Technology can be a great enabler. Technology for technology’s sake, not so much.

SAP’s Sven Denecken posted this video on Google+ yesterday. I took a look at it because it seemed like an interesting hack – using SAP HANA, the Microsoft Kinect and Augmented Reality to make a product called CEO Vision.

Check out the video for yourself. It’s a bit of a let-down to be honest. Can you seriously see any CEO donning a pair of glasses and waving his hands in the air to get extra information while thumbing through a printed report? 3-D Graphs floating in mid-air? It is a little far-fetched, let’s be honest.

If you want to demo the possibilities of something like this, it is better to go for a more realistic scenario. Instead of the goggles, go for something a CEO would be more likely to use like a smartphone with a camera, or even better, an iPad. Then the CEO can properly interact with the data, drill down, and copy paste into an email, for example.

If you do want to go with the goggles option, then look for a more likely scenario where they’d be used (and that’s not in a CEO’s office). Look at, for example, pulling live data from machinery on the factory floor for display on goggles for production managers, or in combination with schematics, for maintenance.

Also, think of engineers looking at large complex structures such as buildings, airplanes or wind turbines – the ability to see schematics and live data coming from these systems, and drill in could save enormous amounts of time and money in downtime prevented, as just one example.

Technology can be a great enabler. Technology for technology’s sake, not so much.


Tendril courting developers for its cloud-delivered energy app platform

Green Carrot energy usage app

Last August Tendril, a US-based energy platform company, announced that they were opening their API’s and launching an energy application developer program. The idea is to allow developers to build on Tendril’s cloud platform and to deploy the developed applications on Tendril’s Tendril Connect cloud platform.

For developers this is an opportunity to develop applications addressing the energy challenge and have them deployed in a ready-made marketplace of up-to 70 million addressable households. Similar to the Apple App store, Tendril offers co-marketing opportunities for developed applications.

Tendril provides developers with, not just the API’s, but also comprehensive documentation with a “Try it Now” capability as well as a discussion forum (so far lightly used) to have questions answered.

Tendril has also been promoting this initiative to developers by participating in Hackathons in San Francisco and more recently in New York. In conjunction with the New York Hackathon, Tendril ran a contest to see who could come up with the best apps using their API’s. The winner, eMotivator, won $3,000, while 2nd placed Green Carrot (screenshot above) won $2,000 from Tendril and another $1,000 from the Hackathon organisers for ?best user experience?.

And I note that Tendril are listed as one of the Participating Organisations in the London Green Hackathon being organised by AMEE this coming weekend.

Of course, if Tendril really want to talk to developers, they should also be attending our RedMonk Monki Gras conference in London next week (Feb 1-2)! I’m not sure what the collective noun for developers is (I asked on Twitter and received the following suggestions – batch? class? scrum? repository?), but whatever it is, there’ll be a shedload of them there!

One of the interesting things about the Tendril open API initiative is that it should stimulate lots of creativity in the Smart Grid space. So far, as Tendril CTO Kent Dickson noted in a call with me the other day, no-one knows what the Smart Grid killer app will be, but crowdsourcing the ideas is far more likely to lead to compelling results.


I wish I were a software developer!

I was peripherally aware of Augmented Reality before attending the Mobile 2.0 conference in Barcelona a few weeks back but hadn’t really thought through its consequences/possibilities until I saw the video above by Dutch startup company Layar.

I realised that Layar’s offering was geographically limited but its potential (esp in the Green space) was enormous – how to tap it?

I mentioned Layar during a briefing with Krishna Kumar of SpaceTimeInsight a couple of weeks back in San Francisco and he immediately ‘got it’ and was very excited with the possibilities.

Then yesterday Layar co-founder Maarten Lens-Fitzgerald pinged me via Twitter to let me know that Layar has opened up its Augmented Reality platform and is giving out (a, for now, limited number of) API keys.

This means that any database with location data and a Layar api key now has the ability to create an Augmented Reality Layar! just stop and think about that for a sec.

This opens up enormous possibilities for Augmented Reality applications in the Green space. Imagine walking down the street and seeing emissions data for the companies/businesses simply by pointing your phone at them. Or pointing at machinery and seeing schematics, lifecycle emissions data, or…

A mashup of AMEE, the neutral aggregation platform which measures “the carbon footprint of everything on Earth”, with Layar would be an absolutely awesome. Or a wiki with a Green Layar UI. Or….

The possibilities are limitless!

I really wish I were a software developer right now – the applications of this technology are seriously awe inspiring!

[Disclosure] – AMEE are a GreenMonk client co.


The best software is Green!

At the SAP TechEd 08 conference in Berlin, I had a chance to sit down with SAP’s SDN community evangelist, Craig Cmehil.

We talked about the fact that many coders would consider ‘good code’ to be code which gives maximum functionality in the minimum CPU cycles with the smallest file footprint and minimum memory requirement. Coders even have a derogatory word for inefficient code – they call it bloatware!. In other words, the best code is the most efficient. To me this screams Green!

We talked about this and then got SAP to commit to having their next Hacker night be a Green themed hacker night! Win!


Build carbon software efficiently (practice what you preach!)

motion gears -team force
Photo Credit ralphbijker

I have been having some very interesting conversations with people in the carbon software sector these last couple of weeks.

The first was with Michael Meehan of Carbonetworks (which I blogged about here) and we discussed their offering which is a “carbon strategy platform”. From my blog post about Carbonetworks:

The app at its most basic helps companies understand what their carbon footprint is, and then helps the companies translate that into a financial bottom line. The app helps companies see what options they have to reduce their carbon footprint and helps them create a carbon strategy from a managerial perspective on how to proceed in the carbon market.

Then I talked to Stefan Guertzgen, Marketing Director for Chemicals and Franz Hero, vp, chemical industry business unit both at SAP. They were talking about the SAP Environmental Compliance application which, in their words:

enables companies to gather information on the use of energy, in all its forms, throughout the enterprise, identify areas for energy reduction, monitor the implementation of energy excellence projects, and make the results available throughout the enterprise

Earlier this week I was talking to Kevin Leahy, who is a director in IBM’s IT Optimization Business Unit about IBM’s House of Carbon for which they have also developed carbon reporting software for their client base.

Finally, yesterday I was speaking to Gavin Starks, founder and CEO of AMEE. We have talked about AMEE several times before on this blog. AMEE is an open-source, neutral, platform for

measuring the Energy Consumption of everything… aggregates “official” energy metrics, conversion factors and CO2 data from over 150 countries… is a common platform for profiling and transactions (there’s a transaction engine at the core of AMEE)

Noticing a common thread here? Guys, stop re-inventing the wheel.

IBM and SAP (and anyone else thinking of embarking on carbon software) STOP NOW! It has already been done and done well by companies with open api’s (and open data in AMEE’s case).

Get on the phone to Carbonetworks and AMEE, and instead of building another carbon app, use their already comprehensive infrastructures and api’s to get a jump-start and bring best-of-breed carbon software to market efficiently!


IBM, Big Green, Rational and Eco-aware Programming

I am at an event at IBM South Bank looking at some data center futures. The current session is with Christopher O’Connor, vice-president strategy and market management, Tivoli, who just raised an issue that I have been thinking about a lot lately. Just what will it mean to develop greener software? What would a green API look like? As usual- better performance is one answer to the problem.  Lean is Green.

Chris said that Rational, IBM’s software development tools and process organisation, is now looking at “green aware programming”. Good job. Chris mentioned one immediate area of concern – “the fetch”. That is – code that keeps calling a database tends to be performance intensive, and indentifying fetch bottlenecks could be a great step towards writing code that consumes less power. We’re talking about heat maps for code.

It will be interesting to see more about the Rational approach, and I will make an effort to do just that. But for now, its just good to report that IBM is thinking deeply about the problem and developing tools to support its findings.

On that note I am beginning to wonder if beautiful code is green code. Code generation tends to generate pretty ugly code – but is it less efficient?  Developers that write beautiful code may end up in great demand for their green coding: but this is pure conjecture at this point…