Sensors and Convergence (Part 1)

Unexpected convergent consequences… this is what happens when eight different exponential technologies all explode onto the scene at once.

An expert might be reasonably good at predicting the growth of a single exponential technology (e.g. the Internet of Things), but try to predict the future when the following eight technologies are all doubling, morphing and recombining… You have a very exciting (read: unpredictable) future.

1. Computation

2. Internet of Things (Sensors & Networks)

3. Robotics/Drones

4. Artificial Intelligence

5. 3D Printing

6. Materials Science

7. Virtual/Augmented Reality

8. Synthetic Biology

This year at my Abundance 360 Summit I decided to explore this concept in sessions I called Convergence Catalyzers.

For each technology, I brought in an industry expert to identify their Top 5 Recent Breakthroughs (2012-2015) and their Top 5 Anticipated Breakthroughs (2016-2018). Then, we explored the patterns that emerged.

This blog (the first of seven) is a look at Networks and Sensors (i.e. the Internet of Everything). Future blogs will look at the remaining tech areas.

Networks and Sensors – Context

At A360 my first guest was Raj Talluri, the Senior VP of Product Management at Qualcomm, who oversees their Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile computing businesses. Here’s some context before we dive in.

The Earth is being covered by an ever-expanding mesh of networks and sensors that form the Internet of Things (or the Internet of Everything). Think of the IoT as the network of all digitally accessible objects, estimated at 15 billion in number today, and expected to grow to more than 50 billion by 2020.

But what makes this even more powerful, is that each of these connected devices, are themselves made up of a dozen sensors measuring everything from vibration, position and light, to blood chemistries and heart rate.

Imagine a world rapidly approaching a trillion sensor economy where the IoT enables a data-driven future in which you can know anything —> Read More

A new role for vitamin B6 in plants

Vitamin B6 is essential for all living organisms. Researchers have discovered an unexpected role for this micronutrient, in relation to nitrogen metabolism. The results indicate that one of the vitamers informs the plant of its content in ammonium, a basic nitrogen compound needed for the biosynthesis of various molecules essential for life. In the future, vitamin B6 could be used to ascertain the nitrogen status of plants and eventually prevent the overuse of nitrogen-containing fertilizers, say authors of a new report. —> Read More

Asian monsoon season weakens as the Indian Ocean warms

The variable nature of the summer monsoon season makes Southern Asia one of the most vulnerable regions to natural disasters associated with climate change, such as droughts and floods. A recent study has revealed that the warming of the Indian Ocean is reducing the intensity of the summer monsoon season and drying up the subcontinent. In a region that is home to a large part of the world’s population, dynamic climate modelling represents a major challenge in the prevention of the human and economic consequences of climatic hazards. —> Read More

Canines Communicate With Their Own ‘Howling Dialects,’ Study Finds

A new study has found that canid species — from wolves and coyotes to dogs and foxes — communicate with their own “howling dialects.”

A team of international researchers narrowed down 21 types of howls, linking their different pitches and fluctuations to specific species and subspecies, according to a new paper published in next month’s edition of the journal Behavioural Processes.

“We found that different species and subspecies showed markedly different use of howl types, indicating that howl modulation is not arbitrary, but can be used to distinguish one population from another,” the researchers wrote in the study.

In other words, howl types or “dialects” are similar to how we humans have different languages around the world.

The researchers used computer algorithms to analyze more than 2,000 howls collected from both captive and wild animals in Australia, India, Europe and the United States. The result is what’s being touted as the largest quantitative study of its kind.

According to their findings, some howls were noticeably different while others were only slightly different. The timber wolf’s howl, for example, is described as heavy, flat and low-pitched. It differs from the critically endangered red wolf’s howl that frequently has a high, looping vocal.

Dr. Arik Kershenbaum, a researcher at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology and lead author of the study, hopes this new research will not only aid in better tracking and managing of wild wolf populations but also will help us better understand our own language development.

“Wolves may not be close to us taxonomically, but ecologically their behavior in a social structure is remarkably close to that of humans. That’s why we domesticated dogs — they are very similar to us,” he said in a statement. “Understanding the communication of existing —> Read More

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