30 September 2011
BOSTON–We’re in challenging economic times. No doubt.
On the road, my brother/videographer Kirk and I sit in hotel rooms editing and writing and doing sound. Often, the TV’s on, tuned to a channel like CNBC where the world, it appears, is crumbling. This at first was distressing.
But then we realized that they don’t know what we know. They haven’t just spent a day with a company or two or three companies to learn the future that they’re bringing to market in just 18 or 24 months, mind-boggling innovation that will drive productivity and jobs.
They haven’t spent three months with us talking to more than a dozen companies that do high-tech manufacturing right here in America, not in China or India or Vietnam. They’re doing it in places like Middleton, Wisc., Rockleigh, N.J., Carlisle, Penn., Novi, Mich., and Solon, Ohio.
States, companies weigh in
States are innovating as well. This week we invited Stephen B. Russell, Alternative Transportation Program Coordinator/Clean Cities Director with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to speak on the floor on Embedded Systems Conference.
He is working with the commonwealth in developing an electric vehicle infrastructure plan and is responsible for rolling out the advanced biofuel mandate that will require that 2% of all home heating oil and transportation diesel fuel be advanced low carbon biofuel. In addition he is responsible for the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities portfolio. Recently Massachusetts signed a ground-breaking memorandum of understanding with Nissan that commits the commonwealth to developing a statewide plan for electric vehicle infrastructure. They’re rolling out charging stations across the state.
We also invited Howard Wisniowski from Analog Devices and Andreas Olofsson, CEO of Adapteva, to talk about technology innovation and what it means for local economies.
Bright future? Indeed
Yes, we’re in challenging economic times, but I’m convinced this next era is going to blow us away. The 1990s and early 2000s in our industry were about the confluence of the Three Cs: Computing, Communications and Consumer. But an even more powerful convergence is upon us now, one that is initially forming before our eyes in green energy: Computing, Communications and Cognition. Devices, software, wired and wireless communications protocols, and trillions of sensors are all working in harmony to enable new applications; Smart meters in the home, smart grids, smart cars, smart medicine.
It may take time. In automotive electronics, there are physics and chemistry laws involved to be sure. But we always have a hard time predicting the future and how rapid adoption might be. Remember Ken Olsen and his belief that no one would need a personal computer? Look where we are today.