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Thoughts on Apple’s iPad Mini event

By on October 24, 2012

Was it a home run?

Apple was firing on all cylinders with their event last night that formally introduced to the world to the iPad Mini along with a refreshed iPad and Macs. Here’s what I think about the new products from Apple:

iPad Mini

From what I have read, the iPad Mini looks like a beautiful tablet that is not only thin and light but has an impressive screen even though it’s lower in resolution to the dime-a-dozen Android tablets. With the same screen resolution and aspect ratio of the original iPad, Apple has made sure that all of the 275,000+ apps for the iPad work on the mini right away which is good for Apple and great for developers.

Where I see people fired up about it is the pricing. At $329, it is certainly not the cheapest 7″ tablet but when has Apple ever competed on price. From their first iPod to the latest series of Macs, Apple has ALWAYS focused on catering to the premium sector for it’s market and that is exactly what the new iPad Mini does. I think Apple is perfectly happy letting Amazon, Google and Samsung battle it for the budget sector while focused on getting the iPad when they’re willing to “upgrade” to a premium device.

iPad 4

The refresh to iPad certainly took me by surprise. I bought the iPad 3 about six months back and there is a new one already which is very un-Apple like. It has the faster A6X processor, the new lightning connector and an HD ready FaceTime camera. Good updates but I see no reason to upgrade my iPad 3.

iMacs

Certainly my favorite devices from last night’s event. The design for the new iMacs is stunning and Apple has not skipped on specs either. You can order one with the latest Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs along with they latest NVIDIA GPUs for mobiles- all the way unto the GTX 680MX which will surely pack quite a punch for gamers. The Fusion drive with a mixture of SSD and mechanical is certainly a good welcome, however, I think it should have been made a standard instead of an optional add-on. I will certainly be upgrading to the new 27″ iMac.

13″ MacBook Pro Retina

The 15″ MacBook Pro Retina is stunning and the family expanded with the 13″ model last night. It is pretty much what was expected out the 13″ model, however. the lack of a dedicated GPU makes it a bit less desirable. Had it featured one, I would have sold my 15″ MBP and gotten that but now I’ll wait until Intel releases their new generation of Maxwell CPUs before moving back to the smaller form factor. Maybe the Air would gain Retina by then as well which would totally rock.

Mac Mini

I have two Mac Minis at home- one acting as sort-of server for my media and the other connected to the TV acting as a Media Center with Plex. With faster CPUss, I could easily see the Mac as a decent office level computer as well. The upgrade to USB3 will certainly help and with the Fusion drive, should make the device fairly zippy.

All-in-all, I think it was a pretty packed event from Apple last night with more new hardware announcements than any other recent events. Will these new products be successful? Do we really need to ask?


Technology as a Hegemon driver

By on September 24, 2012

How history and technology are related.

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I am a big history buff which used to be my favorite subject in school and to date the histories of different eras continues to fascinate me. My choice to work in technology marketing also makes me a geek, therefore inspiring me to dedicate this article to talking about both and how they are related.

In the 1500s, advances in navigation technology mixed with courage allowed Christopher Columbus to sail across the Atlantic to find the Americas. For years after, the Spanish reaped the rewards of shipping gold and other precious jewels to Spain thanks, in part, to holding the edge in navigation technology, allowing the Monarchy to reign for 50 odd years as the undisputed global power – the Hegemon. A hegemon is defined as the center of the world, economically; a global super-power that we all know to be the US today. However history is littered with examples of hegemons that capitalized on the technological advances of their era to rule.

In the 1600s, albeit for a short while, the Dutch held the Hegemon title, once again thanks to superior shipping innovations. For 200 years after the Dutch, it was for the English to carry the crown, establishing a hegemony status with the steam engine, textile mill and other revolutions of the Industrial Era. The English imported raw material from all over the world only to re-export them as finished goods.

War in the first half of the 1900s brought a new player to the front – USA, who continues to dominate the global landscape. The US was crowned Hegemon thanks to technology advances in weaponry, such as the Oppenheimer’s Nuclear Bomb, information technology including Cerf’s Internet, automotive with Ford’s Automobile, and space with Armstrong’s trip to the Moon. The list is endless. The era of the US Baby Boomers resulted in an army of engineers who powered the innovation engine, giving birth to Silicon Valley, Facebook, Wall Street and has firmly implanted the US as the hegemon of our lifetime.

Today, technology is still evolving and it is thought that the crown may eventually pass to China, which is accredited with inventing paper, the compass, gunpowder and printing. The timing is suspect with the current financial crisis; however I choose not to speculate; this is not about politics, but about advances in technology that determine the duration of hegemon status adorned by a country.

So, a question presents itself: Who will be the next hegemon? Which technology, with a confluence of several other factors – social, financial, etc, will determine the next lynchpin of the global economy?

In my opinion, after each continent has had its turn at the hegemon crown, technical advances will place it on Africa. Africa still has several roadblocks to overcome such as infrastructure, education, socio-political dynamics; however China was but akin to a small fishing village until the 1960s. At first manufacturing moved into China and simultaneously infrastructure improved which encouraged further investment to the extent that eventually, a Made in China label became sign of prosperity and pride. China, akin to the US, now produces several thousand engineers every year. These engineers, I read, are using existing technologies to help China leap ahead in telecommunications, manufacturing, transportation etc. However the cost of living and wages in many of China’s coastal cities, the original manufacturing hubs, has shot up and industries are either moving into rural China or moving to Vietnam and Cambodia. It is this constant hunt for the lowest manufacturing cost base that will eventually lead industries to Africa.

But to become viable for business, Africa has to be overcome its afore-mentioned hurdles. Technology is already bringing about change – Internet costs are dropping and consequently penetration is increasing. Recent socio-political changes in North Africa used social media platforms as a rallying call–Telcos are rolling out 4G or LTE (Long Term Evolution) infrastructure in Western Europe and Africa simultaneously. With plenty of sun, solar panels might be the answer for rural areas plagued by electricity shortages.

But the question remains, which technology advance will make Africa the next Hegemon? I am not an oracle to see beyond the next 3 years – heck, I couldn’t even predict the tablet takeover until 2009. Any thoughts on that?

Manish Punjabi, Marketing Manager (META) at AMD
His/her postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.


Another year, another iPhone

By on September 16, 2012

Another non-exciting upgrade?

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We’ve been going over this for the last few years- Apple releases a new iPhone, everyone says yawn. Then the unit arrives and we have a go at it and suddenly it becomes the best thing ever. Apple sells more units than they have done for any of their previous products and other manufacturers take a really long hard look at why their phone that appeared superior in every spec is suddenly dwarfed and irrelevant. And they scramble back to their copy machines design studios.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Apple does not believe in radically changing the way their products look or operate just for the sake of changing the way their products look and operate. Look at the following picture of first-ever Mac Book Pro released early 2006 next to the Retina display version released a couple of months back.

It took Apple seven years to go from left to right and you can clearly tell that the one on the right is an evolution of the one of the left. The iPhone 5 follows Apple’s design philosophy- subtle changes for the better but an overall appearance that the current user is extremely familiar with. The new iPhone 5 is a bit taller, a bit thinner and a bit lighter. However, no one will mistake the new iPhone for not being an iPhone.

Though I haven’t played with one yet, most opinions I’ve read from journalists that attended the launch event have high praises for the construction quality- almost comparing it to fine-made-jewelry. Add to that the latest in tech such as super speedy processor, LTE connectivity and an excellent camera and you have a great overall device. And that refined experience is exactly what Apple aims to give you every year. For the millions of us that will make this most successful Apple product ever, that is good enough. However, you’ll always find haters that won’t stop complaining- even if Apple manages to make Christina Aguilera appear when rubbing the new iPhone.


Don’t pre-order your unofficial iPhone 5 just yet

By on September 3, 2012

Stop those itchy fingers before possibly making a pricey mistake.

It’s a sad but true fact that consumers in the Middle East don’t always officially get the gadgets when they’re originally announced. This is especially true for some of the highly popular products from Apple- like the iPhone and the iPad. To not go through the excruciating pain of waiting, many of us (including myself) have gone through getting the desired product through grey channels or ordering directly from markets where the product is available (such as the US or parts of Europe).

With the iPhone 5, or whatever it’s called, that is supposedly coming up in the next few weeks, many of us are getting our credit cards ready to get Apple’s latest Smartphone in our hands before it is officially released in the region- which I’m assuming will be around GITEX or end of the year. However, I would like to caution potential buyers to hold off their purchase and the reason for that is the following picture

Supposedly, the new iPhone will use a Nano SIM card which is smaller than the current Micro SIM card being used on iPhone 4/4S, the iPad and certain other devices such as the HTC One X and the Nokia Lumia 800. Some of you might argue that since we were able to cut our original SIM card to a Micro SIM size when the iPhone 4 was launched and this would be a similar process. Maybe so, but let me post another picture comparing the sizes of the three SIM card sizes.

As you can see, the room for “getting the size right” is much smaller to work with on the Nano SIM. While the Micro SIM has some borders around the golden connectors giving you some space to cut off and still be ok, the Nano size doesn’t and the option to royally mess up your SIM card is more likely. Also, it is not clear whether your current SIM/Micro SIM is fully compatible with Nano SIM, in which case we will have to wait until our telcos make this new standard officially available. I’m assuming that will not happen until the new iPhone is officially launched in the region.

So although I know that your hands are itching to pre-order the as-of-yet unannounced iPhone through your buddy in the US or a local website that is promising instant delivery the time it is released, I would suggest you hold off until we find out if the new iPhone is using a Nano SIM or not and if it is, whether or not the current Micro SIMs can be cut to make it work. Because if they can’t, you will have to wait for Etisalat, du or your regional provider to make these cards available in order to use your new iPhone as a, y’know, phone.


Is Apple’s staunch defense of the iPhone warranted?

By on August 27, 2012

We go back to 2007 to the original iPhone reviews to find out.

“Steve Jobs recently declared during an internal company meeting that he believes all phones will, some day, work the same way as the iPhone and that those who worked at Apple during the iPhone launch will be able to tell their grandchildren about it.”

2007 - Source

I’ve been accused of being a fanboy of many clubs over the past fifteen years. I remember when it was AMD and Intel battling it out before Intel introduced the Core architecture. Then it was 3DFX vs NVIDIA which turned into NVIDIA vs ATI that has now become AMD vs NVIDIA. There was also OS X vs Windows and most recently, iPhone vs everything else. My answer has always been that I’ve been a fanboy of technology- show me a better overall product than the one I’ve been preaching about and you’ll see me convert almost immediately.

What has changed over the years is how we use and measure technology. It’s no longer something purely analytical such as faster benchmarks or lower heat generation or smaller dye-sizes. We’re at a point where our hearts decide what works better for us. And sometimes we force our biased opinion on others because we don’t have the analytical data to prove it. Maybe this post of mine will come across as something like that but I knew I had to write something after reading some of the most absurd reactions of people on the Apple vs. Samsung case verdict on my twitter feed.

But instead of sharing my own personal opinions, which some of you will label as biased before even attempting to read this article, I decided to put together quotes from some of the most popular, reputable and respectable websites. These are quotes from their original iPhone review back in 2007- long before every Smartphone looked like a slab of glass from top to bottom. Before we get to the quotes, here are pictures from three of the articles I’ve used comparing the iPhone to the then-current crop of Smartphones.

Image taken from Anandtech's iPhone review

 

Image taken from Ars Technica's iPhone review

Image taken from GSM Arena's iPhone review

I’m not sure what your eyes see but what I see is that the original iPhone looking very different than almost all other Smartphones that were available at it’s time. Now lets get to the quotes from five years back. I’ve arranged these quotes alphabetically based on the name of the website.

AnandTech

“The iPhone’s interface is its biggest selling point. For years you’ve had to force yourself to conform to your cell phone’s UI, the iPhone is the first phone I’ve used that works the way you’d expect it to. The elegance and simplicity of the interface just makes sense…”

“…going back and forth between it (iPhone) and the Samsung Blackjack or the Blackberry Curve just highlights how much of an improvement in usability it is over the competition.”

http://www.anandtech.com/show/2265/3

 

Ars Technica

“The iPhone is now out and promises to revolutionize the way we use our phones forever. You don’t have to love it; you don’t even have to like it. You will, however, be witness to a great upheaval in the mobile communications business because of it. ”

“…like iPod 1.0, this design set out to accomplish the basics of what a full-featured Internet phone should be.”

http://arstechnica.com/apple/2007/07/iphone-review/

 

Engadget

“To date no one’s made a phone that does so much with so little, and despite the numerous foibles of the iPhone’s gesture-based touchscreen interface, the learning curve is surprisingly low. It’s totally clear that with the iPhone, Apple raised the bar…”

“Only a few days after launch it’s easy to see June 29th as a watershed moment that crystalized the fact that consumers will pay more for a device that does more — and treats them like a human being, not a cellphone engineer. Imagine that.”

http://www.engadget.com/2007/07/03/iphone-review-part-3-apps-and-settings-camera-itunes-wrapup/

 

Gizmodo

“This is what the phone of the future will look like”

“Look at other handsets from Nokia, Helio, Palm, Sony Ericsson, LG and Samsung; or anything running the vomit-inducing Windows Mobile.”

http://gizmodo.com/276116/apple-iphone-review

 

GSM Arena

“First of all the speed is incredible – no lags, no hanging, simply marvelous. Plus, now you get to use the revolutionary gesture-based (or multi-touch) control system.”

“When it comes to touch navigation, the iPhone offers probably the most intuitive and user-friendly interface interaction we’ve seen so far.”

http://www.gsmarena.com/apple_iphone-review-155p3.php

 

New York Times

But even in version 1.0, the iPhone is still the most sophisticated, outlook-changing piece of electronics to come along in years. It does so many things so well, and so pleasurably, that you tend to forgive its foibles.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/27/technology/circuits/27pogue.html?_r=1

 

Wall Street Journal

Our verdict is that, despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer. Its software, especially, sets a new bar for the smart-phone industry, and its clever finger-touch interface, which dispenses with a stylus and most buttons, works well…”

“…the iPhone is a whole new experience and a pleasure to use.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118289311361649057.html.html

———-

Yes, I’ve highlighted some words from the quotes above to make a statement. Phones did not look or behave the way they do now before the iPhone was introduced. Apple did in fact disrupt the industry, revolutionized the way Smartphones were used and changed the game forever by setting a new bar.

“And boy, have we patented it!” – Steve Jobs

Competition is good- it certainly breeds innovation. Look at Windows Phone which I think has a better looking UI than iOS. Look at Google Now which is a fantastic tool for location-aware services. But simply copying a design to make your consumer buy a wanna-be product, well, that had to be stopped sooner or later. Apple has every right to defend something it created.


Why Windows Phone 8 will fail

By on August 26, 2012

It wont make the dent in mobile space that Microsoft or Nokia would like it to.

Let me me clear right from the start- I’m not saying that Windows Phone 8 will be a bad OS. On the contrary, I’m really looking forward to testing it out as I love the UI of my Lumia 800. However, I don’t believe it will be successful in making a big dent in the mobile OS space and my three reasons for that are as follows:

Where is the current growth coming from?

Windows Phone has certainly been growing as far as market share is concerned but not at the expense of either iOS or Android- the two dominant players in the mobile space that also continue to grow. Microsoft has been picking up RIM’s falling subscriber base to an extend and the number of people jumping ship from the BlackBerry platform will continue to shrink as the year comes to an end because of two reasons: Most of the folks remaining with BlackBerry LIKE their BlackBerry and second, BlackBerry 10 is just around the corner so folks looking into abandoning their current BlackBerry will probably wait and see what RIM has to offer.

Abandoning your hero product

Microsoft and Nokia made quite a bit of noise with the Lumia series- even though Nokia already knew that it wasn’t going to be until Windows Phone 8 or Apollo is released that they will have a solid device (as suggested by Nokia’s regional manager during my interview with him at Gitex last year). Yet, both Microsoft and Nokia spent a lot of advertising dollars to get the Lumia 800 or 900 in the hands on end-users which, pretty much turned out to be the hero product for Windows Phone 7.5 (aka Mango)

I especially feel the pain for Lumia 900 owners who bought into a device that will be obsolete six months into it’s release as Microsoft has officially stated that none of the current Windows Phone devices will be upgradeable to Windows Phone 8. I think that is a lousy move from Microsoft. Neither Apple, nor Google has made their previous-gen device obsolete when releasing a new OS. Just look at iOS6 being able to run fine on the iPhone 4 and 4S just as Jellybean runs on the Galaxy Nexus without any issues. Microsoft needs to be better than Google and Apple to attract consumers to it’s platform and neglecting the current user base, no matter how small it is, is not a good idea for a platform that is only on the second version of it’s OS.

Relating to Metro will not happen instantly

One of the key strategies for Microsoft is providing the Metro interface everywhere- from your PC to your Xbox and your tablet as well as your Smartphone. They want an interface that the consumer can instantly relate to, no matter which platform they’re using. There is no denying that out of all Microsoft products, Windows enjoys the biggest market share however, Metro will not be available on Windows until it’s released towards the end of the year and even then, it will take time for people to learn and recognize Metro- obviously assuming that consumers to take a liking to it. That takes time. I’d say a minimum of one year so Microsoft won’t be able to use that card for a while.

So there you have it- my reasons on why Windows Phone 8 won’t be a successful O/S for Microsoft. Again, I’m not saying that it won’t be a good OS but I’d bet on Windows Phone 9 as the product that will have a better chance at shaping the mobile landscape in its favor.


Social Networks: It’s all a big lie

By on August 12, 2012

We’re continually feeding lies to the Social Machine.

I’m a young entrepreneur responsible for a couple of highly-successful tech startups. While I’m not coding away the killer UX for my next application, I enjoy arranging a cruise on my yacht for my buddies off the Palm Island and towards Omani waters where we go scuba diving in the middle of the night. And here is what I look like:

What you saw and read above is a slightly incorrect representation of my true-self- were I to post it on a social network. Or at least that’s what the latest study dubbed as the “Ultra You” campaign initiated by Intel and conducted by Redshift Research tells us. The study was conducted across eight countries in the EMEA region with 4,374 individuals participating, however, I have taken data based purely on the responses out of the UAE which made up a little under 10% of the total sample.

So what did we find out? Re-read my intro and you’ll know know how I came about making that up- 29% men post info to make them look more intelligent, 22% only post flattering profile pictures and 21% make themselves seem more fun than they actually are. When it comes to the opposite sex, 41% of women only post flattering profile pictures, 24% post info to make them look more intelligent and only 5% want to make themselves seem more fun.

So why is it that we feel compelled to lie when networking socially? According to the survey, both men and women do it mostly because of their egos or to find love/friendship. Other reasons include covering up insecurities, impressing other people or to simply find a better job. The scary part is that 68% of us wished we were more like the person we describe ourselves as on social media.

What I found hilarious was that, according to that same set of people, 62% believe that people divulge too much information about themselves online and 87% think that there should be guidelines on what people can post on social media. Moreover, 65% said that they’ve felt exposed by information other people have shared about them while 40% have posted contents themselves that they have later-on regretted posting.

What does that tell us about ourselves? I’m no psychiatrist so I’m not going to analyze it for you but it seems clear to me that we are still in the process of getting comfortable with using social media and like most all new things, are trying to find boundaries that should not be crossed.


The resolutionary wars

By on August 6, 2012

Retina displays will re-ignite the GPU wars.

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Fifteen years back, a GPU upgrade was super exciting yearly ritual with NVIDIA and ATI fiercely competing for the performance crown. To further challenge their engineers, monitor sizes and resolutions kept growing bigger as well. But then came high definition televisions that “fixed” the resolution to 1920×1080 pixels and the computer display industry followed. Display sizes settled between 21 to 24 inches and resolutions on these displays never really exceeded 1920×1200 pixels. Some enthusiasts (myself included) bought 30” monitors with a higher 2560×1600 resolution but even that standard has been around for almost a decade now.

With resolutions locked in, GPU manufacturers started adding features such as better Anti-Aliasing and higher Anisotropic filtering to improve image quality instead of pumping more pixels. However, all that is about to change back and Apple is currently leading the industry with it’s ultra high-res retina displays. The iPhone was the first one to get such a screen but then the iPad followed and now we have a MacBook Pro with retina display that has a screen resolution of 2880×1800 pixels on a 15.4” panel.

Suddenly, the CPU and GPU are required to do a lot more work and I find it amusing how this quad core of a beast with an NVIDIA GT650m GPU can sometimes struggle to render web pages that my outgoing MacBook Air with a Core 2 Duo and an integrated GPU could handle gracefully. But that’s the sacrifice you make to shape up the future of technology. I’m a sucker for beautiful displays and I’m glad that Apple has taken this initiative to pretty much remove any form of pixelation that is now suddenly so obvious on other laptops with standard screens.

In order to provide a good user experience, the new MacBook Pro has forced Apple to do something that you would never expect them to do- overclock a component. The GT650M GPU found on the retina screen MacBook Pro has a clock speed of 900MHz which is even higher than the stock speed of a GeForce GT660M (835 MHz.) That’s a pretty bold move by Apple that normally likes to underclock components, however, it just goes on to show that the current form of technology, as far as performance and thermals are concerned,  isn’t necessarily retina-ready.

Since Apple has already fired the first shot, it won’t be very long before such high resolution displays become the norm in high-end laptops and then an industry standard for any mid to high-end product. We’ve already seen a good number of phones with even higher resolutions than the iPhone while ASUS has already come up with Transformer Infinity that is approaching the pixel density that the new iPad sports. Surely, laptops are next.

This will also kick start the GPU race once again to handle a larger number of pixels and besides NVIDIA and AMD, Intel will also be a challenger. And while ten years back nobody really looked at power consumption, the challenge this time around will be harder to keep components cooler and quieter. GPUs with cooling solutions that sound like hair dryers are no longer in fashion and in order to compete the players now have much stricter referee. Fun times ahead.


Silencing Apple critics

By on July 29, 2012

When it comes to the design of it’s products, Apple has very few critics.

Unlike most other companies that send us products for review, Apple is one of the few that is present in many spaces and makes all of its own software and hardware. Be it an MP3 Player, a Phone, a Tablet, a laptop or even a set top box- Apple has full control over the hardware and the software across their entire range of products. Apple, like Steve Jobs (RIP), is extremely critical of aesthetics and doesn’t mind sacrificing functionality if it does not live up to it’s design expectations. And that, I believe, is the primary reason why many times, their products cause a huge divide when it comes to end users.

The equation of fanboys vs haters is pretty much split in the middle. For every person I’ve met that blindly follows Apple, there is one who is over-critical. However, if you remove software from the equation, you’ll find that amount of people that love Apple’s product designs are far more in quantity. Like it or not, Apple has been on the forefront of industrial design over the last few years and is one area where they lead and others follow.

Take, for example, the MacBook Pro and the Unibody design that Apple introduced back in 2008. That set the bar for most professional laptops. Then came the iPhone that pretty much changed the entire mobile landscape and finally the iPad that every other tablet manufacturer is trying to compete against. I’m not saying that laptops or phones or tablets didn’t exist before Apple products- however, Apple’s influence over the product’s design is so simple, effective and robust that it becomes the standard to follow. Take the MacBook Air for example. Almost every Ultrabook that I have reviewed takes its design inspiration from that.

The latest product to come out of Apple that will certainly have an impact on the industry is the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display. I’ve been using it for a few days now and I can say without doubt that it’s one of the finest laptops I have used. The pixel filled Retina Display that we previously saw on the iPhone and then iPad makes an introduction on laptops and it is insanely beautiful. After using the new MacBook Pro for a few days, it will become difficult for me to appreciate displays on other laptops that come in for review from now on.

Over time, I’m sure other manufacturers will catch up and provide extremely high resolution displays as well just like they caught on with other Apple products but I’m sure that by that time, Apple will have something new for us to lust after. You may not like the restrictions that Apple puts on it’s products or argue about the lack of features on the software side, but when it comes to the design of their products, suddenly, a room full of Apple critics becomes quiet. And that’s because they’re too busy picking their jaws up from the floor.


Google Glass: The flip-side

By on July 19, 2012

Is the world ready for augmented reality head-gears?

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So Steve Mann went ahead and got himself into an odd situation. Again. Back in 2002, airport security broke some of his equipment causing over $50,000 of damage. What equipment, you might ask? His wearable computer system. Yes, that’s right. Designed to augment his memory & keeping a check on his life-sustaining signs, while at the same time enhancing his vision, he wears electronic sensors & a computer wherever he goes. And back in 2002, while on the way to Toronto via St. John’s International Airport in Newfoundland, he went through a three-day ordeal where he was searched & stripped of his contraptions by security personnel. By the way, Steve Mann is the pioneer of wearable computing and a professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto. And recently, he was all over the news again. Apparently, the guys at a French McDonalds restaurant didn’t approve Mann sporting his own custom made Glass, Google’s Augmented Reality headset. Yes, the head mounted device that sports an augmented reality display. Talk about zombies, and this is what comes to my mind. Oh well, that’s just me. Anyway, the incident back in 2002 might have been strange or far fetched to many of us, but to think that Google is releasing it’s own augmented reality gear for mainstream consumers in 2014 makes me think that the possibilities are not that far away. But at what cost?

Is the world ready for augmented reality head-gears? You walk around, wearing the thin & transparent eyepiece, ducking and moving around nooks and corners, eying everyone that comes to your focus. And if I was at the other end of it, knowing that it might be some sort of a privacy invading device (it has a camera, who knows if its recording, right?!) I wouldn’t be too happy about it. The point is, the rest of the society has to be ready for such a device, or else you might end up losing it, or worse, hurt your wallet. To think that Mann had paperwork from his doctor explaining the need for such a contraption, and yet having his gadget pulled from his head (which is permanently attached by the way) is a stark reality to the flip-side of this cutting edge technology. Makes you think doesn’t it?

Yes, even though sousveillance is generally accepted, how troublesome might it be when we have a permanent camera hanging from our faces? It’s just not a matter of dropping your phone into your pocket after quickly sending a tweet, or taking a shot. The augmented reality is a persistent thing; and to think that you are trying to do it to the whole world! There will be a level of perceived detachment between the ones using it, and the ones that are not. Each new technology brings with it an adoption life-cycle… who knows how long it will take the laggards to catch up to the early adopters. And it is similar to this case too: it will be interesting to see how the old schemas gets challenged, and maybe forced into acceptance. It’s a brave new world out there folks. It’s time to get into the “zombie-groove.”


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