At this week's Fall 2012 Demo conference, big data was in a category by itself -- and for good reason. In an event typically dominated by consumer-facing technologies, Demo organizers created a separate panel of executives from Cisco, Google, and venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz to analyze each of the nine presenters with products based on big data.
The newfound focus on big data tools was a result of innovative applications in both the home and the enterprise, which were exemplified by two Demo presenters in particular.
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A young company called Ube harnesses big data and the ever-growing "internet of things" in an attempt to extend Wi-Fi connectivity to home appliances. Through a combination of a free mobile app and Ube's custom-designed appliances, such as a remotely activated light dimmer, electrical outlets and even plug-in adapters for standard outlets, Ube enables users to remotely control the power to almost any household device. That means that from any location the user can shut off the lights, the television, and even the iron, if the device's cord is plugged into one of Ube's smart plug outlets.
Demo panelists praised Ube's mobile app, particularly its easily navigable user interface that organizes and sorts connected devices. The outstanding question most panelists had for Ube was not related to the technology, but more about the state of the market. When, exactly, will homeowners recognize the potential of this technology?
Ube CEO Utz Baldwin was not deterred. Baldwin says Ube's products reduce the cost of implementing connected home electronics enough to facilitate adoption in new markets. He says the current market for Internet-connected home is valued around $13 billion, and is composed primarily of wealthy consumers with homes valued $750,000 and up.
As an example, Baldwin pointed to the light dimmer. Most standard connected light dimmers, which enable a user to dim and shut off lights remotely, require heavy labor for installation of both the hardware and communications technology, as well as a custom API. He ball-parked the current cost of a connected light dimmer at around $200. By comparison, the Ube light dimmer will be priced around $60 and will come pre-enabled for Wi-Fi connectivity, Baldwin says.
In the enterprise, a company called AppEnsure showcased its use of big data to turn application performance management on its head. Company CEO and co-founder Colin MacNab says APM became more difficult when companies began virtualizing their apps.
A common problem, as seen firsthand by co-founder and CTO Sri Chaganty in his previous consulting job, was the vast effort involved when an application crashed. Chaganty is familiar with the experience, having been forced to sort through logs, correlate events and pinpoint problems many times over his 15 years in consulting.