Friday, 29 November 2013

What I've been reading this week

The pace and breadth of change in technology and media is awesome right now, so my view is that people in the industry need to read widely to get a sense of what’s going on. To that end, here’s the stories that caught my eye.

This week: Macy’s becomes Minority, HBO struggles in Sweden, self-driving cars by 2020, inkjet-printed electronics and digital puzzle baffles Internet

Business models

Macy’s becomes the first big store to trial iBeacon, Apple’s new in-premise presence technology… cue Minority Report comparisons galore. In seriousness, this kind of store based presence technology should be a godsend for retailers as it can link online experiences to physical in a much more engaging way. http://gigaom.com/2013/11/20/macys-is-the-first-retailer-to-use-apples-ibeacon-for-in-store-presence/

The ultimate narcissism, combining Kinect, 3D printing and $59 to create a figurine of yourself. http://www.gizmag.com/shapify-kinect-3d-printing-selfie-statue/29885/

Not really a business model, but I’ll put it here anyhow – Eric Schmidt claims that censorship will be a thing of the past in 10 years. Only if dictatorial governments fall down in the next 10 years, Eric. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/11/21/google_end_censorship_schmidt/

Again, not business models, but a very interesting read about a mysterious Internet puzzle, seeking to recruit people for… something! http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/internet/10468112/The-internet-mystery-that-has-the-world-baffled.html

Media

HBO Nordic is an experiment in selling the channel’s wares outside of a pay TV bundle. According to this link though, it isn’t going very well. I wonder whether that’s due to the current strength of the local Swedish production industry? http://gigaom.com/2013/11/20/hbos-no-cable-experiment-goes-nowhere-netflix-handily-beats-hbo-nordic-in-sweden/

Another new news concept, brought to you by the Internet. This time the idea is to use a huge online dictionary of words and phrases to select stories based on your preferences. I don’t see how that helps, to be honest. Those familiar with the Chinese Room experiment will recall that being able to match language patterns to a meaningful response does not equate to intelligence that would be able to predict what I’d like to hear about.
http://venturebeat.com/2013/11/20/this-super-smart-news-reader-is-built-on-the-worlds-largest-dictionary/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room

Weather apps are the most popular type of application in the US. How odd. http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspx?id=6303

Technology

Nissan believes that it will put fully autonomous self-driving cars on the road by 2020. I have a small worry that in the UK we don’t have enough mobile depth of coverage to support that amount of bandwidth that these vehicles will likely need, but fingers crossed it’ll be okay! http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/20/self-driving-cars-congress-2020/

Qualcomm announce that they’ll launch a consumer smart watch in early December. This is an unusual move by them as they’re typically only involved in the design of underlying technology, rather than devices. Use of Miasol in the display is also of note – this is a low power screen technology that is readable in high light levels (unlike some LCDs). mashable.com/2013/11/18/qualcomm-toq/

Interesting timing for Qualcomm as they’ve announced lukewarm results and are making big layoffs. Strange, given how hot tech is right now. Perhaps this is a small warning sign that the model of IP generation machines like Qualcomm is under pressure from the pace of change elsewhere in the market. Everyone wants tech IP these days, after all. http://gigaom.com/2013/11/20/qualcomm-quakes-sources-say-layoffs-at-mobile-chip-giant/

Apparently parents will spend £3 billion on tech presents for their kids this Christmas, with tablets being the most requested gift. Unreal if true. £3 billion?! I was ecstatic when I received the Lego petrol station. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/11/29/parents_spend_billions_on_tech_gadgets_christmas/
http://www.1000steine.com/brickset/images/6378-1.jpg

This story cracked me up. Instagram finally launches for Windows Phone… but without the photo taking features. You couldn’t make it up… http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/20/in-dumbest-possible-launch-instagrams-windows-phone-app-leaves-out-the-photo-taking/

Wearable tech is hard because bodies are soft – particularly true of heavy, lumpy batteries. This could all be changing as some enterprising Korean researchers have figured out how to make flexible batteries using polyester yarn. If it’s commercialised it’ll be the technology of 2018! http://www.fastcolabs.com/3021915/flexible-batteries-will-bring-digital-clothing-sooner-than-later

Goldman Sachs’ view of the hottest companies in tech… that use GS as their investment advisor. http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/19/goldman-sachs-hot-tech-companies-2013-leaked-schedule/

Inkjet printed circuit boards… another step towards the fully automated fabricator! http://www.geeky-gadgets.com/liquid-metal-inkjet-printer-ink-creates-circuits-on-material-paper-and-plastic-20-11-2013

Just for fun

A fascinating view of the US’ energy usage. Terrifying for many countries is the suggestion that they’ll be energy-independent by 2020, and that’s without a serious green agenda. UK needs to buck it’s ideas up. We cannot rely on others much longer – renewables and heavy incentives to use greener sources are a must if we’re to be internationally competitive beyond this decade. IMO. http://www.viatechnik.com/us-energy-usage/

I love this super-geeky poster charting the history of NES games… If I need to explain the acronym, it’s not for you ;). http://popchartlab.com/products/the-nebula-of-nes-games

AND FINALLY!

Next April I’ll be running the London Marathon to raise money for the NSPCC. This is a great charity that does phenomenal work for children all over the world, so if you enjoy this blog, please make a donation. http://www.justgiving.com/afroglives

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