I recently had the pleasure to listen to Ilya Grigorik give a talk at Velocity in NYC on Breaking the 1000ms Mobile Barrier. During the talk, Ilya used PageSpeed Insights to demonstrate that several high profile websites had overlooked some very simple and common optimizations and resulted in poor PageSpeed scores. For the unfamiliar, Pagespeed Insights is a web based tool created by Google that analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster.
After Ilya’s talk ended, I started to think more about why performance always seems to be an afterthought with developers. As I pondered this thought, I kept coming back to the following question:
How hard is it to get a perfect PageSpeed Insights score?
It can’t be that hard, right? Well…there is only one way to find out!
A group of Chinese scientists at Shanghai’s Fudan University have a bright idea: A lightbulb that produces its own Wi-Fi signal. According to Xinhua, the technology is called Li-Fi, and the prototype actually works better than the average connection in China.
As many as four computers placed near a Li-Fi bulb can connect to the net, using light frequencies rather than the usual radio waves. The bulb is embedded with a microchip that produces a signal, yielding rates as fast as 150 mbps—far faster than typical connection speeds in China, and about three times faster than the speed I’m getting right now. (Seriously, I just did a speed test.)
One of the perks of Li-Fi is that it’s affordable. Have a lightbulb and a Li-Fi kit? Boom—you have internet. Next month, researchers are showing off 10 sample kits at a trade show in China, and the country is moving in a direction that could make Li-Fi a practical and commercially viable asset—especially since, as Xinhua reports, Chinese people are quickly replacing old fashioned incandescent bulbs with LEDs.
Thanks to widespread Internet adoption and over 10 billion connected devices around the world, companies today are more excited than ever about the Internet of Things. Add in the hype about Google Glass and the Nest Thermostat, and nearly every business, including those from traditionally low-tech industries, wants to get on the cloud, track a group of devices, and gather data. The question, however, is not if a device can be connected, but why the company is connecting a previously “dumb” product to the cloud. Or stated differently, if a company invests in making my toaster talk to my lawnmower, is that really a good business decision and why?