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Connectivity! Keyword of this Era

  • By Ryan Skidmore

Like Never Before. The Jetsons had Rosie, the all-in-one appliance. She took care of everything. But for the most communicative appliances, the Flintstones take the cake, if only to entertain the audience. But Fred and the gang did tell the appliances what to do or how they wanted a task performed periodically, making them connected tools instead of just talking gags. Jokes aside, there are now no limits to the horizons of what technology can allow us to do. So much so that Google and friends have started working with science fiction writers to dream up new ideas.1 This means new things to do (applications) with all the stuff we have (technologies) are no longer immediately apparent. Think of how obvious the use of cars and planes were in replacing slower modes of travel, and then cell phones and email in replacing slower and less convenient forms of communication. Notwithstanding, there are still universal obstacles to overcome, but we are treading new territory and history will provide less guidance on the specifics than previous eras.

Internet of EVERYTHING.  An article on Business Insider’s website recently chronicled a computer professional who automated much of his job and related activities including…get this…initiating the coffee machine making a latte (yes, the coffee machine which was surely in the kitchen in an entirely different room in the office) and then waiting 24 seconds before pouring it in the cup because it takes our man just that long to walk from his desk to the coffee machine.2

That’s magic right there. Mimo makes a sensor that attaches to a baby’s clothing. Belkin makes the WeMo Switch that acts as an electrical outlet that can be turned on and off with an app. And of course, the Nest Learning Thermostat that is, surprisingly, a thermostat that learns the home occupants’ schedules and adjust the temperature accordingly. Common everyday things are automated, acting as a kind of Rosie turning up the temperature in the house before George Jetson gets home or watching the baby so Jane can do something else. Every little thing can be on the internet, connected and performing tasks.

What does it all REALLY mean? Everything being connected keeps your drivers safe. What was once a business owner’s day dream, wanting to know what is happening when they can’t be watching, is now a reality. A GPS device in a car allows the business owner to see what is happening in real time and for servers to capture the data allowing them to go back and see what happened. With several cars connected, Fleet Stats enable summaries of fleet activity. Reports allow inquiring business owners to slice and dice past fleet metrics in almost every way they can conceive of. When reporters and gurus throw around words like Connectivity and Internet of Things, know that like physical things anyone ever uses, every contraption, is now or will soon be online. If you own a fleet, knowing about fleet management techniques like route optimization to reduce fuel consumption and improve delivery times is a must. Yes everything is connected, and yes it can be a lot to take in, but using the right tool for the right job is still as sound a practice as the day Henry Ford rolled his first car off the assembly line.

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