A Glimpse of tomorrows tech

Even though technology appears to be getting more complicated, more expensive and refreshed more often this generally ensures that it is enjoyed by everyone much sooner.  The big problem is that unless the new  component parts are mass produced in sufficient numbers to reduce the price point it stays out of reach for the masses.  However when the  marquee players like Apple, Google, Samsung etc. introduce new innovations they tend to enter product ecosystems much sooner.  2017 has been a very interesting year for technology and in this update I thought I would share a few of the innovations which I predict that when they enter the mass market will disrupt the technology we use at home and in work.

Facial Recognition – The iPhone X will introduce Facial Identification via their True depth camera which uses 30k light sensors projected on the face to create an encrypted  facial map to aid authentication instantly on the device

Real Time Translation – Google’s Pixel Bud headphones will  bring real-time translation with Google Translate. Just touch and hold the right earbud to activate the Google Assistant on your Pixel 2 mobile and the in built speaker will translate what you say.  There are 40 languages available today.

Cameras – The new high end smartphones now have near SLR quality dual cameras that can record in 4k and have x10 zoom for photos and x6 zoom for video

Virtual Reality – Both Google and Facebook via Oculus are making great strides in Augmented and Virtual reality.  Oculus is offering a standalone headset in early 2018 for just $199 which will bring the price point to a consumable level.

Charging – The new high end smartphones are all offering wireless charging

Stylus – Samsung and Apple are both offering more options with regards to stylus/pens/Spens where they are starting to be more pen like rather than the size of a piece of chalk

Voice Controlled Smart Speakers – This year Amazon, Google and Apple very soon are all bringing out various sizes of “always on” smart speakers for the home.

If you just consider the above elements these could easy be incorporated into anything that requires authentication, video conferences, home security plus removing the wires on every device we use, so sit back as everything we use today is about to change for the better and good riddance to all those cables.

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Reality 2.0

The thought of changing ones perception and entering a Virtual or Augmented Reality is not new.  However over the last few years the technology has advanced to where the price point is now within everyone’s grasp.  Back in June 2016 I wrote about AR so this time I will provide some insights into VR.

Virtual Reality as we know it today originated from Science fiction and its first reference is believed to have come from the 1935 short story “Pygmalion’s Spectacles” by Stanley G Weinbaum  where he described a goggle-based virtual reality system with holographic recording of fictional experiences, including smell and touch.  Since then there have been numerous products which have lead us to today and I imagine everyone has used something that tried to enhance reality  (Back in 1939 View-Master  stereoscopes were introduced) or seen a Program that glorified the Technology (In 1974 the Holodeck made its debut on Star Trek. ).   In its infancy VR mainly resided in the gaming community however recently it has fragmented into multi price point options accessible by all.

At the low end we are seeing headsets which range from Cardboard to Googles Latest Daydream View  where Apps can be downloaded onto your phone and the phone used as the viewing platform.  Just search VR on the Apple or Google App stores and see the options; they are not just games.

At the high end however even more Innovation is being seen.  With the likes of the HTC Vive  and the Oculus Gear or Rift suddenly enterprise grade headsets are appearing that can solve enterprise problems.  Applications are now being created where the headsets can be used for immersive, education, engineering and medical procedures.  In the Business environment you just need to forget the gaming angle and suddenly the possibilities are endless.  Any Digital process which can be changed in real time could be viewed via a headset and changed in seconds to enable Agile development.  Think of the Marketing opportunities and how the sales process could start before the final product is finished.  As the technology matures over the next few years and its price point moves to a consumable item everyone will be embracing Reality 2.0.

How valuable is your data?

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Over the last decade social media and collaborative platforms have not only become popular for the masses they have also been seen as an easy win for corporates to extend market share and maintain relevance. It all started in 2006 when Google purchased You Tube and continued with further major purchases like Facebook buying Instagram and Whats App, Twitter buying Vine and Microsoft purchasing Skype, Yammer and this year LinkedIn for $26 Billion. From the consumer point of view it shows exactly how valuable our data is to corporate’s and indicates how important it is to ensure that our privacy settings are correct as no one can guess who will purchase the platforms in the future (especially as most people have dormant personal data littered across the internet). However from the corporate perspective there are 2 benefits for making a purchase. The first is to secure a pre-built user base to whom you can sell and the second is to hopefully obtain a platform that will continue to grow and innovate. The problem with most Social platforms is that it’s very hard to know if you are buying dormant users and what percentage of the data is correct. The interesting thing about the Microsoft purchase of LinkedIn (which apparently was also wanted by Sales force) is that this data source is one of the few which is believed to be accurate due to it being continuously updated with Career, Education, Training and content preferences.

Is it time to ask, “Where exactly was my data stored” ?

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As the urge to hoard becomes less and everyone becomes more comfortable using web services in the cloud to run applications and store data how confident are you as to where your data is and could it be viewed without your knowledge? Financial Services have always worried about which jurisdiction the hosting servers came under and whether they were covered under regulation plus enterprises are now beginning to ensure that there is data governance and ownership for all their data. However how often should you review this?

This week the European Court of Justice has ruled that the 15 year old deal between the US and Europe (The Safe Harbour Agreement) was invalid meaning that many Businesses will now be scrambling around to put replacement measures in place to ensure that correct privacy rights are in place plus asking “did we ever use a service that was covered by Safe Harbour in the last 15 years?”

Interestingly, the ruling was not brought about by a Business but an Austrian law student against Facebook following the Snowden NSA surveillance revelations. Does anyone really know when they download an App from Apple or Androids App Store where this data is being stored? Do organisations know where the live and DR servers are located for every cloud provider, hosting company or SAAS product just in case privacy laws change? Should we? As more and more technology moves to the cloud maybe providers will offer transparency as to where data is being stored so choices can be made however as IT becomes a Global commodity there certainly will not be data centres in ever jurisdiction on the planet any time soon so in the meantime just keep a note where you kept that data as you may need to review it sooner or later.

FS Innovation Article Roundup – February 2014

Barclays takes fintech accelerator to New York

Barclays Bank has headed to New York in search of innovative fintech start-ups to join its three-month accelerator programme in London. The UK bank is inviting ten start-up companies to take part in a 15-week fintech accelerator programme in conjunction with Techstars.  Read Article

Nigerian Banks begin biometrics registration project

Nigeria’s banks have embarked on a massive biometrics project, registering the fingerprints and facial features of customers in a bid to fight fraud and money laundering.  Read Article

Google buys sound-based online authentication startup SlickLogin

Google has acquired SlickLogin, an Israeli startup which is bidding to replace passwords with sounds. Read Article

Mastercard and Silicon Valley Bank launch incubator programme for commerce start-ups

MasterCard and Silicon Valley Bank have joined forces to launch an incubator programme designed to help early-stage commerce firms navigate their way to series a funding.  Read Article

Cyber security challenge offers £10,000 bounties

A new national cyber security challenge – Cyber 10K – has been launched, with £10,000 up for grabs for each of the most innovative security solutions.  Read Article

Osaka train station set for large face recognition study

NICT will deploy cameras in Osaka Station and the adjacent Osaka Station City, a multipurpose complex, that can track faces as they move around the premises. The cameras will be separate from any security cameras that are already installed by operator West Japan Railway (JR West), a spokesman for the railway said.

“The purpose of the study is to determine whether or not sensor data on crowd movements can be used to validate the safety measures of emergency exits for when a disaster strikes,” a NICT spokesperson said. Read Article

Westpac trials Google Glass app and Apple iBeacon

Westpac has begun trialling a Google Glass app which lets users keep an eye on their balance and outlined plans to install Apple’s iBeacon technology in branches.  Read Article

Government launches Year of Code campaign and £500,000 to train teachers how to programme

Chancellor George Osborne and education secretary Michael Gove unveiled a £500,000 fund to train teachers how to programme as part of a new campaign designed to raise awareness and interest in computer programming called Year of Code.  Review Article

The importance of choices in a “new object culture”

Over the last decade there seems to have been an accepted shift from product longevity to one of desirability. I remember when growing up that electrical goods seemed to last a lifetime and if they ever broke you would certainly try to fix them first rather than discarding with a wry smile knowing that you could buy another. You also knew that purchases would outlive their warranties by years rather than the current ones that seem to limp across the line and malfunction one or two days after the expiry.

This apparent culture swing clearly has been driven by economies of scale as the price of consumer goods continues to reduce or at least flat line once the early adopter price has been reduced through mass market adoption. Today most products are refreshed every 12 months and the manufacturers expect consumers to replace existing products every 24 months (This is the reason why mobile operators offer 18 or 24 Month contracts). Even in the current times of austerity there is no shortage of consumers ready to buy the next shiny iPad, iPhone, 3D TV, Kindle etc.

There is however a trend emerging from this behaviour which will lock consumers into their choices for years whether they like future products or not. In the digital space if you realise it or not you are being asked to make a choice, join a team and this choice could limit some of your choices in the future.

In the digital space your hardware and software choices may seem endless when you consider buying products from Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Samsung etc however are they really? Everything is now being backed up into the respective clouds but by the time you reach a critical mass or fall out of love with their product strategy, shape, colour etc will you be able to migrate that easily? Over the next few years each provider will need to open up their environments to the software which works best for the consumer however at the moment most are proprietary to one of the platforms. Look at iTunes for example, this was originally the music player for Apple but quickly became the chosen player for most using the MP4 format and is now available for Windows and can be accessed through many different devices and platforms. How would you feel if you had a Microsoft Zune player and can spent hours copying all your music to MP3 and it was withdrawn? What about you‘re precious Photos? Most people are accumulating Gigabytes of photos on their PCs and probably backing up to a Cloud for safety but what if your photography software was only available from one manufacturer and you then wanted to buy a product from something else, could you undo this? Would you bother? These are the questions everyone should be asking themselves, it‘s not only businesses that need a digital strategy consumers do too.

So what is the answer? At the moment the problem for the average consumer is manageable as the amount of data stored is minimal (compared to how much you will accumulate over a lifetime). Choose products which are platform agnostic or the storage resides on your own PC. Try not to convert assets into unknown formats unless it‘s easy to convert back plus ensure that if you are backing up to a cloud you are backing up at the same quality rather than a lower resolution copy which is the usual setting for pictures. The choices you make now will last for a long, long time, so when you want the next shiny toy, don‘t forget to think about your future not just the manufacturers.