A Blooper With Our Blimps

Military Blimp

Oops, so this is one for the books…


The multi-billion dollar Raytheon-built military JLENS surveillance blimps are pictured above.


They are supposed to sense and alert us to a possible devastating surprise cruise missile attack on the U.S. eastern seaboard.


However, one of them lost its tethering and went sailing into the skies and had to itself be tracked by NORAD and two scrambled F-16 fighter jets. 


What was designed to surveil instead needed surveillance. 


The JLENS crashed landed in Amish country, Pennsylvania and took out the power to 20,000 people.


We need a strong, capable, and ready military!


If we are trying to improve our posturing with the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians–this is not the way to put our best blimp forward. 😉


(Source photo: here with attribution to Bill Dickinson)

Drones Made Easy

OMG, this is awesome.


This Lily Camera Drone is “throw and go” and simply lands in your hand. 


You can set it to follow you–almost like a guardian angel– or to lead you where you need to go. 


Records video, sound, can do slow motion, and takes photos.


It has a tracking device.


It’s waterproof.


Awesome for extreme sports or personal surveillance.


Would like to be able to communicate with it by voice command, and also see what it sees and hear what it hears with augmented reality glasses or on a smartphone or wearable.


Finally, if only it would come with a laser to zap anybody or anything bad that may come at us–that could be reassuring. 


Costs = $619 and ships in May 2016.


That was easy.  😉

Smart Electronic Skin

Bug
I liked this concept reported on in BBC Technology about using swarms of sensors to create a type of electronic or “smart skin.”



Like nerves in our human skin, multitudes of sensors placed on anything that we want to monitor, could create a sensing/feeling and reporting mechanism for evaluating the health or condition of that thing. 



Rather than wait for something to fail or break, we could actively collect information on changes in “temperature, strain, and movement” and other environmental impacts to analyze and predict any issues and proactively address them with countermeasures, maintenance, or fixes. 



As human beings, we are architected with regular monitoring and self-healing biological systems to protect ourselves from daily dangers around us, we can develop homes, factories, transport, robots, and everything important around us with similar properties to be more durable, last longer and be more productive.  



When we emulate in our own development efforts what G-d has created for the good in the world, we are on the right track. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Surveillance Society {Funny}

Surveillance Society {Funny}

This was funny photo my wife and I took in a medical practitioner’s office.

Above the floodlights, was a picture of these staring eyes.

And it was simply thumbtacked onto the wallpaper.

One of the receptionists asked why we were taking the photo.

We sort of giggled–uh, this was not exactly the typical surveillance scenario in the 21st century of CCTVs, drones, hidden mics, tracking devices, and big data–not even close!

But maybe it’s just a reminder that someone is ALWAYS looking. 😉

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)

Gaming to Get More Bricks and Mortar

Gaming to Get More Bricks and Mortar

Farhad Manjoo has an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal on the gamification of the workplace.

In office gamification, employees are treated like gamers–they are measured, given points, and recognized/rewarded for meeting objectives as if you are playing an arcade game or Angry Birds.

The problem is that this is really nothing new and also not very motivating to the workforce.

Already in the Bible the Egyptians oppressed the Israelites by giving them ever crushing quotas for gathering straw and building the great pyramids.

And if they didn’t measure up, the Bible tells us that, “They made their lives bitter with harsh labor…the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.”(Deut. 1:14)

You see while measuring performance is a good and important part to managing and maturing processes and the workforce, tracking people in real life with plus ups for every good thing and minuses for every mistake or failure treats this whole thing as one big game, but it’s not.

A mature adult workforce doesn’t need points and bonus time for doing their jobs, and shouldn’t be made to fear losing their jobs for not meeting their daily numbers.

Even Manjoo admits that he dreads working in a work environment where everything is measured and monitored to the nth-degree.

He says that even in a field like Journalism, he feels undue pressure to produce and that “every time I write a story that doesn’t make the paper’s most-popular list, I consider it a tiny failure. If I do that too many times in a row, I begin to wonder if I should look for a new line of work.”

Now perhaps, many of you are saying, that if you can’t perform at expectations, maybe you should be looking for another job, but the point is that performance measurement should be humane–working toward the long-term benefit of the company and the development of the employees–and not one miss and it’s “Game Over!”

Gamification software, like Badgeville, that gives points for everything from creating a sales lead to responding to a lead and converting a lead to sales opportunities is nothing short of childish micromanagement.

Employees shouldn’t treated like children working for points and prizes and titles like “Super Converter” or “Super Dealer” (like in the demo video), but rather should be treated as professionals, who work for the mission and based on an ethos of excellence, where they are committed to doing their best for the organization, and the organization is committed to developing them and making them a ever better and satisfied workforce–not making them feel like they are coming to a surveillance, tracking, and fear-inspired workplace.

Can gamification have a place in creating some healthy workplace competition and fun? Sure, but when it’s masquerading as a serious tool to engineer people to do their jobs and have a meaningful career, then someone in the C-suite has been playing Farmville a little too long.

My father used to tell me, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar,” and employees will be far more motivated if they know you are working with them as a team to “get to the next level” rather than infantilizing and prodding them with ridiculous amounts of workplace surveillance to force them to collect more straw and build more pyramids. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Touch Free, Just Use Your Head

Israel Innovation News is reporting a very simple but cool new technology for the disabled.

It enables them to “read, play games, search the web, and make calls without the need for touch.”

Sesame Reader, from the Google App Store, “tracks your face and allows you to turn [eReader] pages with the movement of your head.”

You can also dial a number or type of a keyboard by using movement of the head to control the cursor movement and by hovering over a button to “click it.”

This helps people to function in a digital world, when otherwise they couldn’t.

Hence, the name Sesame from Ali Baba’s magic phrase “Open Sesame.”

Now people can read, write, and interact with others online–even when they don’t have use of their limbs because of neurological, muscular, and other structural defect, or if they simply want hands-free use.

Touchscreens, keyboards, and keypads are now accessible to anyone with the simple turn of the head–up, down, left, and right is all all it takes to navigate, touchless. 😉