Some Insight From Steve Jobs…

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Here is a video clip from Steve Jobs, made while he was still at NEXT. I had seen this a while ago and it really made an impression on me. It was done at a time of transition for him, when the things he had accomplished with Apple were still in the past, and he was really focused on creating something new and meaningful with the next phase of his life.

I just came across a link to it again, and wanted to share it with all of you.

We all need to write the script for our own lives, and refuse to be defined by others’ expectations, or dwell too long on the things – good or bad – that we have accomplished in the past. I know it is really a timely reminder for me, and hopefully can inspire some of you as well.

Enjoy!

StationCreator: The Future Of TV…

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I was just introduced to an exciting new company called StationCreator. StationCreator is focused on creating the framework needed for the virtual aggregation, scheduling, and play back of web based video content. They have put together a brief overview of the framework they provide:

I have been working with StationCreator for about two weeks now and am very impressed by what they have accomplished in this first release of the product/service (in fact, it’s still in beta, making it all the more impressive)

To get the feel for what working with StationCreator is like, I put together a basic channel focused on Web Video Production. It is built up from web videos that I have watched in this area. The videos are all scheduled to play at specific times in a sequence – a perfect ‘lean back’ model familiar to everyone comfortable with today’s traditional television experience:

The internet is clearly going to become the dominant means of distributing media over the next decade – maybe even faster. Though it is still in beta, StationCreator is ahead of the curve in this regard, and is definitely a company to watch.

I plan to follow this post up with a more detailed video, covering a typical production workflow supported by StationCreator and touching on some of the key markets that could benefit from it. This is a powerful product that is coming to market at just the right time – I’m really glad they’ve given me an early look…

More to come, so stay tuned…

A Day Made of Glass. A Future Made of Innovations…

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I really love it when corporations look at their marketplace and visualize what it might look like at some point in the future. Corning, the maker of speciality glass and ceramics, has released a pair of videos looking at the array of smart glass surfaces that might one day be part of our daily lives:

There are several technology threads running throughout these videos that are worth noting:

  • Touch computing will become the primary means of interacting with technology. Thanks to Apple’s success with the iPhone and iPad, this model of computing has become mainstream, and will likely be one of the dominant influences on technical innovations going forward.
  • Purpose built interfaces – both physical and virtual – will be deemphasized in future designs. Functionally adaptive models will become the norm.
  • Computing will move from being a distinct activity on specific device to a common activity on every device.
  • Social computing will become broadly embedded, with appropriate social elements built into every device we interact with.
  • Personalization will become pervasive. Everything we interact with will recognize us and conform to our specific needs and interests.

While not directly demonstrated in the videos, Cloud-based services will become the only viable way of dealing with both the content and context required to make this computing model work. Access to it will need to become standardized and open, allowing every device I own, regardless of manufacturer, to access it completely and securely. Getting past the walled garden ecosystems that are being leveraged today will probably be the most significant challenge to making this model of ‘diffuse computing’ commercially viable.

These types of videos always get my mind racing around different possibilities (and business opportunities!). What’s really exciting is that many of the elements demonstrated here are within reach of the technologies we know and use today – even if the applications being shown are not yet achievable.

If you think back to where the world was technically just a decade ago, it isn’t had to imagine many of the things shown in this video being real a decade into the future.

And that’s an exciting thought…

There’s More To Touch Than Phones & Tablets…

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Samsung just introduced their ‘Transparent LCD Smart Window’ technology at this years CES, and I am really excitedby the potential of it. Here is a video of it in action:

In the same way that the touch experience ended up being different when moving from the iPhone to the iPad, touch on a ‘window’ scale also has it’s own unique attributes. The ‘blinds’ demonstration is a perfect example of the types of applications that could work at this scale. I could see this technology being equally at home in conference rooms, office spaces, or home settings – or even built into counter-tops or coffee tables.

In store settings, it could become an advertiser’s dream, with shop windows and display cases providing up to the second information about special offers, availability, or complimentary products. If that could be matched with personalization from a nearby smartphone, targeted retailing could move in an exciting new direction.

I could also see this become a foundation for augmented reality applications. Imagine a 24″x24″ panel of this that someone could look through as they work on something complex, with technical details overlaying what they are seeing. Combine that with Siri like capabilities for interaction, and you could have a killer commercial tool.

I’m excited to see touch moving beyond phones and tablets, and believe that both the scale and transparency offered by this type of technology can really open the door to a whole new class of applications and innovative uses.

Samsung claims that it will be shipping ‘soon’ – so hopefully we won’t have too much longer to wait.

Believing In Innovation…

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My knees are in pretty bad shape. In fact, every doctor I’ve worked with over the past 10 years has told me that the only real fix available to me is to have them replaced.

But they always give me this recommendation with the qualifier “at some point” tacked on to it. Despite the difficulties my current condition entails, all of them believe I’m about 10 years too young to have the procedure done now. So instead, as a half step to delay the inevitable, I had knee surgery again last week (my 6th knee operation over the past 15 years) to try and provide some temporary measure of relief.

My reason for sharing this with you isn’t a play for sympathy. What I find so interesting here is the justification doctors have for wanting me to wait. There is no doubt that I would benefit from having this procedure done today. Their reticence instead boils down to a conservative view of the future:

The mechanical technology that goes into a knee replacement will only last 25-30 years, and the surgical techniques for the procedure are sufficiently invasive that they would rather not do it a second time.

I grew up during the 1960′s, when science established itself as the engine of progress and shaped my view of an unbounded future. With this as motivation, I have spent my entire post-gratuate career developing and commericalizing new technologies in a series of startups, seeing entire industries reinvented and new ones created in ways no one imagined previously.

In these types of creative environments, decisions aren’t made based on what you know can be done today – to do that would marginalize progress. Instead, they are based on what you ‘believe’ you’ll be able to do at a given point in the future. Innovation isn’t simply a happy upside surprise that occasionally interrupts an otherwise slow, predictable march forward. It is the ephemeral, yet paradoxically substantial, foundation that every significant thing you accomplish will ultimately be built upon. Innovation happens through strength of will and the conviction that you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to – even if the necessary details aren’t clear when you begin.

With this as context, having doctors defer taking beneficial steps today based on concerns about limitations that may exist a quarter century into the future seems counter intuitive to me. Believing in innovation isn’t a ticket to be reckless, and I do understand that there are risks involved. That said, it should give us the confidence to move forward with things we see as reasonable, even if we currently lack the clarity of detail we will need at some point in the future to execute on it.

To me, that is what believing in innovation is all about.

I do appreciate that doctors need to balance a range of medical, legal, and business factors that are all significant elements of these types of decisions. My comments here are really meant as a more general call for us to recapture that fundamental belief in our ability to solve the challenges we face and to the capture the opportunities we have in front of us – even when they initially seem overwhelming. We need to view risk in our society less as a yoke of uncertainty that we should avoid, and more as a liberating force of possibility that we should embrace.

This belief is an essential component of building an innovative culture. And it’s what makes America a beacon for so many people throughout the world.

Ready Or Not, Here They Come…

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When I grew up, having a telephone in the kitchen and a TV in the living room was normal. It wasn’t what my parents had growing up, but to me it was a part of my how my world worked, and I didn’t think of it as special or different. In the same way, telling my son he lives in this on demand, connected world would be silly. matt-blog.jpgFor him, that’s just the way it is.

For him, life is digital…

Music and video can move with him everywhere, He has friends from around the world that he plays online games with, though he will likely never meet them physically, or talk to them outside of the game chat. Since he is young, I am very involved with everything he does online, but he clearly knows what he is doing. He can find what he wants by searching for it directly, or by networking with friends. He has grown up being connected to people, information, and media. And its what he wants and expects.

He is part of the first wave of kids that have never known a world without an internet…

While he is very comfortable in the digital world, he looks at the traditional ‘analog’ world as being broken – especially when it comes to media. He gets frustrated that you need to wait until a particular time to watch a TV show. If they made it already, why can’t you just click on a show in the on-screen guide and watch it? He prefers TIVO over straight TV since it lends a digital experience to an otherwise outdated service. It acts like a router between the analog and digital worlds.

He gets his music via downloads way more then through CD’s. And when he does get a CD, it isn’t something to be played – its like the ‘shipping container’ for the songs that he will just rip to iTunes. He considers playlists the real package.

And where does he find new music?…

On YouTube! He likes to watch these mashups of clips from various anime cartoons that people put together and set to to different songs. He comes to me several times a week asking me if he can get a particular song that he heard this way.

And why is he on YouTube?…

So he can watch episodes of an animated series “Naruto” that haven’t been released yet in the United States. They are produced and shown in Japan, and the series there is several seasons ahead of what is being shown here. Having it NOW outweighs the inferior quality he watches them in, and even the fact they are in Japanese with English subtitles. He thinks its great.

The media companies should open their eyes and face reality!…

My son and his generation are growing up fast. Whether they like it or not, this is where their market is moving. There is a huge opportunity here for media producers. They have more ways to reach people than they ever had before, and can deliver so much more digitally (at virtually zero incremental cost) than they could in an analog world. But they need to think differently about their businesses and how they can make money.

And they need to do it fast, because the market isn’t waiting for them to catch up…

If the only value they bring is to aggregate content, that train has already left the station – and they’re not on it. Aggregation is now the purview of the Google’s, YouTube’s, Yahoo’s and the like. And if they think the best solution is to hire more lawyers, they are in a death spiral and should pack it up now. Game over.

There’s a saying I remember that seems spot on for the media companies: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way”.

Those are the only choices they really have. ‘Preserving the status-quo’ just didn’t make the list…