Archive for October, 2011

Microsoft video offers stunning vision for future of mobile

October 28th, 2011

With smartphones becoming as commonplace as wrist watches, it’s only a matter of time before they also start to take control of other gadgets in our lives. In this video, Microsoft offers a stunning view of what is possible.

Today when we talk about smartphones and the various things we wish they could do for us, the common response is “There’s an app for that!”

The mobile phone has long been viewed as one of the single most powerful gadgets we own not just because it functions as a computer and phone, but because of the potential to use it as a way to control other pieces of technology in our lives.

A new video created by Microsoft (below) gives an updated view at what could be possible, and it’s nothing short of remarkable. Interactive touch screens are gearing up to play a vital role in our lives and Microsoft’s vision of the future puts that concept front and center.

The 6-minute video titled “Productivity Future Vision (2011)” shows how technology, namely mobile devices, can be used to control other things in our lives in real-time. They let us communicate, do business, talk with family and play games, but they are also one day poised to be the central devices in our lives and critical to how we interact with other pieces of technology.

The video also shows how other mobile devices such as touchscreens and tablets will play a role an interact with mobile devices.

We’re a long way off from the vision Microsoft has presented in this video, but based on how far we’ve come with smartphones and mobile devices, it doesn’t seem as sci-fi as it once did. We’re already starting to see the virtual assistant-type technology evolve with Apple’s Siri, and the majority of kids under the age of 8 are using mobile devices regularly. Smartphones and mobile technology are everywhere. The future is not that far off anymore.

Check out the video below:

52% of kids under 8 using iPods, iPads and mobile devices

October 27th, 2011

Need a babysitter? There’s an app for that. A study published this week says a huge percentage of children under the age of eight are consuming media on iPods, iPads and other devices at growing rates.

A study published by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group that studies children’s use of technology, says digital media has become a regular part of a child’s life and mobile devices are the toy of choice.

More than half (52%) of all children under the age of eight have access to mobile devices at home including smartphones, iPads, iPods and other tablets. And the rate at which kids are adopting technology is also perhaps surprising: 40 percent of 2- to 4-year-olds are using everything from TV to mobile devices and apps.

According to the study, 11 percent of all kids up to 8-years-old regularly use a cellphone, iPod, iPad or similar device and spend an average of 43 minutes doing so. Parents seem to be supporting the digital babysitters, as more than a quarter (29%) of all parents have downloaded mobile apps for their kids to use.

“Much of the focus in recent years has been on the explosion of media use among teenagers, whereas our study examines media use among young children during crucial developmental years,” said James Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, in a media release. “Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirmed their position that children under age 2 should not engage in any screen time, yet the data shows infants and toddlers are growing up surrounded by screens. This use data is an important first step toward understanding how the prevalence of media and technology affects the development of our youngest kids.”

Among the key findings of the study:

  • 42 percent of children under eight years of age have a TV in their bedrooms (30 percent of 0- to 1-year-olds, 44 percent of 2- to 4-year-olds, and 47 percent of 5- to 8-year-olds).
  • Half (52%) of all 0- to 8-year-olds have access to a new mobile device such as a smartphone, video iPod, or iPad/tablet.
  • More than a third (38%) of children this age have used one of these devices, including 10% of 0- to 1-year-olds, 39% of 2- to 4-year-olds, and more than half (52%) of 5- to 8-year-olds.
  • In a typical day, one in 10 (11%) 0- to 8-year-olds uses a smartphone, video iPod, iPad, or similar device to play games, watch videos, or use other apps. Those who do such activities spend an average of 43 minutes a day doing so.

While new technologies are starting to get the attention of both parents and tots, the study says TV continues to be the dominant medium and kids 8-years-old and under consume an average of 1:40 of TV or DVDs in a typical day.

Children also spend 29 minutes daily reading or being read to; 29 minutes each day listening to music; 17 minutes per day using a computer; 14 minutes daily using a video came console; and five minutes using a cellphone, iPod, iPad or similar device.

According to the study, infants between 0-1 years of age spend double the amount of time watching TV and DVDs than reading. Some children are also multitasking, as nearly one quarter (23%) of 5- to 8-year-olds use more than one device at a time.

“These results make it clear that media plays a large and growing role in children’s lives, even the youngest of children,” said Vicky Rideout, a senior adviser to Common Sense Media and director of more than 30 previous studies on children, media and health. “As we grapple with issues such as the achievement gap and childhood obesity, educators, policymakers, parents, and public health leaders need access to comprehensive and credible research data to inform their efforts.”

The study, “Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America,” is based on a survey of 1,384 parents of children up to 8 years old, and was conducted May 27-June 15, 2011. The full study can be downloaded free here (opens in PDF).

[Originally published on Digital Journal]

Steve Jobs: Fox News is a ‘destructive force’ in society

October 27th, 2011

Steve Jobs

Walter Isaacson’s biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was released this week and details are emerging about what Jobs thought about his industry and others. The media was a particular area of interest for Jobs, but not always in a good way.

Steve Jobs is all over the media these days, with the official release of his biography spilling dozens of interesting facts about the business visionary.

While Jobs is famous for revolutionizing several industries, from music, to computers to phones and tablets, another deep passion of his was media.

“I would love to help quality journalism,” Jobs told Isaacson in one of dozens of interviews he did for his biography before passing away. “We can’t depend on bloggers for our news. We need real reporting and editorial oversight more than ever. So I’d love to find a way to help people create digital products where they actually can make money.”

Jobs wanted to play a role in how news organizations brought their content to digital platforms, and the iPad was the solution.

According to Poynter, Jobs made friends with News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch when the two organizations started working on the iPad-only publicationThe Daily, and Jobs played an active role in helping News Corp. develop the first digital-only publication for the popular tablet.

While Jobs and Murdoch hit it off with that publication, Jobs had harsh words for another News Corp. media property — Fox News. As Jobs and Murdoch got closer, Jobs did not mince words about Fox:

“You’re blowing it with Fox News,” Jobs told Murdoch. “The axis today is not liberal and conservative, the axis is constructive-destructive, and you’ve cast your lot with the destructive people. Fox has become an incredibly destructive force in our society.”

“You can be better, and this is going to be your legacy if you’re not careful.” Jobs said.

According to Isaacson’s biography, Jobs also believed Murdoch was not really happy with Fox.

“Rupert’s a builder, not a tearer-downer,” Jobs said. “I’ve had some meetings with James, and I think he agrees with me. I can just tell.”

According to Poynter, Murdoch responded to Jobs’ complaints about Fox News by saying, “He’s got sort of a left-wing view on this.”

[Originally published on Digital Journal]

Amazing videos show ‘Quantum Levitation’ at work

October 26th, 2011

Quantum Levitation
The geek in me couldn’t resist sharing this. These videos come from the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and they are, simply put, remarkable.

This demonstration from Tel-Aviv University shows quantum superconductors locked in a magnetic field. What does that mean in plain English? Basically, they are floating discs that levitate off the ground like a flying saucer. It’s something from right out of the Jetsons.

This video shows a crude demonstration of what a rail system could look like using levitation.

For an explanation of the physics behind this demonstration, check out this site. In short, what is happening is the demonstrators suspend a superconducting disc above or below a set of permanent magnets and the magnetic field is locked inside the superconductor. This is a phenomenon called Quantum Trapping.

For those of you who just want to see something levitate, check out the videos below:

Video: A Duet with Siri

October 19th, 2011

A fun post today to share a video that I thought was pretty entertaining….

By now you may have heard Apple’s iPhone 4S comes with a voice assistant called Siri. Basically, it’s a voice service that lets you talk to your phone and get help from a virtual assistant.

As Apple describes: “Siri on iPhone 4S lets you use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more. Ask Siri to do things just by talking the way you talk. Siri understands what you say, knows what you mean, and even talks back. Siri is so easy to use and does so much, you’ll keep finding more and more ways to use it.”

A lot of voice applications have come and gone in the world of technology, and not many have won the widespread attention that Siri is currently attracting. Siri is winning major fanfare because it really works and seems to understand the nuances around human language better than anything that has come before it.

You can talk to Siri as you would to a person and say something like “Tell my wife I’m running late” or “Remind me to call the vet” or “Any good burger joints around here?” Siri will do what you ask it to, find information and then respond to you.

You can also ask Siri ridiculous or silly questions and marvel at the funny responses.

For example: Ask it “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” and Siri responds with “A woodchuck would chuck as much as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.”

Or ask it what the meaning of life is, and you get this response: “I can’t answer that now, but give me some time to write a very long play in which nothing happens.”

You can spend hours on YouTube watching some amazing Siri demonstrations, and the jokes and funny responses are making their rounds on the Web.

I wanted to share one of those funny and interesting videos with you after stumbling across this video on YouTube of a guy named Jonathan Mann who performs a duet with Siri, asking it questions and waiting for responses and putting it all to music.

It’s really well done and quite funny. This is definitely my top pick for YouTube video of the week: