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Video: the Super Sensor of the #InternetofEverything

A key advantage of the Internet of Everything (IoE) is the ability to “see” the world around us in unprecedented ways.

One way to do this is through the millions of cheap, tiny digital sensors generating data from shoes, tires, shopping carts, jet-engine parts, medical equipment, and just about anything else you can imagine.

But another type of sensor promises even deeper visibility and insight: video. Connected video — when deployed in the right situations and combined with other IoE components, such as analytics and mobility — can truly transform the ways in which we sense the world. And for organizations, video will provide rich, real-time insights that will drive hyper-aware decision-making and predictive strategies.

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Girls Among the Geeks: Why Women Should Absolutely Seek Careers in Tech

Choosing a career in technology turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. At one time, however, it seemed counterintuitive to enter such a male-dominated industry. I’m not an engineer. I don’t have a degree in computer science. The only traditional tech skill I possessed was a small knowledge of HTML programming language, which I at one time used to put up static web pages. Today, that skill is useful only for editing blog posts.

What I was trained for was design. I moved into technology because it offered me a fresh way to leverage those talents while having a bigger impact. As a designer, I was taught to understand the context of a problem and to generate insights and creative solutions. I switched from a career in print design because technology was providing exciting new ways to reach people. I found it fascinating and wanted to be a part of it.

Apparently, I’m in the minority. A Forbes article cited research from Maria Klawe, a computer scientist and president of Harvey Mudd College, in listing some of the main reasons women don’t choose tech careers. Many believe that they won’t find a career in tech interesting, while others fear they won’t be good at it. A third concern is working in such a predominantly male bastion.

I have to say that my experience on all three counts has been just the opposite.

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A Symphony of Sensors Drives Value, Insight, and Opportunity

To cross a busy intersection safely, it’s best to have all of your senses alert. That way, if you don’t happen to see that oncoming truck ignoring the “Walk” sign, you will probably still hear it. In the case of a heavy cement mixer, you may even feel the low rumble of its powerful engine first.

In the Internet of Everything (IoE), a similar principle applies. We call it “sensor fusion,” and it involves combining two or more sensors — often of different types — to monitor a specific environment and offer actionable insights more intelligently. These could be cameras and Wi-Fi tags or weight-sensing shelves and ultrasonic imaging, to name just two combinations. Moreover, the combined sensor data can itself be fused with other information streams — for example, those relating to weather, operations, news, or social media.

The result? Highly informed, real-time decision making and richer customer experiences.

Until recently, sensor fusion has been mostly exploited in specialized devices such as robots, but it is now driving a revolution in enterprise systems. This will bring new life to entire industries and completely transform stores, manufacturing floors, and transportation corridors. By greatly improving the accuracy of their measurements, organizations will be able to offer rich new experiences and gain substantial competitive advantage.

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From the Mine Shaft to the Store Shelf — an IoE Revolution in Manufacturing

Since Henry Ford, the alchemy of turning raw materials into mass-produced products has been complicated and challenging. At best, it has been a delicate and precarious balancing act; at worst, something akin to herding cats.

The trick has always been to align ever-shifting patterns of customer demand with far-flung ecosystems of miners, designers, suppliers, engineers, factory workers, truck drivers, sellers, and so forth. Yet the process of orchestrating such intricate value chains has often been based on art (hunches) more than science (data).

Today, however, the Internet of Everything (IoE) — the ongoing explosion in networked connectivity among people, process, data, and things — is transforming manufacturing in startling ways, just as it is changing so many other industries.

IoE delivers seamless, intelligent connections to every corner of the manufacturing value chain, optimizing the flow of products, information, and payments in real time.

The Cisco IoE Value Index study found that in 2013, manufacturing had the largest potential share of IoE Value at Stake, at $224 billion. Yet, it was poised to realize only 46 percent of that potential bottom-line value.  The key to closing that gap lies in much-improved machine-to-machine and machine-to-people connections, resulting in smart factories, smart grids, and connected supply chains, among many other IoE-related innovations.

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Cisco Helps Make Brand Loyalty a Slam Dunk for the NBA

In a world of digital distractions and shrinking attention spans, brand loyalty and customer engagement often wind up “out of bounds.” But forward-thinking organizations — including the National Basketball Association (NBA) — are using technology to create some exciting new scoring opportunities.

One of the keys to establishing brand loyalty lies in enabling an experience that sparks an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand. The NBA is a great example of an organization with an ardent fan base whose loyalty is based on an emotional bond. But to transform that passion into higher merchandise sales and social media buzz, the NBA has been adopting some unique concepts.

Some of this innovation will be on display at the NBA All-Star Jam Session, which will take place in New Orleans, February 13-16. There, the NBA is deploying Cisco’s Virtual Mirror done with partner C-InStore. The full-length mirror enables shoppers to see enhanced virtual images of themselves. And while Cisco’s Virtual Mirror might not make a customer look 7 feet tall (yet), it will render an image of him or her wearing the official All-Star jersey, shorts, and other licensed apparel. That digital snapshot can then be shared with friends and family, capitalizing on the excitement of being at the event. Those who engage with the mirror will also receive a 20-percent discount off event merchandise, redeemable through a coupon sent automatically to their phones.

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