Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Green Light at the End of the Tunnel

This was, by far, my favorite booth design at CES. It's a tough show to think about sustainability. People give away stuffed animals, plastic bags, reusable tote bags (even reusable is just more "stuff") and other swag. We go through endless amounts of carry out containers and who knows what an insane carbon footprint is created getting people and exhibits all in one place.

And then, I came across this wonderful booth by MINIWIZ built of cardboard and water bottles. Their designs are sustainable and use solar energy. It is beautiful in its simplicity.

The video on their home page beautifully captures their mission with nary a word. Their site shows off innovative personal products, service design (green burial anyone?) and even amazing sustainable architecture.

Thank you, MINIWIZ, for reminding us that not all technology has to be battery powered and end in a landfill.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On the big screen

The majority of this blog is dedicated to sharing insights on user experience and new technology. This short post is a combination. The image above was an impulsive moment at CES. The Sony booth was showing off GoogleTV where you can bring up the internet on your TV, no matter how big or small. I decided to see how the third brain studio website would look at 42" wide! The "Jimmy" on the bottom is from the picture in picture. What do you want to see from the web on your big screen TV?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Object Recognition - Untagged

I love this video! What you are looking at is a proof of concept for a gesture and object recognition context-aware user interface by Beverly Harrison and her team at Intel. It is a simple plywood surface and some Legos. None of the items are tagged, they are ordinary, household items. What Beverly and her team have done is create a smart system that tracks objects on a surface. At the beginning, you see her trace her finger on the table and train track fills in. When she moves the train around the track to the station, if you look closely at the surface, you can see little people exit the train.

By using these robust algorithms the team can author any behavior for any object and dynamically re-assign its role. For example, the people could run, walk or move in any pre-coded direction. The dragon that is part of the scenario can be designed to blow fire, bubbles or smoke.

The surface can be large or small. Larger surfaces may require the camera to be further away which in turn degrades the accuracy. The distance is determined by the needed level of accuracy.

What would you do with this technology? Some of their suggestions were tracking items on a workbench or machines in a manufacturing shop. Personally, I love the opportunity for open play with Legos!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Eye-Fi - Best of CES Photo and Video

This product excites me both personally and professionally. The Eye-Fi won the Best of CES Photo and Video category. Walking through the show, many of the products seem to blend together and everyone seems to be working on the same few problems.

While walking through the show, I preferred to use my digital camera rather than my phone since it's still a better camera. But, the drawback is the lack of connection. If I wanted to send an immediate Tweet or Facebook update, I had to switch over and use my iPhone camera and its wireless capability.

The Eye-Fi solves all of that! Using your existing camera, users simply swap out their existing SD card for a the Eye-Fi which allows any digital camera to become wireless. Their website helps you quickly and easily discover whether their cards will work in your camera. Alas, my point and shoot Olympus has a proprietary XD card and is not compatible.

With the Eye-Fi card, you can wirelessly upload to your computer and any number of web sites including Facebook, Flickr, Picasa or YouTube. Because your camera is NOT a computer, you will need to choose one application for uploading and won't be able to pick and choose for each photo.

Other cool features: The Eye-Fi also offers Geotagging (a must have for some, but personally, I don't want every photo I upload to instantly be able to show my location). The premium cards also offer hotspot access where you can use Starbucks, airport and some hotel wifi for upload access.

I do have one other camera, a nicer one I take out on occasion. I may have to invest in this and give it a whirl!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

CES - Overview

As always, CES is an incredible and overwhelming experience. As I begin to sort through the huge amount of information, I'll start with this insight: connectivity. The connected home is here. Your appliances, healthcare and/or home entertainment are getting intraconnected. Yes, "intra" as in "intrastate" or within a certain space. Devices which serve a particular purpose can now talk with one another. Some devices cross the borders and "talk" to dissimilar devices, but many do not. The iPhone and other smart phones already cross these the boundaries, allowing you to manage your home energy, your entertainment and your health all with the swipe of a finger. Your TV and your stove still need an intermediary.

GE shows that you can create an interface (thanks Dave Bingham!) and give consumers insights into how their home is using energy. With these insights, consumers can make smart decisions on when and how to run their appliances. This saves money on the consumer side and doesn't overtax the infrastructure on the power company side (a growing issue)

Sample of GE's Home Energy Dashboard

Ideal Life and HealthTunes.com both offer connectivity for health care devices, primarily for the chronically ill. In addition to gathering data on weight, blood pressure, temperature and pulse oximetry, these devices upload your information to a secure site where your doctor can access the information and see longitudinal data. Having a more complete picture of your daily life and not just from the 5 minutes you sat in his/her office creates a richer picture of a patient's health.

As a final example, though there are no doubt many more, entertainment is more connected. Apple leads the pack with Airplay, allowing movies and music to stream to your iPhone or iPad. Movies can be quickly pushed to the television set and manipulated with either your phone or tablet.

More CES photos here.