Archive by Author | bwyck

Li-Fi: Internet emitting light bulbs

As the internet is expanding rapidly and new households are being connected to the internet on a daily basis, the demand for new technologies to facilitate this rapid expansion is growing as well. The old architecture of the internet had several drawbacks such as IPv4. However, we have come a long way and practically every place has wireless internet (Wi-Fi). The advantages of Wi-Fi over cable networks are obvious and are the catalyst for the surge in mainstream adoption of wireless technology worldwide. For example, Taipei is currently implementing a free public Wi-Fi network for the city.

China is a rapid rising economy at the moment and, as a result, its huge amount of citizens are moving to urban settings in a fast pace. These demographic changes put a huge amount of stress on governments, both national and local, to facilitate this transformation adequately. Although a large part of China is already making use of the internet, it still is very limited in terms of amount of connections in smaller cities and internet speed. Moreover, let’s not forget the great firewall of China blocking a large amount of content on the internet to Chinese society. Nevertheless, scientists at China’s Fudan University have managed to create a futuristic solution: internet emitting light bulbs.

This technology, dubbed Li-Fi, can at the moment provide 4 computers per bulb internet at speeds of 150 mbps which is much higher than the average broadband connection in China. As you can see, this new technology might provide China and other countries new ways for internet adoption. Moreover, it could provide companies huge investment costs of large internet servers and router networks within the firm; rather, it could replace all the light bulbs with Li-Fi ones as light is essential within society.

To me, these are interesting developments and could lead to a more worldwide adoption of the internet, creating an even more connected world. Also, imagine the possibilities of this techology such as Li-Fi streetlighting. Can you think of other usefull solutions?

Google hijacks Microsoft’s Windows 8

Microsoft released the latest version of its operating system, Windows, a bit more than one year ago. Windows 8 as it is called was Microsoft’s attempt at penetrating the mobile market of tablets and other mobile devices with a single operating system. The interface, dubbed Metro, is clearly optimized for touch based interaction; the start menu has been replaced with big interactive ‘tiles’ that provide shortcuts to the most commonly used apps. As such, the system sort of mimics iOS’ and Android’s interface currently the two dominant operating systems on tablets and mobile phones.

Google in its constant quest for market share has found a way to exploit the interface of its rival Windows 8. Chrome is Google’s web browser and currently the most used browser on the internet with a market share of about 35-40%. One reason for Chrome’s success is the availability on the majority of operating systems on not only mobile devices, but also desktop systems. Moreover, Google has extended the Chrome product line beyond the browser into a complete operating system based on Linux called Chrome OS.

Here comes the trick: Windows 8 enables software to launch in a so called ‘Metro-style mode’. The original intended function of this feature is to give applications in Windows 8 a coherent and consistent user interface in line with the OS itself. However, the latest versions of Chrome in this metro-style mode is basically identical to Chrome OS. As such, you have the functionality and user interface of Google’s operating system within a Windows ecosystem, including an app launcher and toolbar with Google apps such as Chrome, Gmail, Google Docs, and YouTube.  This strategy, if not stopped by Microsoft, will let Google develop its own apps ecosystem even more than it has done so far on Android and the web.

It is not clear whether Microsoft will continue to allow this, but it clearly shows the intense competition of these companies. I find it a bold move by Google, but doubt that Microsoft will allow this to happen for a long period. Microsoft is already losing market share because it moved rather late into the mobile industry and most probably does not want to fight Google on more fronts than it is already doing.

What do you think? Will Microsoft allow this strategy, or perhaps even pull a Google itself? And do you consider this move by Google to ethically responsible?