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January 14th, 2014
What sort of hyper-reactive reality are we heading into?

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This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) showcased a lot of sensors that combine to make smart home environments with sensing and alerts for energy, access, and safety of our homes. This vision has been coming for some time, it’s a reality now with some products, and will rapidly become ubiquitous as these products such as Wi-Fi enabled thermostats, lights and power plugs hit all the home improvement stores. Along with all the hype come some very interesting technological developments with possibilities for more agents and assistants.

This coming quantified building is tied to machine learning, where sensors and devices will help a central control to understand your patterns, learn your commands, and improve your life. The idea of talking to a hub to send a robot vacuum to clean a spill at your location is today’s reality that seems far-fetched. The promise of the Jetsons is truly upon us, and this development comes through a new level of spatial awareness made possible by reality capture and real-time analysis. With all these devices providing a greater awareness, we can expect to harness our device world views in order to better inform our reality and to have that reality react to our wishes.

Google Plays

At the CES event, many automakers announced their partnership with Google for an Android car operating system, including such brands as GM and Audi. The idea of an open platform built upon the most popular smartphone operating system makes Google the connected car leader to beat. With this move, Google has intimated the real reasoning behind all their high-cost mapping efforts. Their superior maps already shine for in-car navigation, and the control of the in-car hub operating systems turns the car into their added sensor source akin to how they harness the location of our smartphone devices right now to help make their maps.

Google just today announced the acquisition of Nest, the in-home temperature and  smoke sensor company that was founded by an ex-Apple designer. Nest is a huge player in the connected home with its sensor that adjusts to understand your energy needs and save you money. With this in-home system in the fold, and the cars that talk to each other, cars talking to houses is just around the corner. Consider how much Google knows about us now, and the ways this can be used with our connected home and connected car to stock our supplies and get us to where we want to be.

Dynamic Actors

Our cars and homes now become dynamic actors in our lives, helping us as we navigate our day. The idea of this almost sentient helper working on our behalf is a promising future where our reality can become somewhat choreographed based on our schedule and our needs.

The idea of devices as mappers and map consumers ties into the dynamic maps that we already have now. Each autonomous device (whether a Roomba vacuum or a self-driving car) maps its surroundings to avoid collision, to stay on course, and to learn. Our cars today have sensing hubs on board to monitor diagnostics, but the new hub for these autonomous devices will learn and facilitate communication and to amass a map of its surroundings. All of these aggregated maps from each device is what will inform our future.

Hyper-reactive Map

As the self-driving car has to have a hyper sense of its surroundings to travel at highway speeds (with instant sensing of road conditions and safety issues), our reality will be informed by a new hyper sense of the things around us. That hyper sense will often take the form of a map, a personal map, of our surroundings and their conditions.

The move toward more real-time inputs — with both our possessions and our cities communicating and interconnected — means an explosion of maps and mapping to inform a greater understanding. Mapping is moving ever closer to an active pursuit where an evolving map captures and relates reality rather than the stale capture of place in time. As all these mapping efforts are correlated, we may gain a new sense of the complexity or simplicity of the world around us.

The coming days of a fully sensed world will mean a great deal for our future prospects. The ability to react and respond is immensely aided by this coming hyper awareness, and there are many things that we need to react to.

 

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