Last week I wrote about what I want for Christmas and most of the items on my list are devices that I can use to improve my health and lose weight. (I like donuts too much.) However, this week I realized while making the trek to my in-laws for Thanksgiving that driverless cars also may be good for my mental health. A woman in the lane next to us (my wife was diving) was putting on makeup and looking into her visor mirror while passing us (on the right) at 70 miles per hour. With my two infants in the car, I was not amused.
Why driverless cars? This New Yorker article on driverless or automated automobiles says it best:
Human beings make terrible drivers. They talk on the phone and run red lights, signal to the left and turn to the right. They drink too much beer and plow into trees or veer into traffic as they swat at their kids. They have blind spots, leg cramps, seizures, and heart attacks. They rubberneck, hotdog, and take pity on turtles, cause fender benders, pileups, and head-on collisions. They nod off at the wheel, wrestle with maps, fiddle with knobs, have marital spats, take the curve too late, take the curve too hard, spill coffee in their laps, and flip over their cars. Of the ten million accidents that Americans are in every year, nine and a half million are their own [darn] fault. (Emphasis added by me).
Heck yeah! People in cars are largely dopes! So, can technology save us from ourselves? Read more
As a tech blog, the New Edge could be expected to devote some space this week to the latest in consumer electronics over which shoppers will jostle, jab and outrun each other either late Thursday night or early Friday morning. But Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Day proclamation (offered 150 years ago) is just too good ignore.
I missed an opportunity last week to mark my 100th post to the New Edge with something spectacular. Instead, I wrote about cloud computing.
But since this post commences my “second hundred” I’ll reach back to my high school days to illustrate a conundrum that faces consumers as society becomes more deeply entrenched in the “Internet of things.”
Rumor has it that a wealthy donor once approached my high school and offered to underwrite the construction of a swimming pool. Concerned about liability issues, the school declined. When the donor persisted and asked why locking the building after hours would not suffice, the administration, aware of its students’ proclivity for surmounting security measures, replied, “In our school, there is no such thing as a ‘lock’” (I won’t share the details here, but I once participated in an effort that rivaled Spy vs. Spy in a quest to obtain a ring of keys). Read more
Barry Diller, the former broadcasting executive whose Internet and media company IAC InterActivecorp is a major backer of Aereo, says that the online content service could achieve a market penetration of more than one third of consumers, provided that it wins court challenges brought by broadcasters. Aereo, which supplies over-the-air broadcast signals via a broadband connection for $8.00 per month, is very attractive to younger consumers compared to the high price of traditional cable subscriptions, Diller said at a conference sponsored by Bloomberg. “This closed circle of broadcast and cable and satellite is going to break up,” Diller was quoted as saying. “It’s not going to maintain itself in the next decade.”
The notion that ever-higher retransmission consent rates cannot be passed onto cable consumers indefinitely seems to be gaining traction. The CEO of DirecTV has expressed similar sentiments, and a consumer “tipping point” was a major theme among rural providers at the closing panel of the TelcoVision event which took place last month.
Diller also dismissed a statement from the National Football League (NFL) that threatened to shift NFL games from broadcast channels to cable. NFL and Major League Baseball recently filed in support of broadcasters in their court case against Aereo. Earlier this year, some broadcasters had made a similar threat to shift their programming to cable in the event of an Aereo court victory. Diller noted that the NFL makes a significant amount of revenue from showing its games on broadcast channels. While an Aereo victory in the courts would dramatically alter the broadcast market, it is unlikely that programmers and sports leagues would cut themselves off from the large amounts of revenue that would remain available to them via over-the-air transmissions.
I still write to Santa Claus (a.k.a, my lovely, generous and patient wife who makes more than I do) every year. In years’ past my list has been mostly confined to “manly” gear like power tools. This year I thought I’d branch out a bit in my interests and tie my Christmas list to things that piqued my interest while writing for the New Edge.
So, my list is below, what it is, why I want it. I’m not going to send it directly to my wife; I’m going to see if she actually reads the New Edge. She say she does, so this is like a test.
When I first started looking into game consoles, I wrote about how they are becoming much more than mere game consoles; they’re multimedia entertainment hubs (“MEH”, a term I made up, by the way). MEH refers to an all-in-one device that funnels games, live TV, video-on-demand and even Web chat and other apps to users. Microsoft’s Xbox One fits the MEH category, according to reviews. Sony’s Playstation 4 is being marketed more to the hard-core gamers, and early reviews say it’s the best choice for those folks.
As one reviewer wrote when discussing the Xbox One, “[y]ou can even multitask, watching TV while playing a game. If the thought of this makes you misty-eyed about the future (or if you just like the idea of your TV and game console sharing a single HDMI slot), and you don’t have any particular attachment to either game library, buy an Xbox One.” Read more
Time Warner Cable Business Class recently announced the start of a trial of its “Virtual Visit” telemedicine program. Virtual Visit will allow Cleveland Clinic’s healthcare providers to deliver care remotely to patients via video conferencing technology. Patients will be able to interact with healthcare providers via an encrypted two-way video without leaving their home. The Time Warner Virtual Visit product will be offered as a bundled service consisting of connectivity installation, customer premises equipment (modems and video conferencing equipment), and technical support in patients’ homes.
The Virtual Visit trial is being conducted with Cleveland Clinics’ Center for Connected Care, which consists of about 500 healthcare professionals serving approximately 3,500 patients. As part of the trial, TWC will measure the cost savings realized by the Cleveland Clinic. You’d have to be on another planet not to realize that healthcare costs are rising rapidly in this nation, and any cost efficiencies realized by the increased use of telemedicine are likely to spur its adoption by healthcare providers. Of course, getting started is the hard part, and the cable provider is supplying a lot of the upfront costs, at least in the trial. Read more
By 2015, Americans will consume on average more than 15 hours of traditional and digital media daily per person, or 1.7 trillion hours annually, according to a new report released by the University of Southern California’s Institute for Communications Technology Management.
That quantity of media is equivalent to 8.75 zettabytes annually, or 74 gigabytes — roughly 9 DVDs worth — of data sent to the average consumer per person per day. (A zettabyte is a million million gigabytes, or 1021 bytes.)
According to the report, entitled “How Much Media? 2013 Report on American Consumers,” hours of media consumed grew by more than 5% annually between 2008 and 2013, while consumption measured in bytes grew by 18% annually over the same period. (For purposes of the study, researchers did not include media consumption at work.)
While television and radio contribute 60% to the hours of consumption, newer digital sources are contributing to the gains in bytes consumed. Mobile computers are the fastest growing segment: in 2008, mobile computers accounted for 3% of all bytes consumed, while in 2013 they were responsible for 10%, corresponding to a year-over-year growth rate of 27%.
The report’s authors note that “[w]hile in the past media consumption was overwhelmingly passive—we sat and watched TV or listened to radio—new media consumption is increasingly interactive, with time-delayed, multi-tasking and interrupted viewership fast becoming the typical consumptive behavior.”