Using Software Defined Relationships to Build the Internet of Things

Thursday, February 18, 2016 - 7:00pm
Bob Frankston
Lecturer Photo

Consumer electronics is in transition. We are shifting from creating value and defining products using electronics to creating solutions using software. Consider the smartphone: is it a telephone, or is it a gaming unit, a calendar a camera or a television? With other form factors we can mix or match parts to create a desktop computer, a television, a home control system or whatever we can imagine. Many single-use devices and classic limitations no longer exist. The Internet is central to this revolution. It is a byproduct of creating connectivity solutions using any available means. The Internet represents a fundamental change in how we build systems and in what it means to communicate. You simply click on a URL and you're "there". You don't worry about wires or reserved frequency. You can just assume that the packets will appear at the destination most of the time. Using software defined relationships as building blocks is very different from traditional hardware-based engineering. Welcome to the new world of software and the Internet. There's no dependence on providers or networks. For the IEEE these changes present an opportunity and challenge. Devices are becoming connected, opening up new frontiers as we create and share our own solutions and become less dependent on service providers. We're at the very earliest stages of an exciting new world.

Bob Frankston is a Fellow of the IEEE, the ACM and the Computer History Museum. He is on the Board of Governors and is a Distinguished Lecturer for the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society. He writes the Bits Vs. Electrons column in the IEEE/CE Magazine. He has been online since 1966 and was co-developer of the first electronic spreadsheet and has been honored by the IEEE for his contributions to home networking while at Microsoft. He received BS degrees in both Computer Science and Mathematics and Master's and Engineer's degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering all from MIT. Since leaving Microsoft he has been doing angel investing and advising. He is currently working with entrepreneurs and established companies on the issues we face as we transition to a software-defined connected world.

The meeting will be held in the new meeting auditorium at the Verizon Technology Center. The address is 60 Sylvan Road, Waltham, MA 02451. The entrance is by the far corner - with the picnic tables out front - and not the tower or the new building. It is most easily reached by the West Street entrance.

Verizon requires us to provide a list of attendees in advance, so if you want to come, you need to register at, but admission is free.

We will be taking the speaker to dinner at Green Papaya after the talk at about 9pm.