The Age of Smart Systems


The Economist‘s special report on smart systems in their November 4, 2010 edition has inspired me to read and learn about this fascinating movement. I’ve compiled a list of all the thought-provoking articles, gagdets, and business ventures I’ve seen – a snapshot of the flurry of ideas bouncing around in my head right now.

Articles and books

Consumer gadgets

  • Fitbit (Calorimeter, accelerometer, and polysomnogram rolled into one sexy device. I know what I want for Christmas.)
  • Green Goose (Currently in beta. Sells a bike distance tracking device but seems to aspire to be a comprehensive lifestyle improvement platform/device manufacturer. I’m going to keep an eye on this.)
  • Zeo (alarm clock that monitors your brainwaves)
  • Google Powermeter (a free energy monitoring tool. You have to get eletricity delivered by a certain utility company partnered with Google or buy monitoring devices, only one of which can breakdown energy usage by appliance so far. Brooklyn startup EnergyHub is working on appliance-level energy monitoring devices. I’ve seen a working prototype. Quite nice.)

Websites and ventures

  • pachube (data sharing platform)
  • Optiqua (a Singaporean firm with a chip that measures how fast light passes through a water sample to detect contaminants)
  • OpenStreetMap (trying to assemble a free atlas unrestricted by data copyright)
  • San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (according to The Eocnomist, “San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission knows the exact co-ordinates of every waste-water pump, its maintenance history and the likelihood of it failing.”)
  • FoodLogiQ (food safety and traceability)
  • Palantiri Systems (like pachube except more business oriented and not as open)
  • Quantified Self (associated terms include “life-tracking” and “lifestream”)
  • EnerNOC, an American energy middleman, pays other firms for allowing it to shut down their non-essential gear at times of peak demand
  • Skyhook Wireless, a firm that offers geographical-location information as a service

Urban development

Corporate campaigns