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It's All Coming Together

Cloud computing, RFID, advances in processing power, nanotechnology and other trends will soon coalesce into a multifaceted platform that gives computers the ability to know what in happening in the world—and to respond.
By Mark Roberti
Jun 22, 2014

As we read daily newspapers, news websites and alerts delivered to our phone, it often seems that news happens randomly and events are unrelated. Then, once in a while, you read something that makes you think that even random news events are part of a larger trend. I had this experience the other day when Rich Handley, RFID Journal's managing editor, sent me a news story titled "New Type Of Computer Capable Of Calculating 640TBs Of Data In One Billionth Of A Second, Could Revolutionize Computing."

The article is about The Machine, a new high-powered computer core, developed by Hewlett-Packard, that combines elements of a server, a workstation, a PC and a smartphone. According to HP, it was designed to cope with the masses of data produced from the Internet of Things. The article says The Machine—I love the hubris of its name—is "six times more powerful than existing servers that requires eighty times less energy. According to HP, The Machine can manage 160 petabytes of data in a mere 250 nanoseconds. And, what's more, it isn't just for huge supercomputers—it could be used in smaller devices such as smartphones and laptops."

This might be a lot of hype, but what struck me is the fact that companies are developing faster microprocessors that consume less energy, while others are developing cloud-computing capabilities that allow them to allocate tasks over distributed machines, each of which could be way more powerful than today's computers. Still other companies are developing low-cost sensors that use nanotechnology to detect ammonia, nitrates and other chemicals. And, of course, companies are developing better RFID systems that will capture information about billions of things that exist in the world—car parts, T-shirts, oil pipes and everything else.

These disparate technologies will, no doubt, coalesce into a platform enabling computers to capture information about the real world in real time, and to then analyze it and react. RFID and wireless sensors will produce terabytes of RFID data each day. A decade ago, that would have overwhelmed IT systems. A decade from now, it will likely seem trivial.

It's exciting to think about what these trends will mean for businesses. They will be able to know much more about what is happening within their factories, warehouses or stores, and they will be able to monitor everything in near-real time—and thus react to anomalies quickly.

Companies need to stay abreast of what's happening, because change will not be linear. As these trends come together, change will speed up. The more companies are able to collect and analyze data about some parts of their operations, the more they will want good data on other parts. Innovation will also accelerate. New sensors will proliferate as businesses begin to take advantage of them. The firms that manage this transformation adroitly will be able to cut costs and gain market share from those that don't. As is always the case with new waves of technology, there will be winners and there will be losers. RFID Journal will do its best to keep our readers informed about the big picture, and about individual applications of RFID technologies.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.

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