Tag Archives: Sony

CES 2013 Show Recap and Technology Tidbits

Another CES has come and gone. And, much like in the past, there’s some cool things that you can’t wait to see hit the market.  There’s also some things you don’t want to see hit the market.  There were a number of “wow” factors as well as some “scratch your head in wonder” factors.  Some may never see the light of day and some are already there.  One of the most interesting elements was the tracking of progression from one year to the next – both in the show itself and the technologies it showcases. The show itself is now covering even more square footage.  So, with the feet showing more wear and tear, what follows is a collection of thoughts and tidbits.

Microsoft’s Huge Cost Savings
Before getting into what was actually on the floor, there was a lot of press was devoted to Microsoft’s pulling out of CES – no booth and no keynote. Kudos to them on still making a huge Keynote splash by crashing Qualcomm’s Keynote with Steve Ballmer walking on stage and presenting Windows Mobile 8. Who knows how much they saved in sponsorship fees, Keynote production costs and the actual cost of the booth.

Starting At Innovation

In years past, I’ve made it a habit to start the show at the main hall, but switched it up this year and began at the Innovation Hall in the Venetian.  What used to be a showcase of the Innovation “Best In Shows” on the convention center’s main lobby floor has expanded – even if it’s not so close to the main floor.  The great thing about the Innovation Hall is that it provides a quick overview of what’s new and cool.  You can’t interact with most of the things, but it easily provides the opportunity to determine what booths you don’t want to miss on the exhibition floors.

What has made it even more interesting is the grouping of small, up and coming companies in the hall around the “Best of” displays.  These are the budding companies who may have a cool idea but don’t really have the strongest marketing and certainly don’t have the market share (yet) to be on the main floor. There are probably more misses than hits, but its always fun to find the hidden jewels.

Future Home – Whirlpool

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Though not a start-up by any means, Whirlpool used this space to show off possible future tech.  In the image above, they considered this to be a futuristic fireplace – where people could sit around a table with weird lighting from the table and above and have the food kept warm by the lighting. My takeaway was that it could work on the Gallactica or in Buck Rogers, but it will be interesting to see if this becomes a common feature in the next 20 years…

3D Printing

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While there was only one 3D printer in this hall last year, the ones presented this year made last year’s seem like it was from the stone ages.  The precision printing of objects directly from digital files is very cool to see in person.  In the top image, you can even see a guitar made from a 3D printer.  While still somewhat rudimentary, you can really see some true future benefits from the development of this technology.

Autos and Accessories

Moving on to the Convention Center, we restrained ourselves from going into the Main Hall and went into the North Hall instead – where mobile accessories and Auto products reign. After a while in this hall (and the entire show for that matter) you feel like you never want to see an accessory again.

One thing that I found funny in the accessories was this product from Pure Gear that adds an analog game to the iPhone.  Made me laugh because you would assume there’s an app for that.  Perhaps they figured they’d pass on the charging cover and just provide something to do for when your battery dies out.

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Audi has been on the floor in this hall for a few years and their booths are quite spectacular. With Lexus joining the fray and promoting their future self-driving car, they provided some communication competition for Audi, but the Germans still mastered booth mystique.  Even with the lack of clarity in terms of what Audi was selling, their booth was hands down the winner.

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Lexus

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Audi

And, just in case you were wondering about the safety of texting and driving in Los Angeles – or anywhere for that matter – consider the computing power found within the newest LAPD cars…

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Connectivity

On the upper floor of the South Hall, the heavy hitters were all about connectivity and processing.  Verizon was showing off every use of mobile under the sun, Qualcomm was highlighting everything that uses their chips/processors (plus providing their usual coffee stand) and Alcatel Lucent was demoing all the ngConnect stuff.  The connected displays we worked on were well received by numerous entities coming through – from Telcos salivating over the opportunity for transactional revenue to mall and other large-scale public venue corporations excitedly discovering how their locations can be reinvigorated through dynamic, connected signage.

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There was a bunch of other stuff to see on the floor that was interesting for about a minute and then you moved on.

Sadly, I didn’t get much time on the bottom floor of the South Hall, but I did see a few things of interest.  The first was a robot window cleaner to complete your collection of the Rhoomba and the Mint.  I wish I could find more, but the company member who was there wasn’t too open with information.  One thing of note about that lower hall was that there was much more breathing room. There was an opportunity to have some fun with your booth design – which one company selling bluetooth enabled outdoor active speakers did.

The Main Event – Main Floor

This year, I entered the main hall in a way that I hadn’t before.  In addition to not being the first hall I entered, I only spent a short period in there on the first day and then didn’t go back in until the middle of the second day.

When we first went in, we just went into the LG booth because it has the best entrance – with the huge 3D wall.  This year, what really caught my eye (and was my most memorable technology from the show)was the Ultra HD 84″ screen that was just beyond the wall.

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Obviously, it can’t be seen here, but what makes it spectacular is the fact that LG has seemingly mastered 3D over the past year.  Their glasses have always been great, but their 3D was only good for things coming out of the screen toward the viewer.  This monitor caught my eye because of the addition of a great depth-of-field.

Regardless of how blown away I was by the Ultra HD, I had to laugh when I got to a nearby screen for 3D gaming.  The screen looked great, but they highlighted the use of a mobile phone to control the gameplay. When I tried to play the game using it, I had to constantly look down at the controller – which wasn’t in 3D.  A cool concept, but with its flat screen, mobile devices as controllers just don’t make sense.

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On the way out of the hall, I stopped at the Intel booth which seems to have literally blossomed without Microsoft being so close.  I sadly don’t have any images, but built an interactive Ultrabook display that looked like a tree.

The next day was the accidental discovery that was my favorite content of the show as well as led me to my favorite audio piece at the show – both of which were at the DTS booth.

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My favorite content was the interview by Nic Harcourt with the engineer for most of the Beatles’ albums – Geoff Emerick.  Geoff’s frankness and stories from those days were fascinating in how they would create effects in an analog world that still hold their own in a digital one.

After the interview, we were able to sample a new DTS product called Headphone.X that effectively can turn any set of decent headphones into an 11.1 sound system.  Their demo did a great job showcasing this new technology.  But, as with many things shown at CES, it will take a while to even cycle the newer processors that can handle the technology into the market.  When I asked, I was told that Qualcomm is the only one providing a processor that can handle it – and then the audio still needs to be build in 11.1.  So who knows when we will actually be able to enjoy.

As for the rest of the main hall, it was even more about lights and action and overwhelming stuff.  The biggest players are Samsung, Sony and Panasonic.  Sony’s area was huge and provided a lot of room to walk around and see their version of the largest OLED.

Panasonic was throwing everything out there from screens to beauty products to a first-class cabin on Air Singapore.  They even had their own version of the largest OLED. Their booth was somewhat easy to move around, but the presentation was dry and I am still trying to figure out who would want the 20″ tablet they were showing off.

I will say this for Panasonic: they did a very good job of conveying how their technology makes it into people’s lives – both in the home and in business.  One example is their presentation of POS solutions through tablets. They drew people in with their organic menu and allowed the technology presentation to get people over their disappointment that there wasn’t actually healthy food available on the floor.

Finally, the booth that exemplifies all that is CES can be found in the middle of the main hall – Samsung.

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Samsung has usually had the coolest things to show and have always generated the largest crowds.  Sadly, their booth design is an assault on the senses.  It is so overwhelming that you don’t know what to look at, where to go or why to care.  Taken in doses, the content is more palatable, but that controlled dose pattern is very hard to pull off.  Without a doubt, there were many great items that were missed due to the hubbub.

But, I guess in the end, that’s what CES is all about – and what drives people to come back – the exploration for that next great thing.

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Finally, A Summit That Almost Reaches The Top

Yesterday, iMedia presented the newest Entertainment Marketing Summit under the header – For Entertainment Marketers by Entertainment Marketers and the difference was palpable. At many summits or conferences; the subjects often blend into each other, the same buzzwords are said too many times, the presentations seem too much like lectures and not the sharing of ideas or conversations, and there seems to be too much company marketing and no real takeaways from presentations.  Perhaps it was iMedia’s format of having members of the community host the entire day that made the difference – making the whole day seem more familial and interesting. For the most part, the sharpened model worked in bubbling this conference up near the top.

iMedia had done something similar for the Video Content Summit in March during the In-Focus breakout – with AJ Vernet hosting and setting the tone for sharing and growing together – but the presentations seemed more like company demonstrations and not data or best-practices sharing. Also at the Video Summit, Shelly Palmer came across as more adversarial as a host. In this case, Bettina Sherick and Kevin Doohan tag-teamed a warm and engaging set of transitions from one session to the next.

It was probably by accident, but the fact that the Keynote Fireside Chat featured two people who don’t just work together – they grew up as close childhood friends – helped establish the familial feel further.  Those friends were Jake Zim and Elias Plishner of Sony Pictures, and you couldn’t find a more respected person to leaf the chat in Gordon Paddison. Jake and Elias did provide insight into some specifics of how Sony works in ways that other studios might not, their challenges were not unique. They provided a sound basics for anyone who did not know them and because of their comfort with each other, Jake’s straight-shooting style was right at home.  He rightfully stated that “people only need one reason not to go to the movies these days.” While it doesn’t make sense to go through everything here, the retweeted quotes from Jake’s mouth cover a lot:

“Fish stinks from the head”
“We have to provide an experience that’s better than free”
“Two commas or spare me the drama”
“No movie sells itself”

I leave it to you to have fun with trying to assign context to the quote…

Brad Berens did his usual solid job with an engaging presentation of the state of entertainment, and more specifically, where the audience is. Between the way viewership has changed in the last 5 or 6 decades and the forms in which entertainment is now available, there is so much change and we still have room for so much more of it to happen. His bit of prescience at the end was his stated belief that XBOX 360 is going to continue to grow and be an even larger property.

Peter Stouggard Presenting – All Pictures Courtesy of iMedia

Peter Stouggard should be applauded for actually using technology for full effect by building an app to house his presentation. His compelling review of what he sees as the “best of” was refreshing just because of his willingness to not only laud the achievements but also look at some of the “what could have beens” to make those even stronger.  He didn’t present it as a negative for what was already done, but as a celebration (or challenge) relating to what opportunities could be advanced in the future.

This year’s visionary  Marketer Award went to Doug Neil of Universal. it was the first Powerpoint/Keynote acceptance speech that I’ve seen. But other than not being able to play a piece from Les Miserables, it was a successful turn of technology.  Or, it at least embraced the spirit of sharing and community in how he used the forum to discuss what he sees the keys to success are.

Unfortunately, after lunch, the programming fell into the same traps we’ve seen at lesser forums and conferences.  It turned into much more presentations of case studies that felt more like business pitches than sharing of best practices.  I won’t go into specifics here out of respect for the presenters and iMedia, but there was far too much general commenting and ideas with no real metrics that can help us determine which way to move forward (or, at least sell the concepts upwards.) It seems that the biggest hiccup that arises all the time is measurement understanding or strategies. Many of those items are nice, but not truly helpful without placing them in context of some clear metrics.

When the day grew later and started veering far off-schedule, the presentations and panels just seemed to grow longer and without as fine a point as those in the first half of the day. Mark Silva brought up some interesting concepts about the collaboration with startups in Silicon Valley. Yet he even acknowledged that he needed to spend more time in Los Angeles to understand how things work to see if it would make any sense to engage on such partnerships.

The day closed out with Lori H. Schwartz interviewing Dane Boedigheimer of Annoying Orange fame. It was presented almost as if it were the highlight of the day in terms of how complete it was and how long it was, but half the attendees had left by then. I was glad I stuck around for a couple of reasons: First, it was good to see Dane still laugh at the humor of an old episode – often creators don’t seem to enjoy their own product as much in public; Second, Dane was able to provide some bits of insight into a group that is ordinarily quite challenging to reach socially – boys 6-11. He named his engagement at his site in the hours after posting new videos was key in building his base. From that, he was able to leverage the deep base to do other UGC and contest mechanics to more deeply involve them in the brand. After a line-up of seasoned vets, it was truly refreshing to see someone who is talented and, perhaps, has a less jaded view on things.

Bettina Sherick stated that “the playing field keeps changing” during her opening remarks and it certainly seems true that we cannot afford to work alone within our silos.  There’s just too much information and development to afford to do such a thing. In entertainment, we are all in this together and, while we are a competitive bunch, what’s good for one is good for all.  In as much a way as it is impossible to have a film that doesn’t need marketing, it is not possible for one studio or another to beat the odds and have huge successes every year.  A few years ago, it was Fox with AVATAR and this year it’s all about Paramount/Disney/Marvel with THE AVENGERS. As such, it is important for everyone to be familial and friendly – along with the competitive.

Just like anything else, there is constant tweaking and development to be found in forums and conferences. iMedia is doing a solid job of not resting on their laurels and getting stronger with each event.

Can Good Come From Celebrity Resurrection Through Technology?

Since we first saw Princess Leia appear in a hologram projected from R2-D2’s projector – if not before – we’ve been waiting for holographic projections to come into their own.  In some ways, they have been around and put to use.  One that has been around is the ghostly figure saying goodbye as you leave any of the Disney Parks’ Haunted Mansion rides. But, there was the need for even more than that simple loop. I had heard Peter Guber talk about his experience at Sony’s corporate headquarters in Japan – where he had an interaction with a holograph without realizing it. So, fuller-functioning hologram’s been nearing reality for a while. Tupac Shakur’s performance in death at Coachella may have been the coming out party for hologram technology, but is it what we really wanted?

Courtesy of AV Concepts

In my blog from a few days ago, I mentioned the appearance of Tupac during Dre and Snoop’s set to close during the Coachella music festival. I mentioned that his holographic representation was cool, but also somewhat freaky.  Perhaps the better sentiment was macabre. MTV.com captures the essence of the performance and brings up questions about future iterations of this technology in the concert realm.  I think they were right in saying that it might work in short spurts – and in the right context – but it’s not something that could deliver in a longer format. The novelty can definitely wear thin after the first few moments of wonder. A lot of the factors of acceptance will rely on who the performer is and how they are represented.

The bigger issue is whether we, or their families, are comfortable with the representation holograms provide.  Beyond the fact that they are obviously not real, there can be discomfort in the “actions” they take.  The celebrities’ families are usually the ones who have control over whether their likeness is used.  If you look at one of the things I was most impressed with regarding the Tupac “performance,” the sound design was great.  Its easier to take recordings of past performances, but Coachella didn’t even exist when Tupac was killed in 1996. But, he started his performance by yelling out. “What the (expletive) is up, Coachella?!” The utterance of Coachella and many other utterances throughout were uncanny.

What happens when deceased celebrities start saying things they would have never said in real life? There are enough issues with celebrity endorsements (direct or implied) among those who are living.  I can only imagine the murky water we can get into by giving others control – even if it is the deceased’ loved ones who are making the decisions.

There was a seeming run on deceased celebrities endorsing products in the last decade of the 20th century – Fred Astaire dancing with a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner, Louis Armstrong, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant Groucho Marx and Gene Kelly for Diet Coke, and John Wayne stumping for Coors Light. There was some backlash about those and they haven’t been seen much since the turn of the century.  Perhaps it was because they lost the wow factor.  Or, maybe it was because families and brands recognized it was certainly not a genuine endorsement. This newly  realized hologram technology can cause a run on some uncomfortable endorsements.

There is certainly much to laud companies like Digital Domain and AV Concepts(who pulled this execution off) as it can lead to some truly engaging experiences in the future. Maybe the best use of the technology – when related to celebrities or other famous people – will be for historical or educational purposes. Going back to the Disney park sphere, the comparison to the Hall Of Presidents in their Florida park would be most relevant.  When it first came out, the animatronics were captivating, but it was just a matter of time within the show that it became old.  Holograms would take it to the next level, but how long would the still-lifeless characters maintain our attention?

As entertainers, content providers and marketers, we just really need to be smart about how we use the technology so it doesn’t enter the realm of 3D films – where most instances are a waste.  We definitely don’t want any depiction to turn people off to the celebrities or brands they might represent or “endorse.”

There may be some other great opportunities for holograms in the future for communication – like Leia did in STAR WARS. We just have to be judicious when using the technology as a resurrection tool for the celebrities we love.

Sony Wins With Tic-Tac Box Sized Ultrabook

Blowing everybody away this weekend, Sony unveiled their full-powered Ultrabook that is the size of a quarter.  I’ve mentioned here before how Intel has been trying to get the word out and Sony has done it majestically with its Vaio Q product. As stated in the post title, this product that is smaller than a Tic-Tac box is sure to make Sony a winner and bring Ultrabooks to the forefront of every consumer’s mind.

Something must have been happening this weekend for a number of technology companies to launch products with Q at its core. The other big one is the Quest option for Google’s Map product. Oddly launching on a Sunday, users were able to find a button for Quest in the upper right corner at maps.google.com after they entered the address.  By doing so, the service provides a wonderfully simple 8-bit chroma version of the map (of course, this is all in honoring the game, Quest).  As you can see in the map of my neighborhood, it does me a huge service by pointing out the things that are most important – a park, a diner and a mexican restaurant that has live music six nights a week… Oh yeah, and the schools that my daughter will not be attending for Elementary and Middle schools.

And, of course, I know this is all for April Fool’s Day – I recounted some from last year in my post on Friday.  The thing is, there are some strong opportunities to market products and have an eye on the future with some of the pieces that were joked about.  The Google piece above was just one of MANY things the Google folks offered up – April Fools has seemingly become their most holy of holidays. The Quest piece is what seems to have gotten the most buzz (I was sent something about it by 10s of people directly and its been written about everywhere) but they have also done things like offer: every single movie ever on DVD to your door (from YouTube); change the weather to serve your needs; auto-driving NASCAR race-cars; tracking traffic to your sites from other planets;

and, the Googlers from Oz announced their new Google street cam placed on Kangaroos’ heads. Of course, this would never fly in the States because some boneheaded legislator would find something wrong about it – and that wrong bit would have nothing to do with cruelty to animals.

But let’s get to the good stuff.  And by good stuff, I mean things that could leverage the fun to possible sales instead of just something to take up excess free time on the job. In the UK, Firebox.com has announced the availability for pre-order on Personalized Fireworks.

They even go so far as to offer the following caveat:

Please Note:

  • Best viewed from a distance of 10km
  • Make sure the box is facing in the right direction and check all commercial flight patterns before lighting the fuse
  • Once lit, retreat to a safe distance of 200m
  • Display last approximately 5 seconds
  • In some cultures may lead to idolatry

It really gets me that I have to check all commercial flight patterns and that there is not a chance in hell that I will be able to get 200m away, let alone get to the requisite 10km for optimum viewing.  But, in all seriousness, I bring this up because their product page is surrounded by all the products that they really do offer.  Yes, their product is funny and they certainly had some fun with it, but they are able to then leverage the traffic to drive awareness and, hopefully, sales at the same time.

Also in the UK, mobile provider O2 announced a new phone with a humongous battery that would last for 1,000 hours of talk time and 92 days of stand-by. Sadly, the phones are not that comfortable when kept in your pocket –

but the key thing here is that O2 does actually have a product named On and On.  If someone were to look for that, it would show up on the home page of O2 as their unlimited package.  Again, a good example of something that could drive to more business.

Toshiba got some buzz for its response to Apple and their Patent prowess.  In order to move away from the rectangular tablet, they devised a “Shapes” line where the tablets are anything but rectangular.

I look at this as something that could get people thinking about the future possibilities for technology.  So, even though it might not lead to other sales, it does something for the better good, beyond making a joke.

There are probably hundreds more of these things that appeared at larger or greater scales. If Intel and Sony were smart, they would look to parlay any interest in this obvious joke product of the Sony Vaio Q to illustrate that the Ultrabook product is still quite sweet.  Again, leveraging these things against actual product sales is all about keeping the conversation going – unless, of course the conversation veers to a funny recent post on the Sony Vaio Q YouTube page that laments, “WOW THAT WOULD REALLY SUCK FOR WATCHING PORN.”

International CES Recap – Tidbits of the Future

International CES 2012 brought on a bunch of questions about relevancy.  If you sell electronics, it must be invaluable.  If you are looking at what’s coming out to help with communications, information and entertainment – its always a mixed bag. With how much there was to see, I’m sure I missed a few goodies, but here’s some tidbits looking into our near and distant future – and some other things we hope will change:

  • One of my favorite sections was the Innovations Hall that was moved from the central lobby of the convention center to within a hall at the Venetian.  It ended up being worth the trip to see some of the cool products that are not only coming up, but are already available.  In a sad way, it was also fun to comment on the descriptions and set-ups as it seemed that whomever typed them and placed products was doing it at the end of a very long day. With fabulous typos, products being placed upside down and items such as a remote for one item being placed with another item it added some gamesmanship and humor in trying to find the next mistake – there were easily more than a dozen to be found.
  • LG had the most mind-blowing large presentation with a wall of screens cycling through phenomenal 3-D content as you walked from the main lobby into their showcase.  Their passive 3D glasses (like those RealD 3D glasses are certainly the most comfortable.  It became quickly clear, though, that the passive 3D experience does not have as great of depth as active 3D glasses.
  • Samsung, Sharp and others touted 4X screens that showed phenomenal resolution 4X that of 1080P, but it just highlighted the fact that we are probably years away from enough content being made in this resolution to make these sets even reasonably worthwhile.
  • Panasonic did a nice job of highlighting the technology advancements they are making via re-engineering refresh-rate technology and plasma technology in general.  The split screens showcased the differences beautifully and it was too bad that there was only a couple of people paying attention to this section as the crowds were elsewhere in the Panasonic exhibit.
  • Sony unveiled a tablet that has two 5.5″ screens that enable users to fold them in half for placement in a coat pocket or purse.  Seems pretty cool from a portability standpoint.  I would just be worried about the extra wear and tear. 
  • Huge convention center rooms diminish the scale of large TVs.  The 80″+ screens looked great, but the way they were placed made them look relatively like my 65″ at home.
  • I was impressed and excited to see a grouping of eco-minded companies represented in the hall adjacent to the Innovations hall in the Venetian that dealt with power sources, recycling and more green electronics solutions.  While their impact might not be big, it was good to see them as I had not seen them at the conference before.
  • Too many staffers have too little knowledge about the products they are presenting.  One example is a staffer in the Microsoft area whose response to a man’s question about the benefits of some laptops and she just told him that they were just the newest models.  She had no idea that the wall of laptops were on display to highlight all of the Ultrabooks that have come out as a PC answer to Apple’s Macbook Air.  If this was Intel and Microsoft’s big push for this show, it’s a shame the staff wasn’t better informed.
  • Every year, I hit the Qualcomm section at just the right time to get the perfect coffee drink that they always provide as freebies…
  • Samsung Mobile also offered free coffee, but their big buzz in the central lobby was the Samsung Note – what they refer to as a smartphone tablet hybrid.  Their hook was having caricaturists draw attendees directly on the devices.  They were only slightly larger than smartphones, so it will be interesting to see how sales go.  Also interesting to see an incorporated stylus in a new product.
  • Samsung presented TV sets that were lightweight and wireless so you can move them from room-to-room as needed.  Interesting concept that might not find many people who care…
  • Dolby set up a theatre to highlight the Dolby 7.1 surround sound on the forthcoming extreme snowboarding film, THE ART OF FLIGHT.  It sounded phenomenal, but its a shame that most people will not be able to hear it in this fashion.

All in, it was a lot of ground to cover in one day.  In some ways I wish I had more time to cover it, but I’m mostly happy that I wasn’t there longer than a day.  Without a doubt, the best showcases were ones that had well-educated staff working the product – regardless of how big or small the brand was. When looking at CES as a barometer of what’s next, it was relatively ho-hum.  When looking at it as a concept vehicle where some parts will be thrown away, there was a bit of promise but we still have a long way to go – and that’s exciting…

Siri and Kinect Leading the HAL Race

While I don’t believe anyone is in a race to become HAL 9000, the villain in Arthur C. Clarke’s Space Odyssey saga (brought to the big screen in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey,) the fantastic dream of being able to interact with technology by just using your voice has been a goal for many. With the release of the SIRI product on Apple’s iPhone 4S and the recent augmentation of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 controller, Kinect, using your voice to control your full environment is one step closer to reality.  Both of these products and others that are in development are positioned as controls for smaller things (mobile phone and entertainment center, respectively), but there is really not a lot stopping them from being the voice control formats for your connected home or life. SIRI and Kinect are really leading the charge.

For the time being, we’ll have to be in awe of the ability to ask SIRI to find us things on our phones or provide directions and work with Kinect as it refines its ability to find us programming through our TV.  The forward-thinking reality is that they can and should connect to everything in the house.

Now, for a jump into the future:

  • From a John Anderton (Minority Report) perspective, Kinect might be closer to his “reality” as it can sense movement and it is tied to the house.  Once you enter the house, it can detect your entry and begin a series of macros to turn on lights, perhaps flip to the desired TV channel and even make the refrigerator output a glass of ice water.  The only think lacking would be that the sensor might only be in one room.
  • Siri already has the disembodied voice down and would be able to follow you through your house and beyond to assist in all your needs.  Car keys won’t even be required because they’ll be in your mobile so you just need to get close to the car or your office door and it will unlock.  You’ll be able to ask Siri to turn on lights or adjust security settings while you are out of the house or across the world.

And back to the now…

We’ve already been able to play and work through some of Siri’s growing pains, but the judgements are in that it is a success and will probably just keep getting better.  Microsoft’s announcement limits itself to being an interactive entertainment center – being able to find shows or products from a select amount of channels and online outlets.  It incorporates Microsoft’s Bing, but not as a web searcher, just as a content searcher.  The fact that it also incorporates movement is a plus – especially if they are successful in launching their planned ability to choose between different commercials by making hand gestures.  They intimate that there will even be opportunities to interact through gestures directly within the commercials.

One other change for Microsoft and the Xbox is the decision to make the user interface more similar to other Microsoft interfaces.  While you can control actions with a Windows mobiel phone, some of the interfaces will look just like those of the mobile system.  Other components will also look similar to Windows 7 interfaces so that the user can feel comfortable switching from one interface to the other.

In both cases, they are still missing the point of working with other companies to interface with the technologies that are in our homes.  Granted, I understand the barriers to doing so easily, but there’s got to be a push for that.  Through both of these products, these companies are even more primed to become central to our lives.  Google and perhaps Sony or General Electric could also make a strong push in this space, but both Siri and Kinect are clearly leading this race. We can only hope that the end product is much more friendly than HAL…

How Quickly Do We Want to Fly Among The Clouds?

This is already a couple of days old, but I wish there were some type of follow-up.  I didn’t delve into it before because it was just said to be a rumor, but the possibility of the breach raises major concerns.  What I am referring to is the rumor that the ones who hacked into PSN and caused a major disruption if not a major felonious assault did the work via Amazon’s EC2 service.  They were able to leverage the cost-effectiveness of the cloud to do the major work that was needed for the pilfering of 100 million accounts. Here’s an excerpt from the entry on Bloomberg.com:

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN)’s Web Services cloud- computing unit was used by hackers in last month’s attack against Sony Corp. (6758)’s online entertainment systems, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Hackers using an alias signed up to rent a server through Amazon’s EC2 service and launched the attack from there, said the person, who requested anonymity because the information is confidential. The account has been shut down, the person said.

The development sheds light on how hackers used the so- called cloud to carry out the second-biggest online theft of personal information to date. The incursion, which compromised the personal accounts of more than 100 million Sony customers, was “a very carefully planned, very professional, highly sophisticated criminal cyber attack,” Sony has said.

It’s not that Amazon did anything wrong, but it just seems the safeguards were not put in place to protect us from this. As we are all moving to cloud-based computing, data storage and retrieval, it just is a concern that we are moving too fast and the controllers of the clouds are not doing eveything to hammer away and make sure thse types of things can’t happen. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I think that the cloud is the direction we need to be heading, but when you look at the costs of rushing to the cloud, I just wish that more people did their due diligence.

So far, the only headaches I’ve personally dealt with pertaining to the cloud were due to key differences between uploading to a server as opposed to the particular cloud we were using.  Unfortunately, it messed up versioning and caused duplicate work and more time until launch of some major products.  Certainly not as huge and damaging as what is rumored to have happened regarding the cloud and PSN, but with that simplicity in comparison, wouldn’t you expect the IT group to check everything off their list to make sure the cloud is sound before migrating.

Is the cloud too shiny an object to take the time to do due diligence?  Even if the rumors are untrue, my hope is that everyone is taking a closer look at the cloud and its security – not only in staying up, but keeping people and information safe.