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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Internet of Things Institute's Top IoT Authority on Twitter
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.


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)


How To Commit To A Creative Life

Audio Interviews

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


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


How to Fly a Horse — Actionable Books


"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


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.

Digital Transformation: How To Thrive and Survive in the New Digital Economy

Digitization — the use of internet-based electronic information in all markets and economies — has become a profoundly disruptive force for every business, government, and economy. Every company is now a “dot-com,” every tool is now an app, all commerce is now e-commerce. As the man who conceived of the “Internet of Things,” a former executive director at MIT, a leader of four successful tech startups, and a award-winning author, Kevin is uniquely placed to understand both the big picture of digital transformation, and the executional details needed to succeed in this new world. In this compelling, case study-led talk, he asks and answers the following questions: How do businesses adapt to this change, even if they have not traditionally thought of themselves as “digital"? What are the risks, the opportunities, the threats of digitization? How can business leaders create an insightful digital vision for their company, and having developed it, how can they execute it successfully without losing sight of their customers and core values, and while keeping their employees, investors, and other stakeholders supportive? It’s an inspiring, and deeply practical, keynote that can be customized for any industry sector, and that can also be followed by a separate, more interactive workshop where Kevin leads executives through the steps needed to envision their own success in the digital future.

The Future of the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is the new era of computing, already worth tens billions of dollars, soon to be worth trillions of dollars. It is a topic of fascination, controversy, and sometimes controversy worldwide. As the person who coined the term, and one of the founders of the field, Kevin is widely regarded as the world’s leading authority on the subject. In this talk he explains exactly what the Internet of Things is and why it is so important, discusses case studies of current successes from around the world, and describes what to expect in the immediate future. It’s an insightful, inspiring story grounded in the realities of modern business and technology that leaves audiences feeling informed and motivated about to use or develop Internet of Things technologies.

How To Fly A Horse: The Secrets of Creating, Inventing, and Discovering

Kevin’s book “How to Fly a Horse” has been described as “the most creative book about creativity” and "a book that will leave a positive, lasting impact on the life of a lone creative striver, on the thinking of the most traditional business practitioner, and on everyone in-between.” This is the talk based on the book. Kevin uses thoroughly researched, and often previous untold, true stories of creations and creators to show how creative behavior in science, technology, arts, engineering, and business all follow similar — and unexpected — patterns, before drawing practical conclusions that are valuable to individuals and organizations alike. It’s a validating talk that helps audiences better understand their own experiences of creating, and leaves them feeling empowered and inspired to go and make new things.

The Beautiful Future: What to Expect in the 21st Century

Kevin’s forthcoming book, “The Beautiful Future,” makes nine concrete predictions about amazing, positive things that will happen between now and 2099. At at time of growing pessimism about progress in almost all areas of life, he shows why hope and optimism are not only justified — they are rational, high probability responses. He describes some of the technologies being invented now, shows where they will lead us and how they will change society for the better, and uses examples and case studies from human history to demonstrate why the predictions are plausible, and perhaps even inevitable. This is an invigorating talk that leaves audience feeling positive, hopeful, and energized to be playing a part in what will likely be one of the most transformational, exciting eras of human history.

Custom Talks Focused On Technology and Innovation In Specific Industries and / or Nations

Kevin’s broad experience in technology and business around the world, coupled with the deep research skills he demonstrates as an author and journalist, means he can create compelling, insightful custom talks tailored for almost any industry and / or nation. If you really need a powerful, marquee-name keynote speaker to deliver a talk focused on your industry, region, or theme, he excels at creating a powerful, one-of-a-kind presentations to give your audience a fresh, outside, expert perspective on their business or local area.


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?


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.


— The Telegraph
— ZDNet
— Internet of Things Institute
— Livemint
— Mountain Express
— 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