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Three New Tech Innovations for Business and Pleasure

Writer Kevin Allen shares what's new on the tech horizon.

By Kevin Allen June 30, 2016 Published in the June 2016 issue of Sarasota Magazine

Kevin allen inp4vi

Kevin Allen (@KevJosephAllen) is a Sarasota-based cloud technical evangelist for IBM, where he has worked as an editor and writer for Thoughts on Cloud and developerWorks. His articles have been published in Entrepreneur, PR Daily, the Chicago Sun-Times, ESPN, Fox Sports and many more publications.

In the 10 or so years since my wife’s last visit to Paris and the five years since my own, smartphones went from novel to necessity. The challenge of hailing a taxi had forfeited to the ease of Ubering. And, perhaps most importantly, the selfie had turned the phrase, “Can you take our picture?”, utterly obsolete.

This time we were visiting the City of Light with each other, and our gadgets. Like most Americans, we didn’t bother to learn a lick of French before we whisked off. Didn’t matter, thanks to the handy Google Translate app. We were able to order our poulet au pot, croque monsieur (et madame) in French and then figure out exactly how much walking we did to burn off those calories. In the four days we spent there, we logged 63,484 steps—nearly 30 miles—according to my cloud-synced Fitbit.

Accounting for Moore’s law, the rule that computer components double every year, it’s exciting to think about what will change between this trip and our next. Here’s how I see us getting to that next iteration:   

Cloud enters its next phase

The business case for cloud is evolving. Moving data and workloads to the cloud isn’t just about speed and convenience. It presents an opportunity for startups (like the makers of my trusty Fitbit) to get to work immediately without heavy up-front investment on infrastructure, and to rapidly scale as the company grows. For larger enterprises (and even small and mid-size businesses), cloud offers a means to keep pace or even outshine potential industry disruptors. If Uber and Airbnb taught us anything, it’s that no mainstay industry is safe from disruption.

As businesses continue to understand and reap the benefits that cloud computing presents, expect multicloud to become the norm (or hybrid cloud, if you want to get technical). It’s no longer as simple as choosing whether to tap into a private cloud or public cloud. Businesses will ask the question, “Which environment is right for this workload?” All of this allows developers and programmers to do what they do best: innovate.

At the same time, this presents challenges, most notably with interoperability and ensuring IT employees have the skills to keep up with the pace of change.

Internet of Things goes mainstream

One of the buzziest of buzz phrases in recent years is finally becoming a reality. If my wife and I are able to make it back to Paris in 2020, Gartner, an information technology research and advisory company, says we’ll be doing so in a world with more than 20 billion connected things. These devices have embedded sensors and connect to each other via networks, giving them the ability to exchange actionable data. Aside from Google’s Nest products, which include devices like thermostats that learn their users’ habits and are controlled via mobile devices, cars are likely the most visible consumer-facing product that’s coming online this year.

Our phones aren’t going to be the only things in our lives that are smart. Device sensors that connect to the Internet will give us data on just about anything that’s worth collecting, and probably a few things that aren’t.

And where will all that data live? See the section on cloud.

Shutterstock 385433683 vb4pez

Virtual reality: not just for gamers

I swear, VR is not just for gamers.

This year, Facebook’s Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive have already hit the market, and Sony PlayStation VR is set to hit shelves in the fall. But the rise of virtual reality could soon transport us from our living rooms to the 50-yard line at the Super Bowl. It could put you (or more likely your teenager) front and center at a Taylor Swift concert. The video implications are huge. Marriott even partnered with Oculus last year to give users the experience of virtual travel.

So, who knows? Maybe our next trip to Paris will happen in our living room by simply strapping on a couple of VR headsets.

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