2012 is the bicentennial of the War of 1812. You may remember just two things about this period from your high school history class. First, in an act of ignominy for the Americans, the British burned down the capital. Second, the war ended with the resounding defeat of the British by the heroic General Andrew Jackson in January 1815, in what was the war’s only set-piece battle between the opposing sides. Jackson eventually rode this victory into the Presidency.
There is only one problem with this battle. It took place after the war was over. The previous month, in Europe, the two sides had agreed to peace. But in those days, communications was so slow that word of the peace didn’t reach New Orleans until February 1815.
Fast forward, approximately forty-eight years later, to the Civil War. In the period between these two wars, in 1831, Morse thought up the idea for the electronic telegraph. The Union Army had mastered its quick deployment, so that in 1863 while sitting in Washington, President Lincoln could read almost real time reports from the battlefields many miles away.
This was a dramatic increase in the speed of communications. Not all that many decades later, telegraph lines and cables would unite the world. Yet this did not fundamentally change the way people worked or lived or governed themselves.
So consider 2011, when the US Navy Seals got Osama Bin Laden. There was a tweet about helicopters within several minutes, but the author didn’t know why the helicopters were nearby. The first tweet with some confirmation came about forty-five minutes before President Obama made his announcement.
Now think back about forty-eight years before to November 22, 1963 and the assassination of President John Kennedy. The news was out quickly all over television and radio and newspapers. Walter Cronkite famously told the viewers of CBS News that the President had died thirty-eight minutes before.
Unlike the 19th century examples, there was no dramatic speed up in the reporting of these two more recent events separated by roughly forty-eight years. While we may have more sources of information in more places now than in 1963, word doesn’t get out all that much faster. You could argue that the Telegraph had a greater impact on communications than the Internet.
Yet many of us have the feeling that our world has been changed by this communications. Why is that?
I think it has to do with the changing nature of the work we do. In the mid-19th century, more than three quarters of Americans made things or grew food. In 2011, less than a quarter do so and the rest of us provide services — and increasingly intangible services, including ideas, knowledge, entertainment and the like which is delivered digitally. Because better digital communications directly speeds up the delivery of these services, we see the impact more. It’s the increasing availability of high quality communications, in conjunction with these significant socio-economic trends, which will continue to change our lives.
We saw what happened when William Wallace upgraded to the Right Network, but how about Paul Revere? Equipped with a Cisco Cius tablet and a reliable wireless connection, Paul can quickly communicate the impending British invasion to fellow Patriots. There’s no need for a midnight ride when you’ve got the Right Network.
Hollywood’s once high-tech future fantasies are not far off. Much of the technology depicted in films like 2001: A Space Odyssey is now reality, and smart houses like Eureka’s S.A.R.A.H. might be sooner than we think. But what will we see this year? Here are my top ten best guesses:
1. Old technology being used in a new way
This year will be about going back and using technology we already have in new ways. For instance, the new Ford Escape is reducing wind noise with pre-WWII technology. Many items that showed up at CES like the Nest, used old technology (thermostat) and applied new technology (internet connectivity and new interface) to create a gadget that has flown off the shelves.
2. Internet-capable features dominating the television market
With the popularity of devices like Roku and Apple TV, this will put more pressure on innovation in the world of television manufacturers. The next natural step will be for simplifying the connectivity for smarter and easier connected entertainment.
3. Near instantaneous media streaming
Current “4G” is considerably faster than 3G and is making headway towards the low-bandwidth, high-information capability of ITU’s official 4G standards.
4. Second Screen Experiences- a household term
With our attachment to mobile devices and The Sundance Film Festival’s introduction of “The New Frontier Story Lab” last year, it is likely we will see more films made for the second screen experience.
Do you work from home or on the road often? Do you love “work from home Fridays” where you can drink your coffee in your sweats while responding to emails? So do we. Working remotely saves hours of time on the road that can be better spent getting the kids ready for school or taking that early morning conference call and then immediately hopping on your laptop to work. We also know that teleworking can be great for a more flexible lifestyle but it can also present some challenges if managers do not set expectations of what is expected and if teleworkers don’t create productive work habits.
Augmented reality (AR) isn’t new but it definitely continues to gain momentum and is becoming a driving force in the way we engage with our content rich world. An AR experience is appealing to most age demographics because it enables us to interact in fresh and engaging ways with a variety of mediums. So no surprise that ABI Research estimates the market for augmented reality in the US will reach $350 million in 2014. That’s up from only $6 million in 2008!
I have explained in past blog posts what AR is in detail, see the below list of blog links to learn more. To recap for those who are new to the concept Wikipedia defines augmented reality (AR) as a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.
Here is an example of AR solutions that have been generating a lot of buzz and excitement J
At CES this year Mercedes Benz unveiled their experimental networked applications with augmented-reality and gesture-controlled features. Of course Mercedes is not the only automaker exploring how to make the car smarter and most are experimenting with voice controlled features because obviously there are safety concerns with these approaches.
“Cars are becoming platforms to participate in the digital world in a fully networked sense, just like your tablets can and your phones can,” said Venkatesh Prasad, a senior technical leader with Ford Motor Co.’s innovation division. “It’s our job to take those computing services people are used to at 0 mph and make them available at 70 mph.”
For example, icons flash on your car windshield, hologram style, as your car approaches restaurants, stores, historic landmarks or the homes of friends. Point at them, and the icons open to show real-time information such as when that building was built, concert schedules at a local theater, or reservation options at a restaurant. Wave your hand again, and you’ve made a restaurant reservation. Or take Mercedes’ messaging app which will create a menu of text options based on your location and your car’s speed — “I’m stuck in traffic,” or “I’m just north of San Jose” — and display them on the screen. So if you are late to a meeting you can choose from the options and push a button to post the one that fits, instead of having to manually type the words.
These systems are not road ready yet and most automakers are looking beyond to making the road safer by working on systems that would allow vehicles to talk to each other about road conditions, weather and traffic issues. Read More »