How far can big data go? What is next for big data analytics? According to GCN, the next horizon for big data may be machine-to-machine (M2M) technology. As coding of big data advances, Oracle is now considering big data “an ecosystem of solutions” that will incorporate embedded devices to do real-time analysis of events and information coming in from the “Internet of Things,” according to the Dr. Dobbs website. There is so much data that is being generated by all of the sensors and scanners we have today. All of this data is useless unless taken in context with other sparse data. Each strand of data may only be a few kilobytes in size but when put together with other sensors readings, they can create a much fuller picture. Applications are needed to not only enable devices to talk with others using M2M, but also to collect all the data and make sense of it.
The future of sparse data could even include what some consider Thin Data. Thin data could include simple sensors and threshold monitors built into the furniture and ancillary office equipment. When viewing all the sensors on the floor over time it might show the impact of changing temperature in the space, or moving the coffee machine. You could look at the actual usage data of fixtures like doors and lavatories. There is a huge potential for inferential data mining. And to even take thin data to the next level, include reproducing nano technology that is embedded in plant seeds. The nana agent would become part of the plant and relay state information as the plant grows. This would allow massive crop harvesters to know if and when the plants are in distress. Other areas of interest for thin data include monitoring traffic on bridges and roadways, or in a variety of weather monitors or tsunami prediction systems.
Machina Research, a trade group for mobile device makers, predicts that within the next eight years, the number of connected devices using M2M will top 50 billion worldwide. The connected-device population will include everything from power and gas meters that automatically report usage data, to wearable heart monitors that automatically tell a doctor when a patient needs to come in for a checkup, to traffic monitors and cars that will by 2014 automatically report their position and condition to authorities in the event of an accident. One of the most popular M2M setups has been to create a central hub that can be used by wireless and wired signals. The sensors in the field would record an event of significance, be it a temperature change, inventory leaving a specific area or even doors opening. The central hub would then send that information to a central location where an operator might turn down the AC, order more toner cartridges or tell security about suspicious activity. The future model for M2M, would eliminate the central hub or human interaction. The devices would communicate with each other and work out the problems on their own. This smart technology would decrease the logistics downtime associated with replacing an ink cartridge on a printer. Once the toner reached a low threshold, the printer would send a request/acquisition to the toner supplier and a replacement would immediately be shipped. Once the toner was received, it could be replaced. This turn-around time would be drastically better than having the printer fail because of low toner levels, then ordering it, having to wait on shipping, and then replacing the toner.
Humans won’t be completely removed from the equation. They will still need to be in the chain to oversee the different processes, but they will be more of a second pair of eyes and less of a direct supervisor. Humans will let the machines do they work, and will only get involved when the machine reports a problem, like a communications failure. More Applications software development will be needed in the future to connect those 50 billion devices. Another location to learn more about M2M development is the Eclipse Foundation.