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A Safer Ride, with a Smarter Motorcycle Helmet

Connecting Dark Assets: An ongoing series on how the Internet of Everything is transforming the ways in which we live, work, play, and learn.

Racing down the wide, open highway on a beautifully crafted motorcycle is one of life’s most exhilarating rushes. At least I used to think so, before my wife talked me into taking up safer pastimes.

But Internet of Everything (IoE) technologies may be offering me a new lease on motorcycling. A new product called the Skully AR-1 is being billed as “The World’s Smartest Motorcycle Helmet.” And who am I to argue? Read More »

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Technology that Works: on the Farm, in the Lab, or in the Marketplace

These days, it’s hard to keep up with the flood of cool technology and cutting-edge products coming to market. It used to be my passion; now it’s also become my career. Turns out, all those hours on Reddit and TechCrunch were a good investment after all.

As a member of Cisco’s Internet of Everything (IoE) Emerging Technology team, I get to evaluate everything from augmented reality to robots and 3-D printers. I was even lucky enough to be one of the early Google Glass Explorers — bringing the good word of Silicon Valley’s newest products to the world. Read More »

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Go Mercedes, and Leave the Driving to IoE

As they speed through the clouds, most air travelers are comfortable knowing that their pilot is not actually bothering to fly the plane. On the open highway, however, it may be harder to accept truck drivers who take their hands off the wheel to text, watch movies, or gaze at the scenery as it rolls lazily by.

Yet self-driving trucks could become a common sight in coming years. One company at the forefront of this technology is Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand. Recently, the company demonstrated its “Future Truck 2025” concept, with a modified vehicle that cruised down the autobahn at a top speed of 53 MPH. The driver was able to switch at will between manual control and the automated Highway Pilot system,.

I see the Highway Pilot as an exciting example of how the Internet of Everything (IoE) connects the unconnected. Using a convergence of innovations that leverage Wi-Fi, data analytics, radar, GPS, and stereo video sensors, Highway Pilot steers the truck, senses other vehicles, and maintains the most efficient speed and route.  IN the process, it enables a whole new technology platform and business model. After all, many countries face a shortage of truck drivers; and fuel consumption issues and safety concerns persist — especially on long, grueling hauls.

I see the self-driving truck Read More »

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Field Support for New Workers with Mobile video Collaboration – Wherever They Are

Holding onto “Tribal Knowledge”

Recent data from the Department of Energy (DOE) indicates that approximately 60% of electric utility workers will be eligible for retirement in the next five years. The impending loss of the most skilled and knowledgeable workers in the industry has put many utility companies on red alert.  This potential workforce crisis means that companies have just a few years to transfer what’s often referred to as, “Tribal Knowledge” from those retiring to those who will have to fill their shoes.

Many utility workers hold positions within their companies for nearly 30 years, so one can easily imagine the amount of intangible knowledge and varying experiences that each worker has. What companies really need is a way to tap into the experienced worker’s knowledge while traveling in the field.  Better yet, they would like to find a way to limit travel in the field; traveling hundreds of miles to analyze and solve problems poses its own set of risks, from driving hazards to on the job injuries. When something goes wrong on the grid, lives are at risk.

Challenges in the Field

Much of the information and knowledge needed by today’s utility worker is stored in a computer or in the cloud, and is not accessible in the field by the organization’s workers. Because of this, institutional knowledge and expertise decreases. Many companies today are purchasing collaboration solutions, including web meeting software, video and Internet-based phone systems. This package is intended to upgrade collaboration across business units, address the issues of lost tribal knowledge, increase workforce effectiveness and manage company priorities arising from their aging workforce. Challenges faced include a slow, sub-optimal rollout plan, forced by lower company revenues. Analysis points to automation of capture and storage of knowledge, utilities could take advantage of their expert employee’s skills and leverage their knowledge for less experienced workers in the field, thereby giving a good return on investment for early deployment of mobile collaboration.

There are three immediate problems to resolve: access to Tribal Knowledge, better utilization of experts for training, and improving safety for the mobile workforce traveling in the field.  Companies remind us on a regular basis that training a utility lineman can take 10 years or more – and the average age of the current power lineman workforce is 47-years-old.  Utilities are also focusing on retention of younger employees, who are generally more technologically savvy and who expect work access to tools they use outside the workplace, like smart phones and other wireless technologies.  In fact, new or younger workers prefer to work in an area with new technology. Mobile devices such as smart phones and ruggedized tablets can be especially useful in the field where workers can get access to advice from experts in real-time or even start a meeting -- all to create increase access to institutional knowledge.

One component of Cisco’s solution is expert locator software. Employees such as line workers and technicians would have the ability to be connected anytime or anywhere via a five-product Enterprise Collaboration solution: Expert Locator, IP call control with video IP phones, web meeting (Webex), an immersive video solution (TelePresence) and ruggedized mobile video (Librestream Onsight).

New technology can change the way utilities conduct business

Workers would use mobile video in the field to show details of problems to experts throughout the company, senior workers could provide advice and support for repair of damaged equipment in the field without having to travel to the field. Experts can also quickly convene and escalate meetings to resolve a problem via the web and Telepresence. If a worker is on-site and there are challenges with a device, the worker can start a meeting, have the ability to share and give/get advice in real-time. Because of this, repair times go down while safety goes up.

How can Cisco help your organization support new collaboration and create a mobile workforce? Find out more by visiting our solutions page and share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Your Next Great Idea? It Could Come from the Guy with the Mop

In the Internet of Everything (IoE) economy, innovation is the name of the game.

IoE demands constant innovation and to keep pace companies must access creativity wherever it may arise. According to The Wall Street Journal, more than 34 percent of today’s workforce comes from outside our organization, and their fresh perspective can support innovation. Indeed, cross-pollination of industries is a key to innovation.

This scenario was illustrated in the below story shared by physicist David Matheson last week at the Frost & Sullivan’s GIL 2014: Silicon Valley conference, which I was honored to attend as a presenter.

A Futurist Perspective from Joseph M Bradley

 

Decades ago, a group of engineers were working late in the research lab run by their Silicon Valley employer when they noticed a cleaning man doodling his way through a dinner break. But these weren’t just ordinary doodles. The man had enormous artistic talent. Just the sort of talent the engineers — and the company — needed to depict their technology solutions on the printed page.

Excited at their discovery, the engineers rushed to their bosses the next day Read More »

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