Every week here and in our newsletter, we feature a new developer/blogger from the DZone community to catch up and find out what he or she is working on now and what's coming next. This week we're talking to Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Guy for the Xively IoT platform from LogMeIn, holder of a PhD in computational neuroscience, and author for DZone's 2014 Guide to Internet of Things.
1. What have you been working on lately?
Xively is at the forefront of the Internet of Things platform space, and we are introducing a new market segment and concept within the IoT that will definitely make scalable IoT solutions much more plausible and easy to manage. I wish I could say more than that! On the side, I have been testing out some of the new predictive analytics services like Ersatz Labs and Prelert to start building some useful anomaly detection and supervised learning use cases for Xively’s IoT customers. There are a lot of great machine learning APIs coming out that make it easy to test streaming data sets on.
2. In the 2014 Guide to IoT, you wrote "The Near Future of IoT." Thinking beyond just the most probable developments, what would you like to see happen in IoT? What's your ideal near future?
My ideal near future for the IoT would definitely have to include decisions being made on one (or even a few) accepted protocol standards. Right now the market is growing fast and the protocols are proliferating quickly. Once a few standards are widely adopted it will make life significantly easier for developers, which means consumers buying connected products will be happier too. In tandem with this, I would love to see various connected product manufacturers opening their APIs to developers in order to create not just an Internet of THING, but a truly interconnected experience that combines data from various sources. Until this happens, I don’t really think the “Smart Home” will ever be all that smart. The same is true for IoT applications in other vertical markets as well.
3. Are there any particular developer tools or resources you couldn't live without?
As a Python guy, my setup is iTerm, iPython and PyCharm. I live in pretty much those three things when I code. As for resources, this is completely obvious but StackOverflow is God’s gift to developers. Coding in a pre-StackOverflow world definitely slowed me down.
4. Do you have a favorite open source project (or projects) that you've contributed to recently?
Unfortunately, all the code I write these days is under lock and key. However, when I was doing my PhD at Boston University, we started The Unlock Project which is an open source project to help people with locked-in syndrome to communicate via applications controlled with a non-invasive EEG brain-computer interface. All of the signal processing, wireless transfer, and application development is being done in Python. It’s a really great project that is helping people with a debilitating condition.
5. Do you follow any blogs or Twitter feeds that you would recommend to developers?
I’m a big fan of Postcapes.com for IoT news. If you’re a Google Cloud Platform user (and I am), then http://googledevelopers.blogspot.com/ has great tips that I’ve used frequently. As for Twitter, obviously @XivelyIoT is a great resource. ;) And as a computational neuroscientist, I like to follow #deeplearning because there are constantly new tools being released that implement variations ons Hinton's neural network approach to machine learning.
6. Did you have a coding first love -- a particular program, gadget, game, or language that set you on the path to life as a developer?
I’m dating myself, but my first computer was a Commodore 64. My dad got me this huge BASIC programming book and I was hooked.
7. Is there anything else you'd like to mention?
We are currently looking for talented developers to help shape the Internet of Things here at Xively. Contact me if you are interested.