There is an explosion in the number of devices that are connected to our smartphones via the internet. These devices have been around for ages and the internet as we know it has been around for a little over two decades. The smartphone (iOS/Android enabled) of today has been around for a little over five years. If Thomas Friedman were to update his list of levelers in The World is Flat the smartphone will feature. The world now buys more smartphones than computers. No surprise, because if you offer a product at half the price and the same if not more computing power consumers are bound to buy. This ecosystem is reinforced by the mobile only services like Foursquare, Path, Uber, Instagram and Whatsapp. Although there were concerns about the form factor early on, we seem to have adapted well.
So what are the devices I am talking about and what will the software architecture look like? Cars, Locks, Wind turbines, Solar panels, and Drones for starters. a16z announced today that they have invested about $10.7 million in a company Airware dubbed the OS of drones. One can start to imagine the kind of non-military applications for drones ex. farming, infra surveillance, preventing wildlife poaching, and even terrestrial mapping. The firm also has investments in Activate and Lockitron which help your car and lock (yes!) respectively connect to your smartphone. This is the beginning of the Internet of Everything (IoE)
What this means for the next generation of students/professionals is that, their skills have to evolve to interdisciplinary specializations. For example, a mechanical engineer must also know electronics, the intersection dubbed Mechatronics. I predict that we will be seeing such degrees go mainstream soon. And by the way, coding will become a mandatory course for undergrads soon enough.
If I had a drone powered by a customized OS, I would want it to do my grocery shopping. By ordering the list of items I want from my smartphone and paying with Bitcoins, I would automatically be taken to a screen which asks me to input the location of the store. The drone would collect the shopping bag and fly back to my house landing on the small drone-pad at my door. It would of course send me a text message after landing safely.