Technology

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The Nissan Self-Parking Chair Brings Tech Into the Meeting Room

The use of technology for technology’s sake to provide solutions to problems that do not exist is a trap that many start-ups fall into. However, Nissan has taken this a step further with their self-parking chairs.

Despite years of evolution, it seems we are still guilty of leaving meeting rooms in a mess and fail to clean up after ourselves. Thankfully technology is on hand to help us all channel our inner Mary Poppins by clapping our hands and watching in amazement as chairs park themselves before our very eyes.

The science bit that makes it all possible is simply a handful of wall-mounted cameras and a Wi-Fi connection. The chairs themselves are over engineered to perfection with motors, wheels and batteries to solve what can only be described as a first world problem.

The new technology certainly gives the traditional game of musical chairs a 21st-century upgrade, but will ultimately leave many questioning our over-reliance on technology. There is little point subscribing to gym memberships or counting our steps on fitness trackers if we can’t even be bothered to push our chairs back under a desk.We have smart phones, TV’s and will soon have smart homes, so maybe it’s not beyond the realms of possibilities to have our very own meeting room that comes complete with smart chairs.

We have smartphones, TV’s and will soon have smart homes, so maybe it’s not beyond the realms of possibilities to have our very own meeting room that comes complete with smart chairs.

“With this innovation in office technology, Japanese businessmen are now freed from the troublesome task of arranging chairs,” Nissan advised with a hint of sarcasm.

As with most big news stories these days, these self-parking chairs are actually a gimmick of sorts to generated interest in Nissan’s plans to deliver a self-parking car in the near future.
Maybe we can concentrate on parking our “outrage” at a world gone mad and take this story to exactly what it is and secretly admit to yourself that you muttered the words “cool” under your breath.

 

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Apple TV and the Rise of Periscope

Our digital world seems to throw yet another ‘next big thing’ on our timelines every few weeks and is probably the main reason that I have been quite wary of the real-time video platform Periscope. I will be the first to admit that I just didn’t get it at first as I’m someone that prefers to sit in a room tapping away on a keyboard rather than being charismatic on camera, so I quietly hoped this latest digital fad would fade into obscurity.

For the uninitiated, Periscope allows its users to stream live video from their iOSor Android app and broadcast their life in real time across the world. Twitter followers will receive a notification when they begin broadcasting and your audience can engage with you directly by asking questions, commenting or even sending appreciation via heart icons.

When the broadcast is over, it can be made available to replay for 24 hours and after this time the recording is gone forever. Periscope was acquired by Twitter in Jan 2015 and launched on in March. Despite a close run-in with rival appMeerkat, within five months, the founders announced they had reached 10 million accounts and that the amount of footage watched cumulatively added up to 40 years a day.

In the beginning, it quickly became apparent that Periscope was an excellent platform to broadcast political protests not covered by mainstream state-controlled media outlets and gave the people a voice again. Meanwhile, quick thinking boxing fans who didn’t want to pay $89.95 to view the Mayweather v Pacquiao fight back in May were able to watch the countless number of streams available on Periscope.

It’s interesting to see how more and more users are becoming self-aware of how much of themselves is being left online via their digital footprint. This online savvy generation is embracing the likes of Snapchat and Periscope where they can live in the moment but equally be comforted by the fact that the content will disappear and will never be seen again.

When your favourite artist is playing a gig on the other side of the world, Periscope also enables music fans to tune into the performance and sample the atmosphere via someone else’s smartphone.

Traditional content is often edited to perfection, and even reality TV shows begin to feel scripted and fake which prompts audiences to question everything they see and hear. Digital native users are increasingly craving authenticity and real people that they can relate to or engage directly with and in real-time.

In the UK, the television channel ITV tapped into this latest trend by broadcasting backstage of the X-Factor on Periscope to engage with their audience and make them feel part of the show. In another modern twist to an old tale, many will be finding out just how scary a live online horror experience can be when they tune into Periscope’s first ever interactive live horror film on Halloween.

Despite my initial reservations, there is no doubt that Periscope is becoming a massive game changer that allows anyone to build their own community or digital tribe in a more visual real time manner that even podcasts cannot compete with.

However, the big news is that Periscope will now be bringing this live streaming experience to the latest model of #AppleTV which is released today and offers a glimpse into our future as TV finally arrives in the 21st century.

Apple’s Tim Cook famously said “We Believe the Future of TV Is Apps” but the success of Periscope suggests that it could be tuning into each other’s living rooms rather than traditional TV channel hopping.

As live television becomes more and more produced, it can also become less genuine. This is what excites us about bringing Periscope to the Apple TV — the notion that you, your friends and family, can share what’s happening in the world right now, together – Periscope

We often concentrate at how technology is responsible for disconnecting ourselves from our humanity and spend more time looking screens than each other. However, there is a strong argument that we are turning our back on a fake world of photoshopped magazine covers that promote dangerously unhealthy expectations for young women and replacing with a pure and unedited content that allows us to learn from other people by viewing the world through their eyes.

Traditional media has long contributed to the perpetuation of stereotypes through bias or political leanings and in many ways it’s fantastic to see people from all over the world breaking down these preconceptions by engaging directly with their fellow global citizens.

Sure, there is no shortage of inane and narcissistic streams, but I am comforted by the fact that technology is actually bringing people together. Regardless of location or time zone, people are using technology to communicate in real time, in a genuine, authentic and unedited way. This can only be a great thing and illustrates a change in consumers habits that businesses will need to start thinking about sooner rather than later.

Let me know your thoughts by commenting below.

 

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YouTube Gaming Aims Sights At Twitch

Last year Amazon raised more than a few eyebrows in beating Google to purchase Twitch for a cool $1 billion. As the gaming community continues its phenomenal growth, we shouldn’t be too surprised at the recent announcement of the unimaginatively titled ‘YouTube Gaming.’

A post on YouTube’s blog yesterday revealed that YouTube Gaming is built to be all about your favorite games and gamers, with more videos than anywhere else. From “Asteroids” to “Zelda,” more than 25,000 games will each have their page, a single place for all the best videos and live streams about that title. You’ll also find channels from a wide array of game publishers and YouTube creators.

And when you want something specific, you can search with confidence, knowing that typing “call” will show you “Call of Duty” and not “Call Me Maybe.”

More details will be revealed at E3 next week in Los Angeles where the world’s press will be soaking up a plethora of announcements. We can be sure that there will be a wealth of information that will dominate our newsfeeds along with tales of million dollar game releases and virtual reality with Oculus Rift.   (more…)

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Really Getting to Know My Quantified Self

It seems that every news feed I look at has a story advising how we all spend far too much time sitting down, whilst a combination of our lack of motivation and sedentary lifestyle will quite literally be the death of us all.

However, we don’t need to worry because there is an antidote to this lazy behaviour and technology has the power to get everyone back on their feet again, if we all invest in the latest tech wearable that promises to kick start everyone with a healthy dose of motivation, at a cost of course.

Many combine the use of tech wearable’s with another set of buzzwords known as lifelogging, self-hacking, body hacking or the quantified self where people are increasingly using technology to track measure and analyse data from your daily life.

Quantified-self facilitates the tracking of diet, sleep, heart rate, activity, exercise, and moods and allows individuals to gain better insights on physiological parameters that were never examined earlier, advised Sumit Kumar Pa

Although I am usually quite cynical about this sort of thing and confess that I am happiest when sat down looking at a myriad of tech devices or playing on a games console, but equally aware that if you need a website to be successful you need to closely monitor google analytics to examine data and improve performance, so pondered if this same school of thinking could be applied our own life?

After reading that the smartphone you already own can perform that exact same tasks only more accurately, I decided to embark on an experiment for once week where I track every aspect of my life to see if it reveals anything different about me using only my smartphone to see if there really is a need for slight changes to my lifestyle.

For my experiment, I began by downloading the app called “Moves” that claims to be the activity diary of your life by simply counting how many steps you take each day. (more…)

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The Quantified Self: Can Technology Really Measure Your Life?

Over the next few weeks, we will be bombarded with news about the latest smart watches with the Moto 360 and highly anticipated iWatch about to be unleashed on our world that is quickly filled with wearable tech.

I have already talked about the Internet of Things (IoT) but the introduction of more smart watches will also see an increase in the use of more buzzwords such as the ‘quantified self’ which may leave you scratching your heads feeling a little confused and not wanting to speak up through fear of sounding like a technophobe, but equally becoming increasingly curious on what everyone is talking about it.

The Quantified Self (QS) in simple terms is using technology to track measure and analyse data from your daily life. We are already seeing an increase of this activity through apps that manage how many calories we intake, exercises we perform and even how many hours sleep we get each night using wearable sensors.

QS Is also known as self-tracking, auto-analytics, body hacking and life logging as more and more realise they are victims of their self-imposed bad habits or routines and can use their own daily data to motivate themselves to hit the road to self-improvement.

99 Percent of the thoughts, actions and emotions you have everyday are the same as the ones you had yesterday – Eben Page

The range of apps now at our disposal sometimes drifts in the realms of what we would have called sci-fi a few years ago as sites such as 23 and me can now provide a full DNA report that could reveal your ancestry or what diseases you could be predisposed of which is a fantastic concept, but the movie buff inside me is paranoid about the questions surrounding genetic discrimination that were raised in the 1997 film Gattaca. (more…)

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4 Ways To Remain Employable After The Rise Of The Robots

Once upon a time, life was much simpler and as soon as you were armed with an education, you were unleashed into the world and free to choose from a profession of your choice, you could stay in the same role for 30 years and then take a nice early retirement package, or so the fairy-tale goes.

However life now is very different and even if you have just reached your 40 birthday, the reality is that you will probably have to work at least another 30 years without the security blanket of a “Job for life” but in many ways this will make you a much more rounded individual with a toolbox full of unique skillsets that will ensure you tackle any situation.

Unemployment is never a nice topic to discuss but job seekers could be facing their toughest challenge yet in the near future with the predicted rise of the robots.

Before you scoff and shout at the screen that this is nothing but a bunch of sci-fi nonsense, take a look at the Oxford Martin School study that suggests nearly half of US jobs could be at risk of computerisation in the future.

However to be honest, we have all seen this coming as the not so glamourous and time consuming tasks are already becoming automated in our own work places and we probably all know someone that has been affected by these changes.

A quick look at hotel called Yotel in New York not only has a self-check-in kiosk’s but also features world’s first hotel robotic luggage handler.

Whatever your views on the controversial subject, we can all agree that if your reality is spending the next 50 years in the workplace, you need to invest in yourself and ensure you adapt and change to the world around you, so let’s take a look how you can help yourself prepare for the future dominated by robots and automation.

1. Embrace Technology

The cold hard truth is the grumpy technophobe has a rocky road ahead of them, unless they change their ways and embrace the technology that surrounds us all, make no mistake life will become increasingly more difficult.

Although we don’t all like to admit it, we are ruled by technology as we become increasingly reliant on our internet connection, even your humble kitchen appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators and even vacuum cleaners are now coming with Wi-Fi options, whilst your infant child knows their way around an iPad perfectly so it’s time to raise your game. (more…)

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The Digital Subscription vs. Ownership Debate

The big success story sweeping the digital landscape is the infamous Netflix business model, which has unwittingly created a long line of copycats who are desperate to imitate their rapid ascent to success in the modern world.

Recently the videogame publisher EA announced plans to offer their own subscription service called ‘EA Access’ in a collaborative effort with Microsoft and the Xbox One console. With many games retailing at $70 each, the allure of having access to a vault full of EA games for $29.99 a year sounds like a very tempting offer on the surface, but could also prompt other publishers such as Ubisoft to follow suit.

However the announcement was received by mixed reactions as many people are coming to the realisation that the average person on the street, no longer owns anything at all in the digital world that continues to move forward, whilst physical media is dying at an accelerated speed.

Shelves that used to contain video cassettes of movies, were replaced with DVD’s, followed by Blu-Ray discs before finally being replaced by all you can eat subscription services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.

The music industry has also changed dramatically, and despite hard-core music fans keeping vinyl alive, the reality is more and more people are turning away from purchasing or even downloading illegal music in favour of services such as Spotify where you can think of an artist or song at any moment depending on your mood at the time and listen within a few seconds.

Books are safe though right? Step forward the Kindle Unlimited that not only removes the physical book from our lives but Amazon’s latest Netflix style venture intends to remove ownership of a book too and lets you have access to an entire library at your disposal for $9.99 a month. (more…)

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Amazon Unveils Fire TV and Mocks Google, Apple and Microsoft In The Process

The last few weeks has seen increased speculation that Amazon will be joining the battle for the living room and this afternoon our suspicions were confirmed when Amazon announced that the Amazon Fire TV streaming box is officially a reality.

Quite simply described as a tiny box that plugs into your HDTV for easy and instant access to Netflix, Prime Instant Video and also offers the chance to play games which can be played with a separately sold controller, which looks remarkably similar to something Microsoft might produce.

Interestingly Peter Larsen came straight out swinging haymakers, by describing games consoles as too expensive and Apple TV’s mirroring efforts as laughable and even continued with an uppercut to their competition by criticising the lag on Apple TV, Microsoft’s Xbox Live and the Roku box.

A quick look under the hood reveals that Fire TV sports a quad-core processor with a dedicated GPU, 2GB of RAM (2X to 4X more than competing devices) and state-of-the-art MIMO Wi-Fi for “screaming” wireless performance.

In Layman’s terms despite being much thinner it offers three times the performance of Apple TV with the additional gimmick of being able to search for content with your voice, which should make their competitors stand up and take notice.

Amazon has worked with game developers like EA, Disney, Gameloft, Ubisoft, Telltale, Mojang, 2K, and Sega to bring their games to Fire TV. Games available starting on release include customer favourites like Minecraft, Monsters University, The Game of Life, The Walking Dead, NBA2K14, Asphalt 8, Riptide GP2, Despicable Me: Minion Rush, and more

With Fire TV we thought of games right from the beginning – fun immersive games at affordable prices.” Amazon proudly announces.

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In a rapidly saturated market the big questions are probably going to be, can Amazon survive in the modern battleground arena known as the living room? Or will this box end up gathering dust under the TV? (more…)

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Popcorn Time – Netflix for Pirates, Torrents For Dummies…

We all know that the traditional method of watching TV is dying; busy lifestyles determine what we want to watch and when we want to watch it. This change in attitude from viewers has seen services such as Netflix flourish and maybe even see the downloading of content via torrents slightly decline.

Do you really want the hassle of downloading illegally and the cumbersome process of transferring your dodgy files by plugging your device via a USB cable, when for only £5.99 a month you can view as much as you want  and not be labelled a thief in the online community by your fellow digital natives.

The only downside is that it can take a while for up-to-date content to make it across to whatever service you subscribe to. However, Popcorn Time has arrived on the scene and this new open source BitTorrent-powered movie streaming app for downloading and watching movies, can probably be best described as Netflix for Pirates or even Torrents for Dummies. (more…)

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New App Spritz App Will Help You Read 1000 Words a Minute

Make no mistake, keeping up to speed in the modern world can be tough, everyday we consume thousands of words via email, Web pages, books and text messages. Step forward Spritz who have been working for nearly 3 years in “Stealth Mode” to perfect our reading methodology. They claim to have discovered that when reading, only around 20% of your time is spent processing content. The remaining 80% is spent physically moving your eyes from word to word and scanning for the next Optimal Recognition Point” or ORP.

The unique aspect of Spritz is that it identifies the ORP of each word, makes that letter red and presents all of the ORPs at the same space on the screen. In this way, our eyes don’t move at all as we see the words, and we can therefore process information instantaneously rather than spend time decoding each word.

According to the official Spritz site, “spritzing,” is the new form of reading that enables users to read up to 1,000 words a minute. Not only can the reader read faster, but Spritz says they are also able to retain much of what they read.  So let’s take a look at how it works…

250

This is 250 words per minute. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone is 76,944 words long according to . At this rate you could read the whole book in just over 5 hours.

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350 words per minute doesn’t seem that much faster. 3 hours and 40 minutes to finish Potter (did you read that in the voice of Alan Rickman?).

I cannot think of anyone that would want to read a novel in this way and to even suggest this would be quite offensive to most readers because the beauty of reading is not like binge viewing your favourite TV show but to be transferred to another universe and escape reality to soak up the language and let your imagination create the world inside the book. You may even stop for a few minutes and ponder what you have just read and for these reasons, this innovation would dumb down the last sacred intelligent past time of reading.

However, nobody is suggesting we all read this way and this is simply a very useful learning tool which will enable students for example to read and digest information quickly which  would be incredibly useful to anyone who needs to wade through text books the size of War and Peace.

Anyone who has ever had to wade through a large text book or technical manual seldom  retrieve any joy from the experience but a tool like this could make our lives just a little easier and may even free up some of your time so that you can relax in your garden reading the entire works of Hemingway the traditional way but the important thing to remember here is you have different ways to access and absorb different types of information.

Nothing that we see or read is black and white any more; this is a very old-fashioned way of pigeon holing things for convenience and help people make sense of things. The truth is that we are all quite unique and the best analogy I can think of is that we all carry a toolbox around with us, and will select a tool from that for whatever situation that we find ourselves in or for any particular job/role and to be successful we just need to ensure that toolbox contains what we need.

The days of “we have done it this way for 20 years, but we get by” are disappearing, if you can use something like this to help make learning a little easier and but still be able relax and emerge yourself in another world for a few hours in the more traditional sense, would make you a more rounded and multitasking individual, but that’s just my opinion.

What is your opinion on apps like this, do they have a place in the modern world? Or is it simply a step to far?