Pebble, a company and SmartWatch brand started by Eric Migicovsky in 2012, set the standard for SmartWatches and in many ways single-handedly ignited an entire SmartWatch industry, totally separated (yet later tightly integrated) to the Fitness Band & Activity Tracker craze which was separately growing. Each of these types of products fall within the broader Wearables market, and often get lumped in with a plethora of other devices which are all considered to be part of the “Internet of Things (IoT)”. The goal of a SmartWatch product (other than generating sales and profits for its company) in many cases, is thus to be capable of acting as a “control platform” for the IoT. There is much promise in being able to be more productive and manage one’s digital lifestyle, without being one of the so-called “SmartPhone zombies” who are constantly staring down at ht
Founder Eric Migicovsky first created a prototype as part of his PhD research project at the University of Waterloo in 2009-2011. He used an Arduino encased in a 3D-printed case, along with an old Nokia candybar thin-style cell phone to remotely control a phone from his wrist for this first time. This then lead to his creation of the Pebble company and product line.
Since the Pebble’s introduction, many challengers have entered the fragmented Wearables market.
Android Wear is by total sales, the largest rival to Pebble; however those sales are scattered amongst the many fragmented product lines from companies such as Samsung, LG, Sony, Motorola and Asus.
Apple Watch broke the SmartWatch annual sales records of Pebble within the first day of its release. In the aftermath of the typical nonsensical launch Apple product launch period though, reviews have been lukewarm at best.
Both the Garmin Forerunner and Garmin Vivofit product lines represent the classic example of a cross-over device that straddles the increasingly thin line between Fitness Tracker and SmartWatch.
Even the original Fitness Tracker company which started out as humble pedometer with phone-synchronization capabilities has started getting into the SmartWatch game with its latest releases of the FitBit Surge and FitBit Blaze.
Legacy Watch Industry
From luxury brands like Rolex, TAG-Heuer, Seiko, Citizen & Omega to long-time digital watch industry leaders like Timex, Casio, Swatch & Fossil, rest assured that all the major players are paying attention to what happens with the growth of the SmartWatch industry. The number of SmartWatches sold in 2014 was roughly 6.8 million, but by 2015 the total number was 36 million [REF #1]. While this is but a pittance compared to the 1.2 billion watches sold annually worldwide, any watch-related industry experiencing over 5 times annual growth in sales is definitely going to garner the attention of the big players; irrespective of the fact that the top of the line luxury watchmakers can garner as much as $123,500 per unit [REF #2].
A perfect example of the cross-over between traditional luxury watches and SmartWatches is when Tag-Heuer created the Nismo SmartWatch for Nissan owners as part of an exclusive, limited-time offer and partnership with the automobile manufacturer [REF #3]. while the watchface was traditional, with the push of a button it could do some basic synching with your Nissan Carrera car, for example controlling the temperature or radio.
Today, something unexpected happened. I had the (somewhat unplanned and impromptu) pleasure of showing the ropes to the “new recruit” at work, a student here for a work term over summer break.
Now, we’re not necessarily doing that much coding here yet, as we’re still in the process of bringing back large portions of IT functionality in-house. We do, however, do a lot of software configuration, release management, testing/QA tasks, and, we are ramping up to use a major enterprise CMS to be able to create front-end content quickly (HTML/JS/CSS backed by JSP & EJB following OSGI structure).
I’ve always wondered in the back of my mind, if I were “in charge”, how would I more gently introduce the younger generation to the world of “enterprise programming”? Certainly the “enterprise world” is often significantly different, if not completely far-removed, from the real-world of cutting edge software development based on agile methodologies and lightweight web frameworks, co-developed with the customer in real-time, or implemented competitively overnight at a weekend hackathon. It is also far-removed from the naiively specialized world of “academic coding”, where “programming problems” (albeit sometimes very tricky ones) are assigned with a very clear set of up-front requirements and well-defined metrics for acceptance, where every assignment is given a certain amount of time to complete and graded for completeness and of course for “originality” or “ability-to-follow-the-book-without-copying” (where copying any minor component is seen as the devil’s work, labelled plagiarism, and ostracized).
Enterprise application development on the other hand, often times has no clear-cut requirements, no well-defined acceptance criteria (other than customer happiness) and is both behind schedule and over-budget before coding even begins. That thing about the no copying? Yeah that’s tossed out the window in favour of cutting corners and “getting it to market” as quickly as possible, often at the expense of quality (or in some cases even the development team understanding the solution, the most recent case that comes to mind is this hilarious StackOverflow verbatim copy “programming faux pas” from a Nissan connected car developer). All that being said, enterprise application development isn’t that hard, just more complex and frustrating than greenfielding, open source work, or even consulting. So it turned out to be a good opportunity to take a stab at it, as the student in question only had a year of Computer Science so far and despite some exposure to Java had not much in the way of Web development yet as those courses were coming later in the program. He did however, have a healthy interest in the Gaming industry, an industry which is increasingly finding an audience and monetization options for its wares on Mobile and Web platforms.
“The only thing constant is change”
It is still in many ways the early days of innovation in the several sub-categories of Audio Recognition.
Thanks to technological advancements, microphones have become smaller and smaller (perhaps to some extent this has been driven by the post-war and Cold War eras where espionage became so critical, so governments worldwide competed producing better and better audio recording technologies). Either way, a good Microphone is the key technology to ensuring high-quality accuracy & results. While software solutions are increasingly capable of making due with embedded microphones (such as the commodity grade ones that tend to come installed in Mobile Phones, Laptops or other devices), a good external Microphone is essential for high accuracy. Examples of external microphones include wearable headsets or standalone mics connected via Bluetooth, USB cable or Analog/Digital cords. The technology has now improved to the point that the average person can produce audio on par with that of major production studios, all within a reasonable budget.
What was said?
Who said it?
Security companies have started adding Voice Recognition capabilities to their systems since _____ .
Something the Semantic Web promised but had not initially delivered on was an emergence of Intelligent Agents (i.e. code-powered Personal Assistants). Today, we finally see some of this promise being realized through things like Siri by Apple, Cortana by Microsoft, “Now!” by Google and Alexa/Echo by Amazon.
Microsoft has offered Windows-specific OS-level Speech API (SAPI) since WindowsXP and developers have been integrating Voice/Speech into their Windows apps for a while now, but now it will soon also offer web-based APIs through the announcement of “Project Oxford”. Project Oxford is aimed at building a set of intelligent services to support information retrieval which can optionally tie into the Bing Search APIs (which supports queries by content type including Web, News, Images, Video, )
IFTTT finally just released its own API (sort of) when it announced the introduction of its new “Maker” Channel which may very well be the closest we ever get to a true API. It offers HTTP-based activation of Actions to carry our when invoked or Triggers which can be combined with another service.
The Maker Channel extends the power of IFTTT to any DIY project, big or small,” said the company in a recent blog post. “You can now build and connect Recipes to any device or service that can make or receive a web request.”
Since launching nearly four years ago, If This Then That (IFTTT) has provided a web-based platform for “thing” integration towards realizing the promise of the Internet Of Things (IoT) helping to make our lives simpler rather than more complicated as it often does as new technologies continue to be introduced.
For a quick refresher from my previous post on IFTTT’s role within the Internet of Things, it enables its users to authenticate/authorize and inter-connect a variety of tools, devices/sensors, applications and web services through unique “recipes” that are based on an “if this happens, then do that” formula. These could accomplish anything from the serious (such as automatically receiving a text message if suspicious activity is picked up by your home surveillance system), to the fickle but convenient (for instance backing up photos uploaded to Facebook which have a particular tag to a dedicated Dropbox folder). Recipes like these have all been created by the community and are free to use (unless you wish to mark your recipe private, and either way the data you enter into your recipe of course stays private and only a template of it is shared)
While backing up some files to an external hard drive from my older one, I recently came across an old Cover Letter which had accompanied my resume in a job application I sent to Research In Motion (RIM) back in Summer of 2008.
It’s interesting to look back at, because I recall back then being very frustrated with the state of the Mobile industry in North America (particularly in Canada). These feelings were only magnified by my time spent in Japan 2006-2008, a country which at that time was a clear leader in Mobile technologies and in the global consumer electronics in general. Since then, Korea and China (two other countries I was fortunate enough to have spent some time in during my Graduate school vacations in between terms) have now caught up in terms of innovation and even surpassed Japan’s leading Mobile technology companies in sales as well.
Back then companies (again particularly China & Korea but many European firms as well) were sending some of their top experts and technologists to Japan to do market research with and/or attempt to poach talented Japanese engineers from, the likes of world leading Japanese tech companies: Sony-Ericsson, Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Fujitsu, Fuji-Xerox, Konica-Minolta, Nintendo, Softbank, NTT, KDDI, etc. The goal was of course to glean as much information and consumer insights as possible from the country which boasted the fastest home fiber internet speeds, mobile internet speeds, mobile data usage, and mobile revenue per unit (ARPU) in not just gaming which usually comes to mind when thinking of Japan, but all application sectors.
My experience in Japan indeed taught me a thing or two about “sticky” services, particularly the infamous “iMode business model” by Takeshi Natsuno of NTT DoCoMo which succeeded by providing a cohesive ecosystem of applications and a flat-rate (about $40 USD/month) unlimited data service, which drove subscriptions through the roof. On top of this, standards and specifications which were simple to follow for developers and which reduced page-size for web content with cHTML then later WAP/WML helped grow the service’s offerings in an organic way. Only now are we starting to see the same sorts of initiatives by Google [LINK] & Apple [LINK] in North America. Over here, very little regard has been made for how to optimize mobile services for users, which is why our Mobile industry is only now catching up to and finally surpassing where Japan was 9-10 years ago. Indeed, we constantly hear reports about the growth of Online/Mobile Video (i.e. streaming ad-supported content like YouTube, Vimeo, etc), On-Demand/IPTV (i.e. rentals or purchases on iTunes, GooglePlay, etc), and OTT (i.e. subscription services like Netflix, Hulu & Amazon Prime Instant Video). However, MobileTV via OneSeg had already reached millions of users whereas SMS texting was just starting to take off in North America (in any meaningful way that resembles its adoption level today).
BC$ = Behavior, Content, Money
The goal of the BC$ project is to raise awareness and make changes with respect to the three pillars of information freedom - Behavior (pursuit of interests and passions), Content (sharing/exchanging ideas in various formats), Money (fairness and accessibility) - bringing to light the fact that:
1. We regularly hand over our browser histories, search histories and daily online activities to companies that want our money, or, to benefit from our use of their services with lucrative ad deals or sales of personal information.
2. We create and/or consume interesting content on their services, but we aren't adequately rewarded for our creative efforts or loyalty.
3. We pay money to be connected online (and possibly also over mobile), yet we lose both time and money by allowing companies to market to us with unsolicited advertisements, irrelevant product offers and unfairly structured service pricing plans.