New Decade of Consumer Technology

New Decade of Consumer Technology

The first decade of the 21st century was known for introducing smartphones to the masses, as well as introducing the first smart TV. Ten years later starting in 2010, the world became socially connected thanks to companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Netflix.  We are now rapidly approaching a new period of consumer technology called the Data Age.

This “Data Age” comes to life under the shadow of the tremendous flow of data security and privacy concerns becoming the number one issue across the entire globe. Different countries are dealing with these complex issues with different solutions and with The European Union for example, implemented strict rules and regulations, last year, called GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). China, on other hand, has no government organized privacy and security regulations.

Both companies and individuals are at risk.  “With computing processing power increasing dramatically, even passwords that are 14 to 20 characters long will be readily crackable and largely ineffective for protecting high-value, high-risk assets and transactions by 2020”- warns Forrester, an American market research company that provides advice on existing and potential impact of technology to its clients and the public.

As risky as this  as can be, the world must stay connected because only this connectivity allows us to live in smart cities, in intelligent houses, drive connected cars and very soon be driven by autonomous vehicles.

This next generation of data connectivity will require wireless technology from 5G that can connect devices with the next generation fast speeds. Those in the race to bring the technology to marketplace and get a foot int the door for the business that goes with it include China Telecom, KDDI in Japan, SK telecom in South Korea, through Verizon and AT&T in the USA, Shaw and Rogers in Canada, to Ericsson all over Europe:  Vodafone and BT in United Kingdom, Deutsche Telecom in Germany, Orange in France and Telefonica in Spain. As 5G becomes a crucial component of technology development, the entire world needs to adapt to it.

In the last few years, home security cameras, thermostats, and connected lighting equipment have become more common in homes and sales continue to increase. Just imagine how the IoT (Internet of Things) environment is going to explode with the rollout of 5G.

For example, for smart home development into existing homes, consumers usually don’t buy all those devices from the same platforms or at the same time. This brings the challenge of how the consumer can connect all these different products, brands and platforms together as well as the devices that haven’t even been invented yet. The idea of a practical smart home is like bringing together different instruments to create a symphony orchestra that need to play in unison.   Following connectivity, the Smart Home’s Next Trend will be Interoperability and Intelligence.

It is difficult to imagine the smart home without some type of digital assistance activated by voice and equipped with Artificial Intelligence. Three truths about voice/AI assistant are: 1.) Digital assistance is going into everything: devices, appliances and cars 2.) Support for digital assistance has become table stakes: services, brands, commerce 3.) Voice is quickly becoming the “go-to” interface – it allows you to keep doing what you are doing as well as have the digital assistant do something that normally requires your hands.

For example, Amazon Alexa has nearly 60,000 skills and 20,000+ compatible devices. The way how we interact with digital assistance shown the study done by Consumer Technology Association (CTA) in August 2018. US online adult study shows how people make a use of Amazon Alexa(in%):  Ask questions – 63, Check the weather – 58, Listen to music/radio/podcasts – 50, Set a timer or alarm – 45, Call someone – 32, Check the news/sports – 30, Send a message to someone – 25, Search for recipes/cooking information – 23, Check personal calendar – 22.

We also beginning to understand the limits of automation. AI intelligence and automation are really transform the way we access data, we use data. AI is helping us to understand the data.   The first generation of voice control required people to learn “command words” and “special phrases”.  With AI in the system, it can now understand conversation and what actions to do next.  For example, without AI and data analysis you would say “Alexa, turn up the thermostat by 2 degrees” now you can say “Alexa, I am cold”.  The system will recognize who “I” is and the context for the word “cold” based on what location you were talking from and the system can respond “would you like me to turn up the thermostat by 2 degrees”.

This direction of connectivity, interoperability, high speed data and analytics as well as “personalized models” is what is driving the next generation of Smart Home.  The “personalized models” are the core of the privacy concerns.  It means the computer has to both know that it is you, and more importantly know everything about you – what you eat, where you shop, what temperature you like the house, what shows you watch and what music you listen to, who you visit and talk to, what your schedule is, what your interests are,   To be able to be helpful, the computer has to know how to help.  By knowing how to help you be more comfortable, it means that all of that data has to be stored someplace, and hopefully used only for your benefit.  Governments, companies, and technology are all working together, finally, to try and insure the next decade is a beneficial Data Age to make your life better.

GDC2018 hosts International Participation

GDC2018 hosts International Participation

Not surprising, an International flavor permeated this year’s computer Game Developers’ Conference (held at the Moscone Convention Center March 18 and 19, here in San Francisco). Delegations from Europe and parts of Asia included dozens of new game titles, and literarily hundreds of people. First-person shooting games remain popular, as were puzzles — fail to solve them at your peril.

Active and visible were offerings from the Polish delegation. Games sampled, along with sausage and kielbasas, at the “Polish Party,” included Game titles include “Witcher 3: Wild Hunt,” a 2015 medieval combat scenario, “Monarchs and Mountains.” Many of these titles include impressive realistic imagery.,g_1:poland&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiCxtqokpDaAhVJwmMKHSMrA7YQ4lYIKCgA&biw=1280&bih=615&dpr=1.5#imgrc=JJ1YCmcKC7MRLM:

The goal is to promote the uniqueness of the Polish gaming industry, says Lukasz Plesnowicz, a spokesperson for the delegation. Polish game developers are very “integrated” the designer says. He cites a B2B award in 2014 for “This War of Mine,” a game demonstrating the sense of despair (the decreasing number of choices) of residents in a war-torn city.

In fact, Poland has its own independent games festival, says Jan Kleszcgski The country’s support for the video gaming industry has paid off: The segment was worth an estimated $279.6 million in 2014, according the investors’ newsletter VentureBeat.

Jakub Marszalkowski “head geek” for the Polish Gaming authority cites the “deep story lines” of many Polish games, in contrast with intensive graphics supporting the on-screen runners or shooters. Popular Polish game titles like “Witcher” are easy to play, says Marszalkowski. The experiment with games as a “story-telling form” is recent.

But the experiments with intensive story telling is hardly peculiar to Polish games. The GDC also highlighted games from Europe (Swiss Nex), whose promoted title features a time-travel journey (“All We have is Time), Norway, Scotland Pavilion at GDC, and Korea, among others. Countries and multi-country consortiums touting products and infrastructure at GDC include:

A European consortium called “Swiss Nex” enables monetization for games with a block chain ecosystem for creators. In one game, a user brandishing a digital wallet hunts for “digital collectables.” A branch the Swiss arts council, Swiss Nex operates from San Francisco.

The German Games Industry Compendium reported over 659 million Euros in game sales for 2017. And 43.9 million units in 2016. That’s 173 million users 2016 — up from 124 million users 2012. Success stories include “Angry Birds Evolution,” “Angry Birds Epic,” and “Drone Swarm” which runs on PCS.

The virtual reality “Eye of the Temple,” puts the play on the ramparts of an ancient castle, climbing on brick steps which may-or-may-not be real. Try not to fall over. Sanctum Dreams, the game’s creator, is based in Denmark. Its software runs on Macs, Linux, and PCs (but not consoles).

Norwegian Games are published by Innovation Norway, a subsidiary of the Norwegian Film Institute. Promoted titles include “Mosaic,” a tale of loneliness in an urban environment, “oVRshot,” a virtual reality game for multiple shooters, and “Trolls vs. Vikings 2,” a war game with trolls and dragons

Products of the Korean Pavilion (KOCCA) Korean Creative Content Agency include “Mad World,” in which a player fights multiple demons, and “Transformers” with augmented reality. KOCCA supports a wide range of creative industries in Korea, including gaming, animation, character licensing, music, fashion, and broadcasting.

“Fight the Horror” is a multi-monster attack uses an Unreal processing engine to depict attacking Zombies. The game’s main character, reminiscent of Laura Croft in “Tomb Raider,” must “fight, kill and resolve puzzles” according to the creator Lam Kai Wa (“Tony”) of 4DMacau. The first product out of Macau, “Fight the Horror” is slowly making its way into Hong Kong and Taiwan, where a government bans made it illegal to promote the horror game category. (No exploding heads here.)

The Magic of CGI

The Magic of CGI

In 1983, a long time before Hollywood audiences fell in love with Computer Generating Imagery, also commonly known as “CGI”, the first experiment in a commercial motion picture film that combined live action and archival footage took place.  This happened in Woody Allen’s groundbreaking film, “Zelig”, which he wrote, directed and starred in.  Allen was the first filmmaker to use CGI in his production, which would be the beginnings of CGI, which would transform films into places we’ve never been before. CGI would forever assist the filmmaker in making his historical storytelling credible to all audiences.

“Zelig”, which is no doubt one of his most brilliant storytelling gems from Allen’s catalog of films is about a freak documentary about Leonard Zelig, who has paranormal abilities, like a chameleon who changes himself just by looking at someone; for example, in a presence full of Chinese people, he would change right before your eyes and become Chinese. The culmination scene is when Leonard one day disappears all of the sudden under unclear circumstances, and the psychologist, played by Mia Farrow, who is in love with him, and has been desperately searching for him until she saw him in the movie theatre movie screen, that was screening news from the world. At that moment, Leonard is standing amongst the crowd of people saluting the Adolf Hitler in Nazis Germany. Here is a beginning of a new computer technique that allowed Leonard to be pasted in the archive footage of that time.

The next major motion picture production using CGI was “Forrest Gump, directed by Robert Zemeckis, a story about a not very intelligent man that by accident became involved in historical events. The film won six Academy Awards, and many scenes would be never forgotten, as well as memorable quotes: “Life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get.”. Forrest Gump was full of historical figures like JFK, Nixon or Elvis Presley.  After the critical and commercial artistic success of “Forrest Gump”, CGI became the King of Hollywood.

“Zelig” was a black and white movie because the computer technology did not advanced to the point to solve matching colors. Ten years after “Zelig” was made, Forrest Gump made that possible.

However, computer technology is not that simple that can be seen from outside. It takes time and effort to build it. The producers of the last American hit, “Avengers”, were sharing their challenges, especially with the battle scene on the street of the city. The main characters were created in the computer and then carefully applied to match against the panoramic view of New York where the film was shot. Matching the colors became the ultimate challenge to the point that was easier to build the city on the computer. The production took one year.

Nothing easier is with animation movies that seem to be under full control of graphic computer designers. Building the reality using the CGI has the limitations as movement, gestures and mimic of the human face. But there are no doubts that technology is more and more advanced.

However, manipulation with computer images would not replace what is cinema about – the story.

The new HBO production “Hemingway and Gellhorn”, which was first aired on HBO on May 2012, utilized the archive footage from the domestic war in Spain, the Japanese invasion in China, and finally the Hemingways’ home in Cuba. Directed by Philip Kaufman, film is a saga about Hemingway and his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, starring Cliff Owen and Nicole Kidman.

According to the movie it was Hemingway, who made Gellhorn a full pledge war correspondent (describe what you see your own eyes, Gellhorn) and had a big influence on her writing. In exchange she was credited for inspiring him to write a novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. Serving as a reporter in Spain in 1936 was just beginning of her carrier which she became dedicated to the rest of her life. She went to Spain, China, Finland, Hong Kong, Burma, Singapore and Britain. She became more obsessed with it that Hemingway who, while she was away, stayed in their house nearby Havana, Cuba and was sending angry letters to her “Are you a war correspondent or my wife?”.

Now nearly everything that Hollywood produces is mainly CGI, most of them sacrificing the stories. However, CGI, can truly enhance films.  They are essential tools that need brilliant filmmakers who have a real historical story to tell, like Woody Allen, Robert Zemeckis, or Philip Kaufman.


The Importance of Being Smart

The Importance of Being Smart

In the last five years, the word “smart” was used to describe a device that combines few functions; the primary function connected to the internet. For example, a smartphone or smart TV. However, smart means much more than that. This word is associated with the ability to analyze and make decisions. That’s why in the not too distant future these devices will be equipped with some intelligence and calling them smart will be precise and accurate.

The foundation is there. Two significant events took place during the last three years. In 2011, the computer machine called “Watson”, invented by IBM, won the American television show “Jeopardy”. For the first time, the machine defeated the human in a contest of mind exercises. IBM tends to challenge the existing technology about once a decade. In 2006, a few engineers noticed that Ken Jennings was accumulating long victories on “Jeopardy”. They thought it would be interesting to make a computer system that could challenge the best human expert in the show. The challenges for the computer were: working with human languages, applying probabilities to the responses, selecting the best answer, all within the 3 seconds allowed for a buzz-in and before the human contestants.

After 5 years of development, Watson was ready to pick up the fight and win!

The second event took place in 2012, when a driverless Google car completed over 300.000 driving miles (500.000 kilometers) accident free. As a result, three U.S. states: California, Nevada and Florida have passed laws permitting driverless cars on their roads. In March 2012, Google posted a YouTube video showing a Morgan Hill, California, resident, Steve Mahan being taken aboard on the self-driving Toyota Prius. In the video, Mahan who is 95% blind was taken from his home to the dry cleaners and then back home.

Creating artificial intelligence is possible by using many sensors that are built into a device. Those sensors collect the data and based on the information the computer system makes the decisions. The more sensors that are built into the device, the more factors are analyzed; therefore more precise and accurate decisions are made.

In addition, the sensors that are built into the cars collect and provide the information not only about consumption of gas or malfunction but also defines the drive style based on analyzing many factors. So if the owner of the car will allow the insurance company to have access to this information, he or she can claim a better insurance package.

In the near future, this data will become the new currency.




Wireless Everywhere is here!

Wireless Everywhere is here!

This is just a beginning of our journey with wireless. It is taking over very quickly. It has transform the world and our economy. Wireless is what we relate to and interact with the world. Wireless is undeniable platform of the future for innovation.

In 1926 Nikola Tesla uttered these visionary words. “When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. And the instruments through which we shall be able to do this will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone.”

Today, 90 years after Tesla’s prediction, wireless has revolutionized our world. Every morning more than one of third of us reach for our smartphone. 81 % of us keep our phone by our side all day long. Wireless is taking over. 75 % of our social network time is spent on mobile devices.  Mobile influenced sales in stores has reached nearly $600 Million. Additionally, 6 out of 10 smartphone users looked up a health condition on the phone in the past year, so it is not just for retail.

Does anyone remember how our office desk was crowded in the past?  It looked like a cluster of equipment including a computer, a keyboard, a mouse, fax machine and phone; along with necessary things as such: a contacts book, a calendar, a calculator and others?  On the wall above a desk was a board with emergency contact information and a schedule for the week, finishing the office décor was a hanging memorable picture? Nowadays, the memories are faded. Today our desk cluster is replaced by smartphone with hundreds of applications.

Did you know that all the photos ever taken on film are outnumbered by digital pictures taken just this year?

And today we are standing on the crest of another revolution. Wireless not just connect the people, wireless will be connecting everything. A remarkable 4G platform already gave us a glimpse for the future by introducing us to Internet of Things. Today nearly quarter of mobile traffic comes from something other than a phone. At The CTIA conference in Las Vegas this year an introduction to 5G was taken place what means more wireless data traffic. Soon 99 % of the objects in our physical world will be wirelessly connected.

This will have machines talking to each other to bring together the comfort of our home, automobile, work, play, entertainment, hobbies, shopping, health and provide information on what to do next.  The wireless revolution is just starting as it shifts from people as the communication starters to products and appliances that need to talk 24/7 and update all the devices that will be needed next based on your activity.  Mobile, health, connected home, and energy drive the next marketplace for the wild world of wireless.




Medicine of the Future

Medicine of the Future

When asking the question of what the weather will be tomorrow, we can easily find the answer paging through the morning newspaper, turning the dials on the radio or TV stations, or just by surfing on the Internet. The weather forecast is an essential piece of information which allows us to make an immediate decision, such as what kind of clothing to wear, depending on the temperature climate, in order to not get too warm or too cold. It can also let us know if our flight to San Francisco was cancelled due to extreme weather conditions. Such dependable information gives us the comfort of awareness, but our lives will not be endangered if we do not have any knowledge about it.

The situation seems completely different when inquiring about one’s health for the next day, week or month. There are three possible scenarios: we will wake up in great shape, we will wake up being sick, perhaps with a cold or flu, or we will find out our future will never be the same because we will get diagnosed with a terminal illness.

So, how can we predict one’s well-being as accurately as we can predict the weather?

The answer for this question is crucial for our human existence, so why don’t we know the answer?  Presently, we do not have the answers yet, but it looks like this is going to change very soon.  Temporary medicine is going in the direction of predictive and preventive.

Biotechnology is driving these changes. The widespread availability of sensors and transmitters, massive use of mobile devices, increase in sophistication of the Internet and data analytics, make them happen rapidly.

These tremendous hopes come from a discovery of human genome, that give us an unprecedented opportunity for contemplate our own biological and psychological make-ups. Thanks to rapid progress in the technology arena, the cost of genome sequencing came to the consumer world. The full genome analysis is still for many of us out of financial reach but for an affordable price it is possible to get a sample of personal characteristics and evaluation of risk to certain illnesses and their ancestries. That opens the door for personalized medicine where drugs are prescribed specifically for the patient’s biochemistry instead of blind errors.

American biologist, expert in biotechnology field, Leroy Hood, described the future of medicine as 4P: Predictive, Preventive, Personalized and Participatory. Predictive and Preventive use the genome characteristics and environmental conditions to forecast what is necessary to maintain wellness and prevent future illnesses. Personalized and Participatory because it is target certain individual who is involved in collecting and interpreting the data about his/hers health condition.

Often or non-stop monitoring the body functions and transferring this data to medical personnel can be very helpful in preventive and personalized medicine. Not that long ago, the medical patients were going through routine, basic medical tests and their data information were stored in the medical clinics until their next visit. Today digital health goes mainstream. Smartphones, our personalized computers, stores our medical data and give us the opportunities like never before. Due to many applications on its screen we can monitor our sleep pattern, measure blood pressure, evaluate the stress level or monitor taking prescribed drugs and storage all those information for easy access for a patient and medical personnel.

Today medicine changed our approach to diagnosis and cure the illnesses as well as our thinking about longevity. It hard to imagine that DNA sequencing was discover only 60 years ago.