TECHNOLOGY / CREATIVE DISRUPTION
Whither The Internet? Part 3
By JOHN F. McMULLEN
John Chambers, CEO of Cisco and an industry leader who has obviously been right many more times than he’s been wrong, is sure that he knows the answer to “Whither The Internet?” (http://www.internetofeverything.com) —and he is so sure that he is giving speeches all over the country to any group which will listen. Chambers is a dynamic, captivating speaker and the talks both educate the audience and will shape many of them listening (or watching through YouTube) to his / Cisco’s way of thinking.
Chambers’ Holy Grail is “The Internet of Everything” and he makes a very good case for the world becoming a much better place if -- and --when his vision is implemented. He laid the groundwork well in his Keynote Speech at InterOP in 2013 speech (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xuf4csAVwz0) when he spoke of the number of devices connected to the Internet since he began keeping score:
- 1984 -- 1,000 devices
- 1992 – 1,000,000 devices
- 2008 – 1,000,000,000 devices
- 2010 – 10,000,000,000 devices
- 2013 – More mobile devices on the Internet than number of people
- 2020 – Estimates of 50 billion (low) to 500 billion (high) devices
In the same video, there was a demonstration of how this Internet of Everything could be applied in a medical center. A patient arrives at the Medical Center and is signed into the Center’s WiFi network (through the use of his Facebook account). The system knows what he is here for and directs him to his room, turning on the television to shows he likes, while notifying his doctor and the floor nurses that he has arrived. The nurses perform whatever preliminary tests have been ordered and, when completed, the system notifies the doctor. The doctor then walks over to the patient’s room, carrying his tablet. When he arrives at the room, the system knows his location (because of the tablet) and the medical terminal in the patient’s room automatically becomes the doctor’s unique system with the patient’s records – a secure efficient system.
Chambers was also the Keynote Speaker at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (“CES”) in Las Vegas and, in a rousing speech, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TepUznT42ro), predicted a $19 trillion impact of the Internet of Everything over the next 10 years with $14.4 trillion coming from the private sector and $4.6 trillion from the public sector due to increased revenues and decreased costs. He mentioned major areas of impact -- “Smart Cities,” home, health care (in addition to the medical center project mentioned above, users’ clothes may notify doctors of changes in vital signs), education and entertainment. He brought out Antoni Vives, the deputy mayor of Barcelona, Spain who discussed his city’s use of Smart Cities, saying that the implementation of “Smart Cities” has saved the city $105 million in water and electric use, increased parking revenue by $50 million, and “more importantly, created 47,000 new jobs related to the Smart Cities project.”
At the same CES, Cisco demonstrated the use of the Internet of Everything in the home (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9G7P-qTtDM), first providing estimates that by 2017, 3.6 billion consumers will use internet-based services accessing over 3 billion video minutes per month, and then takes the viewer through a fascinating, must watch home scenario as a child brings a friend home for an overnighter – after the school principal monitors the school bus’ safe delivery of the children, the home system compiles the profiles of both children, finds that the guest is gluten intolerant, prepares a dinner menu based on both his allergy and the food inventory in the house, examines their interests from their profiles and selects video choices, as well as, based on weather conditions, and hours or sunlight left, recommending outdoor activities. The mother, at work out of the house is notified of everything done and has the ability to turn off any appliances left on if the children do go out.
Chambers points out that in the Internet of Everything, the “important thing is bringing the Apps that users need to the specific user – this is the “App Age.” He predicted that “2014 will be a transitional and pivotal point for the Internet of Everything” and that there will be 5 to 10 times more Internet-related progress in 2014 than in the years before.
While Cisco’s view is a top-down one for infrastructure with the necessary apps developed rapidly for various industries, Microsoft’s vision seems to be somewhat different, calling its approach “The Internet of Your Things” and warning its prospective users in its introduction (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsembedded/en-us/internet-of-things.aspx) to not get caught up in a need to navigate the big picture, writing “The Internet of Things promises vast opportunities, but it also poses challenges for businesses that seek to take action and realize tangible results, as it can seem overwhelming, complicated and expensive.”
The video at the Microsoft site is very explicit on this point with the presenters engaging in this dialogue:
-- “When trillions of things can be connected, what should you connect?”
-- “The Internet of Things begins with Your Things!”
-- “Forget the big picture, start small.”
Microsoft’s presentation also included a Health Care application, installed at Great River Medical Center by Omnicell on Microsoft devices already in place. The system, to manage prescription medication in order to get it to patients faster while managing inventory, is an important application but is certainly not as grandiose in scale as the Cisco health care application mentioned above.
It seems that, while Cisco and Microsoft agree that many things will be connected, they are at odds as to what will be the strategy of connection.
Another related point on the connection of all these devices was made by ex-Scientific American columnist Paul Wallach, when a guest on my radio show. He said that all of these Internet of Things demos, containing lights, cameras, refrigerators, and millions of intelligent sensors, don’t dwell on the fact that there must be either homes, schools, hospitals, businesses, etc. built with these new devices installed or there will be tremendous costs in replacing the old everything with new everything (as part of Paul’s self-described “tinkering,” he has been building add-on devices to allow the devices in place to communicate – perhaps, at some point, he may commercialize these ideas).
There is, of course, another issue, which seems to be over-looked in this discussion. As part of Chambers’ CES presentation, Rick Smolan, CEO of “Against All Odds Productions” which was involved in developing the impressive coffee table book “The Human Side of Big Data,” said “For the first time in human history, we’ve all become human sensors – our smartphones, our jawbone devices, our credit card purchases, our Google searches – we’re getting a three dimensional matrix. It’s like watching the planet develop a nervous system.”
Stanford professor Paul Saffo, in a CNN piece, “Google Glass signals a wearables revolution” (http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/16/opinion/saffo-google-glass/index.html), points out that the successors to Google Glass will be less clunky, have many more apps, and be indistinguishable from plain glasses. He feels that, by that time, we will have accepted the fact that we have no privacy. He writes “the information revolution is moving from personal to intimate.” The arrival of Google Glass has resulted in a debate over where and when info-glasses can be worn. Just like similar debates over pagers, cell phones and smartphones in years past, wearables will likely be everywhere.
“Besides, unlike smartphones, info-glass hardware is going to quickly shrink into near-invisibility. Within a few years, smart glasses will be indistinguishable from an ordinary pair of vintage 2014 specs.
“And after that? How about info-contact lens that can check your vital signs?
“And privacy? Forget about it. We are destined to become like tagged bears, constantly tracked, but too addicted to the data stream to switch our intimate devices off.”
Tagged bears? What a great line!
(Afternote – the focus on total connectivity, glasses with cameras, etc. so reminds me of Bruce Sterling’s great 1989 science fiction work, “Islands in the Net” in which the characters were connected via glasses into the “net” – that’s1989 – before the Word Wide Web – if you haven’t read it, you should)
Creative Disruption is a continuing series examining the impact of constantly accelerating technology on the world around us. These changers normally happen under our personal radar until we find that the world as we knew it is no more.
John F. McMullen is a writer, poet, college professor and radio host. Links to other writings, Podcasts, and BlogTalkRadio broadcasts at www.johnmac13.comhttp://www.johnmac13.com/.