Spring Forward in Anticipation

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Today is Apple’s big “Spring Forward” event. It will start at 1pm EDT (10am PDT if you are nearer Apple’s campus). I am looking forward to replacing my old “Apple Watch” – (AKA iPod Nanon on a 3D Printed watch band). I’ve been looking at the WatchKit SDK, but have not yet written any meaningful code. I will as soon as I have a watch to play with. What is your most anticipated aspect of the Apple Watch? What version will you order?

CES Day 1 (for realz!)

Today was amazing and busy.  I began with 7am meetings and customers meetings starting at 7:30.  I won’t go into any of these (for obvious reasons); however since I have an exhibitor badge, I got onto the show floor at 9am (it opened at 10am) to do my 1st pass rapid pass to scout out where I want to go to the rest of the week.  I went thru the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center (last year this was the Connected Home and 3D Printing Space), this year it was crowed with a lot of my favorites, but it was different.  There was a whole section on Gaming, with a Gigantic Oculus display. I hope to get some time to check it out on Thursday.  Parrot (the drone and quadracopter company) was there and had what appears to be a new flagship consumer quadrocopter, along with a new Connected Plant device).  The IEEE display included our friends from Emotiv with a racing game using their headset (given they were still in setup mode as a did may quick run I hope again to see them later this week).  Last year I really enjoyed the Robotic window cleaner, they were there but with a much smaller booth, and (spoiler) there was a new company that won  the innovation award for a window cleaning robot.

Qualcomm had a mini-booth in South Hall showing off robots and quadracopters, but their main booth was in central hall.   Next to the robot qualcomm booth, I saw a company called Vedams that was the only one that I saw promoting their AllSeen Alliance membership (this was a big surprise, I do expect to see more later this week).  Drones, drones, and more drones were all in the South Hall.  I hope to be able to spend some time there and understand the differences between the various models and companies.   There was Zano, Ghost, Parrot, and many others.

The Smart watch was all over the halls.  So many, and so many just looked the same.  The number that looked like what the Apple Watch may look like was also high.  I am hoping that we will see what happened with the smart phone, many try and then Apple sets a new standards which forces the entire industry to mature.  Time will tell.

I’ve seen the telepresence robots for years, but this year Beam had a GIANT one, that looked like it had a 40 inch TV on the top of it. 🙂

Connected Home did make some presence in the South Hall including WeMo, but the real Connected Home content was in the Sands Conference center (more to come on that).

By the time I left the South Hall the show floor was officially open and I quickly zoomed thru the central hall to look at Intel and Qualcomm’s booths.  Intel had some interesting spider robots, but they were being controlled by a person with a tablet.  They also showed partner work on a head up display with eye tracking in the vehicle (using the same JLR car I think we used at Innovate – it sure looked the same, need to check the infotainment screen later).  Intel was also going NUTS on wearables… and their sensing displays. Qualcomm had a bunch of Auto content and was using Internet of Everything (everywhere).  They showed a google glass type device  (ODG R-6S using the Snapdragon 805 processor).  It was also the first space where I saw Glasses Free 3D display on a 4k TV.  They showed off a bunch of gaming displays with some great graphics and processing using tablets sending the games to the TVs.

I then quickly ran to the North hall for a quick run thru to check out the connected Auto displays.  I somewhat missed Chrysler display, will have to check it out later.  So, the biggest thing was that it appears that most of the car manufactures are supporting both CarPlay and Android’s Car protocol, with some also supporting their own third protocol.  Pioneer showed their Apple CarPlay demonstrator in a a Smart Car. They also showed a cool rear view mirror that also showed social and other content.  Very cool!

Denso had a much smaller display than last year, the part I enjoyed was a very small EV that they built for the Japan market.  It doesn’t use keys, but instead of using a smart phone app, they are using a NFC enabled credit card like device, that allows you to tap on the dash and then drive off.   They then monitor where the vehicle is so they can move them closer to the next person who wants it… it was called the Picomobi and sits one person.  Seemed cool but the execution and adoption is very light so far.  They continue their Home to Car connection idea.. with integrations between the thermostat and your car, so as you get close to home it will change the thermostat to an appropriate setting.  They have systems for home energy efficiencies.

Toyota’s booth was all about their hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.  Toyota has announced that they are opening up their patents for license in order to drive adoption of this technology.  I saw a great article pitting Toyota and Tesla against each other based on their recent announcements.  The Mirai (Toyota’s vehicle) does look pretty cool.

Volkswagen was showing gesture based controls in the vehicle, along with a lot of cell phone integration with the vehicle.  My personal opinion is that gesture may not be the way to go, but I didn’t get a good chance to see it in action, so perhaps it won’t be as wild as I imagine it.  Volkswagen was one of the companies that showed three different supported platforms for infotainment – CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

Audi’s booth was just as insanely full as last year.  I did not get to see their self driving car that I heard about on twitter.  Maybe later this week.  Their RS-7 did look nice…

Ford showed off three things Sync-3, using Voice-Activted Technology.. This seems much more natural to me then what I can imagine with a gesture system.  They also had two great looking vehicles – the latest Mustang, and a their new F150. The coolest thing I saw; however, was an engine cutaway that actually showed the circuit boards inside of the engine.  For some reason I knew this existed mentally, but not in actuality.  The heat and oils I figured would break down a board.  But here’s a cool picture!

Hyundai was busy but not extremely.  My memories from last year, meant that I didn’t see anything new.

Mercedes-Benz!  My favorite car, had an amazing new AMG GTS 9  very sleek!  But the star of their display was their self driving vehicle (prototype– F015) with swizzle seats so that all four passengers could face each other and interact.I got one great picture, but someone had their stupid selfie stick in the way.  Note that the windows are tinted to look like metal.

At this point I had to zip over to the Sands for the afternoon. The Sands has connected home, connected health, 3d Printing, and the startup zone.  Right out side of the entrance with a company showing off their (yet another Google Glass like device) head-worn computer.  The ODG had both consumer and commercial versions.  Commercial model were about $5000 vs sub $1000 for the consumer model.  Pretty good specs, and interesting way of changing lens, etc.

Withings showed off their new Activité Pop activity tracking device.  While it didn’t do the pulse of my favorite WiThings Pulse, it has a cool analog display and supports sleep, steps and swimming! Pricing is listed at $150, and has an 8 month battery life.  I think this is a great way of looking at the fitness tracker and smart watch in a unique way.  I may have to get one when they become available.

An interesting booth was the Innovzen chair.  It looked a lot like a massage chair, but they went out of their way to say, no it is NOT a massage chair.  It is designed to reduce your stress and provide a sanctuary and get you to breath.  Not sure I can afford between $9,500 and $16,000 for a chair, but would be interesting to try it if I can get into it later this week.

A kickstarter from last year from Finsix – the Dart – was their with a big booth, but I still don’t have the charger I bought from them.   Cubic Robotics was an interesting booth, showing off what they did on Indigogo.  Obelab was a device that monitors brain function and tries to show abnormal brain function, depression, etc.  Oviku ULTI claimed to have the only un-pickable home door lock.

There was so much more and I will write up more.. but wanted to get this post up… (Updated with pictures)

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Five days with Google Glass

With Glass

With Glass

As I mentioned in my last post, my Google glass arrived on Monday and I ran into a few problems to start with. I don’t want to color the experience with those day one battery problems, so I decided to wait until today to provide a more detailed description of my experience so far.

I’ve been playing with Glass for 5 days now, and I can see the potential.  The first question that people ask me when they see me wearing glass is, “Is it worth $1,500?”  I can honestly say that for the average consumer the answer is a big no.  But that’s not the point in having it now.  The point in having it now is to explore the possibilities of a beta product.    And in that regard I think the price is fair.  One thing that you have is the option to swap it out once as a developer.  This makes a lot of sense as Google should be quickly advancing the tech, so that when it does become a consumer product you are not stuck with having to buy it again.  This is an amazing deal, and I wish that more product development teams would consider this as a way of saying thank you to the earliest adopters.

A day after I got Glass, a software update was introduced.  This has actually made it somewhat less reliable and it is consuming more battery now.  (Ah, the wonders of beta testing).  There’s been a lot of help offered by the community in trying to address some of these issues.  If you want to get a view into those discussions I highly recommending joining the explorer community over on Google+.  The team of there is helpful and truly engaged.

As I mentioned on my other podcast – GamesAtWork.biz – the biggest issue I have right now is that I am using AT&T and am grandfathered in on the unlimited data plan.  To get all of the advantages of Glass, you need to tether it to your cell phone.  In order to enable tethering on my data plan, I will lose my unlimited plan and I use WAY TOO MUCH data to give it up. So all my experience is based on either connecting to a local wifi hot spot, or using the Bluetooth to access some set of capabilities.

The basic capabilities that come with glass are – take a picture, take a video, get email notifications, social interactions with Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and youtube, You get access to your calendar, etc.  One thing that I can’t test is the head up version of a GPS.  Having directions tied nicely to my calendar is a cool service that is enabled via other apps on my cell phone, but seeing it as a drive would be helpful.

One of the big jokes on SNL a year or so ago what the head nod that was used to enable Glass to react.  This is not required, you can touch the side to get it to wake up, instead of the head nod.  The head nod is great for a complete hands free option, however, a simple glance up activates Glass. In a public setting, and with some of the recent stories of people getting upset with glass, I’d rather not have Glass come on unless I want it on.

The interface of Glass, i.e. the Google Now cards, works really well.  It provides you with the data you want at a glance.  It’s clean and clear, and decided to show relevant info at a glance.  You can find the Developer reference here.

I’ve take a ton more pictures this week thanks to Glass, and even posted a few on Google+.  This is funny, because traditionally Google+ has been a location of last resort to me given that their interface tends to be a bit one off from all there other services.  Glass should make Google much more popular for social sharing.

As with all betas things are not working great all around.  I still can’t connect to the WiFi at my favorite Durham Coffee shop – BeanTraders.  While I know I have the network configured correctly (it works with my laptop, my iPad, my iPhone and my Android Tablet), Glass fails to connect.  I also noticed that there are no settings to allow me to connect to my corporate wifi, as it doesn’t appear to support the LEAP protocol.  Given that I can’t tether, this means that the utility of Glass is immediately reduced when I leave the house.

I’ve been working on connecting Glass to my glasses, since having the Glass frame and my glasses frame cause problems with placement and view.  To that end, I am working with the instructions from the AdaFruit site.  Will let you know how this works out.

I am sure as I explore more I will post more… I am excited by the possibilities yet to be realized.