Planet Earth is about to get its own version of the Web!
Cisco Systems is partnering with NASA to create a massive online collaborative global monitoring platform called the "Planetary Skin" to capture, collect, analyze and report data on environmental conditions around the world, while also providing researchers social web services for collaboration.
This type of platform is essential for Climate and Ecosystem researchers, but it also might be a sneak peak at the future of the Internet.
'Smart Planet': Age of Sensors & Structured Data If life in the past few decades has been forever altered by complex microprocessor chips, the next century could see the same social disruption via simple, low cost networked sensors and 'embedded objects' that mirror a digital signal of our analog world. But making this disconnected data relevant is a challenge.
The 'Planetary Skin' platform [video] will stitch together 'petabytes' of unstructured data collected by sensors (land, sea, air, space) reporting on changing environmental conditions. The platform will also allow for 'streamlining of decision making' and 'collaborative swarming' on analysis of relevant data. The project's first layer, “Rainforest Skin,” will be prototyped during 2009.
Good for NASA, Great for Cisco, and Wonderful for 'Mirror World' Metaverse Enthusiasts The benefits to NASA and Planetary system researchers is clear. Forget about Facebook, these scientists are looking for a functional digital research simulation 'Mirror World' (as envisioned by David Gelertner).
Meanwhile, Cisco is working diligently to make itself the most relevant web company in the next era of Internet architecture where collaboration, video, 3D simulations and structured data change the nature of our interactions. 'Planetary Skin' might be Cisco Systems under the radar, but out in the open effort of essentially building its own Internet of Tomorrow.
One of the great efficiency opportunities for the next century is based on the convergence of information and energy flows. The notion of a 'smart grid' is a more reliable and efficient energy web based on the integration of software, sensors and energy storage.
And for those homes with 'Smart Meters' or Smart Devices, solutions are coming online quickly. Google has now thrown its hat into the ring around the basic idea: 'if you can measure it, you can improve it'. The Google Power Meter is a software tool integrated into smart meters that helps consumers better understand how they use energy in order to reduce their costs and consumption. Google is a big name, in an expanding space of 'smart energy' startups, like Sentilla and REGEN, who are trying to build demand in the residential market.
Related Smart Grid posts on The Energy Roadmap.com
In a paper released yesterday, AJ.P. Gownder and James L.
McQuivey at Forrester predict that by 2013
Apple will become the hub of the digital home. They support
this contention by imagining
eight future Apple
products including “wall-mountable digital picture frames with
small high-definition screens and speakers that wirelessly play
media”, “an Apple ‘clock radio’ that pipes in music and other media
across a home network”, and “an ‘AppleSound’ universal remote
control, also with a touch-sensitive screen, that lets users browse
their music collections and change the songs playing through their
stereo as they stroll around the house.”
I tend to concur with the rest of the
blogosphere in that this is quite the tame list and that we’ll
probably see significantly more advanced products from the likes of
Apple circa 2013. With dropping component costs (hi-rez screens,
processors, graphics cards, etc.), rising data transfer speeds
(Internet2, a possible
re-allocation of analog TV spectrum) new competition from
proliferating design & interface companies, and the fact that
most of these concepts already in prototype, I believe such
products are more likely to hit mass-markets inside of 3 years
rather than 5 long years away.
In particular I find the “wall-mountable digital picture frames”
prediction a bit weak. If former Xerox PARC
Director John Seely Brown is accurate
in his estimation that Apple CEOSteve Jobs “is
positioning himself to take over completely the living room,” then
by 2013 I see the company developing radically cooler products such
as a slick telepresence
interface that future blogger Dick Pelletier expects
by 2015 or before .
Being that such devices, albeit clunky and expensive versions,
are already being sold by the likes of
VisBox, and that
holographic and projection technologies could eliminate
the expensive screen altogether, it’s unlikely that Steve Jobs and
his crack team of agile researchers and designers haven’t yet
realized the trumping value of rich multi-purpose,
telepresence-enabling interfaces. (cont.)
One of the biggest business opportunities of the next few decades will be enabling the convergence of Energy and Information systems to lower costs and improve efficiencies.
Companies such as Johnson Controls and IBM have been very vocal about their vision of a 'smart infrastructure' future. And there are a number of 'Smart Grid' startups offering utility-scale and building/home energy management solutions.
Cisco: 'Smarter' Energy Networks Cisco Systems is widely associated with the hardware 'backbone' (e.g. routers) of the Internet, but the company is expanding into new web-based services like video collaboration and energy management.
Cisco has a very simple vision of the future of energy efficiency: If it is on the 'network', then we can make it more efficient. Why is this important? Because within a decade or two most everything that produces and consumes power will be integrated into an information (web) network.
The company has announced its new Cisco EnergyWise [PDF] technology platform that will help its customers reduce energy consumption of Internet Protocol (IP) devices such as phones, computers, and digital access points. The next step for Cisco will be offering software solutions to help manage building systems (lighting, air conditioning and heating).
The offering puts Cisco in a strong position to compete in a fully 'embedded' world where all objects and devices are on the web and energy is never wasted.