Ex Machina Will Even Turn The Terminator

Terminator
So this was a really cool display at the Movie theater yesterday…



They had this head of the Terminator in a enclosed case and roped off. 



Shiny metal alloy skull, buldging bright evil red eyes, and really grotesque yellowed teeth. 



This certainly gets the attention of passerbys for the upcoming new movie, Terminator Genisys (coming out July 1). 



Anyway, Terminator is the ugly dude especially when compared with the robot/artificial intelligence of Ava in Ex Machina that we saw yesterday. 



The Turing test is nothing for Ava!



She can not only fool them as to her humanity, but also outmanuever them with her wit, sexuality, and a good dose of deceit and manipulation. 



Frankly, I think AI Ava could even turn the terible Terminator to her side of things–my bet is that movie to come in 2017. 



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Amazon Delivery – By Crunk-Car, If You Like

Amazon Delivery - By Crunk-Car, If You Like

Jeff Bezos of Amazon is one very smart guy and when he announces that he is interested in drones delivering your next online order that makes for a lot of grandstanding.

But really how is a dumb drone delivering an order of diapers or a book so exciting.

Aside from putting a lot of delivery people at USPS, UPS, and FedEx out of work, what does the consumer get out of it?

Honestly, I don’t care if if the delivery comes by Zike-Bike, Crunk-Car, Zumble-Zay, Bumble-Boat, or a Gazoom, as Dr. Seuss would say–I just care that it gets here fast, safely, and cheaply.

Will a drone be able to accomplish those things, likely–so great, send the drone over with my next order, but this doesn’t represent the next big technological leap.

It doesn’t give us what the real world of robotics in the future is offering: artificial intelligence, natural language processing, augmentation of humans, or substitution by robots altogether, to do things stronger, faster, and more precisely, and even perhaps companionship to people.

Turning surveillance and attack drones into delivery agents is perhaps a nice gesture to make a weapon into an everyday service provider.

And maybe the Octocopters even help get products to customers within that holy grail, one day timeframe, that all the retailers are scampering for.

It’s certainly a great marketing tool–because it’s got our attention and we’re talking about it.

But I’ll take a humanoid robot sporting a metallic smile that can actually interact with people, solve problems, and perform a multitude of useful everyday functions–whether a caregiver, a bodyguard, or even a virtual friend (e.g. Data from Star Trek)–over a moving thingamajig that Dr. Seuss foresaw for Marvin K. Mooney. 😉

The Galaxy S4 Is Crap

The Galaxy S4 Is Crap

Okay, it takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong.

Reference my blog “How Apple Is Losing Its Fan” dated August 10, 2013.

After testing the Galaxy S4 for the last 5 days, I can honestly say, I was wrong!

I hate the Galaxy device, and am returning it tonight!

Despite a dearth of recent innovation from Apple, their iPhone is SO MUCH better than the Galaxy.

Do NOT listen to the stats comparing them!

The battery on the Galaxy was horrendous, and after never running out of juice on the iPhone, I got a warning message yesterday on the Galaxy that the battery was almost dead after only 8+ hours of use!

Also, syncing it up with my car system was clumsy and annoying compared to the iPhone which did it seamlessly everyday.

Even simply syncing up music, videos, and so on with iTunes required a 3rd party app to facilitate this.

Checking email was a pain as there were separate icons for Gmail and the for all other email (yahoo etc.), so this very basic feature was not consolidated.

The cheap material on the Galaxy, even with the nice case I got, made it feel like the crappy buttons would break anytime.

But most important, the integration of the Apple iPhone ecosystem is so much tighter than on the Galaxy–whereas everything on the iPhone works the first time and every time, the Galaxy is an annoying hit or miss.

Everything on the Galaxy felt to me like more clicks, more annoying messages, less intuitive interface, and like I just wanted to toss it into the trash.

When the lady said she completed my switchback over to the iPhone, I only had one thing to say–thank G-d!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

How Apple Is Losing Its Fans

How Apple Is Losing Its Fans

Without a lift, Apple is already (and unfortunately) on the way down.

IDC reports that the recent quarter global smartphone shipments show Android with an almost 80% market share compared to Apple’s flimsy 13%.

I’ve been a diehard Apple fan for years (and I still love them, but…)

Years ago, I converted all my Windows computers and even my old Android phones.

Apple was innovative, sleek, and intuitive to use.

But since Steve Jobs passed, the company has lost its mojo.

Siri was a bust and what else have they done since.

Google is leading the way with Glass for wearable technology.

Apple is disappointing its consumers, and their stock plummet from over $700 to the upper $300s (now in the mid $400’s) shows investor sentiment.

Out comes the Samsung Galaxy S4 and I am salivating–the differences from the iPhone 5 make them “almost” not comparable.

Thought I’d wait for Chanukah, but the opportunity came early and so I am now a proud owner.

A couple of days earlier, a young women on the Metro was using the Galaxy and I asked how she liked it–she said she loved it, mentioned the big screen and all the free apps, and then went on to say that her mom also just switched over from the iPhone and loves the Galaxy too.

What is it about the Galaxy?

The larger 5″ screen on the Galaxy versus 4″on the iPhone 5 is the first thing you notice–and yes, when it comes to doing email, reading news articles, or watching video, size does matter!

Also, the Galaxy has Corning Gorilla glass and a higher 2.85 resolution and 35.28% higher pixel density–so it is strong and sharp and images really come out looking like a beautiful work of art.

Also with air gesture, you can just wave your hand to navigate pages and not get fingerprints and smudges all over the screen.

The camera is another huge difference: the Galaxy is 13 megapixels compared to only 8 for the iPhone and if you like taking photos that don’t look like they came from a smartphone, this is a better way to do it.

In terms of speed, the Galaxy again outperforms the iPhone, it has 2 gigabyte of RAM versus only 1 for the iPhone and its CPU is 2.46 as fast. I was able to transfer my entire iTunes music library in just a couple of minutes.

Finally, battery power is key and the Galaxy has 1.81x what the iPhone has–which basically makes it not necessary to get a heavy and costly Mophie external battery pack for it.

While there are many features I like better on Galaxy s4, the one thing I’d recommend Samsung improve on is the body, which is a cheaper plastic compared to the iPhones aluminum, but once you have a solid case on it, it doesn’t really matter for the end user experience.

Overall, Galaxy has out-done the iPhone, and I think the venerable and cash rich Apple, without some major new technology leaps and advances in design is under very real threat.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Dance Robot, Dance!

This robot has rhythm and can dance Gangnam Style.

It is called CHARLI-2 (Cognitive Humanoid Autonomous Robot with Learning Intelligence–Version 2).

Charlie was developed by Virginia Tech’s Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa).

At five feet tall, CHARLI is the United States’ “first full-size humanoid robot.”

Charlie can do things like walk, turn, kick, and gesture–he is agile and coordinated–and as you can see can even dance and also play soccer!

One of the things that makes CHARLI special is his stabilization technology–where it can orient itself using sensors such as gyroscopes.

According to Wired Magazine (19 October 2012), The Office of Naval Research has provided a grant of $3.5M to CHARLI’s creator to develop a nextgen robot called the Autonomous Shipboard Humanoid (ASH) to work aboard Navy ships in the future and interact with humans.

CHARLI won the Time Magazine “2011 Best Invention of the Year” as well as the Louis Vuitton Best Humanoid Award.

While the CHARLI robots still move relatively slowly, are a little awkward, and are almost in a child-like “I dunno state,” we are definitely making exciting progress toward the iRobot of the future–and I can’t wait till we get there.

For me, I see the potential and this robot can certainly dance circles around me, but that’s not saying much. 😉

RIM Is Doomed

Spiral
Judge David Young of Court TV has a frequent saying that “Denial is not a river in Egypt.”
 
When it comes to Research In Motion (RIM) the maker of the traditional organization mobile Blackberry device, denial now seems on par for their course.

On Tuesday (3 July 2012), the new CEO of RIM, Thorstein Heins was quoted as saying “There’s nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now.”

Yet since Mr. Heins took over RIM in January, the company’s stock is down 50% and is down more than 90% from it’s mid-2008 highs.

BlackBerry continues to lose out to stronger competitors like the iPhone and Android. On May 25, Digital trends reported in an article called “Poor BlackBerry” on IDC’s 2nd quarter 2012 marketshare numbers for Smartphones with Android at around 60%, iPhone at 23%, and Blackberry at a mere 6%.

Further the new Blackberry 10 has been twice delayed, and RIM announced it’s first operating loss in eight years, as it plans to downsize 5,000 employees (or a third of its workforce).

In the self-help industry, it is frequently said that the first step to getting better is to recognize that you have a problem.

In the case of RIM–we are looking at a company that unfortunately is either playing it too cool to be real with their customers and the marketplace, or they are in a deep and dangerous case of utter denial.

 
Either way, unless RIM takes decisive action soon–and that means first and foremost, coming to terms with their predictment and second, coming out with some major new disruptive technology for the mobile marketplace–they are doomed to the annals of tech history.
 
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Steve Jurvetson)

Better A Rock Than A Pebble

Pebble is coming out with a Smartwatch that connects via wireless Bluetooth to either iPhone or Android devices.

It can be used for getting messages, including from Twitter and Facebook, as well as for caller id, music controls, GPS, and more.

And you can download more apps from the watch app store.

Pebble uses a high resolution ePaper display technology, has a vibrating motor, microprocessor, accelerometer, and the battery can run for up to 7 days.

It has been crowdfunded through Kickstarter website and has since April sold, pre-order, approximately 85,000 watches at a $115 pop.

While I like the idea of being able to get information in more convenient form factors whether as a watch, glasses (like Google is working on) or other device configuration, I think the Pebble has a way to go in terms of it’s particular design.

Honestly. the Pebble looks cheap and chincy to me. The device looks too plasticy. The colors seem more geared towards kids.

Additionally, the screen looks way too small to be very useful except for the most basic alerts, but maybe this is all to make lighter and more mobile.

I plan to wait for something a little more substantial and with a larger screen.

A ruggedized version would be especially appealing including water, shock, and dust resistant and so on.

Perhaps the crowdfunding model has worked for this smartwatch for people looking to get the latest technology or even make a fast buck, but I think a little more crowdsourcing, in terms of customer requirements and feedback, would make an even better product for all.