Switching to smarter surroundings

Pethuru Raj | Updated on April 04, 2013 Published on April 04, 2013

These days, IT, being the cool enabler of simple as well as complicated business operations, is penetrating powerfully into every tangible industry segment. With the desired maturity of edge technologies, every common, casual and cheap thing in our personal as well as professional environments gets quickly digitalized and tactically empowered to be computational, communicative, sensitive and responsive. Ordinary articles become smart artifacts in order to join in the mainstream computing to be participative and contributive in significantly enhancing the care, convenience, choice and comfort of humans.

It is no exaggeration to state that lately there are a number of noteworthy and nimbler advancements in the IT field. Infinitesimal and invisible tags, sensors, actuators, controllers, stickers, chips, codes, motes, specks, smart dust, etc. are being produced in plenty. The implications are really many and mesmerizing too. That is, all kinds of perceptible objects in our everyday environments are being empowered to be self-, surroundings- and situation-aware, remotely identifiable, readable, recognizable, addressable and controllable.

Such a profound empowerment is to bring forth a number of tactical as well as strategic transformations for the total human society in the days to unfold. Suppose there is a man-made or natural disaster in a particular location. If everything there is accordingly digitalized, then it is possible to understand what exactly has happened , intensity of the disaster, hidden risks inside, the way to plan and proceed, the exact situation of people therein etc. The knowledge gained would enable the rescue and emergency team leaders to cognitively contemplate right decisions and plunge into actions straightaway to rescue as much as possible. In short, our decision-taking capability in our personal as well as professional lives correctly is to see a significant rise. The ways we learn and teach are to change profoundly, the energy usage is bound to be knowledge-driven, the green goals are to be met more smoothly and quickly, the security and safety of people and properties go up considerably etc.

Smarter Environments

Our living, relaxing, working, and other vital places will be filled up with a variety of electronics including environment monitoring sensors, actuators, monitors, controllers, processors, projectors, displays, cameras, computers, communicators, appliances, gateways, high-definition IP TVs, etc. Apart from these, all the physical and concrete items, articles, furniture, and packages will become empowered as computation and communication-enabled smart artifacts by attaching specially made electronics onto them. Whenever we walk into such kinds of empowered and augmented environments stuffed and saturated with a legion of digitalized and distributed objects, the devices we carry and even our e-clothes will enter into calm yet logical collaboration mode and form wireless ad hoc networks with the inhabitants in that environment. For example, if someone wants to print a document in his smartphone or tablet and if he enters into a room, where a printer is situated, then the smartphone will begin a conversation with the printer automatically, checks its competencies, and sends the documents to be printed. The smartphone alerts the owner.

Energy Efficiency

As there is a continued rise in energy consumption (and the resulting head dissipation to the extremely fragile environment), there is a call for unearthing energy conservation means in order to proactively save the environment for our children. Green solutions and practices are being insisted these days everywhere. IT is one of the principal culprits in wasting a lot of scarce energy due to the pervasiveness of IT servers and connected devices. There are statistical reports conveying the message that data centers consume a lot of electricity. Green IT is therefore a hot subject for study and research across the globe. Newer and nimbler platforms such as smart metering and grid have emerged and are doing well. There is a renewed focus on the internet of energy concept.

Choice and Convenience

The perceptible advancements in science and technology bring forth a number of improvisations and innovations in human lives. For example, Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) is a new prospective application domain. Next-generation healthcare services demand deeply connected solutions. For example, for lonely, aged, debilitated, destitute, and diseased people, the ambient and ambitious need for remote monitoring, diagnosis, care, management and entertainment goes up sharply. Medical doctors can remotely monitor patients’ health parameters. People can track the progress of fitness routines. Taking decisions becomes an easy and timely affair with the prevalence of connected solutions that benefit knowledge workers immensely and immeasurably. All the secondary and peripheral needs will be accomplished in an unobtrusive manner and this enables people nonchalantly to focus on their core and primary activities.

Remote Monitoring

With the number of devices in our personal, social and professional environments is growing in an unprecedented fashion, their real-time administration, configuration, activation, monitoring, management and repair if any problem arises, eases considerably with this remote connectivity and correction competency. Real-time asset-tracking is to get a solid fillip. Enterprises, hospitals, factories and other large organizations can accurately track the locations of high-value equipment, doctors and patients, vehicles, etc.

In the impending era, disappearing computers, communicators, sensors and robots will be instructing, instigating, alerting, and facilitating decision-making in a smart way, apart from accomplishing all kinds of everyday needs proactively for human beings. Humanized robots will be extensively used in order to fulfil our daily physical chores. That is, computers in different sizes, looks, capabilities, and interfaces will be fitted, glued, implanted, and inserted everywhere to be coordinative, calculative and coherent yet invisible for discerning human minds. On summary, the Internet Of Everything technologies in sync up with cloud infrastructures are to result in people-centric smarter environments.

(The author is an enterprise architecture consultant in Wipro Technologies.)

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Published on April 04, 2013
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