Where is technology taking us?

Where is technology taking us
One world loads of technology

This month we have trawled articles on the Net and looked at some ideas of where tech is going. Most of the credit for this content belongs to https://highexistence.com/10-ways-the-next-10-years-are-going-to-be-mind-blowing/, I have then added some of my observations. Here are some we have pulled together for you to think about and watch this space as they appear over the next few months and years. Please note that these ideas and statements are pulled from various sources and just give a reflection of what is happening. The nature of the beast is by the time you type these articles things have moved on.

Bio Technology

Bionic Hand controlled by brain signals

Okay, it doesn’t let you crush rocks as you would think, BUT it does allow people without fingers to have fully functional hands that can pick up and handle delicate objects. It is completely controlled by the brain and requires no surgery. Touch Bionics, the company the produces the Pro Digits hand, is able to install the hand complete with “living skin,” a plastic covering resembling human skin, for under $50,000.

Computer Speed, Size and Usability

Speed

Most people tech-nerds know of Moore’s Law from 1965 (the number of transistors we are able to cheaply put in computer chips doubles every year, thereby doubling the speed).  However, most people don’t know that Moore, himself, came out and said his law will most likely fail finally in 2020 where the number of transistors we can put on chips will be limited by the laws of physics. Does this mean the exponential rise in computer processing speed will come to a halt in ten years?

Not a chance, says Jim Tully, chief of research for semiconductors at Gartner. “The technology which will replace this is a bottom-up approach, where chips will be assembled using individual atoms or molecules, a type of nanotechnology.”

Ray Kurzweil, a well-respected Futurist, stated in 2008 that when this molecular computing technology comes out in 2020, computers will have the intellectual capability of human beings. You might want to digest that for a minute before moving onto the next section.

That Macbook Air is pretty damn thin. So thin, in fact, that it makes you wonder if physical computers will even exist in 2020. Well according to developers at Intel, the keyboard and mouse surely won’t. Who needs QWERTY when you can control a computer with your mind?

“We’re trying to prove you can do interesting things with brain waves,” said Intel researcher Dean Pomerleau. “Eventually people may be willing to be more committed … to brain implants. Imagine being able to surf the Web with the power of your thoughts.”

Pomerleau and countless research groups around the world are working with brain scanning devices to map blood flow in the brain. They have found that when different individual focus on the same image, they have very similar patterns of blood flow in their brains. For example, one British group announced that they could discern where subjects wherein a computer-generated virtual environment by looking at where blood flowed in their brains.

How we interact with the world

The way in which we interact with the outside world has changed SO much since the introduction of the internet, smartphones, etc. In the very near future, another huge jump will be made: integrating the information on the internet with our surroundings.

By that, I mean being able to look at a building, product or place and immediately seeing information about the subject on our devices and eventually just with our eyes.

If you’re still confused as to what I mean, check out the earliest innovation of this concept, Goggles by Google. This app allows you to take a picture of whatever you are looking at and instantly receive info about it on your Android phone.

Like the video says, Goggle is only scratching at the surface of this technology. Kurzweil says that “By 2020 we’ll routinely have pop-ups in our visual field of view that give us background about the people and places that we’re looking at.” Your memory and the vast information bank of the internet will be one at all times.

Until we can do this with a chip in our brain, a new device has come out that overlays video onto our normal vision using special glasses. It’s called the Vuzix display Wrap 920AR and it goes on sale soon for around $800.

Energy

Solar energy will soon leave fossil fuels and inefficient wind farms in the dust. According to Kurzweil, “the cost per watt of solar energy is coming down rapidly and the total amount of solar energy is growing exponentially. It has in fact been doubling every two years for the past 20 years and is now only eight doublings away from meeting all of the world’s energy needs.”

Emerging technology from a company called Sandia is making the reality that much closer:

Sandia’s solar cells are made of 100 times less material than the current top solar cells while operating at the same efficiency. Since the biggest hurdle in the path of solar power is the expensive and large nature of solar panels, these new microscopic cells will make a huge difference. For example, current panels are massive and require large motors to move them to track the sun. Sandia’s cells, on the other hand, would only need to be moved a fraction of a millimetre to track the sun efficiently while weighing next to nothing.

Even more amazing, they can be suspended in liquids and printed on flexible materials, allowing the cells to be placed on any surface. What if your entire car was covered in these powerhouses? Bye bye, Chevron.

Health

While we still can’t cure a common cold, custom-made organs are just around the corner.

A company called Organovo has developed the first commercial 3-D bio printer that builds custom organs cell-by-cell. Each individual cell is based upon sample cells from the body of the customer. Organovo reports that veins and arteries will be available in 5 years, and more complex organs like hearts and livers in 10.

On a more general note, nanotechnology is revolutionizing the health world. The awesome combination of a higher understanding of how DNA works and the ability to create very small cellular parts is painting a very bright future for medicine.

Scientists are finding specific sequences of DNA that code for conditions like schizophrenia, autism and even ageing. The cures are actually in sight.

Robots

The first decade of the 21st century has been a remarkable time for innovation in robotics. While we’re still far away from having bots helping around the house or doing our construction, big strides have been made towards that future.

Recently a robot was able to teach itself human facial expressions by randomly contorting its face and receiving feedback on what resembled real expressions.

Here’s another robot called BigDog that came out a couple of years ago, but if you haven’t seen the video, you really should. It’s a 4-legged robot that can navigate difficult terrain and correct its balance when shoved. If you can’t watch the whole video, at least fast-forward to 1:50 where the robot can be seen running and jumping.

And finally here is the bipedal version of BigDog that walks heel-to-toe just like humans do. Again, it can regain balance when shoved.

Clothing

Nanotechnology in Clothing

– Nano-fibres will make garments tremendously more comfortable and durable. “By this process, the textile products can be made more attractive, strong and responsive to customers’ choice.”

– Fibre-based Nano generators will build up electrical energy in clothing from physical movement, ultrasonic waves and even blood flow. “If we can combine many of these fibres in double or triple layers in clothing, we could provide a flexible, foldable and wearable power source that, for example, would allow people to generate their own electrical current while walking.”

– Extremely hydrophobic (water-resistant) Nano filaments allow for completely waterproof clothing. It can be submerged in water for two months and still remain dry to the touch. “The water comes to rest on the top of the Nano filaments like a fakir sitting on a bed of nails.” (Whatever that means…)

2019 Trends

Machine Learning will advance Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) innovations will continue to bring scientific breakthroughs, in part, thanks to the vast amounts of data that new technologies have been collecting and is now available. 

In 2019, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence will be embedded in the business platform creating and enabling smart business operations. 

In the Artificial Intelligence space, China is going to leave the U.S. behind, emerging as a leader in AI developments and applications.

Advances in Machine Learning technology and algorithm training will result in new and more advanced AI. Autonomous vehicles and robotics are the two industries that will see the most rapid developments during 2019. 

In 2019, there is going to be a convergence of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning in business applications. As AI and learning technologies get to work together in order to reach better results, AI will have greater accuracy at all levels. So far, humans have only developed Narrow Artificial Intelligence. A superior AI, though, is in the future of mankind. How far should humans go with AI development is still a subject of controversy. Is this really going to be mankind’s last invention? 

Quantum Computing (Supercomputing)

Quantum Computing, still an emerging technology, is one of the most fascinating things researchers, organizations, and governments have been working on in this century so far. The race toward building the first fully-functional, fully-working quantum computer (also called supercomputer) is on.

With its impressive computational power, quantum computers will most like be a cloud service in the near future rather than on-premise machines. IBM is already offering cloud-based quantum computing services. 

The first quantum computer is going to have a significant advantage over others. In 2019, the competence to achieve supercomputer supremacy will intensify. As a consequence, the last mile in the race will remain mostly secretive, for obvious reasons.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

Advances in Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR), all of which can be summarized in R+, will continue to be at the forefront of attention during 2019 with some fascinating new practical applications for industries.

R+, which once was only found in video gaming has been quickly advancing to become a useful tool in industries such as engineering design, manufacturing, healthcare, space exploration, and many others. 

In 2019, Virtual Reality is going to open up to innovative industrial applications that will change how people work and collaborate across geographies. 

Augmented Reality has been rising in Virtual Reality’s shadow for the past year. But in 2019, AR is set to grow exponentially. 

Global Internet of Things (IoT) security breach

Hackers never sleep. Everyone in the cybersecurity industry knows that. As long as you connect something to the Internet it immediately becomes vulnerable.

In the past years, we have seen how hackers have turned to the unsecure Internet of Things (IoT) devices to create an extensive botnet which then they could use to push enough traffic to take down Dyn, the DNS provider. As a way to refresh your memory, here is how the DDoS attack using IoT devices happened in 2016.

A quick look at the news tells us that not much has been learned. However, the great number of security breaches occurred during 2018 should serve as an alert of what can happen at a global scale in 2019 if organizations don’t take the necessary precautions. 

Analyst firm Gartner forecasts that 20.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide by 2020. And with the rise of autonomous things –I will call this the Internet of Autonomous Things (IoAT)– there is a good chance that many of these things will show a certain level of weak security. 

In 2019, it will be paramount for IoT manufacturers and all of their supply chain to dramatically increase the security in all the products that come out to market. It can be a connected refrigerator, a robot, a drone, a vehicle, or a health tracker.

Manufacturers must implement a level of security that keeps hackers at bay. Otherwise, there is a good chance we are going to witness a global IoT security breach in 2019. 

Blockchain technology

In 2019, for the delight of organizations, Blockchain is going to bring the first enterprise applications in active use. The most innovative corporations will start using Blockchain as a way to improve collaboration.  

Blockchain in 2019 comes out cryptocurrency transaction and becomes an integral part of the business platform. Blockchain enables transactional transparency across a variety of business functions. In 2019, Blockchain will be present in many industries at the core of business innovation.

Let’s all use the Internet. But which one?

Internet Evolution

I love this and was also blown away by this. What does my title mean and how many Internets are there?

Background info

Let me give you background info. At the end of last year I attended, with some tech colleagues, a Digital Expo in Edinburgh. A day of tech talks and an exhibition area full of stands and vendors showing their wares. (And the usual freebies as we like to call them.)

The main keynote speech was by an MSP about the Scottish Government trying to help tech companies and get Scotland at the top of the tech ladder. After that came the chap from Google. (I must admit at this point as to being an avid Google follower and watcher to see what they are going to do next.)

He started by taking us back to how tech and Internet access has developed over the last 30 years. Things have just exploded.

From Dial up to now literally instant access on all sorts of devices from fridges to watches and phones and laptops and so on.

Explaining the Internet

Now in a previous work post I had the privilege of teaching small business the benefits of getting a website and how the Internet worked for their benefit and the benefit of the user.

A common way I described the Internet was to keep it simple but make it understandable, went as follows: –

“Think of the Internet as a giant library full of information. Shelves of books going into the distance and finding things required a librarian to help you. They were at that time mostly Yahoo and Google. You asked then for what you were looking for and they went into the library and retuned all the relevant content”

People could visualise this and then I told them that their website would be in that content and how they could encourage the librarian to bring it to customers searching for what they had to offer. All makes sense and even though simplistic, easy to get your head around.

How would you explain the Internet? (This was very early days as well.)

So what has changed?

So if that explains the Internet then, surely it has just become much larger and has so much content the librarians have become smarter and better at what they do?

This is true of course and the search engines are constantly changing their algorithms to cater for new searches and the rise of the social media traffic.

Bur prepare to have your mind blown away. “Your Internet is not the same as my Internet”

WHAT? I hear you cry. Of course it is.”

My man from Google explained the rise of the A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), has created tailored Internet for each user. So each time you interact and even shop, look for things, cafes, and theatres. Locations you search for, what locations you are in when you search. All these and many more things influence what return you get. So we could be in the same location and search for the same thing and get slightly different results. Our info is being tailored depending on our habits, likes and history etc.

Conclusion

Some people may find this very disturbing and that so much info about us is going around. Well unfortunately for them it is the case. Even using a food order app influences things. Loyalty card at stores, the list is endless.

I personally am excited about AI and what it can do for us. I think if used well and smart, we can benefit well from this technology.

So what Internet do I use, well I use the one tailored for me?

What are your thoughts on this?

Twitter #FF’s , (Don’t do it.)

#FF's Dont do it.

#FF (Don’t do it)

I’m writing this post late on Thursday evening, and my thoughts are already turning to one of my tasks for tomorrow morning – sending out my #ff mentions. But, then that got me thinking…is this just another social media ‘ritual’ that started out as a good way to ‘recommend’ people and is now just a way of clogging up our timelines.

I have been guilty of sending out #ff mentions religiously but as of today I will no longer be doing that.

Instead, I am going to make my #ff mentions real and more meaningful. So rather than compose a tweet with a list of @users I am going to select a few and take time to make the tweet count.

Take a look at the examples below…what one stands out most to you?

#ff My great friend and mentor @goshensai and an awesome trance vocalist

#ff @joebloggs @joebloggs1 @joebloggs2 @etc @etc 

So, before you go into the #ff mode,

Stop, choose some special followers and send a meaningful mention.

What are your thoughts on Twitter #FF’s, do you do them or not? Let’s hear your thoughts.

Our Guest Blogger is
Tim Thomson
Manager at Vine Conference Centre
www.vineconference.co.uk

OnePlus One Phone Review

OnePlus One Phone

OnePlus One Phone

History

Before arriving in the land of OnePlus, I had owned an HTC Desire, HTC Desire HD, Nobrand Chinese Phone™, and a Nexus 4 – the N4 being the nicest phone I had owned to date. Being nexus device, it was thoroughly hackable – I was frequently installing different ROM’s, kernels, etc. to get the most out of it. In finding out about the OPO, I was looking to see if the same flexibility would be present (and guaranteed to remain so). I wasn’t disappointed.

Introduction

Getting an OPO

This is the trickiest part. Having found out about the phone late summer, I was only really in the market for a new phone around October – this was, as family can vouch for, my time of bombarding social media feeds with competitions (winning is better than buying on the wallet) and posting inane chatter on the OnePlus forums. This is the prescribed way of getting an invite, which currently, of December 2014, is the only real way of getting a device (the two preorders seemed a bit shambolic with many users complaining of problems placing orders).

Unpacking the OPO

The OPO arrived in reasonable time and I set about unboxing it. What arrived was an envelope which contained a box, which just so happened to have more boxes inside. Boxception. However, a nice boxception with the inner boxes being fashionably designed and pleasing to look at. This being said, I didn’t look at them for long. The device itself is a large (coming from an N4) phablet, with a nicely textured back (I ordered the 64 GB “sandstone” model). I also ordered a clear clip-on case to prevent the device getting mangled when lying on desks.

Here are some pictures of the unboxing (admittedly, pretty poor pictures – I was in a hurry to unbox!): Images of unboxing. There’s also a size comparison between the Nexus 4 and the OPO.

Notice the plain, cardboard box that it all comes in. Fairly minimalistic!

Initial Impressions

Size

“This thing is BIG, but not too bulky…” This would be how I feel about the device a month down the line. It’s a big device to handle. My Wife is completely not interested in using it, as it’s too large for her hands. My hands, whilst not gigantic, have pretty good reach…and I still find myself using both of them to access menus.

Speed

In use, the OPO is a fast, responsive and pleasant device. CM11s (the custom version of CyanogenMod that runs on the OPO as stock) is well tailored to the device. I had no lag flicking through menus, no issues watching Netflix, or streaming content. It’s quite hard to tax the quad core 801 – 3Gb RAM helps to keep things moving along.

Screen

The 5.5” screen is gorgeous. I had read online that the colours aren’t as vibrant as other devices, and the blacks aren’t as black – I haven’t found this to be the case. It looks good. It responds well. The colours seem reasonably accurate – enough for a phone anyways. I don’t plan on doing huge amounts of image/video editing on the OPO!

Does it fit in pockets?

Sure does! Gets a bit awkward trying to sit down sometimes, but a little shuffling and all is well. If you’re a skinny-jeans type…you’ll definitely need another solution though!

Usage

Does it work well as a phone?

Yes.

How does it cope with media, Netflix, Google Play Music, Movie files etc.?

I’ve not noticed any slowdown, or difficulties in playing files, until I started using a Lollipop ROM where codecs weren’t quite plumbed in. This was soon resolved, and now I can watch movies and listen to music/podcasts to my heart’s content.

Any good as a PDA? Is the term ‘PDA’ even still used?

Seems to be. The large screen is excellent for reading emails and web pages, viewing calendar entries, as well as social media feeds. The only downside to such a screen is the distance your fingers have to travel: the OPO is a big phone. As for using the term ‘PDA’, this was how I used to rock and roll: Palm IIIe.

How’s the camera?

As far as phone cameras go, the OPO is pretty good! I’ve never had a phone camera that can take such detailed and rich photos as the OPO. The ability to shoot and save a .DNG is a boon too: when things aren’t quite right, you can quickly adjust in your favourite editor and hopefully sort them out. They offer much more latitude than the standard JPEG output. See this link right here for some examples.

That screen looks good, but is it a pain to hold and use? How does it fare with colours? What about this yellow tinge™ I’ve read about?

A wee bit pain is a good thing, right? Means you know you’re alive! This was a valid concern for me when purchasing the phone – the Nexus 4 is a 4.7” device, so screen size wasn’t an issue as my ever-agile thumbs could quickly jump across the whole screen. Whilst the OPO did present problems at first I quickly adjusted – there’s a crafty way of holding it one-handed that allows for a slight adjustment and the top of screen is then usable. Take my word for it!

The yellow tinge that folks have been moaning about – this I did notice, and it bothered me for all of 30 seconds after which I realised that the amount of time I’d be staring at a pure white screen was pretty minimal. I’ve stopped noticing it now, and it hasn’t affected my use of the OPO at all. Even on text-heavy sites, where there’s lots of white-space its fine. Seems like folks have been finding this to be an issue that resolves itself over time (or with the use of a UV lamp…): Reddit page about the issue going away.

What’s the battery life like? Does it last all day with moderate usage?

This is where the OPO shines for me. I commute to work (roughly 40 minutes each way) and I enjoy listening to podcasts there and back. On previous phones, I could do this but would always have a nagging sensation that I’d run out of juice if I then wanted to view media/play games/photo edit etc. during the day. With the OPO, I don’t need to worry: the SoC (SnapDragon 801) has a nifty feature for audio playback which really maximises battery life. Watch the video explaining it all here. This has certainly proved true for me. Negligible battery drain whilst commuting, enough juice to back up the phone, download and flash ROM’s, play some games (Godus is the current favourite) and pfaff around on social media. Photos and the occasional video on a lunchtime stroll happen fairly regularly. At the end of day, I’m sitting happy with 30-40% left. This is without any custom kernels or underclocking.

So you enjoy some gaming – what games run well, and how’s the performance?

So far I’ve played some Ravensword (which runs well, but I’m convinced could look better), Godus, Carmageddon (looks identical to how I remember it back in the day), Cogs…so some new, some graphically intensive. So far, nothing has troubled it, although I did notice that Godus had intermittent issues – but I thought this was more likely the nightly CM12 build I’m on rather than the OPO.

There was a recent kerfuffle between OnePlus and CyanogenMod…

Ah, yes. This came across as playground politics. The OPO is still guaranteed updates for the next two years from CyanogenMod, so I’m not that bothered.

Caveats

Are there any caveats with the device? Anything that should make a potential buyer reconsider?

The only thing that I’ve read, that really seems to be a tripping point, is the returns procedure. It seems to be overly complicated and I’ve not really read of anyone successfully managing to return a device…but then again, I’ve not really been needing to research this as my OPO is currently working fine.

The only real caveat for me is the unwillingness of insurance companies to insure. My current company rejected my custom after I informed them I would like to change my policy to cover the OPO. Supposedly the OPO wasn’t shipped from Britain (it was, from the British warehouse OnePlus put in place). I reckon they didn’t know what it was, and so refused to insure. For £281 delivered though…is insurance something I need to concern myself with? The verdict is still out!

Conclusion

Any last words?

Buy this phone. If warranties are a concern, realise that you’re getting a high-end device (I know it’s not cutting edge, but then for £281? C’mon!) For not a lot. The build quality is good, the individual components are great, and the overall experience is pleasant. I’ve not looked back! This is genuinely the best device I’ve owned so far.

Guest Blogger this month is Gordon Thomson BSc Hons Applied Computing, Application Developer.