It’s the little things

Posted: 05.24.13

You know, I've been thinking, which is something I really should do more often. I have been writing over and over again about the huge changes that are taking place in technology, but I haven’t written as much about the simple changes that are equally revolutionary.
So, some of the changes that have snuck up on us over the last ten years include

1. Cameras in everything
2. Wifi everywhere
3. Remote computing

Here’s looking at you kid

Cameras have been making their way into everything. They are now almost a universal feature in computers, they’re spying on us at every street corner, our cars can see where they’re going, and Sergey Brin is watching us from somewhere with his Goolge Glass that he has before any of the rest of us.
We’ve known for a long time that cameras are going to be in everything, but now that they are it’s still astounding how useful they can be, and yeah, how creepy.

But let’s just stay positive, shall we? The camera in the back of my car has prevented many an accident, it’s just too bad that I don’t have one on the front sides. The camera in my phone has helped me pick out furniture, and even measure floor space. In fact, augmented reality apps are coming at us from all directions. I could use up the rest of this space just talking about them.

And, the camera in my computer is going to give me gesture control.

Here we were all so sure we’d be phoning home and waving babies in front of the camera to show mom, and as it turns out, we’re just waving. I was struck by this when I was seeing the work AMD is doing with Israeli company Eyesight to enable gesture control on PCs. Gesture control is going a long way to make computing easier. With the arrival of touch, it’s become obvious that there needs to be better ways to interface with the computer. It’s awkward to have to type, then touch then type. Sensitive touch pads that are simply typo generators. It’d be nice to be able to get off the keyboard and flip through pages, or resize images with natural gestures. Eyesight is also working with Nvidia, and they’re involved in creating apps for TV, finally the long wished for couch input device. Yeah, yeah, it’s not new but it is way different. Gesture input could kill off mice, yay, take window shopping to a whole new level, and maybe help us get rid of all those remote control devices on the coffee table.

Also in this issue, we managed to cram in a quick report on Microsoft’s news about its upcoming Xbox One. I suppose that’s one advantage to being late to press. Anyway, as we expected, the new Xbox One is going to have extended gesture control combined with voice control. Yes, that does mean that dad is going to be the most annoying person in the room. Instead of the remote control twitch he’s got now, he’ll be yelling and waving at the TV, but we’re staying positive, right?

When you think about what cameras in devices can do, well, why wouldn’t you want a camera in the middle of your forehead? You’ve got one everywhere else.

The Internet of things

Actually the internet of things is kind of a big, huge thing, but we’re coming in contact with it in nice comfortable ways. With WiFi everywhere I can turn my tablet into a second screen for a computer, I do this all the time now when I’m working on the road. I can also watch whatever is going on on my laptop on the TV. I hope to god, I’m never checking my email in the living room when I could be watching The Great Race but you know, it could happen. I can also run The Great Race from wherever I happen to have it – on the PC, my phone, my tablet and “throw” it to the TV. AMD is pretty excited about this feature, and I’m delighted they have it but so does everyone else, and that’s the beauty part. Someday soon, I won’t have to play the legbone connects to the thighbone game in behind the TV with a flash light.

Remote Computing

Okay, one more thing before I run out of space. In our recent visit with Dell to see their new lineup of cool stuff, they talked a lot about remote computing. I had been thinking about this as a big thing – the return of servers and back room control, but lately I started thinking how cool it’d be to have a couple of 4U servers in a the utility closet at home. Then, around the house we could have all manner of thin devices to access whatever pixels we want. In the kitchen there’s a big screen family bulletin board, there’d be tablets and lightweight computers laying all over the house, like magazines used to do, but these things are more like magic windows. Read a book or throw content to the TV. There might be a game machine down in the basement for the game trolls. But no one need be tied to one machine in one room ever again.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about.