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The Internet Of Bicycles

I recently attended my 10th Microsoft World Partner Conference which was hosted in our nation’s capital Washington DC.  Microsoft always has a theme and a focus for these conferences with the plan to drive that focus and goal into your brain before you head back home.  Over the past 5 years the theme has always been heavily focused on the cloud and then typically other smaller goals mixed in with the cloud message.  This year however I was extremely happy to see that my embedded device world had reached the top and was being talked about in almost every session.  The new CEO Satya Nadella stood on the stage in front of 16,000 Microsoft partners from around the world and proclaimed the main focus and vision of the Partner network would be how to support a “Mobile-First – Cloud First” world.  Then he proceeded to give some live demos of how the “Internet of Things” was going to take over our Mobile First and Cloud First world.

While in DC at the conference, you didn’t have to go far to find the Internet of Things as just outside the convention center I stared at the Capital Bikeshare row of rental bikes.  Such a simple concept and yet one that fits the IoT model 

perfectly.  You see the bikes are smart bikes that you rent and use as needed.  The bikes collect all kinds of data from distance travelled to when and where they are located.  They have the capability of keeping track of service/maintenance required as well as how often they get rented.  Much of the data the bikes collect is actually posted right to the company’s website: As I looked into the company, I realized they weren’t the largest provider of this type of service and I also found citibike located in New York City with over 330 stations and 6,000 bicycles – all sending data to the cloud.

It’s a simple system like these bike sharing programs that easily shows you what our future is going to be like in just a few years.  Just about everything in your life has data points that can now with today’s technology be captured and used hopefully in ways to improve our lives and our products and our business models.  Let’s take a look at a few examples where technology has improved.

Let’s start with sleeping as they now have devices that can collect data on how well you are sleeping.  Throw in intelligent mattresses that can now control the temperature and firmness as well as even support methods all with hopes of giving you a better nights rest.  Next let’s jump to the intelligent toothbrush which will provide data on how many strokes and how long and often you brush your teeth.  Not sure I want that data sent back to the cloud for my Dentist to review at the next checkup but that could be coming to our worlds.  Next food, our fridge is now monitoring food consumption to help you know when to pick up that gallon of milk on the way home as it’ll send a reminder to your personal assistant which is now Cortana for me and Siri for others.  Our smart phones will interact with our daily lives on levels that will make many people uncomfortable but for our kids it will be the norm.

I recently purchased a new car and I realized as I loaded the OnStar app on my Windows 8 phone that the dealership was now collecting a ton of data on my car that included oil consumption, mileage, tire pressures and just about every statistic possible that the car has in its computer.  They now send me monthly reports on how my car is performing and reminders on when the next oil change due to occur. Add to that the fact that I can now control my car from my phone to lock and unlock the doors as well as starting the engine from desk before walking out into the 114 Arizona weather.

The Technology curve that we are all riding is one that is trending upward in an alarming pace.  It’s one that we might not notice on a daily basis but if you look backwards just 6 short years you would realize that most of us didn’t even have a smart phone and many had not even heard of Facebook.  In the past 6 years the technology around us has exploded and resulted in more and more technology breakthroughs.

Although many consumers would see Microsoft as not doing that well in the mobile phone and tablet space (aka Windows 8 Phone and Surface), they would only be seeing the tip of the enormous Microsoft portfolio which is clearly and firmly established on a huge cloud and mobile foundation, that being Windows Azure and Windows Developers. When you step back and look at the larger picture and certainly include the Windows Embedded space, Microsoft is very well positioned.  I was excited after hearing Satya Nadella’s keynotewhich I’ve linked as he has a very good grasp of this new world we are moving toward at a very high rate of speed.

It will certainly be a world based on The Internet of bicycles or... you fill in the blank.