Insights 3 min

The obligatory symbiosis of Hardware and Software

RZW pasfoto 2020
Ruben van der Zwan
CEO & Co-Founder
electronic device hardware and software

electronic-device-hardware-and-softwareSymbiosis is defined as a cooperative relationship between two persons or groups, according to online dictionary Merriam Webster. But, as far as I concerned, there is also symbiosis between hardware and software. Neither of the two is useful without the other. The 2019 Apple Mac Pro without software is simply a sort of grater or expensive doorstop. On the other hand, the best software in the world needs hardware to run on.

Technology push

In the last decades, we have seen examples of technology push, basically solutions looking for problems. In its truest form, this is the kind of stuff that the Institute of Advanced Studies is researching. They are looking fundamentally in search of knowledge. This is valuable and practically advances science and the world.

The technology push from the consumer electronics manufacturers is different and as far as I am concerned also less relevant. Take for instance the Poken. For those of you who have been in IT for some time might remember it. At conferences and tradeshows in the 2007/2008 timeframe, there was a time that each show would hand you a Poken that you could use to exchange business information. It was a gadget capable of exchanging digital information in the form of a fun animal. I can hear you say: ‘Like what we do now with the scan QRcode in LinkedIn?’. And you are right. Only in a dedicated device.

There was only one problem. The idea was good, the execution was not. One Poken is not so valuable as you need two to exchange. The more Pokens there are, the higher the value of the device since there are more users to connect with. This is what is called the network effect. You also see that in for instance telephones. The big difference is that you can call people multiple times whereas when you are connected to someone with a Poken, that is it! No need for it anymore. Poken has not been a success and has been overtaken by multiple solutions like smartphone, apps and even QRcodes.

Augmented Reality

AR (the abbreviation of the words Augmented Reality) is of a different category. The technology has been available since the 2005 timeframe or so. I remember reading a report by Dutch Bank ABN AMRO, whose Innovation department looked into the technology to assess the value for the bank and its clients. It took a good 8 years before we saw Google introducing Google Glass. Even one of the biggest tech companies could not make it into a success and the product was cancelled. At the same time Epson came out with their Moverio BT glasses. Epson still sells the successor, the Moverio BT 350. Google moved the Google Glass more to the business side of the company, recently announcing Google Glass Enterprise Edition. The difference is, among others that the Epson glasses project on screen on both eyes where as google uses only the right eye.

But the question is: what are we going to use it for? What task, what circumstance? Since AR is typically enriching (or augmenting) a situation, it would be where extra information is needed (so a knowledge gap) and specifically with the glasses there is the benefit of handsfree and object / context awareness.

Epson, one of the sponsors of the very successful Mercedes F1 team, has a showcase where you can see part of a race when you look at an image that is linked to that piece of information. But when the Formula 1 engineers from the Mercedes team are working during a race, they are frantically doing their jobs at the highest skill level. No need for glasses there. The silver bullet application and deployment has not yet been discovered. But I am sure there is one!

Virtual hardware

Hardware is not literally as ‘hard’ as it used to be. Cloud based offerings like Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure Cloud have replaced local servers because of their unique USP, pay per use. But it is not only that, it is also the speed with which we can access these resources. An ideal environment for organizations that have a demand for scalable resources, for instance running microservice environments. I’ve predicted that microservices will be the theme of 2019. It is not the case that it is only Microservices and nothing else. No, our IT landscape will be heterogeneous and we will pick the solution that is fit for purpose. We see more and more WSO2 products able to create Microservice environments. If you want to increase your knowledge of Microservices, please look at our Microservices whitepaper.

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