Gnural Net: An Early Look At Our First Product…

Share

Though we still have a ways to go with development, here is a quick overview of the first product we will be launching – a turnkey solution that integrates Skype into professional video production workflows:

I put this short video together to give potential investors a picture of what we’ve been working on, and decided to share it with all of you as well. I am really excited by the progress we have made thus far, and extremely grateful for the support we’ve already received from so many people in the video production community.

The journey has just begun…

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

Share

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…

Windows 8: Microsoft Needs To Deliver – For Real…

Share

Microsoft has always been able to pull together great demos of pre-released products. Unfortunately, many of the most exiting features from those demos never seem to make it into the released versions of their products. Here is the most recent demo of their upcoming Windows 8 release for CES 2012:

‘Over promising’ isn’t something Microsoft can have happen with the release of Windows 8. Microsoft is playing catch-up on a lot of fronts – especially in the mobile arena – and needs to seriously ‘over deliver’ if they have a chance of grabbing some market share. With Windows 8 not slated to come out until the later half of 2012, there will be a lot of innovation that takes place on both the Android and iOS platforms before it arrives. What they offer will need to standup to comparison with both of these established players on every front: interface, features, stability, and applications.

Not an easy task by any measure.

Microsoft will also have a very small window to make headway and establish credibility in the tablet space. Apple will probably be releasing their iPad 4 (two full generations of the tablet from what is available today) in the beginning of 2013 – grabbing the media spotlight with rumors long before it eventually rolls out.

If what they are demoing here can make it on to lightweight tablets devices with true ‘all day’ battery life and price points starting at or below $500, they have a chance of success – especially if they can leverage their Office franchise as a differentiator.

If instead it turns out to be a bloated OS running on $1000 hardware with a laptop level battery life, they will be dead on arrival.

At this point, my money isn’t on Microsoft.

There’s More To Touch Than Phones & Tablets…

Share

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.

Another Way "Touch" Changes Things…

Share

I’ve been creating and manipulating media digitally in a variety of formats for over 20 years. For most of what I do, the mouse and keyboard are my main tools. Every tool – digital or analog – influences the creative process to some degree. That said, the digital experience still lacks the immediacy and transparency you can get when using just paper and pencil. In the same way that a tool like PowerPoint shapes the way you think about presenting information – and ultimately what you present – most digital media tools I’m familiar with seem to channel your creative energies in certain preordained directions. I know first hand that you can do some awesome original things in the digital space, but the technology behind it does seems to leave a lot of its own fingerprints on the creative process.

But this might be changing.

Touch based platforms are letting digital tools come closer to replicating the analog experience most of them are modeled on. The video below is an example I found on YouTube of an iPad based art program called “brushes” in action:

The video is really a bit too long, but it is worth skipping through it to see how things are starting to evolve in this space. Both the process and the end result are impressive. What makes this so significant is that everything in the video is happening on a basic portable device – the iPad – that costs just $499, running an inventive drawing program that costs just $7.99. You don’t need to be a digital artist to appreciate just how revolutionary this could end up being.

And this is just the first generation of these tools. Imagine where they’ll be in a couple more years.

Touch computing will be transformational.

A Quick Look: The iPhone 4's Video Camera Quality…

Share

As I mentioned earlier, one of the features of the new iPhone 4 that I’ve been looking forward to using is the built-in 720p HD video camera. Here is a short video I recorded on the iPhone 4 that I hope will give you a feel for the image quality you can get with it:

This video was recorded with just the ambient light in the studio, and was compressed into h.264 and uploaded on to YouTube.

I would love your feed back.

"Wired" Gets the Potential Of The iPad…

Share

It’s great to see innovation coming from more traditional media companies.

Wired Magazine a must read for for anyone interested in the intersection of technologies and the digital life style. Though firmly anchored in the more traditional media world, they have never been conformists. Both in print and on the web, Wired’s design and packaging of the content they create has always shown a level of creativity and sophistication that can challenge the mainstream while simultaneously defining the “new norm”. As the industry starts to embrace Apple’s iPad and other tablet form-factor devices for distribution, Wired will no doubt play a significant role in defining this next phase of digital publishing. This video is a good indication of their thinking:

While I am no fan of Flash (HTML 5 is the way to build this type of interface), the creative possibilities and potential revenue opportunities hinted at in this video can make your mind race. Any time a market is in transition, the explosion of innovative and even crazy thinking that takes place is exciting, scary and inspirational all at the same time.

I am more convinced then ever that the iPad will finally set this all in motion.

Windows Phone 7 Series Preview…

Share

Microsoft is betting ’7′ will be a lucky number for them.

Looking to build off of the initial success of Windows 7 (the consumer side looks good but still not sure how well corporate adoption will go), Microsoft previewed the next generation of their Windows Mobile operating system – the “Windows Phone 7 Series” at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday. As part of their introduction of the new mobile OS, they put together a video that essentially slams Apple’s iPhone platform:

While slickly produced, this video segment is somewhat misleading. It is comparing Apple’s current iPhone OS against an unreleased version of their mobile OS that probably won’t be available until late this year. I have no doubt that by then, iPhone OS 4.x will be out and offering quite a few new and updated features – including broader multitasking capabilities.

That said, there are some interesting concepts in Windows Phone 7 that give it a completely different feel from the raft of inferior ‘iPhone Wannabes’ that have flooded the market over the past 18 months. I would need to spend time with it to get a feel for just how usable it actually is in the ‘real world’, but it clearly represents a total reset of Microsoft’s previous phone OS efforts. This is something I applaud – the Mobile 6.x line was a complete dead end.

Ultimately, the biggest challenge for Microsoft and almost every other mobile OS provider is that they are trying to support a broad range of hardware options and capabilities. While ‘consumer choice’ may seem like a good thing on the surface, apps developed for this type of heterogeneous environment either end up being limited by the least capable device they support, or developers make a conscious choice to limit their compatibility to selected handset models. While this approach may be satisfying to tech savvy users, it tends to confuse and frustrate mainstream consumers, and ultimately works against broad adoption.

Windows Phone 7 Series definitely looks interesting, and does demonstrate a real commitment by Microsoft to be successful in the mobile space. This is probably the last real chance they will get at making something to work here.

And I believe this OS is more important to Microsoft’s future then Windows 7.

NOTE:To find out more about how the 7 Series will work, check out this complete video of Microsoft’s preview event. It will start to play automatically once you make the video window visible. You will need stop it manually if you want to watch it later.

My Most Anticipated Technologies For 2010…

Share

Happy New Year, everyone!

2010tech

I know 2009 was a tough year for many of us, but I am optimistic that 2010 will have many good things in store for us as the year plays out.

When it comes to the digital world, I believe that 2010 could actually end up being an exceptional year. In this post, I though it would be interesting to discuss some of the key technologies that I believe will make this new year so exciting. With so many things to choose from, I’ve decided to limit myself to just three picks in four areas: Trends, Media, Software, and Gadgets.

Here it goes…

In Trends:

  1. Pervasive MetaData Usage:
    In a digital world, context is key. It is at the heart of how we navigate, search, share and shop. Effective use of context is based on having quality metadata associated with everything we touch digitally. I see the use of metadata accelerating in 2010. TV and Radio will begin adding move of it programming to link you to a range of purchase opportunities based on what they are broadcasting. Search engines will follow the Bing example and create a metadata rich experience around results they display. Geo-tagging will grow in popularity, and GSP will become the driver behind some early ‘augmented reality’ efforts. Metadata will become the fabric that connects everything.
  2. Broad HTML 5 Adoption:
    As tech standards go, HTML 5 is a massive game changer. Services written to the HTML 5 spec can interact with users in pretty much the same way desktop applications do. And they can do it without requiring the common proprietary plug-ins like Adobe’s Flash that rich sites depend on today. Adherence to HTML 5 will also open up the mobile application space to many more players, and might even blunt a bit of Apple’s ‘App Store’ momentum. I expect all of the major browsers to support HTML 5 before the end of 2010.
  3. Corporations Finally “Get” Mobile Computing:
    What makes applications on the iPhone so appealing is that they are NOT designed like traditional computer applications crammed on to a small screen. They respect what is inherently unique about mobile computing, and leverage the more organic interface elements of the device to deliver compelling solutions. Despite it’s massive consumer success, it wasn’t until the release of iPhone OS 3 that the Apple iPhone has became a mainstream corporate solution. But now that the iPhone has become a corporate staple, I expect that demand for delivery of corporate services with a truly mobile character will grow. With that pressure increasingly coming from the C-Suite – where the iPhone has been embraced – the mobile corporate computing experience will finally start to change. 2010 may be the year.

In Media:

  1. Hulu Becomes Available On Hardware Devices:
    Hulu is the go to site on the web for access to television shows and other professionally produced media. As they start to figure out ways to monetize their service, I expect that Hulu will introduce some subscription based model that will move the viewing exp[erience from being exclusively on their site over to set top boxes and possibly even onto portable devices like the iPhone. This would be the next logical step in directly connecting media producers with media consumers, and the first serious threat to the cable monoplies in the US. Bring it on – I’d love to see it.
  2. eBooks/ePublishing Goes Mainstream:
    I am a big fan of eBook readers, and have been for about a decade. After being a little ‘geek niche’ for so long, it seems that the eBook industry is finally starting to reach critical mass. Amazon’s Kindle was one of the hottest gifts this holiday season. Barnes & Noble’s Nook is expected to start shipping in volume by the end of this month, and Hearst corporation’s Skiff – a large format eReader designed expressly for magazines and newspapers, is expected to ship by next quarter. Publishers – though wary – are starting to open up and make more of their titles available for digital download. With the right combination of device, content , and pricing, eBooks could take off in a big way in 2010.
  3. Cable Moves Toward `A la carte’ Pricing:
    With traditional media producers struggling to grow revenue, many have begun looking for ways to pry more money out of their distribution agreements with the cable monoplies. Time Warner just resolved a dispute with FOX over money, and Cablevision is still locked in a struggle with Scripps Networks over pricing for the Food Network and HGTV channels. I only expect this situation to get worse over time as the dollars from traditional advertising models decline. Given the consumer anger these types of high profile squabbles generate, I expect the FCC to make a play to force the unbundling of cable packages and give consumers a more direct say in the programming they receive. While probably not taking the form of a complete a la carte mandate, I do see a shift in that direction happening. With a growing populist sentiment pervading Washington, and difficult mid-term elections coming up in November, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this play out sometime mid-year.

In Software:

  1. Google Chrome OS:
    Chrome OS is the first true internet based operating system targeted at mainstream users. It will offer a fresh rethinking of the way we use applications, tightly integrating cloud storage, social networking, and an ‘app store’ framework into the foundation of the OS experience. While I don’t see it as posing a near term threat to Microsoft’s dominant OS position, I do thing it will redefine expectations of an OS environment, and put downward pricing pressure on Windows bundles. We should have something real to use late in 2010, which is exciting, and it could end up becoming a big seller on netbooks during the next holiday season. That said, we probably wont see a major market impact from Chrome OS until sometime in 2011.
  2. Microsoft Office 2010:
    By delivering a version of their industry standard office suite on the web with Office 2010, Microsoft will be positioning it as their ‘game on’ platform for dominance in web based services. More specifically, Microsoft is directly challenging Google with their online office suite, and I expect this will end up becoming a seminal point in the future delivery of software. However it all plays out between the two tech giants, it will absolutely validate the cloud services model for consumers, and could accelerate the move by corporations away from supporting roll-outs of complex packaged applications. It may also reshape the hardware industry, shifting focus away form higher performance over to more instant-on capabilities – something Microsoft isn’t well positioned for. There is a lot at stake here, and it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
  3. Windows Mobile 7:
    I have been pretty rough on the Windows Mobile platform in the past, and their latest 6.5 ‘interim’ release has done little to change my opinion of it. That said, Microsoft is very well aware that they are on the ropes with their mobile platform, and that they will need to release something pretty significant to get them back in the game. If Microsoft wants to be a player in the fast growing mobile computing space, Mobile 7 is probably going to be their last, best shot at it. I expect this new release to be a significant update (and departure) from their current mobile architecture and interface, and am guessing they won’t release something unless they really believe it can reestablish their mobile street cred. They came back from Vista with Windows 7, and I’m anticipating something similar to happen here. If the rumored release date is to be believed, we should find out sometime in April.

In Gadgets:

  1. XBox 360′s Project Natal:
    Project Natal is Microsoft’s bid to out-Wii the Nintendo Wii. It places a camera on top of the XBox 360 console display that is able to do a basic form of motion tracking on a player’s movements. For many kinds of games, this tracking can completely replace controllers with physical movements, creating emersive gaming at a level not possible with the Wii. Turn your head and the displayed image turns with it. Make an on screen avatar mirror your body movements exactly – jump, crouch, kick, punch, etc – the same way a player does. While I am not sure just how capable the first release of Natal will end up being – especially if it is sold as an add on to the existing XBox 360 console – this approach will absolutely define the way future generation consoles and games will be designed.
  2. Next Gen Apple TV:
    It’s time for Apple to get out of hobby mode with Apple TV. I am hoping that the Apple TV will finally move beyond it’s current, limited media model to become a more open Web/IP-based settop box. Apple could begin offering streaming content on-demand with both a free and subscription model. Despite their areas of competition, Apple and Google could come together to deliver premium content being released through YouTube. Apple could even become a excellent partner for Hulu, allowing people to view recent programming for some basic subscription price, then linking it to paid downloads people could own and archive. Another thing I would really like to see is for applications – especially games – to come to the Apple TV. Integrate the App Store into iTunes and become a wildcard player in the console space. An iPhone or Touch could sync up with it and turn itself into an incredible gaming controller. There is so much potential here on so many fronts. This may be more wishful thinking than anything else, but my gut tells me 2010 will see the release of the next generation – both hardware and software – of the Apple TV. I sure hope so.
  3. An Apple Tablet (Finally!):
    What can I say that hasn’t already been said about an Apple Tablet. Even though I have owned several very disappointing Windows Tablet PCs, I really do believe in power of the slate form factor for so many computing tasks. Apple has already validated both this concept and the technology behind it with their iPhone/Touch. It just needs to be packaged right for a larger device design. This is an area where Apple usually shines, and I am expecting their new iSlate – or whatever it ends up being called – to be groundbreaking. Hopefully the wait will end later this month. I’d be surprised if I don’t end up wanting one after I see it. Better start saving now.

I’m sure I have some things here that would never have made your own lists while omitting things you feel are more deserving. Make your voice heard in the comments section and let me know.

—-<>—-

I couldn’t end my first post of the New Year without thanking all of you for sharing this blog with me over the past year. I really appreciate all of the feedback and discussion we’ve had, and welcome your suggestions for making this new year even better.

Peace. Happiness. Prosperity.

PRACTICAL RSS Show #4 – Exploring InfoNgen…

Share

I have just uploaded a new episode of Practical RSS. This show, the fourth in the series, introduces a sophisticated feed reader/web discovery tool made by my company called InfoNgen. The latest version of InfoNgen, which we have just launched today, has many features that set it apart – deep custom tagging, similar story clustering, and story language translation just to name a few. Though we sell a professional version of this product, we also have a free version that everyone can access. I explore the free version in this episode.

PRACTICAL RSS [Show #4]: Exploring InfoNgen…

SHOW NOTES:
In this show, I demonstrate the free version of InfoNgen, a high-end feed reader/web discovery tool targeted at financial professionals and corporations. InfoNgen automatically tags and classifies every story from inbound RSS feeds or other textual sources IN REAL TIME, providing a manageable way for professionals to discover content across tens of thousands of unique sources.

    Topics Include:

      - the limitations of current RSS feed readers
      - the advantages of a core tagging engine
      - Signing up for a free InfoNgen account
      - configuring content widgets on the InfoNgen Home page
      - navigating the InfoNgen Feeds page for more detailed discovery

    Sites Referenced:

Run Time: 11:33

Usage: Feel free to embed and share.

Thanks for watching, and for all the great feedback!…