Jumping Jean Saves The Day

Metro

This was beyond my belief this evening–it is a true story!

As I was getting off the train, my iPhone slipped out of the OtterBox clip on my belt and fell…but it didn’t just fall down, it fell at the precise moment that I was disembarking the train and it fell perfectly vertically right between the small space between the train and the platform. 

I couldn’t believe it–I don’t think I could drop it through that way myself even if I tried. 

Sure enough the phone is laying in the rock bed on the tracks. 

As the train pulled out, I was sure it was a goner, but apparently it survived not only the fall, but also the train running over it as it lay there.

A woman next to me, saw the whole thing unfold and she says to me after the train pulls out–“if you’re going to get it, you better hurry up and do it now!”

I must’ve looked completely astonished when she said that as I peered over to the signage that said the next train was arriving in literally 1 minute!

I looked around for someone from the Metro to help, but no one was there. 

Out of nowhere, a young man rushes forward and says, “I can get it” and before I know it–he jumps into the tracks with the train approaching.

He did it so fast, picked up the smartphone, and jumped back out onto the platform, all in the nick of time–I’ve never seen anything like it–it was completely amazing. 

I was in disbelief that anyone would do something so crazy as to jump in front of an oncoming train to get a dropped phone that didn’t even belong to them–simply to help a fellow human being. 

I tried to help grab him onto the platform, shook his hand, thanked him profusely, and offered him a reward–he refused to even take that. 

On the train we sat together, and he told me about how he came from Cameroon where he had little opportunity and was working two jobs here, including helping seniors and working at McDonalds. He told me how he liked to help people–and that was more than evident to everyone who witnessed this. 

In the end, the iPhone was still working and Jean strengthened my faith in good people still out there. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal from a prior Metro ride)

Innovation Echtzing and Krechtzing

Make_a_difference

It used to be that either you were innovative or not.

Either you came up with out of the box thinking, new paradigms for doing things, cool new designs, and products and services using the latest and greatest technology–or you would eventually be dead in the marketplace and life.

Now as things seem to slow down a little on the innovators front–we’re echtzing and krechtzing (hemming and hawing) about what is innovation anyway?

The Wall Street Journal (5 October 2012) wrote about “The Innovator’s Enigma”–asking whether incremental innovation is real innovation.

For example, when P&G took the sleepy, drowsy part of the medication of NyQuil and made it into it’s own medicine called ZzzQuil–was that innovative or just “incremental, derivative.”

The article notes that big periods of explosive upheavals in innovation are often followed by “period of consolidation and then by valuable incremental innovation involving the same product.”

It’s almost like a lets face it–you can’t have the equivalent of the iPhone created every day–or can you?

When after the iPhone, people now ask for an iFighter (WSJ, 24 July 2012) and the real iRobot (like envisioned in the movie with Will Smith)–aren’t we talking about applying real breakthrough innovation to every facet of our lives?

With Apple coming forward with the integration model of innovation bringing together hardware and software –the bar has been raised on the expectation for innovation not just being functionally excellent, but design cool. Now, Fast Company states (October 2012), “good design is good business”

But even then innovation is questioned as to its real meaning and impact with Bloomberg BusinessWeek (2 August 2012) stating that “it’s easier to copy than to innovate” and “being inspired by a good product and seeking to make even better products is called competition.”

Here’s another from Harvard Business Review (April 2012) called “Celebrate Innovation, No Matter Where It Occurs” that calls out “adjacencies” as bona fide innovation too, where an adjacency is exploiting “related and nearby opportunities.” since inventions are often so large that “inventor’s can’t exploit them alone” and there are associated opportunities for other (think of new cool iPhone cases for the new cool iPhone).

One more thing I learned recently is that innovation isn’t just the great new product or service offering, but how you use it.

With Newsweek (17 September 2012), calling into question the iPhone’s “awkward invasion of the lavatory” with “not just phones, but tablets and e-readers and even our laptops” replacing the good ‘ol Reader’s Digest in the bathrooms around the world, then things have truly changed deep culturally and not just superficially technologically.

This message was brought home last year, when a friend told me how they dropped their iPhone in the toilet leading to a speedy drowning death for the smartphone, now not looking too smart anymore.

So innovation come in all shapes and sizes and can be mega big, incremental small, derivative, or even adjacent–the important thing is that we keep our thinking caps on and working towards better, faster, and cheaper all the time. 

Sometimes, I do look back and miss things or ways of doing them from the past, so innovation isn’t always–just by definition–a good thing, but what we really come up with and how we apply it perhaps can make all the difference. 

The perfect example for me is carving out some genuine space and quiet time to really think about life and innovate in what has become a 24/7 now always-on society that demands innovation but that often squashes it with incessant noise.

Turn down the noise, let innovation thrive afresh, and be sure you make a genuine difference, and whatever type it is that it is not just as they would say in Hebrew school more dreck (junk) or another narrishkeit (foolishness) in the making.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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)

G-d Doesn’t Have a Blackberry

G-d_connection

I saw this lovely and clever poem on Facebook posted by Yona Lunger, I assume a relative of the 11 year old girl who wrote this.

“Hashem” is the Jewish name for G-d.

And he is truly the center of our real and virtual worlds.

None of it would exist without him.

G-d keeps us all moving forward technologically–he is the greatest innovator of them all.

Thank you G-d!

(Source Poem–Chana Pessy Lunger)

iPhone With Ears

Iphone_with_ears

Here’s to a very stylish iPhone case.

As you can see it has bunny ears, and in pink nonetheless.

No, the rabbit ears are not like on old televisions of yesteryear where they served as the antenna that you moved up, down, and around and still couldn’t get any decent reception.

These ears are not for listening, but rather for e-f-f-e-c-t–style that is.

This is some Washington D.C. cool right back at you! 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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.

Nokia and Microsoft, Desperate Bedfellows

Acquire

A couple of hours ago, Nokia’s debt was downgraded by Moody’s to Junk!

Nokia was once the world largest vendor for mobile phones with almost 130,000 employees, but since the iPhone and Android, they have since fallen on hard times–who would’ve thought?

Just 16 months ago, in February 2011, Nokia announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to try and stem their losses by adopting Windows Mobile, but this was like a drowning victim grabbing on to whoever is nearby to try and save themselves but only ends up in a double drowning.

No, Microsoft is not drowning exactly, but their stock has been more or less flat from a decade ago and one of the worst large-tech stock performers for the last ten years!

Will the acquisition of Yammer for $1.2 billion this week change this trend–I doubt it.

Between Yammer for social networking and the acquisition of Skype for video-calling last year (May 2011) for yet another $8.5 billion, Microsoft is trying to fill some of it’s big holes in its technology portfolio, just like Nokia was trying to fill it’s gaping hole in mobile operating systems by partnering with Microsoft.

Unfortunately both Microsoft and Nokia have essentially missed the boat on the mobile revolution and the sentiment is flat to negative on their long-term prospects.

So the shidduch (match) of Nokia and Microsoft seems like just another case of misery loves company.

Desperation makes for lonely bedfellows, and thus the announcement this week by Nokia that they are going to layoff 10,000 and close 3 plants by end of 2013 was really no surprise.

Aside from the short-term stock pop from the news of the acquisition, what do you think is going to be in the cards for Microsoft if they don’t get their own innovative juices back in flow?

Can you just acquire innovation or at some point do you need to be that innovative company yourself once again?

Rhetorical question.

Hopefully for Microsoft they can get their mojo back on–meaning rediscover their own innovative talents from within and not just try to acquire from without.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Kidmissile)
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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. 😉

Robot Firefighters To The Rescue

Meet Octavia, a new firefighting robot from the Navy’s Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research (LASR) in Washington, D.C.Octavia and her brother Lucas are the the latest in firefighting technology.These robots can hear commands, see through infrared cameras, identify patterns, and algorithmically make decisions on diverse information sets.While the current prototypes move around like a Segway, future versions will be able to climb ladders and get around naval vessels.It is pretty cool seeing this robot spray flame retardant to douse the fire, and you can imagine similar type robots shooting guns on the front line at our enemies.

Robots are going to play an increasingly important role in all sorts of jobs, and not only the repetitive ones where we put automatons, but also the dangerous situations (like the bomb disposal robots), where robots can get out in front and safeguard human lives.

While the technology is still not there yet–and the robot seems to need quite a bit of instruction and hand waving–you can still get a decent glimpse of what is to come.

Robots with artificial intelligence and natural language processing will be putting out those fires all by themselves…and then some.

Imagine a robot revolution is coming, and what we now call mobile computing is going to take on a whole new meaning with robots on the go–autonomously capturing data, processing it, and acting on it.

I never did see an iPhone or iPad put out a fire, but Octavia and brother Lucas will–and in the not too distant future!