“The Only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
How do you respond when a seemingly safe and impenetrable system is penetrated? We all know now to be wary of internet data, and that everything on the connected web is vulnerable, but this fascinating clip from 1988 exemplifies this issue at its heart, when we had just realized the issue existed, and the gravity of that issue.
I’m sharing this as a source of technological optimism: Every unforeseen challenge can be overcome, with a little bit of work. We may not have perfect security (anything but), but we have enough despite amazing advances in technology to provide more than a semblance of safety.
There’s a lot of polarization and fear in the media, over our privacy online, and over the safety of the many web-enabled systems we rely on every day, from our power, to our water, to our cell systems.
We shouldn’t let down our guard by any means, but the retrospect of this incident reminds us that we shouldn’t spend our lives living in fear.
Or you could always put on your tin foil hat, and read this…
You may have noticed my unusual absence. I did too. I got caught up in other projects, and couldn’t get back into things. Well, here I am, back to write every day, and I couldn’t have come back at a better time. Tomorrow we see the latest iPads, Macbook Pros, and (maybe) even an iWatch! We also get a peak at Nokia’s newest Windows phones, and with that, we see into the future of Microsoft as a whole.
Today I’m going to write the first in a (hopefully) continuing series of feature pieces. These new pieces won’t necessarily be focussed on a recently released product, but will instead focus on some interesting topic, or discovery. Without further ado…
Should Crazy Be In Our Vocabulary?
While watching videos of Detective Munch, the law and order character who just ended his 22 year run last week, I came across this fascinating scene from the show “Homicide: Life on the Streets” in October of 1994, exactly 19 years ago. For those of you that don’t know detective Munch from the 10 different series that he appeared on, he’s noted for his conspiracy theories. In attempting to Munch look a bit crazy, and “out there”, the writers correctly called that “soon there’s going to be like 500 channels”. Munch continued “there won’t be any books, or newspapers, or telephones. We’ll only be able to communicate with email, and QVC. We’ll all be interactive”. Characters have a habit of calling him “crazy”, just as you might call someone crazy today, if they suggested that in 50 years we’d all live on the moon.
Sure, we don’t communicate with QVC, and we still sort of have newspapers and books, but none of these things exist in their current state. Digital communications, like “email” has indeed replaced phone conversation. Regular phones have been replaced by smartphones. Newspapers and books have been digitized to death. Each and every one of these mediums has changed dramatically in under a decade. It seemed crazy two decades ago, but it happened, and it happened quickly
I think we should eliminate crazy from our vocabularies. We should eradicate the use of it. Think of the things that just a decade ago were unimaginable: Touch screen, high definition computers that fit into our pockets. Cars that drive themselves. Reasonably affordable cloning devices. We live in an era of reckoning, where millions realize how very wrong they were. Crazy can have other meanings, but often it’s simply a poor substitute for “visionary”. The crazies are those who envision our future without cling to fears that we’d be stuck in the past. Here’s to the crazy ones.
We’ve seen some pretty amazing things on video, like a device that charges phones with fire, and a rocket than can hover, and land precisely where it took off, but we haven’t seen many cooler innovations than Disney Labs’s latest creation.
In a video unveiling this week, engineers at Disney Labs unveiled a method for bringing feel to touchscreens. This isn’t just static touch either, like being able to feel the keys on a keyboard as you type on the screen of a tablet, like the iPad. This is full-blown feeling.
In one example, the engineers had the tablet’s camera videoing what was in front of it, and in realtime, users were able to feel a simulation of what was in front of them. This technology could do amazing things for accessibility, allowing the blind to essentially see, and be more independent.
Beyond that, this could allow for more immersive games (note to any disney engineers reading this: How about a “Pet pluto” game? That would be awesome). The feeling technology could also be a fabulous educational enhancement, allowing students to experience things that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
Taste can’t be far off. Maybe this reporter wasn’t so stupid after all.
See/Feel For Yourself
How it Works:
The screen basically sends teeny tiny low-voltage electric shocks into your fingers as you touch the screen, simulating the friction and resistance that you would feel when touching the real object. This targeted electrocution (if I may so call it that) is what gives you the feeling of touching the object. The shocks themselves are determined by a proprietary algorithm which can supposedly convert 3D surfaces into feelings instantaneously. For more on the technical details, watch the video, and read the paper they published on it.