Ronnie05's Blog

The Jesus moment of Wearables (Apple Watch) passes with a mere whimper

Posted in Body Hacking & Quantified Self, Device Platforms, New Technologies by Manas Ganguly on September 10, 2014

The Apple Watch is a great accessory- but if you expected Apple to break new ground in wearables, you would be left disappointed. Is this the pass-over of Apple to the banal.

The Apple watch has been around in discussions and blogs for a while. Coming after a slew of Android wearables,the Apple watch was supposed to be what the iPhone was to smartphones: Jesus. The announcement came yesterday night and oh Jesus! My only reaction to the Apple watch is that Apple is blowing it away. Every single point of advantage painstaking built by Steve Jobs is being undone. 

We didnot want a iPhone mini – we wanted a wearable – Apple read it wrong- and created a iPhone mini with a few modifications here, there and everywhere.

Any new category needs one “hero” thing it needs to do – in the case of wearables – create alternate health as a business. Apple Watch just created a lot of apps- that can open hotel doors and do other random things. But it didnot do – what it ought to have done – layout an eco-system roadmap that combined technology, body hacking and the health eco-system in one neat package.

I didnot assume Android would do it – but i thought Apple with its consistently disrupting innovations would lay the roadmap to fulfilling this eco-system. The answer to which is – in the current settings – Apple seems to have not done that.

The good thing is that the Apple Watch with its array of sensors has the doorways in place – and possibly Appsters will pick up – but i had expected Apple to come up neat on Health integrations. Mr. Cook didnot get his balance right- and that’s why my expectations from Apple watch remain unfulfilled.  

Apple has leveraged its App eco-system to merely create interfaces that complement the iPhone features and functionalities. I expected a novel new device – not an extension of the smartphone.May be Apple is loosing its edge – may be its time for others to push over with disruptions! 

Leave your comments on Apple Watch?

 

(Back Blogging after a month of travel. Besides the habit of blogging seems to be missing out – hopefully, will be more regular)

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Facebook drones to offer low cost net access to all

Posted in Drones, New Technologies by Manas Ganguly on March 30, 2014

It is no secret that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to see the whole humanity connected to the web. Unfortunately internet connections are just not available in many places. But Zuckerberg believes he has a solution for this pesky problem.On Thursday, he announced that Internet.org, an organization that Facebook started in partnership with a few other technology companies, is experimenting with drones that are capable of beaming internet in an area from the sky. “In our effort to connect the whole world with Internet.org, we’ve been working on ways to beam internet to people from the sky,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook.

“Our team has many of the world’s leading experts in aerospace and communications technology, including from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab and Ames Research Center. Today we are also bringing on key members of the team from Ascenta, a small UKbased company whose founders created early versions of Zephyr, which became the world’s longest flying solar-powered unmanned aircraft. They will join our team working on connectivity aircraft.”

Internet.org was launched last year with an aim to bring down the cost of internet connectivity across the world so that more people can connect to the web and utilize web services. Last month at Mobile World Congress, Zuckerberg revealed that Internet.org was working with several telecom operators across the world to reduce the cost of internet connectivity.

Facebook on Thursday revealed that the team exploring various methods to beam internet from sky is part of Connectivity Lab, a new department within Internet.org. It is exploring various options. A solar-powered drone is one option.

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“For suburban areas in limited geographical regions, we’ve been working on solar-powered high altitude, long endurance aircraft that can stay aloft for months, be quickly deployed and deliver reliable internet connections,” Internet.org noted in a statement posted on its website. “For lower-density areas, low-Earth orbit and geosynchronous satellites can beam internet access to the ground.” In both cases, the internet connection will be beamed through free-space optical communication, which makes use of “light to transmit data through space using invisible, infrared laser beams”. “Free-space optical communication is a promising technology that potentially allows us to dramatically boost the speed of internet connections provided by satellites and drones,” noted Internet.org.

Among various options, the team of experts is considering a solar-powered drone that can stay aloft for months, be quickly deployed and deliver reliable internet connection

Among various options, the team of experts is considering a solar-powered drone that can stay aloft for months, be quickly deployed and deliver reliable internet connection

In his attempts to beam internet from sky, Zuckerberg is not alone. Larry Page and Sergei Brin, co-founders of Google, are also interested in connecting more people to the web. Last year Google announced Project Loon that intends to use high-altitude balloons to deliver fast internet in remote areas. Explaining Project Loon, Google says, “Project Loon balloons float in the stratosphere, twice as high as airplanes and the weather. People can connect to the balloon network using a special internet antenna attached to their building.” Google had earlier experimented with Project Loon balloons in New Zealand. The company is now testing these balloons in California.

Should Android be tentative about wearables and vice versa?

Posted in Body Hacking & Quantified Self by Manas Ganguly on March 15, 2014

A few days back Google released an Android software developer kit for wearables in a move that should lead to smartwatch and other gear. What remains to be seen is how well Android can adapt to the small screen.

In an announcement that came at the SXSW Sundar Pichai, who heads Google Chrome and Android efforts said he wants to connect to a bevy of sensors and wearables with Android. Google’s Android is already moving into automobiles. Android has proved it can move to larger screens. From the smartphone, Android has hit tablets, TVs and even PCs. However, the small screen may be trickier—assuming some of these wearables and sensor-first devices even have screens. Here’s a look at Android’s key challenges as they relate to the wearable market:

1. Wearable computing operating systems need to be silently working in the background – effortlessly and elegantly. Android’s Achilles Heel is the working in the background bit.
2. The Wearables ecosystem is a smarter one having learnt its lessons from Smartphones. Already Intel and Samsung have upped their game and presence. OEMs this time may not want to play all of it into one corner.Android means a race to the bottom for hardware makers.
3. Its hard to be one OS for all screens – the OS must have to be lightened considerably especially for wearables. Android could simply be too bulky to be useful in wearable computing.
4. Apps for the wearables will need a serious rethink – especially in the sense that these may not be visible apps or may have to pair devices in groups for serious activity
5. There’s a bit of unease about Google and data. Android in a smartwatch seems like a no brainer since the device to date is merely an extension of the smartphone. However,users may be wary of sharing vital signs with Google and may not want ads and pitches via a wearable. Google is all about the ads and wearable computing can make pitches a bit more freaky.

Sooner than later, these challenges will be overcome by Google, but I’ve been in the tech industry long enough to know that retrofits and alternates don’t always fly. Adapting Android to wearable computing is likely to be harder than it appears on the whiteboard.

Zuck’s droning plans

Posted in Drones, New Technologies by Manas Ganguly on March 5, 2014

A $60mn acquisition to bring internet to everyone, everywhere. Mark Zuckerberg has his sights set on his ambitious Internet.org and is busying himself delivering internet in the remotest places on earth. To do this and more Zuckerberg is reportedly buying out a manufacturer of drones, Titan Aerospace.

Titan Aerospace

Titan’s drones, which resemble solar-powered airplanes, are designed to fly as high as 65,000 feet and stay aloft for as long as five years — essentially functioning like cheap satellites. They could blanket large areas with wireless Internet signals, although the signals would be slower and unable to handle as much data as land-based Internet connections. For remote places like rural Africa, they would be enough to provide at least rudimentary access to the Internet through mobile phones.

Facebook would have to overcome lots of technical and legal problems before a global Facenet would be a reality. But the idea would allow the social network to one-up its rival, Google, which has its own far-fetched plan to extend the Internet to far-flung places via a network of balloons. And it is a lot closer to reality than Amazon’s idea of drones that will deliver packages.

For once it is nice to see drones connecting rather than decimating indiscriminately with Hellfire missiles…
As for Zuckerberg, the nay-sayers and skeptics see another grand vision of taking control of user personal data (this thought has taken serious roots with the $19bn acquistion of WhatsApp)

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Of body hacking and quantified self

Posted in Body Hacking & Quantified Self, New Technologies by Manas Ganguly on February 9, 2014

Body hacking conjures up images of horror slasher movies (Jason, Freddy) with gruesome and grizzly murders every alternate minute. However body hacking today is a far more engaging activity with more salutary and healthy living effects.

With the advent of the smartphone, many Americans have grown used to the idea of having a computer on their person at all times. Wearable technologies like Google’s Project Glass are narrowing the boundary between us and our devices even further by attaching a computer to a person’s face and integrating the software directly into a user’s field of vision. The paradigm shift is reflected in the names of our dominant operating systems. Gone are Microsoft’s Windows into the digital world, replaced by a union of man and machine: the iPhone or Android.

Body Hacking thus is the union of machines and body – machines as a part & extension of the body and its features, organs that help humans do more efficient or target oriented tasks than was “humanly” possible. Now then, there are different levels of body hacking and this blpog will refer to the casual level of body hacking where in this pursuit is more of a fitness frame than others. Thus Body hacking is about putting a number to everything that is being done.

This includes how much energy is burnt per activity, intensity of workout, how much we eat, depth and patterns in sleep, steps we take, fitness milestones and more. Most of these things can be charted, compared and recorded, shared, challenged, co-worked post quantification. This can be a true motivator to develop new habits and break away from old ones – a tool to re-invent oneself.

Presenting a few relevant options and devices of body hacking relevant and available currently:

Body Hacking and Quantified Self

Mood sensing Ads on Apple’s mind (We always knew that, didn’t we??)

Posted in Applications and User Interfaces, Device Platforms, New Technologies by Manas Ganguly on January 25, 2014

I fell out of love with Apple when they launched iPhone5S. I fell in love back again when i read their iWatch concept.

iWatch

In an earlier post, i had written about iWatch and the path breaking dimensions it was adding to the whole technology domain by being able to monitor (and possibly measure) the state of being. The state of inner being is key to Apple’s ambitions.

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By being able to infer a person’s inner state of being, inferred by changes in Systolic, Diastolic pressures, pulse rates, Apple has an algorithm that estimates the person’s mood and serves him with suitable triggers based upon a variety of other external coordinates such as time, location,visit frequencies, past behavior. Apple has filed a patent application that describes a system that would try to gauge some of the user’s physical and behavioral facets to serve up ads that may better appeal and contextually relevant.

The ad delivery system would start by compiling a “baseline mood profile” against which it can compare your future moods. Information that might be captured would include your heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline level, perspiration rate, body temperature, vocal expression, and even your facial expression. The time of day and your current location may also be incorporated to associate those factors with your various moods.The system would then select a specific type of ad based on your current mood and other criteria. As one example listed in the patent application, certain ads might be sent to someone with the following characteristics: gender, male; age, 19-24; location, Northern California or New York City; mood, happy.

Apple's filing describes the system as

It may not be exactly music to advocates of privacy – who could be considered to getting creep-ed out, but this is one exiting dimension which could do a new tthing to the world of ads…

RoboEarth: Is this the origin of (Terminator) Skynet?

Posted in Machine Learning, New Technologies by Manas Ganguly on January 16, 2014

We do remember the Skynet in the Terminator series, dont we? Or the Matrix for example?

Roboearth

In a striking resemblance to the Skynet, a world wide web for robots named RoboEarth has been conceptualized which could help machines learn from each other and share tips and information. The eventual aim is that both robots and humans will be able to upload information to the cloudbased database, which would act as a kind of common brain for machines. RoboEarth’s database stores knowledge generated by humans — and robots — in a machine-readable format. It will provide software components, maps for navigation, task knowledge and object recognition models. At its core RoboEarth is a world wide web for robots: a giant network and database repository where robots can share information and learn from each other about their behaviour and their environment.

The goal of RoboEarth is to allow robotic systems to benefit from the experience of other robots, paving the way for rapid advances in machine cognition and behaviour, and ultimately, for more subtle and sophisticated human-machine interaction. The problem right now is that robots are often developed specifically for one task. Everyday changes that happen all the time in our environment make all the programmed actions unusable. By docking to the RoboEarth, machines will be able to share learning, cognition, knowledge and experiences such that other machines can also do tasks without having to be specifically programmed for that. All machine knowledge and experience are shared worldwide on a central, online database. As well as that, computing and ‘thinking’ tasks can be carried out by the system’s ‘cloud engine’, so the robot/machine doesn’t need to have as much computing or battery power on-board.

This database of operations could be regarded as the Wikipedia for Machines and Robots.The platform, dubbed RoboEarth, will be presented next week after four years of research by the team of scientists from six European research institutes – Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands), Philips, ETH Zurich (Switzerland), Technical University of Munich (Germany) and the universities of Zaragoza (Spain) and Stuttgart(Germany), according to a release from Eindhoven University. The operation of the platform will be demonstrated to a delegation from the European Commission, which financed the project, using four robots and two simulated hospital rooms.

The greying population of advanced countries has created an urgent future need for robots to take over caring or household tasks. To enable robots to successfully lend a mechanical helping hand, they need to be able to deal flexibly with new situations and conditions.

4 Technology trends to reshape the future

Posted in M2M: Telemetry and Telematics, New Technologies, The Technology Ecosystem by Manas Ganguly on January 15, 2014

The biggest changes happening in the internet space are those which affect more that one industry at a time. These changes alter the basic economic dimensions across industry. In 2014, what looks to be is that 4 trends that could alter the economic landscape across industries are

1. Digitization of content, communication, services, identities
2. Internet as an enabler, provider and connector
3. The sensor network that links up “all things” to internet
4. Algorithms and cognitive programs which build intelligence across a standard unit of everything

The smart brush with more teeth

Posted in New Technologies, Sensor networks and devices by Manas Ganguly on January 12, 2014

The vision of the technology future is DISC – Digitization, Internet, Sensors and Cognition. Ergo, it is hardly a surprise that a French start up takes the sensor up close and personal – into the mouth of the user – thru the first internet connected brush called Kolibree that was was displayed at CES in Las Vegas. The idea is that with better metrics on the quality of your brushing, users will be able to keep your teeth healthier.

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As Kolibree founder Loic Cessot puts it, the brush is designed to “outsmart your dentist,” and is outfitted with an array of sensors that track the areas of your mouth that you’re hitting. It’ll measure how long the brushing lasted, how rigorous it was, what teeth you’re cleaning well, and the areas that need a little bit more attention. It’s even got some nifty gamification features that challenge you to do a better job next time you brush, and Kolibree has even developed an API in hopes that third-party developers will devise additional apps that will encourage users to brush more often and more effectively.

To use it, users need to simply download the Kolibree mobile app on their smartphones and sync it with the brush via Bluetooth. After that, every time one brushes, the brush will log data from your session. Post the brushing, one can just pop open the app and it’ll display all the data in a simple visual format. The app can even record data from multiple brushes, for parents to monitor the brushing habits of juniors. Kolibree is planning to release several different models of the toothbrush, ranging in price from $100 to $200, in the third quarter of 2014

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Acoustic Levitation: Waves, matter and jaw dropping, mind blowing experience

Posted in New Technologies by Manas Ganguly on January 4, 2014

Acoustic levitation is a method for suspending matter in a medium by using acoustic radiation pressure from intense sound waves in the medium. This jaw dropping video filmed at Otsuka Lab in Japan, demonstrates the power of sound for simple object levitation.

More-
http://science.howstuffworks.com/acoustic-levitation1.htm

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