I believe technology has (and will) change the world…

I grew up in the age of NASA. We waited for launches and waited for Walter Cronkite to tell us they were home safely. We knew what each mission was to accomplish. Apollo 11 was to set first foot on the moon. Later missions drove around the surface in the Lunar Rover. Flags, and LEM bases were left there for eternity. Memories of moments.

The birth of a space shuttle program was equally exciting. My class and I submitted three different experiments (and one teacher) to the education in space program. The teacher wasn’t accepted and neither were the experiments. But we were engaged, involved and watching. I’ve since had the opportunity to meet professionals who worked for NASA (and still work for NASA). To me the most exciting thing that has happened in the past 10 years professionally.

I have to say that the NASA professionals were giants. They led us beyond the safety of what we knew into the darkness of beyond. Do not go gentle… They rose above us and left a trail for all to follow. Bread crumbs the size of planets. The science of NASA and the engineering of NASA is responsible for what I have been doing the past 20 years. IT, IT technology and computers all became smaller, faster and in the end more reliable because of the innovations of NASA.

It was in the midst of the great space race of the 1960’s that another future story was born. As much fueled by the potential of NASA as it was the imagination of Gene Rodenberry. Star Trek captured the hearts of all of the geeks that were NASA watchers. I remember watching Star Trek every day (It was on beyond my bedtime originally). It went into syndication around 1970 and I watched it every afternoon. Enthralled not by the technology only, but the rules of the show.

Do not change the course of another planets history. Do the right things for everyone. Go where no person had gone before.

My passion for what is possible with Technology was fueled by that show and NASA. NASA because it was real and right then. Star Trek because it showed not only what was possible but also what was possible with the best of attributes of humanity. That we could peace to the stars and beyond. That someday our world would not be warring states, and terrorist attacks but would be one Federated world driving to make the universe a better place.

Idealistic, yes. Possible, yes. Technology has already changed the world. It continues every day to change the world. Bionics, able to connect with the human nervous system and allow those without limbs or those who have lost function to again reach out their hand and shake the hand of others. Those bound to chairs again able to stand and walk.

clip_image002I believe technology has changed the world. I think personally that the great growth of the Internet of things (IoT) will change the world even more. That humans will realize that we are one specifies. And while the person next to you might not look like you they are in the end just like you. The incredible potential of solutions like Keecker and Jibo open doors that have too long been closed. Being able to connect with anyone at any time. Being able to be there even though you are a 1000 miles away. To connect and in the end share with those on the other end.

The birth of technology was from the military. Greater weapons of mass destruction. Now is the time for social technology to being to rise. Technology geared to make it easier to connect to the person down the street or across the ocean. Technology that in the end makes us better people. People who don’t live in a box and throw stones at each other.

Because of NASA I believe technology will (and has) change the world.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Information everywhere about everything.

clip_image002Yesterday I was talking about the IoT concept of a Porcupine device. Something with many things attached and connected to it. Like the spines of the animal “Porcupine” with spines sticking out as a form of protection except that in the case of the device it isn’t direct protection.

You wouldn’t pick up a Porcupine because of the spines. You would however carry a cellular Porcupine around. For the most part you won’t have a lot of devices connected to your smart device directly. But you will have a lot of sensors around you. Eventually the reality of wearable sensors will creep further into the world. Tiny UV, Radiation and other set and forget sensors will be embedded in the clothes you wear. Today you can leverage the various sensors on your shoes and pockets to determine how many steps you’ve taken.

clip_image004Perhaps in the end just as simple as replacing the buttons on your shirt or blouse with sensors. Pushing that data to your phone, storing the daily trends but only warning you when the levels are within 10% of dangerous. You can, at the end of the day or before the day starts, see the trend of readings on your route. All that information at your fingertips. Add into that the intelligence of the sensors so that your day is only interrupted by out of trend or out of norm readings. You don’t hear about the temperature every 15 minutes unless it is out of the range you select. Your range predetermined by you. Like the old joke “I golf in the 70’s if it gets any hotter I stay home.”

Intelligence, wearable and in the end forgotten. Not forgotten in the sense that we don’t realize they are there. Forgotten in the sense that we don’t have to do anything to receive the information. It simply is there.

So beyond my original three categories of wearable, Stayable and Portable and in addition to my remote and near field communication types now there is the IoT management type of set and forget. An audible siren is not recommended for set and forget sensor data. When it goes off you will scramble for a couple of seconds trying to recall what the alarm is. Perhaps better to have the sensor be able to announce “the room temperature is above your preferred range.” You wouldn’t want it to announce “Where you are air quality is low” when you are in a meeting however. Perhaps it should integrate with your calendar to understand how to alert you. One meeting with a flatulent person and everyone’s smart watch suddenly flashes the air quality warning.

Intelligent sensors would also need to understand when to shut off monitoring. If you are in a train or a bus you should continue to sense the world around you. If you are in a connected car, don’t. In the end your car can have better sensors than your shirt or blouse. So defer to better quality in all cases. That means your connected car would then provide all the information it is gathering all day plus the information gathered as you drive home. Imagine a sensor system that would prevent people from lying about accidents. I wish I had that in my car last year.

Telemetry, video and all the other sensors you need for driving, and relaxing. As we move towards self-driving cars more and more data becoming available. Less and less risk when driving as well, due to people cutting you off and aggressive driving. Shutting off the auto pilot and driving aggressively would immediately notify the police. The problem in some parts of the country? The police would be running up and down stretches of highway infamous for aggressive driving. Perhaps instead if you switch off the auto pilot for anything other than enjoying a leisurely drive you get a ticket. Don’t want a ticket? But do want to drive and turn off the auto=pilot then hit the upload telemetry data button in the car so that the remote system can monitor your driving. If you aren’t aggressive then they don’t send the ticket. Don’t since or actually drive aggressively and well you get a ticket.

2 aggressive driving tickets and they disable your ignition and you have to ride public transportation. It helps the rest of us get to work safely.

The reality of the Porcupine device is coming. For the most part, actually, it is here now. On that not I have to run, the air quality in my office is declining due to Labradors.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

IoT and the Porcupine Device…

With the great explosion of USB capabilities a few years ago I was at a Microsoft event where one of the engineers was talking about new functionality that they had added to Windows where it could take full advantage of USB drives as if they were hard drives or memory.

With all the USB ports on laptops and desktops he said “if I see a porcupine machine I am going to go ballistic” that being a machine with a USB flash drive connected to every port.

Funny thing is, with the number of things now available to plug into your cellular phone we are getting close to porcupine phones. It is a very good thing to be able to input a variety of components into your phone to increase your local information. Harmful radiation isn’t something we want to be exposed to, but is it something you would have connected to your phone all the time?

I was once told that Swiss army gadgets aren’t always the best. The example being the Swiss army knife that in the end is a good tool to have but never the best at any one of its functions. There are better knives you can get. The same is true for phones. If you are an iOS person then you trade customization for reliability. If you are an android person you get customization but in the end you may not get reliability and you can’t always use the latest and greatest attachments right away.

The question of dedicated versus add-on presents an interesting IoT conversation. First off dedicated devices have more features within what it is they do. A dedicated GPS has more capability than does a phone drive GPS. Although that gap has closed considerably in the past couple of years. A dedicated Geiger counter is much more accurate than an attached one. The same is true for a dedicated IR camera versus an add-on IR camera. But the add-on is smaller, less expensive and in the end more portable. Good portable Geiger counters and IR cameras run about 3 grand each, and weigh about 10 pounds combined. The same functionality although less effective for an iOS or Android device runs you closer to 300 bucks and weighs less than a pound combined. Easily fitting into your pocket as you head out on your daily adventures involving radioactive materials or leaky freezers.

Portability and in the end effectiveness. If your fear is the unknown, than the smaller more portable instruments are perfect. You know, for those moments in life when you are ambling along and suddenly from the back of your mind leaps the thought “I feel like I am glowing.” Better safe (porcupine Geiger counter) than sorry at that point.

This by the way also goes for UV, temperature and BAC. That’s right your iOS or Android device can act as a breathalyzer. Better for your phone to make a sad face and say bad breath (PS you shouldn’t drive) than it is for a police officer to pull you over and inform you that not only shouldn’t you have driven but in fact now you can’t drive because your blood alcohol content was over the legal limit. Out with friends and planning on celebrating the bottom of a few beer mugs? Then take along the porcupine BAC reader. It isn’t as accurate as the one’s police officers have. But if you never have to find out how accurate those readers are you are in the end in better shape anyway. (I took a course many years ago to receive my certified drug educator certificate and we got to see just how accurate the breathalyzer’s used by law enforcement were. Way more than you would have expected.).

Mesh IoT sensors are huge, but for you portable phone, it’s had mesh sensors for years. You can connect virtually anything to the Bluetooth stack of your phone. It is in the end a mesh network. Although Bluetooth calls itself a PAN (personal area network). Now the problem becomes recording and we can argue that one for hours. If you have a Bluetooth activated recording device in your pocket, and you activate without notifying the people in the room or train etc. that recording isn’t legal. It is useful to have however for remembering what was said. It does present the other side of wearable as an extension of portable and that becomes the topic in the end of personal privacy. A topic for another day.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Revisiting the minimum wage argument.

For many years I have considered the concept of paying your dues to be sacrosanct. Something you accepted as part of growing your career and then moved on. Career desired dues required pay here. I worked at various jobs during my early teen years that were horrible jobs that paid far less than the minimum wage. I detassled corn two different summers to earn money. You worked 12 to 14 hours a day and you were happy to do so.

There remains a huge argument about the minimum wage. I wrote about my perception of the problem and the changes needed in the tax code. Now the thinking between that publication and now has occurred. First off, its critical that people are treated fairly. It is also critical that we convey to everyone seeking to join the workforce that in the end you are paid for your skills. When you are starting out you don’t have the skills of a trained professional.

We need a balance. To a degree it is important that we remind our children that in fact they are paid for their skills. Those skills will continue to grow based on education and experience and eventually they too will be paid what they believe they are worth (hopefully). Few people graduate high school and then become the CEO of a company. There are certainly some that do, but they are few and far between. Most of us have to learn the skills that add the value that make us more valuable as employees.

First off it is critical that anyone supporting children receive a livable wage. Either we supplement the minimum wage with rebates or reduced cost housing, food or we increase the wages paid to people with children. We have to ensure children start out life with the education and foundation they need. We do ourselves a disservice as we age, if we do not launch our children.

Secondly we need to quickly start an economic study on the impact of the infamous 15 dollar minimum wage. What does it do to the tax base? What does it do to small businesses? Los Angeles is raising their minimum wage to a higher level. How many new small businesses will open in L.A. over the course of the implementation period of the higher minimum wage? How much automation will replace teenage workers? Disenfranchised young people isn’t the goal of a higher or a lower minimum wage. If it happens it is however a really bad side effect.

Lastly it is important to remember and remind people that you are paid for your skills. People with high levels of skills or who are innovators that change the market make more money in a capitalist system than those who do not have skills. We need to balance fair (reasonable wages) with reality. Perhaps instead of a higher minimum wage in the small business area we could instead offer young people starting out in the workforce a piece of the profits. If the company is successful – all bills paid and enough money to pay the owner the left over profits are split among the hourly professionals. With this incentive model we take care of the fear (young people not working hard) of the shop owner and resolve the fairness of the wages paid (the young people’s fear). You work hard, the business does well and you get paid at the end of the year.

My deepest fear with the constant push to raise the minimum wage is the impact on the high end. If a unskilled worker gets 15 dollars an hour, then what would a skilled worker command? Twice? You see it is often about raising the base without considering the shift. An economic study on the impact of raising the minimum wage is critical. If we raise the unskilled rate to 15 bucks and hour we have to consider raising the rate of the skilled worker.

What happens if we raise that minimum wage, you spend four years in college and you get a .25 cent an hour raise? Do you want a higher minimum wage if it devalues the skills you will gain over time? I am not saying that in the end that will be the case. We don’t have the economic data all the way through the system to determine the impact of this yet. Be careful what you ask for. Sometimes getting what you want may end up costing you more to get what you need.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow!

Work smarter, work better and in the end smile more for the camera. IoT in the workplace.

Our house announced this morning that there was smoke in Bedroom 1. For five panicked minutes I struggled to remember which one was bedroom 1. It then announced “The smoke is getting worse in bedroom 1.” We reset the device and checked the attic and the ceilings to make sure there was no fire. In the end I suspect it was a false positive.

One of the reasons why we moved to smart detectors in the house is that I am a geek. The other is that we had problems with the writing in Bedroom 1. Apparently we still have problems with the writing in bedroom 1. Smart detectors and dumb detectors still need good wiring. The difference being that the smart detector announced that there was smoke but did not set off its alarm. It warned that the alarm was pending but for the time being only announced there was a potential problem. That is why in the end you move to smart detectors.

As our homes get smarter over time there will be more and more false positives. But without the blaring alarm you have to reset, a false positive is a lot more tolerable. From water leaks to doors opening the smart sensors are filling our homes. Previously in discussions of the IoT around us I’ve talked about three types of IoT devices the wearable, Stayable and portable. Where each has functions that they perform. I also think there is the concept of near field and far sensors. The weather at my home lets me know what is going on when I am not there. But when I am working with something hot right in front of me the temperature outside my patio door is useless. I need to know the temperature of the object in front of me.

Near field sensors provide real time information. Far sensors don’t always have to be real time sensors. They can broadcast information at pre-determined intervals that are then stored for later consumption. Even on the worst summer days in the DC area we only move 20 degrees. Over the course of a 10 hour day that is roughly 2 degrees of change per house. No huge need for real time weather reporting.

Conceptually however the information gathered from an elevator should be real time. You want to know how to optimize the elevators in your building. I wonder how much lost productivity there is in the world from groups of people waiting for an elevator to take them to another floor. Or waiting at Lunch to get back to your office. A million hours a week? More?

The pattern for elevators should be different anyway. You start in the morning by returning to the ground floor. Take people to the floor they select and then return to the ground floor unless called to a higher floor. The same is true at lunch. Return to the ground floor. That way you get the most people in the least time. The same could be true for buildings with large meeting rooms. If that room is full to capacity then return elevators to the ground floor when the doors open from that meeting.

Intelligence in devices and sensors isn’t just for collecting data. It is for making the productivity of people increase. If I consider that I can reduce the time that people wait during a day by 1% that will have an incredible impact on the overall productivity of the organization. If I watch the environment of the building and pay attention to co2 and temperature I can reduce employee discomfort. When you are comfortable you don’t need to stop and consider.

The job of a sensor is as much to let me know when there are issues as it is to monitor and let me know when there are changes as well. Issues are critical and many sensors are devoted to the concept of issue detection. IDS systems (intrusion detection systems) and video surveillance systems were built with the intent of watching for something bad. But monitoring the environment for variables that impact productivity is also in the end critical. Many companies have wonderful programs where they teach you to stop and stretch from time to time. But few pay attention to the very air and water going into the people they employee. Co2 levels that rise about 1000 ppm, actually cause headaches. It is a proven physical reaction to the air you are breathing.

We need to deploy IoT sensors for the environment where we work.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

What if we had a system that automated the creation of family history projects?

Creating an easy family history project. So far in building out our family history project here are the stats:

· 30,000 scans.

o 11,000 slides

o 19,000 pictures.

I have posted on my Scott O Andersen blog roughly 300 different blogs containing images, memories and stories that tie the pictures together. But we could do so much more. There is mixing in the various videos of events we held and participated in and some more automation. Today the process we’ve built for scanning and capturing the physical memories is frankly manual.

What would a solution look like in the future? I keep thinking about this. The first thing is that at some point the vast majority of family history projects will be culling through digital remains not physical. Physical photos have a half-life. For images taken in the 50’s and 60’s they are on the back side of that half-life. I suspect with film cameras slowly disappearing that in the next 20 years many family history projects will start (some too late, realizing their oldest memories are gone).

The first thing is start your family history project now. Those pictures will decay and eventually not be scan able anymore. So start scanning now!!!!! clip_image002

Now something else to consider is that most people do not like blogging. Capturing the sinewy tissue between the pictures is also important. Technology can help. There are recording devices that can transcribe your voice into text. There are simply recording devices that allow you to store the audio as wav or mp3 files. The two missing pieces today are the linkages. When blogging your family history project there is a direct mix of text to image. You could create audio files or podcasts and post the pictures together on Podbean (the greatest podcasting platform). Or you could create a folder structure and embed pictures, video and audio of events in that folder. No matter what you have to create a manual process for this.

Future state: Allow me to mix the media types together in an automated fashion that does not require me to think about what I am working on. Scanning pictures of Christmas 1998, recording audio for that event and the application mixes them together with the video I have. An automated event creation process that allows me then to link my various history projects together. Such as overall family, my direct family and my work/friends history projects. One unified system that allows you to access images, audio and video by event, by year, by type.

That software doesn’t exist today. You can certainly create the mixed media event using audio, video and images in a video editing program. Pinnacle is a great example of a tool that can mix all of them. Pinnacle however has no way to consume web pages or blogs.

Requirements for this automated software system:

· Mix local images, and all images stored on the web

· Rotate images on your web site so that they are always fresh and new

· Find local audio files created for events and link them to images

· Find local video files and link them to events

· Create Photosynth’s of events

· Find and mix in text related to images, audio and video

· Go to specified web sites and pull specific requested pages locally so that they can be added to the project automatically

This has to be easily used software. You can’t have to stop and load a program or think about what you are scanning, talking about or videoing. It has to be able to recognize that you are creating something for the family history project.

You can meet many of the requirements today. You can automate a number of requirements today. You can mix and match. But an automated tool that would in the end change the level of effort would of course generate many more family history projects.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Remembering those who touched and influenced my life…

John Nash died yesterday in a car crash. His wife also died in the accident. A taxi driver lost control of the car killing both of them.

Nash was the father of modern game theory. He was the subject of a Hollywood movie “A beautiful mind” and the book of the same name by Silvia Nasser. I first read the book when it came out in 1998. It impacted me greatly. First because it is a discussion of the line between genius and in the end what we consider madness. But in the end it is also a story of the human spirit. John Nash descended both into what is often called mental illness and to the system we have for those who suffer from mental illness. I am not sure at this point which is worse.

He was able to rise above both his illness and our system. Sad that his life was cut short in an automobile accident. I never had the honor of meeting John Nash but I am deeply saddened by his passing.

There are many different people that have influenced me or for that matter whose thinking I found so extraordinary that I did everything I could to learn more. William “Bill” Gates is another example of a human being with incredible ideas. My early computer years were as a devotee of Steven Jobs and the Apple computer concept. I came over time to see the genius of what Bill Gates saw in the computer potential and slowly moved from the Macintosh world to the PC world. His post Microsoft vision as laid out in his foundation is even grander.

There have been others. Voices who concepts and ideas rang forth into the world. I read a book about the men and woman that shaped this country early on. One of the names and the actions of that person have stuck with me as well. Tadeusz Kosciuszko was a native of Poland. He came to America based on the promise of our revolution and fought for America. Ultimately rising to the rank of General he counted as his friends Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and many other members of the Founding Fathers. During the war he wrestled with the inconsistency of liberty for those with Land and of a certain ilk. He watched men whose forefathers came from Africa die alongside men whose forefathers came from Europe. He found no difference in them (because there isn’t one). He freed his slaves. He spent years trying to convince his friend Thomas Jefferson to do the same thing. A great man who believed in the freedom’s inherent for all.

Not that those who influence me need to stand above the crowd and be giants of thought and deed. Many influence me every day. I find myself constantly amazed at the capabilities of the human mind and the human heart.

My father influenced my thinking as did my grandfather early in my life and both of them well into my adult years. They taught me to listen and hear both sides of an argument. They taught me to consider the impact of my bias on the decision I was making. My mother taught me to care for those around me but to pay attention to those in need.

So many other people influenced me over the years. My wife at times pulling me back from the brink of doing something stupid. My children infusing in me the wonder of the world that sometimes you lose as an adult. My dog and the family dogs whose unconditional love isn’t bound to my success or failure of a day, week or year rather it is bound to their love of me as a person.

Thank you to all of you. Your gentle shaping hands have made me who I am.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow