99 T H E P O W E R O F P O S S I B I L I T Y Increasingly, their appliances will be “smart,” too, and customers will be able to turn their thermostats up or down remotely or start their laundry or dishwasher when they see that, due to demand pricing, the cost of electricity is a bit lower. Augmented reality, unmanned aerial vehicles, autonomous vehicles, LIDAR (pulsed laser) sensors, voice recognition, predictive modeling, the “internet of things” — what was once science fiction is now next-generation technology. NISC’s developers evaluate the innovations and imagine their possibilities. CHAPTER FIVE ASpiritofInnovation Buzzing like an oversized hummingbird, the white drone flies above the treetops and across the ravine, hovering at each electric pole long enough to snap a picture. The lineman who sent the drone on its mission stands beside another pole and puts on goggles. Looking through the Microsoft HoloLens is like having all the information from his laptop come to life before his eyes. He sees the pole code, its inspection history and the configuration of the pole top assembly. This pole is in good condition, but when the drone buzzes back and lands at his feet, he downloads photos of storm damage in the ravine. As he climbs into the truck, the lineman dictates a text and heads to his next site. Back at the office, customer service representatives taking phone calls anticipate their customers’ needs even before they begin talking. Predictive software uses account history and outage records to analyze the likely reason for their call. Other customers don’t call at all. They make payments and send messages on their smartphones through SmartHub.