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But to me, the rides alternate between fake or nauseating (when they’re not broken down), the characters are outdated, the parks are hot, overcrowded, and the lines and wait times are long, and the ticket prices are sort of crazy for what you’re getting (not).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

The Sony Wig Nut

The Sony Wig Nut

Sony has so missed the mobile technology revolution.

In desperation, Sony has filed a patent for the SmartWig.

How incredibly useful (uh, not)?

Your faux hairdo can dial your hairdresser and make your next appointment for you.

It can locate via GPS the nearest salon.

And the SmartWig can even take selfies while you admire yourself in the mirror.

While Sony is goofing around again, and hasn’t had a hit since the to die for Sony televisions of yore (and let’s not forget the Walkman from 1980s), Google is moving out with bravado on Glass.

Google is getting display space for Glass in eyeglass retailers, and working with opticians to make prescription lens eye-Glass.

Let’s just say one company gets wearable technology and the other is hiding under wigs in The Technology Hall of Shame.

Then again, one customer may be interested in talking with Sony—the CIA for undercover operations.

Maybe a Smart Groucho Marx mustache that automatically shakes out the soup after you eat would be a cool new product, as well–go for it Sony!

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Annetta)

When GPS Takes You Down The Wrong Path

When GPS Takes You Down The Wrong Path

Mashable is reporting that a team of university students from University of Texas at Austin were able to spoof the GPS receivers on an $80 million yacht with false signals and make it veer off course without anyone even noticing!

I remember a couple of years ago, I was heading to an offsite meeting for work.

It was planned for a location that I wasn’t extremely familiar with.

Of course, I turned on my GPS device in the car and set the destination.

It was a cold snowy day–the roads were iced–and it was already treacherous driving.

But I followed the GPS directions to a T.

I ended up in someone’s backyard–at a dead end–practically in the middle of a cornfield.

I’m thinking to myself Crap!–what type of crazy GPS is this?

Thank G-d, I had my smartphone in my pocket and I opened up the GPS app on it and set the destination again.

Sure enough, it takes me off and running to the meeting location–about 10 minutes away!

Some things I learnt:

1) OMG, we are so very dependent on our technology; with technology gone wrong, I was stuck in nowhere land USA; with it right–I got out of there and to the correct location and thank G-d.

2) GPS is a capability that is critical for everything from getting us to where we need to go to getting our missiles to hit on target. Take away or mess with our GPS and we end up missing the mark–potentially big time and with devastating consequences.

3) Always have a backup, plan B. One GPS can be wrong as in this case, while the other GPS was correct. Redundancy and contingency planning is a must have, period.

4) When you’re heading down the wrong road (or you’re off course in international waters), man up and admit it and make a course correction. You don’t win any brownie points for continuing to drive into the cornfields. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Remembering Every Moment

I saw a frightening movie a while back about a girl that had been drugged and brutally raped. 

In the movie, the girl is eerily warned, “You won’t remember, but you will never forget!”

That line leaves an indelible mark–that something can be so horrific, so scaring that you can’t recall it, and can’t forget it. 

Now there is a new device coming to market that helps you recall everything.

Memoto is a 5 megapixel tiny camera (36 x 36 millimeters) with an embedded GPS that is worn around the neck, like a necklace. 

When clipped on, it starts taking the phones and when put down or in a pocket it shuts off. 

The Memoto takes 2 photos a minutes (1 every 30 seconds or nearly 3,000 a day if worn all the time).

The photos are stored in an accessible cloud app that uses GPS to sort the photos on a timeline with a date and location stamp.

Photos are private by default, but can be shared using traditional social media, such as to Facebook or Twitter. 

The battery lasts about 2 days and is rechargeable by connecting to your computer at which time the photos are uploaded to Memoto’s servers. 

Wear, photograph, recharge/upload and repeat. 

Privacy issues abound with a device like this–imagine wearing this into the bathroom, locker room, bedroom, or even a private corporate meeting–lots of embarrassing and compromising no-no’s here!

At the same time, imagine all the precious or memorable moments in life that you can capture and enjoy–it’s the realization of the photographic memory you’ve never had, but always wanted. 

Also think of that rapist or other criminal approaching you–getting photographed, caught, and punished–so that the victim really does remember, and can forget with a new peace of mind. 😉

A Shocking Bra To Stop Attackers

A Shocking Bra To Stop Attackers

In the medieval times, to help ensure fidelity of partners and protect against rape, they invented something called a chastity belt–I am sure you get it.

There is one for women and there is another one fitted for men.

Now in light of the horrible rape attacks in India, 3 female students in India’s SRM University have developed an anti-rape bra that literally shocks attackers.

The bra is called “SHE” (for Society Harnessing Equipment) and unlike the chastity belt of the olden-days, this bra according to Popular Science delivers 3,800 kv to attackers.

Women can activate the bra when they feel unsafe and it is pressure sensitive and is calibrated to be able to differentiate say a hug from something more violent.

The woman is insulated from getting shocked by a polymer lining on the inside.

The bra is also being outfitted so the pressure sensor sends a Bluetooth signal to your smartphone to send text message alerts to family or friends and the police with your GPS location.

I want to end with a quote from one of the students as to their inspiration for this innovative anti-rape bra:

“Studying in a convent girls school, we were always taught to be good to everyone and bear a cheerful smile. After stepping into the real, cruel world, we realized that our smile could not last for long as the threat to our purity and integrity always lingered on…Hence, we have initiated the idea of self-defense, which protect the women from domestic, social and workplace harassment.”

While I hope these students don’t believe that everyone in the world is cruel, I applaud these young women for doing something positive to help protect women worldwide.

I don’t know how practical this anti-rape bra will end up being (i.e. wearing something that produces a dangerous shock), this is a good step in thinking about how to make women less of a target and increase the risk to any would-be attacker. 😉

(Source Photo: adapted from here with attribution to Nicolas Sanguinetti)

Modesty In A Social Media World

Ijml

New “love” app out of the U.K. called I Just Made Love (IJML).

This one is not for the modest or privacy-conscious.

The app is available for download for both the iPhone and Android.

Essentially, people are going out and using location-based services (i.e. GPS) and self-identifying their love-making–act by act. We’re up to 194,000+ already!

Not to be gross, but the app lets people not only report on doing the act and where, but also using check boxes with icons, you can identify the details such as the context: couch, indoor and outdoor, as well as how: 5 top positions–which is way more information than I care to hear about.

In our often hedonistic society, there are of course, other services such as Four-Square that lets you broadcast where you fulfill other bodily pleasures like eating, drinking, and shopping.

Personally, I don’t care to know what people are doing or where–too intrusive for my liking. But I can see why others may want to use FourSquare type apps (not IJML or who knows) with friends and family who may want to connect in this way–like to meet for Happy Hour at Old Town.

And certainly, marketers are interested in capturing valuable personal information on what you are doing, where and with whom, and using it to drive their sales and profits. Maybe you get a coupon out of it. 🙂

With the love app, it seems like some people want to brag, appear the Don Juan, raise their “macho” social status, or just perhaps enjoy being exhibitionists.

From my perspective, the main pro of this app is to promote the concept (not the act itself) of love over things like war, hate, discrimination, etc.

Even with that being said, it seems like some things are just better off left as intimate moments between you and your special other.

Interesting to me, this topic of disclosure came up big time in the Orthodox Jewish world with the publication in the Yeshiva University Beacon (5 December 2011) of a much written-about article entitled “How Do I Even Begin To Explain This,” where a frum Jewish girl from Stern College discloses her story of illicit rendezvous in a hotel room with a gentlemen and at the same time the “walk of shame the day after.”

The dichotomy between her “Orthodox” beliefs and her “secular” actions and her publication of this article in a Yeshiva newspaper and her explicit description of sexual deeds is a perfect example of the tear in our society between privacy and social probity on one hand, and the desire or need to share and be “free” of all constraints on the other.

As a social commentary, we are at a point where it seems that nothing is real unless we share it with others, and that can be good or bad–it can lead to greater wisdom and societal advancement or it can lead us to do things we shouldn’t do, are sorry we did, and where we feel shame afterwards.

Decloaking The Adversary

Romulan_warbird_decloaking

Yes, we lost a drone in Iran and they won’t give it back–that stinks!

Initially, the word coming out was it was a mishap, an accident, but the Iranians claimed otherwise–that they brought it down.

Who believed that they could actually do that?

Then there was word that the craft being displayed by the Iranians was a fake, a mock-up, only to reversed with a confirmation, as reported in Christian Science Monitor, that the drone “is almostly certainly the one lost by U.S. forces.”

Well now, InformationWeek is reporting (16 December 2011) that Iran really did bring down the stealth drone as well as how they claim to have done it.

First they jammed the communications of the RQ-170 Sentinel, so that with its command, control, and communications (C3) no longer intact, it was forced to go into autopilot and rely on GPS signals to find its way.

Then, the Iranians spoofed the GPS signal making the Sentinel think it was landing at a U.S. base rather than right into hostile territory.

If this is true, then not only is all the captured sensitive technology aboard the craft (such as radar, fuselage, coating, and electronics) in jeopardy of being comprised by reverse engineering, but also as the article states, the Iranians may have demonstrated the means to be able to literally “divert any GPS-guided missiles launched at targets inside its borders.”

Quite a scary thought when according to Reuters reports, Iran is less than a year from going nuclear!

So what is the truth and what is misinformation (PsyOps) to confuse or outwit the enemy and how much does any of that really matter if the Iranians have possession of our advanced technology along with the time and the nefarious partners to study it and use it against us?

Or perhaps, this is a great ruse by us and we intended for the Iranians to get the drone–tick, tick, tick… 😉

We live in a new sophisticated world of electronic and cyber warfare and that combined with nukes makes for some truly dangerous scenarios.

Finally, we should never underestimate the capabilities or intent of our adversaries–surprise may be the the most potent enemy of them all.

(Source Photo: here)