I recently caught up with some old friends from times and business gone by. We talked and laughed, reminiscing about the old days when we were all young engineers, wide-eyed and full of wonder.
Back then the engineering world was full of veterans who were about to face the biggest changes in engineering since the invention of the slide rule. Everyone knew change was coming. But nobody believed or could really foresee the impact that compute and network were about to have on the industry (and their lives). Seemingly overnight, drafting boards were relegated into storage, updated by the CAD stations suddenly appearing on desktops worldwide. Drawing, design, testing, analysis: all changed overnight.
As we spoke we joked about some who still saw themselves as traditional engineers. “Dinosaurs,” we laughed. We talked about how I’d meandered into telecom, and then media; how some fortunate choices had plunged me into industry evolutions in telecom, media, sports broadcast and more. We talked about embracing change amongst the naysayers led some of us to outpace the veterans who had been our previous managers and bosses.
Yet then, when I spoke about IoT, the conversation stopped. My friends glanced at each other and then laughed at me. Apparently I was the missing something…what could that be?
They reminded me of early projects connecting networks to water valves in massive SoCal irrigation systems and to furnaces in homes in the coldest reaches of the North. Refreshed my memory on the messages we sent to control those devices and feedback over the network on their activity and conditions in the system.
I was floored. This was early ’80s, before anyone had uttered the phrase “connected devices.” But they were right. Back then, parades of engineers and maintenance personnel roamed the land in trucks, recording and monitoring everything manually. And then smart people like my fellow engineers started thinking differently.
I was hit right in the head like that Redds Apple Ale commercial. Of course: we had IoT 30 years ago, though it did not have a catchy acronym and the friction was high in the ecosystem. The opportunity for automation was ripe then and has amplified today across industrial and personal ecosystems. Despite the timing, it was IoT nonetheless – so I had to admit that what was old is new again and that what we take for a new trend was born from decades of progress in networks, processing storage and devices aligned with vertical industry applications.
And above all, by the same engineering vision – and hunger – that’s allowed today’s IoT to become the unstoppable force it’s becoming.
We finished the conversation imagining how the world will change as this chapter continues, and how the digital data sources that have risen in recent years will take the IoT vision to an even higher level. Video, of course, is key to this chapter. It will integrate with data and other content sources in unimaginable ways. Whatever is in store we will all get unprecedented benefits, both seen and unseen, when more of everything is networked. At the tap of a screen we will experience information and images of anything, anywhere, coming together to reveal a new range of opportunities and advantages.
I look forward to seeing my friends again in a few years when this new, rising, unstoppable wave of IoT once again changes everything.
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