Make Magazine's predictions for what's going to be big in 2012 includes Drone Journalism

Great list of trends to watch in 2012 from Make Magazine. The full list:

  • Drone Journalism
  • Wearables
  • 3D Printing
  • Internet of Things
  • Arduino hits 1 million units
  • World "Kinect'd"
  • Crowdfunding
  • Libraries becoming hackerspaces


Views: 810

Comment by Dave Wicks on December 29, 2011 at 12:58am
Comment by Geoffrey L. Barrows on December 29, 2011 at 8:27am

The "internet of things" is an exciting idea but it is really quite old- Paul Saffo was writing about this in the 90's when he outlined three waves- the first wave was the transistor, leading to computers as we know it. The second wave was networking, leading to the internet as we know it. He then postulated the third wave as essentially interconnected sensors and devices on the network. Here is one of his essays from back then, if you wish to compare predictions vs. reality:

Regarding the world being Kinect'd- clearly the combined 3D information and color mapping is revolutionary. However those Kinect boxes are so darned heavy! If rather than going up in resolution, I were to make a simplified version with less resolution and/or less range, but weights just a few grams, and is open source, would people buy?

Comment by John Church on December 29, 2011 at 8:54am

The thing about predictions: Are they really prophetic, or just inspirational???  :)

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on December 29, 2011 at 9:34am

Geoff: Like a lot of tech visions, the Internet of Things took a decade to become reality. The original IoT concepts came from networking companies like Cisco and Nokia, with some dabbling from appliance manufacturers such as Samsung. It was all proprietary, closed and every effort to create common standards collapsed into unmanageable complexity (remember Jini?). So nothing happened. 

Now, a decade later, the IoT is back, but based on open hardware like Arduino, ubiquitous platforms like iOS and Android devices, standard Web APIs and bottoms-up innovation from startups and amateurs.

It's just like the early days of the the Internet. AT&T and TCI didn't bring us the "Information Superhighway" based on smart settop boxes; instead, the Web arrived by using the phone lines and computers we already had, with free software made by universities and startups. 

Comment by Paul Marsh on December 29, 2011 at 9:40am

@Geoffrey -- That was a really interesting article even though it was written quite some time ago.  He certainly nailed the social media thing that was to come (note #1).  For the unmanned vehicle world the most promising predictions have to do with sensors, i.e. better and less expensive sense and avoid.  Thanks for posting the link.

Comment by Geoffrey L. Barrows on December 29, 2011 at 10:17am

@Chris- Good point. i remember "wireless sensor networks", "smart dust", and all that stuff being quite trendy in the late 90's. It was quite exciting because also at that time "radio" was going through a renaissance as people were exploring how to put an entire transceiver onto a CMOS chip. (As a side: a lot of academic papers from that time reference not only last month's advance but original papers by Armstrong from the early 20th Century. I loved it!) There was a lot of promise then too- I was at NRL at the time and everyone seemed to have a viewgraph showing a bunch of ground and airborne sensors networked in some "intelligent" ad-hoc manner to let a commander know an enemy tank was rumbling by some sector. Other people even proposed using small gliders as a way to deploy huge arrays of these sensors over an "area of interest". I was actually involved with one such effort to build such a "micro glider" (link here)- in that project the glider wing would double as an RFID tag. (Another aside- The then-grad student Rob Wood went on to a faculty position at Harvard where he now directs the Robobee effort.)

Actually, when I founded Centeye back in 2000 the prefix "cent" was meant to be a triple pun for "hundreds, tiny, and inexpensive"- I initially envisioned pursuing sensor networks rather than robotics at the time. (Forgive me for indulging- I could talk for hours about this!)

Anyway, it was all very exciting, but it never really lived up to it's promise. The "smart dust" grew in size to become larger than today's iPhones ("feature creep" should be one of the 7 deadly sins...), and as you said all standards (not to mention hardware implementations) were closed and competing. Now it could well be different...

Comment by Geoffrey L. Barrows on December 29, 2011 at 10:23am

PS. So, shall we soon see Arduino-controlled drones talking to each other via Bluetooth or Wifi?

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on December 29, 2011 at 10:30am

Geoff: They can already talk to each other with Xbee, which has a mesh/point-to-point protocol. They just don't have much to talk about yet ;-)

Comment by Geoffrey L. Barrows on December 29, 2011 at 11:08am

I think that can be changed...

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on December 29, 2011 at 3:47pm

A good example of this new-style Internet of Things device is Twine, which has already raised $400,000 on Kickstarter.


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