It was a short week for most of us, but that just means that the same amount of action is squeezed into less time. Here’s this week’s collection of important news and commentary, four-day edition.
Where Social Networks Are Hottest
ZDNet reported on a study by IPSOS that looked at how businesses use social networks. As writer Jack Schofield points out, it is not surprising that the younger the worker, the more likely he or she is to use social networks.
Schofield says that the subtleties of use by country are “less obvious.” I guess he didn’t say “surprising” because it really isn’t. IPSOS found that productivity increased worldwide by an average of 46 percent via the use of social media. China, India, Turkey, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and Singapore all scored over 60 percent. Those with 35 percent or less were the UK, Germany, the U.S., Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
The reason that result may be more subtle than surprising is that the countries that use the platforms more appear to have particularly fluid economies – emerging or rapidly growing – and therefore may be more open to using social networking platforms that are less structured and freer flowing than more static legacy-type structures. Social media may simply better fit the budgets and general outlook of companies in such a landscape.
Faster and Faster
It always seems that the latest advance will finally be it, that technology just can’t be pushed any further. And, invariably, new technologies come along that move the envelope another notch or two.
That is what is happening in data transmissions. Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs researchers, according to GigaOm, have pioneered the use of twin waves of data that, since they are sent separately, suffer less signal distortion. The waves are reunited when they arrive at the receive site. The story says that the approach can be used to send 400 Gigabits per second (Gbps) more than 7,900 miles. How it works:
The pairing of signals in essence cancels out the ups and downs — peaks and troughs, in physics terms — of data. That means the signal-to-noise ratio improves, which lets fiber optic communications travel farther without more gear along the way to boost the signal. That’s a big deal.
Mobility on the Move
A trio of stories describe the increasing mobility of the Internet. The International Business Times and other sites report that IDC predicts that tablet shipments will grow to 229.3 million units in 2013, a 58.7 percent increase over last year. That is more than the year’s prediction for notebooks. In 2015, the firm said, more tablets will ship than notebook and desktop PCs combined.
The move to mobility was also an agenda item at the D: All Things Digital conference. Mary Meeker, a partner in the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, indicated that 2.4 billion people worldwide are on the Internet, according to a CNET report. That figure is an 8 percent increase compared to last year. There still is room to grow, however: Only about one-third – 34 percent – of the world’s population is on the Net. Seventy-eight percent of Americans are online, she said.
Meeker’s most striking numbers related to the growth in mobility. Mobility represented 0.9 percent of Internet traffic in May 2009 and 2.4 percent a year later. This May, the figure was 15 percent, and could double that by the end of next year.
Finally, Cisco put out its annual excursion into huge numbers with exotic-sounding names, which is otherwise known as the Visual Networking Index, or VNI. The company reports that IP traffic will reach an annual level of 1.4 zettabytes by 2017, according to Light Reading Mobile. The monthly traffic will reach 212 exabytes by that year, which is almost three times the 44 exabtyes per month in 2012. A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes.
These big numbers will increasingly be weighted toward mobililty:
By 2017, wired devices will account for 45 percent of IP traffic, the network giant finds, while Wi-Fi and mobile devices will account for 55 percent. In 2012, wired devices still accounted for the majority of IP traffic, at 59 percent.
M2M 2 Explode
Machine-to-machine (M2M) also was a big part of this year’s VNI. CED writer Brian Santo doesn’t actual say it, but the lead of his story highlighting M2M growth can be summed up by the image of water starting to trickle down the surface of the wrong side of a dam. The flow has started – and won’t stop.
Santo reports that there were about 2 billion M2M connections last year. The sector will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 82 percent and reach 6 billion connections by 2017. M2M traffic will multiply by a factor of 20 and grow from 197 petabytes in 2012 to 3.9 exabytes in 2017.
The most impressive prediction puts those esoteric numbers into context: Cisco contends that M2M will present 3 percent of global IP traffic by 2017 after only representing 0.5 percent last year. That’s a startling increase when juxtaposed against the overall growth of IP traffic during that period.
Perhaps These Researchers Should See I, Robot
And, finally, a story that will do nothing to assuage the concerns of folks who feel that robots are becoming a bit too lifelike. Researchers at Cornell University, according to ExtremeTech, are using elements of Microsoft’s Kinect to help robots anticipate human behavior. Kinect, the story says, is useful because of its ability to track human motion and identify objects:
The researchers placed four participants in five common environments (bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, living room, and office). Then, the participants were asked to perform a variety of different activities like rinsing their mouth, brushing their teeth, putting in contact lenses, talking on the phone, drinking, opening pill containers, chopping, stirring, talking on a couch, relaxing on a couch, writing on a whiteboard, and working on a computer. 45 seconds of Kinect footage was recorded per activity per participant, and then the data was compiled to help the robot “understand” the motions associated with each activity.
Videos from Cornell embedded in the story show the robots doing such things as opening a refrigerator door unasked as a participant walks toward it with a container and returning a quart of milk to a refrigerator after the subject has poured some on his cereal.