Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Behavior Changing Technology

5-6 years ago, an NIWeek keynote speaker explained how the rise of broadband to the home would change the way people used the Internet. It wasn't due to the increased speed of broadband over dial-up. He said it would be due to the Internet being "always on". While it only took 60 seconds for the modem to dial, connect, and start passing data, the reduction of this time to 1 second would cause a fundamental usage change. Today, the Internet has certainly become pervasive and I can't argue with his reasoning.

I noticed the same thing when I installed my wireless LAN in my house. Besides learning that Macs were infinitely superior in the "it just works" category, it was amazing to see the difference in how I used my laptop and its networking capabilities. This was not just "cable replacement", it caused a switch in the way I used the technology. I see it every day with people bringing their laptops to meetings so they can look up information during the meeting or "hiding" in a conference room to get real work done.

These two examples both show that advancing the technology doesn't necessarily mean that you can simply "do more" along the same axis that the technology advanced. Yes, you can download bigger files over broadband, but it's causing bigger changes than just that.
So what technologies are going to change the T&M world? "Wireless sensors" is an emerging technology. Is cutting the cord and reducing wiring costs the only benefit? Or will it cause a shift more substantial? What if you could hook up to a sensor without disturbing the others who are taking that data? What happens when I can "see" the thermostat on the wall, or the car counting sensor in the concrete? Ah the possibilities.


At 4:20 PM, Anonymous tim bates said...

Prescience is, of course, seeing it before it happens, but yes, always-on makes a massive difference, because there is not variable cost to the next transaction: its all sunk and therefore we do, and benefit from the tiny things: like you writing your blog entry on a whim. And then they multiply - because everyone else is doing them: so we get network benefits: like me replying :-)

Always with you (wi-max, hotspot) will be great: any machine, any transport has all your data.

And of course, always working (OS X/BSD) is critical :-)

So... "what technologies are going to change the T&M world?"

I think ultra cheap, disposable cheap PID and sensing, all hooked up with whatever is available - ethernet for fast and cheap, bluetooth, wi-fi.

Seeing the thermostat on the wall is not such a big deal in itself: where it pays, we can already do it.

The transformation, like always on, will be doing it (sensing and controlling things intelligently) even when the sensed data are worth only a few cents, because once all the processes are sensed, and shared and monitored and controlled, we change the scope dramatically.

Love the NI blogs!!


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