Smart Billboards, Connected Bus Stops And Other Must-See Items At Cisco Live 2014

Happy 25th, Cisco Live

Cisco Live is turning 25.

The networking giant's largest event of the year kicks off next week in San Francisco, and this year marks its 25th anniversary. And, according to Cisco Chief Marketing Officer Blair Christie, Cisco Live 2014 is already Cisco's largest ever, pulling in 22,000 live attendees and more than 200,000 on the web -- a new record for each.

While Christie said roughly 80 percent of Cisco Live attendees will be Cisco customers, a solid showing of Cisco vendor and solution provider partners also are expected to show up for the fun.

To give us a taste of what's to come, Christie spoke with CRN this week about some must-see items that attendees won't want to miss. Take a look.

The Internet of Everything (IoE) Machine

Christie said a big theme of this year's Cisco Live event is taking Cisco's vision for the Internet of Everything -- a world where everyday objects use a web connection to communicate with each other and the people around them -- and making it a reality. To do that, and to give attendees a more tangible look at what an IoE-enabled world will look like, Cisco Live will include an "Internet of Everything (IoE) Machine." Christie described this 20-by-20 foot structure as being similar to a Rube Goldberg machine.

"It brings to life action and reaction, and in the IoE world there are actions and reactions based on new data, realtime info and insights," Christie said. Attendees will be able to physically interact with the machine, which replicates what a "smart city" will look like when IoE is used to streamline things like transportation and waste management.

Cisco's Connected Billboard

Not all of the big attractions at Cisco Live this year are inside the walls of San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center. Take, for example, the connected "smart" billboard Cisco has mounted on highway 101. Meant to be a real-life example of how IoE will change our day-to-day lives, the billboard can adjust its display in realtime based on traffic patterns. Christie explained that, when cars are moving faster, the billboard automatically adjusts its message -- which, of course, is centered around IoE -- to be shorter so that drivers have enough time to read it. When cars are moving slowly, during rush hour, for example, the message gets longer.

The billboard, which is on 101 just south of Whipple Avenue in Redwood City, uses road sensor API traffic data. Christie said that smart billboards could allow marketing and ad agencies to push out personalized messages on-the-fly.

Smart Bus Stops

Cisco Live attendees moving throughout San Francisco next week may notice another everyday item that's gone high-tech: bus stops.

To coincide with Cisco Live, the networking giant is transforming select bus stops in San Francisco into what it calls "Connected City Interactive Bus Shelters."

Unlike your average bus stop, these connected shelters will include touch-screen digital displays that travelers can use to map out their routes around the city. The displays work by leveraging realtime data feeds to "personalize" each user's journey, Cisco said.

These smart bus stops can be found near the Moscone Center, along Mission and 4th streets, as well as around 5th and Howard streets.

Cisco Investments Pavilion

Cisco's Investment arm said in April that it's pumping another $150 million into IoE startups around the globe, bringing its total IoE startup funding to $250 million. Curious who some of those startups are? Check out the Cisco Investments Pavilion, Christie said, where attendees can meet with their executives and see their IoE innovations in action.

"We have about $250 million in investments in early-stage companies that are really driving the key transitions and trends for the Internet of Everything. They are doing some pretty amazing things that are really going to blow our minds," Christie said. "It's kind of like a sneak peek into the future." Startups in the pavilion include Bit Stew Systems, a provider of realtime network operations solutions, and EVRYTHING, a "Web of Things" software company that builds platforms to connect products to the Internet.

World Of Solutions

Christie said the World of Solutions, a sprawling showcase of the latest technologies from Cisco and its partners, is another must-see for attendees.

The World of Solutions this year will house the newest innovations from 225 Cisco partner sponsors, including Intel, Dimension Data, EMC, Citrix and NetApp. Christie said Cisco, for its part, will be demonstrating its next-generation collaboration solutions, along with new IoE technologies that are reshaping vertical markets like manufacturing.

"You will be able to see everything," Christie told CRN. "On the Cisco campus, specifically, there will be a whole section around what does this next wave of the Internet bring, especially by industry."

Social Media Hub

Back by popular demand, Christie said, will be the Cisco Live Social Media Hub, a sort of central command center where attendees can go to view and contribute to the Cisco Live social media buzz. Located this year in the Moscone Convention Center South Lobby, attendees can hit up the Hub to view the latest Cisco Live tweets or participate in a number of social games that Cisco will roll out during the week. Need a break from all the tweeting? Cisco this year is letting attendees show off their "old-school engineering skills" with a Legos area inside the Hub.

Attendees can also use the Hub to connect with Cisco's social media team to offer up suggestions or learn more about the latest and greatest in social media strategy.