The weekend review: smart grids, smart watches, and nonroutine work

It’s been a big news week for social media and mobile watchdogs, with the launch of Home, the new Facebook Android app leading to speculation about a future collaboration with Apple. Meanwhile, on GigaOM Research, this week’s most popular research content tackled the future of the smart watch, the intersection between cleantech investors and smart grid technology startups, and more.

With the success of projects like the Pebble watch on Kickstarter, followed by rumors that Apple might release its own device, the smart watch is no longer a gimmicky sci-fi gadget. Instead, early offerings from startup companies (or recipients of crowdsourced funding) have proved there is interest and excitement from consumers, investors, and larger consumer products companies. Michael Wolf’s “Flash analysis: smart watches” is based on a reader survey conducted last month across GigaOM and GigaOM Research. Wolf’s report summarizes respondents’ thoughts around smart watch price points, feature requests, and use cases and adoption rates, among other data points. The report also goes on to look at the Pebble’s market position in relation to potential offerings by giants like Apple and Samsung, as well as the company’s prospects in the near-term future.

Next, in “How energy data will impact the smart grid,” Adam Lesser addresses the industry’s skepticism about the smart grid. “The time has come for software development to tackle the smart grid,” he declares. Collecting energy-use data from millions of connected devices is not enough: Instead, companies working across sectors such as home energy management, building energy management, and utilities must leverage new, affordable big data tools to monitor and impact energy usage. As solar has given cleantech investment a bad name, software (and to a lesser extent) hardware startups are offering a new range of products meant to increase efficiency of a fossil fuel source, as opposed to advancing renewable-energy options. Lesser analyzes the risks and opportunities for these companies and highlights a few major trends and takeaways from the companies already working in the space.

Last, in “What is of highest value in today’s business?” Stowe Boyd‘s latest weekly update, Boyd looks at the changing nature of work in the American economy. Looking at recently released data from the New York Federal Reserve, Boyd notes that since 1975, major shifts in labor — from manual, routine jobs toward nonroutine, knowledge-based work — has increased by about 20 percent. Boyd looks at how this shift is affecting operations, culture, and structure in the workplace at large.

Also popular this week:

Sector RoadMap: SQL-on-Hadoop platforms in 2013

The wearable computing market: a global analysis

Big data 213: key trends and companies to watch