We’re living in the future, minus the flying cars

As much as I bemoan how often technology seems to isolate us — separating people so that we think it’s normal to be sitting at the same table all looking at our phones — in this month’s magazine, the love part of my love/hate relationship with technology came to the forefront.

Sensors galore

Among other things, our PNC special report on manufacturing and the Internet of Things explores the possibilities of micro sensors that monitor objects and then share that information.
Industries like automotive, aerospace and biomedical are already implementing these technologies full force, and getting results. For example, auto manufacturers can customize cars on the production line to order, changing the color or adding upgrades.

Through nano technology, researchers are using carbon fibers to increase energy storage and conductivity, and people can get real-time information to determine if something is close to exceeding its designed threshold.

It’s amazing what people are doing in this field, which seems to be gaining momentum — it isn’t going to go away. Business leaders, regardless of industry, need to monitor this trend and actively explore the possibilities of the IoT.

Increased efficiency

Also in this issue, I wrote about CampusParc, the private contractor running The Ohio State University’s parking facilities and services. Who knew parking could be so technology driven? I certainly didn’t.

CEO David Teed shared a story that I thought was intriguing, even though it didn’t make the final article.

San Francisco, like many cities, has struggled with on-street meter parking, especially in the central business district. People are constantly circling, which then creates congestion.
The city implemented a smart parking system, with a ground sensor at every meter space and smart meters that connect to the Internet.

“Between the sensor and the meter, you can now drive into San Francisco, and as you are approaching the city, you can go into the parking database and find out what spaces are available,” Teed says. “You can drive straight to the available space and park without circling.”

At the same time, Teed says dynamic pricing increases the turnover rate of spaces, because people park and get out quicker when it costs more. The city changes the pricing on meters remotely.

“If you drive up to a space outside of the Opera House first thing in the morning, no one is at the opera, and the space could be 25 cents an hour,” he says. “If you pull up outside of the Opera House at 8 o’clock at night, just before the opera starts, that same space might cost you $5.”

The goal was to keep the cost of parking neutral to what it was, and just make the system more efficient.

 

 

It’s amazing to think about some of the obvious implications to technology like this, and I’m sure there are a million more uses that we haven’t thought of yet. We certainly live in an interesting world.