My favorite project: The Internet of things in real life

Both my nomination for the geekiest thing I've worked on and the most important thing I've worked on, OpenRemote is changing the world

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What makes OpenRemote special is that it's pulling together all of the proprietary vendor's devices. It's like one platform with a series of device drivers instead of each vendor selling you a unique, expensive platform -- and forcing you to hire an actual developer to build both your integration and your UI. Assuming the device you are buying has already been integrated into OpenRemote, a power user can drag-and-drop together a UI. For a major home installation, that could shave off $10,000 in cost.

OpenRemote and smarter, greener buildings

Think of the effect on the green "smart building" movement. If you've been in a modern meeting room, used the touch panel, brought down the projection screen, dimmed the lights, and controlled the sound, you've encountered some of this technology. But that crappy touch panel is expensive (reportedly several thousand bucks), and the battery wears out every two years. It also has terrible resolution compared to your average iPad or Android tablet. Not to mention that the UI is typically confusing and your average computer scientist presenter has no idea how to get the screen to descend without dimming the lights too much.

Smart buildings go beyond this and integrate alarms, climate control, blinds, and so on into one platform. This stuff is fairly common in Europe already. A few years back, at a Siemens building in Germany, I saw the outside metal blinds automatically adjust with the sun. Clearly, there's an opportunity for OpenRemote to "smart up" new buildings. At relatively low cost, that smart home or office space enjoys a nice deal-closing differentiator on the open real estate market.

This technology is expanding. One of the organizations that we're working with is Durham SciNergy, which is remodeling low-income housing to go "off the grid" and energy efficient. We're looking to help the company use OpenRemote and automation technologies to make smarter use of energy.

I may love the cloudy NoSQL big data goodness, but when I daydream these days, OpenRemote is on my mind. I think of Adam, who unfortunately passed away earlier this year. Here was a guy who had an amazing sense of humor in the face of an adversity I can't even begin to imagine. We automated his lights; he joked about automating his bidet.

This is the kind of "save the world stuff" I got in this field to do. Helping people like Adam and reducing our carbon footprint in a smart way -- that's what I zone out on during meetings.

OpenRemote is the most important project I've ever worked on. Ten years from now, long after NoSQL is commonplace and MongoDB has been sold to Oracle, this is what I'll still be bragging about: I helped build the Internet of things.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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