Archives for the month of: September, 2010

Found this gem of a list.

So now I know to say that I was tempted by a delectation of nymphs, surrounded by a nervousness of AI’s and beset upon by a torment of ogres.

This infographic chart from the Colour Lovers site maps the branding colours of the most powerful websites.  The two top ranking websites don’t stick to one colour but use a rainbow mixture. And the top brands competing in a same area use a similar colour scheme. For example Facebook adopt a neutral blue colour and twitter went further with a softer blue.

Never one to be left behind when it comes to utilising new technologies, the American Army have fully jumped on board the smart phone app’s band wagon.

However, rather than hiring an expensive team of experts to create an arsenal of useful applications, they crowdsourced the task by running a competition.

The winners have been announced and, although most app’s are concerned with providing quick access to information, we can begin to see how the military might begin to start using this growing phenomenen.

‘Movement Projection’ & ‘Disaster Relief Operations’ are two app’s that demostrate the ability for improving real time information about the terrain.

‘Movement Projection’ will work out the best route for a soldier or convoy to take through an environment based on updated threats and obstacles.

‘Disaster Relief Operations’ is described as ‘a web-based data survey, dissemination and analysis tool for searching, editing and creating maps viewable on Google Earth and Google Maps.’

Although it is dubbed as a tool for helping with disaster relief efforts, it is easy to imagine its implementation when dealing with large scale hostile conflicts.

Imagine a Google map with possible ambush sites, surrounding fire-fights, up to date environmental intelligence and enemy units.

With shrinking military budgets it is becoming much more likely that a soldiers iPhone will be the tool to provide this battlefield information.

A smart-phone costs around $200 and the military mobile network access programming costs around $1000 – a big saving on the $3000 – $18,000 for current devices.

One developer has already built an app for helping snipers. BulletFlight uses the iPhone accelerometer to judge angles, accesses weather information to calculate wind-speed and can let a sniper listen to his favourite tunes instead of getting bored in the field.

Mental health is an area where smart-phones are playing a role. ‘Telehealth Mood Tracker’ is an app designed to record a soldiers mental health in real time.

Turning a soldiers iPhone into a field psychiatrist, troops would complete a combination of activities from describing their mood in colours to choosing key words to describe their feelings.

This info would be fed back to the command centre leading to early discovery of potential problems. Meaning that command can dispatch Domino’s pizza when a soldier begins to show early signs of mental trauma.

Although no finalised details of any roll out of militarised smart-phones across the US army has been announced, it is likely that the time will come soon.

And any contract will prove ludicrous for whichever phone manufacturer secures the deal. I’m sure it will be a furious fight between Google and Apple.

I would place my bets on Apple. Simply because of the success of Apple branding and marketing, iPhones are cooler and more desirable than any other handsets. So the promise of having your own miltary grade iPhone when you join up will be a major boom to recruitment drives.

We have been living in the Age of Smart for a little while now.

Thanks to the iPhone, and more recently the Android handsets, smartphones have exploded into our lives. And now, for most of us, our mobile phone has become an essential tool for much more than just calling others.

Smartphones are now used extensively for social networking, media consumption, navigation, checking the weather, receiving restaurant recommendations, playing games, watching programmes, listening to music and, of course, calling people.

Add to this the advent of augmented reality (a view of the world augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery) and it is clear that the Age of Smart is seeping into all areas of our lives.

In 2012 it is estimated that smartphones will sell more units than both laptop and desktop PCs put together. Wireless data will get faster and cheaper to access through our handset. And by 2013 27% of all mobile phones will be smartphones (Morgan Stanley). Furthermore, Google’s mobile search traffic grew 50 percent in first half of 2010 and the average smartphone user will download 5 applications a month.

This rapid adoption is causing accelerated innovation which is reinforcing this growth.

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, has stated that our interaction with these devices will become more fluid and natural – they will “just work”. They will grow and begin spreading even further, for example the Android operating system will be able to act as a remote control device for Google TV, understanding verbal commands perfectly. Even more exciting is the concept of a universal translator which understands your voice and translates it into a chosen language.

He goes further, stating rather creepily in an interview with The Wall Street Journal:

“Let’s say you’re walking down the street. Because of the info Google has collected about you, “we know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are.”

Google also knows, to within a foot, where you are. Mr. Schmidt leaves it to a listener to imagine the possibilities: If you need milk and there’s a place nearby to get milk, Google will remind you to get milk.’

Obviously, it is not just Google steaming ahead with smartphone innovation. A recent picture was spread around the web showing how the new iPod Nano could look and be worn like a watch.

It is clear that smartphones will get smaller and more powerful until we can fit them comfortably anyway on our body (and maybe inside our body).

Undoubtedly this new Age of Smart will bring with it renewed discussions around privacy and security.

With our phones constantly receiving and sending information it will become easier to keep us under surveillance and expose us to abuses of power.

We will also become more susceptible to the techniques of marketing, an industry that keeps an eagle eye on technology for the next possible sales opportunity.

The latest topic in marketing is the possibilities of push notifications – the process of popping messages up onto your mobile after you opt in to receive them.

Smartphones are also a perfect platform to target and engage with the young, as they are the ones who are spedning the most amount of money and time on their smart mobile devices.

So in this new age of Smart we will become more distracted and convinced to spend online, our tiniest movements will be monitored and recorded whilst privacy is discussed more hotly than ever before.

And when our smartphones begin to do many of the tasks we do ourselves, remembering everything for us and recommending where we go and what we do – we need to ask if we are going to get less smart as our phones get smarter.

Whichever way it goes – for the first time technology will truly leave the box and spread out into our environment. And this might happen at a rate unparalleled in human existence, truly heralding the arrival of the virtual age.

I’ve just read the Independent newspapers article about the failure of Google Wave.

In keeping with the fashion of most of the commentary on the topic, it has asked the question ‘what’s the point of releasing an experiment into the wild when you’ve given it no chance to succeed?’

Dubbing Wave a solution to a problem that wasn’t there, the report seems totally confused as to why Google even tried.

What I don’t think the article realises though is quite how important an experiment Google Wave actually was.

I was really excited about the prospect of a new instant communication tool with a plethora of features to help make my working day more productive. I was expecting an improvement in collaboration, project management and tonnes of other inventive things from the geniuses at Google.

But, of course, none came! At the workplace we still use Microsoft Messenger to communicate with each other. Messenger is perfect because it is simple and does exactly what we need it to.

So the question I imagine Google needed answering was – with the launch of a new operating system just around the corner, how do we prove that we are better at Microsoft in the instant communication game?

After all, the last thing they want is a Microsoft product on their new operating system.

I am confident that when the Chrome operating system comes out (and it will do very soon) it will integrate the features that have survived the experiment. And when it does – I imagine it will be a Microsoft killer.

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