The Magicians of Big Data

Beauty & Engineering met to shape a new era for the Internet. In this post I’ll talk about the beautiful side of engineering, and how creativity should be requirement #1 in any product development process, including the Internet of Things.

During my business education in Boston I was taking the HBS’s course Marketing and Innovation and the most important lesson I got was that ‘marketing is not about what you feel about a product but what a product makes you feel about yourself’.

After three intensive years executing product roadmaps in the high tech industry in Silicon Valley, I almost forgot that beauty is the final driver for people to embrace changes. We always require to product makers to include the desire functionality that make the product easy to use and reliable. Functionality is the key for a new product adoption in the market. However, customers are human beings. It is in our nature to get excited about extraordinary things such as atmospheric phenomenon, magic, music, art, stories, special visual effects and technology. We all know that there is a trick behind it, but what we really love is the way that magician, artists and designers create the beautiful illusion that distract us from the reality.

cesar eyeo   eyeo festival

A couple of weeks ago I decided to take a break. I asked in my company some personal time off, I bought a ticket to Minneapolis to attend the famous EyeoFestival (thanks Ali Almossawi for the suggestion). As a product designer and also oil painter in my free time, I felt the need to reconnect with the ‘real world’ and the art of creating beautiful things. What a better way that meeting more than 500 artists, musicians, creative coders and data designers.

eyeofestival 2014 The festival itself was stunning: at the Walker Art Center theater we could attend presentations from practitioners who are shaping the way people understand reality. Cesar Hidalgo provided a great visualization on how communication technologies had influenced our perception of global leaders. His project Pantheon helps us to understand the process of global cultural development. We listened to Paola Antonelli who bravely set new definitions for contemporary art leading MoMA’s acquisition of video games. Sarah Williams presented a very exciting crowdsourcing project in Nairobi to document and build the very first city transportation map. I particularly enjoyed the presentation from Lauren McCarthy who illustrated the ability of technology to mediate social interaction. I’m still thinking about her thought-provoking approach to solve social identity and self-representation challenges using crowdsourcing experiments.

Rafael Maranon paintings

This festival opened my eyes. I’ve been painting since I was 8 years old and I always had special passion for art [see my painting collection]. However, I was shy to identify myself as an artist within the high tech industry. After sharing ideas and experiences with such talented people at Eyeofestival, who seamlessly combine engineering and art, I feel today proud to be both an artist & engineer.

Actually, I already started contributing in this space by sharing during the Eyeoefestival’s Show and Tell a project I’m working on weekends: Like-Art.com is a social ‘on/offline’ platform that allows people to like, share and save for later their favorite panting by ‘waving’ their hand over a sensor. I built this platform based on Raspberry Pi and Django in collaboration with a very talent student from Malaga University Antonio Sanchez.

eyeofestival rafael     eyeo likeart

This solution provides a lot of value for those who are tired of screen time and want to connect with the real world and real people using our primary communication tool: our emotions and gestures.

I really believe the world need to simplify technology interfaces to such extend that we reestablish the magic and the beauty in our lives…. One. Two. Three. Open your eyes now. (Snap finger)

Rafael Maranon
@rafaelmaranon

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4 Key Requirements to Scale the Internet of Things

Published in Cisco Blog on Apr 15, 2014

Today the Internet of Things (IoT) is everywhere: you can easily see smart meters on houses, parking sensors in the ground, cameras attached to traffic posts, and people wearing intelligent wristband and glasses — all of them connected to the Internet. And this is only the tip of the iceberg: while you are reading this blog post factories, trains and trucks around the world are also being connected to the Internet.

Many traditional industries have historically requested help from different types of engineers to improve their processes and gain efficiency. Now they are asking us, the Internet engineers, to contribute solving new industrial world challenges by connecting billions of new devices.

The more ambitious part of this journey is the integration between both worlds: Information Technology (IT) and Operation Technology (OT). For that a systems approach is required to scale the existing Internet infrastructure to accommodate IoT use cases, while making IT technology easy to adopt for OT operators. We are facing a historical opportunity to convergence massive scale systems in a way we have never seen before, and such an effort will unlock a multibillion-dollar business.

Scaling IoT

In order to be ready to capture this opportunity and scale in a sustainable manner, four requirements are necessary:

1.  Infrastructure Simplification: Existing Internet infrastructure was originally designed to connect computers, phones, printers, servers and more recently mobile devices mainly operated by users. However, today we are experiencing a tremendous growth not only in the number of devices but also in terms of types of devices, traffic, protocols and locations. These new devices require low bandwidth and run without direct human intervention. Consequently the cost per bits or per user is no longer the only metric, and the infrastructure needs to be redesigned to reduce cost and complexity. This level of flexibility can be achieved by virtualizing and opening up the infrastructure and making it programmable with Cisco Open Network Environment (ONE), which makes it possible to orchestrate services across server, storage, network, and security domains, and provide better service by automating manual tasks, such as configuration and provisioning.

2.  Build Software-Based Agility Functions: Deliver new, richer applications and services faster by optimizing the infrastructure with app-centricity and analytics to quickly introduce new capabilities. Keep applications running at peak performance by enabling the infrastructure to automatically detect, and adapt to, application demands and flows, so that it can react to changing conditions and potential issues before they create problems.

3.  Holistic Security: Ability to automatically detect and remedy threats is required to enable improved security and compliance in IoT environments. As we built trust models into the E-commerce, these new capabilities need to be combined with access control, context awareness, content inspection, application visibility and threat prevention.

4.  Easy to Adopt: In any major technology transition in the past, the adoption curve was driven mainly by fast convergence of standards. Today Cisco’s IoT gateways support a very complete IPv6 protocol stack that ensures interoperability across equipment from different vendors. However, the wide diversity of IoT solutions requires even more flexible model where legacy interfaces and protocols can be fully integrated. Cisco IOx offers an open distributed computing platform that is able to scale the IoT to every single scenario, which mean every industry will successfully transition the new era of Internet.

In order to achieve sustainable growth of Internet of Things a systems approach is needed. While in some deployments the scale will mean just adding new connections, in most cases the integration of a legacy system in our current Internet infrastructure will determine our ability to grow. For that we will have to converge by making our infrastructure more elastic, agile and secure, but also by making the technology easy to adopt. By using a hybrid approach where the Internet first meets the extended physical world, we will be able successfully to contribute to solving current world engineering challenges.

For additional information check out my presentation on Scaling the Internet of Things (IoT) at IoT & WSN conference in Europe on Apr 1st, 2014. Also feel free to comment about scalability challenges your organization may be facing in the Internet of Things.

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The Internet of Things (IoT)

Published in El Mundo Newspaper on February 12, 2014

Recently in Silicon Valley the Internet of Things has become trendy. The term the Internet of Thing (IoT) has its roots in the famous Auto-ID Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and refers to the Internet connection of sensors, vehicles, machines , and all kinds of objects. These connections allow maintenance and improve safety in cities, houses, shops, factories, utilities and transportation infrastructures saving time, money and even lives. Imagine a system that adjust timing traffic lights depending on who is crossing the street, a house that learn the habits of its inhabitants and optimizes temperature. The power grid will notify you when is cheaper to turn on washing machine or the insurance company will offer a discount for driving responsibly and activate frequently your home alarm system.

Big companies based in Silicon Valley already offer products for the Internet of Things such as Cisco Systems, Intel , Oracle and more recently Google after Nest acquisition. For the part of the Internet of Things that deals with smart cities, Spain has achieved international internet of thingsrecognition through innovative projects such as Santander, Barcelona and Malaga. While large companies such as Endesa and Telefonica and global leading IoT projects or Machine -to -Machine (M2M ) and other small are becoming known as Libelium , Carriots or Urban-M, an startup incubated in Malaga Bolt accelerator that is about to launch a smart bike with more than 50 sensors that interact with the city.

According to Gartner, in 2020 the number of objects connected to the Internet will be 26 billion. This represents 30 times the 900 million objects connected in 2009 (this number doesn’t include 7,000 million smartphones, tablets and laptops that is estimated for 2020). The Internet of Things will have an extraordinary impact on our lives and economies. 2020 is expected to furnish itself a value of $2.6 trillion to the global economy.urban-m

To understand these data and what is coming suffice to stop and observe what has brought into our lives the Internet we know today : in 2009 a global Internet economy generated $2.2 trillion, 2.9% of GDP according to a study from McKinsey . The report noted that if Internet consume and spending were a sector of the economy it would be greater than agriculture or energy. According to eMarketer, in 2012 30% of the Spanish population spent an average of $1300 per person shopping in Internet, which mean 2% of total purchases. Although Spain is the European country with the highest growth in online shopping, it is still far from the 13% in the UK according to Forrester. Moreover social networks have transformed the way we communicate and socialize at a speed and scale never seen before.

Undoubtedly Internet is a technological revolution that contributes to economic growth, productivity and employment. As in 1990 still was not clear how the Internet would affect us, now in 2014 the same process is happening for the Internet of Things. In Silicon Valley thousands of entrepreneurs have already begun to shape the new economy based on the interconnection of objects and analysis of data generate to improve decision making.

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