The Calorie Count Cookie

Fortune Cookie Calories
So we were out with family at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant. 



And at the end of the meal, of course there were fortune cookies to be had.



As someone opened the cookie, and was about to plop it in her mouth, she said, “Ah, there goes another 100 calories!”



Then I thought for a moment, and said, “wouldn’t it be great (for those of us watching our weight), if every food had an edible embedded chip and display that would flash the calorie count as you picked it up and were about to put it in your mouth. 



Rather than those esoteric calorie counts on the side of packages for G-d knows what serving sizes, you get a play-by-play count every time you reach, pick up, and are about to ingest the next big gulp.



I think having calorie counts tied to real portions and having these in your face in real time as you are eating could have a huge impact on portion size and weight control. 



It may not be sexy to see the calories in your face as you eat, but boy could it be healthy. 😉



Copyright to Andy Blumenthal



(Source Photo: Me)

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Time To Spread The Magic

Time To Spread The Magic

So I’m not the biggest fan of Disney theme parks — maybe that is not a popular thing to write.

But to me, the rides alternate between fake or nauseating (when they’re not broken down), the characters are outdated, the parks are hot, overcrowded, and the lines and wait times are long, and the ticket prices are sort of crazy for what you’re getting (not).

Let’s see, a day at Disney or day at the beach–uh, I’ll take the beach any day!

But Disney is doing something magical these days.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports how Disney’s new MagicBands are using technology to make the theme park experience more convenient, even if not more fun.

The MagicBands are like an all-in-one electronic link between you and Disney:

– No need for an admission ticket, because the MagicBand does that.

– Reserve your favorite rides, use your wrist band.

– Hotel room keys, that’s right the band unlocks your door.

– Shopping at Disney kingdom, the band functions as your debit/credit card.

– Being greeted by name or wished a happy birthday, the bands make your experience more personal.

What’s more Disney uses the bands for “big data” analytics–for capturing your likes and preferences for rides, restaurants, food, and souvenirs–and this adds up to customer service enhancements like restocking shelves, opening up reservations, expedited queues, and even targeted mail and text messaging/advertising.

The bands have radio frequency identification tag/chips (RFID) as well as GPS sensors, so Disney knows who you are, where you are, and even much of what you’re doing.

Spooky from a privacy standpoint–sure, you are really sitting there exposed in just about every way.

But this technology has arrived, not just at Disney, but via embedded RFID in your smartphones or your body someday soon.

The synthesis of man and machine…the mystery is gone in the magic kingdom, but maybe the service gets better. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What A Waste Of Coin

What A Waste Of Coin

Coming to work this week, I saw a penny on the ground…then another…and another.

I saw people passing the money, and instead of picking it up, they kicked in off the curb.

That’s even worse than throwing them into the fountain where at least you might get some good luck from it.

Thus, the state of our minting of coinage–it’s essentially worthless.

After getting a pretty basic Venti Java Chip at Starbucks for a whopping $5.45, I quickly calculated, I would need 545 pennies,109 nickles, 54.5 dimes, or 21.8 quarters o pay for this–how ridiculous!

And uh, how many of these would you need to pay someone one hour at the new proposed minimum wage of $10.10 if you did it in coins?

Otherwise, I could just give them a credit or debit card–yes, sort of a no brainer, right?

Why do we keep making coinage that no one wants or needs in the digital age?

We have direct deposit for payroll, automatic deductions for many expenses, online banking, ecommerce , credit and debit cards, paypal, and even bitcoin…let’s just be honest and admit it, traditional money is basically obsolete.

At Starbucks, I see many people now just use their Smartphone App to pay and get rewards–another advance.

Someday soon, we will have embedded chips that simply add and deduct payments as we go along and live life–it’s really not all that complicated.

The funny thing also is that it costs more to make many coins then their intrinsic worth–and hence the drive towards making coins with cheaper materials.

According to Business Insider, in 2012, a penny cost 2.4 cents to make and a nickle 11.2 cents–quite a losing proposition.

While there truly are some valuable coins out there and I appreciate that there are many coin lovers and collectors–numismatists–perhaps there are alternate hobbies to consider.

A colleague once told me that “If you watch your pennies, the dollars will follow”–and that may be some good investement advice, but in a 24/7 society and after decades of inflation, there isn’t enough time or room to collect all the pennies we would need to make much of a difference.

ABC News reports that while our northern brother, Canada, got rid of the penny in 2012, we still make something like 5 billion of these useless things a year.

Full disclosure: my first job in Washington, D.C. was for the U.S. Mint, and while there were good things about it, I could never feel good about the mission–it just had no purpose. 😉

All Opinions my own.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Maura Teague)

Medical Hacks

Medical Hacks

Usually when we talk about the dangers of cyber attacks, we are concerned with the dangers of someone stealing, spying, or systematically corrupting our information systems.

But Barnaby Jack who died last week at age 35 brought us awareness of another, more personal and perhaps dangerous hack…that of hacking medical devices.

Barnaby, a director at computer security firm IOActive, became known first in 2010 for being able to hack at cash machine and have it dispense money.

In 2012, he drew attention to a flaw in insulin pumps whereby someone could cause it to administer a fatal dose to its unknowing victim.

This week, Barnaby was going to demonstrate how heart implants could be hacked, killing a man from 30 feet away.

With advances in the miniaturization and battery life of personal medical devices and implants for monitoring and managing patients health, more and more people could be exposed to malicious or murderous cyber attacks on their body.

With the potential for RFID embedded chips for managing our personal identities to bionics for replacing or enhancing human body parts with electronic and mechanical implants, the opportunity for someone seriously messing with our physical person grows each day.

If dangerous vulnerabilities are discovered and exploited in these devices, an enemy could go from the traditional attack on our information systems to potentially sickening, disabling, or even killing millions at the stroke of some keys.

Imagine people keeling over in the streets as if from a surprise attack by a superior alien race or the release of a deadly chemical weapon, only it’s not extraterrestrial or kinetic, but instead a malevolent cyber attack by a hostile nation or cyber terrorist group taking aim at us in a whole new and horrible way.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Bhakua)

The War Over Wearables

The War Over Wearables

Google Glass or its wearable technology alternatives from Apple and others is going to be huge.

This is one time that I disagree with many of the pundits interviewed by the Wall Street Journal (30 May 2013) that say that the future of wearable technology is still “out of focus.”

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, who is presumably playing catch-up with Google Glass says that Glass will be “difficult” to succeed with as a mainstream product.

Similarly, another unnamed technology executive said “wearing Google Glass looked a bit silly and borderline obnoxious.”

I don’t know about you, but I read a lot of fear and jealousy by these companies rather than disdain or contempt.

On the pother hand, Mary Meeker, the famous venture capitalist specializing in computers and the Internet, gets it right when she says that wearable computers would be the star of the “third cycle” of the web, and that the world has already entered the phase of “wearables, driveables, flyables, and scannables”

The first two, Glass and driverless cars is where Google has its first mover advantage, and flyable drones and scannable 3-D printing are already having huge impacts in the War on Terror and industrial design and manufacturing.

When wearable technologies are combined with embedded chips, we are going to have a whole new augmented reality experience.

Apparently many interviewed by the Journal saw a “very large gulf between the current [wearable] technology and mass adoption,” but Meeker who knows the Internet is one step ahead here seeing the potential of the emerging technology, rather than the short-sightedness of those without Glass. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Ars Electronica)

Kurzweil, Right and Wrong

Kurzweil, Right and Wrong

Ray Kurzweil the famous futurist is an amazing person, but like everyone he has his good and bad days.

When it comes to the Singularity–Kurzweil had a very good day.

With the accelerating speed of technology change, the advent of super intelligence and superhuman powers is already here (and continuing to advance) with:

Smartphones all-in-one devices give us the power of the old mainframe along with the communication capabilities to inform and share by phone, text, photo, video, and everything social media.

Google Glass is bringing us wearable IT and augmented reality right in front of our very eyes.

Exoskeletons and bioengineering is giving us superhuman strength and ability to lift more, run faster and further, see and hear better, and more.

Embedded chips right into our brains are going to give us “access to all the world’s information” at the tip of our neural synapses whenever we need it (Wall Street Journal).

In a sense, we are headed toward the melding of man and machine, as opposed to theme of the Terminator movie vision of man versus machine–where man is feared to lose in a big way.

In man melded with machine–we will have augmentations in body and brain–and will have strength, endurance, and intelligence beyond our wildest dreams.

However, Kurzweil has a bad day is when it comes to his prediction of our immortality.

Indeed, Kurzweil himself, according to the Journal “takes more than 150 pills and supplements a day” believing that we can “outrun our own deaths.”

Kurzweil mistakenly believes that the speed of medical evolution will soon be “adding a year of life expectancy every year,” so if only we can live until then, we can “Live long enough to live forever.”

But, just as our super intelligence will not make us omniscient, and our superhuman powers will not make us omnipotent or omnipresent, our super advances in medicine will not make us, as we are, immortal.

Actually, I cannot even imagine why Kurzweil would want to live forever given his fear-inspiring Singularity, where advances in machine and artificial intelligence outpaces man’s own evolutionary journey.

Kurzweil should knock off some of the pills and get back to humankind’s learning and growth and stop his false professing that humans will become like G-d, instead of like a better humans. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)