Sensors: Where Do We Need Them The Most?


LinkedIn has an app that allows you to create a quick one question poll.

I am inviting you to participate in an unofficial poll I set up by going to  The poll takes less than a minute.  It asks you for your opinion on where you feel we need to focus the application of sensors to help make our physical infrastructure more intelligent. 

Sensors are becoming a key part of our physical infrastructure.  We can now embed sensors in physical things, like cars, appliances, medical equipment, cameras, roadways, pipelines, pharmaceuticals or livestock.  We can measure entire ecosystems – whole supply chains, business processes, cities, bridges, buildings, even natural systems like forests and rivers.  With sensors, we will be able to gather huge amounts of real-time information about the state of the world.

So, I have set up a LinkedIn poll to get your feedback.  I am asking you to answer the question:  Where do we need sensors and the related data analytics applied the most? 

Thanks for participating.  Those that answer the question can see the results.

Friday Gadget – Layar’s Mobile Augmented Reality Browser

Layar is an Android-based, augmented reality browser from SPRXMobile based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.   Check out the following video.

The Layar Reality Browser displays real time digital information on top of reality in the camera screen of the mobile phone.  Users can pan their cell phone cameras around and see nearby buildings and spaces tagged with information from the web. While looking through the phone’s camera lens, a user can see houses for sale, popular bars and shops, tourist information of the area, play a live game, etc.. 

Layar currently is only available in the Netherlands.  SPRXMobile plans to bring the browser to international markets and develop an iPhone application as well.  The company is based in Amsterdam.

The Layar platform serves as an enabler for mobile location services – any database with geo-location information can easily be turned in a content layer.

Saugatuck’s Latest Report on SaaS

image Saugatuck has released a new report “An Endless Cycle of Innovation: Saugatuck SaaS Scenarios Through 2014”.  This is the result of the fourth annual research program into SaaS by Saugatuck, which says that Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a disruptive trend that is changing the fundamentals of business for both the user companies and for SaaS providers themselves.  

According to Saugatuck, the disruption apparently happens as part of a “multi-year “loop” cycle that reciprocates between users and providers, with each side influencing the other in unforeseen ways”.    Saugatuck says that many companies end up mismanaging SaaS implementations and this prevents those companies from being able to derive real competitive advantage from SaaS.   Likewise, many SaaS providers are not taking advantage of the global market for their solutions because they are tied into these ‘multi-year loops’.

The report released by Saugatuck attempts to understand how users, providers and ISVs interact during these multi-year loops through exploring a number of different scenarios. 

Here are some interesting highlights from the research that were provided via the press release

    • Despite impressive investments in SaaS development and adoption in different parts of the world, SaaS (and Cloud Computing) will not become the primary IT standard and practice by YE 2012.  SaaS will instead be primarily an important “agent of change” through this time period.  By YE 2014, however, SaaS (and Cloud Computing) will become integral to infrastructure, business systems, operations and development within all aspects of user firms, with variations in status and roles based on region and business culture.
    • Many traditional ISVs will be paralyzed by “strategic uncertainty” regarding SaaS and other software business models through YE 2012, opening more doors for more SaaS providers.  At the same time, the global economic situation will severely thin the ranks of existing, early-stage SaaS start-ups (especially those that are not cash-flow positive).
    • While few users will “swap out” existing core legacy applications and systems with SaaS solutions through YE 2012 – except in highly commoditized market and customer segments – SaaS solutions will become the de facto choice for the majority of user organizations that are replacing legacy applications or business systems as they reach the end of their useful lives, or when driven by other important business considerations (e.g., M&A activity).

There’s no question that SaaS is undergoing a fundamental shift in how software is acquired, used and paid for.  It is a very disruptive trend that will certainly continue, especially as the shift towards cloud computing.

This report is based off a web survey including 1,788 qualified user enterprise executives; interviews with 30 user enterprise executives with SaaS experience; and briefings with 25 SaaS vendors/providers.

The report is now available for purchase and downloading via Saugatuck’s web site.

Study On Social Media Use By Fortune 100 Companies

PATT2060An interesting study released from an analysis by Burson-Marsteller and Proof Digital of the Fortune 100's use of Key Social Media Channels, including Twitter, Facebook Fan Pages and Blogs. 

The results of the study shows that Twitter surpassed blogging here in 2009 as the social media platform of choice – at least among the Fortune 100.   The study looked at the top 100 companies in terms of revenue as compiled by Fortune Magazine's annual Fortune 500 to understand how active those compa nies were on three key social media: Twitter, Facebook and Blogs.  .

Some highlights from the study include

  • 54% of the Fortune 100 were using Twitter to reach out directly to stakeholders, 32% were using a blogs, and 29% were actively using a Facebook Fan Page to engage.  
  • 21% of companies are using only one of the three surveyed social media channels, and of those companies, 76% are using Twitter over Facebook and Blogs.
  • 40% of companies are not using any social media channels, while 21% are using two channels, and 17% are using all three.
  • 94% of Fortune 100 Twitter accounts distribute company news updates and announcements while fully 67% are at least partially serving a customer service function.
  • Reasons companies use the three social media sites differs.
    • Twitter is most often used for news and announcements (94%), customer service (67%), promotions and deals (57%), and job postings (11%).
    • Facebook fan pages are more consumer focused, with promotions, product information, and philanthropy and community service announcements.
    • Blog content falls into categories of current projects, external initiatives, and community involvement.

For more information, see this post on Burson-Marteller’s site.  And there’s a pdf file available on Slideshare of the report findings:  “Social Media Use by Fortune 100 Companies”.  

Friday Gadget: i-Real Personal Mobility Device

toyota-irealToyota has been experimenting with Personal Mobility devices for some time (i-unit and i-swing concepts).  Their latest prototype is called i-REAL.  It is a personal mobility vehicle which uses three wheels (two at the front and one at the back).  The ‘driver’ sits in a chair when operating the i-Real.

It operates in both low-speed and high-speed modes.  When operating in low-speed mode, it shortens its wheelbase to allow it to move naturally among pedestrians (and at a similar eyesight height) without taking up a large amount of sidewalk space.  In high-speed mode, the wheelbase lengthens to provide a lower center of gravity and better driving performance.  The i-Real is like a three-wheeler Segway and hits 20mph.

Watch the 4 minute video from BBC here.  Interesting part of demo starts about 2 minutes into the video.

Toyota says the i-REAL ensures safe handling [both to the driver and those around the vehicle] by employing perimeter monitoring sensors to detect whenever a collision with a person or object is imminent.  It alerts the driver through noise and vibrations and alerts people around it of its movements through the use of light and sound.   The i-Real concept car is designed to communicate with other i-Reals, allowing you to find and navigate to them on command.

Update: Final Days Of The $50k ITS Congestion Challenge

A couple of months ago, I posted 50k ITS Congestion Challenge which provided an overview of the current ITS Congestion Challenge.

To review…on June 1, 2009, The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), in partnership with IBM and Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations (STCI), has launched a global challenge to identify innovative ideas for combating transportation congestion.

Here’s a quick update on what has happened since.  More than 5000 community members have participated with the nomination of nearly 100 solutions.  The team judging the entries have narrowed the list down to 9 solutions, with the final winner to be identified on August 31.  

You still have time to participate in the discussion and voting.  You need to register at  It takes less than a minute.

Of the nine left, here’s five that I feel rise to the top.  

Skymeter Corp  Skymeter: provides smart meters for cars and trucks that produce data needed to migrate roads and parking from taxpayer-subsidized to pay-per-use.  The results can be fantastic…cutting city-wide emissions by 15%, traffic by 30% and enabling better mobility. 

Precyse Tech.  Precyse:  develops, manufactures and markets wireless-based systems for locating, identifying, monitoring and communicating with physical assets.  In this case, it’s vehicles …and the data coming back from those vehicles can help solve traffic congestion.

Intellione.comIntellione:  solution that uses mobile handsets as traffic probes in order to deliver data to solve traffic congestion.   Watch the video here:

iCone Products ICone:   solution that can mark and monitor highway work-zones so easily and so affordably that the conditions at every work-zone can be known to the traveling public. 

GCDC  Grand Cooperative Driving Challenge (GCDC):  Competition that demonstrates what cooperative driving technologies can do to reduce the incidence of traffic jams, minimize CO2 emissions and prevent accidents on the road, based on state-of-the-art technology.


For more on these solutions and to vote for them…go to, register, then VOTE"!  It takes a few minutes, but will help us all make progress in the search for traffic congestion solutions.

How Electric Utility Companies Are Adapting to Climate Change

I caught some news that the IBM Electric Utilities team is having a web-launch of an IBM sponsored report that reveals how electric utility companies around the world are adapting to climate change, based on their responses to the Carbon Disclosure Project 2008 questionnaire.   Sounds like an interesting report.  Find out how to attend the web-launch below.

The launch event explores the actions taken by electric utilities to assess and manage the risks brought about by climate change, whilst also identifying the opportunities that a changing climate will have on their business models.   It analyzes the current energy challenges, specific drivers for adaptation and provides senior executive level guidance on the actions needed to adapt and build business resilience to the impacts of climate change.   The report also recognizes that adaptation is an increasingly critical issue for governments, regulators, investors and the financial markets.

This unique event will also give the audience an opportunity to ask key questions to our expert panel. The report will address:

  • The Energy Revolution: this century will see unprecedented urbanization and intense competition for scarce resources, driven by population growth and economic development. A changing climate will exacerbate these challenges.
  • These climate impacts add up to significant changes in the demand for electricity against a backdrop of supply challenges, ageing assets, new technology, prescriptive regulation and impacts on asset performance and efficiency.
  • What will a successful electricity company of the future look like? Companies need to act upon the clear signals that climate change is already underway.
  • Consumer preferences and needs will also change; markets will open up in new locations and for new products and services. Those businesses that do not react fast enough will lose out to their competitors, whilst those that recognize the opportunities will gain competitive advantage and become electricity sector leaders.

As each year goes by and action is delayed, the direct and indirect costs arising from changing climatic conditions will increase, threatening the sustainability of those companies that are slow to react.

: At the launch event, the authors of the report will highlight the key points from the report and in the final session will form a panel to take questions from the audience.

  • Welcome address – Graham Butler, Executive Partner, Energy and Utilities Industry Leader, IBM UKISA
  • CDP context – James Howard, Project Director, The Carbon Disclosure Project
  • Introduction to the report – Michael Valocchi, Partner, Global Energy & Utilities Industry Leader, IBM
  • Building business resilience – John Firth, Chief Executive Officer, Acclimatise
  • IBM viewpoint – Graham Butler
  • Question and Answer session – Panel

TO REGISTER :  You can register to attend the launch by clicking at this link
Those not attending should register to access the replay easily.

Friday Gadget: Disaster Relief Quadcopter Robot

Earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones — disasters like these make a normally natural environment hard to navigate and dangerous for human search-and-rescue teams.

However, there is a growing number of robot rescue devices being created to help those search-and-rescu teams.

For example, a team of researchers led by Professor Andreas Mitschele at Germany’s Ilmenau University of Technology are developing flying quadcopter (an aircraft that is lifted and propelled by four rotors) robots that can be used to form an ad-hoc wireless network during the post disaster time when communications are critical.  

Built with off-the-shelf parts (including VIA’s Pico-ITX hardware and a GPS unit) the robots are designed to provide both mobile phone and WiFi access.   Since the robots can be deployed quickly, a network can be established far more quickly than a technician on the ground might be able to.   The robots are dropped off at a disaster area, take off, create a self-organizing mesh network, and locate landing spots to afford maximum coverage.   The current prototype robot has only a 20 minute flying time but can power the communications gear much longer after landing.

For more info see the research poster (pdf file) or the video of the Quadrocopter robot (mp4)

Two Days Left To Enter The Intelligent Use Of Water Competition

Passionate about water conservation and water management issues?AG035

This competition is seeking short films (narrative, documentary, animated, experimental and/or student-made films between 1 and 10 minutes in length) that creatively explore methods and ideas to responsibly manage and use e arth’s most precious resource.

Films submitted by August 15, 2009 will be reviewed by a judging panel of film and water management experts.  Finalists will win a trip to Los Angeles, where they will be guests at a formal screening and awards show hosted at The Getty Center on September 23, 2009.

Check out the website for more information!

The Boom In Niche Social Networks

There appears to be a growing trend in the social networking industry. Marketers appear to be targeting site’s with smaller, niche memberships more so now than ever before.  051

According to eMarketer, during 2008 advertisers spent $920M on advertising within social networks.  Of that $920M, eMarketer says 8.2 percent went to niche social networks.  In 2009, this year it is estimated that spending will increase to $2.1 billion, and the take for smaller networks will rise to 10%.

To me this trend towards niche social networks mirrors the explosion in niche magazines that we saw the last 20-30 years.  You can buy magazines on almost any type of topic today and the reason you can is that advertisers like to be able to reach very unique targeted market segments.

My thought is that if you wanted to sell a $250,000 Rolex watch instead of advertising on a general Facebook page, it would probably be better to advertise on a social networking site like  ASmallWorld.  ASmallWorld is a niche social network with a membership of around 300,000 wealthy individuals.

Here’s some examples of niche social networks.

  • 85 Broads  -  Career women who attended a select list of leading universities
  • ArtBreak  – artist community for sharing and selling artwork.
  • ASmallWorld – By invitation only, for celebrities and the business elite
  • BeGreen – a community that aims to generate environmental awareness for users.
  • beRecruited – a dedicated online community for sportpersons and coaches.
  • Blackplanet – connections between African Americans
  • BottleTalk –  a wine lover’s community
  • Blogtronix – promotes corporate social networking, enterprise 2.0 and wikis.
  • CafeMom – networking site for mothers
  • CarGurus – An automobile community website
  • Change – a nonprofit social networking website
  • ChangingThePresent – A nonprofit fund raising community
  • CompanyLoop – An online co-working community for global businesses.
  • Decorati – An interior designer community enabling users to post items for sale and for exchange.
  • Dogster   For dog lovers everywhere
  • DoMyStuff – for working professionals looking to find online assistants.
  • Doostang – An invite only career community for professionals.
  • Fast Pitch – for entrepreneurs who want to market their business.
  • Gaia  For the socially conscious crowd
  •   For the gay and lesbian community
  • iKarma Inc. – providing customer feedback for organizations and professionals.
  • ImageKind – for professional artists.
  • Jambo – connect with your neighborhood friends.
  • Lawyrs – A professional social networking community for lawyers.
  • – for professionals in content or creative industry.
  • MilitaryPlanet  – For members of the military
  • MyCatSpace – for lovers of cats
  • MyDogSpace – for lovers of dogs
  • New England Venture Network— Social networking for venture capitalists
  • – connects business travelers assisting them to travel together.
  • Shelfari – A site for book lovers and authors
  • ShoutLife – A Christian social network
  • Uniteddogs – Another side for dog owners.
  • Ultrafan  For sports fans
  • vSocial – a video based social networking platform

This is just a sample.  The environment is like the Wild West where these networks are popping up everywhere.  Some will stick, others will fail.  The ones that stick could eventually be winners in grabbing future niche advertising dollars.  As I mentioned above, if I was a niche magazine publisher today, I would be building and promoting a social networking platform for the readers of my magazine.

Thoughts on Water Management

Though it's a worldwide entity, water is treated as a regional issue.  There is no global market and very little international  exchange.

Addressing environmental challenges will require public-private partnerships.  Consider water, a poorly understood and often wasted and mismanaged resource.  Our global agriculture system wastes an estimated 60% of the 2,500 trillion liters it uses each year. Municipalities lose as much as 50% of their water supply through leaky infrastructure.  And there are nearly 53,000 different water agencies in the U.S. alone, each managing a short stretch of river or a handful of reservoirs.  Despite the fact that water is a shared resource, there’s no coordination of data among these agencies and no holistic view of the entire water ecosystem, or its impact of human activity.  – Source:  Thoughts on Water Management from the Western Governor’s Association.WLDRN069

Water flows through everything – from the air, the land and our own bodies to the global economy.  In fact, every time a good or service is bought or sold, there is a virtual exchange of water.  It takes 700 gallons of water to make a cotton T-shirt; 2,000 gallons to make one gallon of milk; and 10,500 gallons to make a car.  Though the total amount of water on this planet has never changed, the nature of that water is changing.  Everything from where rain falls to the chemical makeup of the oceans is in flux.   And these changes are forcing us to ask some very difficult questions about how and where we live and do business.

As water management issues continue to mount and costs continue to increase, information technology and collaborative innovation will play an instrumental role helping communities, businesses, and governments deal with the tremendous complexity ahead. The combination of volumes of data, the need for mining across different and new data types and the demand for real-time responses requires a new kind of water management intelligence and models that encompasses scalable, statistical algorithms, and massively parallel approaches.

Some links for those of you interested in water management