The Digital World and why you should care

Photo courtesy of Kristina Alexanderson/ Flickr

Photo courtesy of Kristina Alexanderson/ Flickr

Tarlon Khoubyari
     Staff Writer

Allow me to extend an official invitation to the Digital World. Welcome to the era of big data, cloud storage, and the internet of things. If you don’t find those words exciting like I do, you’re probably wondering what they mean and how they will apply to your world or if you know what these things are, you probably know how innovative and progressive they are. For the past ten years, we have moved passed the establishment of the computer and basic software and have entered into a new era that is creative, connected, and collaborative. The products that are coming out are all of these things because for starters, they’re new, are usually connected to bluetooth or the internet and they work together to make our lives much easier.

Let me break this down.

We are all familiar with the infamous department store, Macy’s. Did you know that in some of their retail stores they adjust their prices in real-time based on the inventory and demand? Now, you do. In order for them to do this effectively they have to gather a lot of data, or information.

Big data, a common tech industry buzz word, is the high volumes of information that your devices are collecting. This information is being processed at extremely high rates. What companies generally do with this data is predict market trends, understand where/why/when consumers buy products, and make their own companies more efficient.

There is three important things to know about Big data. Gartner, a huge research/consulting company, calls these the 3 “V”’s:

Volume- How much data is being collected

Velocity- How fast it’s being processed

Variety- the different types of data. This depends on the level of complexity (simple tables and databases based on photos, mobile, web, etc versus unstructured data).

What this means for you? Not much. Just be aware that companies are gathering a lot of information on you and that information is extremely valuable. What you will start seeing is new waves of innovative products that are based from customer research. This also means that the demand for data analysts (the people who make conclusions on all this data) is high and business focused jobs will be in high demand as well. So where do you put some of the data being collected?

The Cloud

Instead of saving your documents or files on a tangible form of storage you may want to start using cloud storaging. Companies such as Box, DropBox, Google Drive, and many others host these “clouds” where users can store their files. They aren’t as simple as the ones that are floating in the sky but they are extremely efficient and useful.They store documents, files, pictures, video files, and an amplitude of other things. You can even access some files offline or without internet access on some cloud providers.

The cool thing about cloud storage is that if you have internet access you can reach your file wherever you are. You wouldn’t need to carry around a flash drive or your computer. But it’s important to back everything up, just in case.

The controversy behind cloud storage is how is it being protected and there have been some breaches lately but cyber security is one of the top priorities for most cloud providers. If what you’re saving is pictures and documents for school or work, then it really doesn’t matter. For larger companies that store customer information, it clearly causes concern.

What this means for you? Love or hate the cloud. It’s there and it may not be for everyone. More and more companies are gravitating towards cloud storage because it can hold a lot of data and its extremely accessible. Personally, the cloud is one of my favorite things to use because I don’t have to worry about my notes or papers to get erased in the event my computer breaks down. I can connect through the internet and retrieve it there.

We discussed data and storage so now I am going to introduce an age of technology that will transform the way we approach the world.

Internet of Things

Internet of things, or IoT, is the connection of inanimate objects to software, sensors, bluetooth, or wifi that allows these objects to “communicate” or exchange data with one another. Ten years ago, you didn’t have the capability of turning the lights on and off in your house without being home. Today, you can through a series of digital lights. You seem them being popularly used in security systems.  This is one of the many examples of the internet of things.

Below is a list of products that are apart of the IoT movement:

Any fitness or health tracker (Fitbit, Jawbone, etc) – These track a collection of information such as steps, heart rate, calories, etc.

Nest, Google’s smart thermostat that allows you to change the temperature in your house without being home and helps you save energy/money

Ralph Lauren’s new Polo Tech Shirt that acts as a heart rate monitor, movement tracker, and energy output. It stores all this information on the cloud

Apple Watch (or any smartwatch)- you can do (almost) everything you would do on your smartphone with these. Apple Watch is one of the most sophisticated wearable tech watches out there due to its capabilities.

Laundry View is being used at Wake Forest University. It notifies you when washers and dryers are available in the dorm you live in. So you don’t have to go and check every ten minutes. Your washer and dryer is communicating with your phone!

Essentially, the objects that you see around you will eventually be connected to your smartphone or mobile device in someway.

One of the first IoT’s is something that is probably very near and dear to you: your smartphone. The mobility of accessing the Internet or making a phone call was undoable about a decade ago. Now, we don’t even think about it.

What this means for you? You will see a new generation of products that are connected in someway. Eventually, your car will know that it needs an oil change and it will contact a local gas station, make the appointment, and put that into your calendar. IoT is supposed to make our lives easier and will create a lot of jobs for people outside of IT. Embrace it, use whatever you think is useful, and believe it or not most of the items that are coming out are fairly priced.

The Digital World is something we are already immersed in. Whether or not we take full advantage of the innovative technologies depends on what you prefer. Technology changes so fast so what’s trending now will probably be considered ancient in a a year or two. Knowing about the latest technical trends allows us to better understand what discoveries we are making about how we live our lives and how efficient we can make our day-to-day.

Categories: News, tarlon khoubyari, technology

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