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Cisco: The Industrial Internet of Things

Last week’s Semico IMPACT event was full of interesting speakers discussing the Internet of Things and how Smart Lighting is the “Trojan Horse” of connectivity and intelligence.  Our first guest keynote speaker of the day was Prasanna Venkatesan,  Vertical Business Solutions Leader, IoT Group,  Cisco. Hecame right out and said maybe we shouldn’t be focusing on the residential Internet of Things because there are too many shakeups in that market segment.  Instead, Cisco sees more initial opportunity in the Industrial Internet of Things. 

But first, some lighting statistics.  One fifth of the world’s global electricity usage is from lighting, which equals about 70% of the world’s passenger vehicle emissions.  That is why lighting is such an important market to focus on, especially LED lighting, which has the potential to reduce the US lighting energy consumption 50% by 2020. 

Cisco expects that LED lighting will have 52% of the market by 2021.  Now, couple that with the fact that most lighting today is analog, and the market is ripe for a “digital disruption.”

Terrifying Robots: Part 6

This robot is a mix between adorable and terrifying.  Its slow, almost ponderous crawl forward before it pauses to split open its head and do a little twirl before withdrawing all its limbs and rolling down hill...only to show that on flat land it can easily chase down a little kid.

No I'm just kidding, theres nothing adorable about this thing.  In fact, are you with me in thinking that with the high pitched noise its making, we're looking at the first generation of Screamers? 

Reduce Energy Consumption with Intelligent Lighting Systems

In the United States alone, the Energy Information Administration estimates that in 2011, we used 461 billion kWh to light our residential and commercial properties. That equals about 12 percent of the total electricity consumed in North America.

Our first response to these numbers is to reiterate to ourselves that we should be turning off the lights when the rooms are empty. But that really depends on the light bulb you have installed. For example, with an incandescent light bulb, you have a 90 percent energy loss when it’s on, so keep that thing off as much as possible. Halogens, too, should be turned off whenever possible. Yet, when it comes to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), they can consume more energy by being turned on and off than by just staying on, depending on how often you turn them off (Hint: If you’re coming back into the room in 15 minutes, leave it on).

The recommendations are confusing, and if you’re like me, you don’t pay attention to the type of light you have in the room. And maybe, like me, you hear your father’s voice yelling in your head to “turn off that light” every time you leave the room. Bad advice, since now I’m turning on and off my hallway CFL light bulb a few dozen times a night as I pass in and out of rooms.

Terrifying Robots: Part 5

You know what I just love about this pole dancer?

No, not the jazz hands.

Not the outfit either. 

The dance? It does dance better than I do, but no. 

What I love is that it has facial recognition software so it can pick out the people in the mirror and stare intently into their eyes while it does its thing. 

This is especially so creepy because its devling into the "uncanny valley," a phenomenon that happens when a creation looks very close to human, but there is something "off" about it, that makes us uncomfortable. 

(source: CNET)

Terrifying Robots: Part 4 - Because Tennis Used to be Boring

Have you seen this video?  I think this robotic arm is mocking Timo Boll.  And I guess this is ping pong, not tennis, but now I really want to watch a robot compete in a tennis match.  Its all I've been thinking about, all day.  

Did he cheat at the end?  I don't know the rules of ping pong, but that's my hypothesis.  

It'd be interesting to see an actual match when the robot has a learning system built in.  And by "interesting" I mean "amazing, someone do it now." 

Terrifying Robots: Part 3

When Adrienne first let me know about termite robots, I was ready to see something like the previous post on roaches.  

I was pleasasntly surprised to read these are just termite-inspired robots, not actual termites with controls attached.


And they're kind of adorable.  

But this is the Terrifying Robots series, afterall, so what do we have to fear from these little creatures? 

HOW ABOUT THE FACT THAT THEY'RE SOCIAL?  They learn by monitoring their environment and each others actions.  Social, learning robots are always terrifying because what happens if someone goes in and changes their code?  What if their orders get changed?  Has no one seen Eureka and the little robot mites? 

Of course, not having to send humans into dangerous environments to do construction is a benefit, but that's always how these robotic revolutions start, isn't it?  Take a look: 

Terrifying Robots: Part 2

Ugh. Roaches.  

Osaka University & Tokyo University have created a fuel cell that uses the insides of the roaches to power sensors.  So what... they're going to release thousands of roaches into the sewers of New York?  I can't handle this information.  

The fuel cell uses trehalose, a sugar found in the roach's body to generate 50.2 microwatts of power.  As long as the roach secretes the fluid, the cell will have power.  The roach itself can live up to 3 years depending on the type used, but madagascar hissing roaches are most often used in research due to their cleaner nature, and can live up to 5 years, but cannot be released into the wild in some regions.  But don't worry, North Carolina has that covered; they're going to add a remote control system to the roach.  They're adding little sensors to the roach that will make it think a preditor is approaching from a certain direction in order to spur it in the direction the researchers want.  No veering off course for these little cyborgs.

Image from Techon and Osaka and Tokyo Universities


Cycloramic App's Success Proves MEMS are Attractive to Investors

In a recent episode, the Cycloramic app had the Shark Tank investors practically falling over each other trying to “win” the investment in Egos Ventures, the app’s developer.  If you’re a fan of the show (as I obviously am), you’ll know that that almost never happens. 

I first heard about Cycloramic, from--where else--a teenager.  It was at a friend’s family get-together at the holidays, and people were sitting around a table that must have been 12 feet long.  He showed how you can prop an iPhone 5 or 5S (but not the 5C, because of the contoured edge) on its end, fire up the app, and tell it to take a picture.  The app uses the phone’s ability to vibrate to rotate the phone 360 degrees, taking pictures as it goes along, and then stitching them together for one panoramic.  I was stunned by how well it worked, but thought it was mainly a cool party trick. 

A month later, the app’s Shark Tank episode airs and the app jumps to number one on the paid charts.  When the episode was filmed (June 2013), the app had ~600,000 downloads.  The app now tops more than 8 million downloads, with more occurring due to the show’s airing. 

Beyond The CES Hype

Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to realistically assess all the activity at CES 2014. The big screen TVs, the shiny new cars and all the excitement over Internet of Things certainly dazzled the CES show floor. But how much of it is hype and what will really become sustainable products?

Smart lighting, smart refrigerators, smart cars, and a smart thermostat are all part of what is being touted as the Internet of Things. The IoT scenario goes something like this: You’re driving home from work, and a voice in your car tells you to buy some eggs because there are no more in the refrigerator. Then, when you’re five miles away, your home thermostat is activated to turn on the heat so the house is warm and cozy when you arrive. Sounds like the ideal butler and a lot of WiFi chips.

All the new fitness gadgets and home medical devices also are worth watching. Wireless medical devices that enable Aging in Place really appeal to an aging population. From Fitbits to the Neubac to thought-controlled prosthetics, medical electronics for personal use is a growing consumer segment.

Another CES item that deserves attention are the 3D printing displays. Producing toys to musical instruments to candy is just one button away. From consumer to industrial, medical and even art, the applications are endless.

Terrifying Robots: Part 1

Yes, I'm starting this list out with a toy.  But just look at it: 

They're bringing DISCO back.  In toy form.  

The robot actually looks like a pretty cool birthday or christmas gift for that kid with the parents you want to drive crazy.  It has apps for iOS, Windows and Android, which let the user choreograph new dance steps for the robot when the 56 preprogrammed dance moves start getting old.  It has 8 different facial expressions, and will dance to clapping or really, any sound at all.  Which means, better yet, get that kid 2 Disco Robos so the fun never ends!  

Actually though, what really brings this robot into the terrifying side is the commercial.  

And that I kind of want one.