Month: February 2014

Internet of Things

Internet of things is the term we use for the new usage of technology around us. For example, nowadays iPhone users can activy Siri and ask it to do things for them like call someone, tell the weather, send a message and all of this things (as well as Android users that have the google service for this too).

All these devices are connected (by cables or by wireless) so everything can talk to each other. And these huge technology is gathering a lot of data that can be used to create things in the future.

Imagine in the future you are coming back to your house after your entire day of work and your house knows that you are coming, so it prepares a hot shower to you and all you have to do when you arrive at your house is to go to your bathroom and take your shower after your tiring day. And after your house knows that you like to watch your favourite tv show, so it turns your tv on and all you have to do is to sit on your sofa in front of the television. And so you like to read before going to bed, so your bedroom turns the light on for you to read and it knows when you finish reading and then itself turns the lights off for you. In the following morning your house knows what time you wake up, so it already boiled water for your coffee and prepared your toasts. It also knows the time you leave your house to work, so in the same moment you leave, your house turns off all the electricity in order to save your money and be safer.

That is what we call Internet of Things. Devices learning our actions, what we like and what we don’t, our routines, and talking to themselves and so they will be able to do things for us without having to be told to.

One example that already exists is the Nest Learning Thermostat that was developed by Tony Fadell and a friend of him while he was building himself an ecological house. The Nest Thermostat has an artificial intelligence that allows it to learn your routine, the days you use it the most, the temperature you use the most and the time you sleep, so the thermostat knows when to turn it on and which temperature to use. If you leave your house to work, for example, and forget to turn it off, it turns off itself because it knows that you left to work. And if  one day you leave for a trip and forget to turn it off and the thermostat does not know that you leave for a trip, so it cannot turn off by itself, you can access it using your device (like your iPhone, iPad or MacBook).

Nest iPhone App

Nest Learning Thermostat





Different algorithms are being increasingly developed  for all kinds of proposes. Not only the computing and robot field are using them on their implementations. We can see the use of algorithms in political campaigns and purchases online or in supermarkets. This growth is causing huge impact in the world, political field, economic field, in the technology field and in social life.

We have algorithms that allows robots to modify their behaviour for different situations. Another one to assist companies in making decisions analysing data coming from social media and news websites and we have the algorithm that uses the searches we do in google and youtube to choose the best ad to play before the youtube videos.

But these are the most commons kind of algorithms. There are algorithms for everything nowadays, and I am going to put here some “different” algorithms that I found:

  • researchers from University of California, Los Angeles have created an algorithm that analyses the movie genre, the release date and the key words related to it and calculates the chances the movie has to win the Oscar.
  • The True&Co is a bra company and when you shop online on its website you answer many questions that are analysed by an algorithm that tells what is the best size and model for you.
  • Lars Backstrom, Facebook senior engineer, and Jon Kleinberg, Cornell University computer scientist developed and algorithm that analyses Facebook connections to identify romantic couples and guess when a relationship is close to its end.

But after reading about all of these algorithms, one of them call my attention as the “weirdest”: An algorithms that connects to a twitter account and “learn” the way and what a person tweets and after her/his death it keeps tweeting for the person. The site is LivesOn and its slogan is:

Slogan from the site LivesOn

Slogan from the site LivesOn

Of course none of these algorithms would work without the Big Data. With the connection of these two important things it would be (and is already being) possible to predict things about the future. It can be an excellent tool in the right hands.