Build Newsletter: CES, Robots, Drones, Devices & Cars—Jan 2016

January 19, 2016 Gregory Chase

sfeatured-buildWelcome to 2016!

At the risk of dating myself, remember that Jetson’s future we were all promised with robots doing things for us?

Well, it’s almost here.

As this year’s CES showed us, we’ll all be working with robots very soon—and I don’t mean just doing a substandard vacuuming job in your house. It doesn’t matter If you are a business leader, architect, or developer—they’re coming to help, and maybe take your job!

In this edition of BUILD, we are going to focus on all the new types of platforms that people are building as we speak—robots, drones, devices, cars, 3D cameras—and their related app platforms that are advancing towards mainstream. The software industry is exploding with new applications and devices for people. We will also cover voice recognition, smart TVs, wearables, culture, design, development, and how connected cars might be available for purchase this year.

Predictions, Robot Platforms & APIs, And IOT Advances

If you didn’t see our cloud and big data predictions, you might want to check them out.

The New Year always jumps into the buzz of consumer electronics with CES, which really highlighted a lot of things to come. Looking across the swath of advances CES is promising this year, it is easy to see how robots (either physical or virtual) will integrate with mobile devices, wearables, nearables, cars, and any other machine you use. We see more and more of this with our customers—and it is driving the need for advances in big data and cloud platforms.

ROS, the open source Robot Operating System, is now eight years old and growing faster than ever. ROSCon 2015, in October, was the largest ever, selling out weeks in advance. In just one month last year, 9 million ROS packages were downloaded from 70,000 unique IP addresses, and there are 1840 code contributions to total 10 million lines of code. The force is strong with this one.

While manufacturers have programmed industrial robots for years, the consumer world of robotics is taking shape through newer modalities. This past Black Friday, Amazon’s number one selling item over $100 was the Amazon Echo. And, while they had no booth or keynote at CES a week ago, Echo and its intelligent voice recognition service, Alexa, created a considerable buzz as the IoT world’s answer to Apple’s Siri. Clearly, many companies took notice of the technology last summer when the Alexa Skills Kit APIs was announced and a $100MM investment fund was rolled out. The kit enables app development for the Alexa platform, and these apps are called skills—this “app store” now has 130 apps. Many companies at CES showcased new products that integrated with Alexa. Ford, our customer, announced SYNC in-car technology integration with Alexa to do things like remotely start a car from your kitchen, and Ford also wants to allow you to “talk to your home” from your car. There were also a slew of Alexa-integrated consumer products for home security, thermostats, lighting, appointment setting, speakers, controllers, and more. In November, IFTTT began offering recipes for Alexa, and it wasn’t long after Alexa came on the scene that hackers figured out how to make Alexa invoke their Roomba (which runs on ROS). So, boom, here we are. “Alexa, tell Rosie to go vacuum the living room, please.”

Businesses clearly see the opportunity for air, water, and land-based robots too. At CES, Ford also announced a software developer challenge to connect emergency drones that relay real-time information back and forth with Ford trucks and sees this type of application apply to agriculture, forestry, construction, bridge inspection, and much more. In November, Disney announced a new project that would allow people to design and create 3D-printable, robotic creatures as well as a wall-climbing robot. We’ve had amphibious robots for a while, and they continue to evolve. Segway also demonstrated their Advanced Personal Robot, partnering with Intel and Xiaomi, which is “a robot that gives you a ride” and also responds to voice commands.

Star Wars fans out there, you might get to tell BB8 to move over. Sensorsphere is a new ball that rolls around your house and can point its camera at all kinds of things, fulfilling needs for security and more. Looks like the Force is strong with this one.

In other IoT news, IoT standards are looking to get more open. Tiny, low cost sensors are becoming battery-free and can operate under materials such as paint, plastic, and concrete. Another IoT report was newly published by IC Insights, saying revenues for apps connecting to IoT will nearly double between now and 2020, reaching $124.5B.

Devices: TVs, Mobile, 3D Cameras, And Backend Challenges

The new Apple TV tvOS got a meager update, as it becomes more and more of a computing platform. Low and behold, Blackberry moved to Android. And, most notably, Samsung announced some really amazing, geek-out-able stuff at CES. First, is a TV that acts as an IoT hub for the connected home, connecting 200 devices in the home—security, locks, lighting, and more. There is a smart remote control that, working with the TV, recognizes other devices like game consoles. They have integrated about 500 streaming and downloadable games including Assassin’s Creed III, Batman, and more. Another service will bring up content related to what you are watching—like football player profiles, info on cast members of favorite shows, and, we assume, e-commerce of all types. Samsung Galaxy is also integrated along with Android, iOS, and PC support to plug in content like iHeartRadio, Crackle, Vimeo, and Netflix, among others. LG is on the same path with their new Magic Mobile capabilities.

Apple iOS 9.3 has been unveiled and includes automated settings for night time, improved news curation, a better health app, advancements for CarPlay, additional capabilities for classroom use, and more 3D Touch capabilities.

Intel and Google are equipping smartphones with 3D cameras and computer vision. Together, these things can scan volumetric objects, like a room, 3D motion, gestures, and the shape of your face for biometric identity. Importantly, it can recognize inside spaces much like Google maps recognizes outside spaces. Apps are already rolling out to support it.

Many companies are also seeing the need to expand capabilities for back-end connections to mobile and IoT, and surveys voice this as one of developers biggest challenges. We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that Pivotal Cloud Foundry and Big Data Suite can, of course, help with this problem in a pretty significant way.

Mobile payments continue to be a hot spot. As we shift from paying for things through a credit card terminal, Verifone has built a new POS for smartphones and tablets, offering card payment acceptance and a variety of payment types including magnetic stripes, contactless, NFC, and mobile wallet payments. Importantly, this also a platform for apps—you can connect it to e-commerce for digital coupon delivery, loyalty, and rewards at checkout, not to mention connecting online and offline profiles.

Sleep Number beds have connected their beds to sensors and your phone. The bed tracks breathing, heart rate, and movement. It connects to your mobile and even has an API. Looks like the “IT” bed is here.

Connected Cars: More Big Developments In The Past Month

It tells you something when CES becomes a bigger car show than car shows. We really are watching the automobile industry being reshaped right in front of our eyes as every player is pretty much going public with their technology-based strategies and intentions.

Tesla is getting more competition, and Elon Musk continues to excite people with lofty goals or what sounds like lofty goals. He thinks it is just a few years away for us to ask our cars to come get us when the car is in NYC and you are in LA.

Fiat Chrysler, which also makes Dodge, Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Mopar, Maserati, and others, will support Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto through their next-generation Connect platform.

Blackberry, of all companies, is getting into the autonomous vehicle business. So is Nissan. This year—they aim to have “single-lane control” on the road! Then, there are the brilliant hackers who build a self-driving car in their garage.

At the Detroit auto show—which I predict will become a satellite event for CES soon—the side conversations were all about software. One R&D Director from Mercedes-Benz said, “I sometimes have to reassure the guys who are researching and designing our seats. They think they are a forgotten and unloved part of the business.” Mercedes-Benz announced that the new E-class will drive itself in some circumstances. And, in case you missed it, Pivotal is powering their Mercedes Me connected car platform.

As well, GM has invested $500MM in Lyft, laying out plans for a network of self-driving cars and ride-sharing. There are also strategic underpinnings for GM, part of the reason they are investing is to see if these companies are going to make money. Could Uber get Ubered already?

Toyota is also innovating. First, they have new mapping software coming out in the next few years. It gathers vehicle position along with images of the road—these are sent to a number of data centers and will help create accurate maps around the world. One of the data centers, called the Toyota Big Data Center, will also store all types of vehicle information and form the basis of an authorized app platform.

Showing the benefits of digital transformation in creating new services for customers, Ford is also planning for car lease sharing and car sharing support. Ford is putting another 20 cars on California roads for autonomous tests. To help them achieve their visionary goals, our three-year strategic collaboration with them doesn’t just focus on our Cloud Foundry and Big Data platforms, it also includes culture. That’s right—culture.

Building All Those Apps: A Short Update On App And Data Platforms

Now, this month’s BUILD has been very end-user-app-centric. Let us talk about some highlights when it comes to building all this stuff.

To start off, there are a number of forecasts for development trends in 2016, including TechCrunch, SD Times, and InfoQ, and of course ours for cloud and data. There are also two newer platforms kicking into high gear—wearables and NFC. And of course, there are some big development events in highly regulated areas such as bitcoin and privacy. Of course, related development requirements, like compliance, can actually be helped by Cloud Native platforms.

As well, here were 2015’s top 50 developer tools, top 10 stacks, top 10 open source tools, and a whole bunch more, all from our friends at On that note, the inaugural Geode Summit is taking place on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at Pivotal offices in Palo Alto. This is the first time experts, committers, and production users of GemFire and Geode will come together. A call for papers is open and early bird discounts are in effect. Come join us!

If you haven’t been tracking Pivotal’s open source efforts this past year. A lot has happened! This video sums it up—80 events, 4000 users, 250 contributors, 500+ clones of 400+ contributions, and more. There are also over 100 videos on the Pivotal Open Source Hub channel on YouTube. One of the most recent events was “Greenplum Database: The First Open Source Data Warehouse.” We also welcome former Wikibon analyst, Jeff Kelly, to the team.

Netflix and Spring Framework 5 will be featured in the upcoming QCon London. Microservices are turning out to be an accelerator for convergence of web and mobile interfaces as this recent piece outlines. At the end of 2015 (and in case you missed it), CMSWire, IT Business Edge, InformationWeek, and TechTarget all covered the Cloud Foundry Foundation’s new certification program.

We have seen the cloud market picking up even more steam in 2015, and this article explains how and why, noting the projection from Forrester that it is expected to $191B by 2020. And, here is a new report by CompTIA on Big Data Insights and Opportunities. It checks in on the status of the industry, and, in case you doubted the value of big data, it says 72% of companies which have self-reported launching some form of big data initiative say the results have exceeded expectations.

Overall, we are in a period where agile is becoming more of a new norm, and we know this since we’ve been “doing agile” for a long time. We get results. We just expanded too, buying Slice of Lime and Cloud Credo and adding their skills and results to our team. Stay tuned for more in this area this year.

Upcoming Pivotal Events

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About the Author

Greg Chase is an enterprise software business leader more than 20 years experience in business development, marketing, sales, and engineering with software companies. Most recently Greg has been focused on building the community and ecosystem around Pivotal Greenplum and Pivotal Cloud Foundry as part of the Global Ecosystem Team at Pivotal. His goal is to to help create powerful solutions for Pivotal’s customers, and drive business for Pivotal’s partners. Greg is also a wine maker, dog lover, community volunteer, and social entrepreneur.

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