Cisco's Cool Technology
A demo about buying a fridge wraps up with a connection to the coolest technology at Enterprise Connect 2013.
Cisco showed some pretty cool technology in their keynote this morning at Enterprise Connect 2013--and I'm not talking about the $16,000 refrigerator their speaker was pretending to buy.
The storyline of Rob Lloyd's demo was how to use Cisco's concept of the Internet of Everything, integrated with communications systems, to buy the aforementioned insanely expensive home appliance. But the cool technology, which came in at the end of the demo, was WebRTC. Lloyd hopped onto the cresting wave that is WebRTC at Enterprise Connect 2013, and wrapped up his demo with a WebRTC video call to Cullen Jennings, the Cisco tech guru who's helping lead the IETF's WebRTC effort.
As with many WebRTC demos, it didn't look fancy--just Cullen speaking into the camera at the remote site, in a video client. But the fact that it was being done over WebRTC, with good audio and video quality, lent added promise to technology that dominated much of the talk at EC yesterday. And the fact that Cisco chose to include the demo also seems to suggest that they plan to get on board with WebRTC in a significant way--which makes sense given the "Internet of Everything" focus. Rob Lloyd even said that WebRTC would be "a key part of providing" the kind of experience that he'd spent his demo illustrating: "This is about building scale and this is about building openness across everything we do."
The scenario of the demo, in which Lloyd the customer wants to buy a high-end fridge from a home improvement store, showed the connectedness of the elements that make up Cisco's vision of the Internet of Everything. Early in his talk Lloyd referred to RFID tags, GPS data, and other data generators, as part of what would be integrated to make these sorts of customer experiences. The demo showed an online shopper taking interest in the fridge, reserving a parking space at the store--where the parking facility is enabled with M2M devices for tracking which spaces are empty--and getting real-time "traffic" information about wait times in store checkout lines. All of that information comes together to suggest that he visit a store outlet that might be a longer drive for him, but might actually save him time in the shopping experience.
Along the way, he finds his way through the store via a store app that's offered to his smartphone when he enters the building. When he pauses for a prolonged look at a riding mower, the system tracks this and later offers him a special deal on the mower if he buys now.
The whole scenario may not have resembled your typical trip to the hardware store for a tube of caulk and some sixpenny nails, but it made its point--you can tie various systems together, collect and integrate data generated by an abundance of telemetry and similar devices, and serve it up to the person over their communications systems and applications.
Earlier in the demo, Lloyd had tried to show off Cisco's announcement for the show, an integration of WebEx and Cisco Telepresence, but the connection hung and he moved on. He even finished in time for some Q&A from EC General Manager Fred Knight (time that we are trying to build into all the keynotes this year). Fred asked him, "If software reigns [in communications], does Cisco still stay on top?" Lloyd's response: "It's hardware and software together," he said. "Great software runs on great hardware."