Technology has truly transformed mankind. Today, we live in a world of smartphones and clouds. Every question can be answered with a touch using Google search. You can find answers to almost anything in just a few minutes. People use Google search to find information on things ranging from physics to history. Some also look up medical information using Google search. This is about to change. Google has introduced a new venture – Google Genomics. It lets medical researchers store and evaluate genomic data in their cloud. The cost of storing and analyzing a genome has gone from millions of dollars to just under $1000 in the last 15 years. Its getting more affordable to store and analyze this data. What does this mean? It means that researchers can store more genomes and find interesting patterns in the data by analyzing a massive data sample. This can lead to all kinds of medical breakthroughs. We can cure diseases, identify likelihood of getting a disease for a given person, and even build custom medicine for a person. The ability to cheaply store and analyze this data will be a revolution in medicine.
RoboBees are micro-robots designed by Harvard University researchers that push the limits of material science, fluid mechanics and computer science. They are tiny robots that are as big as honeybees and weigh less than 1 gram. They have wings similar to those of bees and can fly. The RoboBee made its first controlled flight about a year ago and has been under development so it can fly without being controlled.
Honeybees on the other hand are just bees popular for honey. However, they are also responsible for crop pollination. They play an important part in production of the food consumed by humans. Honeybees pollinate a third of the crops, which equates to $200 Billion worth of global crops and $15 Billion in the US. While they are a vital part of the food chain, they are at a threat. Honeybees have been going missing since the last few decades and this issue has been getting a lot attention since 2005 – 2006. One of the possible reasons for this occurrence seems to be pesticides. While pesticides protect crops from pests, they are causing adverse effects on honeybees and are a factor for Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps. In the early days, BBM (Blackberry Messenger) was used by everyone but was limited to Blackberry devices. WhatsApp provided a free messaging platform for Symbian (still popular in emerging markets), Blackberry, Android, Windows Phone and iOS. It was one of the first apps to be truly cross-platform, not just iOS and Android. With Symbian and Blackberry widely used in emerging markets, it got a lot of market share. Dozens of messaging applications have emerged since then, but there are two important aspects to such an application: (1) mass adoption by networks of people, and (2) being truly cross-platform (not just Android and iOS).
When using a utility application for Mail or IM, its easy to switch to a better application. With messaging, it does not make sense to switch when five of your contacts are using it versus hundreds on the other platform. So people are not likely to switch. What developers also forget is that Android and iOS are the major OSes, but only in North America. Asian and South American markets are still dominated by Symbian and Blackberry devices with Android gaining market share rapidly. Also when messaging patterns for WhatsApp is analyzed, its heavily used for international communication. When all of you contacts are in the US, you could use texting as most carriers now offer unlimited free texting. But for international messaging, apps like WhatsApp are used primarily. This means that supporting platforms in those markets is as important as iOS support.
Facebook has become the world’s largest community with almost a Billion users. It connects people from all over the world. Its where people share personal thoughts and photos. But Facebook has big problems that are being uncovered. When you have 100 friends posting updates everyday, you can see it all in the News Feed. When you have 300 friends posting 5 updates everyday, its 1500 posts. That is a lot to see in a day. So Facebook developed an algorithm called EdgeRank, that filters out content so you can see the content that matters most. While EdgeRank has worked well so far, there are many problems with it. First, it shows you more content from people you interact with. So if you like or comment on posts from a person, you will see more posts from that person. If you don’t interact with posts from certain people, they will stop showing up over time. If people don’t see content that they want to see, then they will stop coming to the site, killing their active user numbers and advertising revenue.
Smartphones are at the center of everyones life. They have transformed from a communication device to a lifestyle accessory that manages everything from social life to finances. As smartphone reach a high adoption rate in developed nations like US, Canada and Europe, there is a huge opportunity to bring them to emerging markets. India and China have a combined population of over 2 Billion. While popular smartphones have high price points which work in the developed world, emerging markets need a smartphone at a lower price point. Local smartphone makers like Micromax and Xiaomi have sprung up in these countries and are gaining huge market share in emerging markets.
While Mobile World Congress this year has been about LTE updates in Europe and Samsung unveiling more wearables, Nokia announced its line of Nokia X Android phones (after being acquired by Microsoft) at a price below $100. While this is a good step for Nokia, Mozilla’s Firefox OS phones are being made for developing nations which would be sold for $25. Of course, the $25 Firefox OS phone is not yet released. If Mozilla is able to meet the $25 price point, it can gain significant market share in Latin America and African regions. This can make it harder for other makers to penetrate into these markets. While Nokia expects its Nokia X phone to do well in emerging markets, the local makers have already gained some market share and popularity in the regions and it would be interesting to see adoption rates for the new line of devices. As Mozilla and Nokia enter the emerging markets, other makers are expected to announce a range of smartphones targeted at emerging markets this year.
The year 2013 has come and passed by and we have entered 2014. Technology has progressed from smartphones to smart-devices, mainly wearables. Devices like FitBit and Nike FuelBand have gained some popularity and the Pebble smart watch has encouraged other manufacturers to enter the smart watch market. This year’s CES is all about these transitions. Belkin has announced a refreshed line-up in its WeMo smart devices category. Pebble unveiled the Pebble Steel smart watch. There are also some updates in the 4K television area and Samsung has announced its bendable-TV. While there is very limited 4K content, manufacturers are making 4K video cameras to enable content creation. But 2014 is likely to be a year of smart-devices, led by a flood of smart watches.
Android is one of the most popular smartphone operating systems. What makes Android so wide spread? Any device manufacturer can build smartphones with Android. HTC, Motorola, ASUS, Acer and countless regional manufacturers. While this made Android one of the major smartphone operating systems, there are often complaints about its consistency across carriers and devices. When Google releases Android 4.4 KitKat, it is first made available to Google Devices (Nexus brand devices), followed by Google Play devices (unlocked developer devices) and finally other devices. Some devices like HTC phones can get an update early, and other HTC phones can get an update months later. Verizon devices can get an update sooner than T-Mobile users. The nature of the updates can be very inconsistent based on the device model and carrier. This is because when Google announces a new version of Android, it has to go to chip manufacturers like NVIDIA and Qualcomm that make drivers for the system. Then its passed to phone manufacturers that add customizations and finally to carriers that add even more customizations. It goes back and forth till its tested and approved by everyone. Finally, its pushed as an update. HTC has released an infographic explaining the process, for those who want to know what goes on behind the scenes.
Japanese computer security company Trend Micro has started a web series about the future. The year is 2020 and everyone uses glasses with augmented reality. Everything can be accessed through your glass. It is the only gadget you use and the most important one. The series is based on an ICSPA report entitled Project 2020.
The technology is futuristic yet seems achievable in the near future, considering the speed at which it is evolving. The glass technology featured in the series seems impressive, yet shows how much humans depend on technology. Scenes where humans wave and gesture their hands to control their glass also seems bizarre, as everyone is highly connected yet very isolated.
The series consists of 9 episodes, out of which 3 have been made available so far. You can watch all the episodes on the link provided below.
Link: 2020 by Trend Micro
Microsoft has been providing Xbox services for its popular gaming console for some time now. At some point, they also added Xbox music to satisfy the music streaming needs of its users. Today, Microsoft launched its Xbox music service on iOS and Android, making it available to the masses that do not own an Xbox and entering the music streaming market led my Pandora, Spotify, Rdio and even iTunes Radio.
The music pass costs $10 a month, which is not cheap as streaming services have been competing and the base price is around $5/month. While Pandora and Spotify offer Fremium services with restrictions on hours of streaming and streaming on mobile devices, Xbox music only offers a 30-day free trial, after which you would have to shell out on its monthly pass to keep streaming, a similar approach to Rdio.
You can download the iOS and Android apps from the stores, or listen online on Xbox music.
Smartphones have made their way from enterprise users to the masses. With everyone being connected through texting, tweets, check-ins and status updates, smartwatches have been formed, giving you access to your phone at those rare times when you don’t actually have your smartphone in your hand.
As smartwatches gain some traction and attention from the media and the public, the question arises: How smart are these smartwatches (or what can they do besides tell you the time)? Some obvious answers are: show you the weather, alert you when you get a call or text, and maybe let you make calls and act as a bluetooth speaker. Does it need a special app? what devices does it support? what are the different smartwatches available today? Here is a look at some options…