Hey whatever happened to Google Glass?

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Emerging technology is al about the future but sometimes we need to look back and think about “the next big things” that weren’t. Remember Google Glass? This was the hottest thing in 2012 but now that 2014 is coming to a close it doesn’t seem to have taken the world by storm. So what happened?

Gene Marks recently wrote an article, in Forbes, titled “How Google Screwed up Google Glass” where he addresses how something that seemed like a great idea never seemed to realize its potential. The concept of Google Glass really does sound amazing. Who would not want a heads up display that can display just about anything you want right in front of your face at any time? Want driving directions, a Yelp review or a text message? Just ask Google Glass and there it could be!

You might think that Google Glass would be worn by everyone by now but I have never seen someone wearing them in public. I realize that what I see is not a statistically significant study that proves or disproves the success of Google Glass but usually big emerging tech items are highly visible to anyone.

According to Marks Google Glass has been mocked and even a source of violence! He also points to surveys that suggest Americans dislike and distrust Google Glass. Here is where Google dropped the ball according to Marks:

  1. Noe one knows it Google Glass ever got launched
  2. The design is bad
  3. The timing is awful
  4. The $1,500 price rage is too much
  5. It should have been marketed to professionals and not consumers
  6. No one really knows what it does

Google Glass was a great idea and it might actually still prove to be the next big thing. However Google clearly made some product launch blunders that have limited its chances of success in the near future.

Could the rise of the machines be the end of humanity?

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The future of emerging technology? http://monstermovies.wikia.com/wiki/T-800

Imagine if a machine designed to eliminate email spam decided that the best way to do it was to eliminate humans. According to Tesla and SpaceX C.EO. Elon Musk this could actually happen.

Technology is emerging fast and if you ask Musk it is emerging faster than we realize. A recent Vanity Fair article disused an amazing conversation between Elon Musk and Walter Issacson on the stage at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit.

Musk stated “I don’t think anyone realizes how quickly artificial intelligence is advancing. Particularly if [the machine is] involved in recursive self-improvement . . . and its utility function is something that’s detrimental to humanity, then it will have a very bad effect. If its [function] is just something like getting rid of e-mail spam and it determines the best way of getting rid of spam is getting rid of humans .” This might seem far fetched but do you think Musk has a point?

What Musk is alluding to is not too far off from what we saw in the Terminator movies franchise where super intelligent machines sought to destroy humanity. It might be hard to think that something like this could happen but Musk is a visionary who sees possibilities that other people don’t.

I don’t think your spam filter is going to try to destroy anytime soon but it is worth it for us to be aware of how fast technology is evolving along with what this evolution makes possible.

Should you quit Facebook this year?

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Think about the Facebook environment these days. Your mom, and maybe your grandparents, might be on it. There are ads and auto play videos. You might have friends you barely know who are constantly checking in everywhere and posting too much detail about their lives. On top of all this Facebook is collecting data on you and making it harder to maintain your privacy settings. Is now the time to quit Facebook?

Rene Jacques from The Huffington Post recent posted an article titled  “11 Reasons You Should Quit Facebook in 2014.”  The article was an honest assessment about the state of Facebook and what you have to deal with to be part of the social network. For example, Facebook has slowly made privacy settings more and more complicated. You can no longer prevent your name from showing up in searches unless you change your name or quit Facebook. This slow but inevitable march to no privacy means that more of your information is available to the Facebook universe. Are you cool with that?

Another reason to think about quitting Facebook is that everyone is on it now. This might include your uncles, moms, dads and grandparents. This can be a great way to stay in touch with your family or it could mean that your family can now see every part of your life. They now also have the power to post embarrassing baby pictures of you that all of your friends and coworkers can enjoy. Maybe this is not a huge downside for some people but it is something to consider.

By now you might have a bunch of Facebook friends that you don’t really know or care about and these people might be flooding your newsfeed, When you log into Facebook do you really care about birthdays, a long self serving status or an engagement from someone you don’t even really know?

Facebook has been around for over a decade. Have the downsides started to outweigh the positives of using this social media platform? What do you think?

Don’t let your friend’s Facebook lives make you sad

Is your Facebook newsfeed full of brilliantly posed pictures of your friends doing amazing things? Maybe your friend just finished an epic workout, cooked a perfect meal or took the trip of a lifetime. Maybe your friends do all have amazing lives or maybe you are just seeing their Facebook life.

Social media like Facebook and Instagram have made it easy for people to broadcast positive snippets of their lives and when you see a newsfeed full of this you might feel your life doesn’t compare. According to a recent ABC News article, Facebook May Be Making You Sad, the Facebok effect is for real. A University of Michigan study found out that people become less and less happy as they use Facebook more. The world of Facebook is full of the part of people’s lives that they want you to see, usually this is the best part, and when you see a newsfeed full of this it is easy to get depressed.

Buzzfeed does a humorous job of comparing reality vs what is posted on social media sites like Instagram.

This video from HightonBros might be a slight exaggeration but it does a good job of showing how real life can be different from Facebook life:

In my earlier post I wondered if social media is to blame for the rise in narcism; and the Facebook effect is another thing that has been amplified in the social media world. People still wanted you to envy their lives before they had Facebook. Back then they had to do it with story telling; there was no photo filters and no way to broadcast lives beyond a direct circle of friends. The Facebook Effect is, in my view, another thing that always existed but social media has served as an exponential amplifier.

The battle between planned obsolescence and upgrade fatigue

How do you feel when the newest iPhone and Android device is announced? Does the device that you might have purchased a few months ago suddenly feels old, outdated and worthless? If so then the technology marketing executives have been doing their job.

Philip Schiller, Apple’s marketing vice president, said it best in 2012 at a product launch when he stated “ Isn’t it amazing how something new makes the previous thing instantly look old?” At the time he was unveiling a version of the iPad that was replacing the one that been released just seven months earlier. Tech companies, like Samsung and Apple, need to give you a reason to replace your devices on a regularly basis even if you don’t really need to. At first that reason might have been huge technical innovations. These days that reason is more likely to be the illusion of innovation packed behind a bigger screen or some other marginally important feature.

Nick Bilton did a great job of summarizing this phenomenon on The New York Times blog with his posted titled “Disruptions: You Know You Can’t Live Without Apple’s Latest Glass Rectangle.” He noted that product marketers have been working for decades to make new products make your existing products look old; it is called planned obsolescence. In the 1950s car manufactures would introduce models with larger tail fins that suddenly made the previous year’s models look dated. Each year would introduce a change, which might be purely visual, that reminded the consumer that whatever they currently had needed to be replaced. Does this process sound familiar? Perhaps it sounds like Apple which holds their product announcements each year that suddenly make your current devices seem obsolete. I won’t go so far as to suggest that the products you buy are designed to break on a regular basis so you need to replace them but that does not sound like an impossible concept.

The problem is that the new devices and your current device might not be all that different. Admit it, if you see someone with an iPhone 4 you wonder what is wrong with them even though the iPhone 4 is still a perfectly adequate device. It appears that the pace of innovation is slowing but tech companies still want you to buy new products. Therefore they will introduce larger screens, a new app or, in Apple’s case, new plugs that they hope persuade you to buy a new device.

Bilton points out that some consumers are starting to come their senses and feel upgrade fatigue. He notes that PC sales are stagnant as consumers hold onto their machines for a longer period of time. People are even starting to wait longer to buy new phones. Americans upgraded every 18.7 months in 2007. In the 2010 they waited 21.1 months. These numbers would suggest that many consumers are no longer taking the marketing bait and that they will upgrade only when there is a reason to do so.

Larger tail fins or larger screens may look shiny but are they really worth your hard earned cash even if they won’t make your lives better? Don’t fall victim to a marketing trap by feeling guilty that your 3 month old device is worthless; buy the technology that you think will actually help you live a better life.

The internet wants you to customize your clothes

Emerging technology, the internet for example, has probably already changed how you shop for clothes. Perhaps you researched or even bought clothing items online. Interactive sites are now emerging that could revolutionize your wardrobe into something totally custom.

When I was a kid I did all my clothes shopping at the mall. I would go there, shop in the store, try things on and then buy what I liked and could afford. Then the internet came along. I still did most of my clothes shopping in the mall but I might go online to research and maybe buy something if I knew it would fit. Over time I started doing all my shopping online and can’t remember the last time I was in a mall. How does your experience compare?

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Interactive fashion sites are emerging that may take your online shopping to the next level. According to this article, from Mashable, sites like Blank Label or the World of Alfa have made it possible for your create a completely customized wardrobe using their interactive tools. You can pick the fabric, the color, the size or just about any other detail.

Of course you can see your creation take shape on their site before you order it. You might wonder what happens if it doesn’t fit? Thankfully, most of these sites have an easy return policy. The downside, at least for now, is that customized items tend to be expensive. However, we are in a time when there is a large population that wants everything their way and they want to stand out. For that audience tools like this might be just the ticket. Would you ever consider ordering customized clothes online?

Is Social Media to Blame for the Rise in Narcissism?

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Have you ever gone out to dinner and noticed that all of your friends were checking their phones or even posting selfies? Perhaps you have logged onto Facebook and noticed people constantly sharing too many details about their lives. We live in narcissistic times; is social media amplifying it or just exposing something that was always there?

According to the Is Social Media to Blame for the Rise in Narcissism? narcissistic traits are rising just as fast as obesity amongst Generation Y. There is also evidence that Generation Y values fame, money and self image over helping one’s community. This could be a direct result of this generation being coddled and encouraged for everything they have done throughout their entire lives. 

The article also suggests that people with narcissistic traits tend to be the ones with the most Facebook friends, the most photo tags and the most posts. This should not come as a surprise. These people genuinely believe that others are interested in what they are doing even if that is eating dinner, watching TV or doing just about anything. If they didn’t have Facebook they would find another way to tell people about themselves. 

The data seems to suggest that social media is an amplifier for the narcissistic traits that some people already have. People were narcissistic before Facebook; now it is just easier for everyone to see it.