A Great Time to Think Smart Electrical
Australia's leading futurist, Steve Sammartino is currently working with Middy’s as part of our Innovation Committee helping the Middy’s team and our customers navigate this exciting time of exponential Electrotechnology development.
Steve is one of Australia’s most respected futurists and wrote his first lines of computer code at age ten. As a media commentator he appears weekly on the ABC and national news and is the host of his own tech-business TV show 'The Rebound', which can be seen on Channel 9 nationally. Steve is the Technology Advisor to the NSW Treasury Department and consults to a number of ASX top 30 companies at board level. He has spoken to over 200,000 people in 14 countries and is the author of three best-selling books on the technology revolution. As the founder of multiple technology startups, Steve has a number of viral videos to his name including his crazy drivable Lego car built with 500,000 pieces, just Google him to see all the cool stuff he has done. Steve is full of energy, loves surfing and likes to take the complex and make it simple. He shares with us here his article titled 'A New Era’. Buckle in and read Steve's ideas on how to predict the Future…
A New Era
The revolutions we live through shape more than the technology which we find in our homes, on our desks and in our pockets. They shape how we work and live. Both the Industrial Revolution and the Internet come to mind when we mention that word revolution. But we can also break these down into phases – and the phase we have entered now puts electricians, communication contractors, system integrators and various other specialists front and centre – The Internet of Things, or IoT.
Before we get into the what, why and how of the IoT, it’s worth revisiting the Industrial Revolution. Sure, we know we ‘industrialised’ the world, but what did that really mean? The key word to use to describe industrialisation is Power.
Think of it this way, the Industrial Revolution was about adding artificial muscle or power to everything around us. We added steam and electricity to production lines, we added engines to carts and removed the horse, we added power and gas to our homes, we electrified our cities – we even added electricity to simple things like hand pumps and brooms by inventing the humble vacuum. It was all about adding fossil fuel energy to devices and to make them go faster, farther, be more powerful and provide artificial light and heat. And now, we are going through a similar process with the internet. Except this time we are adding artificial ‘smarts’ to things. The industrial era was about augmenting human and animal muscle and the Internet Revolution is about augmenting human and intelligence.
While most of the Industrialised world has been on the internet since around 1995 – we can also break this revolution into bits (pun intended). We can actually break down the internet into 3 simple phases.
Phase 1: The first phase was about connecting the machines. This commenced shortly after World War 2 and took around 40 years – it started in large Government, Military and University settings connecting their computers and providing information flow. It was a slow and very expensive process.
Phase 2: This was about connecting people – a time when computers and connectivity became affordable enough that we could reliably assume everyone was connected to the web via their desktop and laptops. Then the smart phone and social media connected even those with tiny incomes in developing nations. In fact, there are currently more mobile phone subscriptions in use in Africa than toothbrushes. This is the phase in many ways that defines the internet as we know it in our minds and daily routines.
Phase 3: The one we are entering now, is the moment we connect everything to the internet – hence the term, the Internet of Things (IoT). I like to call it the trillion-sensor economy. Everything, will become a node of the internet.
An IoT world is one where everything we make has some kind of microchip in it, sensor on it and potential to gather and share data. In a way all things will become a kind of tiny computer. We can do it because the connectivity components (those all buried deep inside our smart phones) and near field connection devices have become so cheap, they are mere cents in the dollar. All of this capability is riding on the back of the smart phone revolution (more than 12 billion individual units have been manufactured since 2007) which has reduced production costs of all manner of sensors dramatically.
Smart homes, offices, cities, cars and products will pervade our world. Eventually everything in our houses will be internet enabled, from the products in our cupboards, fridges and medicine cabinets to the white goods we use. All interacting with each other to create new levels of convenience, efficiency and entertainment. We’ll literally talk and communicate with our homes and all of the things inside it. It all will require fit outs – electricians, communication contractors, system integrators and various other specialists.
In an IoT world things start to interact in smart ways. They know what they are, where they are, how often they’ve been used, when they need to be replaced and they’ll talk to other items. It’s interesting that this vision hasn’t really been designed or owned by anyone, or corporation in particular. It’s an idea that is well documented, but to this day remains a fragmented vision of what is coming and will be built. What this means, is that enterprising business operators can run with it. The range of possibility with ‘Things’ that have added smartness to them (read here internet connectivity) is rising every single day. It’s a rare opportunity and it is totally up for grabs.
The good news is that no other trade can take this opportunity like electrical can. Everything with electricity in it, will have the internet in it and vice versa. The scope of what we are talking about is extraordinary. IoT means that we have an entire world we need to build out and connect. On top of that, everything in our homes and buildings which is ‘dumb’ will too, need a smart upgrade. All of which is easy pickings for those who make a minimal investment understanding the opportunity around this phase of the web. What this means is that the scope of work available for the electrical industry is beyond any other trade I can think of. A rare opportunity indeed.
This article was originally featured in our quarterly Middy's MAG #34 Jul - Sep '21 Edition. Read Latest Issue