Archive for the ‘CoolStuff’ category

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:

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:

My secret email weapon

May 26th, 2011

One of the biggest benefits of a social network is the ability to see who you’re talking to, links to webpages that have been shared, content that has been uploaded and activity. Email, on the other hand, can be a far less informative and contextual experience.

Enter: Rapportive. This plugin lets you see everything about the person who is emailing you all within a Gmail sidebar. I’ve been using this extension for quite some time now and I’ve shared a link to it in the past, but if you haven’t signed-up yet I highly recommend you do.

Here’s how it works:

You email me, and when I hover over your name I will get a sidebar that loads within Gmail that pulls all public information about you. It will show your photo if you’ve uploaded one to a social network, links to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, as well as recent activity from those networks. Right away, you go from being to being a person with layers of valuable context for me to learn about you.

Here’s how it looks, using profile information from one of Rapportive’s co-founders:


If you connect with a lot of strangers throughout the day, this tool is invaluable. And when you connect with people you know, this tool helps you discover more links to more info about them.

Rapportive has become my secret weapon with email. When I get a cold contact from someone I’ve never connected with, or when I’m trying to connect with someone I don’t know much about yet, Rapportive adds a tremendous layer of context for me.

This is one Gmail extension I could not live without. You can download it here.

Update: Google has announced a “People widget” that does a lot of what I’ve discussed above.

Google’s Eric Schmidt sits down with Tina Fey

April 26th, 2011

Google's Eric Schmidt in an interview with actor Tina Fey

It wasn’t long ago that Google’s Marissa Mayer lead a great interview with Lady Gaga. While Google may not be the first place you’d go in order to watch an hour-long sit-down interview with a celebrity, it seems they’re getting good at it.

Today, I stumbled upon an interview from April 20th with Tina Fey. The interviewer? Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt.

Like Mayer, he’s good at interviewing and he does a good job relating to his subject. He’s no doubt lucky that Fey is like a snowball picking up momentum as she moves along, but Schmidt does a decent job joking and talking with her about everything from improv comedy to smartphones and tracking.

For your viewing pleasure: