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The Competing Visions of Connected Intelligence

Smarter Planet. Intelligent Systems Framework. Surround Computing. These are the phrases that IBM, Intel, and AMD have developed for their visions of the future of connected devices – the so-called Internet of Things. While all these visions may have subtle and competing qualities, there is no doubt that the big picture implications are largely the same: more devices, more connectivity, more intelligence. All these concepts are contributing to a future in which embedded technology takes a greater role in our lives. What do these competing visions have in common and how do they differ? To better understand this question, we summarize below our interpretations of these marketing frameworks.

Intel – Intelligent Systems Framework (ISF)

Intel’s ISF establishes that the era of discrete embedded devices is over and the era of intelligent systems has begun. The lines between consumer, enterprise, and machine data are now blurring. This results in a number of challenges including device connectivity, security, and management. These three concepts are what the ISF seeks to address, and this framework incorporates elements from a number of groups within Intel including McAfee and Wind River. The ultimate goal of the ISF vision is to provide a scalable architecture that extends across multiple platforms and systems seamlessly while reducing cost and fragmentation. The ISF sets the stage for the next level of accessing value, which is Big Data.

AMD – Surround Computing   

AMD’s vision for the future of embedded computing centers more on the user interface and responding to the individual user’s needs. AMD envisions a future that is less based around the traditional interfaces such as keyboards and more based around sensors that trigger automated requests. The end user will interact more through touch displays and voice commands than through the traditional computer interfaces. It also assumes more automated transactions that free the user from the time and hassle of basic payment transactions. Obviously, technology for both facial and voice recognition will be critical in this future vision, and likely require intensive graphics capabilities, which AMD’s GPUs or APUs would obviously support. In general, it’s a more end-user focused vision than ISF, and one that plays to AMD’s strengths in graphics and integration.

IBM – Smarter Planet

IBM’s concept of a Smarter Planet has been around for some time, and is perhaps the most wide-ranging of all. It focuses more on the disruptive nature of cutting edge technology and how it is turning industries on their head and unlocking value in unexpected areas. Several themes are encompassed in Smarter Planet including Big Data, integrated solutions, technology awareness both at the individual level and within enterprise, the omnipotence of the cloud, mobility, security, and intelligent devices. It’s a multi-faceted approach that looks at both vertical markets and global trends, and one that is fitting for a global services provider such as IBM.

Whether you look at the world through the lenses of ISF, or Surround Computing, or Smarter Planet, there are a number of common themes. One is connectivity. More devices are connected every day and more data is passed between devices than ever before. Another is interactivity. Whether it is managing devices remotely, directing them with voice commands or giving companies a better understanding of their customers’ needs, interactivity is on the rise everywhere. Finally, there is Big Data. The idea that all the information that these connected devices are trading can help us better understand the world around us.
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