What Did The Cereal Box Say To The BMW?

What Did The Cereal Box Say To The BMW?

This family had just come out of Costco loaded with groceries.

They are heading to the garage to pack it into their car.

A BMW comes racing through the garage and runs over one of these mega Costco cereal boxes.

The car keeps going with the cereal box being dragged underneath.

The family runs through the garage and cuts off the BMW waving and yelling for him to stop.

He skids across the double-yellow line and stops blocking both sides of the road.

The man who lost his cereal bends under the front of the BMW to try to extricate the cereal.

The box is so Costco big, it barely can come out.

The man’s family looks on from the side.

Finally, he wiggles the box this way and that and gets the cereal box out from under the BMW.

The driver is standing there sort of bewildered by the whole thing.

If the cereal box could talk, I think it’d beg for a better ending than this.

Too often, as we go through life, we mow other people down who are in our way.

Thank G-d, this was just a box of cereal and not the man’s child or wife that had been run over and dragged.

I wondered how degrading it must have felt for this poor guy to be bending down in the street to get the box out, while the driver simply looks on in an uncaring disdain.

I almost thought for a moment, the driver was going to either just keep going or when he got out wallop the other guy for hassling him to get his cereal.

People can be strange that way and you never know what is going to happen next.

It is good that other people can be around with smartphone cameras and video, so that people don’t feel that they can just behave indiscriminately and obscurely.

In the end, no one should think they are all that–and have the right to uncaringly run over others’ persons or things.

We are all frail humans and G-d is always there with a very big, high megapixel smartphone recording it all for judgement day. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sony, From Hipster to Nerd

Sony, From Hipster to Nerd

Gone are the days when Sony made innovative products like the Walkman and great products like televisions that you willingly paid top dollar for.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek (18-24 February 2013) reports on Sony that “after eight years of losses in the TV business, it projects a $215 million profit this year–only after selling its New York headquarter for $1.1 billion.”

LA Times reported last May that Sony announced its largest ever loss for year-end March 31, 2012 of $5.6 billion, nearly double its prior-year loss of $3.2 billion. They also announced layoffs for 10,000 employees.

Sony is reorganizing and shedding businesses (displays, chemicals, etc.) and according to Bloomberg looking to generate 70% of sales and 85% of profit from just 3 remaining businesses–cameras, smartphones/tablets, and gaming.

However, Sony has lost its way…

Maybe it started in the 80′s when Sony lost out in VCR (videocassette recorder) format wars with its Betamax to VHS, and it continues today with a lack of innovation in the mobile technology marketplace. Anybody want to buy a Sony Ericsson phone? Ah, no!

Additionally, if you have ever been to a Sony retail store–probably not–they are a truly sad imitation of Apple and virtually nobody is in there. Hello–echo.

Sony is not only losing the technology war, the retail war, and the market share (it has only 4.5% of the phone market according to the Wall Street Journal) and earnings war, but also the branding war and they have just become plain uncool.

Sony’s products have names that are unrecognizable, unpronounceable, or just plain alphabet soup.

Do you want to buy a MacBook or a Vaio, iPhone or Xperia, Kindle Fire or PRST, a Sharp Elite or XBR, an Xbox 360 or a PS4?

The answer is obvious to everyone but Sony. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

To catch a terrorist, you have to think like a terrorist or at least be able to get behind their lies and deception.

Terrorist want to gain entry, surveil their targets, plan their attack, assemble their weapons and tactics, avoid their pursuers, and execute maximum human, economic, and political damage.

To succeed, terrorists have to use lies and deceit to make their way through all the obstacles that the good guys put up.

Wired Magazine (February 2013) addresses some new interrogation technology being tested by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to catch the lies and the liars.

First of all, “people are really good at lying, and it’s incredibly hard to tell when we’re doing it.”

Moreover, most people “lie 10 times a day,” so it is routine and comes naturally to them.

In terms of detecting lies, we are not very good at it–in fact, we’re just better than chance–able to tell when someone is lying only 54% of the time.
Apparently, even with polygraph exams–their success is dependent more on the experience and finesse of the examiner and less on the polygraph tool.

However, with new research and development, DHS has come up with an automated interrogator–that enhances the success of catching a liar by combining multiple detection technologies.

The “interrogator bot” has three different sensors in use by the Embodied Avatar Kiosk.

- Infrared camera–”records eye movements and pupil dilation at up to 250 times per second–the stress of lying tends to cause the pupils to dilate”

- High-definition video camera–”captures fidgets such as shrugging, nodding, and scratching, which tend to increase during a deceptive statement”

- Microphone–”collects vocal data, because lies often come with minute changes in pitch” as well as “hesitation, changes in tempo and intonation, and spoken errors”

In the future, a additional sensors may be added for:

- Weight-sensing platform–to “measure leg and foot shifts or toe scrunches”

- 3-D camera–to “track the movements of a person’s entire body”

Aside from getting better deception-detection results from multiplying the sensing techniques, the interrogation kiosk benefits from communicating in multiple languages and being “consistent, tireless, and susceptible to neither persuasion not bribery.”

Another very cool feature being tested is tan interrogation avatar that actually resembles the person being interrogated using a camera and morphing software and making it look uncanny and “disturbing” at the same time–this can be quite familiar, disarming and unnerving.

By aggregating data points from many types of sensors and using behavioral analysis as a first line of defense followed by human questioning of those found to be lying, homeland security can proverbially light a fire under the pants of would be infiltrators and terrorists–and catch them before they make it to their next target. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Cosmic Jans)

Hiding Yourself In Plain Sight


I remember hearing that sometimes the best way to hide is in plain sight–just where no one would think to look.

Now there is a new clothing line being introduced by Adam Harvey for Stealth Wear that hides you using your own clothes.

According to Slate (11 January 2013), the clothing line is envisioned to have:

- Anti-drone hoodies and scarfs: These will be made with special metalized material that can shield you from things like drone thermal imaging technology, and I would imagine could also help against facial recognition along the lines of a prior project CVDazzle that uses face-painting and hair styling for concealment.

- XX-shirts: These cover your upper body and can shield you from x-rays. I wonder how this will impact TSA scanning at airports?

- Pocket-blocks: A cell phone pouch made from “signal attenuating material” to prevent tracking and interception.

Don’t confuse this stealth wear clothing line with a Canadian company called StealthWear that makes a different type of protective clothing–padding for jackets, forearms, shoulders, torso, and so on for those working in “aggressive educational environments.”

The new Stealth Wear, however, is a concept for a high-tech fashion line designed to provide counter surveillance and more personal privacy–in this sense, it’s really the anti Big Brother.

With more and more cameras, imaging machines, facial recognition, drones, and other surveillance tools out there–I suppose it is not surprising to see a cultural backlash in terms of everyday surveillance protection clothing coming to the fore. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

From Adventure Photography to Lifelogging

Felix Baumgartner jumped from a helium-filled balloon lifted space capsule, one week ago today, to set a skydiving record from 24 miles up and reaching the speed of 834 miles per hour.

On Felix’s helmet was a GoPro video camera to capture this memorable event.

GoPro is the leader in wearable, waterproof, shockproof videocameras and has an especially strong market in action and extreme sports.

Their newest helmet-mounted camera is the HD HERO3 (available 17 October 2012), and it continues the significant trend to ever smaller, lighter, and more powerful cameras technology.

I like this video they put out showing the high resolution and exciting video taken while doing activities from surfing to mountain climbing, deep sea diving, flying, kayaking, and more.

I have a feeling that these cameras are going to make a leap from capturing adventure photography to being used for lifelogging and lifejournaling–where people capture major life events on a wearable camera, and in some extreme cases–they try to capture virtually their whole life!

As someone who has blogged now, thank G-d, for 5 1/4 years, I greatly value the ability to capture important events, share, and potentially influence–and lifelogging with discrete, wearable camera technology can take this even further. 

Of course, with this technology, we need the ability to search, discover, and access the truly memorable moment–those that are meaningful to you and can have a deep and lasting impact on others–and let’s face it, despite the rise of Reality TV, most of life is not quite a Kardashian moment. ;-)

It sort of reminds me of the Wendy’s commercial, where the old lady asks from a fictitious competitor, “where’s the beef?” With lifelogging, blogging, or other capture and sharing technologies, the beef had better be there (people’s time is valuable)!

There are billions of people to reach–capture, reflect, share…in writing and with pictures–then truly, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

Robot Guard Thyself

The Asian Forum of Corrections in South Korea has developed this 5′ tall robot for patrolling prisons.But rather than restraints and weapons, this prison guard carries a suite of technology:- 3-D Cameras for monitoring safety and security

- Recording devices for capturing activity

- 2-way wireless communications between corrections officials and prisoners

- Pattern recognition and anomaly detection software for differentiating normal behavior from problems

While this sparks the imagination for where this might go in the future, I’m not quite sold on this.

Firstly, how well can these robots really recognize and interpret human behavior, especially from those who may be fairly adroit at hiding or masking their activities, day-in and day-out.

And maybe more importantly, without some serious defensive and offensive tricks up its robot sleeve, I have a feeling that many a prisoner with a two by four, would put this million dollar robot in the junk yard pretty fast, indeed.

I’d rate this as not there yet! ;-)

Robot Fighters Coming Soon

Maars
I love keeping up with the latest in robotics, especially when it comes to battlefield versions.
The Wall Street Journal (19 August 2011) featured QinetiQ’s Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS) today as “America’s Newest Soldiers.”
MAARS features tank treads, days and night vision cameras, a 4-barrel 40mm high-explosive grenade launcher, and a M240B 7.62mm machine gun.
“It can stand sentry at a checkpoint and warn people away with a police style hailer, a nonblinding laser, tear gas or smoke grenades.  As a last resort, it can fire lethal rounds.”
Watching this thing, I imagine the D Day landings in Normandy would’ve looked a lot different with a swarm of these fellows landing on those bullet-riddled beaches.
The nature of the fight is changing and whoever stands in front of one of these armed robots (and even better next generation versions to come) better be prepared to say “bye bye, it was nice knowing you.”  ;-)
(Source Photo: here)

Sensors, Sensors Everywhere

Three_surveillance_cameras

Sensors will soon be everywhere–waiting, watching, and working to capture information about you and the environment we inhabit.

Every sensor is an opportunityto collect data and use that data for making better decisions.
Of course, we see sensors deployed first and foremost from our military overseas, in Iraq and Afghanistan, which uses drones to spy on and strike on our adversaries. The drones are really flying platforms of sensors and in some cases with weapons at ready. According to the New York Times (20 June 2011) “From blimps to bugs, an explosion in aerial drones is transforming the way America fights and thinks about its wars..the pentagon now has some 7,000 aerial drones…[and] has asked for nearly $5 billion for drones for next year.” These drones are providing  “a Tsunami of data” from intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. The change to drones is so significant in our military that the Times reports that “already the Air Force is training more remote pilots, 350 this year alone, than fighter and bomber pilots combined.”
Similarly, the Wall Street Journal (5 July 2011) reports that another type of sensor–surveillance cameras–are being deployed big time in China with a new surveillance network in Chongqing of 500,000 cameras (Beijing already has 280,000 cameras in its system) “that officials says will prevent crime but that human-rights advocates warn could target political dissent.” While this project is significantly larger and more aggressive than other cities have deployed, China is certainly not alone in deploying surveillance cameras in their cities–Chicago has 10,000, New York has 8,000, and London has over 10,000.  According to the WSJ, the overall market last year for surveillance-equiptments sales, not including networking gear or software totaled $1.7 billion!  So smile, you are on camera–and it’s candid, indeed.
A third article ran in Government Computer News (July 2011) on a more innocuous type of sensors to be used–this being the mass deployment of mobile sensors for the National Weather Service (NWS) on vehicle fleets such as Greyhound buses etc.  Beginning in October, “2,000 commercial vehicles will be equipped with sensors…and will be sending data to NWS in near real time.  We will be rolling out coverage on the national level.”  The mobile sensors will be taking 100,000 observations daily–every 10 seconds, about every 300 meters–measuring temperature, humidity, dew, precipitation, and solar information.”  In the future, we are looking at the potential of a “a sensing probe in every car”–for collecting information on hazardous roads, traffic patterns, and preventing accidents. Other applications for mobile sensors could be for “monitoring chemical and biological agents,” nuclear and radiological ones, or CO2 and Ozone and more.
While sensors can collect data that can be used to analyze situations early and often to help people; certainly, they can also be misused to spy on ones one citizens and suppress freedom. It can be a slippery slope.  Perhaps that why Wired Magazine recently asked (July 2011) who’s “Watching the Watchers,” making the distinction between:
1) Surveillance–the monitoring of events by those above, the authorities–with CCTV etc. and monitoring events from control rooms, potentially from anywhere around the world.
2) Sousveillance–the monitoring of events by those below, the citizens–with everyday smartphones, cameras, and videocams and posting the digital images and sound bytes to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and so on for the world to see.
With IPV6 providing enough Internet address for attaching sensors to every atom on the surface of the earth and sensors becoming smaller and more imperceptible, we can soon monitor and report on everything, everywhere all the time. Some of the biggest challenges remain ensuring the information monitored is kept secure, private, and used legally and ethically and sifting through all the data to identify the truly meaningful information from what’s just noise.
(Source Photo: here)