Sensors and Big Data Analytics

After learning about Google’s Sensing Lab, I did some reading on Big Data and sensors.

In the book of “Taming the Big Data Tidal Wave” by Bill Franks, the value of sensor data was demonstrated with the case of industrial engines and equipment. It discussed how the embedded sensors were utilized from aircraft engines to tanks in order to monitor the second-by-second or millisecond-by-millisecond status of the equipment. All data was fed into “Big Data” analytics.

IBM and The Beacon Institute also collaborated on an effort to use a sensor-enabled monitoring network In order to track temperature, salinity and pollution of the Hudson River. Actually IBM Big Data Technology is used to develop several environmental protection projects like this one.

What about proximity sensors and Big Data? Coca Cola is using NFC tags and QR codes in 100 selected retail stores to collect the data about user behavior and handsets. The backend platform collects analytics such as time, location, frequency of interaction, tap vs. scan, phone model, operating system, service provider and browser type. SocialTagg, a startup in LA, offers an event management platform to enrich attendees’ networking experience by using Big Data analytics on QR codes/NFC tags that were assigned to the event participants.

I will be leading a panel on “Building a Link Between NFC/Proximity Technologies & Big Data” in WIMA USA – NFC and Proximity Solution conference on October 29th in San Francisco. I am looking forward to having a rich discussion with the participants. If you are a “Big Data” expert and would like to join the panel, please contact me at

Big Data and Proximity Sensors

I attended “Social Data Week Seattle” hosted by the Tableau Software today. An overview of the workshop stated that “Social Data Week Seattle will explore the business opportunities and practicalities of creating a socially intelligent business by leveraging big data, social data and analytics.”

I arrived 30 minutes late, and there were no seats left. In front of the packed room, Rahul Khandkar from Google was giving a presentation on “Google and Big Data”. He mentioned that smart sensors, machines and social data sources will generate large volume data which will grow with time. He also demonstrated how data collected by Google Sensing Lab is analyzed.

  • Sensors (RFID or NFC?) pick up data.
  • Endpoints/App Engine ingests and processes data.
  • Datastore stores data.
  • Compute Engine BigQuery computes data.
  • Data is visualized by a Dashboard after big data analytics work.

In a previous blog, I’ve mentioned how Google is collecting purchaser’s data. Now, I’ve learned that Google is planning to collect more data from proximity sensors. What a vision!

Daniel Hom from Tableau spoke on “Using Social Analytics for Insights”. He demonstrated analyzing social data with Tableau:

  • Datasift, a Cloud platform for extracting value from social data, collects data.
  • Googlebigquery, a web service, performs interactive analysis.
  • Tableau displays the analytics in a dashboard instantaneously.

Tableau seems to be a very robust tool at making sense of and visualizing big data.  How fortunate it is that we have these innovative companies in Seattle.

I like the idea of “creating a socially intelligent business by leveraging big data, social data and analytics.” Web2.0 provides a self-expression platform and we have a large self-expressed population. What could be easier to understand our customers than understanding their needs and wants through social data?




New iPhones’ Impact on NFC

Today, Apple announced the upcoming release of iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. There are descriptions and discussions about the two iPhones to be released. Unfortunately the revelation that neither phone will have NFC capabilities is a disappointment for the NFC ecosystem.

Despite this fact, iPhone Touch ID, a new fingerprint sensor feature for authentication, may have significant implications for the NFC ecosystem. One of the values that NFC provides is security. Common practice is to save sensitive information in the Secure Element (SE).  For example, ISIS, a joint venture between AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, uses this practice for secure mobile payment. With this approach, permission is needed to access SE. Permission is granted after a successful authentication from carriers.

Touch ID has the potential to be utilized as an authentication option for accessing SE. Moreover, Touch ID could limit the need for using UICC/SIM based SE. UICC/SIM based SE is an operator-centric option, since carriers control the access of the UICC/SIM. It provides ultimate security because no one can access it without a carrier’s permission. 

Many stakeholders in the NFC ecosystem want to bypass carriers’ control over SE. Touch ID has the potential to shift our perspectives on security and authentication. What are your thoughts on this possibility?


Apple and NFC

If you purchase a song from iTunes, you decide to give it to your friend as a gift, Apple will provide a method to deliver the gift using Near Field Communication (NFC)!

Surprised? Apple doesn’t offer NFC, at least not yet.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published an Apple patent application on August 15th.  The patent was titled “Media gifting devices and methods,” It specified how iOS device users purchase and consume digital content with the NFC transaction. See details here.

On September 6th, Apple filed for a European patent about devices with fingerprint scanner and NFC. See details posted by Patently Apple. The European patent application is derived from a U.S. patent application filed in September 5th and titled “Electronic Device with Shared near Field Communications and Sensor Structures”. It described a dual mode operation as follows “When operated in a sensor mode, the sensor circuitry may use the conductive structure to gather a fingerprint or other sensor data. When operated in near field communications mode, the near field communications circuitry can use the conductive structure to transmit and receive capacitively coupled or inductively coupled near field communications signals.” (see picture attached)

This is not the first time that Apple has filed for a patent based on NFC technology. What does this tell you about Apple and NFC? I expect that NFC will continue to expand with or without Apple’s participation. And Apple’s participation is very likely to surprise everyone.