Bug Labs CEO, Peter Semmelhack, Writes New Book, "Social Machines: How to Develop Connected Products that Change Customers’ Lives"

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Semmelhack argues that “social” has become a compelling new business model for a wealth of products, and he teaches readers how they too can follow in the footsteps of forward-thinking companies like Nike, Ford, Proctor and Gamble, and dozens of startups to take advantage of this smart movement.

Social Machines

Social Machines book cover

There is no doubt that companies such as Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized social interaction. With a few clicks, one can reach entire social networks to communicate, convey ideas, market products, and more. But why stop there? What can we accomplish if we expand this scope beyond the limited realm of social interaction and apply it to other areas of our lives?

In Social Machines: How to Develop Connected Products that Change Customers’ Lives (Wiley; $29.95; April 2013, 978-1-118-47168-5) author Peter Semmelhack, founder and CEO of award-winning web services platform Bug Labs, revolutionizes the way we think about social media. Semmelhack argues that “social” has become a compelling new business model for a wealth of products, and he teaches readers how they too can follow in the footsteps of forward-thinking companies like Nike, Ford, Proctor and Gamble, and dozens of startups to take advantage of this smart movement.

Social Machines demonstrates that once we look at products as potential social networkers themselves, the opportunities are endless. Indeed, some companies are already ahead of the curve: Nike+ has shoe sensors that send data to your smartphone app, turning from a product into a record-keeper, fitness guru, and motivator. A Dutch start-up uses wireless sensors on cattle that inform farmers when their animals are sick or pregnant. With an estimated 50 billion products sharing data over the internet by 2020, it is likely that in less than a decade most forward-thinking companies will have embraced this innovative business model. But with Social Machines, readers will be able to modernize their businesses today.

The premise is simple, but the possibilities are infinite. With tiny, low-cost sensors, social machines can gather valuable data about customer behavior from nearly anything—cars, vending machines, smart phones, lawnmowers, hospital beds, and more. It may sound strange to think of everyday machines and appliances becoming part of a social network, but the functions they will serve—giving users vital information about their own needs—is invaluable for both the companies and the consumers. Users will appreciate having an effortless way to keep tabs on their products, appliances, or, in the case of Ford’s car seat blood-pressure monitors that can connect to WebMD, themselves. And as these machines communicate this valuable data over the internet, companies will be able to use this to reach new markets, improve brand and market awareness, and increase revenues. The book includes informative chapters such as:

  •     Why Social Networks Must Evolve
  •     Avatars and the Social Seven—Unique Characteristics of Social Machines
  •     Spheres of Use or Why Your New Product Will Do Things You Never Envisioned
  •     How to Build a Business Using Social Machines
  •     The Art of Social Pricing
  •     Design Requirements—What Does it Take to Design and Build a Social Machine?
  •     Build from Scratch or Retrofit?
  •     And more!

With an entire section of the book dedicated to tailored scenarios from a number of industries, including security, retail, transportation, finance, and health & wellness, Social Machines ensures that readers will find a situation suited to their organization—and that they’ll have all the tools they need to get their own social machine started.

About the Author:
Peter Semmelhack is the founder and CEO of Bug Labs, developer of an award-winning open source consumer electronics and web services platform – recently featured in the MoMA’s “Talk to Me” exhibit. As a founding member of the rapidly growing open hardware movement, Peter is a frequent speaker at events around the world. His work has been covered and discussed by the international media including The New York Times, The Economist, The Hindu, Fortune, CNN, Nikkei Business, and Forbes.

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Amy Packard
Wiley
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