Just about the time we get our heads around the problem of Big Data, the Internet of Things promises to make the measly 2 billion connected people into 52 billion connected ‘things’. How can we possibly have the infrastructure in place to make use of so much human and sensor data?
Before we can even consider that question, the latest buzz around Google Glasses has completely new implications for how data is found, analyzed, and displayed. Augmented Reality (AR) is arriving very quickly as we see with the spotting of Google co-founder and CEO Sergey Brin on a subway train wearing their latest version of their AR gear.
Google has gone so far as to set up Project Glass developer events in San Francisco and New York in the coming weeks. For a mere $1500, you, too can come onsite and use their devices during “two full days of full-on hacking”.
Even though we’re so close to the beginning of publicly wearable AR devices, it’s hard not to suspect that we’re only a very short time away from widespread use of these tools for business. The applications are almost endless. Top of mind is the uses in business process, where a visual guide takes workers through their tasks and allows them to ‘sign off’ and send work along to the next person in the workflow. Engineers and mechanics can ‘see’ the work they’re doing as a visual manual to augment the challenge before them. Police officers can ‘see’ a grid of their patrol area and see calls and crimes as they’re reported. They can call up the face of a fugitive as they scan a crowd.
This gives a whole new meaning to video conferencing.
But where augmented reality begins to accelerate is in the visualization of sensor data from the world Gartner and others predict to contain 50 billion devices within the next five years. Imagine looking at the floor of a factory and knowing which machines are nearing an end of their maintenance cycle or which are running at temperatures above normal. There’s no reason to plot on charts when simply looking in a direction can begin a stream of data.
The trick will be integration of historical and real-time data fast enough to make a difference, and finding ways to streaming and static analytics in ways that simplify the complex and give it context.
This is a level of engagement with our environment that we’ve never had before. It isn’t the stuff of crazy science fiction, either. The hyper-focus on Big Data, Cloud and Mobile technology is coming together to make this a reality in a shorter time than we think. It’s nearly here, folks.