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We're using cloud computing for this?

Let’s have a little fun today and look at how the cloud is being used in ways that some might consider, well, out of the ordinary. Sure, anyone can conjure up a cloud-based system for purchasing books online, but what about using the ol’ smartphone to manage cows down on the farm?

SCR Dairy began in 1980 making equipment for the dairy-farming industry, stuff like detachers and pulsators,  whatever they are. Today, the company offers cloud-based mobile applications for herd management, improving successful pregnancy rates, health tracking, and more. The latest advancement from the Israeli company is a series of mobile apps to — and stop me if you’ve “herd” this before — “improve productivity, reduce costs, and gain more control.” Whatever the industry, this golden troika of goals never seems to change. The company’s tagline is “make every cow count.” Like you, I didn’t know they could.

ETWater, which previously talked to me about the IoT talent shortage, designs cloud-based IoT smart lawn irrigation systems. The Novato, Calif. company builds Wi-Fi controllers that manage the zones of lawn sprinkler systems. It uses an integration analytics engine to calculate when and how much to water, based on dozens of metrics pulled in via APIs from a variety of sources. These include weather, humidity, time of year and day, sun and wind conditions, sensor readings of soil moisture levels, and a whole lot more. If you manage golf courses or office parks, it’s a clever and welcome use of cloud computing and data integration. At home, I can just look out the window.

If you’ve ever stood in the produce section and asked yourself, “Gee, are we out of kohlrabi,” Samsung has you covered. The Korean industrial giant’s new line of Family Hub refrigerators are equipped with, count ’em, three cameras that take a photo each time you close the fridge or freezer door. Use your smartphone to pull up an image while you’re at the supermarket or on the way home from work. Isn’t this what the cloud is all about? It certainly gives lends a whole new meaning to your subject saying “cheese” as the pic is snapped. Perhaps Samsung could link the cameras to SCR Dairy so we can have fresh milk from the farm on auto-replenishment. And, at last, you’ll know for sure if the light really does go out when you shut the door.

Finally, there’s the concept of paying by the foot. Literally. If those $400 running shoes you covet are out of your budget, you might be able to sign up for a pay-as-you-go plan based on how many steps you take or miles you run. The same might be true for those outrageously expensive high-performance tires you’d like to put on the family chariot. We’re not quite there for these two yet, but microbilling based on usage is very real. Without the cloud and Wi-Fi to do periodic data uploads, none of this works.

Well, enough of the fun stuff. The point is that what we can do with technology is limited only by our collective imaginations. Otherwise, we might still be carrying boxes of tape cassettes or three-ring binders filled with CDs on our journeys.

What are the truly unusual cloud apps that you’ve worked on and what was it about the development process that you found irresistible? Share your stories with us; we’d like to hear from you.