Innovation Infertility

The 7 Skinny Cows

Many of you may have probably the seen the movie, “Children of Men,”–it is themed around a time in the future when women are infertile (because of pathology, pollution, drugs, or whatever) and the world is in chaos–for what is life without children to carry on?

Fortunately, in the movie, after 18 years, one woman does get pregnant and bears a child and there is hope in the scientific community for a resurgence of humankind.

Unfortunately, we are now in a similar period of technology, where big innovation of yesterday has come grinding to a miserable saunter.

When the biggest news leaking out of superstar innovator, Apple is the potential for an iWatch–uh, not exactly earth shattering, we know we are in innovator’s hell!

And vendors from Apple to Samsung and Sony trying to come out with some sort of voice activated television–again, who doesn’t hate the TV clicker, but really this is not going to revolutionize our entertainment center days.

With hundreds of thousands of apps available for everything from social networking, eCommerce, gaming, and more, it seems like there are more copycat apps then anything else coming out these days–where’s the real wow factor?

Microsoft can’t find it’s way in a mobile world, the mighty Intel has been supplanted by ARM with mobile chips, Marissa Mayer is trying to figure out how to remake the jump for joy, Yahoo, relevant again, as are the Vanderhook brothers and Justin Timberlake trying to do for MySpace.

With the overemphasis on the form factor making bigger and smaller sizes and shapes for computing devices, we seesaw between iPod Classics and Nanos and between iPads and Minis. But where are the great functional enhancements? Yeah, ask Siri.

Similarly in computing architecture, we have latched unto cloud computing as the next great savior of IT-mankind, ignoring the repackaging again of the mainframe into a cool new computing model again, and relegating the prior go-to architecture of distributed computing as the evil twin. Sure, we can save some bucks until the pendulum swings back toward more decentralization and agility again.

In social computing, with Facebook what can you say–it’s got a billion users, but virtually not a single one would pay a dime to use it. If not for marketers scooping up our personal information online and advertisers annoying us with their flashing and protruding pop-ups, we continue to trade privacy for connectedness, until we lose too much of ourselves to identity thieves and snooping sources, and we fall back clamoring for more protection.

In security, we are getting clobbered by cyber intrusions, cyber espionage, and cyber attacks–everyday! We can’t seem to figure out the rules of cyberspace or how to protect ourselves in it. We can’t even find enough qualified people to fight the cyber fight.

I was surprised that even magazine, Fast Company, which prides itself on finding the next great innovation out there, states this month (April 2013), “Growing uncertainty in tech is creating chaos for startups, consumers, and investors…nobody has a non-obvious new social business model that can scale.”

As in the movie, Children of Men, we are suffering from an infertility of innovation–whether from burnout, a focus on short-term profit instead of long-term R&D investments, declining scores in STEM, or a lack of leadership–we are waiting for the next pregnancy so we can have hope again, but are disappointed that so many are false positives or overhyped prophets.

One of the things, I am most excited about is Google Glass and their concept of augmented reality, but the glasses are geeky and will need to be package in a lot more eloquent solution to really be practical in our futures.

The next great thing will come–life is a great cycle–but as in the Bible with 7 fat cows and 7 skinny cows, leading to the great famine in Egypt, we are now seeing lots of skinny cows walking around and it is darn scary. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When Incremental Improvement isn’t Enough

When Incremental Improvement isn't Enough

One of the things that I love about the Intelligence Community (IC) is that they think future and they think big.

Noah Schactman in Wired Magazine (12 December 12–great date!), gave a snapshot view of 2030 as provided by the National Intelligence Council (NIC).

Some of the predictions (or aspirations) include:

– Bioprinting such as creating 3-D printed organs (how’s that for your orchestrating your own organ transplant?)

– Retinal implants for night vision thermal imaging, seeing the distance without binoculars, or even one-upping Google Glass by providing augmented reality in your eye instead of over it

– Brain chips for superhuman thought and recall (those without remain doomed to brain farts, in comparison)

– Bioweapons where DNA is used to target and take out people by genetically engineering viruses to attack them, specifically, without leaving any markers

– People embedded in machines–reminiscent of when Ripley in the movie Alien enters in an exoskelton robotic suit to kick some Alien butt!

Other predictions include: megacities, climate change, big data clouds, aging populations, and more drones.

While some of these advances are incremental in nature–for example genetic engineering and bioweapons are incremental steps from DNA sequencing of humans.

However, other leaps are more dramatic.

An article by Stephen Levy in Wired (17 January 2013) discusses how Larry Page (one of the Google founders) strives for inventions that are magnitudes of “10x” (often actually 100x) better than the status quo, rather than just 10% improvements.

Google has many examples of leaping ahead of the competition: from its transformative search engine which has become synonymous with search itself to Gmail which came out with 100x the storage of its competitors, Translations for the entire web from/to any language, Google Fiber with broadband at 100x faster than industry speeds prototyped in Kansas City, Google Books providing a scanned and searchable archive of our global collection of books and magazines, Google+ for social media (this one, I see as just a Facebook copycat–to get on Facebook’s nerves!), Google Maps for getting around, Android their open platform operating system for mobile devices, and even self-driving cars–many of these are developed by Google X–their secret skunk work lab.

I really like Google’s concept of going for the “moon shot” rather than just tweaking technology to try and stay ahead of the competition, temporarily.

And as in space, there is so much territory to explore, Google believes it is attacking just .1% of the opportunities out there, and that the tech industry as a whole is attacking maybe 1% in aggregate–that leaves 99% or plenty of opportunity for all innovators and inventors out there.

To get to 2030 and beyond–we’re just at the tip of the innovation iceberg! 😉

Technology Forecast 2013

Technology_forecast_2013_-_and

I am an avid follower of everything technology and trends, but am tired of hearing about cloud, mobile, and social computing.

It’s time to get over it with the agenda of the past and get on with it with the future of technology.

In the attached graph is my Technology Forecast 2013, and here is where I see us going forward:

1) Service Provision–Cost-cutting and consolidation into the cloud is a wonderful idea and it has had it’s time, but the future will follow consumer products, where one flavor does not fit all, and we need to have globalization with a local flavor to provide for distinct customer requirements and service differentiators, as well as classified, proprietary and private systems and information.

2) Service Delivery–Mobile is here and the iPhone is supreme, but the future belongs to those that deliver services not only to remote devices, but in wearable, implantable, and even human augmentation.

3) Human Interaction–Social computing epitomized by Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many more is a cool way in interact with others virtually, but wall posts, email, and chats are getting cliche–next up conjoining with others with capabilities such as telepathic communication, mind melding collaboration, and even virtual sex for the outlandish.

4) Robotics and Artificial Intelligence–With something like 10,000 drones flying the friendly and not-so friendly skies and even drones that autonomously land on aircraft carriers, the next robot is coming to the ground near you–drones will become (an)droids and will eventually have the AI to become part of our everyday society.

5) Service Assurance–Enough playing defense with a sprinkling of offense against our worst enemies–it’s past time to move from trying to stop-gap infiltrators and do damage control once we’ve been robbed blind, and instead move to a hunter-killer mentality and capability–the price of being a bad boy on the Internet goes way up and happens in realtime.

6) Data Analytics–Big data isn’t a solution, it’s the problem. The solution is not snapshot pretty graphics, but realtime augmented reality–where data is ingrained in everything and transparent realtime–and this becomes part of our moment-by-moment decision processes.

7) Biotechnology–Biometrics sounds real cool–and you get a free palm reading at the same time, but the real game changer here is not reading people’s bio signatures, but in creating new ones–with not only medical cures, but also new bio-technological capabilities.

8) Nanotechnology–Still emerging, quantum mechanics is helping us delve into the mysteries of the universe, with applications for new and advanced materials, but the new buzzword will be nano-dust, where atomic and molecular building blocks can be used on-the-fly to build anything, be anywhere, and then recycled into the next use.

Overall, I see us moving from mass produced, point-to-point solutions to more integrated end-to-end solutions that fit individual needs–whether through continued combinations of hardware, software, and services, man-machine interfaces/integration, and building blocks that can be shaped and reused again and again.

From my perspective, there a seeming lull in innovation, but the next big leap is around the corner.

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

iGlasses, Your Next Smartphone

Yesterday, a hyped-up video came out by Google on Project Glass.

Basically this is Star Trek-type glasses that provide everything that’s on your smartphone plus some augmented reality, where real world sensation is augmented with computer-generated information.

The video shows the glasses integrated with functionality for email/messaging/phones calls, photos/videos, music, reminders, weather, maps/directions, transportation updates, and more.

Aside from the integration into the glasses themselves, they really didn’t demonstrate any major new technologies–and was sort of disappointing actually.

It reminds of Google+, which came out and didn’t add anything much new over FaceBook, and hence hasn’t really caught on–copycatting just isn’t enough in the high-tech industry, where real innovation is what’s valued.

While I like the idea of more and better ways of getting the types of information and functionality that’s on your smartphone, I really don’t think glasses is the way to go.

Frankly, after having LASIK surgery more than 12 years ago, I am so happy not to have to wear those obtrusive frames on my face anymore, and I certainly wouldn’t want to go back.

I would envision having these functions either built microscopically into contact lens or projected by mini-wearable cameras in front of you as a true reality overlay–and I think Minority Report thought of that one first.

The only way that I would even consider wearing glasses for this was if Apple made them and called them iGlasses. 😉

Fitting Every Consumer A VIP

Check out this new augmented reality virtual fitting room technology called Virtual Interactive Podium (VIPodium) by Russian Company, Fitting Reality.
Using Kinect, motion-sensing technology, you use simple gestures to:
– Select, mix and match, and try on clothes in 3-D.
– Twirl around and see yourself in 360-degrees
Take pictures, email them or share them on Facebook
Get outfit information including sizing, and
– Place clothing in wish lists for future consideration or into the online shopping cart for purchase
Here is another video of a very cool implementation of this technology at the men and women’s TopShop store in Moscow.
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The people are visibly engaged and excited shopping and trying on clothes using the latest here for “tech-savy fashionistas.”
Honestly though, I see this more as an augmentation to the physical fitting rooms, in terms of helping select clothes, rather than a replacement, since really seeing how something fits, means actually putting the outfit on.
VIPodium beats simply holding up an new outfit to yourself and looking in the mirror, but it doesn’t come close to seeing how it really feels when it’s when you put it on.
However, add in the interactive social media features, available information, and ability to shop online and I think you got something that makes every consumer feel like a VIP.
Happy shopping!

Images, Alive And Profitable

Luminate

“There are nearly 4 trillion images on the Internet and 200 million new ones being added each day,” according to Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) of Luminate.

Luminate (formerly Pixazza) has the vision of making all those images interactive through image recognition algorithms and human-assisted crowdsourcing to identify objects and tag the images with content.

They “transform static images into interactive content,” according to the Luminate website.

The way it works:

1) Icon–look for the Luminate icon image in the lower left corner of the image that means the image in interactive.

2) Mouse–mouse over the image to choose from the interactive image apps.

3) Click–click on the images in the photo to shop and buy it (“Get The Look”), share information (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, email), or navigate (click on contextual hyperlinks from Wikipedia and other sources).

According to Forbes (27 July 2011), Luminate already “has more than 4,000 publishers, 150 million unique visitors per month, and more than 20 million products catalogued.”

The image-tagging platform provides context and information for consumers and revenue generating opportunities for producers–so it is a win-win for everyone in the marketplace!

By connecting end-user Internet images on the front-end with advertisers and commerce on the back-end, Luminate has found a way to integrate web-surfers and industry–no longer are advertisements on the web disconnected as pop-ups, banners, or lists from the Internet content itself.

Right now, there are apps for annotations, advertisements, commerce, and social media. Luminate plans to open up development to others to create their own for things such as apps for donations for disaster relief images or mapping and travel apps for images of places.

Luminate, as a photo-tagging and application service, is advancing our experience with the Internet by creating a richer experience, where a photo is not just a photo, but rather a potential gateway into everything in the photo itself.

In my view, this is a positive step toward a vision of a fully augmented reality, where we have a truly information-rich “tagged environment”, where everything around us–that we see and experience–is identified and analyzed, and sourced, and where the images of the world are alive no matter how or from what angle we look at them.

Lastly, my gut tells me that Google is heavily salivating over where this company is going and future developments in this field.

(Source Photo: here)

>The Eyes Have It

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In the last couple of weeks, a new innovation by Tobii for eye tracking technology built into the lid of laptop computers has been featured on CNN, the New York Times (March 27, 2011), and Bloomberg Businessweek (March 28-April 3, 2011)

Tobii allows users to “control their computers just by looking at them.

The eye tracker uses infrared lights (like those used in a TV’s remote control) to illuminate the pupils, and optical sensors on the computer screen capture the reflection. Tobii can determine the point of gaze and movement of the eyes to within 2 millimeters.

So forget the mouse–“just look at a particular location on the screen, and the cursor goes there immediately.”

This is a natural user interface that is fast and intuitive, generally halving the time needed for many chores.”

Eye tracking is being tested and planned by Tobii and others for the following

– Read text down the screen and it automatically scrolls. – Look at a window or folder to choose it. – Use a map by eyeing a location and then touching it to zoom. – Activate controls by holding a glaze for a quarter to half a second. – Play video games by moving through with your eyes. – Gaze at a character and they will stare back at you. – Leave your TV and it pauses until you return.

This technology has the potential to help disabled people (who cannot use a traditional mouse) as well as prevent strains and injuries by reducing some repetitive stress movement.

Within a couple of years, the cost of eye tracking technology is seen as coming down from tens of thousands of dollars to a couple of hundred dollars for a laptop clip-on device or even less for those built right in.

I think another important use for eye tracking is with augmented reality technology, so that as people navigate and look around their environment, sensors will activate that can provide them all sorts of useful information about what they are seeing.

Ultimately, where this is all going is the addition of a virtual 4th dimension to our vision–where information is overlaid and scrolling on everything around us that we look at, as desired.

This will provide us with an information rich environment where we can understand more of what we see and experience than ever before. Terminator, here we come! Augmented_reality