Top Projects of 2016

2016 was a tremendously productive year. It’s particularly great to see the range of projects The Waving Cat was involved in. Here are projects that I’d like to highlight.

ThingsCon global

For ThingsCon it was a big year. When I co-founded ThingsCon none of us had any idea about how big this project might grow within just years. From a single conference in Berlin, ThingsCon has grown into a global community (and dare-I-say, a movement?) of practitioners with the mission to foster the creation of a responsible & human-centric Internet of Things. It’s also spread to 20 or so events around the globe, from small meetups to full-blown multi-day conferences. Going forward we’re working on expanding beyond events and into knowledge sharing (our LABS program), advocacy (figuring out how to work with policy makers and consumer protection organizations) and lean into other opportunities as they present themselves. And the global event footprint keeps growing, too! On top of local meetups we’ll see ThingsCon conferences in Amsterdam, London and Shenzhen. <3

Smart Cities & the German federal government

One of the most fascinating client engagement of the last few years was to provide research and policy recommendations to the Federal German Government on how to think about smart cities from a perspective of citizen-empowerment. So Prof. Dr. Christoph Bieber and I co-authored a report as part of a big government publication on urbanization in the 21st century. (Details and an executive summary in this blog post.)

Understanding the Connected Home

Understanding the Connected Home

Together with Michelle Thorne, head of Mozilla’s Open IoT Studio (and full disclosure, my wife) I co-wrote a second, fully revised edition of our ebook Understanding the Connected Home—Thoughts on living in tomorrow’s connected home.

The Good Home

Teaming up with long-time collaborator and good friend Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino of Designswarm and Good Night Lamp we explored ideas for 21st century home living in The Good Home project in a series of workshops and exhibitions. I was very happy (and more than a little proud) that we got to exhibit as part of Fuori Salone in Milan, London Design Festival & the V&A, as well as Mozfest. Alongside the many collaborator projects we featured, I was personally most closely involved in one piece I helped put together: The Privacy Machines Project.

Google IoT Policy

Fascinating work for both the content and the scale of its potential impact: I helped Google HQ draft a global policy around IoT. Like much of the work here at TWC, details are confidential as the work is of an internal nature. Suffice it to say I’m quite proud of the final results and am looking forward to see the results roll out globally.

Co-chaired Interaction16 conference

Interaction, IxDA’s annual interaction design conference, is maybe the most relevant event in that space. I was honored (and very, very happy) to be invited to co-chair it along with Sami Niemelä, and run it together with the fantastic whole gang of the Helsinki chapter of IxDA. (For details see this blog post.)

View Source: Shenzhen

The majority of electronics and connected products (IoT!) are made in Shenzhen, China. So we wondered if it’s possible to leverage Shenzhen’s hardware ecosystem for ThingsCon’s mission—to foster the creation of a responsible & human-centric IoT. A fact-finding and relationship-building expedition was in order! So we got together a merry group of allies from that space: Our long-time collaborators and friends of the Dutch Just Things Foundation and Mozilla’s Open IoT Studio and went to visit Shenzhen. Thanks to our local contact (and now also host of ThingsCon Shenzhen) David Li of the Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab (SZOIL) we had the opportunity to see and learn a lot, and get a great first-hand experience of how stuff gets done (and made) in Shenzhen.

View Source: Things in Shenzhen (beta) from The Incredible Machine on Vimeo.

This short video shares some of our impressions. More importantly, we’ll be back in April to also show around a delegation of another 20 or so European IoT practitioners, participate in the ThingsCon Shenzhen conference, and document at much greater depth what we learn there in order to keep building relations between the European and Shenzhen IoT scenes and promote a responsible IoT.


The company’s first official spin-off, travel and souvenir magazine Dearsouvenir is a joint venture between The Waving Cat, Netzpiloten, and Carry-On Publishing.

Zephyr Berlin

A bit of an outlier project at first glance, Zephyr Berlin is also a deep dive into learning about manufacturing and distribution of physical products. In a (very part-time) team effort, between three friends we designed, crowdfunded, manufactured, and delivered a small batch production of premium pants that are versatile, highly functional and stylish, and travel extremely well. If this was a one-off or if there’s more to come isn’t decided yet, but it was the best first-hand lesson about physical manufacturing we could have wished for.

And to top it all off, I was…

Listed as Top 100 Influencer in IoT

Postscapes included me in their list of Top 100 Influencers in IoT. (Thank you!)

There was plenty more going on, including roles on juries or as a reviewer; some smaller events I helped put together; and other, more low-key collaborations. But the projects above were real highlights for both the company and me personally. I’m incredibly grateful and happy for the opportunity to work on such a wide range of projects and with so many smart, dedicated, interesting people on things that matter.

If you think my perspective can help your organization, ping me. 2017 is shaping up to be a great and interesting year, and I will continue to promote the ideas of a responsible IoT as well as the notion that good ethics and good business go hand in hand.