$100 Android phones are a way bigger deal than the Apple watch

“The future is already here, but it is not equally distributed”, William Gibson once said. Well, the present (or at least what we call the present) isn’t equally distributed as well. While China is testing out walking lanes for people who are lost in their screens while walking (THIS IS NOT A JOKE), I was looking at a mapping of connectivity data. This map, created by John Matherly of Shodan, shows all the connectivity in the world today.


He used a stateless scanner to send a Ping request to every public IPv4 address and kept track of which IPs responded with a Pong. After the Pong he would find out where the IP is physically located using a GeoIP library (i.e. translates from x.x.x.x -> latitude/ longitude). The map clearly shows some darker areas in which connectivity is not as dense as what we are used to in Europe and the US, or not even existing (although there are some non-populated areas of course).

The next 4 billion connections
That’s why Google’s announcement of a $100/80EU fully packed smartphone is a way bigger deal than Apple’s addition to the growing list of not that impressive smart watches. While the Apple Watch is just adding even more connectivity to those that are already connected, these phones are paving the way for the next 4 billion new users of the internet. With all this talk about disruptive trends, this one truly is disruptive; both culturally and economically.

Culturally, this is about not easing into technology like we did; moving from a computer in the office to computers at home, laptops, dumb phones and eventually smartphones and tablets. This is going from local stories and information to Google’s entire web index. Economically, this is about going from doing business within a 50km radius to connecting to a web that is more and more about transactions and trust. And while $100 smartphones have been around for a while now, they usually do not come packed with functionality like the Android One.

This disruption will only take place if we handle key necessities like devices, content (in native languages), connectivty, power and some kind of transactional/financial protocol like Bitcoin to facilitate money transfers and trust management. This disruption will not take place tomorrow and devices like the Android One are just a start, but this kind of technology news is getting me much more excited than adding a screen to my wrist while still needing a phone to make it work.

The World’s First Hoverbike Could Revolutionize the Drone Industry

The Hoverbike is the result of years worth of R&D. We combined the simplicity of a motorbike and the freedom of a helicopter to create the world’s first flying motorcycle.

When compared with a helicopter, the Hoverbike is cheaper, more rugged and easier to use – and represents a whole new way to fly. The Hoverbike flies like a quadcopter, and can be flown unmanned or manned, while being a safe – low level aerial workhorse with low on-going maintenance.

Read here more.

The Digital Layer: Enchanted Objects

Cover-designDavis Rose is a MIT Media Lab’s researcher and entrepreneur. His new book Enchanted Objects: Design, Human Desire and the Internet of Things came out recently. Last year we sat down wit David to discuss what he calls enchanted objects, or ordinary things, made extraordinary.

To answer the important question of which things we should start to enchant, you just have to study the history of the future and scan for fantasies like the autonomously driving car. Primal wishes are revealed though fables and fairy tales, for instance the talking mirror. Enchantment creates better affordances, like the ambient umbrella which lights up blue when precipitation is likely to occur.

Enchanted objects satisfy our six latent drives, dreams and wishes: omniscience, telepathy, protection, immortality, teleportation and expression.

Asked what special abilities enchanted objects offer, Rose mentions eleven categories: glanceability, wearability, useability, loveability, tangibility, learnability, expressability, gestureability, ingestability, affordability, sociability, and even the smokeability of the Blu electronic cigarettes. Eventually, Mr. Rose is certain, there won’t be a product category unaffected by enchanted objects.

Check out the interview we had with David at last years Sogeti Executive Summit on the internet of things in the videos below.

We talked to David on how adding connectivity to things enables us to build an emotional relationship with objects.

[Read more...]

SMACT 2004-2020: The Final Countdown

Having read my SMACT periodization blog post, many people over the holiday season asked me to draw up a neat picture for publications and presentations around the subject. Here it is! Please respect the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 license and give proper credit. Also see Analytics to Power the Four-leaf SMCT Clover since you may want to use that illustration as well.


Apple Watch Parody

Are we nearing a tipping point for consumer Virtual Reality?

I think we are getting closer. And by close I mean, still a few years away. Like the Palm smartphone was in 2003. Although this technology has a long history, it never did quite made it out of the realm of academics and technology enthousiasts. However, times are changing. Pricing is coming down, the hardware to use VR might already sit in your pocket and mainstream media are slowly starting to hop on the bandwagon.

In the early days of VR in the 1990s when gloves and goggles were super cool it was all about big head mounted displays with a lot of clunky wires and cables. In 1965, Ivan Sutherland (a computer scientist and internet pioneer) wrote an essay titled The Ultimate Display. He envisioned “a room within which the computer can control the existence of matter.” He demonstrated an extremely preliminary iteration of such a device, a periscope-like video headset called the “Sword of Damocles,” in 1968.


VR has come a long way since then. Today, two companies stand ahead of the pack, ready to put a virtual reality kit in the hands of regular consumers: Sony and Oculus, the latter was bought by Facebook for two billion dollars. Is VR ready for the mainstream market? No. Are we heading there? I think yes, here are three reason why. [Read more...]

Interactive shopping

Fraunhofer HHI want to make future shopping trips a special experience by enabling passers-by to operate window displays with hand and facial gestures. Four cameras record the 3-D positions of people´s hands, face and eyes and transform them into commands for selecting and purchasing goods – even after the shop has closed.

Generation IP: 2025

Welcome to Generation IP:2025 by Virgin Media Business — an in-depth study carried out in conjunction with The Future Laboratory – which provides an exciting glimpse into a hyper-connected Britain in just thirteen years’ time.

The Near Future Of Implantable Technology

Jennifer French is the 2012 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, a silver medalist in sailing, and a quadriplegic. She is the first woman to receive the implanted Stand and Transfer system, an experimental device that uses implanted electrodes and an external control device. French injured her spinal cord when snowboarding in 1998, but has since become an advocate for access to neurotechnological therapies, devices, and treatments. She is a co-founder and executive director of Neurotech Network, a non-profit organization focused on education and advocacy. French told her story in her book, On My Feet Again: My Journey Out of the Wheelchair Using Neurotechnology.

Towards a New Legitimacy of Location Data

Today’s rapid proliferation of location data needs to be seen in the light of contextual integrity and the legal concept of purpose binding. These are side constraints on the free flow of information, entailing a balancing act between the liberties of citizens and the free flow of information.


 The challenge is not only that our Big Data Space and the Onlife World turn contexts into moving targets. More importantly, the context of economic markets tends to colonize the framing of other contexts, thus also disrupting the protection offered by purpose binding.

To safeguard informational privacy we need to engage in new types of boundary work between e.g. health, politics, religion, work on the one hand, and economic markets on the other. This eventually should enable us to sustain legitimate expectations of what location messages are appropriate as well as lawful in a particular context.

Interested? Please visit this publication page and download the new research by Mireille Hildebrandt.

Professor Mireille Hildebrandt suggests the following new definition:

Informational location privacy is the freedom from ‘raw’, networked and/or ‘processed’ location data of the referent, the sender, the addressee or the receiver of a message being shared with others without consent or necessity, and the freedom from such location data being shared for purposes incompatible with the explicitly specified and legitimate purpose for which it was first collected.”

If we take the example of Apps on smartphones as a new socio-technical practice, we can describe a series of (new) information flows. These concern location data (temporarily) stored on the device that are sent from the device to app developers, app owners, app stores, Operating Systems and device manufacturer plus third parties such as providers of analytics and advertising networks. It should be clear that we are dealing with observed data, because most users do not intend to send their location data to any of these parties, though they may have provided formal consent in order to get the service they want from the app. [Read more...]