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Last week I had an opportunity to participate in a first of its kind conference in Israel, organized by Nir Kouris and his team and hosted by LeumiTech and JVP at their cozy Zappa Jerusalem in the Lab venue. It’s not a first time Nir is putting together a kickass event and bringing a top notch speaker to Israel. Last year Nir organized tech blogging legend Robert Scoble’s visit to our neck of the woods to talk about ‘Age of Context’ and this week Nir brought Ralph Osterhout (the guy behind James Bond gadgets) to tell us about the latest in the Internet of Things and why it matters.

Nir Kouris at the ISmart (Photo credit: Nir Kouris)

Nir Kouris at the ISmart (Photo credit: Nir Kouris)

Different speakers gave their own interpretations of what IoT is and how it will improve our lives via data that is aggregated and analyzed by things all around us. Things, that already can collect and process information at rates unparalleled by a human capacity. While some were talking about the hardware and software that makes up IoT, Cisco unites all that in what it calls IoE — Internet of Everything. Judging by Cisco’s commitment to IoT or IoE, or any other way you want to call next generation of Internet, it is here to stay.

Uri Adoni of JVP shared a staggering number — 5EB, that is five exabytes (1 followed by 18 zeros). Just to give you a bit of perspective, when I was growing up computer memory was measured in kilobytes and megabytes. Gigabytes came fast and were considered something astronomical in the late 90’s. Now in 2015 most of us use storage both on local hard drives and in the cloud to the tune of a terabyte. Adding three zeros to a terabyte we get a petabyte and only than do we get to an exabyte. This number represents all of the words ever spoken from the beginning of time and until now.

Going just three years into the future and by 2018 it is projected that a monthly global mobile traffic will surpass 15 exabytes and IoT will play a big role in it.

Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat (Photo credit: David Sigal)

Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat (Photo credit: David Sigal)

One of the speakers at the event was mayor of Jerusalem — Nir Barkat. He was talking about how Jerusalem is transforming into a smart and competitive city with a lot to offer. The numbers speak for themselves: in 2012 there were just a dozen of startups in town, followed by about 40 in 2013, 100+ new startups funded in 2014 and a total amount of startups in the city is now over 400. And that doesn’t even mention the biggest exit in Israeli history to date — Mobileye.

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Talking about the mayor of Jerusalem it is hard not to mention how Nir Barkat just two days ago heroically subdued an Arab terrorist. This event has blown up Israeli Internet prompting a series of memes, including the one below by yours truly.

Nir-Barkat

Nir Barkat – the dragon slayer

Back to the conference, where we learned about challenges and opportunities that lay ahead in the global acceptance and ubiquity of IoT, its role in our everyday lives as private people, at work and smart cities, with examples from the likes of Barcelona, Hamburg and San Francisco.

VC Panel Discussion Photo credit: Maxim Golovanov

VC Panel Discussion Photo credit: Maxim Golovanov

A VC panel with representatives of such global powerhouses, like: Qualcomm, Cisco and Intel have discussed what they look for when making investments in IoT related startups. They also gave advice for new entrepreneurs eager to enter this field on what to look for and what to avoid (i.e. not competing with the big guys, aka “dance with the elephants”). The best advice was given by one of the panelists — Gal Kalkshtein, who said the following:

A kid in the candy shop.

A kid in the candy shop.

The VC panel was followed by Bezalel’s Students Competition and a showcase of exciting Israeli IoT companies, with projects ranging from: giving us real-time control over our utility bills, to a smart luggage, that follows us wherever we go. Add a lot of networking, showcase of smart cars, smart drones, Oculus Rift and you have one hell of a fun event. Thanks again to all of the organizers. The future looks bright and exciting, let’s see how it unfolds.