A Great CTO Talk about Technology at Walmart

OrangeScape has this new initiative called CTO Talks. I think it is a brilliant idea. “While there are a lot of conversations taking place at the software development level, there are none at the CTO level”, says Suresh. I agree. We need different levels of conversations on technology.

I enjoyed  The talk on Technology at Walmart – a few Glimpses. I hope to see other more comprehensive blog posts. I was looking for the use of Machine Learning at Walmart, and I was not disappointed.

Here is a list of uses of Machine Learning (ML) at Walmart.

    • Competitive Intelligence and Analytics
    • Crawl frequency prediction (how frequently you can crawl certain sites for price information – too many crawls, and you will be blocked. Too few and you an miss useful information. Different sites update information at different intervals)
    • Natural Language Processing (NLP) of product catalogs
    • Bossa Nova robots roaming the aisles at Walmart locations checking out of stock items mislabeled shelf tags, and incorrect prices.
    • IOT  at Walmart – Monitoring temperatures of Refrigerators in real time
    • Visual inspection and Spoilage predictions
    • Predictive analytics of future failure of equipment
    • Predicting attrition (they have 2.3 million associates in over 11,000 locations)
    • Predicting absenteeism based on weather patterns an HR application (and an important contributor to maintaining service levels in their stores)
    • Hari briefly touched upon blockchain. They are looking at using it for tracing grocery items from source to customer.

Walmart is one of the leading indicators of technology adoption in retail. Hari mentioned that they were the first to introduce Satellites dishes in their store locations, barcode scanning, use of RFID and providing a direct view of store items to their suppliers.

It was a great talk. It was no wonder that we had an amazing turnout (more than 250 registrations). Hari answered all the questions patiently and in depth.

LinkLog: Body – An Ultraportable Power Source!

I was simply blown away by this article. Thanks @jhagel for sharing.

Your body is always generating heat, even when you are asleep. And heat, regardless of the source, excites electrons. The flow of electrons, in turn, generates electricity.

a small chip can turn body heat into electric energy, using the same technology found in solar panels. “We absorb the heat from your body, and that heat is funneled through a thermoelectric generator that converts it into electric power

Read more about the original invention, funding and development of a prototype in this article In The Future, Your Clothes Will Be A Power Plant

Internet of Things

About 3 or 4 years ago, I cam across an Intel presentation on the web,  which predicted the spread of internet of things. Today,  I came across a fascinating  document that describes an European Initiative for Internet of Things.

One major next step in this development is to progressively evolve from a network of interconnected computers to a network of interconnected objects, from books to cars, from electrical appliances to food, and thus create an ‘Internet of things’ (IoT). These objects will sometimes have their own Internet Protocol addresses, be embedded in complex systems and use sensors to obtain information from their environment (e.g. food products that record the temperature along the supply chain) and/or use actuators to interact with it (e.g. air conditioning valves that react to the presence of people).

The scope of IoT applications is expected to greatly contribute to addressing today’s societal challenges: health monitoring systems will help meet the challenges of an ageing society connected trees will help fight deforestation; connected cars will help reduce traffic congestion and improve their recyclability, thus reducing their carbon footprint. This interconnection of physical objects is expected to amplify the profound effects that large-scale networked communications are having on our society, gradually resulting in a genuine paradigm shift.

Nice to see technology evolving to meet societal challenges. This is an exciting time to be in technology.

Links: Emerging Technologies and Innovation

I enjoy reading about how technology enables innovative solutions. Here are a list of some interesting links

E-textiles to Monitor Your Health 

Virginia Tech (VT) researchers have been busy developing efficient e-textiles — electronic textiles and clothing with embedded wires and sensors — for six years now. Their computerized clothing can monitor your movements, sensing if you’re walking, running, standing, or sitting down.

Bridge Traffic Powers Its Monitoring Sensors

Researchers at Clarkson University, NY, have developed wireless bridge sensors which work without batteries. Instead, they are powered by the vibrations caused by passing traffic. This is good news for all the people in charge of maintaining bridges, who will no longer to have to replace batteries installed in hard-to-access locations.

Self-powered Nanowires

Many research teams around the world are building nanodevices of some kind. But these very small devices need very small sources of power to be fully functional. Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have shown that a single nanowire can produce power by harvesting mechanical energy from its environment. ‘Made of piezoelectric material, the nanowire generates a voltage when mechanically deformed.’

Recognizing Cool Vendors

It is nice to see Gartner recognizing innovation and creating a category called cool vendors. Never heard of this before.

Gartner defines a cool vendor as a company that offers technologies or solutions that are: Innovative, enable users to do things they couldn’t do before; Impactful, have, or will have, business impact (not just technology for the sake of technology); Intriguing, have caught Gartner’s interest or curiosity in approximately the past six months.

In this case, it was Raining Data, for their product TigerLogic Clinical Trials Data Services.

Source: Google Alerts on XML