Posts by Thomas van Manen

About Thomas van Manen

Thomas van Manen is an analyst and digital/social strategist at VINT. His research focuses on the impact of Big Data, Mobile Information Technologies, Gamification and the Web of Things. He can help organizations roll out a Social (Business) Strategy and provide business managers with analysis on upcoming technology trends. He is the co-author of Game On, a report on the business impact of games and the potential of unleashing game dynamics onto business applications and four reports on Big Data. Thomas is also Chief Editor at the VINT research blog and was part of the HOT100 in 2012, a yearly selection of the most promising alumni in Media & Arts studies.


The Next Google Glass

When speaking to customers, colleagues and friends about wearing a Google Glass, we always end up talking about how small (and therefore less visible) these things are going to get. So it’s obvious that Google is focusing on making the current model look more attractive by partnering with specific partners. So next iterations of Glass should look more slick than the model I have. But a recent announcement and patent show that Google is also working on a real next generation of devices for your face.

It has been known for a while now that Google is working on bringing smart contact lenses to diabetes patients in order to alert them when their blood sugar falls to dangerous levels. The technology at work here are biometric sensors that are designed to read chemicals in the tear fluid of the wearer’s eye.

Now Google has secured two patents in order to do so.


The picture above shows how Google is planning on making the lenses fit. The plan is to both communicate and power the electronics-embedded contact lens with a pair of antennas. This could eventually end up in juts one antenna according to the patent.

You might wonder how you will be able to see trough a chip on our eye? Next to transparent materials, the patent notes that the substrate is too close to the eye to be in focus and it’s positioned away from the center of the eye and, thereby, away from where light is transmitted to the retina.

The point here is that this specific project is wonderful if your a diabetes patient. But the potential for applications of this technology far exceeds only this context. If they can get the technology right, this could well be the future of Google Glass. [Read more...]

5 Friday To Do’s: Google X, Heartbleed, Passwords and Glow in The Dark Highways

I’m always thinking about new ways to structure and share content. We at VINT write our own blogposts, share cool content from other parties here on the blog and also tweet interesting stuff we find on the web. Lately I am really into the format of a curator who shares several types of content in one post, like The Atlantic is doing with their 5 Intriguing Things series and what MIT is doing with the curated reading list.

So to kick off a experiment with a new format: here are 5 things for your friday or the weekend to read, watch, do, be surprised by and to share.

To watch: Visis the Google X lab
Google X isn’t like most R&D labs. Fast Company was granted first-of-its kind access into Google’s top-secret research laboratory, where “moonshots” trump real-world feasibility, and failure is openly encouraged. In this video you will get a grasp on how innovation works at at Google X and how they work towards fast prototyping. Really inspiring. 

To read: It’s Time to Encrypt the Entire Internet
Following the HeartBleed bug, it has become clear (if it wasn’t already) that (cyber)security is one of the main issues that we have to deal with to shape the future. In fact, it’s time for the web to take a good hard look at a new idea: encryption everywhere. Wired. [Read more...]

The Future Of Ownership: How The Sharing Economy Will Change The Way We Live

Scrolling on Twitter, I came across a presentation called the Future of Ownership. This slidedeck tracks and traces the evolution of the collaborative economy and it’s one of the best I’ve seen so far.

Reasons to share stuff instead of owning stuff is obvious most of the time: the average car gets used one hour a day, there are 80 million power drills in America who only get used an average 13 minutes, and an average NYC Airbnb host makes $21,000 a year sharing his apartment.

In the slides the collaborative economy is defined as:

The traditional narrative of amassing material goods and personal ownership is changing. Driven by economics, a desire for experiences, the dematerialization of reality and the collapse of traditional power structures, people are looking to share objects and experiences while working together to create a better future.

[Read more...]

The New Rules of Robot/Human Society

Two weeks back I kicked off what has become a small series of posts on robots. The first post was about if robots will take your job, a study from Oxford University last year found that 47% of U.S. jobs are potentially at risk. The second post kicked of with the following line: “Hey, it’s friday, so why not think about a future in which I for one will obey my robotic overlords”. In this post I shared a small experiment that was aimed to find out how far people would go in obeying the commands of a robot.

Today I want to close the series with a video produced by one of my favorite YouTube Channels called PBSoffbook. They produce awesome video’s on a whole range of topics. This video deals with a society in which robots and humans live side by side. 3 interesting questions: How should robots be programmed to interact with us? How should we treat robots? And who is responsible for a robot’s actions?

Wearable Intelligence: Glass in Healthcare and Energy

One of my thoughts on Google Glass is that it might not be a consumer product after all. Glass is perfect for people working in the field who need information on the go and also need to keep their hands free.

A company called Wearable Intelligence is focused on bringing Glass to some parts of the workforce. They provide a modified version of Glass and have set up pilots in Healthcare and Energy. Check out the video’s.

Diversity in Mobile: So What About The Rest of the Wearables market

A lot of firms are stacking up numbers and graphs to show you how big the wearables market is going to be. Market analysis is pretty optimistic. According to IMS Research, the wearables market is poised to grow from 14 million devices shipped in 2011 to as many as 171 million units shipped by 2016. In a more recent estimate, ABI Research pegs the wearables market at 485 million annual device shipments by 2018. Others say the global annual wearable device unit shipments will cross the 100 million milestone in 2014, and reaching 300 million units five years from now.

This slide by Business Insider sums it all up and it clearly shows two dominant form factors: the smartwatch and activity trackers.

What I think is the most interesting thing about this slide is the part dubbed Rest of Wearables market. As I have noticed before, wearables are a very diverse product category. This weekend I came across an infographic illustrating this argument very well. It shows just how diverse this new mobile form factor actually is, both in hardware shape and size and on the application side as well. Click on the image to enlarge.


Feel like something is missing? Please share your thought in the comments.

A little experiment: Will you obey your robot boss?

Hey, it’s friday, so why not think about a future in which I for one will obey my robotic overlords. Researchers at the University of Manitoba designed an experiment to see how far people would go in obeying the commands of a robot. The test borrows from Stanley Milgram’s infamous obedience studies, in which many participants obeyed an authority figure who told them to administer painful electrical shocks to strangers.

Half the people sort of do what the robot says. Interesting question in the end: “This is just naming files. … What about morally objectionable tasks?

What’s next for the web?

Somehow we keep on talking about the web in phases, like the web is flowing into one new structured phase after another. Web 1.0 was how we dubbed the read-only phase of the web. Then we named it web 2.0 with a emphasis on social, moving from read-only to a more participative form of read and write. Redefining the way we share and interact online.

What comes next after web 2.0? The jury is still out. We have seen different attempts to coin the next phase: from the semantic web, an A.I. web and the internet of things as the web 3.0. 

But rather than looking towards naming and framing, I’d like to talk about what I want for the next web to be. What’s the real deal with the ecosystem of increasing intelligent software services, smaller and more powerful devices and connectivity embedded into everything? It creates an ecosystem in which the user could be at the centre of things. A web, an ecosystem of connected devices and services, that anticipates a users actions, activity and intentions. Basically the web should become anticipatory. I’ve talked about this in several blogposts thus far on mobile, context and anticipatory services.

How? [Read more...]

Will a Robot take your Job? Here’s a Infographic to find out

study from Oxford University last year found that 47% of U.S. jobs are potentially at risk, including including unsuspected ones like police officers. This graphic by Bloomberg, is a representation of that analysis (Click on the image to enlarge).


The Personalisation of Data and Offering Better Services

Initially only financial and product data were saved in databases; today, however, we can even record emotions and brain activity, thanks to advancing technology in wearables and the internet of things. A consumer’s intentions, perceptions, actions and reactions, facial expressions, heart rate – all these personal data are coming within arm’s reach of the information society. This provides a new potential in terms of competitiveness, as described in the report Strategic Information Management for Competitive Advantage, by Gartner analyst Mark Raskino. Fifty years of IT history have demonstrated this development: from payroll-related data, ERP systems and process automation, to “social” data including an individual’s state of mind, as represented below in the journey through history.


Towards smarter ecosystems
In this development, the Internet of Things is playing a crucial part. Clearly the products that enable people’s perception of their environment to be incorporated into IT-systems are developing. It is tricky to predict the exact impact on business, but the direction of the development is becoming apparent. The key idea here is context. If one is aware of the context in which a consumer uses a product, and the consumer’s emotional state of mind when entering a store, new avenues open up for making current IT-systems more efficient, effective and personal. [Read more...]