The New Agricultural Revolution: B2B, Nano-drones and Organics

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Picture Credit: DroneOmega

As an Upper (Connecticut River) Valley denizen, IAI admires the courage, toughness and resiliency of farmers who are entrepreneurs who start their days early and end them late. Stop some time to talk with an organic farmer- they are focused, overburdened by regulations, but committed to the Farm to Plate movement. What also may be surprising to city folk is that they are not uninformed, they are committed to pride in their production, and they are indefatigable. Now, there are a lot of new technological developments that are breaking in their favor.

So here are examples of some new tools to support farmer-entrepreneurs:

I. Commodities Exchanges: Wikipedia provides a 50,000 foot view: A commodities exchange is an exchange where various commodities and derivatives products are traded. Most commodity markets across the world trade in agricultural products and other raw materials (like wheat, barley, sugar, maize, cotton, cocoa, coffee, milk products, pork bellies, oil, metals, etc.) and contracts based on them. These contracts can include spot prices, forwards, futures and options on futures. Other sophisticated products may include interest rates, environmental instruments, swaps, or ocean freight contracts.

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Equal Exchange- Pioneer in Championing Small Scale Farming: In 1986, EE founders Rink Dickinson, Jonathan Rosenthal and Michael Rozyne embraced the mission to build long-term trade cooperative partnerships in Nicaraguan coffee that were economically just and environmentally sound, to foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers and to demonstrate, through our success, the contribution of worker co-operatives and Fair Trade to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world.

II. Farm Management Software: Capterra lists a diverse group of FMS suppliers including these top six web-based offerings rated over 4 stars and 1000+ users:

  • Cropio: a satellite farm monitoring system that supplies real-time data on crop conditions in the fields (View Profile here).
  • Agrimap: simple, power farm software to make farmer’s lives easier. (View Profile here)
  • Agrinavia: helps reduce costs, increase efficiency, and promote exchange of data for precision agriculture. (View Profile here)
  • Agroptima: easy-to-use App & Farm Management Software that allows farmers to record their tasks and have an overview of the farm. (View Profile here)
  • FarmLogics: a full fledged web based on-premise or cloud installable agriculture ERP including contract farming module. (View Profile here)
  • FarmLogs – Data Science Tools to Farmers:  Jesse Vollmar and Brad Koch created web and mobile software that gives farmers instant access to soil maps, rainfall statistics and heat mapping and growth analyses to help make farming more efficient and profitable. After participating in the Y Combinator tech accelerator, FarmLogs raised $15 million in venture capital, including a $10 million Series B round funded late in 2015. (View Profile here)

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Picture Credit: FarmLogs

III. B2BMarketplaces: Business-to-business (B2B) exchanges or marketplaces provide dramatic opportunities to automate collaborative business processes with customers and suppliers, generate internal efficiencies, and reach new markets at minimal cost. B2B Ag marketplaces have been undergoing rapid adoption over the past fifteen years and improved dramatically in the last three due to big data aggregation, cloud computing and early adoption of distributed ledgers or blockchain. The Chinese Agricultural University analyzed the benefits and critical factors of B2B e-marketplace in agriculture product marketing case study by Shandong Shouguang Vegetable Trading Market Online (SSVTMO) in this 2009 paper here.

F4F Exchange: Here’s an example of the B2B ag revolution that is focused on integrated “supply-centric” grain, seed, crop protection and fertilizer sectors. The F4F vision is to create a transparent, open farmer and consumer centric integrated agri-food supply chain. But the mission is much broader: to work with all parts of the agri-food market in providing business solutions aimed at helping their customers meet the challenges of:

  • Legislation on assurance and compliance with rules and standards
  • Supply chain consolidation – across every sector
  • Need to increase – productivity
  • Intensifying competition – on price, service, quality, green factors, and value
  • Challenges in data management – volume, types, web enabled devices, speed of change, real time
  • Sustainability – the need for our industry to rise to the global challenge of creating more from less
  • Food safety – provenance and assurance on food origin and treatment is high on the list of matters concerning consumers
  • Rapid evolution of technology – allowing changes to be made to business processes that were previously not possible

IV. Drones and Other Reporting Technologies:  DroneOmega explains that “the advancement of drone technology has seen many emerging use cases including the expanding use of drones in agriculture. The availability of imaging sensors provide farmers with new opportunities to increase crop yields, minimize crop losses, and thereby maximize their profits. Farmers are now using technology that was once reserved for the military to monitor their crops from the air, instead of visually inspecting their crops on foot. The information gained from drone crop imaging provides a larger, and more accurate view of crop health.” Canadian farmers have been aggressive in adopting both B2B exchanges and ag drones as shown below and they focus on these key “in-field” farmer concerns:

  • Confirmation: Frequently checking that plants are growing at the rate expected
  • Early Detection: This is key to addressing plant health issues in order to limit the impacts, and provide time to implement a solution
  • Fertilizer Planning: Crops seldom grow evenly, and distrusting fertilizer based on plant health, instead of spreading evenly and reduce costs.

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Picture Credit: Canadian drone adoption from VisionGain.com

For further reading, Equal Exchange offers this list of resources here.

 

DARPA – Replacement Satellites on Demand, XS-1, Cybersecurity and EMP

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Picture Credit: DARPA (artist rendition)

DARPA is building “a completely new architecture for space.” In order to protect these vital military space systems, this research agency spawned by the launch of Sputnik in 1958 is now focused on developing a “whole portfolio” of capabilities. Before the release of British Interplanetary Society member and Futurist Arthur C. Clarke‘s seminal 1945 paper describing the launch of satellites, he first referenced geostationary satellites in his February 1945 letter to the editor of  Wireless World (page 58) titled Peacetime Uses for V2 for Ionosphere Research.

The U.S. Military must instead have been paying attention to D.A. Bell’s adjacent letter regarding ” FM Protection Against High Amplitude Interference Pulse” which was a precursor of signal disruption in FM broadcasting and now a core broadcasting consideration. (D)ARPA established the IPTO in 1962 with a mandate to build a survivable computer network to interconnect the DoD’s main computers at the Pentagon, Cheyenne Mountain, and SAC HQ. As described in the following pages, this initiative led to the development of the ARPANET seven years later, and then to the NSFNET and the Internet.

In 2010, Oak Ridge National Labs (FERC – META- R-320 here) warned of U.S. power grid vulnerability from the threat of “early-time (E1) high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) produced by nuclear detonations above an altitude of ~30 km.” Not only are HEMP (EMP) and cybersecurity prominent national security risks today, but so is the militarization of space. Two authors writing in the SAIS Journal of International Affairs last winter claimed the need for electric grid modernization was prompted by the threat from “Mother Nature” (SAIS, Vol 35, No.1) – sorry, unlike Slate, neither Oak Ridge National Labs (see EIS report here) and DARPA (to name two experts among many) do not see climate change as the real risk to critical infrastructure.

The DOD reported this week that “national security critically depends on space, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA’s Project List is detailed here) is focused today on creating the capabilities needed to help make that environment a real-time operational domain, DARPA Director Dr. Arati Prabhakar said recently at the 2016 DefenseOne Summit as reported in Air Force Magazine:

Because there “is more and more a real possibility” of conflict in space, “there is nothing that we need either from an intelligence perspective or a military perspective that we can do effectively without space.”

DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar

 Its Airborne Launch Assist Space Access program (ALASA) plans to create a low cost alternative for small satellite launches and Space.com has the DARPA simulation here. They explain: “ALASA seeks to propel 100-pound satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) within 24 hours of call-up, all for less than $1 million per launch.” The $10K/pound payload cost does not reflect total program cost but is a third of the current cost DARPA estimates but it is certainly not an all-in programmatic cost estimate. Right now, ramp times for unexpected launch operations number in the months.

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A critical  part of the portfolio will be DARPA reliance on its experimental spaceplane, XS-1 which entered phase 2 of its development this past spring. The Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program  aims to help overcome cost, deployment and positioning challenges and create a “new paradigm” for more routine, responsive and affordable space operations. Jess Sponable, DARPA program manager. “We intend to leverage those advances along with our Phase 1 progress to break the cycle of escalating DoD space system launch costs, catalyze lower-cost satellite architectures, and prove that routine and responsive access to space can be achieved at costs an order of magnitude lower than with today’s systems.” DARPA has a history of being responsive to challenges:

DARPA’s ability to adapt rapidly to changing environments and to seek and embrace opportunities in both technology and in processes, while maintaining the historically proven principles of the Agency, makes DARPA the crown jewel in Defense R&D and a unique R&D organization in the world.

DARPA Over the Years, August 1997.

So, how does DARPA frame the goal of making space a real-time operating domain (RTOD)? DARPA’s OpenCatalog actually labels these mixed-criticality real-time threats. Their Iron Curtain Active Protection System has an amazing video here of how it operates. Partnering with non-profit strategic venture investor In-Q-Tel, DARPA is going to have to rely on trusted national partners and allies. IQT Labs are exploring new ideas, technology, and approaches in select sectors that are anticipated to significantly impact national security.  Under the Space 3.0 Program, a number of initiatives are underway.

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Picture Credit: IQT Labs

Unlike Government exquisite systems (Space 1.0) or commercial exquisite systems (Space 2.0), Space 3.0 is being driven by venture-backed startups that are leveraging a variety of converging factors to produce a new wave of affordable products and services. From reliable space access to new analytics for remote sensory data, startups are disrupting current processes and establishing a new space ecosystem.

One particularly relevant IQT Labs effort is centered at CosmiQ Works which brings together the U.S. Intelligence Community, industry, and academia “to explore the art of the possible in the new space ecosystem.”

Inside the Next Startup Garage

Space is hard. Luckily, there are several converging advances that are helping startups launch, sometimes literally, entirely new product lines.

rocket-blueAccess to Space

Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) to be specific. New launch vehicles and rideshare options are increasing access and decreasing costs.

Cheap(er) Hardwaresatellite-blue

Adoption of commodity hardware coupled with the use of agile development methods.

Rapid Innovationcycle-blue

Lower costs and fast development allow startups to accept greater risks.

New Consumersastronaut-blue

Affordability and tailored services are opening the space market to new customers.

Investment in a Commercial Ecosysteminvestment-blue

Venture firms are investing in the new ecosystem ranging from launch systems to data analytics.

 

“Great Surge” Theory and Techno-Economic Paradigm Shifts (hint, we’re in one…)

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Picture Credit: Getty Images

Futurist Carlota Perez’s “Beyond the Technological Revolution” research offers wise guidance to policymakers as Wiki describes it as “a further development of Joseph Schumpeter‘s work on Kondratieff waves earning her the 2012 the Silver Kondratieff Medal by the International N. D. Kondratieff Foundation. In Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942), the “Prophet of Innovation” Professor Schumpeter characterized “industrial mutation” as a process that “incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. (p. 83)” MIT elaborates that over half of productivity gains come this way:

“The process of Schumpeterian creative destruction (restructuring) permeates major aspects of macroeconomic performance, not only long-run growth but also economic fluctuations, structural adjustment and the functioning of factor markets.”

Austrian School scion Schumpeter presciently warned that the collapse of capitalism would lead to global socialism as entrepreneurship is undermined and the ownership of the means of production becomes divorced from the producers themselves (essentially what we have now as Sutirtha Bagchi extracted in his Amazon review in 2008). Neo-Schumpeterian Carlota Perez who wrote Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital, was mentored by Christopher Freeman, and both elucidated the relationship between basic innovations, technical and institutional change, and economic development. Right to work states are defended by Mark Thornton, Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute, here in a recent preview of the Trump Administration’s economic policy outlook. What he prescribes is akin to the Hippocratic Oath, typically presented to physicians as “First, Do No Harm.” But Medicine.Net explains it is much deeper and more complex:

One of the oldest binding documents in history, the Oath written by Hippocrates is still held sacred by physicians: to treat the ill to the best of one’s ability, to preserve a patient’s privacy, and to teach the secrets of medicine to the next generation.

IAI believes that a successful long-term policy framework to promote economic growth should operate with some basic widely-agreed, fact-based principles. Neo-Schumpeterian political economists explain that policy needs to help entrepreneurs to success: fewer taxes, less regulation and minimal interference with the market’s price signaling mechanism. Perez laid out a history of five technological revolutions that follow a similar pattern of bang, bust and renewal. In The Other Canon Foundation, Perez and a dozen other economic historians celebrate “man the producer” (and not “man the consumer”) and highlight the critical  the link between innovation and financial dynamics. In short, they are champions of the Learning Economy and DRUID’s Bengt-Åke Lundvall and colleagues developed the idea of innovation as an interactive process and celebrated the concept of National System of Innovation. The key here is being shown in how the technology surge has been creating knowledge worker jobs.

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Picture Credit: CBRE Research

Just as in natural science, errors of commission or omission can be catastrophic, disastrous economic policy failures result when they:

  1. are made in secret;
  2. fail to account for industry operating conditions; and
  3. ignore history (the sine qua non)

Policymaking in Secret: The Council of Economic Advisors issued a report detailing the costs of withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) right before President Obama announced the withdrawal from the TPP ! One year earlier, President Obama had hailed the proposed TPP (which no one had read) as “the most progressive trade deal in history.”

Failure to Make Any Policy: For example, product and liability insurance policy reforms are needed for Commercial Spaceports in new Trump administration as a recent GAO report pointed out and NASA somehow got stuck with a $5M bill for the 2014 Antares explosion which contractor insurance should cover, not taxpayers ! The GAO decried, ““FAA has not issued guidance to spaceport operators to clarify when it considers them third parties and when it considers them involved parties,” adding that agency officials told them that such guidance “has not been a high priority” for them.

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Picture credit: Choice.com.au

Ignoring History: Bertrand, Schoar and Thesmar (2004-7) drive home the point that problems in the banking sector can have grave consequences for the health of the restructuring process.  Economic historian Thornton at Mises Institute warned in 2005 (just after the FBI and Professor William Black!) that a housing bubble was building in 2005.  Deloitte has a great study here pointing out that Hong Kong benefits from a low tax structure, a “fair trade” approach distinct from mainland China, and a free movement of capital and skilled labor.  Maybe, before the policy gets codified, the tax holiday repatriation of (at least) $2.1 TRILLION should get favorable tax treatment if it is invested in productive capital and infrastructure rather than used for share buybacks which are just another distortion of equity markets and a signal that corporations have no higher return alternatives. Let’s advocate for an infrastructure stimulus from these repatriations NOW !

 

Thanksgiving Traffic Gridlock? Check out the Hyperloop One System

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Picture Credit: Elon Musk at SpaceX

Hyperloop One (recently featured in VentureBeat) should be careful NOT to over-promise (“not just a train in a tube”) as it has made substantive technical changes to Elon Musk’s initial proposal and it abandoned the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles route that Musk envisioned in his 2013 white paper on Hyperloop Alpha here. But the search for a fifth mode of transport after planes, trains, cars and boats SHOULD meet the core criteria Elon reasoned, “compared to the alternatives, it should ideally be”:

  • Safer
  • Faster
  • Lower cost
  • More convenient
  • Immune to weather
  • Sustainably self-powering
  • Resistant to Earthquakes
  • Not disruptive to those along the route

Not convinced? Look at the insane south LA Interstate 405 pre-Thanksgiving traffic – “4 0r 5 hours” and it has gotten worse in Seattle with the “express toll lanes” too, according to transportation auditor Inrix. And two separate vehicle fires nearly shut down I-35 outside of Austin just crushed travel times in Travis County- just imagine the incredible loss of productivity and health-damaging stress these traffic gridlocks cause?? And driver-less vehicles are still congestion makers, NO? Business Insider explains, “according to writer Brian Christian and cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths, co-authors of Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions,” the difference in congestion between total chaos and a perfectly-ordered driving system — the kind proposed in a future with autonomous vehicles — is only about 33%. “If you’re hoping that networked, self-driving autonomous cars will bring us a future of traffic utopia,” they write, “it may be disheartening to learn that today’s selfish, uncoordinated drivers are already pretty close to optimal.” Driver-less electric trucks like this Audi model and driver-less buses (in 5 cities now), however, might make sense…

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Picture Credit: Austin TX KRAN

Hyperloop One just issued a bold new transport plan, but show me the money! A global roadshow for the Hyperloop One System, is getting a lot of press on this premise: “Hyperloop is a new way to move people and things at airline speeds for the price of a bus ticket. It’s on-demand, energy-efficient and safe. Think: broadband for transportation.” But, WAIT, this breakthrough could change travel in a cost-effective, energy efficient way in a lot of high density U.S. corridors within 1,000 miles – take 153 seconds to look at this breakthrough here (and IAI is not paid to promote anything- just a citizen innovation enthusiast (CIE)!)

A progress update shows that DevLoop, Hyperloop One’s full-system test track, was just installed in Las Vegas in preparation for a Q1 17 cargo test, according to Elektrek. And this is significant as it would, in fact, become a new mode of transportation which did not escape the entrepreneurial and impressively foresighted Dubai with also committed to Hyperloop and it launched a driver-less, 10 seat tourist minibus service in September. As the leading tourist destination in the Gulf, Dubai attracted 14.2 million visitors in 2015. The Telegraph (UK) tempts – “how about a 12 minute (100 mile) trip between Abu Dhabi to Dubai?”  Forbes has an interesting feature on the “100 Top Executives in the Middle East” which has a lot of them looking at innovation adoption.Hyperloop co-founder Josh Geigel enthuses in Fortune that, “I think the whole country is acting like a startup,” he said. “It’s as close to terraforming a planet as you can see here. And they have a deep belief that technology can make the world better.”

Hyperloop One had already received a significant investment from the company behind the port of Dubai and it was “exploring” a hyperloop system between the marine port and what would become an inland container port in order to free up valuable portside real estates and reduce cargo traffic in the region. And the Dubai “feasibility study” is a go. “The deal will see both parties explore a route for a vacuum-sealed pod transportation system, which could potentially slash travel times between Dubai and Abu Dhabi – 150 kilometres (90 miles) apart – to around 12 minutes. The system could later be expanded to link the UAE with neighbouring Gulf countries so that a trip between Dubai and Saudi capital Riyadh – currently two hours by plane – could be completed in under 50 minutes,” the Telegraph reports.

Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd signed the deal with H.E. Mattar Al Tayer, RTA’s Director General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors.

The May 2016 trial of the  supersonic transport system shown here – but HO reveals now that “they plan for their pods to break down in smaller pods that can also travel on roads outside of the hyperloop tube. These smaller pods can bring you to the hyperloop and lock in with other pods to go into the hyperloop for long distance travel, and it can also bring you to your end destination. ” Just remember, tourists are not going to like going 700 MPH for 3 km in a tube…[Nature’s top speed law for a given tube to pod area ratio is known as the Kantrowitz limit but there could be an engineered solution like this one here at Jalopnik.]

The devil is always in the details as the $21B projected cost for the 310 mile Helsinki to Stockholm system worked out to about $64M per mile, according to Fortune.… watch where that number goes when Estonia gets added to the “Golden Triangle” as the study author, FSLinks, details here.

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Picture Credit: Hyperloop One in Fortune

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dynamics Shaping the Future in the “Age of the Consumer” -Forrester

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Picture Credit: NASA/ GSFC (artist rendering of solar winds on Mars)

Forrester highlights the dynamics shaping the future (in 2017) of the consumer experience and the changes are coming quickly and overwhelmingly like a the solar wind shown above. Navigating the change is going to require a blend of business reassessment, idea leadership, a focus on the customer experience and intelligent application of technology to transform business. The customer-led, digital-centric market is being driven by widespread adoption of “Millennial-like” behaviors (hooray!). CRM expert Kate Leggett cites Forrester Research that 21% of US consumers are “Progressive Pioneers” that lead the demand for innovation. Cliff Condon declares that Forrester’s  Empowered Customer Segmentation shows that “more than a third all US online adults want new and engaging digital experiences. They will switch companies to find these experiences.” So this signals a tsunami…

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Picture Credit: French Senate (senat.fr)

Forrester cites these examples:

  • Banks try to innovate before digital banks become formidable competitors;
  • Big-branded retailers confront the digital threat with store closings and amped-up omnichannel and mobile efforts;
  • Manufacturers get serious about their digital business;
  • Relationship-driven investment firms try to adapt to the encroachment of tech titans; and
  • Utility companies launch customer experience (CX) initiatives to influence consumption habits and change their operations

IAI believes that the reinvigorated focus of businesses on the consumer is bring driven forcefully by technology firms looking to dramatically re-engineer customer engagement processes. Branding is being deeply embedded in technology data acquisition tools to customize routines but these approaches should all require customer “consent” and “opt-outs” and not collection of privacy-intrusion data. Facilitators offering end user “dashboards” should engage clients like fiduciaries and can embrace anonymized meta data collection approaches to earn client trust, creating a shared trusted advisory network (STAN). IAI believe that the concept of “propagation velocity” can be applied to STAN deployments.

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Picture Credit: CORDIS European Union (cordis.europa.eu)

Forrester points out some striking trends underway:

Widespread Restructuring: One third of businesses are restructuring by devolving operational controls to brands and divisions to move closer to the customer experience, at considerable risk;

Customer-driven Matrix Structure: Replacing traditional silo-based functional relationships, these new matrices will “leverage shared functions to protect margin”;

CEO Turnover in Half of Firms: Forrester research shows a clear correlation between the quality of customer experiences and revenue growth and affirms that emotion is a core driver of customer loyalty and spending.

“Whole Brained” CMOS Needed: They must embrace both a right brain understanding of the customer experience and left brain embrace of technology and analytics. Marketing Measurement assessments by Forrester show low adoption of analytics by CMOs (Forrester Wave evaluation) ;

CIOs “Grab the Brass Ring”: B2C and B2B firms will need CIOs to lay out technology adoption strategy paths in an environment where tech budgets are forecast to grow at just 1.4%- a tall order: and

Trust is the core element: CX professionals must build client trust into every process when designing experiences that delight customers and contribute to P&L performance.

To learn more, download Forrester’s predictions guide. This guide is the front-end to 16 unique predictions that executives can use to budget, prioritize, and plan customer-obsessed strategies.

 

 

Tech Trends for 2017 from Gartner – Distributed Computing, VR and AI

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Picture Credit: Gartner Group

Top Strategic Predictions for 2017 and Beyond

Surviving the Storm-Winds of Digital Disruption – Gartner Group

Digital Business Innovation creates disruptive effects that have wide-ranging impact on people and technology. However, the secondary effects will often prove to be more disruptive than the original disruption. Digital Strategists in end user organizations must recognize, prioritize, and respond at the speed of digital change.

1. Artificial Intelligence & Advanced Machine Learning: This includes technologies such as deep learning, neural networks and natural-language processing, as well as more advanced systems that understand, learn, predict, adapt and potentially operate autonomously. The one who has data and information is the King. With Gartner’s research arming the public with data and information, it is time to make some informed and astute investment decisions heading into 2017.

2. Intelligent Apps: Intelligent apps include technologies like virtual personal assistants (VPAs), which have the potential to transform the workplace by making everyday tasks easier and its users more effective. Additionally, every existing software category from security tooling to enterprise applications such as marketing or ERP will be infused with AI-enabled capabilities. By 2018, Gartner expects most of the world’s largest 200 companies to exploit intelligent apps.

3. Intelligent Things: New intelligent things currently belong in the three categories: robots, drones and autonomous vehicles. Companies working on these include:

  • Amazon.
  • Ambarella Inc (NASDAQ: AMBA).
  • Google.
  • GoPro Inc (NASDAQ: GPRO).
  • InvenSense Inc (NYSE: INVN).
  • IXYS Corporation (NASDAQ: IXYS).
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT).
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC).
  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
  • And others …

4. Virtual & Augmented Reality:  VR&AR as they are called in short are set to transform the way individuals interact with each other and with software systems by immersing the user. VR helps to create a virtual world that users can interact with, with users finding it difficult to differentiate what is real and what is virtual. This is achieved by wearing Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB)’s Oculus Rift or similar devices. AR is blending VR and real life as developers create images within applications that blend in with contents in the real world.

5. Digital Twins: Digital Twins is a dynamic software model of a physical thing or system. It can be used to analyze and simulate real world conditions, respond to changes, improve operations and add value using data on how the components of a thing operate and respond to the environment and data provided by sensors. It can be used as a proxy for skilled individuals and traditional monitoring devices.

6. Blockchain: Blockchain is a distributed ledger in which value exchange transactions in bitcoin, etc. are sequentially grouped into blocks. It holds promise in industries like music distribution, identity verification and title registry. Blockchain adds trust to untrusted environments and reduce business frictions by giving transparent access to information in the chain.

7. Conversational Systems: Conversational systems that allow computers to hear and adopt to a person’s desired outcome use text, voice, sight, sound, tactile, etc. to communicate across the digital device mesh such as sensors, appliances, IoT systems, etc.

8. Mesh App and Service Architecture, or MASA: Mesh is a new way of organizing, planning and communicating with peers for any kind of group activity, big or small, with the mesh providing for combining the functionality of several apps into one concise app. The MASA is a multi-channel solution architecture that leverages cloud and server-less computing, containers and microservices as well as APIs and events to deliver modular, flexible and dynamic solutions.

9. Digital Technology Platforms: Digital Technology Platforms is a term for multimedia platforms that performs various business functions.  To stay competitive, companies are required to identify how industry platforms will evolve and plan ways to evolve their platforms to meet the challenges of digital business. Usually businesses have a mixed of five digital technology platforms, including: Information Systems, customer experience, analytics & intelligence, the IoT and business ecosystems.

10. Adaptive Security Architecture: Given the challenges the IoT (Internet of Things) environment offers to security, security teams need to work with application, solution and enterprise architects early in the design of applications or IoT solutions.

Duck, Astronauts! 100M Pieces of Space Junk in Orbit Now

Cool video here: Space Junk

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Picture Credit: NASA

Update:

Our Hypervelocity Impact Technology team’s recent testing will contribute to a new shield for More at

 Some 27,000 of these are larger than softballs (about 4 inches) across 
  • These are tracked by Nasa and the US Department of Defense
  • They pose a threat to future generations living and working in space
  • ‘Adrift’ science and arts exhibition raises awareness of the dangers posed by space debris

A nice report in the Daily Mail (UK) explains that space junk or “debris” is a growth industry as “the rubbish circling the planet comes from old rockets, abandoned satellites and missile shrapnel.” The metal and plastic junk hurtling round the Earth at more than 20 times the speed of sound (over 17K mph) presents one of the greatest environmental challenges facing humanity, according to NASA and its UK counterpart. Dr Hugh Lewis believes the growing problem to be a threat to future generations’ hopes of living and working in space.  Cleaning up orbital space ‘may take years to achieve’ and will require the help of engineers, scientists, lawyers and economists, he says. ” Dr Lewis issued this warning at the Royal Astronomical Society during the launch of Adrift, a new science and arts project aimed at raising awareness of space junk (see Twitter profile here).

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Picture Credit: Project Adrift

Dr. Lewis is Senior Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Southampton, author of the space debris evolutionary model DAMAGE and I lead the Astronautics Research Group’s space debris and space situational awareness activities. I’m a member of the UK Space Agency delegation to the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) and the Space Missions Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG), and I’m also a member of the UK delegation to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS).

Space.com has a specific section on “Space Debris” and noted that the U.S. and China held a second set of talks on the orbiting junk. Collisions have happened before and the International Space Station has documented the risks.. In a keynote speech in Maui on Sept. 22 at the AMOS conference, Frank Rose, the assistant secretary of State for arms control, verification and compliance, said that the China talks include space debris, collision prevention steps on orbit and China’s aggressive development of anti-satellite systems. Rose warned, “We want to promote strategic restraint where we can. We’ve also made it very clear to China, Russia and other potential adversaries the United States will defend ourselves and our friends in outer space.”

Firefly Space Systems (Austin, TX) was going to harvest dead satellites and space junk by transporting them to the Mars moon Phobos but this was a secondary to the core mission: “to provide low-cost, high-performance space launch capability for the under-served small satellite market, where secondary-payload launches are often the only option.” Phobos is the innermost and larger of the two natural satellites of Mars, the other being Deimos. Both moons were discovered in 1877 by American astronomer Asaph Hall.  But in October 2016, Space News reported that a key investor needed to complete a Series A funding round, according to co-founder and chief executive Thomas Markusic.

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Picture Credit: BeyondtheMarquee.com from Warner Brothers Studios

Hollywood already has aggressively embraced the “space movie” theme with over 25 releases in 2016 alone. The risks from space debris were shown with great cinematography (if not acting) in the 2013 movie Gravity (HDX video trailer here).