Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Here,There and Every-ware: The Internet of Things

Hi folks,

We’ve paraphrased the title of a famous song by the Beatles to introduce you (in case you aren’t already familiarized with) the concept of “Internet of Things” (“IoT“).
The Internet of things!
Sounds like the title of a poem (although tech terms can sometimes be surprisingly metaphorical such as “white noise”) so you will ask “now, what in the world would that be?”
Well…it would be everything in the world, actually.

But we have to start by telling you just few words about RFID first.
RFID (Radio-Frequency IDentification) is the usage of wireless means (electromagnetic fields, that is) to connect specialized microchips attached to various objects currently for the purpose of identification and tracking.
Yes, of course it all started with a military invention and yes, of course miniaturization performed miracles on RFID chips too, until jaw-dropping small sizes.
So let’s simply say that currently RFID consists of RFID-tags (ie, microchips) which act like some sort of barcodes and RFID-readers which -you’ve already guessed- act like barcode readers.
Microchips can be active (battery-powered), battery-assisted passive (battery is activated by the reader when it starts reading) or have no internal power source at all, the needed energy being absorbed from the electromagnetic field of the interrogating device, in which case they are known as PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder).
The information contained by the RFID microchips can be read-only or re-writable.
Given the high degree of miniaturization RFID microchips can be embedded in so many things and living beings that it’s almost impossible to enlist them all: one can identify and track from ants to pets to farm cattle or wild animals, not to mention humans in the first place.
Or just parts of humans like for example the heart.
As for objects, a list of not yet implanted objects would probably be much shorter than the list of already implanted ones while a list of non-implantable objects would be simply empty.
In other words: ‘you name it, we microchip it’.

Remember the days when people got inter-connected via the Internet by using desktop computers?
Desktops turned smaller and more mobile to become laptops then other even smaller and even more mobile devices showed up, like tablets and phones.
Phones used to be just phones until serious software got into them thus making them ‘smart-phones’ then same happened to glasses (which became ‘smart-glasses’), to watches (which become ‘smart-watches’), to cameras and TVs and this phenomenon is wildly in progress, silently growing in labs all over the world then bursting almost overnight into our lives to almost immediate adoption.

Synthesizing all the above, any given object “X” can be (if it’s not already) subject to RFID-embedding but if microchips start carrying/running software instead of being just radio labels or tags, then “X” becomes “smart-X” and can be connected via the Internet to the rest of the world and prone for complex interactions. Not to mention that the software itself can be updated/upgraded thus allowing bug-fixes or new features adding.
You might think that such a tremendous number of connectable items require a tremendously vast pallette of unique Internet addresses (IPs).
Well, don’t let such details bother you, folks: IP v.6  is already here and provides an address space so huge that each atom of the Earth can be assigned some 40.000 unique addresses.
That should do for a while, isn’t it?
Then you might also think that inter-connecting literally everything is too “fantasy” even for our days and that technology giants are currently busy rather figuring-out how to make existing products better and cheaper.
Well, if you think that way you’re completely wrong: everyone in the stratosphere of high-technology is staring at the “internet of things”, Microsoft, Google and Apple or Cisco, to give just some quick examples.

Let us tell you 2 relevant stories so you can see that not only the Internet of things is already here but it also generates bizarre migrations of long-range visionaries between high-tech giants.

Just a matter of days ago (mid-July) Google and pharmaceutical giant Novartis officially announced a partnership to make smart-contact-lenses.
Perhaps for Google it was just a logical step to move from glasses to contact-lenses but anyways, the idea behind it is that the “device” will not only correct eye vision automatically but it will also be able to determine the level of glucose in the tears for those who suffer from diabetes (about 30 million people in the USA only).
The embedded antenna is thinner than hair and will allow connection to a dedicated Google platform (actually Google already beta-runs a health dedicated platform named GoogleFit while Apple has its own counterpart, the HealthKit platform).
And although everyting needed is almost in place already, apparently Google and Novartis didn’t initially intend to make the deal public so early but they had to, as one of Google’s visionary co-inventors of this device (and also inventor of Google Glasses) had left Google for Amazon just few days before.

The other story is about Apple’s vice-president for the iPod division (also credited as main creator of the iPod) who -after leaving Apple- started his own Company (named Nest Labs) which produces… well… thermostats.
You know, those boring devices that allow you to set the room temperature at a certain level, beyond which heating is stopped thus saving your money.
Well, this engineer thought existing thermostats weren’t good enough, so he decided to design a next-generation of them, endowing the thermostats with software capable of detecting if someone is in the house to determine whether or not the heat generators should be working at all.
But wait, there’s more: his thermostats aren’t driven by trivial software.
In fact, the software uses Artificial Intelligence and it’s so complex it’s capable of learning the habits of the owner: at what time does he leave home? At what time does he get back home? What are his working days? It simply knows to stop the heating when the house is empty and start it in due time, just before someone will get back. This way the temperature will be optimal when entering the house.
Goodness gracious, what’s next? A thermostat so smart that it can get a job and pay the mortgage?
Google was so interested in these thermostats it actually purchased the company this year in a deal exceeding 3 billion USD (yes, billions not millions).

Well folks, we hope that you now have an idea on what the “Internet of things” is all about.
These days we keep on adding the “smart-” prefix to the name of objects with “added-intelligence” and Internet connectivity but there might be a day when there will be so many of them that adding “smart” to their names will simply be redundant, thus useless.
That day, the Earth will probably be regarded as being inhabited by “The Entity“.
And you, folks, you will have to watch your mouths because everything around you or within you will be spying on you, including your underwear.
Which of course, will be running some complex under-ware.

Bye!

Bogdan

Big Browser on 25 July

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Casual Friday on 25 July

Coke + Milk = ?

Do You Tube?

Hi folks,

 

The lie we’ve deliberately slipped in our previous article is about Windows 7 being dubbed “Windows Se7en“.
This stylization was never used for Windows OS but it was however created and used for “Seven”, a 1995 American detective-psychological thriller film starring Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey.
Well folks, if past April was the month when Microsoft cut its last tie with Windows XP, May was the month for 9 years celebration since YouTube’s first BETA. So for today we thought about telling you a few less known things about it.
And given the nature of this article (“less known things about…”), today there will be no lie hidden inside the content.

YouTube was founded by 3 youngsters named Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, collegues at the -then- internet startup Company PayPal.
Chen and Karim had studied together computer sciences while Hurley had studied design.
In fact it was Hurley who designed PayPal’s logo.
PayPal being soon acquired by eBay, it paid bonuses to its employees and this is where the first funding of the future “YouTube” website came from.
The idea of the website was initially inspired by a -then- instantly sucessfull dot com Company named “HotOrNot”.
The HotOrNot website allowed users to upload their own photos and let other users rate their attractiveness on a scale from 1 to 10.
Hurley, Chen and Karim wanted to do the same but with videos instead of just photos.
If this sounds to you more like a dating-service business, well, then you’re right as that was precisely the initial intention of the three.
HotOrNot was really hot since it also inspired Mark Zuckerbeg to create Facebook’s predecessor named FaceMash.
It was very popular and not surprisingly it quickly got acquired by a company owning several online-dating businesses. Unfortunately this cannot be said about its “video-version” attempt by Hurley, Chen and Karim because it failed in just a couple of months.
But then (or at least legend has it so) two things happened: Karim was unable to find footage of some worldwide-discussed events such as Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction (to say the least) at the Super Bowl and the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004.
And the second thing was that Hurley and Chen found themselves unable to share a video shot from a dinner party in San Francisco in 2005 due to email attachements limitations.
Well, no matter if truth or legend, fact is their website’s purpose changed to hosting any kind of videos, uploaded by anyone, for anyone to view and comment, without requiring any player download or login procedures.
The name “YouTube” is about anyone (the “you” part) and the idea of television-like broadcast (as “tube” is a very popular English word for TV-set, as older TVs had cathodic tubes).
In other words, “you appearing on the tube” or, as their own official slogan says, “broadcast yourself”, which also explains the logo where “You” is next to the word “Tube” depicted within a screen.

And that was it really.
All pieces were in the right place, the puzzle was complete and success came in as a storm.
YouTube got serious funding from Sequoia Capital, a legendary investment Company (we will soon dedicate an article to it) whose brilliant and inspirational investing made most important Internet companies take off and just one year afterwards, in November 2006, Google (another Sequoia Capital raised Company) bought it for a mind-blowing 1.65 billion USD.
A funny detail about YouTube’s furious success, so to speak, is about a Company named Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment, based in Perrysburg, Ohio.
Their website domain name was “utube.com” and they couldn’t understand why all of a sudden their site got flooded with traffic.
After they figured things out (and lacking better inspiration) this Company sued YouTube claiming that their business was hurt but their claims were dismissed so they started using another domain name, utubeonline.com while utube.com is until now a video-themed landing page for bad spellers.

YouTube’s current statistics are jaw-dropping: more than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month, over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube (that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth) and 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
In January 2012, more than 2 years ago that is, YouTube streamed more than 4 billion videos per day!
It is hard to even imagine the storage space and processing power required by such figures and numbers while keeping in mind that the service must run smoothly all the time on all kind of devices.
This hugest video repository contains about everything human: cool things, weird things, nice things as well as boring, stupid, interesting, inspiring, educational and again weird things, produced at either amateur or professional level.
But you already know that for sure.
What you might not know, however, is that according to a YouTube engineer (James Zern), about 30% of YouTube content generates about 99% of its traffic.

To continue our “less known” theme for this article: Chad Hurley got married with the daughter of internet tycoon James J. Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics (world leader in movie visual effects and 3D-imaging in the late 80s) and Netscape (mid- to late 90’s), when, as co-founder with some 5 mil. USD investment he earned around 2 billion USD during the internet boom period.
In 2010 Hurley stepped down from YouTube CEO position he’d held until then and focused on other businesses.
One of them was founding AVOS Systems together with YouTube mate Steve Chen and purchasing in 2011 from Yahoo the social bookmarking web-service named Delicious (formerly known as del.icio.us).
Just few months later, a completely redesigned version (3.0) of the website was launched but too many of the old features were either removed, disabled or temporarily unavailable while the support forum of the site was completely removed, the shocked users being moreover advised to use exclusively emails for communications.
The resulting completely negative user reaction spelled the imminent disaster that followed very quickly despite various efforts of providing new features such as connecting to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
One year after the purchase, AVOS sold Delicious to Science Inc. which purchased the website without keeping the Company’s staff.
Well, you win some you lose some they say.
Odd thing though, both happened in just one year and both were result of certain ideas and vision.
So no wonder that another business project of Hurley’s (but this time through another partnership) is totally different from IT and Internet; it’s a mensware line named Hlaska (from Hawaii and Alaska) and includes products such as clothes, wallets and bags.

Let’s not finish before asking you: do you tube?

We do, even if we’re only at the beginning.
But stay tuned for our tutorials there, they’ll come shortly.

Bye for now, folks, and thank you for reading this!

Bogdan

Big Browser on 20 June

The wheel has been re-invented Read Article Apple agrees deal to buy Dr Dre's Beats headphones firm for $3bn Read Article Skype shown automatically translating multilingual voice calls Read Article Google unveils prototype self-driving car, without steering wheel or brakes Read Article Apple and Google agree to drop all lawsuits against each other Read Article

Casual Friday on 20 June

Cat saves boy from dog attack in California