Mapping the Geospatial World: A Tool for Social Change

March 12 2009 / by VenessaMiemis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Social Issues   Year: 2009   Rating: 10 Hot

NYC_Info_Center_2.jpgIt's part of human nature to label, classify, and quantify the world around us. We feel empowered when we're able to create structure and meaning out of our surroundings. Maps have been used for thousands of years to that end; enabling us to plot a course, make informed decisions of paths to take, and decide which trajectory will give us desired results. In today's modern culture, digital media has taken mapping to a whole new level, giving us the ability to visualize our world in 3D, and on a global scale

So what do maps have to do with social change?

Potentially, everything. A map is a tool, and historically those that have the best maps win. Several digital and social media tools are in the process of converging to create unprecedented platforms for sharing information in real-time. Whereas software like Google Earth allowed us to visualize on a macro scale, these new tools map information on local levels. GPS software, location based tracking, souveillance, and geotagging are coming together to produce information-rich maps that can be visualized in both space and time. Powered by social media, a space is being created where real-time maps can be used to empower communities to connect and collaborate instantaneously.

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The New Office: Your Lap

October 07 2008 / by Lani / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Culture   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

The office. It’s a dreaded workspace for many, for others it’s a grand tradition (and, for a few, it’s just a funny TV show). However you see it, the office as it exists now is evolving. Have a look at yours. Does it resemble the standard Dilbert-esque vision rife with miles and miles of identical cubicles, Sticky-Notes, and studded with those ever-flattering fluorescent tubes? Or is it simpler setup- a laptop on your lap?

These days, companies are rethinking the way we work. The new workspace, called non-territorial or non-assigned workspaces, resemble a modern version of musical chairs. Employees come to work and find their spot. This model works for Cisco Systems. At other companies, such as Bank of America, employees can reserve spaces or meeting rooms. Others (think IBM) don’t even have offices.

Mind you, the concept of the paperless office isn’t new. It’s been floating around since the 1940’s. The Atlantic featured a series on Memex machines, theoretical proto-hypertext computer systems that were to function as self-contained research libraries, in 1945. Life Magazine soon followed with illustrations. And, of course, we can’t forget gems like The Jetsons, or Brazil, or even Spielberg’s Minority Report.

Although, we’re not quite hovercraft bound, the future of the office is increasingly flexible and mobile. Employees will no longer be confined to the cubicle. The advent of wireless technologies, smartphones, teleconferencing and the Web 2.0 cloud has made the office as we know it, a thing of the past. Today, virtual is the way to go.

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Ericsson Expects Cellphones With HD Video Capability by 2012

November 07 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2012   Rating: 6 Hot

Ericsson, one of the largest companies in Sweden, unveiled their plans for a revolutionary new cellphone capable of 20 Megapixel photos and true HD video recording capability.

At the press conference, Ericsson representative Jonas Lundstedt said they see the cellphone of the future as more of a “mobile terminal” than just a cellphone. With the capability to replace objects in our lives with just one great device, Ericsson is following the way of some of the other major players in the cellphone industry by combining services and devices into one simple object.

The day is coming where the cellphone could possibly no longer be called a cellphone, but a terminal like Lundstedt mentioned. When the cellphone can function as a phone, camera, video camera, map, credit card, etc, can we even call it a cellphone anymore? With AT&T recently approving the tethering of the iPhone to other devices such as televisions and other household appliances this forecast isn’t too far off. The all-in-one device may only be a few short years away. Maybe call it a Universal Remote?

via TechOn!

Reuters Poll Shows Industry Leaders Believe Mobile Phone Sales Will Shrink

December 16 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Economics   Year: 2009   Rating: 6 Hot

phonedeath.jpgReuters reports that most leaders in the mobile phone industry see sales plummeting in response to the global economic crisis.  "On average, the poll of 36 analysts shows global market volumes shrinking 6.6 percent next year and 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter -- traditionally the strongest period for the industry due to holiday sales."  The interesting note is that a similar poll in early November saw predictions that the market would grow by 2.6% next year.

We all know the economy is going to crap, so it's not surprising that people are going to stop buying things they don't really need.  For many, that's a brand-spanking new cellphone.  Our culture has become (or always has been) a sort of throw-away culture where if your technology isn't the latest then you're way behind the curve.

iPhone after iPhone is thrown away, replaced by a new one ten times better and sexier, only to get replaced less than a year later.  This economic jolt might be what it takes to get people to start sticking to their stuff, quell the need for the latest and greatest, and stop shopping smartly.  Imagine a phone where you could switch out some of the components instead of buy a whole new product.  Like a computer tower, just upgrade the parts instead of buying a whole computer.  Honestly though, I see this as unlikely.

Image: Tim Psych (Flickr, CC-Attribution)

Here Comes Video-to-Video Mobile Chat (Update: or does it?)

June 08 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 5 Hot

Leaked photos of the new 3G Apple iPhone reveal that it’s very sleek and, best of all, supports video-to-video calling. If rumors of serious subsidies in the neighborhood of the -$200 range prove correct, then we could have a mobile video-to-video revolution on our hands the second half of this year, certainly by the holiday season.

Although it’s gotten increasing silly to wait for next-gen technologies, I sure am psyched that I bypassed the first iteration(s) of the iPhone for the 3G version, which is widely expected to be released June 9th.

Update: It looks as though this 3G iPhone photo may well be a FAKE, in which case we’ll have to wait a few more months or even a year before we get video-to-video. I dig the joke and feel thoroughly sheeeepish at having taken the bait. It did seem plausible, though I did pause, for a split second, when considering the bandwidth requirements.

Prediction: Such believable fake-outs, in the tradition of google’s April Fool’s jokes, will become far more prevalent as we enter the knee of the curve and crafty designers take advantage of the viral opportunities.

Need WiFi On That Roadtrip? Bring it Along With MiFi

December 10 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2009   Rating: 4 Hot

You've got a laptop, a cellphone, a digital camera and at least one other gadget in your arsenal.  Sadly, only your phone gets internet which costs about $60 a month.  You thought about getting mobile internet for your laptop but that was another $60 plus the cost of the USB drive.  You're tired of hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop looking for internet on trips.  What do you do?

novatel-mifi.jpg

Novatel, a company specializing in mobile information technology, will soon release MiFi, a mobile WiFi system run through cellular phone lines.  MiFi acts as your own personal WiFi system which you can link to from any of your mobile gadgets.  On a road trip you can carry it along for any of your passengers to latch onto.  With a 4 hour life-span or 40 hours on standby, business trips might be just that more bearable.

Google's battle vs. Apple begins: Killer Android Apps

September 02 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Metaverse   Year: General   Rating: 3

Forget about Google vs. Microsoft, the King of Search is building its foundation for conquering the mobile web experience and introducing software services that go far beyond desktop based keyword searches. Welcome to Google’s platform of the future – Android.

The future battle for consumer ‘web apps’ might heat up faster on smart mobile devices than desktops. This puts Google in direct competition with the iPhone and its App Store. But Google must move quickly to secure relationships with handset makers, and it needs developers to fall in love with the Android platform.

Last week, Google announced its winners of the first round of Android platform applications that include: cab4me’s one-click call to local cab services based on your location, CompareEverywhere’s camera bar code based price comparison, Ecorio’s automatic calculations of your carbon footprint, Breadcrumb’s picture based map creator, and PiggyBack’s car-pooling and ride-sharing application. These applications give users much more than simple search results. They help synchronize our lives and bring the web into the real world.

These apps and others will be part of Google’s Android Marketplace -an open content distribution system that will help end users find, purchase, download and install various types of content on their Android-powered devices.

The next two years will be an exciting time for mobile apps as mainstream Internet experiences evolve from websites to web services- and from desktops to mobile devices. The role of next generation mobile software services could be the key to success. Apple understands this future reality, but Google is not standing still- and Steve Jobs will be watching.

Wonderful Goodies From the Floor of RoboDev '08 in Santa Clara

November 19 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 3

Here you’ll find some videos shot from the floor of the RoboDev expo floor. Enjoy!


Watch MobileRobots.com displays stereovision system in Game Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

The video you see here is of a robot made by MobileRobots.com using the MobileRanger Stereo Vision System. “MobileRanger stereovision systems are top-of-the-line instruments for measuring depth for demanding applications such as mobile robot navigation, people tracking, gesture recognition, targeting, 3D surface visualization and advanced human computer interaction.” You can see how objects at different ranges are represented by different colors (see my hand?). Very cool.

Above you see a photo from the display Boston Engineering had. What you see is a robotic fish they hope to build in the near future (sorry, no prototypes yet). I’m going to stay in contact with these guys on the project since it’s a pretty cool concept that could be built fairly quickly with the latest technology (the fact that they’re basing it off a Tuna fish is proof alone that this thing will be fast and powerful).

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New Structure Re-Defines the Term "Mobile Home" by Walking On Legs

November 06 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: Beyond   Rating: 2

Some crazy smart people over at MIT collaborated with a Danish design group to make a house that moves on legs.

The house, which reportedly can move up to five kilometers per hour, comes equipped with all the necessities for a personal dwelling. “The house is ten feet high, powered by solar panels, and is outfitted with a kitchen, toilet, bed, and wood stove.” What makes this different than a traditional motor home is that it can pass over objects where a tire might have a problem. It can reportedly “turn left and right, move forward and back, and even change height as needed.” In a sense, a true mobile home.

The hope is to eventually create a dwelling capable of climbing hills and navigating over rough terrain. They even hope to build a model which could also float on water for both land and sea adventures.

But is this a practical invention?

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Portable Nuclear Reactor to Set Up Shop in Your Neighborhood

November 11 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Energy   Year: 2013   Rating: 2

If the 10-year timeline of building a nuclear reactor has got you worried about clean energy today, a smaller and simpler solution could be only a few years away. Hyperion Power Generation has a great website which professes the practicality and usefulness of their van-sized nuclear reactor.

Given that the population of some areas are too low to warrant a full-sized reactor, Hyperion mobile reactors are more fitted for rough terrain and smaller communities. “Hyperion produces only 25 MWe — enough to provide electricity for about 20,000 average American sized homes or its industrial equivalent.” Reactors can also be teamed together for larger communities or areas with higher energy usage. This could be very useful to third world countries where populations are growing but the availability of power is incredibly limited.

But is it dangerous?

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Internet Leaders Predict an Increasingly Mobile Internet Experience

December 15 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Technology   Year: 2020   Rating: 1

pew.jpg

Elon University recently unveiled a series of future scenarios they've compiled from asking industry leaders, analysts and activists a series of questions about major tech advances they expect by 2020.  You can find good snippets from the report here at Pew Internet.

One thing the report goes over is the increasing use of mobile internet as the method of connecting to the World Wide Web.  "The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world in 2020."  The go on to cite various examples such as the increasing computing power of mobile phones, how applications are increasingly easy to use and operate, and of course the cost of phones drop everyday (anyone heard the rumor that Wal-Mart would be selling the iPhone for $99?)

On one hand I feel bad for those '$100 Laptop' people who tried so hard to make a cheap laptop and have pretty much failed, but on the other hand we have amazing products that do even more for the same price, and they're small.  While the idea of a third world student dutifully doing their homework on a cellphone may seem strange, by 2020 we'll be seeing developments of amazing heads-up displays as well as the nearly complete removal of the touchscreen as a device.  Infrared beams can replace a touchscreen and rolllable OLED screens will allow for larger displays in much smaller gadgets.

Check out the links above for the full scoop.