Kevin Ashton

Inventor of the "Internet of Things"
Creator of the WeMo home automation platform
Co-Founder & CEO of leading clean-tech startup Zensi

Clean technology and accelerating innovation.

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Biography

Kevin Ashton is a visionary technologist and an expert in digital transformation. He coined the term "the Internet of Things." The European Commission, the Chinese government, and the US National Intelligence Council all describe the Internet of Things as one of the major technologies of the 21st Century. In in 2013, the term was added to the Oxford Dictionaries.

He is the author of the How To Fly A Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery, which was described by the Toronto Post as "the last book about creativity you’ll ever need to read,” and named 2015 800-CEO-READ Business Book of the Year. His writing about innovation and technology has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Politico, and Quartz.

He co-founded the Auto-ID Center at MIT and took it from a converted broom closet to a global organization with six labs around the world, 103 corporate sponsors, and over a hundred researchers.

And he has led three highly successful tech start-ups, most recently Zensi, which he co-founded and sold to Belkin in 2010.

As a result, Kevin has a unique, real-world perspective on what it takes to build organizations that are innovative and how to be an innovator in organizations that aren't.

He has been called “the father of the Internet of Things” by Newsweek; "a modern-day Johnny Appleseed" by Wired and "a man who will change the world" by RFID Journal. He makes the complicated clear and simple using compelling, engaging true stories and case studies; always makes his audience laugh; and is always willing to tailor his lively, practical lectures to the specific needs of his audience.

Books

How to Fly a Horse

The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery

Kevin Ashton

2015 800-CEO-READ Business Book of the Year Award — 800-CEO-Read
5 new books to read in 2015Fortune
15 of The Best Business Books Coming Out in 2015Business Insider

Inspiring and empowering, this journey behind the scenes of humanity's greatest creations reveals the surprising way we make something new.

What do Thomas Jefferson's ice cream recipe, Coca Cola, and Chanel No. 5 have in common? They all depended on a nineteenth-century African boy who, with a single pinch, solved one of nature's great riddles and gave birth to the multimillion-dollar vanilla industry. Kevin Ashton opens his book with the fascinating story of the young slave who launched a flavor revolution to show that invention and creation come in unexpected shapes and sizes. From the crystallographer's laboratory where the secrets of DNA were first revealed by a long-forgotten woman, to the electromagnetic chamber where the stealth bomber was born on a 25-cent bet, Ashton weaves tales of humanity's greatest creations to unpack the surprising true process of discovery. Drawing on the Amish and the iPhone, Kandinsky and cans of Coke, Lockheed, South Park, and the Wright brothers — who set out to "fly a horse" — he showcases the seemingly unremarkable individuals, gradual steps, multiple failures, and countless ordinary — and usually uncredited — acts that led to our most astounding breakthroughs. Creators, he shows, apply everyday, ordinary thinking that we are all capable of in particular ways, taking thousands of small steps, working in an endless loop of problem and solution. He explores why innovators meet resistance and how they overcome it, why most organizations stifle creative people, and how the most creative organizations work. In a passionate and profound narrative that amazes and inspires, Ashton's book sheds new light on how "new" comes to be.

Anchor (September 15, 2015)
Doubleday (January 20, 2015)

Excerpt

How To Commit To A Creative Life

Audio Interviews

Creativity isn't magicCBC The Spark
Horse PlayBBC Global Business Radio

Articles

Top business books to read in 2015The Telegraph
12 Books Every Business Owner Should Read In 2015 — LovinTrends

Summary

How to Fly a Horse — Actionable Books

Praise

"How to Fly a Horse solves the mysteries of invention. Kevin Ashton, the innovator who coined the 'internet of things,' shows that creativity is more often the results of ordinary steps than extraordinary leaps. With engrossing stories, provocative studies, and lucid writing, this book is not to be missed."
— Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take

"Beautifully written, Ashton¹s exploration of creativity explodes so many myths and opens so many doors that readers, like me, will be left reeling with possibilities. We can all create, we can all innovate."
— Larry Downes, New York Times bestselling author of Unleashing the Killer App

"Ashton gleefully demolishes the 'mystery' of innovation and delivers a vision that is at once optimistic and immensely practical. Creativity is not the exclusive domain of brainiac elites; it is what defines us as humans. This book will forever change how you think about innovation and will make you a better, more creative innovator."
— Paul Saffo, Futures Studies & Forecasting Chair, Singularity University

"Kevin Ashton has built and sold startups, launched game-changing innovations inside big companies, and shaped our understanding of the Internet of Things. But this may be his greatest achievement yet‹one of the most creative books on creativity I have ever read, a genuinely inspiring journey through the worlds of art, science, business and culture that will forever change how you think about where new ideas come from."
— William C. Taylor, Founding Editor, Fast Company, Author, Practically Radical

"If you have ever wondered what it takes to create something, read this inspiring and insightful book. Using examples ranging from Mozart to the Muppets, Kevin Ashton shows how to tap the creative abilities that lurk in us all. There are no secrets, no shortcuts; just ordinary steps we can all take to bring something new into the world. Ashton¹s message is direct and hopeful: creativity isn¹t just for geniuses ­ it¹s for everybody."
— Joseph T. Hallinan, author of Why We Make Mistakes

"How to Fly a Horse gallops past dozens of fascinating stories and experiments on the way to presenting a radical new answer to the question of where creative ideas begin. If you¹ve ever struggled to produce new ideas while imagining that to some lucky people they come easily, you must read this book."
— Adam Alter, Associate Professor of Marketing and Psychology at New York University, and bestselling author of Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave

"Kevin Ashton's new book "How to Fly a Horse" is all about the creative sorcery and motivational magic necessary to make impossible things happen in teams or as individuals. Through numerous examples of creative genius ranging from Einstein to the creators of South Park to the invention of jet planes and concertos, Ashton reveals the secrets of the great scientists, artists, and industrialists of the last few centuries."
— John Maeda, author of Laws of Simplicity, Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Topics

Kevin tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

The Internet of Things

Digital Transformation

The Future

Big Data

Leadership

Innovation

Creativity

Energy and Clean Technology

Supply Chain

Videos

Conferencia Magistral de Kevin Ashton | Instituto Nacional del Emprendedor

Listen in the left earbud and you'll hear Kevin in English. Listen in the right earbud and you'll hear the Spanish translation.

What the Internet of Things Means For You

Communicators with Kevin Ashton | C-Span

Future Is Here

Creative Evolution | The Agenda with Steve Paikin

What is the Internet of Things?

Feedback

A trade association of technology and business processes industry:
Kevin was rocking and brilliant!

A corporate event planning company:
Kevin did an amazing job at the conference — his presentation was said to have been one of the best (if not the best) presentation given throughout the week.

An information systems training institute:

  • Mr. Ashton is a truly dynamic speaker, not to mention an innovator at the crux of a revolutionary technology. Truly the best keynote thus far. Thanks for introducing Mr. Ashton and his work to us!
  • Lively speaker. Good overall presentation. Very educational.
  • Great to have the RFID founder - always good to hear the story from the 'horse's mouth'!
  • Very interesting! Great eye-opening presentation.
  • I liked his jokes.

A major broadband cable company:
Kevin Ashton's presentation on fostering innovation among front-line employees was the most engaging, direct, and compelling discussion of this topic that I have ever seen. We are looking now at how to put his recommendations into action in our organization.

Articles

— Internet of Things Institute
— Livemint
— Mountain Express
— PYMNTS.com
— The Kernel Magazine
— IoT Hub
— C|Net
— The Irish Times
— Poitico
— Financial Times
— Newsweek
— 800CEOread
— Inovação
— The Newsroom
— Accenture
— RFID Journal
— The New York Times
— Marketing Magazine
— Telefonica
— The Legacy Project
— Medium
— National Geographic
— Quartz
— Big Think
— Medium
— Medium
— Quartz
— All Things D
— Gigaom
— MIT Technology Review