That Glowing LED on Your Arm is a Wearable (and, Happy Thanksgiving)

Earlier this year, IDC Research predicted that the wearable market would grow more than 173 percent and ship more than 72 million units. These include not only medical devices but fitness-oriented units, as well. I had my first taste of wearables two years ago at CES. Since then, the prevalence of stand-alone devices or those woven into clothing has only grown. In fact, the industry has its own trade show. 

Some wearables, such as those wired into clothing, are fairly unobstrusive. The elegance of others is in the eye of the beholder (see Brian Ford’s take here). For those who do not mind a cyborg-type look though, Chaotic Moon, a design/development firm,  is developing what amounts to a wearable tattoo.

TechTats feature sensors and circuity that can measure and transmit biometric data. Unlike a Fitbit or Jawbone, however, the devices are essentially painted onto one’s body with electroconductive paint. Aside from the absolute killer cool factor (forget about cloud connected GPS and and wireless security devices – I am determined to walk out of CES with a review sample of this), the nearly flat and unobtrusive (save for the paint and blinking lights) format of the devices could test markets for implanted biometric monitors. This article from Motherboard features a video that offers a good first look.

And, Chaotic Moon has some gravitas – this past July, it was acquired by tech consulting powerhouse Accenture.

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It is about this time of year that I often post on my door a copy of Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation. It’s a worth a read sometime between the Lions/Eagles, Panthers/Cowboys or Packers/Bears game and the corn bread. Or, even before Thanksgiving Day.

From the New Edge, best wishes for a good and safe holiday.


Young People and Technology (Part Too)

In my last post, I wrote about the findings of the Foundation for Rural Service’s most recent Rural Youth Survey.  Since then, a new report has provided fascinating insight into how young people use technology and media.

According to a Common Sense Media study, teenagers (ages 13-18) use an average of nine hours of entertainment media daily, and tweens (ages 8-12) use an average of six hours daily.

Even more shockingly, this does not include time spent using media for school or homework.

The report, “The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens” is based on a nationally representative survey of 2,658 8- to 18-year olds, conducted in February/March 2015.


The census found significant variations in the use of entertainment media among various demographics. For example, low-income kids are far less likely to have access to computers, tablets and cellphones than their wealthier counterparts. Those that do, however, tend to spend more time with those devices than kids in higher income brackets. In addition, black youth spend substantially more time with media (11 hours, 10 minutes daily) than Hispanics (8 hours, 51 minutes) and whites (8 hours, 27 minutes.)

Not surprisingly, there is a gender difference in the way young people consume media. For example, teen boys spend an average of 56 minutes per day playing video games, compared to 7 minutes for girls. Conversely, girls spend an average of 92 minutes daily on social media, versus 52 minutes for boys. Read more

Lionel Richie in My Cimarron (or, Aging Populations and Telehealth)

1981_cimarron_1(San Diego) In a interview with The Onion, a satire newspaper, editors acknowledged that the headlines often come first, with articles written afterward to support the outlandish proclamations.

The truth is, I thought I of this post’s headline several weeks ago; something (I do not remember what) prompted me to plumb my brain for the most salient representatives of the 1980s. And, there it was: Lionel Richie crooning through the speakers of Cadillac’s biggest mistake. The question was, what to write beneath it. Fortunately, some studies from the Pew Research Center emerged.

Pew tracked the age of Internet users and now reports that the confluence of Internet growth and the natural aging of the those who were there at the beginning of the world wide web now yields a universe in which, in the words of Boyd Farrow, “you can hardly click a link without encountering somebody who’s a bingo game away from the joining the AARP.”

Farrow’s article is a wry look at the so-called aging of the Internet, and documents the shifting tides in which “LOL” is being supplanted by the more traditional “ha ha” to express humor (I am waiting patiently for words like “incentivize” and “monetize” to similarly fade). Farrow also notes a Pew study that reports online dating usage among 45-54 years-old is approaching the rate produced by the 18-24 years-old set. Read more

A Snapshot of Rural Youth

Ninety-three percent of respondents to a recent survey of rural youth age 14 to 23 said that the availability of cellular telephone service will ultimately determine where they choose to live, and 72% cited the availability of broadband Internet service.

The survey, “2015 Rural Youth Telecommunications Survey,” is the latest edition of a study conducted biennially by the Foundation for Rural Service (FRS). 665 young people from rural parts of the country participated in this year’s survey.2015SurveyCover

The FRS study allows rural providers a glimpse into their future—the young people of today will be their customers of tomorrow. Understanding how they use technology will play a critical role in capturing their business in the future.

Ninety-five percent of survey respondents have their own cell phone. Sixty-four percent receive wireless service from a national carrier, and 32% from local telco. Seventy-six percent say their parents pay their cell phone bill, and 29% don’t know how much their service costs on a monthly basis.

Ninety-six percent of respondents have an Internet connection in their home, and 54% are online more than three hours per day. The most common online activity was homework/research, cited by 90% of respondents, followed by online communities (77%), email (72%), and web surfing (70%). Read more

Encryption and Our Cyber Insecurities

Last week, Apple respond to a request by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and explained that even if it could decipher encrypted data on a phone running iOS 7, the potential costs and burden argue against mandating the company to do so. And, by the way, if the court is looking at a phone running iOS 8 or higher, Apple cannot help.

Law enforcement personnel across the country are discovering that their ability to withdraw data from personal devices is becoming increasingly difficult. These include devices owned by murder victims, or devices owned by suspects who refuse to divulge their passwords. The public debate surrounding the needs of law enforcement and the privacy interests of private citizens has intensified as Google and Apple have released smart phones with native encryption. And, whereas Federal agencies previously took center stage in encryption matters, the impacts are now felt by local police who cannot access devices that may (or may not) hold critical information regarding either a suspect’s contacts or a victim’s final hours.

In a Brooklyn courthouse earlier this month, the judge deferred ruling on a request by the government to compel Apple to unlock a phone, instead asking Apple to “submit its views . . . as to whether the assistance the government seeks is technically feasible and, if so, whether compliance with the proposed order would be unduly burdensome.” Read more

“The Last Permissible Prejudice”

imageSeveral years ago when a young member of the family embarked on email and text, I issued a warning: Let no message issue with abbreviations such as “ur” or “gr8.” Instead, I insisted that standard of English used in all electronic communications be consistent with the level demanded for speech and written communications. For my troubles, it was suggested that I was “old fashioned;” “no one does that;” “no one cares;” and, “it takes too much time.”

I understand that phonetic abbreviations burst into vogue when messaging fees were character or volume based. But now, with generous data plans, is there yet a viable excuse to hide one’s self, ostrich like, from the underwhelming burden of adding two characters to create something “great?”

Recently, I felt vindicated in that self-righteous, smug way I do when a dinner I wished to avoid in the first instance turns into the culinary and social equivalent of a box of wet corn flakes eaten on a downtown curb.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently reported that grammar is getting pretty hot on dating sites. Or, more accurately, the use of proper grammar. An on-line dating site user lamented that a prospective date who does not know the difference between “there,” “their,” and “they’re” is like “discovering she loves cats” (the site user explained that he is allergic to cats).

But, there’s an app for that. The Grade ranks dating site users on the quality of their profiles and messages. So, poor grammar on-line is now the rough virtual equivalent to a gravy stain on your neck-tie.  The WSJ reports that men are more forgiving of grammar errors than women.

The WSJ quoted a linguistics professor at Columbia University who observed, “Grammar snobbery is one of the last permissible prejudices. The energy that used to go into open classism and racism now goes into disparaging other people’s grammar.”

Grammar also made the rounds this week in Wired, which explored whether the “I” in Internet should be capitalized. And, the answer is . . . there is no one answer. Purists use a capital “I” to refer to that which grew out of ARPANET, and to distinguish the Internet from an “internet” of connected computers. I seem to ruffle certain of the NTCA editors from time-to-time by using a capital “N” for Nation when referring to the United States as a proper noun, and a capital “F” for Federal when referring to the United States government (as opposed to “federalism,” which merely describes a form of government). I know – it’s old fashioned, no one does it, no one cares, and it takes too much time to distinguish.

One of my favorite articles on the English language by Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten: Goodbye, Cruel Words



“And in This Corner…”

Undoubtedly, when Ralph Kramden got together with his pal Ed Norton to watch the Friday night fights on his small, black and white TV set, he thought he had it pretty good.  Little did he know that decades into the future, fans of the sweet science would be able to step into the ring with their favorite pugilists.kramden tv

Virtually, anyway. DirectTV has announced plans for a virtual reality (VR) app that will enable boxing fans to view fights up close and personal.

Affiliated with Big Knockout Boxing (BKB), the virtual reality app for VR-ready smartphone users is now available for Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition and Cardboard (Android and iOS) headsets.

The app allows users to select from a variety of fight highlights and select their choice of up-close camera feeds.

“We know that VR can be a deeply engaging entertainment medium. It delivers a compelling sense of ‘being there’ that’s unmatched by any other technology,” said DirecTV’s VP of Digital Entertainment Products Jon Molod. “We believe that much of VR’s growth will be mobile driven. As the technology evolves we hope to find new ways to use VR to enhance not just BKB, but all sports experiences.”

Other providers are following DirecTV’s lead. Netflix and Hulu have announced plans for their own VR apps, and SyFy has already brought theirs to market. In the very near future, fight fans—and sports fans of all stripes—can put themselves into the middle of the action.

Just don’t forget to duck.

(Here’s a bonus for you Honeymooners’ fans: Ralph Kramden’s surprisingly accurate vision of the future of television.)

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