“While the predictable nature of tides makes them an ideal renewable energy source, more so than wind, the ability to effectively harness energy from the tides has proved elusive. In order to develop effective tidal current technology, a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A describes the status of leading research and projects in the field to rapidly advance tidal energy technology.”—New research to support the huge potential of tidal power
For so many in the techno-elite, even those who don’t entirely subscribe to the unlimited optimism of the Singularity, the notion of perpetual progress and economic growth is somehow taken for granted. As a former classicist turned technologist, I’ve always lived with the shadow of the fall of Rome, the failure of its intellectual culture, and the stasis that gripped the Western world for the better part of a thousand years. What I fear most is that we will lack the will and the foresight to face the world’s problems squarely, but will instead retreat from them into superstition and ignorance.
Yes, we may find technological solutions that propel us into a new golden age of robots, collective intelligence, and an economy built around “the creative class.” But it’s at least as probable that as we fail to find those solutions quickly enough, the world falls into apathy, disbelief in science and progress, and after a melancholy decline, a new dark age.
Civilizations do fail. We have never yet seen one that hasn’t. The difference is that the torch of progress has in the past always passed to another region of the world. But we’ve now, for the first time, got a single global civilization. If it fails, we all fail together.
Yes, we’ve become entangled, and our fate will be shared. To avoid the endarkment will require a great deal of hard work, and the hardest part might be the necessary first step: realizing that we are at a pivotal moment, and that just about everything must change.
For several years now I’ve been convinced that the development of a global digital money ecosystem is among the most exciting and important societal challenges in the coming decades. It’s right up there, in my opinion, with other technology-based transformational innovations, including electricity, the telephone, radio and TV, and the Internet and World Wide Web.
Where are we in digital payments? Webster believes that 2012 will be viewed in the payments history books as a very good year. “Payments innovation fueled by the IP-enablement of devices used by consumers and merchants to interact drove payments innovation into high gear. Players large and small flooded the market with new applications, new business models, and new approaches to transforming the shopping experience.”
It can be hard to get a big, slow company to change its ways. It’s the efforts of courageous intrapreneurs that can change their trajectory. The key is to make your company a place where intrapreneurs can thrive.
Multinational corporations aren’t always known for their agility. Organizational change, product evolution, or rebranding—just some of the many ways in which a business has the potential to flex and move—can be laborious undertakings for companies with millions of stakeholders spread far and wide around the world.
But lately, leading companies are taking a page from the startup book and are beginning to leverage entrepreneurial approaches to drive business value. Dubbed “intrapreneurship” by early adopters, this trend highlights the value of people—the “intrapreneurs”—working from within a company who are accelerating change while continuing to drive business benefits. Economic constraints are forcing even large, established companies to act in a manner akin to the startup phase of much younger organizations; they’re leveraging the creativity and passion of their people to become more dynamic, more innovative, and more agile.
A major challenge for national health information systems in developing countries is their scalability and sustainability at the lowest levels where primary health care is delivered. This paper contributes to the discourse on how national health information systems can scale to the lower levels and how mobile technology is supporting the collection, handling and dissemination of data. But can mHealth go beyond the ‘hype’ and visions it has come to be associated with? Using an action research methodology in a long-term action research project, the usability and then scalability of mobile solutions for large scale national health information systems are studied. In this paper, initial successes and challenges with using m-Health for national public health information systems is reported and discussed.
CES, like Las Vegas where it’s held, has always been about big. Big announcements like the DVD, Blu-Ray, the Xbox, the VCR – that’s the magnitude of stuff that’s been announced at CES events of years gone by. At the 2013 CES lat week, there were fewer standouts – but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a big year for change. In fact, the 2013 show was a synergistic effort that launched a new way of looking at technology as the “Internet of things.”
The Internet of things is the term used to mean any device that can connect to the Internet and share and receive information. How does that play out?
The Connected Car: The Google car powered by Velodyne has driven itself from San Francisco to Las Vegas. That’s right: A driverless car that has completed 300,000 autonomous-driving miles accident free. Toyota and Audi also have driverless cars. GPS maker Garmin showcased its K2 platform that makes the car dashboard digital, using voice control, infrared buttons and smartphone integration to provide navigation, vehicle diagnostics, office features, communications and entertainment.
The Smarter Home: The Internet also enabled a new set of products to do everything from keep an eye on your home (Dropcam) while you’re not there, keep your home bless-fully keyless by using your phone to activate your lock (SimpliciKey), Whirlpool showed an innovative Fireplace concept that combines a multifunctional cooking table and an air treatment/mood lighting hood. The idea is to create your own atmosphere for your own high tech family hearth. And their refrigerator will serenade you with your fav streaming Internet playlist while you search for snacks.
The Internet of the Fittest: You might remember the days when a PC conjured images of chubby gamers with joysticks in hand, but at this CES, it was a survival of the fittest gadgets. BodyMedia announced its CORE 2 an attractive arm bracelet body monitor, Runtastic built a set of apps that counts your pushups and sit ups using your phones accelerometer, MyBasis combines more sensors than most in a lovely wristband but it’s also beefed up the motivational aspects and encouragement that exercisers need. And FitBit, one of the first personal body monitors announced the Flex, a bracelet that you never need to take off (or lose).
Roger Kay of Forbes recently opined that the world is becoming more and more user-centric. He explains, “User-centric computing is a theme we can expect to hear articulated in many ways next week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The simple view of the shift from device-centric to user-centric computing goes like this: when all we had was one device — a PC, first to do our work and later to connect to the Internet — we adapted to the device. We learned how to wrestle it into more or less obeying our will. We became skilled at the arcane keystrokes of DOS commands and Lotus 1-2-3 in order to do productive work. We went to the machine.”
He goes on, “Now, the machine is starting to come to us. As soon as you have more than one device in your life, they must necessarily point to you. Cloud services increasingly coordinate devices for us so that our ‘state’ — the exact condition of all our stuff at any one moment — migrates seamlessly from one device to another other. A good example would be reading an eBook. If you stop reading on a certain page on your laptop, you should be able to open your eReader and be on the same page. Ditto for your phone. This idea that ‘state’ follows you around puts you at the center of your own universe. The devices are all around you.”
Products that could make it common to control a computer, TV, or something else using eye gaze, gesture, voice, and even facial expression were launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, MIT Technology Review reports.
The technology promises to make computers and other devices easier to use, let devices do new things, and perhaps boost the prospects of companies reliant on PC sales. Industry figures suggest that interest in laptop and desktop computers is waning as consumers’ heads are turned by smartphones and tablets.
Intel announced a new webcam-like device and supporting software intended to bring gesture, voice control, and facial expression recognition to PCs. “This will be available as a low-cost peripheral this year,” said Kirk Skaugen, vice president for Intel’s PC client group.
Intel also announced that, before the end of the year, it would release software that adds a voice-activated assistant to PCs, powered by technology from voice-recognition company Nuance.
If users choose to opt-in, this new technology, Swype’s dictionary will learn in real-time, by enabling crowd-sourced up-to-date words and phrases to appear as options while typing. You’ll begin to see trending words and phrases that other Swypers have been using regularly.
Along with Living Language, Swype also includes a feature called Smart Editor, which analyzes entire sentences, flagging potential errors that you may not have noticed.
IBM is looking to challenge Google and Microsoft with a new online software suite that includes apps similar to those found in its rivals’ well-known cloud offerings.
IBM SmartCloud Docs includes Web-based apps for the creation, editing, and sharing of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. The suite is available for free as part of Big Blue’s SmartCloud Engage Advanced business networking and collaboration service.
While some are hoping for better software to reduce the need for data scientists, WibiData’s Omer Trajman thinks we need more of them. Better software, he argues, is actually just a tool to make it easier for data scientists to do world-changing work.
Data scientists are changing the way decisions happen by making better use of big data. Rather than finding ways around them, we need to make data science more accessible as a profession and need to provide easier tools for data scientists.
Kevin Kelly, in “Better Than Human,” tells us how the future is going to go down. As we increasingly automate existing occupations, we create new jobs in order to instruct and direct those robots. We build robots to take over the instructional positions, and create new jobs that set parameters and develop feedback loops. We build new systems that are flexible and dynamic and create more new jobs — such as data scientists — to analyze and build models for these new systems. It is obvious that in such a world, where static models cannot keep up, data scientists will be indispensable.
Big data is not just about the enterprise. The fact is that every company, from consumer giants like Facebook and Twitter to the fast-growing enterprise companies like Cloudera, Box, Okta and Good Data are all big data companies by definition of the word. Every technology company with a set of engaged regular users is collecting large amounts of data, a.k.a. “big data.” In a world where data is the key to most product innovation, being a “big data” startup isn’t that unique, and honestly doesn’t say much about the company at all.
According to IBM, big data spans four dimensions: Volume, Velocity, Variety, and Veracity. Nowadays, in the worlds of social networking, e-commerce, and even enterprise data storage, these factors apply across so many sectors. Large data sets are the norm. Big data doesn’t really mean much when there are so many different ways that we are sifting through and using these massive amounts of data.
Paul Brody, Global Industry Leader, Electronics, IBM
By Paul Brody
People have been talking and writing about the “Internet of Things” for more than a decade. It’s the idea that at some point billions of electronic devices and sensors will be connected to the Internet in parallel to the hundreds of millions of people who have access to the Net. But, unlike so many of the whiz-bang technologies that are forever predicted but never arrive, such as flying cars and time machines, the Internet of Things is on the verge of becoming a reality.
So, what exactly is bringing the Internet of Things to fruition? A big factor is the plunging cost of connectivity, which is being driven by the emergence of Heterogeneous Networks (often referred to as “HetNets”). HetNets offer a way to increase the density and bandwidth available to mobile devices.
To give you an idea of their potential scale, Free.fr, one of the world’s first HetNets, located in France, has more than 4 million WiFi hotspots connected to the network and enjoys data transfer costs that are probably far below $1 per gigabyte. While the rise of HetNets is driven by insatiable consumer demand for smartphone bandwidth, the biggest impact will be felt when it becomes cost-effective to connect just about anything (cars, washing machines, vending machines, lights etc.) to the Internet. And, anyone who was inLas Vegas earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show knows that this type of ‘uber-connectivity’ is no longer just a pipe dream.
The second major factor driving the Internet of Things is the explosion of low-cost, smart, standardized sensor networks. Consumer hobbyists are leading the way here. Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects is hosting numerous sensor projects that are designed to enable consumers to rapidly deploy and utilize large numbers of sensors around the home and office.
You know how when you were a teenager (or a 20-something living on your parents’ couch) and you stood around with the refrigerator door hanging open, and your mom would be all “hey, I’m not paying to cool the whole neighborhood”? Well, when supermarkets leave the produce and meat and dairy sitting out in the open, they are paying to cool the whole store, because those veggies are essentially sitting in an open refrigerator. That costs a lot, first of all, and second of all it wastes a lot of energy and precious resources. U.K. supermarket chain the Co-operative has decided to put an end to this rather silly practice, and has equipped 100 of its stores with produce refrigerators that have doors. The Co-operative estimates it will save about $80 million a year with this practice.
Connecting sensors as well as connected devices to build an Internet of things-style service isn’t easy. But new products from vendors that range from Texas Instruments to ThingsSquared and Mobiplug make it easier for product vendors and consumers to build internets of things.
Texas Instruments has unveiled a Wi-Fi module that lets people connect devices without screens to a Wi-Fi network via a smartphone. For anyone with a Sonos system or other connected devices in the home, this may not seem so novel, but as we add more connected devices inside the home with lower price points, a standard module that enables a connection via a smartphone makes sense.
Thanks for asking. While the Smarter Planet Tumblr isn’t a search engine, the archive include almost 5000 posts on every facet of how the worlds’s systems can become more intelligent. From the lefthand column you can search the site on any topic, or click the links to see the latest posts on popular subjects like smarter cities, the “Internet of Things” or smarter healthcare, energy and food.
The business community faces immense pressure to embrace each new social network, keeping up with the pace that their employees have become comfortable with in their personal lives on sites such asFacebook and Twitter. Creating a community in the workplace where employees can share and engage on a real-time platform makes everyday communication and collaboration easier and more effective, delivering tangible business results.
When it comes to today’s fast-paced workplace, there’s no better place for social collaboration. But over time, our society has changed from an open setting of collaborative work to a closed, cubicle environment where work is isolated and trapped, confined by our digital domain. We went from verbally discussing and sharing information to doing our jobs secluded from the very people who we bounced ideas off of and who kept us informed on what was happening.
When technology advanced to facilitate and automate our tasks, it also gave us something to talk to each other about. But we became locked behind digital walls even though our cubicles had been dismantled. Thankfully, we have now come full circle and have the tools to once again collaborate and learn on the job with the use of advanced technology available in the workplace. Breaking down the “private office” has become easier than ever and has unleashed what can only be described as a productivity revolution.
In 2012, “social” was all about collaboration and mobility in the workplace, creating a physical and virtual community that brought in-house and remote workers together. It’s no surprise that businesses are racing to adopt enterprise-wide social, simply because it works. More and more companies are adopting social collaboration tools to provide employees the tools they need for immediate access to what is needed to get work done through interaction, connection and collaboration. This in turn provides a more embedded place within an organization.
What problem did you set out to research when you began developing an organic package with antennas and a microchip?
Our integrated circuit team wanted to build a chipset you could use to stream uncompressed video data at five gigabits per second. That’s a really high rate, and that’s a lot of data.
Almost any data source, whether it’s coming from a DVD or streamed from an online source, is compressed. But when it gets to that box in your living room, it’s uncompressed. You actually do not want to compress it when you transmit it to your television set: Every time you compress and decompress data, your video image is going to get a little bit worse. That compression-decompression cycle also adds latency, or time delay. The latency involved in these compression-decompression algorithms is hundreds of milliseconds. That’s too long for movies and way too long for video gaming.
Remember too that the consumer electronics companies have to pay royalty fees every time they go through a compression-decompression cycle.
Why are you working with organic materials instead of semiconductors?