While reviewing the Apple’s iPad in Business website, I noticed something strange among the 33 various business types Apple was promoting. No Oil and Gas. Five Oil and Gas companies are in the top 10 Fortune Global 500, yet none are currently highlighted by Apple. Why is this?
This is perhaps because the Oil and Gas industry has been slow to recognize that the iPhone and iPad have developed beyond “devices” to become legitimate computing platforms in their own right, capable of running increasingly resource intensive enterprise applications. When enhanced computing capabilities are combined with the user interface and mobile capabilities of the iPhone and iPad, truly revolutionary things are possible.
The rest of this post is to help the Oil and Gas industry understand the computing capabilities of these devices in comparison with other platforms to see that the future is now open for truly mobile enterprise computing. Here's why companies should embrace oil and gas mobility.
One of the most famous supercomputers is the Cray–2, originally built in 1985 and the most powerful supercomputer until the late ’90s. NASA’s Cray–2 named “Voyager” has been used at NASA “to simulate aerodynamic flow over flight vehicles, to predict certain chemical reactions, to analyze and predict the flow within rocket engines, to simulate the atmospheres of other planets and to predict galactic collisions and interactions in space”. So what’s this have to do with mobile computing? The Cray–2 could do 1.9 billion floating point operations per second (GFLOPS) while the iPad Air 2 can perform 230.4 GFLOPS. That’s 121 times faster than a supercomputer that calculated major research projects at NASA. We are all carrying around a supercomputer in our pockets. Think of a connected worker able to do real-time processing that can be done on-site with this extremely fast machine.
The current line of iPhones have 1 gigabyte of RAM. RAM is a workspace where a program’s instructions are held for execution and data is manipulated. 1GB of memory might seem small compared to your laptop/desktop, but remember iOS isn’t like your desktop operating system. While there is some minor multitasking, the current app being executed on an iPhone or iPad has exclusive access to a majority of this memory. This allows apps to run faster without competing for resources.
This means that apps are built on a stable fast operating system that connected workers will not have to wait on. We all remember the old joke about restarting your Windows machine and getting a cup of coffee. The iPhone and iPad have instant on capabilities with fast app switching. Connected workers in the field or in the office have instant access to the apps they need at the correct time they need to do their job.
With games becoming a major use of the iPhone/iPad market, we can take advantage of the ever increasing graphical power. Currently, the iPad 2 can generate 29 million textured triangles per second and is comparable to the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. With iOS 8, Apple has replaced the traditional API for rendering graphics (OpenGL) with Metal. With Metal and the iPad Air 2, over 1.2 million polygons can be rendered on its retina display. This kind of graphics power is ready for your reservoir imaging and simulations. But, how does this compare to your current workstation?
The current iPad graphics processing unit (GPU) can compute 230 GFLOPS. You only have to go back five years to find an equivalent Nvidia video card with that much processing power. Imagine that a 5 year old workstation with your reservoir imaging tools could be on your iPad. It’s not very difficult with Apple’s continuous improvements to the GPU and innovative frameworks like Metal.
With the new iPhone 6/6+, Apple has increased the the cellular LTE antenna to 150 Mbps and upgraded the wifi antenna to 802.11 ac which averages 1.7 Gbps. With the complete works of Shakespeare being about 5Mb, we can download them 3 times in 1 second on cellular data. We could download his works 42.5 times in 1 second over wifi. This allows applications like ChaiOne’s Game Plan to deliver documents to connected workers faster than ever. With the networking ability of the iPhone and iPad, the future worker is a connected worker that can retrieve, manipulate, and send data at speeds unheard of a few years ago.
It’s been said that the best camera is the one you have. This is one reason the iPhone is consistently Flickr’s most popular camera. The iPhone camera’s availability has led us to add it to multiple apps to document inspections or safety hazards. Quick and easy access allows us to integrate photography with other forms of user input. The connected worker is not limited to phone or pen and paper; dictation, multitouch screens, images, and HD video are their forms of communication.
Originally created by the Department of Defense to overcome the limitations of navigation, but like every new technology, these early uses have expanded over time. ChaiOne’s ContextHub has allowed us to create apps that not only tell us where a device is located, but take various actions based on the current situation or ‘context’ of the situation. Contextual awareness enables you to tailor the experience to the user.
Computers have grown extremely fast, but they have not grown much smarter. Most large systems are just giant pits where data is thrown. Contextual awareness platforms aim to change that. Based on the connected worker and their ‘context’, platforms like ContextHub can trigger actions on the device and to these large systems. This is one way to make your current systems smarter.
Hopefully, this post will help you start to think of the iPhone and iPad not as novelties, but as amazing computational devices that have the ability to disrupt the Oil and Gas Industry by turning your workforce into connected workers with supercomputers in their pockets.
It was not that long ago that software shipped in boxes and online applications were a novelty. Web applications are now the enterprise standard. Mobile applications for the connected worker are the next enterprise standard. What are you doing to prepare?
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