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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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Collaboration—It’s More than You Might Expect

Collaboration in the era of the Internet of Everything (IoE) is not just about people connecting with people. Yet when you ask most people how they picture “collaboration,” they probably think of person-to-person collaboration first: perhaps a web-based conference call where people are sharing content such as a Word document or a PowerPoint presentation. Or they might envision an immersive teleconference experience with people from different continents, across multiple time zones. Or they might think of a more traditional approach—a group of people having a lively discussion around a conference table, with someone taking notes on a whiteboard.

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A Healthier You with Big Data

What if you had a “virtual doctor” who was available at any time—24x7—to give you a quick checkup, dispense friendly health advice, and even alert you to possible health problems before they become serious? What if your parents or grandparents got a gentle daily reminder to take their medication, so they would never have to worry about missing a dose? What if you could walk into any emergency room in the country and receive exactly the care you need because the hospital has instant access to all your medical records? While much of this may seem futuristic, it will become reality in a future not that far away.

Big Data and analytics are transforming healthcare as we know it. Let me share a few examples:

1. Patient care

Many healthcare providers are stretched to capacity, and can’t always follow up with patients to see how they’re doing and make sure they are following medical advice. Today, we are beginning to see pills with tiny ingestible sensors that send a message to your doctor or to a loved one to confirm that you have taken the pill—giving peace of mind to worried children of elderly parents, or anyone who needs to take medication at a specified time. In the future, these sensors will likely also be able to report whether the medicine results in the right impact, and to suggest a change of dose or even a different medication, if that is appropriate.

A high-risk pregnancy is a constant source of worry for many women. In the near future, small electronic “tattoos” will provide nonstop fetal monitoring through a sticker worn right on the skin. Wireless communications capabilities will send vital signs directly to the cloud, where Big Data and analytics capabilities can evaluate the information and send appropriate alerts to the mother and her doctor.

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A Software Aware Society Driven by Sensors, Analytics and APIs

1“Software is Eating the World” is a quote attributed to Marc Andreessen and somewhat further explored by his business partner Ben Horowitz.  Mark Andreessen gives compelling reasons to validate this quote.  To some extend I have to agree with some of his reasons (but I am also a little bit biased as a software engineer). On the other hand, when I read this (and this is partly based on working in different domains on software), I wonder if software is that disruptive? If you look “under the hood” of software applications, you find that a lot of software is based on fundamental software principles that are already 20-30 years old, yet Read More »

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A Software Aware Society Driven by Sensors, Analytics and APIs

“Software is Eating the World” is a quote attributed to Marc Andreessen and somewhat further explored by his business partner Ben Horowitz.  Mark Andreessen gives compelling reasons to validate this quote.  To some extend I have to agree with some of his reasons (but I am also a little bit biased as a software engineer). On the other hand, when I read this (and this is partly based on working in different domains on software), I wonder if software is that disruptive. If you look “under the hood” of software applications, you find that a lot of software is based on fundamental software principles that are already 20-30 years old, yet they are still frequently used (and for good reasons).  That does not mean there are no new advances in software, however old and proven technologies still play an important role (like we say in mathematics, it does not become old, it becomes classic).

1So maybe the reason that “Software is Eating the World” is due to the advances in hardware? Would you run modern enterprise applications in the Cloud 20 years ago? One of the challenges could certainly be the bandwidth. Was the IPhone a victory for software or hardware? A lot of the IPhone GUI was not that revolutionary IMO but the combination of hardware and software made for a potent technology disruption.

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