing WiFi-as-a-Service industry. Together, Cognitive Systems and Broadcom are paving the way for the future of WiFi sensing.

“Working with Cognitive Systems as our strategic Wi-Fi sensing partner was a natural fit. There is so much value yet to be derived from Wi-Fi networks, and we share a common interest in bringing that value to the forefront” Tweet this

“Our goal is to get WiFi Motion into every home that has WiFi,” said Taj Manku, CEO and Co-Founder of Cognitive Systems. “By partnering with Broadcom, which has a robust product and clear roadmap for next-generation WiFi, we’re well on our way to global expansion. There are endless possibilities for motion sensing, and we’ve worked tirelessly to address the gaps that exist in testing today to ensure scalability. Broadcom is committed to this same excellence, which makes us excited for the journey ahead as partners.”

Cognitive Systems’ software utilizes machine learning on all frequency bands to decipher signal disturbances in the WiFi environment and present those changes to the consumer as motion insights. The solution leverages connected IoT devices to turn the entire home into a motion-sensing network. This enables numerous applications, allowing people to make the most of their home WiFi.

“Working with Cognitive Systems as our strategic Wi-Fi sensing partner was a natural fit. There is so much value yet to be derived from Wi-Fi networks, and we share a common interest in bringing that value to the forefront,” said Manny Patel, senior director of product marketing for the Broadband Carrier Access Products Division at Broadcom. “Extensible technologies like WiFi Motion are the foundation of next-gen smart homes. It’s an exciting time for Wi-Fi.”

As a home monitoring solution, customers enjoy coverage anywhere their WiFi reaches, including private areas like bathrooms and bedrooms, without sacrificing privacy. WiFi Motion can also be used for family awareness, such as identifying activity patterns or confirming the kids arrived home from school. Cognitive Systems’ highly anticipated eldercare solution will bring peace of mind to caregivers, providing discreet wellness monitoring without the need for cameras or wearable devices. Each application brings meaningful insights to users, providing value beyond just connectivity.

About Cognitive Systems

Cognitive Systems Corp. is on a mission to transform the way WiFi networks are used. Its flagship technology, WiFi Motion™, uses wireless signals to detect motion in the home. WiFi Motion harnesses artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to reliably identify and localize motion for the smart home, home monitoring and wellness monitoring markets. This patented technology is layered onto existing WiFi networks without additional hardware to cost-effectively enhance service provider and router manufacturer offerings.

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