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Special Projects

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Research, products, spin-offs. Our in-house lab. The fun stuff!

 

 

ThingsCon

ThingsCon fosters the creation of a human-centric & responsible IoT. To this end we provide practitioners with an open environment for reflection & collaborative action.

ThingsCon is a global community of practitioners around Internet of Things (IoT) and new hardware, as well as an event platform with events across all of Europe and the globe, from Amsterdam to Manila and Berlin to Shenzhen.

 

We believe that technology should be empowering, respectful, and inclusive. Currently in IoT, not all voices are heard equally, and not all services and products are designed in a way that is human-centric and with the public good in mind. We are convinced that good ethics equal good business.

We understand ThingsCon contributing to a movement of practitioners – especially independents – who champion shared values like openness, sharing, diversity & inclusivity, sustainability and collaboration in all things “connected” – from products and services to IoT, from consumer goods to smart cities and more.

We believe that a network of practitioners working with aligned values can have massive impact. Through networked action, we can make and advocate for technology that is a force for good. Together with you, we can collectively have a meaningful impact on the lives of hundreds of millions, one product or policy at a time.

ThingsCon has been spun out into its own not-for-profit structure, ThingsCon e.V.

Learn more at thingscon.com.

Zephyr campaign image

Zephyr Berlin

Pants that travel well and are built to last. For women and men. Made in Berlin with environmentally friendly Swiss performance fabric.

We travel a lot. And we like to be active, flexible travelers: A trip often spans different time zones and climates, and includes formal and informal contexts from conference presentations to meetings to day hikes. We worked with a local designer and a provider of sustainably made, high end Swiss performance fabric to create the most versatile pair of pants, and funded development successfully through Kickstarter. From a business meeting in Tokyo to a day hike in the Californian mountains to a day of cycling across Berlin: With a pair of Zephyrs you’re good to go.

Learn more at zephyrberlin.com.

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Dearsouvenir Magazine

Dearsouvenir is a digital travel brand and magazine that covers destinations around the globe and all aspects of enjoyable, conscious travel. What sets Dearsouvenir apart is that everything is told through the stories behind souvenirs.

Spun out as its own company in partnership with Netzpiloten AG, Dearsouvenir focuses on local stories and the people behind lovely souvenirs.

Learn more at dearsouvenir.com.

The Good Home

Exploring ideas for 21st century home living. Through a series of public installations, The Good Home explores what life could be like for a technologically-savvy household. We explore with artists, designers and technologists from around the world how flexible living interacts with the limitations of diminishing household budgets, limited global resources, evolving concepts of privacy, the sharing economy, and global migration. In collaboration with Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino.

Learn more at thegoodhome.org

 

Publications

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BOOKS

View Source: Shenzhen [en][author] An exploration of the Shenzhen hardware ecosystem & the importance of creating a responsible IoT. (June 2017)

Understanding the Connected Home: Thoughts on living in tomorrow’s connected home. [en][co-author]  Second edition. Available at theconnectedhome.org and on the Kindle Store. Co-authored with Michelle Thorne. (Fully revised second edition, June 2016)

The Indie Conference Organizer Handbook [en][co-author] A practical guide to running your very own indie conference, written with Max Krüger. (Published July 2014)

Weblogs und Politikjournalisten – Die Bedeutung von Weblogs für die Arbeit von Politikjournalisten. [de] Bihr, Peter (2008). VDM Verlag Dr. Müller. Magisterarbeit, 228 Seiten. ISBN-10: 3836464292, ISBN-13: 978-3836464291. Available on Amazon.de or as a free PDF download.

Second Life [en] Bihr, Peter / Praus, Thomas / Senges, Max (2007). ISBN: 978-84-9788-609-3. Textbook for UOC Summer University course. Editorial UOC, Barcelona. English version (“Virtual Worlds – A Second Life Beginner’s Guide”) released under Creative Commons (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike). (Downloads and more info here.)

REPORTS

A Trustmark for IoT. [en][author] A ThingsCon report exploring potentials and challenges for a trustmark for the Internet of Things. Commissioned by Mozilla. (September 2017)

The State of Responsible IoT. [en][co-publisher] A ThingsCon report and essay collection by experts from the inter-disciplinary ThingsCon community of IoT practitioners. It explores the challenges, opportunities and questions surrounding the creation of a responsible & human-centric Internet of Things (IoT). (June 2017)

MAGAZINES

Dearsouvenir Magazine [de/en][co-publisher] Exploring travel through the stories behind souvenirs. Co-publisher. Nov 2015, May 2016

The Good Home [en][co-publisher] The Good Home exhibition magazine. Milan Furniture Fair 2016, London Design Festival 2016

Connected [en][co-publisher] Connected tracks the evolving Internet of Things ecosystem through a collection of essays published as a newspaper. Edited jointly with Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino. May 2014, Oct 2014

ACADEMIC PAPERS

Rogers, J., Clarke, L., Skelly, M., Taylor, N., Thomas, P., Thorne, M., Larsen, S., Odrozek, K., Kloiber, J., Bihr, P., Jain, A., Arden, J., von Grafenstein, M. (2019). Our Friends Electric: Reflections on advocacy and design research for the voice enabled internetProceedings of CHI 2019, ACM, 114. doi:10.1145/3290605.3300344

NEWSLETTER

Connection Problem [en] A more personal glimpse behind the scenes. This is where I try out new ideas, where things are a little more conversational.

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The Waving Cat is a boutique research, strategy & foresight company.

We explore the impact of emerging technologies—like Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence—and how your organization can harness them effectively.

Our research & foresight keeps you up to date on cutting edge developments in emerging technologies and provides a deep understanding of their implications.

Our digital strategy and advisory services identify opportunities for positive impact and ways to act on them. We help define your company’s strategic path towards greater impact, opportunity, and relevance.

With extensive experience with commercial and governmental clients, foundations, and civil society, we work with organizations who strive to shape their field rather than follow. Our approach to technology, business and culture is always responsible & human-centered. We work in English and German. Based in Berlin, happy to travel.
Lieber auf deutsch? Unsere Website ist komplett englischsprachig, aber wir arbeiten bei Bedarf natürlich auch gerne auf deutsch.

Get in touch!

 

 

Clients

Projects range from project-based to year-long engagements, from workshop to written reports to an ongoing conversation. Services include digital strategy, research, product/service, and digital transformation.

clients

 

 

Recent projects

Trustable Tech markThe Trustable Technology Mark, a Trustmark for IoT: Within the ThingsCon network we are developing a trustmark for consumer IoT products to help consumers recognize trustworthy connected devices. This is project is based on research we conducted for Mozilla in 2017 and supported by Mozilla through a fellowship. Learn more.
View Source ShenzhenView Source: Shenzhen. We went to Shenzhen to explore the Shenzhen hardware ecosystem. The majority of electronics worldwide are made in Shenzhen, China, the so-called Silicon Valley of Hardware. We wanted to pull back the curtain.So we decided to go to where a large portion of IoT is made, and pull back the curtain—and explore how to promote the creation of a responsible Internet of Things. Learn more.
twc_portfolio_riotreportThe State of Responsible IoT: A collection of essays by experts from the inter-disciplinary ThingsCon community of IoT practitioners. It explores the challenges, opportunities and questions surrounding the creation of a responsible & human-centric Internet of Things (IoT). It’s a critical time in the development of the Internet of Things (IoT). We believe the ThingsCon community has a valuable contribution to make to ensure a future where IoT works for everyone: A responsible & human-centric IoT. Learn more.
twc_portfolio_googleTech policy advisory for Google HQ. Working with the Mountain View public policy team, we supported Google regarding a range of tech-related policy questions. (Details are confidential.)
twc_portfolio_alpineThe future of mobility / R&D and product strategy for the automotive industry. We supported ALPINE’s R&D and executive team with their future-facing product and research strategy. (Details are confidential.)
smart cities studyDigitalisierung und die Smart City. Ressource und Barriere transformativer Urbanisierung. Expertise für das WBGU-Hauptgutachten „Der Umzug der Menschheit: Die transformative Kraft der Städte“. Prof. Dr. Christoph Bieber and I were kindly asked to contribute some research and policy recommendations for a larger report for the German federal government around the role of cities and urbanization in the 21st century. The report is called “Humanity on the move: The transformative power of cities” (Der Umzug der Menschheit: Die transformative Kraft der Städte) and published through WBGU, the German Advisory Council on Global Change. Learn more.
Understanding the Connected HomeUnderstanding the Connected Home—Thoughts on Living in Tomorrow’s Connected Home. Connectivity increasingly makes its way into our living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms. The internet is coming into our smoke detectors, lights, door locks, kitchen scales and ovens. We bring in more connectivity through fitness tracking wristbands and our phones and tablets, and take it along when we get into the driving computers that are our cars. We explore the connected home—how it can be designed, how we can engage with it and control it, how we can live with it and still have agency over our data. Co-authored with Michelle Thorne. Learn more.

Much of our client work is confidential, however we share most our own research publicly.

 

CLIENT SERVICES

Strategy

As a boutique strategy, research & foresight company we help guide our clients’ strategy regarding business, product, and research. With a focus on #IoT, emerging tech & innovation, we help organizations excel in an environment shaped by connectedness, uncertainty and rapid change.

We bring in the knowledge and insights of extensive experience and a global network of experts. We’re not afraid to ask tough questions to fully grasp the context of your work. We help you navigate uncharted waters, reduce risks, and identify opportunities for growth, new markets and innovation.

Think of it as future proofing. Let’s discuss how I can help you.

Research & Foresight

To lead and advance the field, you need to look ahead and understand what’s on the horizon—and what’s possible. In future-facing areas like emerging tech, quantitative data doesn’t cut it: We provide—and help you apply—foresight & research so you stay ahead of the curve.

Think of a guide who accompanies you on your journey, draws maps as needed, helps you read and interpret the environment, and shows you the best path forward. All this can be delivered conveniently through a report or presentation, or in an ongoing conversation. You’ll see an outsized positive impact by the time your competition only just starts to get underway to catch up. This research is informed by, and feeds back into, our own research, events, publications, and extensive experience. Our perspective, like our network of experts and partners, is global. We always have our bags packed.

Recent project examples

  1. For a foundation: Research & strategic advice regarding potentials & challenges of a trustmark for IoT
  2. For a federal government: Research & policy recommendations around the political, social and technological implications of “smart cities”
  3. For a global tech company: IoT policy advisory and development

Here’s an overview of highlight projects over the last year. For current projects, scroll to the footer of this page or jump to /now.

Areas of engagement

Our work focuses mostly on impact and opportunities of (internet-related) technologies—on the technologies, business models, and policies that the internet enables or leverages in new and meaningful ways. Typical areas of engagement include:

  • Internet of Things (IoT) & connected products/services
  • Smart cities, connected mobility & connected homes
  • Digital transformation  & open innovation practices
  • Responsible IoT and empowering technology

 

IN-HOUSE PROJECTS

Publications & Products

We frequently launch our own projects—usually in close collaboration with external partners—which then turn into publications or products: Consider it our in-house R&D lab and incubator.

Ebooks & reports

 

Magazines

 

Special projects

Emerging tech events

We seek to advance the field and spread knowledge & insights broadly. That is why, in addition to our publications & products, we launched a number conferences for pioneer communities.

Among others, I co-founded and chaired the conferences ThingsCon (IoT), UIKonf (iOS development), Cognitive Cities (smart cities), and atoms&bits (maker movement); co-directed NEXT Conference 2012-15; and served as co-chair for Interaction16.

These events always inform our research and help us build out our network. Sometimes, they unfold into something much larger and take on a life of their own, like the global ThingsCon community, a global community of IoT practitioners with deep expertise committed to foster the creation of a responsible & human-centric Internet of Things (IoT).

 

 

Work with us

I contribute most value in long-term collaborations, with a high degree of autonomy, and in projects of an exploratory nature. Usually my role is that of an advisor, consultant, or sparring partner, and I’m happy to bring in a team to deliver. This kind of work is both highly networked and varied, and it yields a range of outputs or services. Please take the services listed here as a starting point for a conversation rather than a fixed set of offerings.

Let’s have a chat and see what opportunities we can find to work together. Get in touch.

Get in touch!

 

Output

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Everything at a glance.

WORK WITH ME

Projects range from project-based to year-long engagements, from workshop to written reports: Depending on clients’ context and needs areas of engagement include research, strategy, product/service, digital transformation, and open innovation.

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PRODUCTS

REPORTS

BOOKS

SPECIAL PROJECTS

Research, products, spin-offs. Our in-house lab. The fun stuff!

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The Waving Cat GmbH turns 3

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The company just turned 3. Happy birthday!

As every founder knows, the early years of a company can be intense and the outcomes are often unclear at the outset. Yet, I’m happy to report it’s been three pretty darn great years. And productive, too!

Anniversaries are always a great opportunity to take a look back, like on the company’s first and second anniversary. And an even better opportunity to look ahead. So let’s do both, shall we? (more…)

Top Projects of 2016

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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.

Dearsouvenir

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.

Thanks and Happy Holidays: That was 2016

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This is end-of-year post #9 (all prior ones here).

So what happened in 2016? Let’s have a look back: Part work, part personal. Enjoy.

I’m not going to lie: Globally and politically, 2016 was a messy year: Not cool. Political institutions and alliances have been crumbling, there’s been upheaval around the world, and populists have gained ground. I don’t see any big utopian visions, and any larger narratives with a positive angle. Yet, we need shared visions and utopian models more than ever. Also, this isn’t a time to stay quiet, or passive. We’re all needed to make sense of the world, and to improve it in the ways we can.

That said, for me it was personally a very good, interesting, engaged year. I learned a lot, met plenty of old & new friends, got to see many fantastic and fascinating places. Things were happening, lots of them, continuously. Looking back at it now it was a crazy-productive year. (So much so that I had to go through my monthnotes not to forget anything.)

(more…)