Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2013

Gartner’s 2013 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies Maps Out Evolving Relationship Between Humans and Machines

2013 Hype Cycle Special Report Evaluates the Maturity of More Than 1,900 Technologies

Gartner to Host Complimentary Webinar “Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle for 2013: Redefining the Relationship,” August 21 at 10 a.m. EDT and 1 p.m. EDT

The evolving relationship between humans and machines is the key theme of Gartner, Inc.’s “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2013.” Gartner has chosen to feature the relationship between humans and machines due to the increased hype around smart machines, cognitive computing and the Internet of Things. Analysts believe that the relationship is being redefined through emerging technologies, narrowing the divide between humans and machines.

Gartner’s 2013 Hype Cycle Special Report provides strategists and planners with an assessment of the maturity, business benefit and future direction of more than 2,000 technologies, grouped into 98 areas. New Hype Cycles this year include content and social analytics, embedded software and systems, consumer market research, open banking, banking operations innovation, and information and communication technology (ICT) in Africa.

The Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies report is the longest-running annual Hype Cycle, providing a cross-industry perspective on the technologies and trends that senior executives, CIOs, strategists, innovators, business developers and technology planners should consider in developing emerging-technology portfolios.

“It is the broadest aggregate Gartner Hype Cycle, featuring technologies that are the focus of attention because of particularly high levels of hype, or those that Gartner believes have the potential for significant impact,” said Jackie Fenn, vice president and Gartner fellow.

“In making the overriding theme of this year’s Hype Cycle the evolving relationship between humans and machines, we encourage enterprises to look beyond the narrow perspective that only sees a future in which machines and computers replace humans. In fact, by observing how emerging technologies are being used by early adopters, there are actually three main trends at work. These are augmenting humans with technology — for example, an employee with a wearable computing device; machines replacing humans — for example, a cognitive virtual assistant acting as an automated customer representative; and humans and machines working alongside each other — for example, a mobile robot working with a warehouse employee to move many boxes.”

“Enterprises of the future will use a combination of these three trends to improve productivity, transform citizen and customer experience, and to seek competitive advantage,” said Hung LeHong, research vice president at Gartner. “These three major trends are made possible by three areas that facilitate and support the relationship between human and machine. Machines are becoming better at understanding humans and the environment — for example, recognizing the emotion in a person’s voice — and humans are becoming better at understanding machines — for example, through the Internet of things. At the same time, machines and humans are getting smarter by working together.”

Figure 1. Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2013

Gartner Hype Cycles 2013

Source: Gartner August 2013

The 2013 Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle highlights technologies that support all six of these areas including:

1. Augmenting humans with technology

Technologies make it possible to augment human performance in physical, emotional and cognitive areas. The main benefit to enterprises in augmenting humans with technology is to create a more capable workforce. For example, consider if all employees had access to wearable technology that could answer any product or service question or pull up any enterprise data at will. The ability to improve productivity, sell better or serve customer better will increase significantly. Enterprises interested in these technologies should look to bioacoustic sensing, quantified self, 3D bioprinting, brain-computer interface, human augmentation, speech-to-speech translation, neurobusiness, wearable user interfaces, augmented reality and gesture control.

2. Machines replacing humans

There are clear opportunities for machines to replace humans: dangerous work, simpler yet expensive-to-perform tasks and repetitive tasks. The main benefit to having machines replace humans is improved productivity, less danger to humans and sometimes better quality work or responses. For example, a highly capable virtual customer service agent could field the many straightforward questions from customers and replace much of the customer service agents’ “volume” work — with the most up-to-date information. Enterprises should look to some of these representative technologies for sources of innovation on how machines can take over human tasks: volumetric and holographic displays, autonomous vehicles, mobile robots and virtual assistants.

3. Humans and machines working alongside each other

Humans versus machines is not a binary decision, there are times when machines working alongside humans is a better choice. A new generation of robots is being built to work alongside humans. IBM’s Watson does background research for doctors, just like a research assistant, to ensure they account for all the latest clinical, research and other information when making diagnoses or suggesting treatments. The main benefits of having machines working alongside humans are the ability to access the best of both worlds (that is, productivity and speed from machines, emotional intelligence and the ability to handle the unknown from humans). Technologies that represent and support this trend include autonomous vehicles, mobile robots, natural language question and answering, and virtual assistants.

The three trends that will change the workforce and the everyday lives of humans in the future are enabled by a set of technologies that help both machine and humans better understand each other. The following three areas are a necessary foundation for the synergistic relationships to evolve between humans and machines:

4. Machines better understanding humans and the environment

Machines and systems can only benefit from a better understanding of human context, humans and human emotion. This understanding leads to simple context-aware interactions, such as displaying an operational report for the location closest to the user; to better understanding customers, such as gauging consumer sentiment for a new product line by analyzing Facebook postings; to complex dialoguing with customers, such as virtual assistants using natural language question and answering to interact on customer inquiries. The technologies on this year’s Hype Cycle that represent these capabilities include bioacoustic sensing, smart dust, quantified self, brain computer interface, affective computing, biochips, 3D scanners, natural-language question and answering (NLQA), content analytics, mobile health monitoring, gesture control, activity streams, biometric authentication methods, location intelligence and speech recognition.

5. Humans better understanding machines

As machines get smarter and start automating more human tasks, humans will need to trust the machines and feel safe. The technologies that make up the Internet of things will provide increased visibility into how machines are operating and the environmental situation they are operating in. For example, IBM’s Watson provides “confidence” scores for the answers it provides to humans while Baxter shows a confused facial expression on its screen when it does not know what to do. MIT has also been working on Kismet, a robot that senses social cues from visual and auditory sensors, and responds with facial expressions that demonstrate understanding. These types of technology are very important in allowing humans and machines to work together. The 2013 Hype Cycle features Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communication services, mesh networks: sensor and activity streams.

6. Machines and humans becoming smarter

The surge in big data, analytics and cognitive computing approaches will provide decision support and automation to humans, and awareness and intelligence to machines. These technologies can be used to make both humans and things smarter. NLQA technology can improve a virtual customer service representative. NLQA can also be used by doctors to research huge amounts of medical journals and clinical tests to help diagnose an ailment or choose a suitable treatment plan. These supporting technologies are foundational for both humans and machines as we move forward to a digital future and enterprises should consider quantum computing, prescriptive analytics, neurobusiness, NLQA, big data, complex event processing, in-memory database management system (DBMS), cloud computing, in-memory analytics and predictive analytics.

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5 pioneering paths for software development’s new frontier

How forward-thinking developers are beating the old-guard in emerging application markets

Size (and mobility) matters. As desktop PCs lose ground to tablets and smartphones, and the cloud becomes a more mainstream means for software deployment, desktop applications are being elbowed aside by mobile apps and Web services, resulting in a significant shift in the way software is created.

Software development organizations large and small are moving quickly to adopt new tools and new paradigms, adapting existing tool sets, talent pools, and processes to make the most of new computing environments and emerging opportunities.

Gone are the days of bits being passed from one isolated team to another in service of the one true build. Modern app development requires a nimble, cross-functional approach to rapid deployment.

Here’s how several leading-edge development shops are meeting the challenges of this new frontier.

1. Mobile- and service-first development: Tomorrow’s wave — or at least today’s
From the outside, the one development trend fast becoming evident to everyone — end-user, customer, and developer alike — is the emphasis on mobile-first development, along with all the complexity that entails.

“Apps are huge now,” says Matt Powers, CTO of Applico, a developer of mobile and Web apps for a variety of big clients such as Google, Asics, AT&T, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Mayo Clinic. “They used to run locally off the device, so the infrastructure to support them was small. Now you have people bringing their entire brand, and everything they do on the website, if they have one, to mobile.”

If that infrastructure is deployed as SaaS (software as a service), it requires development practices that are orders of magnitude more rigorous and complex than those used for deploying stand-alone apps.

Intuit, the creators of QuickBooks and GoPayment, learned this lesson when the company broadened its services to meet an international market of 1.3 million users — covering 150 countries, 143 currencies, and 46 languages.

“We needed to scale the development from small teams of 10 to 15 engineers to a team of 70-plus engineers,” explained Anshu Verma, architect at Intuit for QuickBooks Online. Engineers needed to develop faster overall, and thus adopted what he calls a “safety-first design pattern,” which draws inspiration from how circuit breakers work. This design allows old and new workflows to co-exist — an important feature for a Web service. “In case of exigencies, we fall back to the old [workflow] on-the-fly and cut over to the new [workflow] when we are confident about it. It really helped us move faster without impacting customers.”

Intuit’s own development cycle for new features is now a mere two to four weeks, which requires them to use Scrum processes and test automation. “We use tools like Jira, Greenhopper, and Rally to facilitate the iterations across all key stakeholders — product management, development, QA, deployment — and created testing frameworks using modern tools like WebDriver, PhantomJS, JSUnit, DOH [Dojo Objective Harness], JUnit, and so on.”

On the other hand, changing practices for the sake of going mobile doesn’t make much sense unless it’s backed with sound business strategy. Such is Joel Semeniuk’s belief; he has been a project manager for more than 20 years and is now executive vice president of agile project management at Telerik, which creates a broad palette of software testing tools and UI components for .Net.

“Since mobile is all the rage,” Semeniuk says, “it’s too easy to get caught up in the mobile-first strategy and not stop to consider the real customer value provided by the mobile application.” Such value includes creating the right tool for the needed job: “Some applications aren’t well-suited with mobile scenarios — for example, those that require large amounts of data entry.”

2. Find the right mix of development methodologies to meet project needs
The wars over development methodologies — agile, XP (extreme programming), waterfall, and so on — are fast giving way to a more fluid and flexible approach to producing and refining a product. Telerik’s Semeniuk is one of many in the modern development world who sees development methodologies not as dogmas to be followed to the letter, but toolkits to be raided for what’s useful. Confining a development team to one methodology is becoming a thing of the past.

“We have an iteration pattern for each problem,” says Semeniuk, “in which we continually adjust or ‘pull in’ new agile practices that solve those problems. Sometimes we ‘pull in’ all of Scrum, because it solves the wide range of problems that come up in that particular environment. Sometimes we pull in pieces of Scrum or XP or Combine because it makes better sense if you’re in maintenance mode.” Semeniuk calls this the “agile buffet table” model.

For Telerik, though, the most important motive behind using any particular development practice is why. “We like to start with the ‘why’ and use agile to solve a real problem we’re having. The biggest reason for that is when we try to just push out practices, they don’t stick; people don’t identify with the reasons these practices make sense. And not all practices fit all projects,” he says.

Applico’s Powers says his company also uses a variety of development models — mainly agile and iterative. In his case, the “why” is driven by client needs.

“Some clients like rigid development timelines and documentation,” says Powers, “especially ones that want to bring it in house. Others like the fluidity of the agile process and the ability to be brought in the loop at all times.”

Some, however, caution that agile can’t simply be sprayed onto an existing development process. A former program manager who has declined to be named but has five years of experience as a Scrum master has time and again seen agile used in development, but with no corresponding changes in other facets of bringing software to market.

“There’s no intermittent QA; instead, there’s old-school ‘toss it over the wall to QA’-style QA,” he says. “Instead of regular releases, they’re using agile to get a release out, then having the schedule disrupted by support.” In his purview, there has been a battle between traditional software releases and agile, with a lot of people simply using agile merely to drive old-school models.

3. Go with shorter lifecycles, cross-functional teams
The “mobile first” philosophy of modern development has also changed application lifecycle management in striking ways.

cross functional teams

cross functional teams

“Referring to a ‘shorter development cycle’ is misleading for Web development,” says Andrew Frankel, former VP of engineering at TopShelfClothes.com. “It’s no longer necessary to actually complete a full develop-QA-release cycle for every change. Small changes, such as changing text, can skip the usual process, since they can be deployed without any user impact. That frees the QA team to focus on testing actual application changes.” Mobile and desktop app developers, he adds, aren’t as lucky, since every change requires a new version.

For Telerik’s Semeniuk, the biggest changes to application management are in Web and mobile. For those areas, he says, “You absolutely need short release cycles, because it’s very difficult to pinpoint true customer value and interaction without actually measuring it.”

This means getting items into customers’ hands fast via a solid automation and deployment mode. “This has triggered a new flavor of app management called devops, where the dev team and the ops team need to work closely together to make sure that, as feedback is required, they can get that software into the hands of users without a lot of pain,” he says.

Semeniuk also feels that, for larger organizations, overall team composition isn’t shifting as quickly as it could to react to these changes: “Teams [in smaller organizations] have been shifting from functional roles — business analyst teams, testing teams, deployment teams, etc. — to cross-functional teams, where all the skills to envision, build, and deploy an application are on a single team. Teams then work together as a whole to deliver that software instead of handing it off between functional teams.”

Some enterprises have a hard time making this shift to cross-functional roles, but Semeniuk believes this will change when “organizations can realize that an HR structure does not need to dictate a team structure.”

4. Inventive use of the standard development toolkit
Modern development teams are extending the mantel of ingenuity right down to the tools they use, employing popular development tools in new ways to spur further innovation in the development process. Consider Git, the open source revision control system — which can be used for much more than its primary purpose. For Andrew Frankel, former VP of engineering at TopShelfClothes.com, Git was also a way to perform process automation.

“Driving deployments with Git is fantastic for release management,” Frankel says. “We have a complete log of what changed, at what time, and for what reasons. Larger organizations often try to collect exactly those data points using formal change requests, which tend to be frictional in a fast-paced environment. It’s much more efficient to create a process where that information is collected automatically.”

At Telerik, Git was adopted by one team as an escape hatch from the usual in-house development methodology.

“We have one division that has chosen not to use our development infrastructure, which is primarily Microsoft Team Foundation-based,” says Telrik’s Semeniuk. “They decided to do something that better fit their culture, experience, and needs, and started off with Git. A whole different form of release management with different tools, but it fit their culture and the experience of their team members a whole lot better.” The team in question might not have to choose between Microsoft’s workflow and git before long, though; Microsoft recently added Git support to Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server.

Git has also been put to use to support other parts of development such as documentation. The Gitit wiki system uses Git (or another version control system) to track and preserve changes to a community-created set of documents.

It should also come as no surprise that the cloud figures into most everyone’s work as a cutting-edge software development tool. But it’s not just a place to host code or a site — it’s also being eyed as a testing framework. Applico, in particular, is developing a cloud-based foundation for automated testing of its apps.

“With Android especially, you have an international market with the product running on over 500 devices,” Applico’s Powers explains. “If you can integrate this into a system where you can simulate all these different device types, you’re going to catch a lot of issues before you go to market.” To that end, Applico has been looking at a few vendors to provide tools to take the company’s application builds, host them in the cloud, and perform the emulation there.

This approach seems like an attempt to refute what Sebastian Holst has claimed in “The Rise of Application Analytics: A New Game Demands New Rules.” There, Holst states, “You cannot simulate production,” meaning “the diversity and distribution of on-premises and cloud-based services combined with the dizzying array of devices and client-runtimes makes comprehensive testing and profiling prior to production not just difficult, but impossible.”

To Holst, the solution lies in application analytics: real-time harvesting of data from application behaviors as per Telerik’s work. Applico’s idea is to expand the way we perform and automate testing — not to displace analytics as a test methodology, but to use the cloud as a way to reduce the burden of testing.

Two of the most widely used tools for automation, Puppet and Chef, are also being used in creative ways.

“Using Chef and cloud servers for manual testing is fantastic,” says Frankel, “since those servers will only be used occasionally for a few hours. When we’re done testing, we turn off the lights and avoid paying for idle capacity. It only takes a single command to re-create a new staging environment the next time we want to test.” The same process is also possible with Puppet.

Puppet vs. Chef at a glance
Puppet Chef
Language Mainly Puppet’s custom JSON-like language, although a Ruby option is available beginning in version 2.6 A subset of Ruby
License Apache; earlier versions are GPL Apache
Approach You list dependencies and Puppet figures out how to order the install. You write an install script in Ruby using all of the extra helper functions from Chef.
Basic version $99 per node per year (annual term license) with the first 10 nodes free; discounts kick in for larger installations $120 per month for 20 nodes or $300 per month for 50 nodes
Premium version The Premium version of Puppet Enterprise is priced by the sales team. $600 per month for 100 nodes
Deployment Puppet Enterprise runs on your machine. Private Chef runs on your machine; Hosted Chef (same price) runs in Opscode’s cloud.

5. HTML5 — a handy, albeit hyped, solution for increasing device fragmentation
Given the current focus on mobile-first development, a great deal of attention is being paid to HTML5 and what role it will play. On the one hand, developers are quickly jumping into HTML5, because not doing so would be self-defeating. On the other hand, HTML5 is clearly no cure-all.

Applico’s Powers takes a dim view of HTML5 as a mobile platform.

“HTML5 will never catch up to native development,” he insists. “If you think of running everything in a Web view, you’re just abstracting a layer between yourself and the native code. It’s always going to be a step behind, and as new versions of the OSes come out, tools like PhoneGap and Titanium have to react to those changes.”

In his opinion, HTML5 is best used for enterprise apps, such as a data-submission form, not immersive-experience apps.

Powers described experiences in his work that shed further light on this. Applico competitors lured clients away from Applico, offering to build apps with HTML5 at half the cost Applico quoted. “Eight months later, those clients would come back to us and say, ‘We made the wrong decision; we went with someone that promised us the world and didn’t really understand the limitations of the technologies.'”

Last year, Hung LeHong and Jackie Fenn, both of Gartner, placed HTML5 at the “peak of inflated expectations” on Gartner’s annual Hype Cycle Report, estimating it would be five to 10 years before the real plateau for the standard could be reached. Yet many developers are embracing HTML5 and find Gartner’s analysis to be way off-base.

Kendo UI, a division of Telerik, performed its own studies and found that 82 percent of developers “find HTML5 important to their job within the next 12 months,” with 31 percent planning to use it and 63 percent actively developing in it.

That said, the phrasing of these questions doesn’t speak to developer preferences, only to what developers are doing — that is, building HTML5 apps because it’s part of their job description. What’s more, another survey sponsored by Appcelerator and IDC for 2012 found that most of the mobile developers surveyed were “neutral to dissatisfied with HTML5” in several categories, including performance (72.4 percent of those surveyed), fragmentation (75.4 percent), and user experience (62 percent). This is striking in light of how an earlier survey by the same group asked developers, “Do you plan to integrate HTML5 as a component into the mobile apps you plan to build in 2012?” — to which 79 percent answered yes.

Todd Anglin, vice president for HTML5 Web and mobile Tools at Telerik, questioned this conclusion, and not just because of the rapid development of HTML5 on all sides: “Developers should note that the new ‘native’ Facebook apps still include HTML5 in sections where Facebook wants the ability to change things more quickly,” Anglin wrote, referencing the much discussed shift Facebook undertook in 2012 to native mobile apps due to shortcomings it experienced with HTML5.

In short, for now HTML5 may be best thought of as merely one ingredient in an application’s overall composition, rather than the way to create an app.

Conclusions
With so much software produced now aimed at a mobile or service-oriented market, development techniques are evolving to suit. Desktop programs that went for years between major revisions are being supplanted by mobile apps that are point-revved every few months or by services that are revved continually behind the scenes.

The demands those changes make are major, but they’ve also spurred numerous creative new solutions, including new use cases for traditional tools and the cloud as a development and testing platform, rather than just a software delivery mechanism.

The increasing speed of development (and developer feedback) means new technologies — witness HTML5 — are getting field-tested and absorbed into the mix more quickly, hastening the pace of relevancy.

As always, though, application development isn’t about a particular paradigm, tool, or methodology — it’s about what works, here and now.

The best Technology Blogs

The Best Tech blogs
Tech News and Analysis
ZDNet– This blog is one of the best resources for IT professionals to find information about products, trends, optimization tips and more.  ZDNet has editions for 13 different geographic regions, providing you with important news from around the world, as well as local information most relevant to you.
Tech Republic– This website is not just a single blog; the blogging section covers a wide scope of topics including everything from a Tech Sanity Check to CIO Insights. Definitely worth a look!
The Next Web– A leading publication on internet technology, business and culture.  Their conference information alone is enough of a reason to check them out. Every two weeks they update the site with a list with all of the best conferences from around the world.
CIO– Here’s another site that hosts multiple blogs; beyond that, they’ve also got a section for whitepapers, a job board, and plenty of extensive research and analysis.
CNET :  CNET editors bring you the very best in gadgets and tech, sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face this holiday. These are the gifts we are buying our friends and family.
TechCrunch – LOTS of news  always interesting and frequently first.
VentureBeat – A firehose of news about startups, innovation, and cool products coming in the tech world.
GigaOm – Some news, but mostly really smart analysis of the tech world.
ReadWriteWeb–   Some news, lots of smart people talking tech.
Wired– Less about startups and the valley, more about tech and real life.
Webware – News, always with a focus on “what does it mean for users?”
Mashable – Nowhere else to go for social media news, this one’s dominant.
Bits – Not a lot of exclusive content, but brilliant writers and smart commentary.
The Unofficial Apple Weblog – An awesome resource for anything and everything Apple.
Business Insider Tech – Very business-heavy, but great angles on news stories.
Ars Technica – Heavy on the geekery, but full of interesting thoughts and niche pieces.
Reddit Technology –  great source for tech news and other edifying and entertaining content.
MIT Technology review

 

Andrew McAfee’s Blog

Andrew McAfee

Written by McAfee, a principal research scientist at MIT, this blog is an exploration of the intersections between business and IT. As the man who coined the phrase “Enterprise 2.0,” McAfee is well versed on the subject, and the proof is in his posts, which offer critical insights and analysis on trends, news and topics in business IT.

Follow: @amcafee | Read the blog: andrewmcafee.org/blog

Around the Storage Block

HP Storage Guy

Maintained by Calvin Zito, an IT professional since 1983, this blog explores all things storage within the HP universe. Zito offers tips, product announcements and multimedia podcasts for all storage enthusiasts.

Follow: @HPStorageGuy | Read the blog: Around the Storage Block

 

Chuck’s Blog

Chuck Hollis

EMC doesn’t just offer top-tier products, they’ve also got some of the best minds in IT on their staff, and Chuck Hollis, global marketing vice president and CTO, is one of them. His posts are full of grand ideas and offer a big-picture point of view on IT.

Follow: @chuckhollis | Read the blog: chucksblog.emc.com

 

CIO Dashboard

Chris Curran

Targeted at CIOs and CTOs, the CIO Dashboard focuses on IT news and topics most useful to the leaders in business IT. Written by Chris Curran, a principal at PwC (formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers), this blog cuts straight to the chase and offers up practical ideas and advice.

Follow: @cbcurran | Read the blog: ciodashboard.com

 

Cisco Blog – Small Biz

Cisco Blog - Small Business

Cisco Systems may be a big company, but they’ve got a group of folks that really get small business. This blog brings together experts in small-biz IT who inform readers on major aspects of running and growing a small business.

Follow: @CiscoGeeks | Read the blog: blogs.cisco.com/category/smallbusiness

 

The Citrix Blog

Citrix blog community

As an authority on virtualization and cloud computing, Citrix knows a thing or two about virtual, flexible infrastructures. Readers of the blogs in the Citrix network can expect to find strategies, news and advice about the use of Citrix platforms.

Follow: @Citrix | Read the blog: blogs.citrix.com

 

CloudAve

Cloud Ave

Got cloud fever? Then it’s time to take a stroll down CloudAve. This blog aggressively and comprehensively covers everything in the cloud computing space, offering reviews, news and insights to its readers.

Follow: @CloudAve | Read the blog: cloudave.com

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing - Chirag Mehta

For readers who want a strategic point of view on cloud computing and social media, look no further than this blog written by Chirag Mehta, a SAP employee. Mehta analyzes startups and shares insightful wisdom on how cloud services impact IT.

Follow: @chirag_mehta | Read the blog: cloudcomputing.blogspot.com

 

CloudTweaks

Cloud Tweaks

Established in 2009, CloudTweaks aims to deliver news, interviews and analysis for cloud computing enthusiasts. The site boasts contributions from CEOs, CTOs, bloggers and entrepreneurs, so people of all levels are welcome to the discussion.

Follow: @cloudtweaks | Read the blog: cloudtweaks.com

 

Cutter Consortium

Cutter Consortium

The Cutter Consortium is an IT advisory firm, and its blog is a potpourri of contributions from IT analysts and experts, sharing their wisdom and insight with readers. This is definitely a reliable place for gathering credible opinions in IT.

Follow: @cuttertweets | Read the blog: blog.cutter.com

 

Data Center Knowledge

Data Center Knowledge

Managing and optimizing the data center is probably at the top of every IT leader’s list of priorities. Thankfully, Rich Miller, editor of Data Center Knowledge, takes data centers as seriously as his readers do.

Follow: @datacenter | Read the blog: datacenterknowledge.com

 

DoubleCloud

Steven Jin

Pulling its name from the duality of the public and private cloud approaches, Steve Jin, a VMware employee, writes about virtualization for VMware architects and developers. For those looking for a virtualization/cloud blog that gets down to the nitty gritty, DoubleCloud is it.

Follow: @sjin2008 | Read the blog: doublecloud.org

 

Exchange Server Pro

Exchange Server Pro

Managing the Exchange server for a company can feel like Mission Impossible at times. The team at Exchange Server Pro, however, is here to help with solutions, tutorials and tips for Exchange Server professionals of all levels.

Follow: @exchservpro | Read the blog: exchangeserverpro.com

 

Face2Fujitsu

Face2Fujitsu

Solving problems and building solutions — that’s what the team at Fujitsu hopes to offer with its Face2Fujitsu blog. The blog humanizes the company by sharing posts from different employees within the company that touch on the robust technology and products that have made Fujitsu famous.

Follow: @Fujitsu_TS | Read the blog: blog.ts.fujitsu.com/face2fujitsu

 

Fountainhead

Fountainhead Ken Oestreich

Ken Oestreich, a cloud and virtualization marketer for EMC and the writer behind Fountainhead, has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to IT. He compares and contrasts cloud computing with real-world examples and pushes his readers to challenge their limits on everything from data, storage and beyond.

Follow: @Fountnhead | Read the blog: fountnhead.blogspot.com

 

Gartner Blog Network

Gartner

How many IT analysts does it take to screw in a light bulb? Whatever the answer is, there have to be enough of them over at the Gartner Blog Network to do the job. The renowned IT research firm is a stable of great thinkers, and its blog network opens the door to these insightful minds.

Follow: @gartner_inc | Read the blog: blogs.gartner.com

 

GottaBeMobile

Gotta Be Mobile

With the dawn of the mobile computing age, the days of being tethered to a desk or workstation are long behind us. Gotta Be Mobile lives its mantra by digging into the mobile world and offering news, reviews and sneak peeks at the latest in mobile technology.

Follow: @gottabemobile | Read the blog: gottabemobile.com

 

Greg’s Server and StorageIO Blog

Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is an expert in storage technologies. As a well-known author and speaker, Greg has spoken at length about IT best practices. On his blog, readers can expect real-world tips, practical insights and informed opinions on storage, virtualization and more.

Follow: @storageio | Read the blog: storageioblog.com

 

Hu’s Blog

Hu Yoshida

As VP and CTO at Hitachi Data Systems, Hu Yoshida’s words carry weight. He digs into the meat and potatoes of storage and virtualization for the company, offering his point of view on emerging trends and technologies.

Follow: @hdscorp | Read the blog: blogs.hds.com/hu

 

Inside System Storage

Tony Inside Storage Blog

An acknowledged authority on storage software, systems and services, Tony Pearson, an IBM managing consultant, hosts an insider’s discussion on all things storage on this official IBM blog. He also provides on-the-ground reporting and commentary at conferences and events.

Follow: @az990tony | Read the blog: Inside System Storage

 

Mastering SharePoint with Bob Mixon

Bob Mixon

If you need a hand with deploying, managing or troubleshooting your company’s instance of SharePoint, Bob Mixon can probably help. As an experienced SharePoint expert, Bob offers valuable resources and insight to his readers. Bookmark this one — you’ll be visiting often.

Follow: @BobMixon | Read the blog: bobmixon.com

 

Microsoft Security Response Center

MSRC

Hackers and malware creators should beware. Microsoft takes IT security seriously and if you needed proof of that, look no further than the Microsoft Security Response Center. This official security blog from Microsoft issues bulletins, statistics and updates that keep IT staffers in the loop.

Follow: @msftsecresponse | Read the blog: blogs.technet.com/b/msrc/

 

Naked Security

Talk about putting yourself out there — this IT security blog hosted by Sophos is smart, hip and sharp in its coverage of malware, hacking and data security. Definitely worth a daily read.

Follow: @sophoslabs | Read the blog: nakedsecurity.sophos.com

 

Open Port IT Community

Intel Open Port IT

Big ideas can produce big results. The idea behind this Intel-hosted open exchange is to share thoughts on IT for the betterment of the field. Intel experts post on a wide spectrum of topics, including cloud, data center optimization and security.

Follow: @intelopenport | Read the blog: communities.intel.com/community/openportit

 

OS X Daily

OS X Daily

As Apple’s influence and innovation in the computing space pushes forward, more and more businesses are integrating Apple products into their IT infrastructure. Although not affiliated with Apple, OS X Daily covers everything Apple and offers news and useful tips to its readers.

Follow: @osxdaily | Read the blog: osxdaily.com

 

PandaLabs Blog

Panda Labs

Panda Security is a pioneer in cloud-based security solutions, and they leverage this expertise for the company blog, Panda Labs. Offering IT security alerts, advisories and in-depth reports on the state of security, this is a must read for security buffs.

Follow: @Panda_Security | Read the blog: pandalabs.pandasecurity.com

 

Rational Survivability

Rational Survivability

If you like your IT blogs with a splash of wit, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and dragon art, Chris Hoff’s Rational Survivability blog is the perfect mixture of informative and humorous with its posts on security, virtualization and cloud computing.

Follow: @beaker | Read the blog: rationalsurvivability.com/blog

 

Real Business at Xerox

Xerox

Although the blog is run by and hosted by Xerox, it covers more than just company product offerings, adding anecdotal stories on office productivity into the mix.

Follow: @XEROX | Read the blog: realbusinessatxerox.blogs.xerox.com

 

Scott Lowe

Lowe is a CTO for EMC, and his blog is a must-read for those who’d like to pick the brain of a veteran IT professional. Some of his posts get deep in the weeds, while others are more casual, technical advice stories.

Follow: @scott_lowe | Read the blog: blog.scottlowe.org

 

Sean Daniel

Sean Daniel

Looking for ways to start up, troubleshoot or optimize your servers? Sean Daniel has plenty of tips and tricks for IT staff working on Microsoft’s Small Business Server and Windows Home Server.

Follow: @seandaniel | Read the blog: sbs.seandaniel.com

 

The Security Catalyst

Security Catalyst

Ever feel like IT security is a little too removed from humanity to be effective? Michael Santarcangelo did, which is why he founded the Security Catalyst, a blog that aims to connect the dots between people and IT security.

Follow: @catalyst | Read the blog: securitycatalyst.com/blog

 

Small Biz Go Mobile

Small Biz Go Mobile

Mobile computing is everywhere. As the consumerization of IT makes its way into the enterprise, Small Biz Go Mobile, an AT&T-sponsored blog, documents how small businesses are integrating their systems with mobile technologies.

Follow: @smbizgomobile | Read the blog: marioarmstrong.com/smallbizgomobile

 

Small Business Labs

Small Biz Labs

Businesses produce a lot of data, but they’re often too busy doing business to sit back and sift through it all on their own. Small Business Labs takes the time to aggregate, analyze and research trends in small business, sharing its findings with readers.

Follow: @smallbizlabs | Read the blog: smallbizlabs.com

 

Small Biz Technology

Ramon Ray Small Biz Technology

Dedicated to educating and informing small businesses about technology and the impact that it can have on their businesses, Small Biz Technology is a handy bookmark for questions about utilizing social media for business.

Follow: @ramonray | Read the blog: smallbiztechnology.com

 

Stephen Foskett, Pack Rat

This IT blog is a buffet of IT information. Though he’s particularly knowledgeable about storage, Stephen Foskett’s posts cover networking and social media, and offer product reviews as well.

Follow: @sfoskett | Read the blog: blog.fosketts.net

 

Tenable Network Security

Tenable Security

There are a lot of great IT security blogs out there. Some of the better ones happen to be published by the vendors themselves. Tenable Network Security’s is one of them. The company’s network security podcast, in particular, is a highlight.

Follow: @TenableSecurity | Read the blog: blog.tenablesecurity.com

 

Threatpost

Threat Post

The team at IT security vendor Kaspersky Lab knows their stuff. And they share their knowledge with the world at Threatpost, issuing warnings about dangerous malware and worst practices that can leave your IT vulnerable to attack.

Follow: @threatpost | Read the blog: threatpost.com

 

Toshiba Telephone Systems

Toshiba

Getting the right fit when it comes to your business’s telephone systems can be a daunting task. Toshiba, a leader in telephony, brings together employees and experts to offer tips, advice and case studies on telephony, VoIP and other phone system products.

Follow: @toshibaphonesys | Read the blog: blog.telecom.toshiba.com

 

Tripwire Blog

Tripwire

This informed and measured blog from IT security vendor Tripwire offers insights, best practices and tips on IT security.

Follow: @tripwireinc | Read the blog: tripwire.com/blog

 

Uncommon Sense Security

Jack Daniel

Written by IT security veteran Jack Daniel, the tone of the blog is as strong as a stiff shot of whiskey. It’s a great read for those who like the unvarnished truth from time to time.

Follow: @jack_daniel | Read the blog: blog.uncommonsensesecurity.com

 

VMware Security & Compliance

VMWare

As a leader in the virtualization space, VMware is also, logically, a leader in the security and compliance of virtualization as well. This blog is updated regularly with announcements, advice and insights. A good read for companies seeking more security as they explore virtualization.

Follow: @VMwareBlogs | Read the blog: blogs.vmware.com/security

 

VMware Videos

David Davis VMWare videos

This blog from a training consultant provides video tutorials that will guide IT pros through the steps of managing and troubleshooting virtual environments — a reliable source of information on all things pertaining to VMware virtualization.

Follow: @davidmdavis | Read the blog: vmwarevideos.com

 

Websense News and Views

Websense

Published by information security vendor Websense, this blog offers profiles, news and views on the latest trends in IT security. If you have a question about something fishy that’s spreading on Facebook or Twitter, these guys will likely have it covered.

Follow: @websense | Read the blog: Websense News and Views

 

The Windows Blog

Windows Team blog

This blog provides its readers with official information on — you guessed it — all things Windows. This includes the mobile phone OS Windows Phone 7, as well as the desktop versions of Windows 7 and the future version, Windows 8.

Follow: @windowsblog | Read the blog: windowsteamblog.com

 

Wingspan

Brocade Wingspan

High performance is the name of the game for Brocade, a networking hardware and software vendor. On this blog, company executives offer their insights on data centers and highly available networks.

Follow: @BRCDcomm | Read the blog: Wingspan

 

The Wisdom Of Clouds

James Urquhart

Acting as a sage of sorts in the crowded cloud-computing field, James Urquhart writes with authority and clarity on the issues and trends emerging in the cloud. The updates aren’t as frequent as other blogs, but when he writes, it’s always worth reading.

Follow: @jamesurquhart | Read the blog: news.cnet.com/wisdom-of-clouds

 

Women 2.0

Women 2.0

Let’s face it, the IT world can sometimes seem like a boys’ club. Women 2.0, however, aims to inspire, support and encourage women to contribute and work in IT, particularly by getting involved in startups.

Follow: @women2 | Read the blog: women2.org

 

The World According to Mitch

Mitch Garvis

Mitch Garvis, an IT pro trainer, knows a lot about a lot of things. And he shares his multitude of thoughts, opinions, rants and ideas on the world of IT professionals in a loose and personal style on his blog.

Follow: @mgarvis | Read the blog: garvis.ca

 

Yellow Bricks

Duncan Yellow Bricks

This blog on virtualization written by Duncan Epping, a VMware employee, dives deep into the strategic and tactical applications of virtualization. The blog gets its name from an Arctic Monkeys song, “Old Yellow Bricks” — solid but flexible at the same time, Yellow Bricks let you build almost anything, he explains.

Follow: @DuncanYB | Read the blog: yellowbricks.com

Tech and Web Design

Six Revisions – Tips, tools, and great lists of design resources.
Smashing Magazine – Perfect site for the designer newbie, full of great tips and tutorials.
Noupe –   roundups (like “50 best free icon sets”), and constantly bookmark this site.
Hongkiat –  with a slightly broader focus in design.
I Love Typograhy – Love fonts and typefaces? Can’t beat this site.
Design Observer – More tips, tricks, and tutorials.
Swiss Miss – The musings of a designer, with a heavy focus on the funky and quirky bits of the design world.
How-Tos and Reviews
MakeUseOf – Endless resource of Top 10 Lists, and geeky hacks you might want to try.
gHacks – Deeper cuts in tech than MUO, but still great for news, tips, and tutorials.
Lost in Technology – Much more approachable than the above sites, it’s a great blog to wade into without much knowledge required.
Mac AppStorm – The best Mac apps on the planet get showcased here.
Web AppStorm –  but with Web apps.
FreelanceSwitch – Tips, tools, tricks and help for anyone living the freelance lifestyle (more and more of us these days).
40Tech – Encountering tech, particularly geared toward those over 40, but really useful for anyone.
Commentators
Daring Fireball – John Gruber is the smartest man on the planet when it comes to Apple.
Pogue’s Posts – David Pogue’s funny, smart, and a great representative of the common man.
Scripting News – Dave Winer’s as important to the tech landscape as anyone (he’s the godfather of RSS, among other things), and his thoughts on any subject are a must-read.
Search Engine Land – Danny Sullivan knows his stuff when it comes to search—and there’s a lot more to it than you might think.
All Things D – A group of thinkers from the Wall Street Journal, all discussing, analyzing and talking tech. .
Dustin Curtis – love the way his site looks more than anything, but he’s a great observer of the world of blogging, design, and art.
MinimalMac – Mostly a links roundup, but a phenomenal resource for anyone looking to make their Mac work for them.
Robert Scoble – The blog of author, tech evangelist, & Rackspace employee Robert Scoble.
Tips, Tricks and Hackery
Lifehacker – The grand poobah of “little things to make your life more productive, more efficient, and more awesome” blogs.
Digital Inspiration – Amit is clever, easy to understand, and full of cool and interesting tips for everyone.
Unclutterer – Much-needed help for getting the crap out of our way so we can get important things done.
HackCollege – Tons of useful tips on hacking college and succeeding in school, but with ideas useful for anyone.
Smarterware – Gina, the founder of Lifehacker, took to Smarterware to share more great tricks, and never disappoints.
Lifehack – Somewhat broader in its thinking than Lifehacker, but a great place to find tips to make every little piece of your life work a little better.
Switched – All things geek, particularly the culture of techies that is forming.
Make Magazine – Do awesome stuff with your stuff. That should totally be their tagline.
Cool Stuff
Gizmodo – Gadgets, gadgets, gadgets!
Engadget –  more gadgets!
Boy Genius Report – They’re full of rumors and leaks, and are almost always right.
jkOnTheRun – Arguably the most seasoned gadget-heads out there, they’re a smart, thoughtful, and objective resource for all things gadget and mobile.
For Funsies
Xkcd – Want to know how nerds think? Read this comic. That’s exactly it.
Boing Boing – The interesting, quirky, strange, and weird things in the tech world.
Neatorama – Awesome things, that’s their only criteria for inclusion, and they stick to it well.

Next practices / technologies tools and methodologies: Innovation Scouting

Introduction

Until relatively recent times, most companies used internal research and development as their only method of innovation. However, companies are now proactively considering all sources of innovation, both internal and external, to remain competitive. Many companies that are aggressively looking outside their boundaries for new technology are using Innovation Scouts, specialists tasked to identify new opportunities for partnership, co-development, licensing, or acquisition. Innovation Scouting is a key element of Open Innovation, but the practice of scouting for innovative products and services has been around much longer and has an established place in traditional business practices as well.

Innovation is a critical component in future growth. IT Companies are faced with the challenge of constantly replenishing a products and services pipeline. Companies are now proactively considering all sources of innovation, both internal and external, to remain competitive and explore into future. External Innovation sourcing can be called Innovation scouting, is an important tool for new product/services development in IT. The focus of the innovation scouting practice will be constrained to IT Industry in the following paragraphs.

Capabilities

  Open innovation represents a radical new way of bringing new products to market faster and with more control on cost. Companies are now proactively considering all sources of innovation, both internal and external, to remain competitive.

Open Innovation, also known as external or networked innovation, represents a shift from the traditional model where 100% of a company’s innovation originates from within, to a more open model where both internal and external ideas are combined to create a more collaborative advantage. In 2003, Dr. Henry Chesbrough coined the term “open innovation” as a paradigm that assumes firms should use external and internal ideas to support a firm’s innovation goals, as well as internal and external paths to market in order to advance their technology. Sometimes called “External” or “Networked” Innovation, this model has many facets that continue to evolve.

 Every organization as part of their open innovation strategy can employ innovation scouting to find, qualify, and help exploit new opportunities. Innovation scouts are specialists tasked to identify new opportunities for partnership, co-development, licensing, or acquisition. Scouting has been employed by adventuresome leaders to facilitate revolutionary change, innovation, and creativity throughout history. Scouts have been dispatched to explore, discover, and map both known and unknown territory.

The more integrated a company’s products are into other companies’ products, the higher the likelihood that scouting is considered important. There are many different approaches for implementing innovation scouting, with companies using internal innovation scouts, external partners, third party scouts, and consultants.

The scouting role is not always confined to internal R&D departments within an organization, but instead is often jointly sponsored across multiple business units. Innovation scouts use many methods for finding new ideas, with competitive intelligence the most prevalent source of ideas.

Open Innovation

Open Innovation

Barriers and drivers

Open innovation is now recognized as a critical tool for accelerating growth, and the rapid pace of change in emerging technology areas heightens the importance of scouting for and incorporating technologies from the innovation ecosystem .Successful innovation scouting is a combination of several factors: internal factors within the firm itself, together with external partners including research institutions, mainly in academia. Cost reduction does not appear to be the leading driver for many companies engaged in innovation scouting.

Companies have specific, stated goals for their innovation scouting programs. Some of the most notable drivers of Open Innovation include:

  •  Global talent mobility
  •  More market-focused academic research
  •  Emergence of private research institutes
  •  Internet and search technology

The need to optimize existing supplier networks for strategic value. Companies develop approaches for setting goals and implementing metrics for measuring the success of their innovation scouting programs. This is also true for evaluating the performance of individual scouts.

The best companies are learning to identify areas of interest and then develop both formal and informal mechanisms to create innovation networks. An ongoing process requires a company to approach business in a fundamentally different way, both externally and internally. The transformation of entire markets brought on by new technology-based options.

Sources of Innovation

 The most common techniques for uncovering external ideas include conducting competitive intelligence, attending relevant conferences and tradeshows, leveraging academic networks and relationships, and exploiting network of innovators. Other, less common methods include the use of third party networks, innovation bounty challenges, and crowd sourcing.

The sources of innovation to scout for Innovations in IT Organizations are

  • Company Profiles for information and analysis on key companies in the IT field
  • On-line tools including tables and Innovation Grids to filter to key companies to target
  •  On-demand Inquiry to obtain additional analyst insights and recommendations regarding technology innovators.
  •  To build  innovation maps and ranks potential partners for technology value and business fit

Implementation

Innovation scouting is a systematic search for innovation in the field, bringing its findings to the attention of the decision-makers to determine whether and how to proceed with the idea to make it a product. The environment scanning brings into contact with an array of interesting and potentially disruptive innovations in products, services, technologies, and behaviors in it. The innovation scouts studying the IT industry uncovering major trends and weak signals for innovation. Perform continuous scan of trends and emerging futures, develop strategic foresights for a radically successful future in new product development arena.

Through a mixture of horizon scanning, and ongoing observation IT trends,   innovation scouts identify emerging hotspots for disruptive innovation—opportunity spaces between emerging consumer behaviors and new products, processes, in the IT industry. Innovation scouts analyze the drivers behind the industry innovations; identify important hotspots created by these drivers. The innovation hotspots are disruptive in nature such that they can alter the IT landscape. Driving and analyzing the next step in the evolution of the IT industry has a great potential for social and business impact.

Three stages to Innovation scouting realization-utilizing innovation know how (i.e. extensive knowledge and experience.)

i.          Scout – Innovation scouts find the opportunities from static, dynamic, and signal sources.

Innovation scouting involves the scan and tracking the universe of IT innovations, from start-ups to multinationals, for the most promising innovations.

ii.         Identify – Innovation scouts qualify the best opportunities quantitative and qualitative research and insights underpin identification of the real opportunities. They rank technology providers across a range of key metrics to uncover the highest potential partners.

iii.        Propose – realization of the opportunities communicating the opportunity and development, from stage gate to product development.

Business Value

In a connected economy, businesses cannot rely on the same old ideas from the same old people. To succeed, you need to seek out innovation from unexpected sources, in unexpected ways. Raising awareness of IP and fostering a culture of innovation is a key part of being an Innovation Scout.

Early identification of technologies, technological trends, and technological disruptors. Raising awareness of the threats and opportunities of technological development. Stimulation of innovation by combining the technology reports with business potential assessment. Facilitation of the sourcing of external technology innovation by reaching through the network of innovation scouts to their sources of information.

Future Evolution

It appears that more and more companies are moving towards proactive and systematic activities to obtain early information about innovations. Although in most companies’ innovation scouting has not yet reached a high standard of quality, it merits close attention, especially in competitive fields where capturing innovation can create a significant edge. The future of open innovation is going to be about leveraging collaborative talent networks, including both internal and external expertise. Companies that make a commitment to acquiring this knowledge will be taking a meaningful step in that direction. The continuous need for companies to explore and develop disruptors in new business areas, since their current domain becomes stagnant.

Augmented Reality

With almost daily announcements about new Augmented Reality applications, products, services, companies, and tools, the pace of innovation in augmented reality is torrid.

The potential of Augmented Reality has now captured the imagination of the information technology world. The popularity surrounding this technology is similar to the excitement over virtual reality during the 1990’s and 3D online communities, during this past decade. Unfortunately, in the mind of consumers, neither of these technologies lived up to the expectations. Virtual reality and 3D online communities were prematurely dismissed as failures by many. Consumer-level Virtual Reality was  really hard for implementation. Even so, some sensed that the technology was not bringing about the revolution that had been promised . Hype cycle –  The Trough of Disillusionment on this technology is deep and long. Today Virtual Reality technology is still in its infancy, and there are damaging flaws. Graphics, no matter how impressive, are not lifelike. Time lags are far too long. The equipment is still far too expensive for social use. But each and every one of these drawbacks is the subject of intense research and work.

In 2008-9, Augmented Reality technology became vogue. Though it has been under development for over couple of decades, in the past year, it was prominently featured in major advertisements campaigns.  Concurrently, Layar, Wikitude, and a number of augmented reality applications are released for mobile phones.

Augmented reality denotes live direct or an indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one.

While the capability to deliver augmented reality experiences has been around for decades, it is only very recently that those experiences have become easy and portable. Advances in mobile devices as well as in the different technologies that combine the real world with virtual information have led to augmented reality applications as any other application on a laptop or a smart phones.

New uses for augmented reality are being explored and new experiments undertaken now since it is easy to do so. Emerging augmented reality tools to date have been mainly designed for marketing, social purposes, amusement, or location-based information, but new tools continue to appear as the technology becomes more popular. Augmented reality has become simple, and is now poised to enter the mainstream in the consumer sector.

Wireless mobile devices are increasingly driving this technology into the mobile space where the applications offer a great deal of promise. Initially,augmented reality required unwieldy headsets and kept users largely tethered to their desktop computers. The camera and screen embedded in smart phones and other mobile devices now serve as the means to combine real world data with virtual data; using GPS capability, image recognition, and  compass. Augmented reality applications can define where the mobile’s camera is pointing and overlay relevant information at appropriate points on the screen. The improvement in technology allows more streamlined approaches and wider user adoption.

augmented-reality

Augmented Reality

Market projections for augmented reality on mobile devices predict revenues of $2 million in 2010, rising to several hundred million by 2014 ($350 million, according to ABI Research; Juniper Research’s projections are even higher). Augmented reality is poised to enter the mainstream in the consumer sector, and the social, gaming, and location-based applications that are emerging indicates a strong potential for educational applications in the next five years. Currently, many-augmented reality efforts are focused on entertainment and marketing, but these will spill into other areas as the technology matures and becomes even more simplified. Augmented Reality is pervasive  that is just now becoming a consumer reality. Now the focus is on consumer-focused practical applications such as this ING Google Android application. It not only helps to find the nearest ATM, it shows you visually how to get there, even showing where you need to take the first steps in the right direction.

Usage of a augmented reality to promote products via interactive augmented reality applications is becoming common  now.  example Nissan(2008 LAAuto Show),Best buy (2009) and others used webcam based augmented reality to connect 3D models with printed materials. There are numerous examples of connecting mobile augmented reality to outdoor advertisements.

Today, with almost daily announcements about new Augmented Reality applications, products, services, companies, and tools, the pace of innovation in augmented reality is torrid. Augmented Reality is at the peak of inflated expectations, which has both success stories with few failures. For the last five years, the hype and promise for augmented reality — a hybrid of virtual and actual reality — to spread into virtually every aspect of our daily lives has only grown. According to the definition by Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishino, it does still exist on a continuum of augmentation, which they describe as a line existing between the real world and a virtual environment. In addition to the spate of mobile applications—including Augmented ID, Wikitude, Layar, Nearest Tube, and the TwittARound—augmented reality is increasingly visible in popular cross-media experiences.

However, we should expect this for any new, immature technology with such potential for widespread impact and adoption, augmented reality is clearly in the spotlight. Augmented reality is one of the most successful ambassadors for ubiquitous computing to date.

This phenomenon is implemented in smart-phone applications like Layar and Wikitude, which make the intangible and conceptually challenging phenomenon easily perceptible. They make it possible to experience the new world of ubiquitous computing by reifying the digital layer that permeates our inside-out world.

The UX community needs to find ways to participate in and shape this design probe into the experience. To UX designers , this blizzard of augmented reality products offers a collection of prototypes that can help us understand and refine the basic interaction models and experience concepts that will underlay future generations. UX professionals can offer an essential perspective—as well as substantial history and a critical set of methods and skills—for the creation of delightful, useful, and humane augmented experiences, expanding their relevance and value.

While researcher Tom Caudell coined the term-augmented reality in 1992, the functional and experiential concept originated with the head-up instrument displays and targeting devices. Airplane manufacturers created for military pilots shortly after World War II. Since the 1970s and 1980s, many distinct, but complementary domains of academic computing research and commercial technological development have contributed to the evolution of augmented reality. In the 1990s, the first augmented reality products addressed the needs of such specialties as medicine and engineering.

The convergence of mobile computing and wearable computing with augmented reality is naturally of great interest to interaction designers. Throughout augmented reality’s evolution, continuous technology advancement has rapidly changed the range of possible interaction models and experience concepts.

As recently as 2003, the hardware for wearable augmented reality experiences—was distressingly cumbersome, and the social, physical, and cognitive limitations it placed on interactions were quite stringent. Contrast the experience of wearing the heavy and unappealing equipment with that of wearing the powerful video eyewear  available today, just five years later from Vuzix , the rate of improvement  is evident. The Tac-Eye Monocular Display System ST from  Vuzix Corporation is a see-through augmented reality (AR) enabled monocular Video Eyewear that is expected to be used in a variety of defense, security and industrial applications where rugged hands free video displays are needed. Building from Vuzix’ award winning technology in augmented reality -enabled video eyewear, the new display will enable users to view the real world scene while also viewing relevant computer generated information, graphics and alerts.

Much of augmented reality’s unique character comes from its combination of reified elements—usually bits of context that serve as the augmentation—with a traditional focus such as an object, place, person, or photo. Today’s augmented interactions often represent contextual elements within the augmented experience—for example, using icons to indicate direction and the distance to nearby points of interest—rather than being directly present—to continue the same example, by showing live video of points of interest. The presence of these representative reifications mixed in with reality is what makes augmented reality inside out. Designers should bear in mind that mixed reality is not natural. Design always shapes a mixed-reality experience in some way. Mixed Reality is a constructed experience. Designers can better define and understand the possible combinations of real and virtual elements in user experiences within the context of Paul Milgram’s Virtuality Continuum.

As this model shows, augmented reality and augmented virtuality are forms of Mixed Reality, which according to Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishino, blends the extreme points of fully real and fully virtual to some degree. Augmented-reality experiences supplement the real world with the virtual world by connecting people to informational elements that are presented, but not otherwise accessible. Augmented virtuality refers to predominantly virtual spaces that dynamically integrate physical elements such as objects or people into the virtual world, letting users interact with them in real-time.

For designers, the most important thing to note about the Virtuality Continuum is the absence of any clear boundary between the real environment and the augmented reality. .

The User Experience of Augmented Reality

In its current experimental form, augmented reality inhabits the interzone between the defined cultural categories of technology, art, commerce, utility, science, play, and entertainment. In time, this will change, as augmented reality moves from prototypes to finished concepts and reaches maturity in one or more of these cultural categories.

While we wait for cultural processes to sort out the long-term place of augmented reality, reviewing some impressions of current Augmented Reality efforts is a good way to learn from the in-progress design probe.

Two potential business applications for new Augmented Reality technologies are marketing and advertising.

Several augmented reality apps have already been released for cell phones with positioning sensors. For example, PresseLite’s Metro Paris app and Acrossair’s Nearest Tube both provide iPhone users with augmented directions to nearby subway stops. Augmented Reality apps are also available for phones powered by Google’s Android platform. Layar, developed by SPRXmobile, based in the Netherlands, overlays information from Twitter, Flickr, and Wikipedia on real-world locations, while Wikitude, from Austria-based Mobilizy, displays tourist information collected from Wikipedia.

Augment ID is an application that lets users point a smart phone at a stranger and immediately learns about them premiered last Tuesday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Developed by The Astonishing Tribe (TAT), a Swedish mobile software and design firm, the prototype software combines computer vision, cloud computing, facial recognition, social networking, and augmented reality.

Mobilizy released a new language for Augmented Reality called Augmented Reality Mark-up Language (ARML). With ARML, Mobilizy hopes to make it easier for programmers to create location-based content for Augmented Reality applications. The company envisions ARML as equivalent to HTML for the Web, and emphasizes the importance of open content and standardization for Augmented Reality to take off. it wants to open those standards to be available for developer communities that can create innovative applications around this augmented experience.

However, many challenges remain. For instance, the positioning technology currently available in cell phones falls short for sophisticated augmented reality applications. The GPSs built into smart phones were not designed for augmented reality, says panelist Steven Feiner, a professor of computer science at Columbia University. They were designed for simpler applications.

AR can guide people through complex tasks.

According to Fiener “Instead of looking at a separate manual while disassembling a PC, imagine putting on lightweight eyewear containing a see-through display that graphically highlights the screws in the order you need to remove them,”

Feiner has been developing experimental AR maintenance applications for 20 years. This involves delivering information about a system, quickly and naturally, as workers move around a workpiece. He does this by tracking the position and orientation of their eyewear, then aligning information with their perspective.

In recent studies with U.S. Marines at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Feiner’s lab found that AR helped professional mechanics find the location of parts they needed to repair faster than using manuals. “With manuals, the documentation is separate from the task. Workers are always going back and forth. AR keeps them focused on the work by integrating the documentation with the task,” Feiner explained.

Feiner is also working on better ways to display AR information for people interacting with their surroundings. He has come a long way since 1996, when his lab created the world’s first outdoor mobile AR system. Before the era of smart phones, ubiquitous GPS, and Wi-Fi, it consisted of head-worn and hand-held displays – plus a 45-pound backpack stuffed with electronics.

The success of augmented reality is tied to creating usable, useful, fun, or entertaining applications and experiences. Novelty and gimmicks will wear off soon, but fun experiences that take advantage of the unique nature of the technology will earn augmented reality a place as a viable and lasting approach to as a human-computer interface.

When covering Augmented Reality, a number of technology pundits have assumed that within the next few years, we can expect head mounted displays or augmented reality glasses to become the best display for Augmented Reality applications. Without a doubt, it would be groundbreaking if a high quality augmented reality display could be built into the form factor of sunglasses. Unfortunately, a lightweight, wide field of view, daylight readable, head mounted display (HMD) at mass market prices is not something we can expect to see in the next five years. Head mounted displays sold commercially since 1992, and there were great strides over the years in HMD resolution, brightness, and power usage.

Fakespace Labs Wide 5: Easily, the most immersive head mounted display; it can be modified for video see through augmented reality applications.

The Advanced Helmet Mounted Display:  Optical Research Associates, a firm that helped fix the Hubble telescope, designed the optics. It has an amazing field of view, its optical see through, and has great resolution. It is also very large and is intended for helmet mounting.

eMagin Z800 3Dvisor: It has a relatively small form factor, it is very affordable, uses OLED’s, and it can be adapted for video see through augmented reality applications. The field of view is limited.

No one has yet delivered a wide field of view display in a small package that approaches the footprint of sunglasses as the public expects. With significant engineering investments, innovative approaches from companies such as Lumus, ORA, and Digilens may show promise in solving this problem. In addition to optics issues, eyestrain and other head mounted display ergonomics problems must be dealt with.

There will be no single augmented reality display. Instead, the type of display used for augmented reality will be determined by the needs of the application. Current and future developers will have a range of options including smart phone screens, handheld tablets, desktop monitors, micro projectors, and augmented reality glasses.

There are a number of mobile augmented reality applications, namely Layar, Wikitude, and the Yelp Monocle, which use GPS and compass data to overlay graphic information on a live video view of the real world. Though these applications are novel and interesting, the data provided by a mobile device’s GPS and compass is simply not precise enough to deliver a quality Augmented Reality user experience. Information overlays usually appear to wobble or bounce around the video view. Consumers will rarely use these applications after the novelty factor wears off. At best, these applications provide an alternative viewing mode for data that should be first presented on a 2D map or in a list. Here is a well-written piece from New Scientist commenting on the current state of mobile augmented reality applications.

The best approach to Augmented Reality tracking and registration involves hybrid tracking and sensor fusion techniques, which use computer vision technology in conjunction with GPS and compass data.

Mobile augmented reality applications using a variety of sensor fusion techniques have been prototyped over the years, and we will see applications leveraging them on the market soon.

Layar’s mission is to transform augmented Reality into a true mass medium. Augmenting reality requires close study of a strange new Augmented Reality ecosystem: geo-location, registration, sensors, chipsets, operating systems, handheld devices, application, markers, social networking, and experience design. Augmented Reality business models include games, tourism, urban navigation, video, arts, and entertainment.

Augmented reality hardware platforms for today

Here are five augmented reality hardware platforms that developers can utilize today for creating augmented reality applications.

Webcams

In the past year, there has been an explosion of advertisement campaigns, which deliver webcam based Augmented Reality experiences through an internet site or a downloadable application. Most of these utilized the FLARToolkit.

      Augmented Reality Interactive Album Cover

      Augmented Reality Concert

      Augmented Reality Fashion Advertisement

      Augmented Reality Business Card

      Kiosks, Digital Signage, Window Displays

Webcam Augmented Reality applications can be packaged as interactive kiosks, digital signs, or window displays installed in retail locations as seen in this excellent example from Lego and this one promoting the movie Coraline.

3G Smartphones

3G smartphones have enormous potential for Augmented Reality applications. Phones from manufacturers including Apple, HTC, and Nokia are equipped with a camera, GPS, compass, accelerometers, and 3D graphics capabilities. These devices have enormous potential for Augmented Reality applications. Unfortunately, developers are currently more limited by the restrictions of manufacturer API’s than by the hardware itself. For example, developers cannot currently release iPhone applications, which directly perform vision based tracking on the camera’s video stream. Computer vision based Augmented Reality applications that are currently in the app store rely on analyzing still frames which limits the augmented reality experience. In 2010, these frustrating API barriers will be overcome, and we can see vision based Augmented Reality applications proliferate on mobile devices.

Game Consoles

Augmented reality first came to game consoles when Dr. Richard Marks invented the Eye Toy for the Playstation 2. More recently, we have seen the release of Augmented Reality applications for the Playstation 3 (PS3) with the Eye of Judgment and the Eyepet.  In 2010, Sony is expected to debut their motion controller, which will further extend the PS3′s Augmented Reality capabilities. Here is an article where Richard Marks answers questions about the motion controller along with a video showing a precursor running on the Playstation 2.

Microsoft’s heavily publicized Project Natal should provide a set of tools for authoring augmented reality experiences for the Xbox 360. Developers will be able to embrace Augmented Reality and ingeniously incorporate it into their game designs.

Tablets

Researchers have extensively used tablets to prototype Augmented Reality applications proving the viability of the tablet as an Augmented Reality platform. Most of these demos were created using the last generation of tablets from HP and Toshiba.  Those these devices provided great functionality, they were not widely accepted by consumers.  Here is a 2004 AUGUMENTED REALITY paper from George Klein et. al. which utilized the HP TC1000 tablet.  With its sleek design and form factor, Apple’s forthcoming tablet may have greater success. Apple’s tablet will reportedly be equipped with a camera, which could make it another excellent Augmented Reality platform. The process of porting an iPhone application to the Apple tablet is expected to be a straightforward process, which could encourage the release of Augmented Reality applications with versions for both devices.

Focus on Utility and Fun, not Novelty

After the “wow factor” wears off, there is a risk that consumers may begin to dismiss augmented reality as a gimmick rather than a technology that provides real value. Developers can prevent this situation from happening by using Augmented Reality to design applications that focus on utility and fun rather than the novelty of seeing an object pop out of a marker.

A great example of a useful Augmented Reality tool is the US Postal Service’s box measurement application. This application turns a cereal box into an interactive game. It is a fun gaming experience, which simultaneously promotes a new film.

Both of these applications provide unique value helping consumers understand that Augmented Reality is a technology that is useful beyond just being an attention-grabbing feature.

For those who have been a part of the Augmented Reality community since its infancy and those who are just entering the field, these are very exciting times. After decades of research, mass-market Augmented Reality applications are finally viable and can be delivered on a variety of platforms. If developers, investors, analysts, and consumers can develop a real understanding of what Augmented Reality can and cannot do, the future of Augmented Reality Technology is vivid, and evolution as an innovative and inspiring medium for creativity, communication, and e commerce.

Still, for all of AR’s promise, its future success is by no means a slam-dunk. Some of the early AR apps on smartphones are clumsy to use and unnatural. Eyewear for consumer use has not been perfected. “The optics and display trickery to get the thing right — that’s not easy,” says Microsoft’s Lanier.

Voted Best Augmented Reality Browser in 2010 by the readers of Augmented Planet, Wikitude World Browser is a fun, innovative, and informative Augmented Reality platform allowing you to discover what is around you in a completely new way. By using the camera, simply hold up your Smartphone and explore your surroundings. Wikitude will overlay the camera’s display and the objects you look at with additional interactive content and information – cool!

Forrester Research analyst Thomas Husson also says mobile AR is not yet delivering on its promise. However, “in the years to come, this will be disruptive technology that changes the way consumers interact with their environment.

Augmented reality has strong potential to provide both powerful contextual, in situ learning experiences and serendipitous exploration and discovery of the connected nature of information in the real world. Mechanics in the military and at companies like Boeing already use AR goggles while they work on vehicles; the goggles demonstrate each step in a repair, identify the tools needed, and include textual instructions as well. This kind of augmented experience especially lends itself to training for specific tasks.

The next stage in the evolution of AR is taking shape in the lab of Babak Parviz, an associate professor of bio-nanotechnology at Seattle’s University of Washington. Parviz has made a contact lens etched with a tiny, transparent electronic circuit that contains a single LED. Over the next several years he hopes to add hundreds of LEDs to the lens, allowing it to display text and images that would appear to hover in space at a readable distance in front of the eye. “With enough processing power, the lens could translate speech into text in real time and display it for deaf people,” says Parviz. The lens would be powered wirelessly by radio waves transmitted from a cell phone in your pocket.

Company Profiles

acrossair

acrossair is a new kind of company – a hybrid collective combining rockstar application and game developers with a corporate infrastructure to cover all those mundane things alike marketing, sales and finance. acrossair is working with companies to take advantage of the Apple iPhone platform for everything from fun games to enterprise applications. Our first application (delivering TV listings for TVGuide.co.uk) reached No.1 in the UK. Currently available for download on iTunes is a range of acrossair apps including Nearest Wiki, New York Nearest Subway, Nearest Places, London Nearest Tube and many more.

Acrossair have also developed an iPhone advertising platform which enables
publishers to commoditized their applications.

ARToolworks, Inc.

ARToolworks is the premier provider of tools for developing Augmented Reality (AR) experiences. Using ARToolworks’ software it is easy to create AR applications where virtual images are seamlessly overlaid on the real world.

. Forterra Systems Inc.

. Google Inc.

. int13

. Metaio GmbH

. Microvision, Inc.

. Mobilizy GmbH

. Nokia and Navteq

Neogence Enterprises

Ogmento

SPRXmobile

Sportvision, Inc.

Tonchidot Corporation

Total Immersion

Vision Systems International

Vuzix Corporation

Zugara, Inc.