Innovations within the Internet of Things: An Interview with Wilson Mar

[interview]
Summary:

In this interview, Wilson Mar, an architect, developer, performance tester, and manager, talks with Jennifer Bonine about cutting-edge technologies in 3D printing and the Internet of Things. He talks about the importance of security and automation, and what we can expect down the road.

Jennifer Bonine: We are back. I'm here with Wilson. Wilson, thanks for joining me.

Wilson Mar: Thank you for inviting me. You've been years in this thing. It's the first time I've actually got in front.

Jennifer Bonine: I know.

Wilson Mar: I've talked to a lot of people, but ...

Jennifer Bonine: I know. You always ...

Wilson Mar: I've always been camera-shy.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah. You send people but don't ever come, so I'm glad you're here. We've had some interesting discussions around ... Wilson was mentioning, some of you may not know, one of my interests right now is IoT: Internet of Things and what that means. Awareness around what that's doing in our world and awareness of what's out there, right? In that space. We should maybe enlighten them just some of the conversations we were just having around some of what you've seen in that space and in real life, right, of what happens with that.

Wilson Mar: Yeah, yeah, because I have a farm. There was this drone. It just came by, and I'm going like, "What is going on?" It hovered, and it moves. I thought it was a UFO or something.

Jennifer Bonine: Right? You're like, "What is that?"

Wilson Mar: Yeah, right. Yeah.

Jennifer Bonine: "Who let that over here?"

Wilson Mar: Big question is like, who owns all this data that this videos and so forth that's done? It's very unclear as far as the law, as far as what is really trespassing, you know?

Jennifer Bonine: Right. Interestingly enough, we were talking about, so if that drone, if you own land, for example, and those drones come, and they're surveying the land or trying to get images and video, as you said, topography, different things, and then they take that back, you don't know necessarily who's getting that.

Wilson Mar: Mm-hmm.

Jennifer Bonine: Right? When that drone flies over, you don't know who owns it, who has access to that information, so from a farmer perspective and laws, right? Can they shoot down the drone? Is that legal, or are they in trouble if they do that?

Wilson Mar: Yeah, and it'd be conflicting decisions that are made in that. Your class on IoT is rather interesting. How did ... You were one of the first ones that have done that. I thought that was kind of interesting.

Jennifer Bonine: The reason I did it was I work with a lot of clients out there in the wild who are starting to deal with a lot of cutting-edge technologies. I see it every day, and it's very common for me to see things that aren't public yet. Things that aren't out in the wild, so to speak, but they exist. We have the technology. A lot of people will say, "Oh, gosh. All those things we're talking about is futuristic. It's fantasy. It's not real. You can't do that stuff." I'll tell you, some of the things that I've seen, that are developed already, they're out there. They're able to be consumed, but I don't know that the general public is ready for all of these things yet, right?

There is an organization out there who, for example, has 3D printers. One of the locations that they have, you actually have to sign a release to enter the location because what they discovered in having the technology for 3D printing is that you can actually 3D a virus. They said, "We have a social responsibility that we know that this technology is out there. We know that this is a capability. We need to understand where the potential opportunities are for people who may maliciously use our 3D printers to do things like 3D print viruses and put them out in the wild."

Wilson Mar: Right. Only we can do that, right?

Jennifer Bonine: Right, exactly. Only the company wants to, we'll do that. We don't want other people doing it, but they're also using it for very good things, right? They've said they took the leap and actually created a position. I actually know the individual who took this role. He used to be a director or VP of software engineering. His new title, when I saw it, I thought this was so cool. See if you've all heard of this: the director of bio/nano and programmable matter—so, bio/nano and programmable matter. I was intrigued.

Wilson Mar: He's going to have a long card, right?

Jennifer Bonine: Right? I'm like, "What do you actually do?" Right? Because this sounds intriguing to me of what you actually do. This facility said if I can 3D print a virus, if I know what components in your genetics and your DNA cause cancer, can I alter that genetic sequence, print something that will then enable you to change that genetic sequence, inject it back into a person, and potentially cure cancer?

Wilson Mar: It's patented, too, as a result. Yes. Yeah.

Jennifer Bonine: Yes, so he said, "Now, I can maybe cure cancer and see a cure for cancer." He was on the technology side ...

Wilson Mar: Or cause it.

Jennifer Bonine: Right, or cause it. In animals, probably, which people are very excited about. I'm sorry if we offended Peter or anyone. They have that technology, right? A lot of people are saying, "Wow. Really?" They're working on printing food, like think if you could print food, right? That would solve some problems, but it creates others, right? There's a lot of technologies out there. I think as testers and in the testing community, it's not as far away as we think for us having to deal with it every single day, so again, in the med device space, we're looking at patches that regulate and track people's blood sugar levels for diabetics, so that you can know what it is twenty-four seven. You have information on it.

Wilson Mar: For testers, what is your thought, as far as how do you testers get in on all that stuff?

Jennifer Bonine: I think having an awareness of what's out there because organizations that you wouldn't think are going there are going there faster than you think. I was talking to an individual. She's a tester for a furniture company. Did you know there's smart furniture now? Yes.

Wilson Mar: Really?

Jennifer Bonine: Smart furniture.

Wilson Mar: It tells me I'm a couch potato.

Jennifer Bonine: Right. Exactly. She said, "And your employer may be using smart furniture in your workplace," so I'm encouraging you to check to see if you have smart furniture. Smart furniture has sensors in it that tell you how long you're sitting in a chair, what position you're physically sitting it, how much of the room is occupied, if people are using certain chairs over others. I mean it's tracking all this data, and then it's sent back, right? Imagine you haven't sat in your chair in two days. Your employer's going to know. They're going to be like, "Wilson, where were you? I see you haven't used your desk in several days. What's happening?" Right? No, there actually is smart furniture. Who would have thought that, right?

Retailers. I saw this. It was at the Microsoft Insight Conference just a week or two ago. They have the capability now. Say you go into Lowe's or Home Depot, and you want to design your kitchen. You can wear a VR headset. You can drag and drop different components of your kitchen and visualize it in front of you. You think you're just designing a kitchen. They're also tracking what part of the kitchen are you looking at, what products are you drawn to, what colors interest you. Then, they'll give you pricing, and they'll say, "Does that seem like it's too high?" because all of a sudden, you're astounded by what you drew and how much it costs. They're tracking all of this data on us as consumers that we don't know is being tracked, even.

Wilson Mar: I went to CES early this year. Sleep Number has a sensor under ...

Jennifer Bonine: Absolutely. That's another one I use on the bed. It helps you stop snoring.

Wilson Mar: One of the things I've seen, too, as far as testers are concerned with IoT, because I'm working with Samsung and Microsoft IoT because each one of them seems to be a separate ... They want to have it within their own cloud and so forth and kind of be a proprietary situation. One thing I see that it's the same as a lot of testers that you focus on that dot net or you have Java. It's difficult to have both, but I think also too, in the future, there's going to be a lot more focus on federated, like XMPP with that, so I think that is a huge potential. That's what I'm working on is getting the gateways for the IoTs, so that way, they're federated, so that say, security is there with XMPP, and I think it'd be huge.

Jennifer Bonine: Right, because that's important, right?

Wilson Mar: Yeah.

Jennifer Bonine: To make sure that there's some level of regulation and security around that as you open things up and have to make it accessible. It'll be interesting to hear in that space some of what you're looking at and what some of your concerns are. We talked about security ethics. There's a range of topics to think about. What are you exploring in that space and finding?

Wilson Mar: I think the key thing is that the testers today, it's not just about functional testers or ... I think automation is really critical, and understanding the monitoring is really critical, because they're saying like six times the traffic out there, and it's ... Again, it's not just cat videos, right?

Jennifer Bonine: Right. The people aren't just streaming lots of cat videos everywhere.

Wilson Mar: Really, so you're talking about the level of monitoring is really going to be very high. As a result, automation's absolutely critical. Understanding the security. Understanding what certificates are about for security, I think, is a key differentiator for a lot of people, so we really need to start getting into that. I mean …

Jennifer Bonine: Having an awareness and not being afraid of it, right?

Wilson Mar: Right. Exactly.

Jennifer Bonine: That's kind of the message I like to give to people, too, just like you said is get some knowledge about security. Get some knowledge about automation and how that works, because again, it's just getting more and more prolific about what possibly is out there and what we connect to and how we connect and what we need to test. Think about it. I mean if you all of a sudden have something that runs on televisions, right, so it's connected to television. Think about how many different kind of televisions are out there that you're going to have to certify against, right?

Wilson Mar: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Jennifer Bonine: Then, now Roku devices and PlayStations and all of those devices, along with mobile and tablet. I mean it just keeps compounding.

Wilson Mar: Generation of testing scripts is really the key to that because you cannot manually create ...

Jennifer Bonine: No.

Wilson Mar: ... all of those scripts.

Jennifer Bonine: There's no way, right?

Wilson Mar: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Exactly.

Jennifer Bonine: You'd be so far ... You could start now, and you wouldn't be done.

Wilson Mar: Yeah, and going back to the security, I think one thing I see, too, is that when I got started on this thing, people were saying, "Well, you know, security, that's for production use." Right? In today's world, you got to start with security right off the bat. I mean secure in terms of testing, all the way through because you want to make sure that you have your penetration testers working along with you along the way, right? Just like the testers of the battle they have ...

Jennifer Bonine: Absolutely.

Wilson Mar: ... the same we had today. Yeah.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah. Everything has to shift up. We're close to being done. Time goes so fast when we do this. This is such a great topic. If people want more information, want to talk to you more about it, because we just scratched the surface, right?

Wilson Mar: WilsonMar.github.io, and just see me there. I've got all my cat videos there for you.

Jennifer Bonine: All of his cat videos, so if you want to watch his cat videos, you can do that there. Perfect. Thanks, Wilson, for joining us.

Wilson Mar: All right. It's good talking with you. I look forward to talking again.

Jennifer Bonine: I appreciate it. Thank you. Yeah.

Wilson MarWilson Mar has been building and bringing enterprise applications to market on major platforms—from mobile to server clouds—as an architect, developer, performance tester, and manager. His website wilsonmar.com provides concise, in-depth advice on leading technologies, especially on LoadRunner and performance engineering.

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