Fingertip Data

October 29, 2013 10:27 PM
Fingertip Data

Real-time information leads to faster decisions

Personal computing has become a game of inches, literally. Smartphones are barely 5" long but are more powerful than the bulky personal computers of a decade ago. So what does the future have in store?

"Many aspects of management are establishing protocols and analyzing to determine if business management decisions are working, or if other considerations are more practical," says Norm Schuring, vice president of GEA Farm Technologies, a manufacturer of technical innovations for dairies. "The future will be process management with instant evaluation, monitoring processes and equipment operations in real time—not just a scheduled evaluation."

"The future will be process management with instant evaluation."

It’s not difficult to envision how a dairy or cattle farm might benefit from real-time data gathering and decision making from a mobile device. For example, current radio frequency identification (RFID) technology allows for rudimentary location tracking and data gathering.

While this information is useful, it’s reactionary. Future technology might allow farmers to make feed-rationing decisions and track livestock health down to the temperature and heart rate for each animal.

The march for big data will be a big deal for row crop producers, too, says futurist Bob Treadway.

"One of the most valuable farm assets is its data," Treadway says. "The aggregation of this data and its conversion to useful actions will drive the profitability of farming operations during the next decade."

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This transformation should come as no surprise. "The overlay of new technologies and techniques continues to change operations for agriculture, but not the driving purpose," he says.

If you want to push the limits of your imagination, consider that just as RFID tags track an individual animal, emerging technology might allow the monitoring of individual plants, as well. Companies such as Hewlett-Packard are investing in nanotechnology that could monitor large areas—perhaps the entire Earth.

"If we’re going to save the planet, we’ve got to monitor it," says Peter Hartwell, HP senior researcher and project team lead. HP has labeled its project the "Central Nervous System for the Earth," which would deploy millions of tiny sensors across the globe for unprecedented hyper-local monitoring abilities.

Phone Flex. One thing that’s not getting smaller is the size of mobile screens. The average smartphone screen is 38% larger than it was in 2010, according to a study by NPD Display Search. That trend is not sustainable. New research suggests the future of mobile devices will be flexibility.

Futuristic-sounding, but real, materials such as elastor polymer will allow phone companies to develop flexible, bendable devices. Rolling up your phone might sound impractical, but the technology would allow for some added functionality. You would hold your phone more naturally, and your device wouldn’t break the next time you accidentally sat on it.

No one can completely forecast what the future of mobile devices will look like. But experts agree that the future will be faster, smaller and more streamlined.

Is a Smart Watch in Your Future?


Smart watches are expected to achieve $6 billion in revenue by 2018,  according to ABI Research.

Watches aren’t especially fashionable these days, but tech companies are betting that smart watches and other wearable technology will catch on. A few models are already available, although the technology is still in its infancy. Here are five reasons why Laptop magazine says these devices will be more than just a fad:

1. Information is easier to process at a glance.
2. It might help you live longer by tracking fitness and health-related data in real time.
3. The battery life is much better than that of smartphones.
4. There will be improved voice-related functionality.
5. Smart watches are more discreet and less disruptive than smartphones or Google Glass.

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