Archive for the ‘Cellphones’ Category

By Alistair Fairweather

Of all tech companies Apple Inc is the champion of playing hard-to-get. For 18 months it has had geeks and journalists salivating over rumours of another revolutionary product.

Finally, on January 5 the Wall Street Journal broke the (sort of) official news – Apple will be revealing a “multimedia tablet device” in January, and may begin shipping as early March.

Before you get too excited, that’s tablet as in Ten Commandments, not as in Panado. Essentially it’s a touch screen device around 11 inches (28cm) across which is rumoured to be named the iSlate. Imagine an iPhone or iPod touch, but with four times the screen area and you’re pretty close to Apple’s new device.

So why would Apple want to launch a giant iPod? Their seminal application strategy has made its small-form devices (iPhone and iPod touch) incredibly versatile and useful. But no one would willingly edit an entire document on an iPhone, or watch a whole movie on an iPod touch.

That’s where the iSlate comes in – it’s an entire laptop squashed into something the size and weight of a laptop screen. And because of the touch screen there is no need for peripherals like a mouse or keyboard – you do everything with the device itself.

But to think of it in those terms is to miss the potential game-changing genius that made the iPhone such a huge hit. The revolutionary thing about the iPhone interface is that it’s “gestural” – it understands what you want to do by the gestures you use. Swipe both fingers across the screen and it slides to the next image in a slideshow.

Tap your finger on an area and it “activates” (like a link being clicked). Stretch your fingers across the screen to zoom in and pinch them back to zoom out. When people first experienced this it was like something out of a sci-fi movie – Minority Report had come to life. Now imagine what Apple’s engineers will do with four times more screen area to play with. One thing is certain – the iSlate won’t simply be the iPhone interface blown up to scale.

Market-defining interfaces have long been Apple’s trademark, and the iSlate should be no exception. No one is watching the launch of the iSlate more keenly than magazine and newspaper publishers. Tablet devices may prove their saviour, allowing them to reach their readers cheaper and quicker while still providing all the visual appeal of their paper editions.

Reading on a laptop is clumsy, but flipping virtual pages on the iSlate will be as close to a “real” magazine as you can currently get. Of course this model is predicated on the iSlate having built-in internet capabilities (in order to seamlessly deliver new editions) but that looks to be a near certainty.

There’s a lot of debate around the pricing of the device. Apple’s cheapest laptop retails at $1 000 and the iSlate will probably cost the same amount, at least at first. Which begs the question – who would buy a tablet when you can get a laptop for the same amount?

Then again we said the same thing about the iPhone when it launched with a $600 price tag – and Apple have sold over 40 million of them. Will the iSlate live up to the hype? Or will it, like the MacBook Air, be one of Apple’s rare missteps?

On January 6 Hewlett Packard and Microsoft announced their collaboration on their own tablet, which should be on sale around the middle of 2010. The touch screen revolution clearly in full swing, so if Apple don’t succeed someone else will.

– News24

Augmented reality (AR) is a view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with  virtual computer-generated imagery . AR, originally coined in 1990 by Thomas Caudell, is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements, like for example sports scores on TV during a match. With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally usable. This post will explore the applications and possibilities of such a (AR) reality.

Augmented Reality

The internet is now going to be smeared all over everything, everywhere you go information  is turned inside out and in the very near future it’ll be worse.  Augmented Reality is in some ways just another version of the web; a web applied, through novel interfaces.

How AR works

Emerging AR applications use two basic approaches:

In one, users hold up a specially coded sheet (which they can print) in front of a webcam or video camera and computer monitor.

Digital encoding is translated and displayed in a moving, 3D holographic form that can be rotated and otherwise manipulated.

The second, and perhaps hotter, way uses an iPhone 3GS, Google Android or similar new smart device to view the physical environment, say a city street or subway station.

Multiple layers of information are then overlaid on the phone’s screen, providing specific information about everything from available real estate, nearby bars and restaurants – even the identity and background of passersby.

augmented reality

Current uses of AR

1. Magazine cover/tech explainer: Popular Science and GE

Last month, PopSci and partner GE claimed to publish the first interactive 3D cover magazine cover. Three windmills pop off the page, build themselves and start twirling.

2. Interactive card and Website: Topps

Every kid’s dream – favorite stars come to life right on the card! Collector giant Topps does just that, using AR on select Topps 2009 baseball cards. Stars pitch, field and bat in 3D – like a mini video game on your desk.

3. e-tail: Zugara

For all its convenience, online clothes shopping frustrates in one key area: seeing how merchandise looks being worn. Similarly, online merchants fret about low browser/buyer ratios.

Enter online retailer Zugara, whose “Webcam Social Shopper” app lets users select clothes, print a special ”marker” app and “hold” up articles of clothing up in front of themselves as it tracks their movements.

I found a website that has 35 AR examples. I think these examples which I have given can be used in SA, especially since the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be held here.

Future uses

In the near future marketers may consider using AR to promote a new product via an interactive, web-based AR application. In the medical field AR may assist in complex tasks such as surgery.

For example, labels can be displayed on parts of a system to clarify operating instructions for a mechanic who is performing maintenance on the system.  A doctor could observe the fetus inside the mother’s womb. This is to be characterised as Mixed reality.

In the architecture industry AR can augment be employed to virtually resurrect destroyed historic buildings as well as simulate planned construction projects.

With AR, users can rebuild ruins, buildings, or even landscapes as they previously existed. Combined with a wireless network, the amount of data displayed is limitless.

The effectiveness of navigation devices and enhance for the purpose of maintaining industrial plants for a variety of applications. These types of devices can also be useful for airplane pilots, too.

AR can be applied to military and emergency services as wearable systems to provide information such as instructions, maps, enemy locations, and fire cells. In the fields of hydrology, ecology, and geology, AR can be used to display an interactive analysis of terrain characteristics.

Game Changer

AR Game Changer

Game Changer

In centuries past, the ability to conjure moving, talking 3D objects and people in thin air was exactly the sort of showboating sure to get you named court magician.

Now AR allows you to conjure similar dazzling and useful results, with decidedly less risk.

The notion of layering digital images and sounds is like creating a physical world in a new computer-enhanced experience.

All of this is a complete game changer for any industry, 3D technology will capitalise on everything. What future holds is unknown but extremely exciting… keep your eyes and ears open for things happening in the new media era.  This is futureye  signing out.

Post updated and corrected on the 9th of Nov 2009

Don’t you hate it when you watching a very interesting tv show and an ad comes up? Ignoring adverts is no longer an option,  it’s about to get a lot tougher with the development of billboards and advertising posters that use Bluetooth to beam video ads directly to passing cellphones.

bluecasting

As people walk in malls go past the billiards/posters they will receive a message on their phone asking them if they wish to accept an MMS advert. If they do, they can  either receive movies, animations, music or still images further promoting the advertised product. This is called bluecasting or blue magic.

Nokia has taken bluecasting to another level, they have created posters fitted with Bluetooth technology that allows people to download maps of the local areas that have highlighted cool shops, bars, galleries and restaurants. They partnered with Superfuture, an internet-based urban city guide, where users can download maps highlighting interesting places worth exploring in that area.

annoyed consumer

Blue Magic opportunity

In India there are some temples which offer ringtones, wallpapers of gods and some other content using bluecasting. They have capitalised on bluecasting for religious purposes.

Imagine if other South African media houses or  advertising organisations, have looked at this model of advertising or spreading information for their industries.

This could open such great opportunities for customised advertising. For instance if one is in a certain place and Bluecasting can customised ads according to the place you’re in.

Customised advertising via Bluecasting can target those in a particular place and advertise restaurants, bookshops, movie houses, school plays etc.

Blue Magic Dangers

The danger with bluecasting is that downloads can be corrupted and exploited to inherent vulnerabilities in particular hardware, causing it to crash.

Another danger is how companies  can persuade users to accept the adverts once the novelty has worn off? This may be quite possible as people get over trends quite quickly. However, I think this can be avoided via good marketing strategies.

Content needs to exclusive or valuable to consumers, content also needs to actively persuade consumers to consume it, for example get vouchers for certain shops.

Other software companies, such as ScanBuy in New York and Semacode in Ontario, have been experimenting with making posters interactive by having 3D bar codes printed on them. Their software allows a phone camera to scan the code and launch the phone’s browser at a particular e-commerce site – to buy concert tickets, for example.

Magic taking over television

Whatever content is downloaded onto the cellphone it can be bluetoothed to television sets where the image, video etc can seen on a large screen. This creates interactive TV (also referred to iTV) where information flows not only from broadcaster to viewer, but also back from viewer to broadcaster.

Lets now turn our sights to a similar wave of communication…widgets. This will soon take off, in fact Yahoo and Intel are ramping up their TV platform to enable access to weather, stocks and news information on the TV.

This proliferation of widgets could come at a cost, however this (along with bluecasting) if they merge can dramatically change how viewers live and take in advertising.

For example imagine if  TV widgets and devices/programs such as  Bluecaseting merged? Well you can probably get  interactive television that can allow:

  • T-commerce: You will be able to buy a pizza without dialling a phone.
  • Interactive Goodies: You will be able to pause live TV or record shows. You will be able to click on advertisements to “find out more”.
  • Families will be ordering gifts through their TV sets, choosing camera angles while watching their favourite sporting events and sending email to friends.

telegent_chat This is where the next generation of human beings is going to, inside this cycle of persuasion, observation, refinement, and new persuasion.

It may be pleasant for some and it can possibly be hellish too as such merges or advertising can be intrusive. But if you get annoyed, just switch off your bluetooth.

As for advertising companies new media tools ( such as bluecasting) can bring in a great deal of revenue.

Futureye signing out.

Post last updated and corrected on 12th August 2009.

I remember when we were growing up, we’d play with tin cans, connect them with a string and pretend they were phones.Today mobile phones, better known as cellphones in South Africa (SA), have become ubiquitous everywhere you go, even children as young as five years old have their own cellphones (this does not only happen in SA only but in many other countries).A company in England is even targeting toddlers with a phone designed in the shape of a teddy bear. And this creates more of an “addiction” from a young age.

According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), three-quarters of Australian children aged 12 to 14 own a cellphone but by the time they are 15 that number surges to 90 per cent. In Spain a media report recently spoke of a case where two children, age 12 and 13, were admitted into a mental health institution.

The ACMA concluded by saying that these children could not carry out normal activities without their cellphones, they tend to lie to their parents and relatives to get money to spend on their phones.

In Japan, the government is currently asking phone manufacturers to develop phones that are only used for talking. This is because Japanese youngsters are committing cyberspace crimes and spending hours exchanging mobile e-mails. Most phones in Japan offer high-speed Internet access.Things have gone so bad that the government is starting a program where they are warning parents and schools to limit their use among children.

Dr Jose Martinez-Raga, an expert in addictions, said children who developed a dependency on cellphones, like those who over-used video games, often became irritable, withdrawn and antisocial, and their school performance deteriorates. But children are not the only ones having addiction issues.

cellphone addiction

The Flip side

On the other side of the coin, most parents would say knowing where their children are is an advantage because they can just pick the phone and contact them.

The parents believe that the safety and security of their children is ensured by the cellphone. Their other reason perhaps may be that a cellphone gives children independence.

I’m sure this is great for mobile corporations in terms of sales but this trend has the potential to give brain cancer  because according to Research from the World Health Organisation and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency states that cellphones link to brain tumors.

This research center further says that thinner skulls and smaller brains put children at a greater risk.

I do think cellphones are important because most people have interaction through internet access and there’s a majority of people in the developing countries can not afford PCs. Cellphones are an affordable way to stay in touch with relatives, check friends on social network systems etc. Although cellphones are a great communication tool, it is creating major disorders, one of them being cellphone addiction.

The question I want to pose is, are certain companies thinking about what the consequences of ‘getting-them-while-they’re-young’ model is causing? I think there signals of distress out there and cellphones could be a danger in the future. Look at the video entitled “Why are mobile phones addictive“, to avoid cellphone addiction.  Futureye signing off.

Related links on mobile phone addiction:

Last updated and correction made on 27th May 2009.