April 25th & 26th
287 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Abstract Submission Deadline: January 19th
What does it mean that digital technologies are increasingly a part of...
Researchers at Duke have built a metamaterial array that harvests free energy sources like ambient wifi and microwave radiation:
The device wirelessly converts the microwave signal to direct current voltage capable of recharging a cell phone battery or other small electronic device, according to a report appearing in the journal Applied Physics Lettersin December 2013.
It operates on a similar principle to solar panels, which convert light energy into electrical current. But this versatile energy harvester could be tuned to harvest the signal from other energy sources, including satellite signals, sound signals or Wi-Fi signals, the researchers say.
The key to the power harvester lies in its application of metamaterials, engineered structures that can capture various forms of wave energy and tune them for useful applications.
Undergraduate engineering student Allen Hawkes, working with graduate student Alexander Katko and lead investigator Steven Cummer, professor of electrical and computer engineering, designed an electrical circuit capable of harvesting microwaves.
They used a series of five fiberglass and copper energy conductors wired together on a circuit board to convert microwaves into 7.3V of electrical energy. By comparison, Universal Serial Bus (USB) chargers for small electronic devices provide about 5V of power.
"We were aiming for the highest energy efficiency we could achieve," said Hawkes. "We had been getting energy efficiency around 6 to 10 percent, but with this design we were able to dramatically improve energy conversion to 37 percent, which is comparable to what is achieved in solar cells."
An incredible breakthrough that could lead to ambient charging of mobile devices, simply through the addition of a small array circuit. Carried to a logical conclusion, we could potentially do away with wires, and items as basic as light bulbs could be powered by wifi or cell signals. The communication medium can become the power supply, as well.
American adults this year will for the first time spend more time each day using digital media than watching TV, according to a new report by eMarketer.
Adults in the U.S. are averaging five hours and nine minutes daily with digital media, up from four hours and 31 minutes last year and three hours and 50 minutes in 2011. The amount of time they spend watching TV has essentially stayed flat in that time period. It was pegged at four hours and 31 minutes this year, down slightly from four hours and 38 minutes in 2012.
Overall, the amount of time spent consuming media in all its forms — digital, TV, radio and print — is cranking ever upward, though radio and print are dropping off, according to eMarketer. U.S. adults are spending an average of 11 hours and 52 minutes every day with media, up 13 minutes from last year.
The surge in digital consumption has predictably been driven by mobile. U.S. adults now spend an average of two hours and 21 minutes per day using their mobile devices for activities other than phone calls, up 46 minutes from last year.
There isn’t anybody on earth that’s going to want to hold a tablet to their ear. - Matt Burns, You’re Funny, Huawei
I am betting that this will become the norm, actually. Or doing the equivalent through earphones, which will rapidly be wireless and unobtrusive. Google Glass is the new glowing blue bluetooth earplug, perhaps, but talking into a 7 or 9 inch tablet won’t be odd in 2014. For many, these tablets will become their proximals: the devices they always have within reach.
Which is why ‘mobile’ is the wrong adjective. These are ‘proximal’ devices: the ones we always have near to hand.
Tomfoolery blog, Mobile eats the Enterprise
Marc Andreessen wrote this great article about why software will eat the world. A similar seismic shift is happening because of the sensor-rich computers we carry around in our pockets. In the consumer space, the shift is obvious — mobile devices beat desktop & notebook PC shipments, time spent in mobile apps beats that spent on the internet(daily!), and we’re awfully close to catching up to TV. Mobile usage will be even more disruptive in the enterprise space because it’s accompanied by three tsunamis of changing work behavior:
- We have broken through cube walls: As people increasingly work remotely from each other, it will be imperative to collaborate from wherever we are.
- Power belongs to the People: Mobile workers are not only choosing their own devices, they are choosing their own apps. And these apps better be good, because they know how powerful an app can be, how amazing it can look, and how much it can offer.
- Career employees are gone forever: The parallel forces of hyperspecialization and jobfluidity are requiring teams to be more flexible than ever before.
Though we are already able to see early benefits from mobile use at work, this is just the beginning. Location-aware, context-aware, human-aware computing is here, and as an industry, we are just beginning to understand the possibilities.
At Tomfoolery, when we set out re-imagine how teams communicate and work together, starting with a mobile-focused approach seemed not only smart but it felt like the only way to do it.
It may be a bit precipitous to judge a company’s product strategy by blog post, but I will go out on a limb and say that Tomfollery is going to release awesome software (even if they do quote Marc Andreessen). After all, a company whose motto is this
We believe all work is personal. Tomorrow can’t come soon enough.
is probably hacking interesting software.
It’s a social-mobile world folks…
A recent survey by the Centers For Disease Control discovered that we’ve crossed the halfway point into wirless phoneland:
Over half of American homes don’t have or use their landline, Stacey Higgenbotham
[…] more than one-third of American homes (35.8 percent) had only wireless telephones during the first half of 2012 while 15.9 percent of all households had both landline and wireless telephones but received all or almost all calls on the wireless phones. This means 51.7 percent of U.S. homes don’t have or didn’t use their landlines in the first half of 2012. That’s a 1.8 percent increase from the same period a year ago.
The CDC wants to know because of its interest in health data. There is a generation of products — like testing pacemakers — that rely on landline connections, but I expect that innovation in mobile apps will solve that gap.
Dourish and Bell, Divining a Digital Future. 2011, MIT Press. (via gordonr)
Microsoft is gambling a lot for a chance to fight with Apple, Amazon, and Google for the proximal (‘mobile’) device market. They are pissing off their historic partners, like Dell and HP, by making their first computers ever. The alternative might be to simply become an enterprise software company, milking Office, Sharepoint, and Yammer for the next decade.
I admit I like the keyboard cover idea, but I expect Apple will respond to that quickly.
But it may be too late, since the clients they want to attract with Surface and later products have already moved ahead with deployments of Apple and Android tablets:
With New Tablet, Microsoft Faces a Balancing Act - Nick Wingfield via NYTimes.com
Rich Adduci, chief information officer of Boston Scientific, a medical device company, has more than 20,000 PCs at his company using older Windows. But he has also deployed more than 5,500 iPads to sales representatives and other employees.
A day late and a dollar short?
I am constantly baffled by the microeconomic, inward-focused analysis of what should be viewed as large-scale technoeconomic trends. It’s so off that — from my view point — these authors completely miss what’s going on. The narrative can be so far from touching the causative that a reader of my blog might wonder if we are looking at the same world.
Here’s a fisked example:
In Mobile World, Tech Giants Scramble to Get Up to Speed - Claire Cain Miller and Somini Sengupta via NYTimes.com
The industry giants remain highly profitable drivers of the economy. Yet the world’s shift to computing on mobile devices is taking a toll, including disappointing earnings reports last week from Google, Microsoft and Intel, in large measure related to revenue from mobile devices.
[It was recently shown that as much as 70% of the use of ‘mobiles’ is in the home. So they aren’t ‘mobiles’, per se: they are proximal devices: the com(munication)/com(puting) device always with us. Therefore, much of the narrative about mobile comcom is wrong.]
Investors are in suspense over Facebook’s earnings to be disclosed Tuesday, for much the same reason. Yahoo’s new chief, Marissa Mayer, said on Monday that Yahoo had failed to capitalize on mobile and must become a predominantly mobile company.
[It may seem natural to watch the so-called giants struggle with proximal, but much more of our attention should be directed to what people are actually doing with proximal devices. For example, checking prices online while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores — ‘showrooming’ — is now commonplace. A recent survey showed that 97% of showroomers bought the product searched for online later for less. This is forcing brick-and-mortar to match Internet prices, or die. But by matching low-overhead outfits like Amazon, they will go out of business, just a little bit slower. Google could optimize for that experience, but people are more likely to jump to Amazon. Facebook may be the scene where people chat about products while in the store, but they jump to Amazon to price check.]
Demand for Intel chips inside computers — which are much more profitable than those inside smartphones — is plummeting. At Microsoft, sales of software for PCs are sharply declining. At Google, the price that advertisers pay when people click on ads has fallen for a year. This is partly because, while mobile ads are exploding, they cost less than Internet ads; advertisers are still figuring out how to make them most effective.
[I don’t think this a paragraph: the first half is about declining chip sales because of the rapid shift into a new era of computing, the post desktop era. Interesting, but not as compelling as the economic transition into the postnormal, which is what we are seeing in the drop in advertising revenue on increasingly social proximal devices. I think this is a permanent decrease in value, not a temporary one, not ‘just until things work themselves out’. Where people have better access to more information to inform judgments literally in their hands, the propaganda machinery will simply work less well. Despite the socialwashing going on in business, ads just will never work as well as they once did. Welcome to the postnormal.]
Since its initial public offering, Facebook has lost half its value on Wall Street under pressure to make more money from mobile devices, now that six of 10 Facebook users log in on their phones.
[Betting on a postmodern concept of social networking after we have skittered into the postnormal is not a good bet. Which some of us predicted.]
Making money will now depend on how deftly tech companies can track their users from their desktop computers to the phones in their palms and ultimately to the stores, cinemas and pizzerias where they spend their money. It will also depend on how consumers — and government regulators — will react to having every move monitored.
In addition, Nielsen found that only one in five smartphone users described ads on phones as “acceptable.”
Today almost half of Americans own a smartphone, according to comScore — an astoundingly fast adoption since Apple introduced the iPhone just five years ago. The amount of time people spend on their phones surfing the Web, using apps, playing games and listening to music has more than doubled in the last two years, to 82 minutes a day, according to eMarketer; the time spent online on computers will grow just 3.6 percent this year.
[The shifting grounds of privacy and publicy are still largely not well-understood. At the bottom is a change in identity, which technojournalists don’t want to dig into, except in Sunday supplement pieces advocating spending more time offline and the dangers of ersatz online relationships. However, at core, people’s perceptions of how and to what they are connected are primarily coloring our sense of self and well being: in general, we don’t view it as a privacy/publicy battleground. Facebook and other bad actors think of our interactions and movements as a resource to be stripmined for monetary gain, but the postnormal generation of social startups will more likely find a way to support us in our search for meaning and fulfillment, even if those companies make less money than Facebook would like to. And that search is more likely to play out for most on a proximal device, not the company’s 7lb laptop.]
“What has caught people off guard has been acceleration of the multitude of things that you can do with a smartphone,” said David B. Yoffie, a Harvard Business School professor who studies the technology sector.
“The Web started in 1993, ’94,” he added. “It didn’t disrupt everything for a decade and a half. The smartphone revolution started a half decade ago. Because of the existence of the Web, it allowed the phone to have a disruptive impact in a shorter time frame.”
[Yoffie suffers from thinking about time as a steady state phenomenon. But this is the postmodern, and time is going much faster than it was in the ’90s. The rate of change and innovation (and, negatively, destruction of the old Earth) is happening at a much faster rate. I think this is related to the urban density coefficient that West and Bettencourt discovered: where cities’ productivity is superlinear, growing faster than the doubling rate of population. I think our perception of the passage of time is increasing superlinearly, as a function of the combined social density online and IRL.]
Just another piece about the disruptive impact of mobile devices, and unless you untie the narrative and recast using postnormal eyes, you might think we were still living in 2004, waiting for the social web to happen.
Marshal McLuhan wrote in 1969:
Because of the invisibility of any environment during the period of its innovation, man is only consciously aware of the environment that has preceded it; in other words, an environment becomes fully visible only when it has been superseded by a new environment; thus we are always one step behind in our view of the world.
The present is always invisible because it’s environmental and saturates the whole field of attention so overwhelmingly; thus everyone is alive in an earlier day.