Intelligent Systems and the Next Information Age

REDMOND, Wash. — Oct. 27, 2011 — At a fundamental level, it sounds like a relatively simple recipe: Take one tiny, very powerful microprocessor, connect it wirelessly to the cloud, and add a generous portion of very smart software.

According to many experts, these are the primary ingredients of an intelligent system, a place where everyday objects provide information to a centralized computing infrastructure where this data is aggregated, sliced, diced and analyzed.

Expand that recipe 50 billion times, add the immense storage capacity and analytics functionality provided by cloud services, and the next big intersection of technology and society begins to emerge. It’s a very real place where smart devices share their experiences wirelessly with large data warehouses, and software then connects that data in logical ways to portray the hidden patterns and trends that allow organizations to see business intelligence faster than ever before — from individual buying habits, to oil consumption by region, to the epidemiology of diseases across continents.

As the cost of powerful microprocessors continues to decrease, the economic argument for embedding them into everyday objects becomes more and more practical. Consider how much smarter a soft drink company would operate if every single can of soda in the United States could relay information on where it was purchased and where it was consumed.

If it sounds far off, it’s not. The technology is already available, and shipments of microprocessor-enabled devices capable of handling sophisticated software and connecting wirelessly are already outstripping shipments of mobile phones and PCs. By 2015, shipments of embedded devices will surpass those of phones, PCs and servers combined. Developers around the world are building intelligent systems for manufacturers, retailers, healthcare providers and a host of other industries.

What does the embedded market look like today, and where is it heading? Take a look for yourself.