When we think of big data, the image that comes to mind is massive server farms chugging away at full speed calculating the value of Pi or the odds of life on 1 million observed astronomical entities. Actually, big data is here today, in consumer products at consumer prices. Really?
Hardware device which captures continuous real time analytics of a variably moving object, reports them automatically, creates a statistical chart with real time updates, sends the results to experts for continual monitoring, compares the results with a large pool of other similar objects for behavioral norms. It also provides predictive reporting on what is required to meet established thresholds and goals.
Is this Curiosity on Mars? No. It is a personal activity and weight monitor that can tell you EXACTLY what you do every day, how many calories you burn, how you compare with other people, and what it will take to lose weight. It reports your progress automatically to your physician. It is completely automated. Machine to machine interaction, continuous statistical monitoring and analysis, networked measurement devices, predictive reporting.
Big Data is about large amounts of data (we can quibble about how to define large) gathered more quickly and analyzed faster than can be done by a human or a single device. One of the key attributes of big data is continuous streaming of information and the ability to analyze at the rate of data input. Machine to machine connectivity is certainly a key part of that. Continuous statistical analysis is the foundational engine for delivering answers. Making some process better is the result.
This is where Big Data gets really interesting. When it can produce Big Results at any level and at any price point.