Is that a sensor in your pocket?

By Clive Gold, CTO Marketing, EMC Australia and New Zealand

Last post was about the technology on the ride. Strangely after the ride I flew down to Melbourne to present at the eResearch conference.  You might be wondering why EMC was there, well today the technologies EMC has to address the enterprise “big-data” challenges, are exactly the tools that eResearch needs. This convergence in capability which meets the need for simple, fast, scalable storage, to the multiple Petabyte scale; the ability to processing billions of pieces of information in ‘real-time’;  and the ‘self-service’ environment for these data scientists to work and collaborate in.. is the current capability EMC offers this market.

The conference covered many interesting and varied topics, but one that caught my interest, (given what I have been saying), was centered on ‘mobile’ sensors. For example a small, lightweight, sensor that can be attached to cattle to track their movement from up to 70km away. Critical information for tracking the herd, managing  feedstock etc.

The general discussion in this session, moved onto the need for fine grain/‘individual’ sensors to perform certain types of research. For example, a project investigating the effect of climate change on flora could include input from ‘flower’ enthusiasts who would notice when plants flowered. Think about the research opportunity of combining this fine-grain data with the satellite data that is obtained about the macro-environment. Resulting in a ‘high resolution’ and complete picture of what is going on!

We have already seen the benefits, in disaster situations, of this ‘individual’ sensor system where people have tweeted in status reports. With the tweet and the location where it was sent from, the authorities have been able to obtain a better understanding of what has transpired and where the critical needs are.

Here is where it becomes interesting because smartphones are becoming sensor stations, it started with basic sensors, like orientation, grew into accelerometers, compass, gyroscope, and now the use of low-cost MEMS sensors, (less than $1) is expanding the capability into all sorts of areas, barometric pressure, humidity etc.  A market according to iSuppli’s Bouchard is predicted to be more than $1 Bil in 2012. (Here).

Just imagine the possibilities of capturing this data and using it for good!  A simple example from the ride, there are a number of steep descents, these combined with an idiot rider, led to a few serious crashes.  The organisers did an amazing job of having the right ‘resources’ close to these places, but I would imagine it took a while for riders to report accidents to the next marshal.  Just imagine if the accelerometer in their smartphone immediately reported this ‘rapid deceleration’, and the ambulance also got the position data, an immediate response!

So right now the opportunities are limitless, there must be massive opportunities for any B2C organisation, but also any organisation that needs to make major investment decisions, data-augmentation lowers risk, improves decision-making and should drive profitability.

We are just limited by our imagination!


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