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Daedalus was the mythical great architect and artificer of the classical world. Today, embedded intelligence is enabling the most profound changes in the way we create and use buildings since his day.

Building Intelligence meets the Intelligent Building. The Intelligent Building negotiates with the Intelligent Grid. How will this transform how we interact with the physical world?

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« Cognitive functions, Autonomy, and Integration | Performance and Service »
Thursday
Mar272008

Knowing ones place in the fabric

As we move from control-based interactions to agent-based interactions between systems, the best systems will use surrounding networks to develop a situational awareness that will set it above its competitors. We won’t be aware of these activities; they will occur without us even noticing. This situation awareness will fall into two categories: awareness of peers and awareness of surroundings. Surprisingly, this awareness will be part of competition on function at the same price-points as systems without awareness.

This morning, Amazon began selling the second, re-tooled version of the Dash Express. The Dash Express is an in-car GPS that does roughly what other in-car GPSs do, and at a similar price. What’s different about the Dash Express is that it is continually attached to the internet. Some out of the box thinking leverages the capability to provide new services.

The obvious stuff is that the Dash Express can keep its traditional GPS functions up-to-date. Was a street renamed or a road completed this week? Changes to Dash maps are automatically downloaded. That new restaurant that you just read a review of? Dash can find it on the internet and guide you there

You can also use the internet yourself as you drive along. You can browse using the Dash Express, and then use Dash to guide you there. Please, just pull off before you do this in traffic. . Looking up places of interest on your home computer? You can send them to your Dash. Dash Express is aware of the changes in its environment and keeps itself up-to-date.

But this is not why I am writing about the Dash Express.

Each Dash Express also transmits information to the internet. It can check the current or recent road speed on each alternate route and choose the one for you accordingly.The more Dashes are on the road in your town, the better this information is. For the first time, we are seeing network effects in GPS performance.

(Network effect refers to markets in which the value of each item increases the more that are on the market. The classical example is the Fax. The first Fax was not worth much until the second fax was plugged in. Once most office had a Fax, you almost could not afford to not have one.)

It is interesting to speculate if we will see emergent behaviors in city traffic in town where there is a sufficient density of installed Dashes. What effects will a stadium parking lot of tailgaters with their engines on have on Dash calculations? Will traffic start to pulse as Dash advices crowds to not take that onramp? Will people watch for installed Dashes as they watch for radar detectors now. Taking a free ride on the technology?

Soon agents in each house will be able to receive “prices to devices”. If I am right, they will aggregate device information through a house agent. Will house agents negotiate with other houses to aggregate larger blocks of demand to sell? Will they ready our Google Calendars and be extra aggressive when we are away from home?

It’s hard to know. But situation awareness leveraging network effects at the same price point does raise a lot of possibilities.

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