Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Dana Gardner, David Bermingham, Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Pat Romanski, Adine Deford

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Mobile IoT, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Agile Computing, Wearables, @BigDataExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

A Love Story: Devices and Cloud – Perfect Together

Cloud is highly available, which means it remains “indifferent” regardless of where, when, or who is using the service

We've heard about Google Glasses. And we've heard about Apple iWatch. And yes, we've heard about people embedding cellphones into shoes [1]. Once again, the term "wearable computing" is becoming a hot topic in news and literatures. Some have even announced that the age of wearable technology is here [2]. The world is surely changing fast. Aren't we still debating who makes the best smartphones and the best tablets? What's going on here?

The foreseeable booming of wearable computing is just another chapter of the unstoppable fusion process between cyber space and reality. Eventually, machine computing will become ubiquitous, and the boundary between human bodies and devices will fade away. This is a vision shared by many scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs and Hollywood writers. It's becoming a reality faster than we might have expected. Devices will no longer be just peripheral augmentations, but be inextricably intertwined with human lives.

Then, what's stopping mobile phones and tablets to play such roles? It turns out to be something simple - it's because we are "using" these devices. And because we are "using" the devices, we are unconsciously rejecting these devices from being part of ourselves. After all, "using" tools is not a foreign concept to us, and we intuitively know that tools are not part of us. However, the way we interact with a wristwatch is rather different. First, we rarely think "let me use my watch to look up time." We simply think, "Let me look up time (by looking at my watch)." The difference is subtle, however, a significant one in the way that we are not engaging an explicit "use" action, but a natural "look" action, which is an rudimentary function of our body. Second, we have to look out for battery consumption of mobile devices to keep them operational. Just as we don't consciously manage our body parts, the simple fact that we have to care about availability of these extra capabilities reminds us of the alien nature of these devices. On the other hand, we never turn off our watches, nor do our watches go into sleep mode by themselves. The functionalities provided by our watches are always available to us, making them natural augmentations of our own capabilities.

A wearable device is not a brand-new concept [3]; however, the term gets a new twist at the dawn of cloud computing. In this new word, wearable devices are connected devices. The characteristics of cloud and devices make them a perfect match: Cloud extends the capability of devices by providing infinite processing power, unlimited storage, and unparalleled opportunities for collaboration among devices. On the other hand, devices supplement cloud by bringing contextual relevancy, data collection, and everywhere access to the table.

Cloud is highly available, which means it remains "indifferent" regardless of where, when, or who is using the service. A search for "the best Italian restaurants" around the globe is rarely useful. However, when you issue the same search from your device, the search criteria can be enriched by contextual information - is the restaurant nearby based on your geo-location? Is the restaurant currently open based on current day and time? Is it within your price range based on your spending history? The list goes on and on, and you automatically get much more fine-tuned, personalized results simply because of the personal attachment provided by the device. In other words, devices make cloud services relevant to real lives.

Devices are up close and personal, which means they are seriously "tunnel-visioned." For example, a thermometer reports only temperature readings. Without cross references with other data such as location and time, the reading is barely useful by itself - 40 °C in a teapot and 40 °C on a forehead have very different implications. Even with more powerful devices such as mobile phones, social attributes of their owners can't be captured by the devices alone. Humans are social animals. Being able to reflect on the rich social contexts is a very important capability of mobile phones acquired only when they are connected to cloud. Let's go back to the restaurant example: with the assistance of cloud, your mobile phones are able to tell you how others think about the restaurant; You'll be able to query if the restaurant has enough seating capacity for your party; you may reserve seats or place your orders directly; and you can take a picture of your dish and show it off to your friends.

At the business level, devices and cloud have interleaved connections as well. Cloud services follow a very different business model compared with what is for traditional software. Traditional software is a high-margin industry, while cloud services are a high-volume-low-margin industry. For cloud platform to really prosper, it has to build up the critical mass. The scale of this critical mass exceeds all the scales traditional software vendors can ever imagine. Cloud services need to reach out to a large number of clients simply to keep the business model viable. Here we are not talking about numbers in hundreds or thousands. Instead, we are looking at the scale of millions or even billions. How to reach this number? Cloud platform vendors need to look beyond PCs, beyond tablets, and beyond smartphones. They need to make cloud ubiquitous. They need to reach out to every aspects of human lives. Hence, they will be the deciding force that finally merge the cyber space and reality together.

Just as I won't be surprised if Google makes a Google Jacket, or Apple makes an iCollar for dogs, I won't be surprised if your refrigerator automatically orders some meatballs for you because it thinks you are probably going to make pasta tonight. I can easily imagine your water bottle follows you around when you jog through the park. Devices and cloud are perfect together, and their love story has just began.

References:

  1. http://news.msn.com/science-technology/video?videoid=275a3b9a-165b-7ede-...
  2. http://www.hindustantimes.com/technology/PersonalTech-Updates/Age-of-wea...
  3. Mann, Steven (1998): Humanistic computing: "WearComp" as a new framework and application for intelligent signal processing. In Proceedings of the IEEE, 86 (11) pp. 2123-2151

More Stories By Haishi Bai

Haishi Bai is a Windows Azure Technical Evangelist at Microsoft. Ever since he wrote his first program when he was 12, the world for him has always been all about software and services. In his 16 years of professional life, he’s been engaged in various areas ranging from finance to public safety, and he’s taken on different roles such as architect, development lead, and project manager. He’s also a passionate educator who loves to share his knowledge. He runs a technical blog at http://blog.haishibai.com that focus on cloud technologies. The site attracts over 60,000 views monthly. His Twitter handle is @HaishiBai2010.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...