Percolator Protocol And More To Come

Blog Post created by jgaudin on Feb 19, 2014

Did you know that there is an RFC for a coffee protocol?  It's true.  The IETF has in its records RFC2324 describing a standard for the Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol (HTCPCP/1.0).  While it's true that this RFC may have been submitted as an April Fools Day prank, you can't deny how legitimate a coffee protocol for networked coffee machines could be these days with the Internet of Everything.  Especially with the right mobile app so you can order your coffee as you're heading toward the machine and have it ready for you upon arrival.  I wonder where all the scuttlebutt would take place if we didn't have to hang around waiting on a fresh pot to brew.


At Cisco we do an April Fools Day patent submission each year.  The year before I had submitted a robotic hand that would be part of each immersive TelePresence unit.  It would allow participants to virtually shake hands across the miles.  My proposal wasn't accepted.  That year the April Fools Day patent was granted to another TelePresence proposal that would display the attendee as wearing appropriate business attire regardless of what they were actually wearing.


It did get me to thinking, aside from a coffee protocol what else would I want to connect?  As a home owner I can think of plenty of things that I'd like connected.  Technically, the bank owns most of my home, but I do have a 3'x3' area in a corner of the attic where I can roll around in insulation giggling and saying "Mine!  Mine!  Mine!".  Aside from all the usual security aspects of sensors on windows and doors, there are plenty of other opportunities for connections.


My main line has roots growing in.  This means every couple of years I have to have it professionally cleared out by a very powerful rooter machine.  The tree must be mad at me for all the trimmings I've given it, because it makes it a point to fully clog the pipe on holidays and weekends.  Today, my detection system is the sound of water cascading over the washing machine drainage inlet and onto the floor.  Recently I've learned the neighborhood plumber has 4 rates: standard rate, time and a half for after hours, double time for weekends and holidays, and triple time for Super Bowl Sunday.  I waited until Monday.  I would love to know that my main line was in jeopardy of overflowing into the house before hearing the sounds of water hitting the floor.  Sensors in the pipe that alert me to water backup would do the trick.


I would like to know the energy consumption of each and every outlet and appliance in my house.  I would like to monitor and manage them remotely.  We have drought concerns in the state of California and I'd like to be able to monitor my water usage across sinks, showers, dishwasher, and sprinklers.  In other words, I'd like to be better informed in what is using my resources and how so I can better manage my expenses and be more responsible.  Today it isn't so simple, I get one big lump sum of usage.


As a business I can see potential in connecting many items that are not connected today.  The consideration is what the value of connecting them would be.  The first consideration is monitoring.  Once an object is connected to my network and I can monitor it, what is the data that I'm going to be able to collect?  Of that available data, what do I want to collect?  Once I have the data, what do I do with it?  The second consideration is control.  Once an object is connected to my network and I can control it remotely, what is it that I'm able to control?  What do I want to control?  How do I use that control as part of a workflow and keep it secure from those who may wish to abuse it?


For example, if I can monitor that somebody is traveling at speed on a highway, I can safely assume they're in a car.  In support of safety concerns, I can then make sure the phone is connected via bluetooth to the car or headset, turn off the camera and content share, vocally alert the driver to an upcoming meeting and auto-dial into the call once receiving their voice activated acknowledgement.  My person could also be a passenger in the vehicle, which means I have to allow them to override my "assumed" workflow. I have to trust that if my person is in fact the driver they don't abuse the ability to override.


Connecting objects and having them communicate with each other seems limited and sooner or later the monitoring and control of connected objects will be escalated to a person.  Eventually, we'll have a level of machine to machine collaboration in which these device learn what people usually do and start to do it automatically for them.  The best examples of this that I can think of today is T9 swipe, speech to text, and writing recognition.  Each of these learn the different nuances, accents, and styles to become more accurate over time.  What do you see as becoming connected and working together to streamline and optimize your workflows?