Last Friday saw AT&T presenting new prototypes and discussing the future of technology at their Innovation Showcase in New York. Among the prototypes displayed were GPS sensors for luggage, software for streamlining equipment management in businesses and accessible data visualisation software than can be run from a laptop or tablet.

Indeed, an overarching theme of the event seemed to accessibility and interconnectivity. “We used to be more protective,’ explained Marion Croak, AT&T’s senior vice president of Applications and Services Infrastructure. “Now, we make APIs available … and give developers tools to use so that reliability and resiliency—things that can take years to develop—are available to any innovator [immediately] and is theirs to use”.

Greater openness and accessibility will allows users “to have access to [a new kind of experience],” she continued. “Customers will be given the tools to create their own services. It will be your network. You’ll be able to design it.”

Proof-on-concepts on display at the innovation showcase included:

  • Smart Luggage- A GPS sensor built into luggage that allows users to track their luggage, and even receive text alerts when their luggage reaches the airport. It also has a flashing LED light to allow you easily identify the suitcase at the luggage carousel. The current model has hit a few stumbling blocks: the GPS allows you to see broadly where your suitcase is, but not specifically where it is in an airport; the battery only last three days; and FAA regulations concerning GPS & wireless connectibility mean it’s not possible to use the tracker during transatlantic flights. But, Smart Luggage is still very much a work in progress; AT&T are looking to resolve some of these issues, as well as working on integration with RFID and Beacons.
  • Nanocubes- Nanocubes is AT&T’s big data visualisation project. What makes it different from all of the other visualisation technologies swamping the market is that it doesn’t rely on vast amounts of local resources to run; it can be accessed from a laptop or tablet. Nanocubes is AT&T’s answer to making big data visualisation broadly accessible.
  • Project Halo- Project Halo is designed to co-ordinate and streamline logistics around equipment maintenance. The current demo is centered around kitchens in Disney resorts, in partnership with Disney Sync Link. In short, if a dishwasher broke down, Project Halo would send out an alert to all workmen in the area who could fix it. The worker could then accept the assignment, find out the appliance’s exact location, view repair manuals and submit a work order- all through Project Halo.

“When you look at the historic events in telecom,” Christopher Rice, vice president of Advanced Technologies and Architecture at AT&T. “There’s the move from analog to digital, then from voice to data—and then cellular. We’re in one of those exciting moments again now, moving to software.” From the technologies presented, it certainly seems that AT&T is moving smoothly into this new era of technology.


Read more here.

(Image credit: Jeepers Media)

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