Sensors Expo 2018: Keynotes Took Us From Machines To The Edge And Saturn

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Once again, Sensors Expo got off to a rocketing start with three dynamic and engaging keynotes that covered a wide spectrum of emerging technologies. Three expert and inspired speakers took the packed lecture hall from earth-bound human-machine applications to the edge of the IoT and then launched attendees into outer space in search for life in and beyond our solar system.






On Wednesday, June 27, Director of Science at Microsoft, Marc Pollefeys informed a captive audience about the versatility of computer vision’s prominence in diverse technologies, i.e., autonomous vehicles, robots, AI, and a bevy of IoT applications. Naturally, sensors are the critical components in the creation of computer-vision-enabled systems.


Mr. Pollefeys took a deep look at sensors and their essential role in mixed and augmented reality applications, 3D modeling, image and video analysis, gesture recognition, scene understanding, and power-efficient embedded computing. As a point of example and focus, he discussed the role of sensors and computer vision in the development and evolution of Microsoft’s HoloLens.


Formerly called Project Baraboo, Microsoft HoloLens consists of a computer and mixed reality smart glasses. It is described as the first self-contained, holographic computer that allows users to engage with digital content and interact with holograms.


Jason Shepherd, Dell Technologies’ IoT CTO, took the stage Thursday morning, June 28 at 8:30 AM to address a problem that’s on just about everyone’s “to be solved” list. That problem is the mass volumes of data being collected by all those sensors deployed at the edge and what to do with it all.


Mr. Shepherd showed that unique architectures need to be created to exploit these volumes of data acquired by networked sensors in addition to providing flexibility in how collected data is integrated and analyzed, also, how to better get into the pockets of consumers.


The session covered strategies for extending cloud-native principles to the network edge and addressed how the open-source EdgeX Foundry project can simplify how sensors connect to an interoperable ecosystem of distributed computing applications.


EdgeX Foundry is a vendor-neutral open source project dedicated to developing a common open framework for IoT edge computing. It features “an interoperability framework hosted within a full hardware- and OS-agnostic reference software platform to enable an ecosystem of plug-and-play components that unifies the marketplace and accelerates the deployment of IoT solutions.”


Sometimes we get so absorbed in earthly applications such as robotics, cloud computing, IoT, wearables, and how to connect mass volumes of sensors that we forget to look upwards and think beyond the stars, or the moon, or Mars. In just our solar system, which is vast, it would be both pompous and ignorant to firmly believe that we are the only forms of like in what appears to be an infinite universe.


Thursday, June 28, 9:15 AM, the ultimate keynote took attendees to higher ground. Award-winning Astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center Dr. Carol Stoker led a packed house on a search for life in our solar system with a focus on sensor development to aid in that search.


Dr. Stoker pointed to consistent cycles of freezing and melting water on Mars, which could indicate it’s a potentially habitable environment. She also cited other potentially habitable environments such as the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn. Recent missions have provided strong evidence of liquid water interiors on Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The ice-covered ocean environments have all the requirements needed to support modern life, although it is not known whether life can originate in such environments.


Dr. Stoker when through the fascinating methods of analysis necessary to determine both existing and pre-existing life. Apparently, the presence of amino acids is a primary indicator of potential life generation and support. Interesting in that humans cannot exist and continue without those aminos. Hear and see Dr. Stoker discuss the habitability of Mars in this video.


Once again, Sensors Expo attendees walked away amazed, enlightened, excited, and better armed to be creative and innovative. It will be interesting to see what we come up with in October at Sensors Expo Midwest from October 16 to 17, 2018 in Rosemont, IL. Don’t procrastinate, registration is open now.