Saturday Sep 20, 2008

Braindead Browsing

I wonder what it would take to embed browser awareness in this blog theme. I have been experimenting with creating pages for my phone's browser without much success but it might be a good idea to try and simplify the theme for braindead browsers.

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Thursday Jun 01, 2006

Sun's SPOTs

There were a couple of demos of Sun's SPOT (Small Programmable Object Technology). This is seen as really important and is possibly the best piece of research from the labs hitting my sweet spot (no pun intended ) of proximity, wireless and database. They have their own web site http://www.sunspotworld.com. The researchers are looking to innovate the platform to enable new applications and new developer productivity models. Check out the SPOT docs page, which also contains highlight arguments about the problems they're trying to solve. They also seem to have a view about collaboration, potentially missing from many of the demos and prototypes I have seen over the last two months at Sun & BT.

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Monday May 22, 2006

www 2006

At www.2006, Sir David Browne, (Chairman of Motorola) gave the opening keynote speech after the obligatory bagpipes & highland dancing. Actually the conference was opened by Jack McConnell, Scotland's First Minister (the politician, not the vicar) who welcomed the conference to Scotland. Interesting speech, listing and aligning Scotland historic intellectual endeavours to the future of the world without getting up the nose of this non-Scottish Brit. I suppose its one of the reasons he's No 1. He mentioned the use of today's internet technology by the University of the Highlands & Islands Millenium Institute to create a virtual university. It'd be worth checking out what they did.

I wonder! I was disappointed with Sir David's speech, maybe I'm begining to get it. Speed of change, personalisation, global scale all are creating massive opportunity. I quite liked his progression of technology that enables audio mobility, from a radio with valves being moved between rooms to car radios to hand held walkie talkies via mobile bricks to todays hand sets. (Arguably the story of mobility is actually the story of battery technology). Some key bullets are, "the device formerly known as the mobile phone" will become the 4th screen, after the TV, the computer and the car. There is a need to learn how to understand value and not service nor time. Perhaps one of the best tag lines was,

"Only long term competitive advantage is the rate at which we learn!"

But two thirds of the world don't have a phone. Conquering the digital divide means addressing some serious geo-political problems. City Business School have published research showing the correlation and cause between {mobile} phone adoption and economic growth, imagine the contribution of the 4bn non-connected people to the global economy. I know that at the moment, they're often more concerned with food and freedom and giving them a phone and a stake in global capitalism isn't exactly priority number one for these disenfranchised people.

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Monday May 15, 2006

The Wireless Doctor

We then visited a demonstration of the Healthcare supply chain, showing the use of database and proximity technologies (RFID & Barcode) for people, data and drugs. The real interest here is how the proximity technology enables cleverer and new applications which reinforces the demonstrations given by John Ames (See here...).

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Home 2.0

On the site, BT have built a demonstration suite illustrating one view of how new technology will change the home. The home is quite cute, but I'm not sure if its because I'm a sucker for these things. In retrospect, I'm not sure how truly futuristic the their Home 2.0 really is, but it does have a bunch of great toys.

The demonstration showed a Wifi LAN with a computer on it and demonstrated the maintenance and configuration of a numer of household items, including the lights (using the phone as the switch), and more obviously various home entertainment devices. I know that my new phone can act as a remote control handset for bluetooth enabled devices, but managing devices by the phone could be quite usefull as a security device if away, or returning home late, or as suggested by one of the other vistors for monitoring your older kids. "Stand away from the cookie jar".

Also, multi-streaming was demonstrated with one sound track for the kitchen and one for the bedroom. (You can't do that with Sky).

This all rather fascinates me, as I had been coming to the conclusion that for electronic/digitial entertainment, a Home LAN is becoming necessary, with the various devices playing traditional client, server and console roles. This is a step beyond the computer network's required to play multi- or massivly multi-player online games, and my views began to form as I realise how limited my options are as a Sky basic subscriber, and the difficulty in putting a second screen into the bedroom. Sadly, we were not demo'd BT's IPTV service, but we were shown an IPTV feed from Spain, with High Definition.

Now, once upon a time, I'd have thought it a good thing to be able to use my phone to program the VCR, but in the world of multi-channel, I don't know when anything's on, so it doesn't matter.

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Intelligent Infrastructure

BT then demonstrated their veiw of Intelligent Infrastructure, the first part showed intelligent cameras, that can detect objects, and the demo had a loitering threshold so that if a person or a bag were to stay somewhere inappropriate for too long, then actions can be taken. The demo, was really about event management, but the camera application was used several times during the day, as it is one way of capturing real world information from non co-operative people and objects. The demo, then identified the nearest (appropriately trained) security guard (role played by our host), who demonstrated a voice recognition system for authentication and showing that the system knew where he was, by answering the voiced question, "Where am I?".

In this case, it did so because as a system co-operator, he had an RFID badge. The system then opened all the doors between our guard and the loitering bag.

The second demo showed a cement mixer that won't start unless an appropriately safety trained engineer asks it to start (not voice recognition this time, although it could be) and that the appropriate safety equipment is in the proximity. It can't make the engineer wear the gear though. A side effect of puting this device on the 'net, is that its activitly can be monitored and so maintenance activity planned on the basis of better knowledge, for instance how busy has it been, not how long since the last service. Its a bit of a difference from our definition of "Intelligent Infrastructure"

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