IoT – Opportunity or Disruption? How Can You Benefit?

Layers of Disruption, and Opportunity
Opportunity or Disruption? Up to You

An interesting study I’d like to commission is the correlation of earnings with Internet connections. I.e. Do those with more connected devices earn more. Anecdotally at least it seems there is a very high correlation. Most of those I know earning 6 figures or more seem to be constantly connected with at least 3 devices.

Also consider how the vast majority of people connect to the Internet. Currently this is via the smartphone.

In a recent project where the City of Melbourne gave every tree an email address they learned that over 60% of the homeless have a smartphone. And it is well documented that the poor in developing nations have a far higher penetration of smarphones than Internet connected computers. Of the almost 3B connections to the Internet, almost 2B are via mobile devices.

This makes some sense, as computers automate more and more processes, scale the amount of information for decision inputs, and connect to lower cost or higher value labour, we amplify the return.

IoT Scales Connections

If this is the case, what does this mean for the Internet of Things? Of rather what does IoT mean for you? Personally?

Personal assets – wearable and mobile technologyThere are a number of areas of opportunity anyone can pursue right now:

  • Household assets – automated home & the connected car
  • Smart Buildings – office, campus, and residential
  • Industrial Internet – machinery, environmental and asset optimisation
  • Travel and transport – fleet management and logistics
  • Smart city – Traffic flow, lighting, safety and policing, waste disposal, event management
  • Utilities and Energy – Energy metering and usage, utility arbitrage
  • National – Environmental analysis, population management, migration challenges

There are opportunities throughout every sector from personal to national. Opportunities for connecting devices to the IoT that benefit you directly and for business.

This isn’t just true for technologists.

We need funding models that benefit from these connections, we need to establish legal frameworks. We need educators to teach users and practitioners how to use this technology. Marketers, sales people, recruiters.

The Internet of Things changes the very fabric of society. And that affects every job.

Whatever field you’re in there is a direct correlation to understanding and becoming a practitioner in IoT and financial success.

Could We Use VR To Correct Eyesight?

I am interested in how we can improve the human condition with technology. Could we use VR to correct eyesight?

Monitoring eyesight
Could we shift the focal length in VR to correct eyesight? Credit:

I’m not an optician, or opthamologist. So nothing I say here could have any bearing on reality. But I am interested in how we can improve the human condition with technology. Could we use VR to correct eyesight?

Both my step- and biological fathers were airline pilots. And on the biological side I have two generations of military and commercial pilots. Like me, all of them had 20/20 vision in their teens. However, they all needed glasses in their 30’s and 40’s whereas my eyesight is still 20/10.

Even without this personal observation though, it’s hard not to notice how many pilots wear glasses. One of the reasons, I believe, is because of the amount of time they spend focusing at a fixed distance. Whilst there’s the big blue sky, the eye tends to focus on the glass of the window and the cockpit console. This is a similar effect to everyone who works for long hours staring at a computer screen.

Well, that and age of course.

So my question is, “Could we reverse this using VR?”

If we can reverse, or at least mitigate the effects of eyesight in children using corrective lenses, could we do the same in VR?

Could you enter a prescription into a VR system, which then changes the focal length of the display ever so slightly so as to exercise your eye appropriately? Tracking the eye would allow the system to discern fatigue, again changing the focal distance to reduce strain. Over time, exercising the eye in this way, theoretically at least, would do the opposite of relaxing the eye at a single focal length.

Is this even possible? Are you, or do you know an optical specialist who’d be interested in researching this with me?

The same could be true for hearing as well. Could we alter frequency and volume to regain hearing across certain volumes?


Tackling the ‘Reality’ of Virtual Reality

Split between the reality and the virtual

VR is an experiential medium. The first thing people express in their first VR experience is surprise at how ‘real’ it seems. Once you don the Head Mounted Display (HMD) and headphones, you really do experience another reality.

There are a number of factors that contribute to this. Chief for me is scale. Like the TARDIS in Dr Who, it is bigger on the inside. Staring into the eye of a Blue Whale,

or on a plank balanced out the window of an apartment 50 floors up, is simply something you cannot experience as viscerally looking at a screen.

And we haven’t even begun yet.

Right now two factors constrain the ‘reality’ part of Virtual Reality:


The first is the resolution of the display. This itself is a function of the display technology, the processor, and power. If you’re using standard display techniques, pixel density becomes a real problem. As you add more pixels to a display, you exponentially increase processor performance requirements, in turn needing more power.

This is why the two leading VR headset manufacturers (Oculus and HTC) still tether their HMD’s to a powerful computer.


The second challenge to neuropsychological quality VR is the actual fidelity of the artefacts. No matter how good the rendering, we all can discern the difference between an animated character and a ‘real’ person. Within VR this effect is amplified.


This presents us with a dilemma: Create a discernibly unreal computer animated avatar that can respond appropriately to us as a being within VR. Or capture realistic video of people we can watch but not interact with.

Right now various producers are using both approaches powerfully. Spectating a Syrian Refugee camp through VR video is as powerful as experiencing dementia through VR animation.

Producers can create enough videos to cater for a simply decision tree, somewhat like an IVR call system. But this is clunky, unwieldy and easy to game. Equally the game engines of modern First Person Shooters and simulators are remarkably sophisticated, but the graphics are still not real enough.

It’s the melding of the two that will truly change VR. The inability to discern the authenticity of people within the simulation, combined with the ability to interact.

One thing that is certain, however, is how powerful this new medium is, and that it will change everything.

Watch this space.

Maslow And The Key To Being A Futurist

Thinking Like A Futurist

I’ve always thought like a futurist. Which leads me to make some pretty bold assertions about technology, and its impending impact in our lives. Much of this stems from a career in technology, across 4 continents and 3 decades. Foreseeing the impact of the Internet when you led inititatives like automatic, remote, backup services before the web in the ’90’s, or the impact of Cloud, after building one of the world’s first Application Services Provider in 2000, becomes automatic.

But there are plenty of technology initiatives, many of which have failed to take precedence, like 3D TV’s and WAP. Others that succeeded beyond anyone’s imagination, like SMS texting.

How Did Texting Go Viral?

Remember when you had to learn a new language because you only had 160 characters and a numberpad to send a text. When you could only text people on the same phone network, in the same country. And then when you had to pay more to send across networks.

How is it that financially strapped young people could suddenly afford inordinate amounts to buy a mobile phone, and deal with this cumbersome technology?


Here’s one of the keys I use to evaluate nascent technology. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Particularly the need for self-expression, connection.

I first learned the power of this when I was in the Air Force. We would be back from an exercise, exhausted and starving, in the meal queue, when mail arrived. To a man, anyone would leave sacrifice their place in line to get a letter from home.

Information and Communication Technology

This primal need drove language, writing, the printing press, the telegraph, and broadcast media like the radio and TV. It is the key to the rise of Mobile Phones (despite unwieldy SMS), to the Internet, to Smartphones, to YouTube, to Social Media. This is what drives Wearable Tech, IoT, Augmented and Virtual Reality.

3D  adds no connection over and above television, whereas SMS enables people to connect in a way unprecedented in history.

If you want to determine whether a technology will take off, pay heed to Maslow.