• By Sin Mei C
  • February 28, 2014

This Week in Context – 20140228

This Week in Context coming to you from our new headquarters at 51.208715, 4.389627, aka Vlaamsekaai 82.  Our new base has plenty of space, a great view, and even some dedicated seating space and a guest wifi for when you drop by. Shortly put: it’s pretty awesome. As for the last 24 hours, we’ve been reading IKEA manuals more than news updates, we’ve enlisted some help, and added suggestions from Frank, Marco & Sven.

  • What should  fashion look like in the age of connected devices’, The Verge’s Valentina Palladino wonders. Her article shows how fashion designers would implement technology, a refreshing point of view if you’re used to reading about technology companies trying to make fashionable gadgets.  Our favourite? Sensoree’s Mood Sweater, which detects your emotional state by analysing the sweat in the palms of your hands, and then visualises that mood through multicoloured LED lights. (Via Frank Maene)
  • However, if a modish apparatus is exactly what you’re looking for, try the NFC Ring.  After a successful Kickstarter campaign and shipping its first batch of rings, the team behind the NFC wearable is busy releasing updates to their suite of apps, and with supervising the next production run. Not only does the ring look very hip, it has functionality as well: use it to unlock doors and your mobile phone, or to transfer information between people. (via Sven Salemans)
  • The Time has a great behind-the-scenes article about Google’s modular smartphone efforts. The basis ‘Project Ara’ modular phone should set you back a mere $50. Of course, don’t expect a fancy screen or high-end camera then. As Gigaom’s Kevin Tofel explains, customisable products are usually more expensive than their off-the-shelf counterparts, but there’s definitely some benefit to be seen in the ability to swap out broken modules. This way, you don’t have to toss away the entire phone.
  • The real work with home automation isn’t with the IoT connectivity; it’s the control system that will make it do the right thing at the right time,” Scott Jenson writes on O’Reilly’s radar. In ‘The Home Automation Paradox’, he explains that with input from more and better sensors, as well as increasingly stronger reasoning capabilities, AI might come close to serendipity (and could figure out how we feel), but it won’t always succeed in ‘reading our minds’. There will be occasions still that we, the humans, will need to signal our intent.  And that’s probably not a bad thing.
  • There’s 9 factors creating a ‘perfect storm’ that is driving the Internet of Things to $14.4 trillion in the next 10 Years, Cisco says. VentureBeat has an overview here. Two of these are of particular interest to us: the trend of app developers to push intelligence from the app layer to the network layer or the cloud, and consumerisation of enriched experiences with things. We want to help those Apps & Things being more  aware of who you are, what you feel, and what you need them to do. Not quite reading your mind, but almost as magical, and – most importantly – button-less.
  • Currently, most smart TVs tune out and go into power saving mode after about an hour of no-user-activity. By the time it shuts down, I’m already asleep for over 30 minutes. Half an hour of ‘power spill’. Then, I end up waking up with no clue where I was in the movie when I dozed off, and spend another 10 minutes rewinding and fast-forwarding in an effort to find the spot to start watching again.  This must be easy to solve, no? Enter this Netflix/Fitbit hack that detects when you’ve fallen asleep, and auto-pauses what you were watching. I’m assuming the newly introduced heart rate and emotion detection, as well as a better understanding of how a person’s body is positioned will mean this should be easy-peasy to do with the Kinect as well. A great example of devices knowing about your context / what you need.  (via Marco De Ruiter)
  • Light bulb giant Philips – not afraid of innovation – is demoing a lighting unit that can also relay location and product information to smartphones. “By opening a companion app, shoppers can see a map of the store they’re in, including their exact location as determined by the beacons’ communication with their phone. From there, a shopper might search for a product they’re looking for, while the beacons track their movement and provide directions to the right aisle”, The Verge writes.
  • A new competitor in the ‘measuring physical customer traffic’ across different businesses: Density. Don’t shoot me for asking “where’s the opt-out?” (via Roel)
  • For the Selfiecity project, Lev Manovich, Mortiz Stefaner (with some help) analysed over 3,200 selfies from five major cities around the world. The visualization Selfiexploratory, allows you to filter by age, gender, pose and mood of the people captured in the pics. (via David)

Now we’re done with the IKEA manuals, we have some time to catch up on reading context, big data & smart machines news. If you have come across an update that you think is of interest to people who care about the future of technology and smarter machines, let us know in the comments. Who knows, we might include it in next week’s Week in Context round up.

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