Posts Tagged ‘sensors’

The Magicians of Big Data

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

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 2014The 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: 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

The Growth of The Internet of Things (IoT) in Spain

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Spain has been a test case in Europe for whether austerity and structural overhauls can save its fiscally weak economies.  A direct consequence of austerity programs is the use of smart technologies to simplify process and drastically reduce operational expenses.

This motivated many Information and Communication Technology (ICT) integrators, universities, large corporations and public administrators to innovate.

With The Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine(M2M) as umbrellas, startups in Spain created hundreds of solutions to help cities, manufacturing plants, retail shops, farms, and utilities to succeed with their austerity plans.

Last week I attended GigaOM MOBILIZE, and I had the opportunity to meet a couple of these Spanish IoT startups: Libelium, a technology leader in open source sensor platforms with 50+ applications for Smart City. And Carriots, a M2M application platform that allows you to build intelligent apps in 5 steps, including a very cool beer tap monitoring solution to detect bars serving another beer under the tap brand.

However, the leadership of Spain in IoT in many cases is driven by City Hall administrators who are looking to reduce costs while improving services for their citizens and tourists. Spain ranks in the top three for world leadership in the tourism industry with 58 Million visitors and $80.2 billion direct income in 2012.

One example is the city of Malaga that implemented a 31 million euro Smartcity Málaga pilot project headed by Endesa to reduce energy by 20% and CO2 emissions by 6.000 tonnes per year. This project earned Malaga the title of the smartest city of Spain, followed by Barcelona and Santander.

Barcelona is ahead of the curve for ICT and mobile solutions. Cisco Systems, the company I work for in California, has invested $7M to make Barcelona a global reference model for sustainable urban development with the Smart+Connected Communities platform. Cisco also selected Barcelona to host the IoT World Forum next week bringing together top executives from leading global companies, the public sector and academia to accelerate the advancement of IoT.

The third top smart city in Spain is Santander which increased  responsiveness of emergency services by 25% using IoT management systems. With more than 12000 sensors for traffic, temperature, luminosity, CO and noise the Smart Santander Project provides a unique opportunity in the world for a city-scale experimental research facility to validate social acceptance of IoT technologies and services.

Besides startups and public administration, a key stakeholder in Spain helping with the adoption of IoT is Telefonica M2M which provides process automation and business expansion to their customers. A few weeks ago in San Francisco I met Telefonica Labs CEO at his new book presentation about innovation and I was delighted to hear about all the efforts Telefonica is putting into the IoT space including a $2.4 billion contract to provide smart meter technology in UK homes.

Another company in Spain that is providing an end-to-end IoT solution for their corporate customers is Mildmac. I had the opportunity to work for Mildmac before I moved to the US and I’m not surprised that they have already embraced IoT. With 20+ years innovating and integrating systems, Mildmac has the right team and expertise to lead this technology transition with their new product BDFutura, With the acquisition, storage, and analysis of data flowing from sensors/actuators, BDFutura not only provides a multiservice application environment for IoT use cases, but also integrates with VoIPFutura, the open source based IP telephony/radio platform I was leading a few years back.

The growth of IoT in Spain is being incubated by academia in the area of information and computer science such as at the NICS Lab at the University of Malaga, and the University of Cantabria. Also, vast experience in supply chain management and logistics is demonstrated by the world’s largest clothing retailer Zara, and leadership in high speed rail, infrastructures and solar energies by companies such as Abengoa have created a culture of excellence in operations management in Spain.

I’m sure there are many entrepreneurs in Spain today creating IoT startups to continue leading this technology transition and help Spain improve their services while maintaining minimum operation expenses. Ultimately, IoT will not only lead Spain’s economy to a faster recovery, but also use the technology expertise to help other countries improve their processes and logistics.

I look forward to seeing more Spanish IoT startups leading the market!

Rafael Maranon-Abreu

The opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s opinions and not those of his employer and/or its affiliates.

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