If anything screams wireless…
There has got to be a better way.
One day people are going to laugh their heads off at they way we did technology.
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
So here’s the monitor in the “modern” and beautiful Fort Lauderdale International airport.
Can you see the number of electrical plugs, wires, connections, input/output ports, etc. on this device?
Obviously, it is comical and a farce as we near the end of 2015.
Think about the complexity in building this monitor…in connecting it…in keeping it operational.
Yes, we are moving more and more to cellular and wireless communications, to miniaturization, to simple and intuitive user interfaces, to paperless processing, to voice recognition, to natural language processing, and to artificial intelligence.
But we are not there yet.
And we need to continue to make major strides to simplify the complexity of today’s technology.
– Every technology device should be fully useful and usable by every user on first contact.
– Every device should learn upon interacting with us and get better and better with time.
– Every device should have basic diagnostic and self-healing capability.
Any instructions that are necessary should be provided by the device itself–such as the device telling you step by step what to do to accomplish the task at hand–no manual, no Google instructions, no Siri questions…just you and the device interacting as one.
User friendly isn’t enough anymore…it should be completely user-centric, period.
Someday…in 2016 or beyond, we will get there, please G-d. 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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.
The Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (BEAR) developed by Vecna Technologies in collaboration with the U.S. Army’s Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Centre (TATRC) is no teddy bear.
The Economist (10 March 2011) says this it is “a highly agile and powerful mobile robot capable of lifting and carrying a combat casualty from a hazardous area across uneven terrain.” And when BEAR is not saving wounded soldiers on the battlefield, it can perform “difficult and repetitive tasks, such as loading and unloading ammunition.”
The BEAR is a tracked vehicle that can travel up to 12 mph and has 2 hydraulic arms for lifting and carrying. It is controlled with a set of wireless video cameras and joystick control either embedded on the grip of a rifle or with a special glove that can sense the wearer’s movements.
This is great concept and I imagine this will be enhanced over time especially with the advances in telemedicine, so that at some point we will see the BEAR or its progeny actually performing battlefield medicine.
One thing, however, in my opinion, the bear face on this robot undermines the seriousness of mission that it performs and it should be changed to look like a medic, it’s primary function.
There is a huge need for speed on our networks—as we demand the latest and greatest download streaming of books, movies, games, and more.
The network generation (or mobile telephony) standards have evolved to soon to be 4th generation (or 4G).
While 3G standards require network speeds for voice and data of at least 200 kbit/s, the 4G-performance hurdle jumps (500x) to 100 mbit/s.
The chart from Wikipedia shows the various standards and how they have evolved over time.
What are interesting to me are two things:
1) Network carriers that are competing for your business are already boasting 4G deliveries even though they do not meet the standards set out by The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an agency of the U.N. According to Computerworld (22 November 2010), the 100 mbit/s standard is “about 10 times the performance that any carrier…can offer today.” Moreover, technologies such as LTE-Advanced and WiMax 2 that are expected to be 4G complaint aren’t “expected to go live commercially until 2014 or 2015.”
2) While the carriers are touting their various breakthrough standards, most people really have no clue what they are talking about. According to the Wall Street Journal (4 November 2010) on a survey by Yankee Group that “of more than 1,200 consumers found 57% had either never heard of 3G or didn’t understand the term. [And] With 4G, the ranks of the confused jump to 68%.”
Some lessons learned:
In the first case, we need to keep in mind the principle of caveat emptor (or let the buyer beware) when it comes to what the Wall Street Journal is calling the “increased rhetoric underscoring the high-stakes games played by the carriers as they jockey for position.”
In the second, vendors and technologists should understand that they are losing the consumer when they talk “techno-geek.” Instead, all need to use plain language when communicating, and simplify the technical jargon.
The comic in Computerworld (22 November 2010) summarized it well with pictures of all the various GGGG… technologies and the people next it to it saying, “At this point the labels are ahead of the technology.” Of course, I would add that the labels are also ahead of most people’s ability to understand the geek-speak. And we need to fix the communications of both.
You’re all probably familiar with the capability of signing up for alerts to your computer or mobile device (phone, blackberry, pager, PDA, etc.).
By signing up, you can get notifications about severe weather (such as tornados or earthquacks), transportation troubles (such as street closures or metro incidents), utility disruptions (water, telephone, or power), government and school closings, Amber alerts, or breaking news and information on major crisis (such as homeland security or other emergency situations).
Unfortunately, not everyone bothers to sign up for these. Perhaps, they don’t want to bother registering for another site, giving and maintaining their personal contact information, or maybe they just prefer to rely on major news sources like CNN or social networking sites like Twitter for getting the word out.
The problem is that in a real crisis situation where time is of the essence and every minute and second counts—envision that tornado swooping in or that ticking time bomb about to go off—we need to let people know no matter what they are doing—ASAP!
According to GovTech (October 2010), the California Emergency Management Agency is planning to deploy a new system called Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) to “deliver warnings and safety information via text alerts to wireless phones in specified areas without requiring individuals to subscribe to the service.”
A pilot is scheduled to begin in San Diego in the fall.
With CMAS, emergency information can be targeted to an area affected and transmitted to everyone in the receiving area without them having to do anything. Just like your televisions receiving the emerging alerts (which is great if you happen to be watching), now your mobile devices will get them too.
I remember hearing the stories from my father about World War II how the German Luftwaffe (air force) would blitz (i.e. carpet bomb) London and other Ally cities, and the sirens would go off, blaring to give the people the chance to take cover and save their lives.
Well, thank G-d, we don’t often hear any air raid sirens like that anymore, and with CMAS having the potential to someday grow into a full national network of wireless emergency alerts, we may never have to hear sirens like that again.
(Photo: Courtesy Oak Ridge National Laboratory Emergency Management Center; http://communication.howstuffworks.com/how-emergency-notifications-work1.htm)
One of the most exciting emerging technologies out there is Augmented Reality (AR). While the term has been around since approximately 1990, the technology is only really beginning to take off now for consumer uses.
In augmented reality, you layer computer-generated information over real world physical environment. This computer generated imagery is seen through special eye wear such as contacts, glasses, monocles, or perhaps even projected as a 3-D image display in front off you.
With the overlay of computer information, important context can be added to everyday content that you are sensing. This takes place when names and other information are layered over people, places, and things to give them meaning and greater value to us.
Augmented reality is really a form of mashups, where information is combined (i.e. content aggregration) from multiple sources to create a higher order of information with enhanced end-user value.
In AR, multiple layers of information can be available and users can switch between them easily at the press of a button, swipe of a screen, or even a verbal command.
Fast Company, November 2009, provides some modern day examples of how this AR technology is being used:
Yelp’s iPhone App—“Let’s viewers point there phone down a street and get Yelp star ratings for merchants.”
Trulia for Android—“The real-estate search site user Layar’s Reality Browser to overlay listings on top of a Google phone’s camera view. Scan a neighborhood’s available properties and even connect to realtors.”
TAT’s Augmented ID— “Point your Android phone at a long-lost acquaintance for his Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube activity.”
Michael Zollner, an AR researcher, puts it this way: “We have a vast amount of data on the Web, but today we see it on a flat screen. It’s only a small step to see all of it superimposed on our lives.”
Maarteen Lens-FitzGerald, a cofounder of Layar, said: “As the technology improves, AR apps will be able to recognize faces and physical objects [i.e. facial and object recognition] and render detailed 3-D animation sequences.”
According to Fast Company, it will be like having “Terminator eyes,” that see everything, but with all the information about it in real time running over or alongside the image.
AR has been in use for fighter pilots and museum exhibits and trade shows for a number of years, but with the explosive growth of the data available on the Internet, mobile communication devices, and wireless technology, we now have a much greater capability to superimpose data on everything, everywhere.
The need to “get online” and “look things up” will soon be supplanted by the real time linkage of information and imagery. We will soon be walking around in a combined real and virtual reality, rather than coming home from the real world and sitting down at a computer to enter a virtual world. The demarcation will disappear to a great extent.
Augmented reality will bring us to a new level of efficiency and effectiveness in using information to act faster, smarter, and more decisively in all our daily activities personally and professionally and in matters of commerce and war.
With AR, we will never see things the same way again!