Friday, 19 February 2010

Why we need both voice and handwriting recognition

Imagine: you've had a hard day at work, you stumble up the stairs, flop onto the bed. You say "Computer, play Led Zeppelin II" and instantly "Whole lotta love" is blasting out of the stereo, helping to reinvigorate you for the evening ahead. Why do we need voice recognition? Because scrolling through menus so select an album to listen to (say on your smartphone), and then going through another set of menus to tell your smartphone to play via your bluetooth speakers, takes too long.

So if voice recognition gets nailed, do we need handwriting recognition? I think so, otherwise your office is going to be a very noisy place! (obviously it may lead to a revolution office working, but there are still occasions when you don't want to speak what you're writing out loud.)

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Equanimity and the Big 5 personality traits

I was thinking today about equanimity and the big 5 personality traits. I've always thought equanimity to be a good thing, perhaps inspired by the lines from Rudyard Kipling's poem:

If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;

But it seems to me that equanimity is just the combination of two personality traits: low extraversion (i.e. not getting too excited by good things); and low neuroticism (i.e. not getting too upset by bad things).

Friday, 12 February 2010

Data driven property investment

It would be interesting to do some data driven property investment whereby the price per square foot is correlated against factors such as indices of deprivation, or distance from transport hubs, and outliers are investigated further as investment opportunities.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

What I want from an online media service

I want to be able to access every single recording of every single piece of music, every film and TV show ever made, every book and article every written in one place.
Ability to download
I want to be able to download a significant amount of this to a local device (smartphone, computer, ebook reader, etc) to cover those periods that I am not connected to a sufficiently fast connection in order to stream.
Service not product
I want to pay-per-use. I expect that the artists I listen to the most will get the most money, and those that listen to it the least get the least money. I want there to be a pricing cap for each piece of music. So, I may pay 0.5c every time I listen, but I pay not more than $1 per track. Once I've spent a dollar on a track I can listen to it for the rest of my life for free. The same should be true for movies: $1.50 every time I watch it, with a $8 cap.
Peripheral functions
I want a record of everything I've ever listened to, and to be able to search through that data (including through the lyrics of songs). I want recommendations from friends, and recommendations generated based on my ratings of media that I have experienced. I want encyclopedic details of every track, album, artist, etc. I want lyrics to every song. I want to be able to give private and shared reviews of every piece of media I have experienced. I want to be able to highlight and annotate my ebooks.

More convergence

Apple may have found a niche between the smartphone and laptop, but the general trend is towards convergence. What is the logical endpoint of this? I think the smartphone will become the only device and all other devices will become smartphone peripherals.
The peripherals
Instead of a tablet PC, you have a 10" touchscreen that your smartphone slots into the back of. The screen provides some extra RAM and processing power if necessary.
Instead of a laptop, your touchscreen mentioned above has a clip-on laptop keyboard and touchpad. Again the body of the keyboard can provide some extra RAM and processing power if necessary.
Instead of a desktop, your smartphone connects wirelessly to your 24" screen, which is connected to a mouse and keyboard (and other peripherals). Again the screen can provide some extra RAM and processing power if necessary. Obviously if a larger screen in not necessary, then the 10" touchscreen mentioned above can dock onto a monitor stand (with connections to the mouse and keyboard) and then connect wirelessly to the smartphone.
Instead of a dedicated music player, you have speakers that wirelessly play music from the smartphone. The smartphone only contains enough of a music collection to tide you over being out of connectivity, but the smartphone can stream music directly from the internet.
Instead of a DVD player your TV (just another large touchscreen, or projector) plays video wirelessly from the smartphone. The smartphone only contains enough of a video collection to tide you over being out of connectivity, but the smartphone can stream video directly from the internet.
Your smartphone also wirelessly communicates with your fridge, washing machine, cooker, etc over wifi. When you are out-and-about, the fridge can still talk to your smartphone via the wifi box and internet connection (and 3G connection to the phone).
Instead of a landline phone you have, a smartphone which should be able to make VOIP calls.
What needs to happen to get us there
More processing power in smartphones
More RAM in smartphones
More HD capacity in smartphones (500GB of flash memory should do it)
Faster data rates for wifi
Better online music/video systems (to be discussed in a later post)
More cloud storage of data

LCD dancefloor

I imagine an LCD (or equivalent) dancefloor that is pressure sensitive and reacts to the steps of the dancer with patterns or images. For example, each step might produce a ripple.
The images could interact with each other on the floor, generating new and unique combinations, depending on who is dancing with who.
By wearing a tag on each shoe (on hands for breakdancers), the floor could sense who's foot it was and give users custom patterns or images. A keen dancer may prepare a sequence or set of patterns/images in advance.
The images on the floor could pulse to, or be timed with, the beat of the music.
The LCD would obviously be protected with toughened, and perhaps frosted, glass.
The floor could also work for activities other than dancing, such as virtual football, where you stop the ball by putting your foot down next to it, and move your foot along the floor to kick it.
This technology would become obsolete (or at least less cutting edge) once holograms are mastered, whereby the dancer can interact with 3D objects (e.g. a holographic dancer).

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Perspectives and radicalism

An outsiders perspective is "how would I design this". They think in an idealistic and theoretical manner, and promoted revolutionary change. In contrast, an insiders perspective is "how would I improve this". They think in a practical and realistic manner, and promote incremental change.

Too many chiefs, not enough indians

I believe that in current society there are too many leadership and management positions, and too many people wanting to be leaders and managers. I believe this excess is partly due to an individualistic society, and partly due to disproportionately high pay for leaders and managers. Whilst status is a reward inherent in the job, there is no need to pay leaders and managers more, there are sufficient people motivated by the status reward.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Smartphones to replace audio tours

I've always disliked audio tours. Too slow. Too boring. But make them into an app on a smartphone, with pictures, video, audio, hyperlinks and content control (i.e. control of how much you want to find out), and suddenly going round a museum or gallery might be fun!

Virtual graffiti in augmented reality

A smartphone app that allows you to draw graffiti on the walls of public places using the phone's motion sensor and camera to record the movements and the phone's GPS to record the location. Users and friends can see their graffiti on their phone screens, when the camera is pointed at a particular place, or through augmented reality glasses. As the graffiti can be shared with friends but is only visible in the location (or optionally online) it creates a new mode of personalised location-based communication.

Remote controlled and robotic toys for cats and dogs

There should be more remote controlled and robotic toys for cats and dogs. A ball robot is ideal for dogs as the lack of chewable edges should make it indestructable.