“One small step for man, one giant leap for IoT”

M2M - The Industry

While I can't imagine that anyone does not recognize one of the most famous quotes in history, the title of this blog is a play on the famous line said by Neil Armstrong when he stepped foot on the moon over 40 years ago.  For a lot of people, it was a huge achievement that defined a generation. 

For those of us who were not alive when it happened, it may seem that it does not have as much of an impact on us....but we could not be more wrong.

Do a Google search for "technology from the space program", and you will be surprised as to how many things we take for granted today were either created by NASA or greatly improved by the space program....

Here are just a few:

•   Cordless tools (developed by Black and Decker, improved on by NASA)

•   Memory foam

•   Panoramic TV and photography

•   Scratch-proof lenses

•   Temperature controlled clothing for athletes

•   The "Jaws of Life" for removing accident victims

More close to us in the world of IoT, the space program has had a strong benefit to us.  Here are a few ways that our industry has benefited:

Biotelemetry  
I wrote previously about how companies like GE are using biotelemetry to improve the ability to predict the physical health of pilots by detecting the presence of certain hormones/chemicals on the skin of the pilot.  While this technology did not exist in Apollo 11, the ability to gather such information is definitely based on what NASA developed.

LED technology  
I had some problems finding exactly how NASA helped, but it appears that a NASA grant was given to develop LED technology to help foster the advanced growth of plants.  This technology appears to be the basis of the current LED technology that is used in pretty much all electronics, including IoT equipment.

Home health monitoring  
Some elements of what is now part of the IoT boom in personal health (blood pressure monitoring and in-ear temperature monitoring) have a direct link to the space program.  Others including the ability to monitor one's temperature and heart rate remotely, such as what is used in many advanced telematic's based clothing, may not have actually originated with the Space program but were definitely vastly improved by use in the Apollo series.

Personal alarming  
Much of today's work alone technology (used heavily by remote workers, prison guards and others) had its origin in the space program.  It was a spin-off of the on-board telemetry system they had deployed.

Telemedicine  
While the bandwidth to do things such as full remote exams and even possibly remote emergency surgical procedures was decades away, the origins to today's ability to do a lot of remote medical procedures/exams has a direct link to the technology used by "Houston" to keep an eye on the astronauts while they were in space.

"Enhanced" GPS  
Ok, before I get a ton of emails...NASA did NOT invent GPS, that was the US department of Defence.  However, NASA's labs were key in the development of Differential GPS, which greatly improves the accuracy of GPS.  Industries such as agriculture, construction, military and urban planning should thank them!

The Bottom Line

Just over a month ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Jim Lovell (from Apollo 13) speak at an event.  He spoke about how discouraged he was with the trend over the past decade or so to even further reduce the funding for the space program.  He spoke about how it gave us many great things that we use today and how it gave an entire generation of young minds something to inspire them to pursue a career in mathematics and science.  While I did agree with his thoughts at the time, it wasn't until I did some research for this blog that I truly understood what he meant....much of what I do today might not have been possible (at least not now) if it were not for the 1960's promise to put a man on the moon. 

As always, Novotech is ready to assist with your M2M needs. Whether you’re looking to control, track, monitor or back-up, Novotech has the solutions and products you need. View our Line Cards and let us know how we can be of assistance.

Stay connected! Follow Novotech on Twitter (@NovotechM2M) or follow me personally (@LBNovotechM2M).  We’re also very active on LinkedIn so follow our company page too. 

**Important note**

While preparing for this blog, I did a fair amount of research from a variety of sources.  There were some sources that did not totally agree with other sources regarding the actual role NASA played in each of these inventions.  I tried to pick examples where there was little disagreement with NASA's role/involvement, but the list is not meant to be an exact history/list. Rather it is an overview as to the importance that the Space program has had on our industry.


 

Novotech Technologies
Larry Bellehumeur
Machine-to-Machine
M2M
Internet of Things
IoT
Neil Armstrong
Space Program
NASA
Cordless tools
Memory foam
Panoramic TV and photography
Scratch-proof lenses
Temperature controlled clothing for athletes
Jaws of Life
Biotelemetry
LED Technology
Home Health Monitoring
Personal Alarming
Lone Worker
Work Alone Technology
Telemedicine
Differential GPS
Enhanced GPS
Jim Lovell
Apollo 13

“Honey, there is a killer drone at the door for you…”

M2M - The Industry

I remember a few years back when I seemed to have lost track of time as we got close to Christmas.  My wife was constantly reminding me very aggressively (a.k.a. "nagging me") to remember to order a toy for our oldest son.  As it turned out, her "nagging" was quite justified as it was quite the nail-bitter to see if we would get the toy from Amazon in time for Christmas.  I remember thinking...."Amazon needs to find a better way to get me my stuff than relying on UPS at Christmas".  And, it appears they have.....well, they at least they have a new potential way, not sure if it will be better.

It appears that Amazon has some clearance from the US government to start some testing of their "manned" drones (meaning that someone with flight experience is flying them, not riding on it).  They have a lot of restrictions (how far they can go away from the pilot, how fast they can go and at what altitudes), but to some lucky people in rural Washington State, you may get to see the future of package delivery very soon.

But is using unmanned drones actually a good thing?
 

Well, it is never great to see anyone lose their jobs due to technology advance, but like I have written previously, M2M/IoT solutions will end up costing a lot of people their jobs as it will be much less expensive to use a solution.  However, I think this solution is a unique one, as it brings up some interesting safety concerns:

For a good laugh (and for 8 reasons why the Amazon drone may not be a good idea), check out this funny "rant" from Lewis Black.  As he points out, getting your new waffle maker delivered may have some new dangers that we are not used to.

On a more serious note, there are some limitations / concerns that need to be overcome for this technology to work:

Collecting money
I don't see a drone having the ability to interact well with people when it comes to collecting funds for C.O.D. packages, as an example.

Unexpected obstacles 
My neighbour is a bit of a "freak" when it comes to Halloween.  I mean, they could film a Hollywood movie in their front yard!  So, I wonder how well the Amazon drone deals with the large spider web that they put covering much of their porch....

Golf-ball sized hail
Ok, like the bees in the movie "The Bee Movie" (yes, I have little kids, I have seen it a lot), maybe these drones will not fly in times of bad weather.  However, I know a lot of places are like Calgary (where I live) and quick moving weather can move in fast....I wonder how the drone will take to getting hit with hail the size of a golf ball or bigger?

Confusing directions
I used to live in a walk-down basement of a townhome.  Although it was pretty well marked that you went down the steps to my place, I almost never seemed to get the pizza delivery guy who could find my place.  I suspect that the drone won't fair too much better than that guy did for finding places with not-so-perfect directions.

The Bottom Line

 

I think it is inevitable that the job of a delivery person will be replaced by some sort of machinery.  I am just not sure if this is the best way to get it done.  However, some of the best inventions of the past century have pushed the limits of what we thought the human mind could do. Just look at the Internet, the modern PC, cellular technology and of course, the Taco Bell Dorito taco!  If they can put that great cheesy taste into a sandwich style taco, then maybe they can deliver packages without taking someone's arm off... 

 

 

 

As always, Novotech is ready to assist with your M2M needs. Whether you’re looking to control, track, monitor or back-up, Novotech has the solutions and products you need. View our Line Cards and let us know how we can be of assistance.

Stay connected! Follow Novotech on Twitter (@NovotechM2M) or follow me personally (@LBNovotechM2M).  We’re also very active on LinkedIn so follow our company page too.