Being a little clumsy and at the same time an absolute smartphone addict, it regularly happens to me that my mobile phone slips out of my hands and lands, mostly, on its screen first on the floor. The time between realizing I dropped my phone and picking it up to check whether the screen is still in one piece usually lets my heartbeat increase drastically.
And this not only happens to me. According to a survey conducted by case manufacturer Tech21 as many as 90% of users drop their phone at least once a month (Blandford, 2013). Although this number should be regarded at with caution since Tech21’s main interest consists in selling as many phone cases as possible, it surely gives us a hint that with the rapid growth of the mobile device market phone dropping and the associated repair costs have become an issue.
However, there is good news for all the phone droppers on this planet! Soon we might not only be able to drop our phones without having to fear any consequences but we might even be able to bend them as much as we like. This can be achieved through a new superlight and superstrong material called graphene, a one atom thick layer of graphite making it both transparent and bendable. In addition to the before-mentioned characteristics, graphene also conducts heat and electricity better than anything else, making it an optimal ingredient for future LED screens (De la Fuente, 2014).
Although the technology integrating graphene into smartphone LED screens is still in its infancy and we might therefore not yet see any transparent and bendable smartphone screens in the very near future, both researchers and the mobile phone industry have launched projects exploring the possible applications for graphene (Hamill, 2014).
For those who might now be interested in graphene and its capabilities, I recommend to have a look at the following TED talk from Mikael Fogelstrom which provides some great explanations.
So what do you think? Is graphene really the new super material researchers like to promote it as? Will our future mobile devices be made of graphene? Do you see any further uses of graphene apart from the one discussed in this article?
Blandford, 2013.‘90% of people drop their phone at least once a month’, http://allaboutwindowsphone.com/, last visited: 20 September 2015.
De la Fuente, 2014.‘Graphene uses and applications’, http://www.graphenea.com/, last visited: 20 September 2015.
Hamill, 2014. ‘Smartphones Of The Future Will Use Graphene Touchscreens’, http://www.forbes.com/, last visited: 20 September 2015.
The Internet of the future will be heavily shaped by a few key trends, from hybrid and personal clouds, to new visualization and analytics techniques that will solve challenges in the domain of Big Data. But perhaps most noteworthy of all is the expectation that new companies and applications will realize the concept of an Internet of Things.
By 2020, the global internet will have 100-billion connected devices. But no longer will the majority of these devices be comprised of computers and smartphones. Instead the future envisions a web of connected washing machines, fridges and vacuum cleaners.
Companies such as Microsoft and Cisco have heavily invested in projects related to bringing the Internet of Things into fruition. They have partnered with key institutions such as the Industrial Internet Consortium and the Allseen Alliance, both dedicated to standardizing how things will connect and communicate.
Today the Internet of Things is a far away prospect in its infantile stages of conception. We see more and more devices becoming connected, such as TV’s and Alarm Systems, but connectivity on an industrial scale is lacking. One of the primary causes of this predicament stems from the lack of a common, industrially-applicable framework for the connection and communication of the myriad of ‘things’.
Allseen Alliance has released AllJoyn, a free software originally created by Quacomm but given to the Allseen Alliance for further development. It is designed to operate in any device, regardless of the manufacturer or operating system, and mediate direct communication via wireless linkages (i.e. Wifi or Bluetooth). The basic idea being that objects broadcast what they can do in the immediate vicinity. Ideally, upon entry into a defined space, your future smartwatch should be able to access and command all connected devices located therein.
The Thread Group, supported by Samsung, ARM and Google’s NEST has another perspective on how the framework for the Internet of Things should look like. Most notably, Thread explicitly distinguishes itself from being ‘just another standards body’ and bases its framework on existing standards and adds software for functions like security, routing and setup. According to the group this is imperative to minimize battery usage in devices which will have to deal with a multitude of active, broadcasting devices. Thread’s de facto sponsorship of the Bluetooth Smart brand has allowed it to capitalize early on the Internet of Things, as do its partnerships with Google and Samsung.
As the horizon draws near, companies are rushing to create the foundations of an increasingly connected global economy. The Internet of Things represents only one of the trends we expect to be realized in our lifetimes but it is taking measurable strides, being driven by a host of companies and interest groups representing a broad and diverse range of potential users. An environment of near total connectivity brings forth many challenges that will have to be confronted in the economic, social and ethical domains. Luckily, all efforts to develop a framework for the Internet of Things are open, exemplifying the level of collaboration and farsightedness that will be necessary in this awesome undertaking.
Sources not mentioned in-text:
Yes, you read that right – $277 million saved in 1 year. How? Bear with me! 🙂 Read More…
Recently a bio-medical engineer by the name of Theodore Berger has made some astonishing progress in the field of brain implants. For decades he has focused his work on deciphering the human brain and specifically the part of the brain that triggers memories (the hippocampus). He is now at a point where he is able to trigger memories in the brain of a mouse or monkey. He does this by using a computer chip which mimics the signals a hippocampus uses to trigger a memory. For now this silicon chip is still on the outside of the body and no testing has been done yet on humans. Imagine though what it could mean if Berger manages to develop a model which you can plant in your brain that will help you to recall memories. Alzheimer patients will have less issues with forgetting the names of their beloved ones, to give one example.
If this would become reality, and this is a big if, it would be a pretty large step forward in biomedical technology. But let’s take it a step further, what if we could build chips that will allow us to start dreaming at command or which will be able to feed our brain all kinds of information in a matter of seconds? Once we have unlocked the code of the brain this process could be very fast. It will probably be the ethical side of it which will slow it down. And now that we are fantasizing anyway, what about the other way around? We can put machines in our minds, but can we put our minds into a machine? According to Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google, this will also be possible in a matter of years. It all comes down to computing power for this particular challenge. It’s estimated that by 2045 we will be able to store our minds on a computer and therefore achieve (digital) immortality.
However, this means your mind will be stored on some sort of datacenter, or perhaps in a virtual reality somewhere, but you won’t actually be able to put your mind in a new body. Which is where Bergers findings and Kurzweils predictions come together. Kurzweil thinks that by 2090 all the biological parts of our body will be replaceable by manufactured body parts. Combine this with a mind you can store and download in a manufactured brain, and you have really achieved immortality.
The implications of these kinds of technologies on our society would be enormous and I’m interested to hear how you guys would feel about techniques as these.
Personally, I only need to find a way to keep myself alive until 2090.
Cohen, J. (2013) Memory Impants, MIT Technology Review, http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/513681/memory-implants/
A recent study conducted by Kahuna revealed a jaw dropping fact that has been overlooked by many:
“Nine out of ten of ALL mobile installations do not earn any form of financial return” (Green, 2013). The acceptance of this insight is alarmingly difficult for mobile developers, especially given the prominence and substantial investments in mobile applications. However, before even thinking of monetizing applications, developers must first resolve the lack of information they possess regarding the usage of their apps. What they all know and will tell you, is the number of people who have installed their application, without knowing how many of them actually USE it. So, how can developers charge their users, when they can’t even convince them to use their app?
This is where Kahuna comes in. Co-founded by Adam Marchick, Kahuna is a next generation consumer engagement engine, that allows app developers to understand user behavior. After spending valuable time and energy in creating applications, developers will now have the means of knowing the number of active users they have succeeded in drawing, once the app has been installed. The performance of Mobile applications can then be tracked and improved if needed.
The value of Kahuna is now relatively clear, but how does Kahuna exactly achieve these benefits? CEO Marchick explains that at Kahuna, “We digest millions of user behaviors, and what we do is analyze all of that to produce real-time engagement maps of every single person using both mobile and the Web. Through that, we uncover huge opportunities to increase engagement.” (Robinson, 2013).
The birth of this engagement engine, will not only result in a better understanding of user behavior but will also address the aforementioned monetization challenge by allowing the commitment of marketing campaigns based on usage patterns. On this note, Kahuna comes with more than 50 pre-built engagement campaigns, capable of increasing usage as well as income for mobile apps. It allows the “automation of outreach strategies for push notifications and emails, which customers can then tweak based on A/B testing and the initial results” (Techcrunch, 2013).
Throughout the past year, Kahuna has been tested on a cross-section of application development companies, resulting in an average of 20% growth in client purchases (Green, 2013). This promising tech start-up has caught the attention of many, including myself, who are all speculating what the future of Kahuna will hold. The launch of the Kahuna Engagement Engine will evoke great opportunities for mobile app developers and will allow the access to viable marketing information.
Green,S. (2013). Adam Marchik receives $2million in funding for kahuna. jewishbusinessnews, <http://jewishbusinessnews.com/2013/10/10/adam-marchick-receives-2-million-in-funding-for-kahuna/> Last accessed 13 October 2013.
Robinson, J. (2013). Kahuna launches with $2M in funding, looks to aid app engagement. Insidemobileapps, <http://www.insidemobileapps.com/2013/10/09/kahuna-launches-with-2m-in-funding-looks-to-aid-app-engagement/> Last accessed 13 October 2013.
Techcrunch. (2013). Kahuna raises $2M to help mobile marketers get smarter about engaging their users. Techcrunch, <http://techcrunch.com/2013/10/08/kahuna-launch/> Last accessed 13 October 2013.
Slowly but steadily they have been infiltrating all aspects of our lives, wanting to be a part of everything you do, almost like that annoying friend we all have had once. Yet I’m not talking about a friendship here, I’m aiming a little higher. Apple, Google and Microsoft high that is.
Everyone these days has a smartphone, and almost all of them are either iPhones, Android phones or Windows Phones. Laptops and computers is also a commodity we all have these days, preferably more than one. Here we meet the same competitors again; Apple, Google and Microsoft. Tablet industry; same story. And that’s not even the end of it, all of three companies are continuously expanding their reach, all for one reason: to get you into their ecosystem.
First off, we have Apple. The company that became immensely popular overnight because of the iPhone. This popularity had an influence on all of their other products they sell as well. Macbooks, iPads, Apple TV’s, for all of them sales rose incredibly. And so, the first form of an ecosystem was born. Every device you had could be an Apple, and it wasn’t long before there were people everywhere who didn’t want to touch anything not produced by Apple. These days Apple’s reputation is starting to show some cracks and dents. Competitors have caught up and the same quality products are now available, but for a lower price than Apple products. Apple has to step up their game to stay on top.
Google has always be a company which is active in a hundred different industries. It has taken them a couple of years, but they have now also moved into position to offer a full Google ecosystem. Android phones, Chromebooks and tablets manufactured by Google gives customers a viable alternative to Apple. Android has even taken over Apple as market leader, although this is also because of the sheer volume of mobile phone producers using the Android OS. The approach Google has is a bit different than Apple’s. Where the Apple ecosystem is really closed, but therefore fine-tuned to provide ultimate user satisfaction, Google has a really open system with a lot of producers and different products. Google’s motive is also a bit different, because they always have their mighty search engine in mind. For this reason they want as many people possible to have access to their products so they can track their behavior online. They are the most active with “side-projects” though. Google Glass is a completely new way of interacting with the digital world and they have also developed self-driving cars. You never know what Google comes up with next!
Then there is Microsoft. The former giant of the digital age who couldn’t keep up with the mobile market. But while many people have already written them off they are actually stepping up their game. With the introduction of the new Windows 8, the start of their own production line of Tablets (Surface) and their takeover of Nokia’s mobile department they are all set to provide users with a complete Microsoft experience. And they have the power to make a very swift comeback. What a lot of people are forgetting is that almost the complete business world is still using Windows and almost everyone uses some form of Offices. If Microsoft gives them the option to combine their long trusted Windows machine with a tablet and phone, a lot of people will be interested.
It’s very interesting to see these three companies clash with each other, recently Google has blocked Microsoft out of their services for example, but perhaps it isn’t necessary that one of them comes out of the smoke as victor? Maybe they can all exist next to each other?
Personally, my money is on Microsoft, but what do you guys think? Who has your vote as the best ecosystem around?
This is Phonebloks. The phone of the future? It could be, because I think the idea is perfect. Everybody can design his or her own ideal phone. You don’t care about NFC, a good camera or good speakers? Then use that space for a huge battery or memory! You dropped your phone and the screen broke (familiar for many iPhone users right?), just buy a new screen block and replace it yourself. It is just like Lego, pick your pieces, put them together and enjoy your own creation.
While this sounds like a great idea, there are also many less enthusiastic reactions, like the phone will never become as flat as recent smartphones and four pins are simply not enough to connect the different parts.
Though this project seems to me like an amazing idea, but I have my doubts about how much these blocks would cost and if it can overcome its technological difficulties.
What are your thoughts about this innovative Dutch (yeah it is Dutch) project? Is this actually the phone worth keeping?
IN THE NEAR FUTURE, INSTANT DNA IDENTIFICATION HAS CREATED AN INFORMATION GRID THAT MAKES CRIME EXTREMELY DIFFICULT, AND ANONYMITY IMPOSSIBLE. BUT, SUDDENLY, THE SAME ID’S START TO APPEAR IN DIFFERENT LOCATIONS. A PRO-LEVEL AND INTELLIGENT SCI- FI PIECE ABOUT THE GENESIS OF A BIG BROTHER STATE.
Ever since George Orwell coined the term ‘Big Brother’ in his seminal novel 1984, storytellers have become fixated with the notion of a totalitarian state where surveillance reaches total control. Written by Ryan Condal and directed by Dennis Liu, Plurality is the latest science-fiction film to focus on these Orwellian notions, as their 14-minute short explores where hi-tech policing allows for instant surveillance. Feeling like a cross between The Terminator and Minority Report, the plot of Plurality centres around a futuristic New York, where everything you do is traced through ‘the Grid’.
“The Grid takes all those things unique to you, your social security number, your passport, your debit and credit accounts and links them to one thing…your DNA. With just a touch, the Grid collects a tiny sample of your genetic material, ID-ing you instantly. Then a purchase can be deducted directly from your personal accounts, or you can unlock and start your car and it all works within a margin error of 0.001% ….the ultimate social network!”
Revolving around notions of personal privacy in a digital age, the themes, ideas and even some of the technology that exist in the futuristic world of Plurality are not ones that seem implausible. With fingerprint recognition already in use with some automobiles, concerns about computer and phone privacy already spreading due to hacking and social media, hacking, some may even predict aspects of Condal and Liu’s premonition of society as inevitable. Thus the evolution of technology brings many possibilities, but also possible risks concerning privacy. This video illustrates these both aspects.