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The Impact of Distributed Generation

Distributed generation is getting increasing attention for impact on the electric utility industry.  DG has been the subject of a number of high profile articles in Business Week, the Wall St. Journal and several online business and industry news sites.  The Business Week article was particularly provocative, leading with the title, “Why the U.S. Power Grid’s Days Are Numbered“.

Residential DG, primarily solar, remains relatively sparse in the U.S. compared to Europe, especially Germany.  Commercial/Industrial DG is getting greater penetration with large initiatives such as Walmart installing solar on the top of every store, and low-priced natural gas leading industrial customers to generate their own power.  Although circumstances differ, the September 17, 2013, WSJ article, “In Post-Tsunami Japan, Homeowners Pull Away From Grid”, describes how Japanese homeowners could foreshadow even more disruption.  While residential fuel cells are not presently economical, higher volume production and deployment in Japan could certainly change that.  Low cost fuel cells could enable every customer with natural gas service to make the economic analysis about when or whether it’s worth turning to self generation. Read More »

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The Future of Wearable Technology: Smaller, Cheaper, Faster, and Truly Personal Computing

For the past few years, industry pundits have been predicting the death of the personal computer. I look at it a bit differently—the personal computer is not dying, but is becoming even more personal. It is now something you’re going to wear—in your clothing, jewelry, shoes, glasses, watches, and even on your skin.

The burgeoning field of wearable technology is hitting the mainstream, illustrated by a new ad campaign from Samsung that employs Dick Tracy, Captain Kirk, and a lineup of other comic and science fiction characters to introduce the new Galaxy Gear smartwatch. In a recent blog, my colleague Joseph Bradley described the wide range of “wearables” that are now available—and sure to be a hot topic at the Internet of Things World Forum in Barcelona next week.

I recently wrote about how wearable technology is helping drive the Internet of Everything (IoE)—and changing the way we live—by connecting people in new and different ways. Today, I’d like to go a little deeper, and explore some of the ways that today’s wearable technology might evolve.

One of the principles of this evolution is that technology is getting smaller, faster, cheaper, and more powerful every day. In fact, in terms of physical size, computing technology is becoming 100 times smaller each decade. The computing power of the ENIAC computer that filled a whole room back in 1956 now fits inside the tiny chip of a “musical greeting card” that you can buy for $4 at your local store. The smartphone in your pocket is many times more powerful than the PCs of just a decade ago. And now, all the capabilities of your smartphone are being condensed into smartwatches, which can make phone calls, connect to the Internet, take pictures, and do just about anything else your phone or tablet can do.

But even this miniaturization of technology is dwarfed by the power that is available when you connect to the cloud. One really exciting example is SIGMO—a language translator that you can clip to your shirt, or wear on your wrist. It costs about $50, and when connected to the cloud can provide real-time voice translation of 25 languages. Sigmo blew past its fund-raising goal of $15,000 on the crowd-funding site Indiegogo.com to almost a quarter-million dollars, illustrating the demand for these types of gadgets.

Figure 1.  Sigmo voice translator provides real-time cloud-based translation services for 25 languages, and learns as you use it.

voice translator

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The Internet of Everything and the Digital Industrial Economy

As we continue to progress toward an Internet of Everything (IoE) digital world, organizations will need to think strategically about IT budgets and smart spending in order to keep pace with the changing landscape. CEO’s want a flexible, adaptable enterprise, and IT needs to deliver “fast IT” for them to achieve that.$3 8 Trillion

One part of this rapidly changing landscape is the rise of something Gartner calls the “Digital Industrial Economy.” Gartner SVP Peter Sondergaard said recently at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo that the digital industrial economy will be built on the foundations of cloud integration, social collaboration, mobile, and data. As part of this, worldwide IT spending will reach $3.8 trillion by 2014.

The main notion of the Digital Industrial Economy is that every company will become a technology company, every budget will become an IT budget and every business will become a digital leader. By this definition, it’s clear that the Internet of Everything—and the $14.4 trillion in value it will unleash—is at that the heart of this new economic model.

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Building the Internet of Things… Together

October 22, 2013 at 9:45 am PST

As I am preparing to leave for Barcelona to attend the inaugural Internet of Things World Forum I can’t but think about how much the Internet has transformed the way we all live.  But also, how little we have done to leverage that incredible reach and power to make all things around us work in a better, smarter way.

While I believe that there is a growing understanding of what the Internet of Things (IoT) is, and where it fits in the larger Internet of Everything (IoE), there is still much to do in terms of in terms of educating people on the practical applications, potential solutions, and use cases for IoT. What is good about where we are now? There is a great opportunity for innovation! Think about it, this is perhaps the greatest opportunity to leverage the Internet since the launch of e-commerce back in the 90’s. However, all the growth and benefits we have seen from the dawn of the Internet up to today has only touched about 1% of the things we live with… just imagine the opportunities inherent in connecting the other 99% of things. If the other 99% of things in the world were connected, and shared data in a smart way over an intelligent network, they could make better, faster decisions, optimize processes, increase efficiencies and improve the standard of living for everybody around the world. Read More »

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An Internet of Everything Startup Spotlight: Alex Hawkinson, Founder & CEO, SmartThings

Last month I kicked off a new series focusing on companies and start-ups that are helping to move the Internet of Everything (IoE) forward. Today, I am excited to share some insights from Alex Hawkinson, founder of SmartThings, a platform for automating connected objects.

Alex shares an interesting perspective with us about the value of increased connections and how creating an open, low-cost way to automate our lives is key to achieving the full benefit of the Internet of Everything. Here’s a look at how Alex and SmartThings are pioneering the growth of IoE.

AHawkinsonSmartThings is garnering a lot of buzz in the industry for adding intelligence to everyday objects to achieve home and office automation. In which ways is SmartThings leading the way by connecting the previously unconnected?

The dream of the Jetsons-style house has long been just that – a dream. Different smart devices have come to market but, generally speaking, they’ve been hard to buy, set up and use. With SmartThings we set out to create a single platform and single app interface from which you can control all of the connected objects in your life. When you purchase a SmartThings kit, you can connect pieces of your home in minutes once you plug in the hub and download the app. You can mix and match third-party devices with those created by SmartThings to build the connected space that makes the most sense for you. SmartThings is simple enough that the average smartphone user can bring a connected world to life, but sophisticated enough that an inventor can create completely new devices and applications to custom fit his or her needs.

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