Sunday, November 25, 2012

Time to mass market accelerating

Really? Walking into a Costco store and seeing the Drone 2.0 is really surprising. I saw this device for the first time less than six month ago, and it's already at Costco by Christmas!

The same happened with the belkin wemo that allows you to control any device plugged into an electrical outlet from your cellphone. I heard about it at a Quantified Self meetup and a few days later it was at Costco.

It used to be a long time between the time I heard of a new tech or gadget for the first time and the time your average non-tech neighbor (or your mom) would talk about it. But that's on the past! Nowadays, your parents will talk to you about the next new thing or startup acquisition before you even read it on the news.

The traditional adoption curve used to look something like the image on the left, going from the innovators in green, to the early adopters in black, early majority in orange, followed by the late majority and finally the laggards (those people always swore they would never use cellphones but know have one and they swore they would not use smartphones but they will be using one very soon).

According to Seth Godin the bell curve is moving, and he proposes a graph that looks more like this, with a huge push by the market and media to get "earlier early adopters".

I'm not completely sure the curve is really deforming as in the image above or if it's just being accelerated and compressed over time. Something more like the image to the left.

In any case, it's amazing to see how fast products and apps are pushed into the market, as well as how fast people "get" this products and market and adopt them.

So, how do you remain cool during these new fast paced times?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Our New Digital Brain - Resistance is futile

I had the privilege of being a speaker at the TEDxTemecula event October 13th, 2012.

My original idea was to address the future of digital with pervading sensors, context all around us and bionic augmentation of our minds and bodies.

During the process of preparing the talk, one night, in the spirit of TED I opened my mind to the question of "What could be an idea worth spreading, that is unique, valuable and can potentially change the world?".

In the morning I woke up with one image in my mind. It was an image with the evolutionary layers of our human brain, and the connection that we are witnessing an amazing time in the history of humanity: the development of our New Digital Brain.

Image credit: VLADGRIN/Shutterstock + Mauro Canziani

Here's the talk:

Great news keep pouring regarding hardware and software improvements in connecting directly with sensors implanted on our brains. Stanford University just published improvements to their BrainGate2 devices particularly on the software algorithm that drastically improved the speed for cursor tracking with their brain implant on chimpanzees.

I expect to see sensors and wearable devices to become the super glue that bring the whole planet alive and super connected in ways we never thought possible before.

I love to hear the reactions which range radically from "wow! supercool!" to "this is scary!" and "I don't want to give out my privacy!" (angry tone).

Let me know what your reaction was!

Friday, November 23, 2012

The magic of NFC

When we started playing with - a fun new way to a better you, one new habit at a time - we thought of Near Field Communication (NFC) as one of the technologies that would make tracking things done (or not done) super easy.

After researching a bit, we got our tags kit, built a simple habit/goal tracking android app (new android phones come with an NFC reader included) with the help of Genexus and we headed to the real test: we started to be the guinea pigs.

Personally, I had a few things I wanted to track:

1. My am and pm meditation. My goal was to do a simple mantra repeating meditation at least once day for 15 to 20 minutes, and ideally twice a day. I tagged one of the NFC stickers by my little Buddha statue right behind my meditation space.

2. I wanted to try and drink more water daily, I measured my bottle I water refill all day long and it was 16 fl oz. I attached a little NFC tag to my bottle.

3. With flossing my goal was to be more consistent on at least one daily floss, even when I wasn't too far away of my goal, at this time it was NFC euphoria, so I needed more places to stick my NFC tags!

After programming all the tags with urls matching each of the habits the experiment begun.

What I discovered, surprised me a bit! Not only I was doing the NFC checkins (as calls them) very often without almost missing any events, but I was enjoying doing them. I couldn't wait to hear the next "ta-da!!" that the system did every time it read a tag successfully. It was like I found an extra unexpected reward on getting things done.

Here's a 18 seconds vid showing how NFC works for habit/goals checkins:

NFC is pure magic! Seamless, frictionless as could be, we were increasingly excited. We were ready to start our kickstarter project and ask the people: do you dig this NFC habit improvement thing?

There was one problem though, and it was not minor. iPhone did not have an NFC reader. We hoped for the iPhone 5 to include a reader. I mean, it had to include a reader! How could they miss out on this party? But, iPhone 5 came out and the NFC was not a part of it ...

Recently, my friend Jun point me on the direction of these guys:

At the time I wrote this, they were very close to reaching their goal, and in the process they went from a great idea with bad design to a great cover approach design that made them into a winner. They expect to deliver their NFC reader cover for iPhone 4/4s around March 2013.

A world of possibilities is coming, with everybody on the same page regarding NFC, magic will happen all over with their chance of becoming mainstream. Replacing paper tickets, logins to systems, alive ads, posters in the streets, stadiums that give you media, and all the other good things people will think about when this starts being a reality. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Google paving the road for Glass

Back in July, when I had the privilege to be part of bringing the Full Swing Simulator to the Google IO party I had the chance to attend Google IO as well (Yes, the pic on the left is Sergey playing golf on our simulator at the party). It was an amazing coincidence as I attempted to get tickets when registration opened, but after hitting retry a million times, I couldn't get one.

With 6,000 other people in the room, I witnessed live as skydivers jumped from a plane to land on the roof of the Moscone Convention Center while transmitting everything from their Google Glasses.
It was a historic moment!

For us seekers of all tetchy cool new devices and apps, it was the beginning of a new chapter. But, many people I talked to at the event, were completely unimpressed by all of it. They were saying things like: 

"You can't really do much with those glasses"
"They didn't show nothing really cool"

I guess, part of being on the innovators side of the wave, is to be able like Paul Graham says to '"Live in the future, then build what's missing." or "Live in the future, then build what's interesting". You have to be able to look a new technology and imagine a future world in which everybody adopted this technology and ask yourself "What's possible?".

After the keynote, I was super excited to re-explore every bit of information we got at the keynote and see it through the brand new Glasses.

So, when they were presenting features of browser synchronization, I was thinking:
"Perfect, I have a page on my desktop or cell and I send it to my Glasses."

And as I was exploring Google Now on my brand new Nexus 7 tablet, and it would show the weather at San Francisco for the day and the time in current traffic to go back to my hotel. I was thinking:
"Voila! Google Now notifications popping up on my Glasses".

And the effect of seeing the road to Glasses being paved all the way to its launching kept going. As I enabled Google Goggles on my android camera app, I could see:
"There we go! Automatic notifications of relevant information triggered by visuals, such as barcodes, product identification." Just imagine the future, faces, places, business, objects .. how exiting!

Being ADD all my life I missed all the action when it just happened in front of my eyes. The thought of having a little button on my Glasses that will allow me to DVR to the last 30 seconds and play back or upload to a server the last 30 seconds plus the next 30 ones just makes me high.

And what about seeing a face and having info popup on your field of vision? I know I know them but who are they??? Problem solved! With Glasses, a simple notification can overlay contact information, last time I saw them, how and when I met them, etc. Very cool!

So, when you live in the future you can imagine going from Glasses to Contacts and produce videos like this one:

Project Glasses is just the beginning to restoring and expanding our biological body and brain with our new digital body and brain. Fun times lie ahead!

Of course there will be issues, we'll have to deal with the noise that is being generated massively by all of us and our sensors. We'll have to deal with attention/distraction management. We'll have to design awesome interfaces (maybe on the cellphone) that will talk to Glasses in meaningful ways. 

We'll work our way through all of the obstacles, like we did with many other technologies before, because of the value Glasses (and other wearable context aware devices) will deliver.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Self-Tracking is fun!

The image to my left shows the perils of one of my shortest nights. The red is actually awake time, so it doesn't count much as far as to sleep. It shows I got some light sleep represented by the gray bars, a bit of deep sleep with the dark green bars and very little REM sleep as shown by the light green bars.

This device is addictive! Every morning as I wake up I can't wait to see how my night went on the inside of my brain. In addition, My zeo app gives you a sleep score or what they call ZQ, which for my last night (ZQ: 48/100) was pretty poor, way below my average. The ZQ is a secret sauce mix that gives you a seemingly accurate idea of how your night actually went. It has been very predictive/descriptive of how my nights go (in Zeo's own words).

Even if I have to wear this band every night (I just can't imagine skipping a night and it's been 3+ months so far) I don't even want to think about how I would feel in the am if my data is not there for me. Checking my Zeo App became the very first thing I do every morning when I wake up. But of course, if someone were to tell me that it was like this, before I tried it ... I would have been skeptic too ...

Another device I'm carrying with me everyday is my Fitbit Ultra.

Fitbit, depending on the exact version, tracks your steps, mileage, calories burn (estimated) and elevation climb.
I probably not proud of this, but as you can see on the right pic, I found out that Haloween night was my busiest day for November and my only day I surpassed the suggested goal of 10,000 steps. A lot to improve there I guess ... My relationship with fitbit is different than with the zeo. I almost never look at my fitbit stats, I just wear it almost every day and I let it do its thing. I am aware that it is tracking and I don't like it when I forget to wear it, I have a minimum discomfort of no-tracking, but I don't have a big dependency or goal with it at the time.

I also have a Withings scale, which is not necessarily my favorite device, it is more like my scary device, but it always tells me "the truth" so it's valuable. And it syncs wireless which is awesome and completely pain free.
A few seconds ago, I downloaded the Withings Companion App and will see if it motivates me futher.

For now I just have fun with these sensors, I enjoy peeking into the future and getting a glimpse of how it'll be when sensors conquer things and the world at large (which has been known as the Internet of Things).

Besides goal setting in relation to the tracking, most of us trackers hope that the data might become valuable as new applications provide fun visualizations, extract meaningful relationships and gamify in a way that is interesting or cool in some way.