Cheap computing power, paired with ubiquitous connectivity in nearly every corner of the world, is creating a global, intelligent fabric of network services and applications that will transform the way we live over the next three to five years.
That's according to Stafford Masie, technology entrepreneur and co-founder of a content and cloud enabling company with Seacom. He says that the Internet is rapidly evolving into a Sensory Membrane of Ubiquitous Real-time Federated Subsystems (Smurfs) that delivers rich services and applications that were the stuff of science-fiction just a decade ago.
"A range of technologies are maturing and meshing together into a rich network that already has immense capabilities. Just think about doing a Google search on your phone. The device does none of the processing, yet you have access to a wealth of information within a few seconds of starting the search," says Masie.
Users' expectations will change
Within the next 18 to 36 months, we can expect to see a range of machine to machine applications as well the growth of big data completely change users' expectations of what the global network can do for them. Breaking the definition of Smurfs down into its component parts, Masie says that the next-generation of Internet technologies are:
Sensory: Inanimate objects, such as microphones, radio-frequency identification readers, location-aware smartphones, even wearable devices that monitor a user's health, are increasingly connected to the Internet. They gather and share large volumes of data with the world, feeding systems with plenty of information for decision-making.
Membrane: The whole ecosystem is designed to make it easy to share information and access services across a network; in fact, sharing often happens as organically as osmosis in an automated process.
Applications act in real-time
Ubiquitous: Like electricity, connectivity is always present. Through mobile data connections, apps and devices, people have access to network service, information and applications wherever they are, especially in urban areas. Offline and online are converging and the resultant is hyper-connectivity and always being tethered.
Real-time: Applications harvest data in real-time and act on it. Users will increasingly expect things to happen right now, rather than sometime today or even in the next few minutes.
Federated subsystems: The whole ecosystem is federated and apps continually call on a range of subsystems to provision services, and information. Apps draw together data from a number of sources to deliver rich and powerful services difficult to conceive of in the past.
Access content rather than own it
Ease of use and accessibility is characteristic of the new world of computing. Users are interacting with data through powerful and easy to use apps rather than through websites. Rather than owning content, they access it through services such as music service Spotify and video streaming service Netflix. We are moving away from the world of owning things, to the notion of accessing things in real-time wherever we may be.
This emerging computing fabric is transforming network engagement from human-to-machine and into the world of machine-to-machine-human engagement. A world where vast amounts of sensory, biological, atmospheric, location and climatological will be captured ambiently and persistently, creating real-time feedback loops and correlation amongst distributed subsystems.
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