It is being called “The Internet of Things.” Things that used to be done by humans are now being done by computers.
It’s only natural to wonder how a self-driving vehicle, car or truck, can navigate through hectic residential areas, wind along back roads and interstates before coming to parallel park. How in the world does this happen? If we know how, perhaps we can accept the massive industrial changes coming our way.
The company, Nvidia, for example makes artificially intelligent software that lets computers see, think and learn like humans, something being called “deep learning.”
The devices they make, Drive PX hardware, also work for robots, defense contractors, cloud applications under trademarks like Jetson, GeForce or Tesla. Over 3,500 companies for example are working with Nvidia products.
Their technology is computerizing more and more and they do it through an intertwined network of objects imbedded with sensors, analytics software and electronics. There are billions of devices in use, and, they talk to each other, analyze, collect and exchange data.
I know from personal experience that computers, tablets, smartphones are changing my life. The second wave of Internet development is here. The first allowed people like me to connect with other people like you and businesses. The second, the Internet of Things lets machines talk to other machines.
Apparently the Silicon Valley in California, the area around San Jose and Palo Alto, is where many cars are self-driving. The talk to other cars, weather stations, the Dept. of Transportation, stop lights.
There are Internet-enabled thermostats (not us – only use wood burning stoves), light bulbs, refrigerators, baby monitors, windows and toasters that observe our behavior. There’s a toilet that opens, closes, deodorizes, plays music via a mobile app. A humorist like my neighbor, Gretchen, would love this one because she features such wacky things in her bathroom.
This revolution already knows where I am and sends information to apps like Google Map and Waze. It checks me in at an airport or grocery story. I’ll be seeing even more dramatic changes in energy, manufacturing, health care, food, banking, places that will have “things” doing work – sophisticated machines connected to one another.
Robots are now in use at Siemens, Harley Davidson, GE and Cisco. They use interconnected devices to run their plants, increasing productivity 34% with cost savings to each plant. Health Care, for example at the University of California, San Francisco, has a robotics-controlled pharmacy which has dispensed over 350,000 prescriptions without error.
A vegetarian fast-food restaurant, Eatsa, has a touch-screen to order. The meal slides into a cubby that lights up with your name in minutes. In retail, products are tagged so they can be tracked for almost perfect inventory accuracy.
Some day I hope that I will have a freezer that can inventory and tell me exactly where that package of frozen peas is hiding.