By now, you must have seen Google's Project Glass video showing the future of wearable AR technology. As expected the blogosphere is abuzz with excitement, scepticism, and mockery of the concept. Some are even calling Nokia one of the first in augmented reality glasses, take this Giz post for example - "I Liked The Google Glasses Video Better In 2009 When Nokia Made It". Wearable AR has been around for many many years. See this Atlantic article which talks about MIT Media Lab technology that is 13 years old showing wearables. In fact the cyborg Steve Mann [who I have seen in person in 2002] has been wearing AR glasses for years before Nokia or Google envisioned it. ID Professor Tom MacTavish remembers a time when he met Steve Mann at a conference - once he recognised who Tom was, he pulled out a log of the last time they had met, using that as a way to start the conversation. Tom felt unequipped to match this sort of augmentation of human memory!
What makes Project Glass [the right way to say it] compelling is that it uses mature voice recognition technology, real location based prompts, and contextual computing to describe its concept. This is no longer science fiction, nor does it reside purely in engineering labs' future vision videos. This is real technology that will be on the street soon. Google co-founder Sergey Brin was seen wearing one of these at a recent event. Sure Google may mess it up, maybe their actual product may not be that compelling. But by doing it first, Google paves the way for future designers and engineers to come up with technology that will work. Wearables is where AR will shine in the future, and Google is on the right path...
[posted first on www.anijomathew.posterous.com]
Mies Van Der Rohe turns 126 years today Mar 27, 2012. So Google decided to celebrate his birthday with a Doodle of the iconic Crown Hall (home of the IIT School of Architecture, and the old home of IIT Institute of Design). Google Doodles are "the fun, surprising and sometimes spontaneous changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries and the lives of famous artists, pioneers and scientists". Doodles are important because of Google's reach. In the past, Doodles have helped bring media attention to sometimes forgotten but often important icons, events, and people.
Yesterday, I was at the Pei Wei diner in Chicago. It was an interesting outing, mostly because I finally got to use Coke's new Freestyle vending machines. If you do not know what Coke's new Freestyle vending machines are, head over to Coke Freestyle to learn more. I, for one, was super excited!
While I was at my table (craftily chosen next to the vending machines), I did a little informal user observation study. Of course, people were amazed by the features of the new machine. Most people would spend a few minutes exploring their options. One couple talked about the options with each other before choosing their drink. But here is the kicker - not one person (in about 10-12 people who used it during my short observation period) explored mixing different drinks. The whole point of this new machine is that you can mix and mashup drinks. All the people I saw went through the choices and then picked one drink, and then walked away.
Granted this was not a rigorous study by any means, but it led to me asking why...I think by providing people with so many choices, I think Coke is confusing people more than helping them. So what do they do? They default to known preferences, something they are used to.
Here is a thought - what if Coke curated some drink choices? Maybe even get some of their brand ambassadors to endorse drink mashups. This way one option would be to choose your own mashup, another would be select something a celebrity has endorsed. Then have a story page connected to each mashup, so that people can brag about them:
"Oh what are you having?"
"I am having an Oprah Winfrey mix, the one she drank at the Oscars"
Better yet connect the Freestyle to social media, so that users can like or dislike mashups, tweet their drink mix, or bring up favourite mixes of their friends. Pepsi is trying to do this somewhat with their Social Vending Machines, but does not go all the way.
In a world of free information, curation and the ability to curate for others will be the key to long term engagement. The Coke Freestye is a great idea but it stops one step short.
Coke, are you listening?
[posted first on www.anijomathew.posterous.com]
A new post on BGR [http://bit.ly/xUX9Od] points to a NYT Op-Ed by the CEO of RIAA claiming that the Google and Wikipedia misrepresented SOPA and PIPA. Google, Wikipedia, and many others joined together to present the TAKE ACTION initiative on January 18. 2012. This initiative represents a first in internet lobbying where the influence of internet users persuaded Congress to drop SOPA and Senate to drop PIPA.
This new Op-Ed by Cary Sherman suggests that sites like Google and Wikipedia misrepresented SOPA and PIPA and the whole episode "[raises] questions about how the democratic process functions in the digital age". It goes so far as to suggest that "the television networks that actively supported SOPA and PIPA didn’t take advantage of their broadcast credibility to press their case. That’s partly because “old media” draws a line between “news” and “editorial.”". His point of view is based entirely on the premise that since it was coming from Google and Wikipedia, readers assumed it was appropriate.
All of this is very interesting to me because contrary to what Mr. Sherman suggests, the TAKE ACTION initiative is in fact democracy at its best in the digital age. Here are three reasons:
1) Mr. Sherman assumes I did not read about the bills. Wrong! What Google did exposed SOPA and PIPA to me. Then I used the resources of the digital age to read more about the bill. Only when I was clear about my position, did I "take action". Now I cannot assume everyone did this. But given my situation, I can only hope everyone did. In the same manner I can only hope that the supporters of the bill in the Senate and Congress did too when they took their initial and final position on the bills.
2) The ability to act or not act is the core aspect of a democracy. Google provided a opt-in platform to voice my concern for SOPA and PIPA. That's all it was - a platform. What makes the story work is that 7 million Americans responded and voiced their opinion. What if no one responded? What if no one felt this was an issue important enough for them to take action? Wouldn't the story play out differently today? The idea that when people act a certain way democracy turns into demagoguery only appeals to the person whose position was voted down.
3) Google and Wikipedia (and others not recognised in the article) did not coerce an action, they only suggested it. It is the people, the democracy that coerced the action. Those in the Senate and Congress did not have to listen to the initiative, they could have brushed it off...but they did. If SOPA and PIPA were as important to media space as Mr. Sherman suggests, why did the Senators and Congressmen act the way they did?
In any case, read the Op-Ed piece and decide for yourself. Once you do that, make sure you also read the flood of comments which followed - not one (as far as I can see) in favour of the opinion. Let me know what you think...
The Dean of the Institute of Design led a CEO panel in discussion about reframing innovation for India. The panel consisted of Mr M S Unnikrishnan, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Thermax Limited; Mr R Mukundan, Managing Director, Tata Chemicals Limited; Mr Jamshyd Godrej, Chairman & Managing Director, Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company Limited; Mr S Mahalingam, Executive Director & Chief Financial Officer, Tata Consultancy Services; Mr Sudhir Trehan, Vice Chairman, Crompton Greaves Limited; and, Mr Arun Nagpal, Managing Director, Minda NexGenTech Limited.
The event titled Reframing : Integrating Strategic Design thinking in the Boardroom Agenda was organised by CII and Godrej in conjunction with the ID-Godrej India Immersion Program. You can read an associated interview of Patrick Whitney in the Economic Times here.
What caught my attention is Jobs' observation: "The problem was that Apple stood still. Even though it invested cumulatively billions in R&D, the output has not been there."
This is the problem with most big companies - the R&D is there. Money is being spent! BUT ON WHAT? Maybe its time companies took a leaf from Apple - they invest in R&D but they NEVER STAND STILL!
Tim Cook takes over Apple from Steve Jobs. A BIG SHOE to fill but I am sure Steve Jobs has left enough legacy in the place for at least a decade of innovation. What happens after that will determine what happens to Apple.
But who is Tim Cook? - hit the link to read more...
Patrick Whitney (Reframing Design for the Base of the Pyramid): Next Generation Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid: New Approaches for Building Mutual Value (ed. by Ted London and Stuart Hart)