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Ramblings on the Programmable World June 6, 2013

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Cloud Computing, Trends.
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I am an active reader of Wired and enjoy articles that deal with emerging trends. From a recent issue, I found an a write up that relates to big data. In the near future, data will be generated by every day items. The main concept of the piece deals with connecting our analog devices such as a refrigerator (and, everything else) to a network. The idea is not a far fetched as it used to be. This is not limited to active devices either. Passive devices, such as doors and windows can be connected as well. They will be talking to us and each other. All of this is the early stages of a programmable world and will take some time to sort out.

We know from Moore’s Law that electronic devices get cheaper all the time. Here is a direct link to the article in Wired that describes how will be connecting sensors to physical devices and integrating them into the programmable world.

Device sensors generating data

Sensors and objects linked together.

According to the author, there are three stages. The first involves getting devices on the network. The prospect of generating, monitoring this data and then triggering events as a result will lead to applications not within our purview currently. And, this it not just for residential use; factory automation can be taken to a new level. Bringing the analog world into the digital age. Having a system to collect and arrange the data is required. Think about when every device in your house is connected to your Wi-Fi network. The second stage will have those devices on the network sync with each other – output from one device triggers an action in another. The third and final stage involves using these devices as a system or single platform. To make this work, we will need repeatable and consistent patterns. The first generation will be crude and will not handle exceptions well. We will get smarter about that and iterate on stimulus and response triggers.

We have experienced discrete pieces of connected devices into disparate networks already. Wireless (aka, WiFi), Bluetooth, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near Field Communications (NFC) are routinely used in security badges, printers, cameras, smart phones and tablets. The next iteration will be connecting them together.

There is a great potential here with the number of devices to connect in the trillions. A big number. Each device generating data based on stimulus. Management will require programming –  lots of programming and networking to make this all work together.  Big companies are looking at this including Qualcomm, Cisco, GE and IBM as well as start ups are working on this as well. Changes will be seen in the home, factory and the office.

To revise an old phrase, this isn’t your Father’s network. Devices with embedded sensors will generate a lot of chatter. Who is going to listen? Where will that data be stored? What standards will be needed for command and control? We will get that sorted that out and then look for the next challenge.

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Comments»

1. Arthur Catalanello - June 8, 2013

Cool stuff Ed!

Edwin Ritter - June 8, 2013

Thanks, Arthur
Changes like this will not happen as fast as some expect. We are just beginning to understand how the new network will be used. I think scenarios and/or use cases would be helpful here. What the eventual platform will look like – and, how to manage – is beyond the horizon for me right now.


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