Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Connected World conference 2013 at the Santa Clara convention centre. Organized by Connected World Magazine this conference brings together the leaders in M2M (machine to machine) to talk about what is new in the connected world and what is coming next. Contrary to what you might think, the idea of M2M is not a scary Sci-fi vision of our future controlled by machines, but everyday connections that we often take for granted. These technologies make our lives easier, and will become even more a part of daily life as they further evolve. Many of these technologies involve communication with smart phones or tablets, and apps are an integral part of M2M technology.
I attended some very interesting presentations, saw some cool gadgets, listened to Peggy Smedley broadcasting live from the conference and had a chance to talk to those at the forefront of this exciting branch of technology. It was very reassuring to find it is not just men at the forefront of this technology but some very impressive women leading the charge too. The female presenters included Satwant Kaur – ‘The First Lady of Emerging Technology” who gave a great overview of both current and upcoming technology in the connected world from cars, fitness devices, connected homes to limb prosthesis; Dorothy Glancy who gave an in-depth presentation about connected cars and current and upcoming techologies and of course Peggy Smedley who was the heart and soul of the whole conference.
Health and Fitness
There is an explosion of new devices on the market aimed to help us be more aware of our exercise level, sleep habits and nutrition. Many of these are M2M, in that the device records data on our exercise and sleep and sends this to our tablet, smartphone or computer and we then get feedback on how we are doing and what we can do to improve. There are also devices that can measure your heart rate, oxygenation and body temperature and wirelessly send this information to your smart phone or tablet. The iMums will be testing out several of these devices over the next few months and will let you know what we think of them.
This was a big topic at the conference. We got to see up close several of the current leading cars of the connected world, and also hear what is coming – both soon and in the future. One very interesting thing was hearing about the V2V (vehicle to vehicle) project that has been worked on for the last fifteen years and is actually ready to start appearing in our cars ! There are already almost 3,000 cars in the Ann Arbor area fitted with this technology. Basically cars fitted with V2V talk to other V2V cars in the immediate vicinity telling them information such as where they are, what speed are direction they are travelling, angle of the sterring wheel, and path the car has taken to get there. The vehicle processes this information to predict where the car will go next so it can warn the driver of an impending collision to prevent it happening. It sounds like this can make a real difference to car safety and it is exciting to hear that it may soon be standard in new cars.
The technology behind the Google Driverless car was also discussed, I have often seen these driving on our local freeways so it was interesting to learn more about how they work and hear that the only time one of them has crashed was when a human was driving it instead of the car driving itself!
Other M2M technology
We also heard how advances in M2M are making industry more efficient with smart building environmental controls and automated stock ordering and monitoring systems.
Among the exhibitors was Netgear – known for their high quality routers and networking solutions, they have been expanding into home entertainment and video monitoring. They were demonstrating their Neo-TV range of streaming devices which are an alternative to Roku or Apple TV for streaming movies and T.V. via the Internet , and the Neo-TV Prime even has Google Play built-in allowing you to play Google Playstore apps on your TV.
In the exhibit hall we also met Intelligent Illuminations-a company who is installing smart street lights – that automatically let the city know when they need replacing, making our streets safer.
Telit provides wireless communication solutions for all sorts of uses such as vending machines that report back what their stock levels are. Then when it is time to refill them the serviceman has all the right stock and doesn’t have to go to the machine, count what is needed, go back to his van and then fill it; saving both his time and energy.
On the lighter side on the IoBridge stand I saw a toaster that tweets every time it makes a slice of toast and a coffee maker that you can text to make you a cup of coffee. IoBridge provides products that allow both professionals and hobbyists to connect pretty much anything to the internet. On their blog they feature some of the projects people have made using their products, the most famous of which was the Beer Cannon created by American students and here demonstrated on the Graham Norton show in the UK (with Matt Le Blanc catching the beer! )
Google driverless car image from Wikipedia courtesy of Steve Jurvetson.