Last week Venture Beat reported that the New York City Police Department is beta testing Google Glass. For those of you who have not heard of this emerging hardware, Google Glass offers an Android-powered wearable computer built into a set of eye glasses, which, frankly, look and function a lot like the specs warn by Tom Cruise in Minority Report.
The glasses offer a heads-up display, allowing the user to interact with the Internet and his surroundings at the same time. In other words, information is displayed in the user’s eye-line which saves the user from having to stop what he is doing to access a radio, smartphone, tablet, laptop or other device. The glasses also offer wireless facial recognition software and the ability to record audio and video, and complete commands via vocal queues.
For the police department, Google Glass offers new and innovative applications, such as enabling officers to match a suspect’s name and face with information contained in various databases, such as the National Crime Information Center, and then display this information in front of their eyes, hands free, as they interrogate and question a suspect. Read more
AT&T Mobility recently filed a patent application (US 20140010082) for a system that would enable the company to automatically charge subscribers more money for using file sharing, video and other bandwidth-intensive services.
The patent is entitled “Prevention of Bandwidth Abuse of a Communications System” and, just as the title suggests, its stated mission is to prevent a subscriber from “abusing a telecommunications system” by consuming more than his or her fair share of bandwidth.
The system would allot each user with a set amount of credits, and subscribers would dip into their credit total when they use select services or download certain types of content. The data being downloaded is then checked to determine if it is permissible or non-permissible based upon the user’s total available credits. AT&T explained that if the credit total is not sufficient, “[v]arious restriction policies also can be applied, such as levying additional fees and/or terminating the user’s access to the channel.”
The patent application was filed back in September 2013 but only made public in January 2014. To be fair, technology companies, AT&T included, file a lot of patent applications, and some are not granted while others are never put into practice. However, coming on the heels of AT&T’s sponsored data plan, and the Net Neutrality decision a few weeks ago, this will surely raise interest in the industry and concern from subscribers.
Last week, on the heels of CES and as I was putting the finishing touches on the New Edge, Google announced a $3.2 billion dollar deal to buy Nest, a four-year-old company that specializes in smart thermostats and smoke alarms from Tony Fadell, the “godfather” of the Apple iPod.
The deal is the second largest in Google’s history, behind its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola back in 2012, which shows how highly Google is valuing Nest as a stepping stone into the smart home market.
My immediate reaction was disappointment — disappointment that the Internet giant will act as a road block in regard to Nest’s forward momentum, influence the start-up’s culture, change the one thing I love about Nest (it’s easy-to-use interface), and, perhaps most importantly, compromise the security of my personal data. Interestingly, I was not the only one who had strong feelings about the acquisition. The backlash was immediate, with a slew of negative comments and editorials, both from Nest users and the tech media. Read more
I am a fan of Shark Tank, which airs on ABC on Friday evenings. The quirky entrepreneurs, the business strategy, even the Sharks themselves are entertaining. For those of you who have not seen the show, small-time entrepreneurs present their various start-up businesses to a panel of venture capitalists, a.k.a. the Sharks, and request the financial investment and brainpower of the successful panel.
A couple of weeks ago, the show featured Scan.me, a QR code application available on various mobile operating systems for a nominal fee. Despite more than 50 million downloads attributed to the app, I was struggling to see the compelling and unique value proposition or a long-term business case. Will anyone use QR codes in the future? Mark Cubin, one of the Sharks, offered a concise and, surprisingly insightful reason for refusing to invest in the business. Mark had these words for the entrepreneurs:
I’m a big fan of the sensor business. I think that’s the future of technology. The fundamental problem I have [with investing in your QR code business] is scans versus sensors. In a sensor-driven world, the information is accumulated and gathered everywhere with no action by the user. Whereas, in your world, whether it’s Google Glass where you have to talk, or where have to take your phone and scan, in a sensor-driven world, these [QR codes] don’t exist. For that reason, I’m out.
I too am a big fan of sensors. Already if I can attach a wireless device to an everyday item, or purchase an upgraded Internet-connected model — sign me up. Read more
Earlier this week, I attended the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Broadband Summit & Expo, an annual gathering of internal public safety communicators and industry personnel in Washington, D.C.
With the presence of FirstNet — the congressionally mandated independent operating authority housed within NTIA responsible for developing our country’s first interoperable, nationwide, public safety broadband network — the event has grown, reaching a sold-out capacity of more than 275 attendees.
About half of the sessions at the summit focused on the nuts and bolts of the network, including LTE technology, cybersecurity, and the launch requirements for the nationwide public safety broadband network. Read more
Digital tools are widely used in middle school and high school learning, according to a new study released last Thursday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. According to the study, however, low-income students disproportionally lack access to broadband service both at school and at home, and this trend is leading to disparities in education.
The report, entitled How Teachers Are Using Technology at Home and in Their Classrooms, surveyed 2,462 American schoolteachers about digital media use in their classrooms.
According to Pew, 92% of these teachers say the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to access content, resources, and materials for their teaching, and nearly 70% of teachers report that it has had a “major impact” on their ability to share ideas with teachers and interact with parents.
Mobile technology including cell phones, e-readers and tablet computers has become central to the learning process. Seventy percent of teachers report that their school provides the resources to bring digital tools into the classroom. Unfortunately, only 50% of teachers in low-income areas reported similar levels of access. Read more