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In episode 21, we are joined by Jeffery DeCoux, Chairman of the Autonomy Institute and James Thomason, CTO at EDJX, to have a chat exclusively about the Public Infrastructure Network Node (PINN), a revolutionary initiative that will transform the intelligence of Smart cities, autonomous vehicles and connectivity!

Autonomy Institute, a cooperative research consortium focused on enabling autonomy and intelligence in communities, has partnered with EDJX an Edge Computing platform to launch the intelligent infrastructure (PINN) pilot in a Texas mIlitary department with plans to expand into major US cities and globally. This infrastructure will revolutionise the future of cities from autonomous driving systems to traffic infrastructure and connected things- all components will be intelligently interrelated as a unified system.

Discover the world of autonomous things from the leading pioneers themselves, and how PINN will address core necessity needs in US cities and globally:

 

  • Introductions and Background 00:37 : 01:28
  • What is the Autonomy Institute, and how was the PINN Infrastructure developed? 01:28: 02:49
  • What do EDJX do and how will their Platform accelerate PINN deployment? 02:49-03:30
  • What is the Public Infrastructure Network Node Initiative, and how will it transform the deployment of autonomous systems in the real world? 03.30 – 07.31
  • Who is involved with PINN? 07.31- 09.11
  • What are the short-term and long-term goals with PINN and what are some key use cases? 09.11- 12:38
  • What role will Edge Computing play within PINN? 12:38 – 15:32
  • What are the use cases leading Edge Computing? 15:32- 19:51
  • What do people get wrong about the Edge? 19:51- 24:27
  • How do we build out the world of autonomous things? 24:27- 28:09
  • What are you most excited about for the future? 28:09- 33:46
  • What IoT trends can we expect this year? 33:46- 38:44

Episode Transcript

Tom White

Welcome to The IoT Podcast today I’m joined by not one, but two executive pioneers in the IoT space. Firstly, we’re joined by James Thomason from EDJX. And secondly, from Jeff DeCoux, from the Autonomy Institute. Thank you both very much, gentlemen, for joining us today. Could you start by just introducing yourself and your background within your respective businesses? Jeff, perhaps you can kick-off?

What is your background in IoT?

Jeffery DeCoux

Oh, yeah, sure. So Jeff DeCoux. The Autonomy Institute. My background is over 30 years and enterprise software, taking new technology innovations and bringing it to market and now focus on autonomy, which puts us front and centre on how IoT can be densely populated.

Tom White

Fantastic, thank you. And James, how about yourself.

James Thomason

I’m James Thomason. And I’m CTO and Co-Founder of EDJX. I’ve been in the tech space in Silicon Valley for about 20 years, building early-stage startup companies and selling them and taking them public.

What is the Autonomy Insitute and what is your relationship with EDJX?

Tom White

Alright, fantastic. And just to explain a little bit more about the two businesses so obviously, working together at the moment. But Jeff, could you give us a bit more detail about the Autonomy Institute and in your relationship with EDJX?

Jeffery DeCoux

Um, yeah, there’s a long history. But the really short story is the Autonomy Institute is a 501. c 3, it was stood up about a little over two years ago, primarily to focus on getting the infrastructure, the digital infrastructure, densely populated within cities, states and down, you know, highways to enable all these industry 4.0 applications that we’re all excited about, but require identification of not only networking but also compute and sensors and things like 5g.

Jeffery DeCoux

The relationship we have with EDJX is once we understood the densification, and developed a concept we’ll talk about today called PINN- the Public Infrastructure Network Node. The realisation of a new software platform or a new development platform came about. And that’s when we were able to discover EDJX as having a new environment that was really ideally suited and really designed from the ground up to take on these new applications that will be at the edge.

What does EDJX do?

Tom White

Yeah, fantastic. And obviously, James, relationship growing, obviously, with the Autonomy Institute, and a bit a bit more about EdgeX, and its beginnings as a business, if you could.

James Thomason

Absolutely. So we’re a startup company. We’re about two years old now. And what we are as an edge computing platform that makes it easy to write, and develop IoT applications using serverless computing, accelerate content delivery at the far edge of the network, and increase the responsiveness of edge applications and secure edge data right to the source.

James Thomason

So in a nutshell, we help businesses handle the explosive demand for data processing at the edge to serve real-world edge computing applications, including industrial IoT, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, robotics, and your standard run of the mill, web applications and mobile apps that you want to accelerate closer to users.

What is the public Infrastructure Network Node?

Tom White

Okay, fantastic. And Jeff, you mentioned it just within your introduction there about PINN. So for people that aren’t aware of the Public Infrastructure Node initiative, you’re literally announcing this any moment. Now. Could you explain a bit more about that?

Jeffery DeCoux

Yeah, absolutely. And I think it was a long journey to get to where the PINN became a new standard. But the short story is, we were in previous companies looking to get connected and autonomous systems deployed in the real world. We quickly realised that a densification, of sensor of compute and resilient networks were going to be required to make that happen.

Jeffery DeCoux

We work extensively with organisations like you know, Crown Castle, American Tower and the carriers and then also one of the edge computes providers to understand how can they help solve the densification of the technology?

Jeffery DeCoux

What that led to is the realisation that these sensors really had to be populated on curbs, on sidewalks or in easements that are primarily owned by either cities or states or other municipalities. And in that discovery, we realise that in order to get this you have deployed a kind of a new approach at how this technology gets deployed, and managed in upgrading over time had to take place.

Jeffery DeCoux

And that’s where the new standard, the way we kind of picture it is, is one of the gentlemen from a very large computes company said, ‘it’s kind of like, if you were to take a 19-inch rack out of the data centre and drop it on the sidewalk, what would that look like?’ And that’s what became the PINN. So it does not look like a 19-inch rack. So let me be very, very straight. It looks a lot like a smart pole. Many people have seen smart poles in the past. But what’s unique about it is more than a condo, it’s a new asset class that basically allows technology be implemented. But it’s not being prescriptive of technology if it’s installed empty.

Jeffery DeCoux

So with that, it’s opened up the doors to collaborate with cities with states with the federal government. And it’s now become as fundamental as when Eisenhower finally said, ‘Hey, we need to build interstate highways.’ It’s now that the reality is struck people that we have to build this in order to accommodate all this densification because it’s not just about 5g, which everybody, everybody focuses on 5g, that’s only 1/5 of the equation.

Jeffery DeCoux

I mean, you have things like assured position navigation and timing that has to be densely populated, you have edge compute requirements for densely populated, and you have things like ITS, Intelligent Transportation Systems, already have a lot of compute and sensors at intersections, that’s only going to be compounded to be much, much more. So hopefully, I’ll give you a good overview.

Who is involved with PINN?

Tom White

Yeah, absolutely. I think from my perspective, I’ve got many friends that work in architecture and city landscapes, right. And if we look at the city now, with the onset of the pandemic, and the change of the use cases of a city, right offices, potentially not being in the city retail not being where it was. In order to harness this technology and use it in a deployable way, it needs to flow with the edges and curves of a city and how it works. Right. And it’s a really interesting initiative. And, it sounds so simple. Now you say it right? And now you’re talking about it, it’s like, well, well, of course, we need that. But but it’s not until you’ve actually kind of architecting this solution do you get to that point. And James, if you could talk about just a little bit about who’s actually involved with with PINN, if you could.

James Thomason

Sure. So of course, we have the Autonomy Institute itself. But together, there’s a federation of companies that are working together towards this objective of making access to sensors and computing ubiquitous across the Smart Cities landscape, and other places as well.

James Thomason

And the two primaries, right now are Atrius Industries, which is a market leader in developing these autonomous applications. And we’ve partnered with Atrius right now and during the alpha to, to deliver this ubiquitous computing platform. And so it’s EDJX and Atrius, and a host of other companies that are coming in, that are technology innovators, like HP, Cisco and Video Vertiv, and others who are contributing their technology to bring this next-generation digital infrastructure into full operation.

Tom White

Yeah, fantastic. I mean, it’s lovely to see a collaborative result there, but lots of different people getting involved. Right.

James Thomason

It takes a village.

Jeffery DeCoux

At the edge, you need to have you know, the Vertiv to kind of help with the management of the power and thermal, you need to have the HP that can provide the resilient compute. Then you have, you know, obviously Nvidia with all the different types of advanced GPU for the AI applications at the edge is just there’s a lot of you know, there are over 70 partners that are directly involved with the Autonomy Institute, and pretty much all of them have some parts of deployment within a PINN solution.

What are the goals for PINN?

 

Tom White

Yeah, fantastic. And, gentlemen, I mean, you could go far into this obviously, together, what are the short term goals with PINN? And then where do you see this long term and perhaps some use cases around it?

Jeffery DeCoux

Well, I’ll talk about it from my perspective, it’s just build it. I mean, so our entire focus right now is getting the initial PINNs deployed at Camp Mabry. So the goal is to have between 21 and 34 PINNs deployed at the state’s facility here in Austin, Texas, and then expand that to what is called SH- state highway 130. And then, quite a few different locations across Austin.

Jeffery DeCoux

Then we’re working with Pittsburgh, Raleigh, North Carolina, and About nine other cities now. With that deployment, it allows the activation of the compute and the sensors and all the the 5g equipment, which then allows us to start iterating and building the critical applications at the edge. And that’s where once the pins are in the EDJX platform, and all these services can be activated, and we can start to see all these vibrant new solutions being built.

What are the long-term goals for PINN?

Tom White

Fantastic. And in terms of the longer-term goals, where could this be, you know, in five years time in 10 years time, what types of things can the everyday man on the street see with PINN initiatives Jeff?

Jeffery DeCoux

Well, from our standpoint, so the five-year plan, just know that we’re pushing very hard with the US government to basically do an all-out digital commerce act, our goal is to build out of having all the highways, all the cities, you know, covered with, with the PINNs to basically activate the 21st century or industry 4.0, across America.

Jeffery DeCoux

That, you know, you were talking about hundreds of thousands of Public Infrastructure Networking Nodes being deployed. And luckily, there’s a tremendous amount of money of capital from private investors that want to underwrite that, once that’s there, it tells you the like, our end goal is, of course, to connect them to autonomy systems and use these resilience platforms to start adding additional city services.

Jeffery DeCoux

But for the first 18 months, it’s primarily going to be doing very basic services, it’s going to be finally delivering broadband to the home and allowing people you know, that have kids at home doing homework, to have a resilient network. It’s going to allow transportation systems to optimise traffic and get better assessments of what’s going on in the city. So as much as you know, autonomy Institute is about the future of all these connecting the autonomous systems, the Public Infrastructure Networking Nodes are going to first really address, you know, core necessary needs that communities have all over the US but of course, much more abroad as well.

What is the role edge computing will play within PINN?

Tom White

Yeah, absolutely. And I think you know, that that’s, that’s a future, isn’t it, rolling this out properly outside of the US as well. And using this as a, as an overall solution to some of these here and now problems that you talk about, you know. James from your side, and EdgeX. What is the role that EDJX and edge computing will play within Public Infrastructure Netwroking Node?

James Thomason

Well, first, I’ll just say that you know, my colleague is very modest. And one of the things that really stuck out for me when I first met Jeff was that he had this vision of, edge computing that was different from pretty much everyone else, except for maybe EDJX, which, you know, a lot of people think that edge is an isolated deployment of, you know, compute attached to some sensor, it’s something that lives behind your firewall.

James Thomason

And what Jeff really saw was that, no, that’s, that’s not the way the world’s gonna be, you know, computing needs to become a ubiquitous utility, and there needs to be closed, proximal computing, you know, tens, or hundreds of feet away from users at all times, so that you can really get the high bandwidth and low latency benefits to the next generation of applications. And that was something that we, you know, unanimously agreed right away, we have found our partner because that is the vision of EdgeX. And what we do is provide the platform that developers can write applications on and build decentralised, fully distributed and decentralised applications and persist data at the edge.

James Thomason

So you can think of EDJX as a kind of cloud that lives a lot closer, you know, we like to joke that it’s, you know, a lot of people say it’s fog, you know, it’s a cloud that’s lower to the ground. But it really is quite different. Because, you know, the nature of fog computing, the nature of edge computing is different than the tools and technologies that we built for the cloud. And that’s what we found right away is that you know, we had to sort of reinvent the architecture of the cloud, to adapt it to this environment where you have, you know, tens of thousands of locations spread across the surface of the planet. And you can think, Well, you know, I’ll just do that with Kubernetes. But when you get down to the brass tacks, if you will, of trying to run 10,000, you know, Kubernetes pods, with Helm charts, etc. Like it’s unbelievable complexity.

James Thomason

And the other side of that, of course, is making it easy for developers to write applications that can run anywhere in everywhere and really leverage the availability of proximal computing resources, and once you do that, you can start to open up the possibilities. of the different types of applications that you can create when you can rely on computing to be there.

James Thomason

Right. And that, you know it’s interesting because we kind of take for granted. In the cloud capacity, some people say we’ve given up the last five years of Moore’s law and computing, just because we could just add more servers, you know, the hyperscale data centre, but the edges are really a resource-constrained place, right. And so if you want computing to be available at a moment’s notice, you know, to service a request of an IoT device or an end-user application, you really have to change the architecture to do that.

James Thomason
And so the use cases, that are leading this are things like connected and autonomous vehicles, of course, which is one of the major initiatives across the United States. And you know, in the United States, 40,000 people die every year or are severely injured in traffic-related fatalities annually. And so the Autonomy Institute is aligned with the aspirations of vision zero, and committed to the goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities, and severe injuries while increasing the safe, and healthy, and equitable mobility for all.

James Thomason

And, you know, achieving those ambitions really depends on developing new data processing solutions that can connect and combine and fuse these different data sources. So in a Public Infrastructure Network Node you will have cameras that are doing real-time video, thermal, radar, LIDAR, and other types of sensors that are looking at and detecting the traffic from cars, trucks, bicycles, pedestrians, other things in the, you know, in the local coordinate system in that space, right.

James Thomason

And at the same time, you have users and devices, which are waking up and sending data. And so this idea of being able to look sort of horizontally across all those sources of data and, and fuse them in real-time in order to make better decisions, and to conduct changes in the actual environment is the big idea.

James Thomason

And, you know, the latency today from street level to the public cloud exceeds 100 milliseconds. And the future ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) is going to require unprecedented low latency, high-performance computers with GPUs, you know, high-performance network capacity interconnected in close proximity to all of this infrastructure that already exists in the city.

James Thomason

And so you have a lot of ways the traffic industry and ICS has been the edge, you know, for a long time. And the signalling and sensors and stuff that they have, is locked away inside these in traffic cabinets, and inside of intersections, and so today, you can’t get access to that data. And so what we think is going to happen over the next five to 10 years is that cities are going to wake up to the realisation that they are sitting on a vast oil reserve that they can monetise. And it’s called data.

James Thomason

And there are all sorts of data about city municipal infrastructure that can be fused together in a platform. And if we create that platform, and enable developers to gain access to the data and work with it, and build the next state of the art applications to use it. It’s analogous to what happened in the cloud, right? You know, before the cloud, you had just bunches of servers and network and this arcane knowledge that it took to use all of that stuff. And what the cloud really did is it made it programmable, right?

James Thomason

So any developer could take advantage of these vast hardware resources and these hyperscale data centres and could count on the reliability, availability and performance of that infrastructure to deliver their apps. And so we want to do exactly the same thing. But in this really weird place, we call the edge, I call it the era of weird-looking data centres. You know, every PINN is a data centre. Every every car driver ground is potentially a data centre, right.

James Thomason

And so what you need is this fluid platform that enables developers to have their code emerge and work with things in real-time. And it’s it really is like, for the first time in history, computing is moving out of the realm of the abstract, like spreadsheets and browsers and games and the stuff that, you know, we did as nerds, as kids and into the real world. It’s driving our cars, it’s operating pumps and heavy machinery, directing traffic in the city. You know, ventilating buildings during a fire. It’s doing all these things in the real world now, and to make that transition requires this ubiquitous layer.

Tom White

Yeah, I mean, thank you so much for that, James. Yeah. I mean, Mark Getty famously said, you know, oil was the IP of the 21st century. But when we talk about data, this is the next Gold Rush, isn’t it? You know, you talk about a car, you know, having its own data centre and the sheer amount of data that can be used and manipulated and understood that you have just within one city is astronomical. You sort of answered my next question there actually about the unique and angle that EDJX actually has on sort of edge computing and cloud services. So, what is it that you think that people haven’t really thought about before that you guys have, and it’s kind of your USP as a business?

James Thomason

You know, it really is about making the platform a fully distributed system. And so what we are, you know, the way that our platform works is just fundamentally different. It’s all peer to peer. It’s ad hoc. And so it’s designed for this opportunistic dissemination of data, you know, in the cloud, it isn’t like your racks in your data, centre, your cabinets, grow legs, and then walk away somewhere and then show up in another data centre later.

James Thomason

But that really is a thing, you know, in the far edge where you want to opportunistically take advantage of computing resources when they’re available. And you want to match that with demand that is also transient, right? So it isn’t, it isn’t like today’s world, where you are just going to stand up a bunch of virtual machines on some infrastructure or containers on some infrastructure and wait for traffic to happen, right? Or even trying to schedule that because the demand is instantaneous, right? It’s instantaneous and dynamic. Yeah.

James Thomason

So that’s, that’s quite a different architecture where at a moment’s notice, let’s say that you know, an MQTT message comes into an edge computing PINN. And, you know, at that moment in time, you need to make the software available to service that message and do something, do some computation, store some data, whatever it is you’re doing in the software layer.

James Thomason

Well, today’s architecture doesn’t do that. Right, it presupposes that you’re going to provision the infrastructure in advance and make it ready for that to happen. And serverless is, is kind of you know, a step in that direction, right, that what Amazon has done lambda and others have done, you know, Azure, Google Cloud Functions as your functions, etc. But that only works in the cloud.

James Thomason

So what we do is we make serverless work anywhere and everywhere. And we’ve paired serverless, computing the idea that software can run instantaneously, with the idea of serverless data storage. And by the way, I do think that serverless is like the worst name in history, because everything has a server somewhere, right. But this idea that developers are free from having to worry about the infrastructure itself, and their data, and their software shows up anywhere and everywhere that it needs to be.

James Thomason

And so this vision that autonomy has that digital infrastructure is the foundation, you know, like what Jeff said earlier of, it’s like when Eisenhower said, ‘Look, we’re going to build interstates now, because this is ridiculous like we need, we need this stuff to move things around the country’. This is the same right is that level of infrastructure investment, where we need to make sure that computing is truly a utility, and that it’s as close.

James Thomason

We didn’t talk about this, but the driver for all this really is data, you know, it’s two things that need the need for speed. So that’s low latency stuff, and then the size of data. So even if you don’t need something to be really fast, probably you want the data and the data is very large. And so when my partner, John, and I started EDJX we calculated on the back of a napkin, that there was something like, between 50 and 80 zettabytes of data stranded at the far edge in the IoT ecosystem.

James Thomason

And, you know, that’s just the 10% of data that’s out there that’s usable. And so that’s, as I like to tell people who don’t understand what zettabyte is, you know, one zettabyte is like the city of Manhattan, replace all the skyscrapers with one terabyte SSD drives. And that’s, that’s what a zettabyte is. And so it’s like, you know, between 50 and 80 cities of Manhattan, that SSD drives worth of data that’s sitting there right now that you can’t backhaul because the network capacity isn’t sufficient. And when you realise then that that data is growing at a 35% plus CAGAR, okay, then very quickly, five years in, you get to a 270 or 300, zettabyte shortfall.

James Thomason

And that’s why, you know, you’re never going to backhaul that data to the cloud. That’s a non-starter, that’s ridiculous, you’re never gonna have the bandwidth or the computing on the cloud side to do that. And the other thing we realised with autonomy was like, you know, we have to do this in a way that is sane environmentally and resource-efficient because we need to take advantage of the infrastructure that already exists. If we do all this net new, we’re gonna destroy the planet. You know, by covering it with computers, we can’t do that we have to have a circular supply chain and economy that leverages existing resources. And that’s another area where our vision and autonomy is vision just really jelled immediately, you know, you let’s cover the planet and computers, but let’s do it in a way that’s sane.

How do we build out for the world of autonomous things?

Tom White

Yeah, thank you, James. Yeah, I think all of this, for our listener’s point of view, just cements the fact that technology is advancing so drastically quick. I mean, you talk about Moore’s Law earlier. Right? And, you know, I think, what I’d be really interested to know a little bit more about is how we build out the world of autonomous things. Examples of this, you know, including healthcare, Life Sciences, particularly Vision Zero for people that aren’t aware as well. So it would be interesting to know how we move on from this and what your guys thoughts are on that?

Jeffery DeCoux

Well, I think the big focus is just education first. I mean, when people, we kind of use the example, before Eisenhower said, we finally need to build highways, people were coming up with bigger engines or cars or bigger wheels or more wheels, or I mean, it was like, they looked at the problem right in front of them, which was the ruts in the dirt roads. And then finally, Eisenhower said, ‘You know what, asphalt and concrete will solve this problem’.

Jeffery DeCoux

And we’re now looking at, like, all the autonomous car companies from Silicon Valley are basically saying, We need more LIDAR, we need more radar, we need more cameras, we, they’re looking at it from the vehicle standpoint, versus the infrastructure. And once you start to build the infrastructure, the inverse happens, where you’re able to effectively meet Vision Zero standards, you’re able to be able to detect the surroundings, and now feed that back into the car versus the car having to be self-aware of everything in its life. I mean, and the other funny thing about this is the infrastructure is already there. I mean, the ITS cabinets, I mean, people are very surprised when I tell them drive down the street, and every single time you stop at a four-wheel and four-way light, look around to the four sides, and you’re gonna see a silver box.

Jeffery DeCoux

And usually, you’re two days later, they’ll call me or email me and say, I can’t believe how much infrastructure is already deployed. And well just think of that infrastructure being covered over two pins. And then you understand it’s something that can actually take place very, very rapidly. And I’m just going to your question about EdgeX, we were very thankful that we discovered EdgeX at the time we did because we had just come off of the back end of a previous software company where our software was being used in 195 countries executed almost a million missions.

Jeffery DeCoux

And the whole goal was to take massive amounts of data off these little tiny SD cards, somehow get that back into the cloud, and then leveraging Kubernetes instantiation of having 1000s of 1000s of Kubernetes clusters processing data. And when we realise the PINN was going to be required to densify the edge, the nightmare in our minds about having to manage Kubernetes at the edge, literally scared every single engineer that was thinking about how we do this, and then come to find out there was already a solution that was extremely well-architected to address that challenge.

What are the most exciting innovations we can expect from IoT this year?

Tom White

Yeah, it sounds like a really good match, isn’t it? Like almost a perfect match that you guys, that you guys met each other and were able to do this together. But, surely some really exciting things on the radar. I mean, one of the things that I’m curious to hear from each of you is the trend or technology you’re most excited about this year. What is coming out?, What is going to change the game as it were? James, do you want to start what is it that kind of getting you really enthusiastic about this year?

James Thomason

You know, there, there are so many trends in play that are, that are all coming together to make this edge thing happen. And so, you know, I’ll run down a list and say, in the United States, things like cvrs, and neutral tower, which are, which neutral towers are also a thing in the UK, in Europe, that’s making it possible for new entrants to come into the wireless market and to provide enhanced services over just what the traditionally the big, large telcos are doing and thinking. So, this idea that we’re going to get more innovation as a result of that because more eyeballs, you know, working on the problem is a good thing, right. And that’s what I’m tremendously excited by that sort of family of technologies within the 5g space.

James Thomason

Of course, 5g infrastructure build-out is happening and tremendous investment going into that can definitely speed, more or better speeds and feeds are good, more coverage is good, all of that ubiquitous networking is necessary. I think, for us, the most, what I’m most excited about are some arcane things in the areas of distributed systems. And as I mentioned, we’re peer to peer and I think peer to peer is going to kind of have its second life now. It’s the second moment if you go back all the way into peer to peer sort of flourished in the.com bubble as you know, we were sharing music and files. Yeah, it was stuff like Napster and, and Limewire. Yeah, and then, you know, then Apple came out and said, Hey, we’re just gonna make it so you can download whatever music you want, and it’s all legit. You don’t have to pirate music and then peer to peer is sort of like died out a little bit. And the sole survivor there was BitTorrent, which had its spate, you know, its niche, you know, serving big files as a distributed system.

James Thomason

And so BitTorrent really was ahead of its time as a technology. And as they figured out so many things that are now relevant in this era of distributed systems and distributed ledger. And you know, I hate to use the B word, but blockchain because I think that distributed ledger and blockchain, in particular, led to a rebirth of peer to peer, but it really is the edge that’s going to bring it into its own.

James Thomason

And so there’ll be over the next few years, you’ll see, we won’t be the only ones that will just be a flourishing of peer to peer distributed systems and new types of data networks and, and all of that, so that that’s sort of umbrella of, of technologies, obviously, I’m very closely wedded to and very excited about but I just want to emphasise that it’s, it’s a huge thing that’s happening. It’s not just us. There are lots of people looking at inventing things in that space.

Tom White

Yeah, Fantastic. I’m actually looking forward to it. I was a big P-to-P fan, you know, and not just for the free music. I’ve got a word right. It’s nice that this is coming back. And I think that that control, that uniqueness that you have about it, as opposed to it being centralised, the whole decentralised movement, for me is exciting. And it’s transcending multiple industries right now, and dare I say, the dreaded B word. Right. So yeah, it’s really interesting.

James Thomason

And I’ll point out just one more, you know, that’s, that’s in that vein, and that’s webassembly. And webassembly is taking off, it’s starting to have a moment. For users or listeners on the podcast, who may not be familiar with webassembly, what it is, is a new take on the write-once-run-anywhere model of computing. So you know, Java and JavaScript really delivered that vision for the last couple of decades. This idea that you could write a programme in one language and then target it for this runtime that would run on any operating system. And he didn’t have to worry about the differences between OS as well.

James Thomason

Webassembly does that but the code that it generates is very close to machine code. And so the consequences are that is very high performance when compared to other technologies, like JavaScript, and Java, and you also get really fine-grained controls over what the code is doing. And so you can run untrusted code in this runtime that it isn’t a container per se, and it’s definitely not a virtual machine. It’s something lighter than either of those and something that can run instantaneously.

James Thomason

So, you get this really high-performance virtualisation and security layer that didn’t exist even a year ago. I mean, it’s brand spanking new. And so that that area of tech, tremendous brainpower, lots of smarter people than me, are inventing that area of tech, we’re, we’re a consumer of that tech, because, you know, it makes sense to put this kind of makes sense a bit webassembly on the server-side, you know, out there in the world, so that people can write and then target webassembly, as the runtime of their code can run anywhere on any type of hardware.

Tom White

Thank you for that. I mean, it is useful for, you know, our listeners to hear about these edge movements, especially in software development, and what have you, because it’s going to affect everyone, it is going to be the flavour moving forward. Jeff it would be interesting to hear from your points personally, and also that of the Autonomy Institute as well for trends this year.

Jeffery DeCoux

Well, I think I think this year, the most exciting that I think we’ll see is open ran becoming a thing solidly deployed because I think I really liked that DARPA put together a video a couple of years back talking and helping explain how the RF networks have to be treated very differently than we treat them now. So I think we’re finally gonna see open ran become a thing. I’m hopeful that by the end of the year, the US will reclassify broadband at one gigabit or greater, not 30 down and five up, which I think is absurd.

Jeffery DeCoux
And from the standpoint by the end of the year, we believe we’ll be fielding autonomy, not going to be the autonomy that people expect it’s going to be things like lawnmowers, automatically maintaining you know, grounds across the city of Austin, rovers delivering pizza and groceries to people in very specific neighbourhoods houses, and most likely we will see small drones performing routine tasks on a daily, if not hourly basis. So I think all of that may happen this year.

Tom White

Yeah, thank you so much for that, the drone thing for me is really interesting because we’ve not yet seen out, or wide use of commercial use of drones, right? A lot of it has been hobbyists, etc. There’s been lots of talk, and there have been lots of reports of drone technology. But you know, having brands and corporate businesses using them for logistics or food delivery, or what have you, that transition step would be a really interesting one.

Jeffery DeCoux

A huge one. And the only way, the reason being is it right now, it has to be a one to one relationship between a human and the drone. Or in a lot of cases, when you see, you know, Google wing delivering the packet to somebody’s house, what they don’t understand is, they just effectively are demonstrating how they can actually spend $150 to deliver a piece of fruit or some house because they have five to 10 people watching the drone fly from one place to another. So with the right sensor network, the right edge, compute the right open ran networks, we’re gonna see an explosion of enabling technologies. And we’ll finally move past the current number one autonomous robot in the world being a Roomba vacuum.

Tom White

Yeah I mean, it would be nice to do that.

James Thomason

So, is it a Roomba vacuum, I thought it was a cat transportation device.

Tom White

Well, yeah, hopefully. I mean, that would be a lovely point, as well, on a serious matter what you guys are doing collectively within your businesses is, is really game-changing, right? I’m trying to think of a better word, but it is, it’s game-changing. So it’d be it would be lovely, perhaps in a year, 18 months time, maybe come back on the show. And we can talk about what you’ve done from this point, how the Public Infrastructure Network Node has changed things, what the developments are from that point, and what’s the next steps after that? Because, you know, it’s clearly a powerful force going on here.

James Thomason

Would love to yeah, hopefully, we have tens of thousands of pins deployed and we’ll be coming to you live from the Cayman Islands.

Tom White

Yeah, on the yacht, right. Yeah. Absolutely. I hope you still have the Harvey kite Kotel poster behind you as well. I feel quite I saw it first of all on your wall. And you’ve got a picture of Mr. White from Reservoir Dogs and it’s Mr. White doing the podcast. Did you put that up? Especially it’s, it’s quite interesting.

James Thomason

Actually, Harvey in Pulp Fiction as the wolf.

Tom White

Oh, I see. Okay, I got it wrong. All right.

James Thomason

Yeah, one of my employees gave me that several years ago, because he described me as like being like the wolf, like as the as the CTO of the company. And he’s like, you only show up when there’s a problem and then you fix things and then go away. You’re like the wolf from Pulp Fiction.

Tom White

But that’s the right thing. That’s what you’d want. Right? You know, you’re gonna fix that you come in, you fix it. You go and, you know,

James Thomason

Yeah. All right. I decide who’s on brain detail.

Tom White

All right, gentlemen, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure, honestly, meeting you both.

Jeffery DeCoux

I’m looking forward to the interview next year.

James Thomason

Yeah.

Jeffery DeCoux

I’ve got some exciting things.

Tom White

Yeah, me already. Alright.

James Thomason

Yeah. wait to come back. Thank you so much for the time.

Tom White

All right. You’re very welcome. Thank you.

The IoT Podcast Team

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