Friday, May 30, 2008
I had the opportunity of attending this year's JavaOne conference. The conference is a yearly event where Java gurus from the world over descend upon Moscone center in San Francisco for a week. While the conference is mainly about Java, this year I sensed a thread, to my surprise and delight, about Java and sustainable development.
In the photograph above, John Gage, Chief Researcher at Sun Microsystems, is explaining how the entire conference is wired with sensors running Java and how these devices are communicating back information in real time on escalator usage, people movement and how all that helps understand electricity consumption better. The point being made was that technology can be used to facilitate energy efficiency.
Of course...plates, forks, knives, cups and such were all biodegradable. There was a visible effort to reduce paper and print. Information was made online for the most part. An embedded chip running Java in your ID card ensured access in and out of sessions. While all this was great, what I found more encouraging was the intersection of Java and sustainability.
I thought the technology leapfrog effect in Africa was particularly interesting. Mobile phones have outpaced land lines in the continent. Engineers from Nokia talked about how they developed a Java based application that helped Kenyans listen to internet radio on their mobile phones. Low power consumption, limited and intermittent bandwidth are important design considerations when developing applications for developing countries.
Engineers at Sun Microsystems talked about how mobile to mobile money transmissions are becoming popular in developing countries especially in microfinance operations.
Mobile phones were at the center of this year's JavaOne. Intel talked about its upcoming Atom line of chips for mobile devices. In fact, all chip makers had one message in common, that of energy efficiency. As chips get faster, smaller and smarter, mobile phones are expected to be the next hot platform for software development.
To me, mobile phones, open up new intersection points between technology and sustainability. Don't believe it ? Then take the case of eco2go, a great idea to reduce your carbon footprint using your phone.
Another project/idea that I found interesting was Sun SPOT (Small Programmable Object Technology).
Essentially these are micro devices running Java, capable of bridging the physical world with the digital. Intelligent sensors monitoring your environment for things like humidity, light etc.
Sentilla had a similar product showcase. Chips running Java connected to sensors. A winery in Napa is using their technology to monitor soil moisture and humidity to optimize water consumption. The same idea can be used to help optimize water consumption in agriculture. Even better, if we can figure out a cheap way to plug this into suburban lawns, it could greatly reduce over watering.
Finally, the Open Eco initiative. A global online collaborative community to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions . It brings Web 2.0 to the world of sustainability.
To me, all this is very exciting!