The Internet of Things: The next computing platform

Note:  This post was originally written for and published on http://ibmcai.com/

Early phases of the Internet included connecting people to static information and more recently, people to people.   Over the next decade, the Internet will evolve to connect people to physical things and also physical things to other physical things …all in real time. It will become the Internet of Things:  Billions of interconnected smart devices measuring, moving, and acting upon, sometimes independently, all the bits of data that make up daily life.

Internet of Things network

So what really is the Internet of Things?   It is made up of physical objects (“things”) that have chips, sensors embedded in them that allow the sensing, capturing and communication of all types of data. These devices are then linked through both wired and wireless networks to the Internet.  Advanced  “things” have actuators embedded into them as well, giving them the capability to interact with other devices, computing systems and the external environment, including people.

If you look around you as you read this, you will see many physical objects that already have or could easily be embedded with a sensor in order to track some type of measurement or activity happening.  Forecasts for how many objects will be sensor-enabled in the next five years run into the tens of billions.  IDC has estimated that by 2020 there will be 30 billion internet-connected, sensor-enabled objects and another 182 billion that could easily be enabled.

IoT Infographic - 212 billion

Image source: IBM. Data source: IDC

The big game changer is that when all these physical objects can sense, analyze and interact on their own, it changes how and where decisions are made, and who makes them.  The important thing to remember though is the embedded device by itself is not the game changer….it’s the combination of the applications, the people, and the processes around the “things”.   The IT challenge is to design IoT-enabled systems and then help their teams learn how to leverage the information collected as a decision-making tool.

Internet of Things will impact business processes, change business models, and transform industries. It will also be big business.  According to new research from International Data Corporation (IDC), the worldwide market for IoT solutions will grow from $1.9 trillion in 2013 to $7.1 trillion in 2020.

What types of changes in processes will the Internet of Things enable?  Here are some examples:

  • Wearable healthcare devices can monitor a patient’s blood pressure, heart rate and other metrics and transmit that data to a doctor anywhere in the world.
  • Flow rates of water, oil and gas pipelines, no matter how remote, can be monitored and actions taken to reduce or cut off the flow.
  • A homeowner can view his house on a web page or smartphone app, complete with the status of interior devices such as the security alarm, heating system and more.
  • RFID tags on boxes of merchandise can track a box as it leaves the manufacturer and then all through the supply chain until purchased by the end user.
  • Sensors embedded into roads measure traffic congestion and report that information to not only city crews, but the whole population via the Internet.
  • Smart clothing, including a smart “onsie” for babies, is being developed.
  • Sensors are increasingly being used by farmers to monitor irrigation and livestock in their fields.
  • Thousands of video cameras are being deployed in large urban environments to monitor traffic and activity on city streets.

We can’t imagine the full potential of the Internet of Things today.   It will go beyond even these examples, not just people interacting with objects, but objects interacting with each other, creating what might eventually become something of a global central nervous system.

In future blog posts, I will explore other facets of the emerging Internet of Things trend, including the driving forces, the challenges that we must overcome, and the implications for business leaders and IT professionals

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Wearable Computing: 2014 HorizonWatching Trend Report

I’ve just published my trend report on the topic of Wearable Computing.  You can get a the PDF out on my HorizonWatching Slideshare account

About Wearables:

Wearable devices incorporate advanced electronic technologies that allow for activity tracking via sensors, wireless communications, and computing capability normally found in smartphones.

Based on all my research and reading…all signs point towards wearable computing  (wearables as they are becoming known) becoming the next big thing in consumer technology products. Fitness trackers are exploding on the market and there is a whole new categories wearables that are being launched as accessories to smartphones, including smartwatches and smartglasses.  And there are also emerging categories such as smartrings, wearable healthcare monitors, smartclothing, and heads-up displays.   And just like smartphones made their way into the enterprise, so will wearables.

The future of wearables looks bright as it  leverages the 3rd computing platform and is at the intersection of internet of things and mobile computing.  Wearable devices incorporate advanced electronic technologies that allow for activity tracking via sensors, wireless communications, and computing capability normally found in smartphones.  In the future, they will be able to communicate with other computers, mobile devices, wearables and ‘things’ in the Internet of Things.

15 Wearable Trends to Watch in 2014

  1. Fitness Trackers:  Enterprises will increasingly give trackers to employees as part of health and wellness programs. Overtime, trackers will experience increased competition from other wearables, including smart clothing.
  2. SmartWatches:  Expect more fashionable and functional watches to hit the market in 2014. Smartwatch developers must focus on cutting prices, adding more apps, and improving the look to attract broad consumer interest. The expected iWatch announcement from Apple might just do for watches what the iPhone did for mobile phones
  3. Smart Glasses:  Expect a number of announcements in 2014 within smart glasses, which has huge potential for any workforce that could benefit from access to hands free computing. Google isn’t the only game in town. Vuzix, GlassUp, Recon Instruments and Telepathy are ones to watch too.
  4. Smart Clothing:  Real, working smart clothing might be a bit further off, but it’s on its way. Smart Clothing like OMSignal, Hexoskin and Athos will lead the way.
  5. Fashion Required!!:  For consumer wearables to really take off, they must be fashionable. In 2014, look for leading device manufacturers to focus on the fashion and style of these devices.
  6. Healthcare Monitors:  Wearable technology is likely to significantly disrupt our healthcare model as we know it, helping doctors and patients keep track of real-time health data in ways never capable before.
  7. Enterprise Adoption:  In 2014 leading edge companies will begin to explore using wearables not only for employee wellness programs, but for other applications designed to improve worker productivity.
  8. New Business Processes:  As wearables enter the workforce, we will find new ways to use these devices to help us make better business decisions. Business process engineers will explore new ways to reengineer older business processes in order to do just that.
  9. Wearables Apps: New apps are required to integrate wearable data into business applications. As the user base grows for wearables, so too will the developer community which will bring some new and exciting use cases for wearables including some killer features that will justify their need.
  10. Big Data to get Bigger:  Wearables, a subset of Internet of Things, will produce even more data than we have now, taxing our already complex enterprise Information Management systems and data warehouses.
  11. Wearables Analytics:  Advanced analytics and dashboards will be needed to provide insights from all the wearables. Some wearable devices will have embedded analytics and cognitive capability right on the device.
  12. Wearable Communications:  In the future, wearables will communicate not only with smartphones, but with other ‘things’, both other wearables and other sensors/devices. This ability to communicate seamlessly andd transparently will provide new and innovative capabilities for enterprises to leverage wearables.
  13. Security: In 2014, IT professionals will need to decide how to cope with the increasing threat from wearables.  For those who found implementing BYOD a challenge over the past few years, expect the bring your own wearable (BYOW) issues to be much harder to figure out
  14. Privacy:  There will be increased interest on the part of consumers to 1) protect the personal data that is being collected via their own wearables and 2) protect against unlawful video recording from smartglasses and other cameras.
  15. Ecosystem Partnerships:  Traditional IT vendors accelerate their partnerships with wearable providers, mobile app developers, global telecom service providers and semiconductor vendors.

Top 18 Trends in Application Software Development for 2014

Note:  The following blog was published in March of 2014.  If you are looking for my 2015 tech trends reports head on over to the post: 2015 Trend Reports Are Now Available

 

Below you will find my list of the top trends in 2014 for application software development along with a information about my latest Application Software Development Trends to Watch in 2014 report that you can download out on slideshare.

Trends in Software Development

The emergence of a new computing era built on a secure platform of mobile, social, cloud, and big data/analytics capabilities is impacting business models and processes.  Keeping pace with new trends such as mobile, big data analytics, and the growing move towards cloud-based systems has brought new and more challenging issues to the forefront of application development.   Application software developers must transform old legacy applications to align with fast changing business needs. In today’s environment, application development teams need increased agility, new skill sets, distributed teams, and more complex software engineering methods.

Here then, is my list of top software development trends for 2014

  1. Innovate for the “Third Platform”:  Legacy is old. Developing on the third platform will accelerate in 2014. However, it requires new skills in Security, Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data/Analytics, IoT, HCI, Gamification, and Cognitive Computing.
  2. Use of APIs Accelerates: In 2014, we are going to see a huge leap forward in how APIs are put to use to drive innovation and help organizations be more efficient and profitable.
  3. Designing For Hybrids: Developers must design private cloud services with a hybrid future in mind . Must make sure future integration and interoperability are possible, while securing the enterprise at the same time.
  4. IoT & Embedded Systems: Demand for skilled developers who can develop sense and respond systems and other IoT-based solutions increases.
  5. Integrating Front and Back Office: Growing integration requirements between back office IT and operations – for example with smart physical hardware (pumps, switches etc) capturing info relevant to operations, business management; cyber security; etc.
  6. Secure The Enterprise!: With the advent of distributed systems, mobile, IOT, etc, there is no longer a fixed perimeter to fully protect now. The ‘attack surface’ is now huge. Developers will called upon to secure the enterprise.
  7. Software Defined “Everything”: In 2014, the buzz around Software Defined will increase. Enterprises and service providers force clear definitions . Expect numerous product announcements from vendors.
  8. Application Containers: The next big thing is containerizing and virtualizing the application, not just the machine. Watch companies include Docker and ZeroVM.
  9. DevOps Adoption Accelerates: More than just about automating deployments, DevOps requires cultural change, including coordination, collaboration and trust among the teams that participate in the application lifecycle.
  10. Open Trend Continues: Open Source, Open Standards, OpenStack, OpenFlow, Open Compute, and Open Data.
  11. Crowd Sourcing/Funding: Crowd sourcing of everything. Now projects are crowd sourced and crowd funded. Support is now crowd supplied in places like stack overflow.
  12. Hack Days: Becoming more popular as a way to develop innovative new software and features within a tight deadline.
  13. Hadoop: The Hadoop ecosystem is maturing. Expect a whole new set of real-time analysis capabilities.
  14. HTML5 Growth: Businesses have started to truly understand the advantages (and limitations) of HTML5 in the enterprise. In 2014 we will see a new focus toward the ‘write once, play everywhere’ concept.
  15. Secure Enterprise Mobile Apps: Developers need to roll out more secure alternatives to popular mobile apps. New pressures to make sure all enterprise apps are thoroughly vetted from a software security standpoint.
  16. Application Performance Management: Vendors and their customers increasingly scrambling to address and control under-performing application environments.
  17. Consumerization: Enterprise Developers need to keep an eye on what is being developed for Consumers. That next great consumer device, app, or solution may just be what’s needed for the enterprise.
  18. Skills in Demand: Developers who have deep cloud, mobile, big data/analytics and security development skills will be increasingly in demand . Programming skills valued include: 1. Java / Javascript , 2. C# / ASP.NET, 3. C++, 4. Python, 5. PHP, 6. SQL / MySQL, 7. HTML5 / CSS3, 8. Ruby on Rails, 9. Hadoop, 10. iOS / Android (source: Cybercoders).

 

Friday Gadget: The MAB Automated Cleaning System for your house

Gadget - MAB - Automatic Cleaning SystemIn my house, I am the one usually dusting, cleaning, and vacuuming.  It’s not that I like doing the cleaning…it’s just that the other family members never seem to do be interested in having a clean house.   So this Friday’s Gadget post is one that I really like as it paint’s a future where I don’t have to do the cleaning.  

The automated robotic cleaning concept system called MAB, relies on flying mini-robots.   The concept won the 2013 Electrolux Design Lab Competition.  Check out the video below.

The ‘Mab’ automated cleaning system uses hundreds of tiny robots that fly around and collect dust and dirt.   Designer Adrian Perez Zapata says he created the system with the idea that he could  free the human race from the tedious task of cleaning.  In his Mab design, micro-robots do the work to clean every surface of your house while you sit back and relax.   I love that idea. 

Here’s how his Mab concept works.  Think of the Mab core unit as like a beehive and the flying robots as the bees.  In this case, hundreds of tiny flying robots are loaded with drops of water mixed with soap.  The Mab core unit scans the room, identifies dimensions and potential problem areas.  It then releases the flying robots to clean.  As the robots touch surfaces, the cleaning fluid picks up dirt and then the flying robot returns it to the central unit.  Back at the Mab Core unit, the dirt is filtered out from the liquid, which is then then cycled through the Mab core unit for reuse.

 

 

Embedded in Adrian’s design concept is that the Mab could be powered through wireless energy or solar energy.   He also says the wings of each robot could have solar panels to collect energy.

Just think…in the future you may never have to clean again

List of Media Tech and Gadget Websites Covering Wearables

Wearables will eventually go mainstream in enterprises.  Not all employees will use wearables in their daily tasks, but there will be many employees that will use wearables to help them do their job better.

I am nearing the end of my research into Wearables and will be publishing my 2014 Trend / Resource Report soon.  Hopefully this weekend.

While doing my research, I checked out various media outlet resources to understand what was being written about various devices and capabilities.  The list below will appear in my report.

The list above is not exhaustive, but does cover the major tech and gadget sites that are covering the growth in wearables….mostly from a consumer (vs. enterprise) perspective.

Friday Gadget: Rapport Device Detects and Reacts to Human Emotions

I’ve decided to bring back the Friday Gadget posts after a very long absence. 

I am not really a gadget guy, but I do like to think about what types of products future generations will have that will make their life easier and think about how emerging technologies will be a part of our lives in the future. When I first started blogging back in 2006, every Friday I would post about a concept for a future technology or gadget.   The series of posts were designed to help us all take a step back on a Friday, have a little fun, and help us all imagine how technology can disrupt the future. 

So I am bringing back the Friday Gadget posts.  I am not sure how long the series will last this time, but we will have fun with it while it lasts…

For this first new post , I found a project team that asked the question:  What if your gadgets knew how you were feeling and could then respond appropriately?   A group of designers developed a device they call Rapport that can observe, analyze and react to your facial expressions in order to select a music playlist that suits you the best.  Once you make eye contact with the device, it leans forward and analyzes your facial expression. Taking into account the time of day, it selects a song that it feels might suit your current mood.   The Rapport device starts the playback of the song at a fairly low volume, but will boost the volume if it sees you smiling or excited.

Under the covers, the team utilized 4 different software programs including Visual Studio (stores the facial recognition library and eye tracking code), Processing (runs the facial recognition library), Max/Msp(controls volume and curates music) and Arduino (drives the stepper motors inside the device).

Potential initial applications could include smart homes, retirement homes, entertainment events, and education.  In the future, application developers will utilize emotion detection systems to design robots that understand how better to interact with humans.   Over time robots could learn to understand how different humans react emotionally and treat each person differently based on both visual and auditory inputs. 

For more, check out these resources:   1) Rapport Introduction (Youtube), 2) Rapport Demonstration (YouTube), 3) Emotional Intelligence (Yanko Design), 4) Feeling the Music;  Gadget Reads Emotions to Choose Songs (Gajitz)