At first glance the consumer electronic industry's annual gadget fest might not seem to have a lot in common with big data. After all, what does CES have to do with the obscure world of collecting, organizing, and analyzing vast streams of numbers?
But CES 2015 is all about big data -- if indirectly -- because this year's overarching theme is the convergence of gadgets, sensors, and wireless networks into the Internet of Things (or, if you prefer, the Internet of Everything). In short, it's about packing consumer gadgets with sensors, connecting these devices to the Internet, and analyzing the data they generate.
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In a Sunday pre-show presentation, the Consumer Electronics Association's chief economist Shawn Dubravac outlined how falling costs of key technologies, including a mix of low-cost sensors, digital cameras, 3D printers, drones, and wireless network protocols, are coming together to enable information-sharing on an epic scale, something not feasible a few years ago.
This "Internet of Me," as Dubravac calls it, is the "third stage of the Internet" where 50 billion connected devices come online, he says. By comparison, there are about 2 billion Internet-connected smartphones today.
This explosion of data-sharing devices presents many challenges, of course, particularly those involving potentially sensitive medical data culled from health-oriented wearables and sensors. In addition to unresolved security and privacy issues, there's the thorny question of who owns the data generated by these devices.
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Jeff Bertolucci is a technology journalist in Los Angeles who writes mostly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, The Saturday Evening Post, and InformationWeek. View Full Bio