Friday, June 19, 2015

Robotics Cluster meeting hosted by WPI

Our June 2015 Robotics Cluster meeting was attended by 35+ MTLC members at the oldest building in the United States still used for engineering education, Washburn Shops and Stoddard Laboratories at WPI in Worcester.  We learned all about the history and objectives of the DARPA Robotics Challenge.  Mike Gennert and Taşkin Padir discussed their system architecture and Team WPI-CMU’s progression through the various phases of the challenge to the most recent competition. They described working on – and with! – WARNER (their Boston Dynamics Atlas robot) to perform the competition’s tasks. Holly Yanco spoke about initial impressions of the human-robot interaction, giving a control room perspective of the competition.  Congratulations to Team WPI-CMU for their impressive achievement!

Enjoy this fun YouTube video of “falls” during the DARPA Grand Challenge (note WARNER is not part of this video):

Velin Dimitrov, a PhD Candidate at WPI, presented two WPI projects:  WALRUS, a Water And Land Remote Unmanned Search Rover, and CARE, Cyber-Physical Systems for Advanced Response to Epidemics.

We were then treated to a tour of some of the robotics labs on campus.

Warner – JUST returned from Pomona, CA after the DARPA Robotics Challenge – still in his crate!

Tye Brady holds Warner’s hand – with Mike Gennert
Robotics Cluster Women: Lenore Rasmussen, Founder of Ras Labs, Jill Wittels, CEO of Sostenuto Strategic Advisors, Kathleen Hagan, President of Hagan & Company

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

RoboInnovation Panel

Representatives from various Robotics Innovation Initiatives and Test facilities discussed the path forward for Robotics in Massachusetts during the Devens Robotica event.

Our intellectual capital in the region is beyond compare and our entrepreneurship is thriving – put that with MassRobotics, NERVE Center, Joint Base Cape Cod and Devens IOP – what do you get?  The Robotics capital of the world!!  Where else would you rather be?

Left to right:  Tye Brady -  Draper Laboratory & co-founder of MassRobotics, Adam Norton – Manager of the NERVE Center, Joyce Sidopoulos – MassTLC Robotics Cluster Manager, Jose Vazquez - President at Avwatch providing services to JBCC, Richard Kelley – co-founder of Devens IOP

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Spear Phishing Detection Matters: The Anthem Data Breach

By: Kevin O'Brien of GreatHorn


Spear Phishing Detection: Why Machine Learning Is The Answer

A key lesson to take away from the Anthem data breach is that organizations need to recognize that simply throwing a SIEM or log aggregation tool and an IDS into their infrastructure is not sufficient. Consider how the Anthem data breach worked:
Robots are better at catching phish.
  • A group of Chinese Hackers, dubbed “Deep Panda” by Crowdstrike, registered a domain ( that was designed to look like Anthem’s corporate domain prior to Q4 2014 (
  • A number of subdomains, including and, were also tied to the suspicious domain; trojan-horse style malware was installed on these domains.
  • The malware, masquerading as “CITRIX Access Gateway Secure Input”, was digitally signed with a certificate owned by DTOPTOOLZ Co., who are associated with the Deep Panda group
  • Spear phishing attacks sourced from the number-substituted were used to propagate the malware throughout Anthem
  • The compromised accounts were used in a classic escalation of privileges and subsequent data exfiltration scheme

The Case for Predictive Analytics

This is a depressingly standard attack — and it works, repeatedly, for three basic reasons:
  1. Users are a weak link: As busy as most people are, the difference between and is apt to go unnoticed, especially if the resulting site looks and operates as expected
  2. Information security analysts are buried in alerts: Even when good monitoring software exists, it’s unlikely that the average infosec team (or worse, IT or DevOps team who have had security thrown onto their already overloaded plates) will see and respond to minor domain name changes
  3. Attacks that take place over long periods of time fly under the radar:
  4. Time to detection for the average attack is measured in weeks and months; attackers can get into an environment in minutes or hours. If they are patient — and most government sponsored or large criminal syndicates can afford to be — they can spread the attack out over a long enough timeline to not be noticed.

Reducing Time to Detection and Response

The measurement of good security (in light of this type of sophisticated attack) should be time to detection and time to response. Based on Verizon’s 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report (well worth reading), however, these two key performance indicators are both trending in exactly the wrong direction:
Time to detection and response matter.
The good news is that even modest staffed information security teams can be given the means to change this trend. Machine learning and predictive analytics tools are capable of seeing threats that human users miss, manage even vast quantities of alert data, and identify trends across long timeframes.
It’s clear that something need to change; intercepting spear phishing attacks, recognizing and interrupting early indicators of intrusion, and protecting your organizations’s critical data is well within reach. Want to see for yourself? Request a free trial of the GreatHorn predictive security platform today, and don’t become the next Anthem.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Internet of Things Conference: How Smart, Connected Things Will Change Your Business

June 3, 2015

Last Wednesday nearly two hundred people from the MA region came together to share insights on the need to rethink strategies, operations, processes, and technologies when embarking on the internet of things (IoT).

Delivered by John Clippinger, Research Scientist at the MIT Media Lab Human Dynamics Group and Executive Director and CEO of ID3, the keynote address highlighted the transformative way in which devices have taken the place of people as primary observers and data gatherers.

Opportunistically, this enables multiple sources to collect and analyze data providing user experiences and which can have a hugely positive effect on organizations’ bottom lines. And as machines get smarter, the experiences continue to get better.

Yet while the technological capabilities continue to grow, so does the need for defining data ownership, governance, and authentication measures. And understanding that the antiquated regulations and processes must be updated to address our current and future needs.

As Clippinger stated “we are creating new classes of assets” and those all need to be controlled. From the smart televisions in your home collecting data about your TV habits to your cars collecting data about your driving behaviors. This data – your data – is owned by the provider. And you, the consumer, must balance these improved experiences with your sharing your personal data.

Clippinger wrapped his talk with a set of autonomous governance technologies that must be considered when multiple devices are collecting data on multiple stakeholders, across many borders, and a number of owners, including:
  •         Governance without Government
  •         Authorization without Authorities
  •         Regulation with Regulators
  •         Adjudication and Sanction without Lawyers and Judges
  •         Polis without Politicians
  •         Auditing without Auditors

John Clippinger Presentation

Following the keynote, we had a number of sessions that took deeper dives into different aspects of business strategies, regulatory bodies, data infrastructure and architects, and security.

In a panel that included Michael Munsey of Dassault Systemes, Andy Thurai of IBM, Rob Purser of Mathworks, Howard Heppelmann of PTC, and led by Chris Rezendes of INEX Advisors provided their experiences in redefining how strategic processes are created and implemented.

Asked how each defined IoT in their own views the panelists talked about better products and experiences, enjoying the benefit of having better insights and interactions into the world that never existed before, and understanding that the value derived is for themselves, their customers, and ultimately their customers’ customers.

Heppelmann expressed how IoT has changed the shape of business in that the conversations are happening at the CEO level as they flow back to engineering, sales and marketing, and every aspect and department within a company. Munsey followed that up with the huge capital investment that is going to be required, and the multitude of infrastructure providers that are gambling their futures on supporting IoT infrastructures.

Similarly to a data science team, embarking on IoT will require a variety of people across the organization each with different skill sets to build and manage a connected product. Thurai furthered this point by stating that often it is the CMO or others who want to drive business value and revenue funding these products.

Dassault Systemes Case Example

Mathworks Case Example 

The next panel, What Big Data Will Require in an IoT World, moderated by Paul Barth from Podium Data, included Kris Alexander from Akamai, Chris Baker from Dyn, and Pavandeep Kalra from Microsoft.

Alexander talked about how the entire model of big data has been inverted with IoT, whereas the internet has been geared to send massive amounts of large data sets out, but connected devices are now sending massive amounts of small data sets back in.

Kalra who focuses much of his work on machine learning, talked about how more and more there will be a marketplace of machine learning APIs which you can leverage. He also talked about pushing everything to the cloud and then testing in that type of safer environment before making any operational changes.

Baker talked about the importance of obtaining the right information and putting that back into the device to continue to learn and redeploy. Baker also said that having a firm understanding of timing when collecting and redeploying data, such as a pace maker, is the most important component of an IoT product.

Our next session was a fireside chat style discussion between Niko Pipaloff of PwC and Said Tabet of EMC, who was there on behalf of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC).

Tabet talked about the IIC’s mission, which is to take IoT forward. Just a year old, the IIC has already amassed 170 member companies and is currently running 6 test beds across the globe to help develop the use cases that companies can use as an example of how to bring the physical and digital worlds together. .  The IIC’s test beds can leverage use cases to build the requirements for the future.

Pipaloff spoke of the benefit of having already proven that working together and offering open standards at with the creation of internet over two decades before will help us.

They concluded the discussion by reiterating that IoT is massive and it’s here already and that a number of small organizations must all come and work together to create the standards and regulations

As the Value of Data panel got underway, it was very clear that it really is all about the data. But what this stellar group talked about was how to understand what data you need and why.

According to Rob Patterson from ColdLight, 9 out of 10 companies coming out of academia are based on artificial intelligence technology - highly data intensive. Combining the AI with machine learning and skilled talent, the intelligence gained can be enormous.

Don Schuerman from Pegasystems, talked about the best insights coming from multiple devices connected to each other to discover external drivers and changing the outcomes.

Subu Ramasamy from Philips Lighting talked through a number of case studies in which creating connected lighting could provide efficiencies through measuring occupancy rates, not just in energy consumption, but also in cleaning or stocking particular offices based on use. He went on to say, customers are not looking for technologies they are looking for services.

When probed by the moderator, Jeff Kaplan of THINKstrategies, the panel members all agreed challenges were around the complexities surrounding the variety of data sources and sets as well as the the limited talent that exists today.

The conference closed on perhaps the most important topic of the day, security. Editor in Chief of Security Ledger, Paul Roberts facilitated a discussion between Brandon Creighton of Veracode and Paddy Srinivasan of Xively by LogMeIn.

The panelists talked about the first step – identifying there is a very real problem. And they stressed that today we are in a world where every vertical now needs to have an information security mindset, but unfortunately that is not the case.

Srinivasan and Creighton spend a great deal of time talking with their customers about what risks exist in products that do not have operating systems.

Srinivasan went on to suggest that he urges customers to follow a multi-step process that includes: uniquely identify each connected device, then securing the information that is coming from the device to the cloud. And once the device and communication are secured, there is then a need to secure and ID the data and assign permissions and actors to that data.

Creighton concludes his remarks with stressing that until there are established protocols for IoT, to have have your engineers do security training, understand what the basic code mistakes are, and then retain security experts to review the architecture and communications networks. And the most important thing is to do this during the development, not as an add-on.

Thank to our Platinum Sponsors: Mathworks, PTC, and PwC

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Our May 2015 Robotics Cluster meeting was attended by 40+ MTLC members, standing room only!  After “around the room introductions”, as is customary at our meetings, Josh Lessing gave us a look at Soft Robotics, taking Harvard research to soft grippers with their first sale just THIS month!  He spoke of understanding the customer need, solving their problem, and their process – stressing the importance of balancing adaptability, complexity and cost.
Tye Brady, Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at Draper Laboratory, discussed his findings and recommendations for enabling UAS growth within Massachusetts a result of the MAAVRIC (Massachusetts Autonomous Air Vehicle Research and Innovation Consortium) study completed earlier this year.
Soft Robotics demo box

                        Kenn Sebesta with CyPhy’s LVL 1 Drone                       

Charlie Grinnell, Founder & COO of Harvest Automation gave a brief history of the company and new growth areas they are pursuing.  We later received a tour of their ecommerce test site and a live demonstration.
There was no shortage of live demonstrations during this meeting.  We were treated by Kenn Sebesta to a demonstration of Cy Phy’s LVL 1 Drone – which Kenn flew indoors:  <  click here 1 >  This project has almost doubled its funding goal with Kickstarter and will be funded on 18 June 2015.
After a long networking break, many in the group ventured over to the Harvest warehousing test site to watch the TM-100 in action.  This is a distribution/fulfillment robot available for purchase next Spring 2016.  See this bot in action <  click here 2 >

Friday, May 29, 2015

The State of Cybersecurity and Healthcare

By: Thomas Smolinsky of Navinet

The healthcare industry has certainly become a desirable target among the advanced hacker population. I’m not the only one who recognizes this. At HIMSS15 this year in Chicago, healthcare IT professionals gathered to discuss the hottest topics impacting health IT. This year, patient privacy and data security made the top of the list. This was evident with the event’s new Cybersecurity Command Center that featured breakout sessions, demos, and talks focused on how to improve cybersecurity in healthcare. CIOs and technology professionals alike have banded together since the conference to discuss new, innovative ways to tackle these new cybersecurity threats.

Monday, May 18, 2015

One attendee’s takeaways from Health Evolution Summit


One attendee’s takeaways from Health Evolution Summit

By Frank Ingari of NaviNet, Inc.

Two weeks ago, I attended the terrific Health Evolution Summit in Laguna, CA. These are the themes that struck me personally:

Keeping MA at the forefront of IoT

April 29, 2015
IoT Roundtable: Keeping MA at the forefront of IoT

Back in February, MassTLC’s IoT Steering Committee met to develop a mission, which is bringing together everyone within the Massachusetts’s IoT ecosystem to make us THE global hub of IoT. And on April 29th, roughly 50 IoT enthusiasts joined MassTLC at Pegasystems in Cambridge for an open forum to start the conversation on how to make this a reality.

Lead by Setrag Khoshafian, Chief Evangelist and VP of BPM Technology at Pegasystems, the forum kicked off with a landscape – highlighting that is beyond technology. It is about adding value and changing lives.

 View Presentation

Setrag discussed some of the ‘things’, spanning from watches to shopping carts to lightbulbs to windmills to engines, robots, or any piece of machinery at any home, factory, hospital, or other institution.  And interestingly the social networks highlight that IoT’s strongest in the wearables and connected home markets, but the real markets in terms of revenue include manufacturing and transportation.

While there are many reference models to build an IoT strategy, Setrag focused on the IoT World Forum’s which top-down approach starting at Collaboration and Processes – the people and business process) and ending at the Physical Devices and Controllers – the things.

In the end, we know that IoT does have hype, but it’s not just the hype. It’s real, it’s happening.

Below is a list of questions, answers, insights that came from the forum. Rather than summarize, I’ve done my best to synthesize. The bold subheadings are the topics for each discussion block.

I urge all of you reading this to reach out to me if you have any insights you’d like to share.

Why Boston?
  •           We have dense segregated stake holder tech communities.
  •           Our strong educational system around we have here.
  •            It’s a financial hub. MA leads in investments in IT infrastructure. Some of the largest investments in M2M and IoT space have been here in Boston.
  •            We have the main IoT infrastructure players located in region.
  •            IoT is a comprised of different technologies: software, networking, ALM, etc. and Boston has all of these.
  •           The environment is right because we have the financial, operational, technology all here.
  •            Robotics is huge in Boston. And robotics and IoT and data go together perfectly. When you put IoT and robotics together you can take a leap to another level.
  •          Can Massachusetts just become the global hub of IoT generically? Does having all of the key sectors here make us stand out more than other areas? How do we really bring all of these things together and then showcase them together?
  •           We need investments on the backend to support IoT.
  •            In terms of vertical industries the medical industry here could provide a huge lab to work on IoT.
  •            We are in close proximity to Europe and other international regions where IoT/M2M is prevalent.
  •            Innovation happens at the boundaries. We have a lot of multifaceted businesses that are all on the boundaries of innovation (healthcare, robotics, etc) so we have a unique foundation to start this.

What are the industries or domains we should be focusing on? Or should we?
  •          Wearable and ingestibles are both areas to watch out for in the healthcare industry.
  •           Boston is such a center of healthcare both on the research and practitioner side it is an obvious place we can focus.
  •            A question from an audience member to the group: What is the objective of there being focus? - -  All innovation happens when a company or group of people or an entrepreneur takes a lead and does something. It’s about going after an opportunity. It’s not about choosing a focus.- - Opposing view: We can certainly influence the focus by providing direction in the incubators, accelerators, investments, in certain areas.
  •             MassTLC can help be the petri dish to help drive focus areas and ID the huge opportunity markets such as healthcare and robotics.
  •             We need to spur discussion between big industry and government - such as they are doing in Singapore and Dubai – where they are building smart cities from scratch. We in the US are retrofitting cities w/ IoT. But the government needs to make investments. If we’re an innovation hub then the government needs to be part of the ‘it takes a village’ group. It should not take four years to deploy smart meters.

How can we effectively work together? How can such a diverse group be effective together?
  •           One way is to make sure we all understand what each other does. And then we need to know what we are asking from one another. Getting a deep understanding of how we can work together is critical.
  •           ID some areas that everyone agrees on. What are the common areas?
  •           The success is knowing and making all the parts of the ecosystem available. VCs and entrepreneurs to technologists, customers, partners. You need to bring everyone together.
  •           We need to create an ecosystem for idea sharing.
  •           Gain an understanding of the technology landscape both horizontally and vertically. Then assess where we are strong and where we have gaps. If we want to really have leadership in that area we need to play to our strengths and/or fill in the gaps where we aren’t strong.
  •           Put together a series of discussions with vertical leaders (from DoT or healthcare institution) to provide insights on the problems they are facing.
  •           It is important that Boston itself become a showcase of this technology to actually be the leader of the technology.
  •           Can we have a focal point, such as gathering around the Olympics in Boston? And then bring stakeholders together to collaborate on how to create a smart city in time for the Olympic Games. You need a focal point if you really want to bring together to work effectively.

What are customers asking for and how can we support them as a team? And what aren’t they asking for? This can be B2B, B2C, internal enterprise, partners, government, etc.
  •          Customers want to know how to monetize. You monetize the service that the IoT provides.
  •          They want to know what investments they can make today that won’t be obsolete in a couple of years. So what platforms they can invest in that enables them to build on top of it and continue leveraging the platform for some time.
  •          What people want are ways to get things done. Technologists can use their resources to make that happen for them.

What have you seen in IoT disruptions/innovations? Trends you have seen?
  •        It’s about coming up w a platform to leverage the data that people can make money off of.  - - One obvious example is jet engines. The guys that own the airplanes don’t own the engines.  - - The cities don’t own the parking meters.  - - The houses w/ the solar panels don’t own the panels.

What are the most serious challenges?
  •                Security
  •                Privacy / governance
  •                Skills gaps
  •                Who owns the data? What happens when the company goes under and the information is stored in the cloud. We need to work w/ the govt to create the laws for the owners.
  •                Understanding what infrastructure, societal, or governmental situations that will impede progress. Can we get ahead of this?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The New Era of Robotics Summit: Identify. Commercialize. Fund; April 29, 2015

Our April 2015 Robotics Summit brought together over 100 attendees from industry and academia to state and government/military representatives. The summit was kicked off by Kaigham Gabriel, President & CEO of Draper Laboratory sharing his thoughts on breakthrough innovation teams:  performing in Pasteur’s Quadrant à the intersection of a science/technology inflection point and a driving application.

Our keynote was followed by a diverse Industry Panel of thought leaders who discussed current and future robotic applications – more specifically smart factory automation and industrial IoT, autonomous vehicles and medical/surgical technology.  The group was moderated by Linda Thayer, Partner at Finnegan and longtime supporter of the MassTLC Robotics Cluster. 

(left to right)
Tony Lennon, The MathWorks, Industrial Automation Specialist; Garry Ritter, Director Technology & Strategy at the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center spoke about the future of autonomous vehicles; Scharukh Jalisi, M.D., FACS Director Boston University School of Medicine, Head and Neck surgical Oncology and Skullbase Surgery; Lt Col Matthew Woolums, Commander, 1st Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, MA National Guard

After a short networking break, Christina Chase, Entrepreneur in Residents for the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, engaged in a Fireside Chat with Arron Acosta, young entrepreneur and co-founder and CEO of Rise Robotics.  They discussed the challenges startups face in gaining access to funding.  Arron walked thru his efforts in the hopes that he could help provide lessons learned to others in similar situations.

There was no lack of audience participation and questions on the topic of investor funding for robotics technology and companies!

Christina then moderated a panel of investors with diverse business models and investment criteria.

(left to right)
Christina Chase, Entrepreneur in Residents, Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship (Moderator); Anders Bialek, Director of Corporate Development, iRobot; Jerry Bird, President, MassVentures; James Geshwiler, Managing Director, CommonAngels Ventures; Rudina Seseri, Partner, Fairhaven Capital  

James Geshwiler has a few words of advice for Arron.

Thank you to all who attended and participated in our lively discussion.  A special thanks to our summit sponsors:

As well as our Cluster Sponsor:

15 Things Learned From the 2015 MassTLC Sales & Marketing Summit

On April 7, 2015, MassTLC gathered 55 of the top sales and marketing professionals in New England to discuss “Building a High Performing Sales & Marketing Organization.” These were our takeaways, what were yours?

  1. Get rid of the “Gobbledygook” on your website. No one cares about your innovative, next generation, new and improved, world class, innovative product. Just tell me what it does.
  2. Be agile and respond in real time, it is no longer about marketing at a time that works for you, it’s about marketing to the customer when it works for them.
  3. Don’t be boring. Create content that connect your product to what’s happening. Newsjack!
  4. Hire journalists to create your marketing content.
  5. Tear down the sales silo and the marketing silo and build it all under the Smarketing roof!
  6. You need to clearly define what a lead is and what an opportunity within your organization is and make sure there’s an agreement on that definition.
  7. Although there is a debate of where BDRs should sit, the majority believe it’s a sales function.
  8. The best way to recruit top sales & marketing talent is through your top sales people and marketers, leverage their networks to find new hires.
  9. Advocate marketing plans can help your message get to the consumer during the 70% of the buying cycle before they speak with a sales rep.
  10. Responses from advocates on social media resonate better with consumers than direct company responses.
  11. Engaging customers as advocates enhances the post-sale experience.
  12. Have a post-sale touch plan, don’t wait until it’s time to renew.
  13. Understand the “Why” in everything you do, don’t run a new campaign just to run one, determine what the value should be if you get the results you expect.
  14. All good ideas are outside the office, get outside and talk to the people that are consuming your products.
  15. MassTLC events are a great opportunity to learn and network!

What others were picking up: