|These days much of what we do is connected in some way to technology. Our communication, recreation, and work are predominately done through the use of technology, and now our homes are also starting to fall under that umbrella.
Home automation systems are one of the next big things in the tech world. Not only do they allow homeowners the ability to control parts of their home with the tap of a touchscreen (which people love), but they also promote safety in the home, since these automation systems are often connected to smoke detectors and locks.
The shift to home automation technology isn’t going to be a tough one. In fact, companies that have traditionally focused on one part of home goods, like lock sets for example, have moved deftly into the home automation market.
One of the most recent advancements in home automation technology comes from Honeywell. The company’s Lyric system, which was released last year, is a dynamic thermostat, but the newest from Honeywell is much more advanced.
The system, which is still called Lyric, is now a home security system that features cameras, motion detection, and smoke and intruder alarms.
“We have researched and surveyed thousands of consumers,” said Inder Reddy, President of Honeywell Security Products Americas, according to Security Info Watch. “While many may have had different words to explain it, their concern for the security and safety of their homes consistently came out. They are looking for that dimension of using their security and safety system to manage their lifestyle.”
Honeywell isn’t the only company on the home automation scene, however. Of course, everyone’s favorite tech giant, Apple, has developed something called HomeKit.
HomeKit is basically a technology that allows people to control lights and appliances in their homes through the use of a mobile app. HomeKit isn’t actually a system like Lyric, but allows different home automation products to all be integrated for greater ease of use. Users do, of course, need an iPhone or iPad.
Yahoo!’s recent innovations cover many active fields in technology, including one of the fastest-growing sectors in the business: mobile apps.
Three years ago, Yahoo!’s newly-appointed CEO, Marissa Mayer, decided to shake things up at the company. One of the first things she did was bring new talent onboard. Adam Cahan was one of those talents. Cahan, a graduate of Brown University and a former filmmaker at National Geographic, was chosen by Mayer as Yahoo!’s Senior Vice President of Mobile and Emerging Products. His overall mission is to improve and expand Yahoo!’s global mobile services, such as its apps for mobile and tablet devices, the image and video hosting site Flickr, and Yahoo!’s Smart TV.
When Cahan started his new job in 2012, Yahoo!’s mobile department only had 50 employees in a company of more than 13,000 people. According to him, mobile apps weren’t taken that seriously, or at least seriously enough. “The challenge was that mobile was an afterthought at the time,” he said. “It was, ‘Hey, I have all this work that I need to do and, oh, mobile.’ It was like the finishing part of a sentence as an add-on, rather than a strategy.”
Cahan immediately got to work changing that strategy. First, he expanded his department’s size and increased collaborative efforts in the office. Second, he placed emphasis on user experience rather than profit losses. He instructed his engineering team to simplify and rebuild mobile apps such as Yahoo!’s weather, finance, and email apps, in order to make them more accessible and efficient. Efficiency, in particular, was important to him, as it allows users to get more done and, more importantly, to use the app more often.
This retooling of the mobile department had a profound impact on Yahoo!. Not only has Yahoo! gained more than 400 million new mobile app users since he took over, the mobile department alone grossed an outstanding $1.2 billion in revenue in 2014.
Cahan’s efforts reflect the growing influence mobile apps have on overall technology use. For example, global mobile traffic now represents roughly 13% of Internet traffic. Of that traffic, 80% is done through mobile apps. Global mobile app revenues reached $30 billion last year and is expected to grow from there. Yahoo!’s and Cahan’s emphasis on mobile apps and services is one of the latest innovations the tech industry must get accustomed to.
|Intel, the world’s largest manufacturer of computer chips, once sold standard forms of its x-86 processors by the millions, but half of the chips it’ll sell to public clouds — an increasingly vital part of its sales — will be completely customized.
“We have never said no to a custom solution,” said Diane Bryant, the head of Intel’s data center business. “We get orders from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands.”
Public clouds are computer systems accessible to anyone. For example, Amazon Web Services, Google Compute, and Microsoft Azure are all public clouds that frequently sell their computer power or data storage. One recent study also found that about 60% of businesses also use services like public clouds to perform IT-related operations as well.
Since these public clouds are reaching millions of people, they need to work as well as is possible, which is why there’s such a high demand for custom chips, Bryant explains.
“[These companies] are running a million servers, so floor space, power, cooling, people — you want to optimize everything,” she said. “The name of the game is customization.”
Case in point, eBay wanted to install a hyper-efficient cooling system, and so it asked Intel to make chips that had a superior thermal tolerance, which allowed them to be worked even harder.
Though there’s an obvious demand for custom chips, it seems a little odd for Intel to suddenly start taking so many custom jobs. After all, it made heaps of profit churning out tens of millions of cookie-cutter chips. Why even bother with custom chips?
For two reasons, it seems. First, Intel’s chip fabrication plants have become so automated that creating custom chips is not as laborious as it sounds. All it takes to leave out a core or change some other property of the chip is to input a few new commands into the machine. Second, it’s because there’s profit to be made there. Clients are willing to pay extra for a special run, or pay an engineering fee.
“As the dependency on technology increases, you have more workloads going across greater amounts of infrastructure,” said Bryant. “The name of the game is customization.”