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Death of the Smartphones

Posted in Applications and User Interfaces, Device Platforms by Manas Ganguly on December 3, 2012

Smart-phones are ubiquitous devices globally and it feels funny to write an obituary to such a mega-hype. But as with most and many technologies, there is a lifecycle – and the alternative will come through sooner than later. Disruption is inevitable.

The end of smartphones!

The end of smartphones!

Computing as a consumer activity and behavior is evolving and the interfaces are getting as close to human social behavior, thought processing and sensory valuation as it can. The devices of tomorrow will be a coherent mix of Immersive Internet Media, Inclusive “user centered ”Computing, Portability to the point of ubiquity, based on Sensory Platforms and Always Real time. All this builds up-to a future in devices where the devices will be controlled by Mind and be an extension of the human self.

Coming back to the replacement of Smartphones, the recent developments in Augmented reality, Speech Recognition methodologies and Gesture based controls combined together could spell the next platform in computing – a wearable one at that – the prototype of which is Google Glass. Microsoft also has a product in the pipeline currently code named as Photosynth. As a gadget, the concepts are very interesting and far reaching in terms of harbingers what the next wave in technology –called wearable technology. These devices will overlay data with predictive analytics, Social Media and Digital Illustrations and other commercials application such as payments etc. Predictive analytics, Speech Recognition, Gesture Control, In memory analytics, social analytics and Augmented Reality are already at various stages of maturity in the technology life cycles. The trick is about getting them together and my bet is that Microsoft, Google, Apple, IBM and a couple of the technology companies would already be working to get the concepts in place.

Google Glass-How it works!

Microsoft Photosynth

Google Glasses are in the developmental stages now and have been demoed for LAYAR (Layered Augmented Reality Apps). Microsoft’s Photosynth is still in the concept development phases. Understandably both concepts and the PoCs are in infancy right now with a lot of rough edges, but then these technologies will be truly disruptive once they start hitting the threshold/critical state numbers.

The Google Glass demo!

The disruption will be in the sense that there will be no additional devices such as smartphones and tablets – it will be a wearable unit controlled by human interfaces- speech, motion etc. To that extent it is clearly disrupting the smartphone kind of interface signaling the end of the smartphone era.

The obituary for Smartphones is done and dusted. The key challenge for wearable computing will be the productization of these concepts. Watch this space for more.

Profiling Augmented Reality(AR)(Part II): How it works?

Posted in The Technology Ecosystem by Manas Ganguly on September 10, 2009

Augmented Reality, the class of technologies that overlay data on top a user’s view of the real world, is a very hot field right now. Mobile AR apps, like Layar and Wikitude are getting the most attention, but there are other ways Augmented Reality can be implemented beyond the mobile phone.

The following video is a good LAYAR tutorial.

Virtual reality used to be technology’s Holy Grail. It created new worlds where one could jack cars, date babes and win wars. In contrast, augmented reality – in which computer graphics are layered onto a real world image – was the boring sub-technology confined to sports footage replays and technical engineering. This one is more to showing the path of a tennis ball after a player has hit it, or demonstrates to an engineer how to piece a complex machine together by modelling it in 3D. But with augmented reality about to be opened up to the mobile phone-owning masses, it has become an exciting field for development. Developers are racing to find useful and interesting ways that computers can enhance our interaction with the real world. And that could be by superimposing reviews on restaurants, directions on streets and Facebook profiles on people. It could be trivial, it could be fascinating. Perhaps the most useful application hasn’t been figured out yet.

How it works?

The technology that has brought augmented reality to mobiles is called LAYAR. As the name suggests, it layers computer information on top of “reality” as seen through the phone’s camera. Layar uses the phone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) to work out where you are and what you are looking at. Different types of information appear on different layers.

1.Sightseeing layer,Wikitude which contains tourist information about what’s around you – the posts are linked to specific buildings and points of interest (the Tate Liverpool, the Belfast docks, Big Ben) and pop up, like virtual blue plaques, as you pass by them

2.Estate agent layer, which flags up properties for sale or rent: as scanned by a camera down a street, available properties are highlighted.

3.Another layer, called Trulia, will also tell how much the house is going for, giving pictures of the inside and a phone number to ring to arrange a viewing.

4.Not limited to ” seen” things in the viewfinder – properties two streets away will show up too. There’s a layer which tells where the nearest council facilities are and plots them on an image of the street.

5.Applications like Brightkite bring social networks into augmented reality. Partnered with Layar, it offers an app which lets see where friends are on a real-time map. Like the magic map in Harry Potter, they appear as moving dots.

6.Even more excitingly, posts – pictures, messages, videos can be created which can be anchored or “geo-tagged” to the places. They stick in that virtual space like graffiti or post-it notes and one can view them later. One can also view  posts of friends or other peoples’.

Check the video which stars the Android powered and LAYAR at work. Fascinating demo which includes teh LAYAR utilities and Applications and thoughts about the business models for LAYAR. (Note: LAYAR is available on Android phones for their Maps and Compass utilities)

As with every new technology, Application developers have started developing the Layers on layers of virtual content (Imagine Twitter, Facebook, Hotel Info, Tourist Info, Promotion window etc). While some posts will be more interesting than others, but, like with the rest of the internet, we’ll get used to searching and filtering for what interests us.

Profiling Augmented Reality(AR)(Part I): Shape of things to come

Posted in The Technology Ecosystem by Manas Ganguly on September 10, 2009

Augmented reality has been a part of the future tech folklore for a while now. However, it has been catching more attention now than ever and this video released by Nokia is a crude portrayal of AR would work in the future. Crude? Because of the extreme limitedness of technology that has been showcased. 

So then, what is augmented reality?

Imagine if everything you pointed your phone at – from people to pets, shops to mountains – had its own ‘bubble’ of information. It sounds like science fiction, but augmented reality is already here.


If Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator had walked through, that landscape, this is the sort of information his computer-enhanced vision might have provided. But “Terminator vision” is no longer just in the realm of science fiction films. This is Augmented reality and it is due soon on Smartphones around.

Complete Terminator vision would require bionic contact lenses … but September 2009 onwards, anyone with an iPhone will be able to peer at the world through the phone’s camera and will see layered on their phone screen extra information about the physical things in front of them. Phones with a phone that supports Google Android can already do this. iPhone AppStore augmented reality app for Paris Metro Subway has already been released, and the first AR apps of this kind have also made it to the US. Mobilizy already has already taken the plunge into AR, by launching Wikitude Drive on the Android, an augmented reality GPS navigation app for smartphones. Here’s the video:

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