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tech innovation

Apple's Knight in Shining New Armor Says Best Days are Ahead

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 23, 2012 05:56 PM

Apple nearly went out of business back in the late ’90s, but the creation of the iMac helped save it. Of course, then the iPod, iPhone, and iPad came along, all of which didn’t just change the revenue stream at Apple, but helped the change the culture overall.

Even though it’s already had such recent success, Apple’s SVP of Industrial Design, Jonathan Ive, tells the Telegraph in part two of an interview (here's part one) that the company is still working on its “most important and best work.”

The London-born Ive, who goes by Jony, was back in his homeland for a momentous occasion — the newly minted knight is now Sir Johny Ive, thank you very much. Not that the soft-spoken Brit would want to be called that back at the office.

“We have become rather addicted to learning as a group of people and trying to solve very difficult problems as a team,” the design guru said of his colleagues at Apple HQ in Cupertino, CA. “And we get enormous satisfaction from doing that. Particularly when you’re sat on a plane and it appears that the majority of people are using something that you’ve collectively agonized over. It’s a wonderful reward.”Continue reading...

tech innovation

Disney Research Keeps Uncle Walt's Magic Touch Alive

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 7, 2012 02:02 PM

Disney's R&D unit, the Pittsburgh-based Disney Research, is described by Extreme Tech as “the bleeding edge guerilla technology arm of The Walt Disney Company.”

Disney Research describes itself thusly: "a network of research labs that collaborate closely with academic institutions We're able to combine the best of academia and industry: we work on a broad range of commercially important challenges, we view publication as a principal mechanism for quality control, we encourage engagement with the global research community, and our research has applications that are experienced by millions of people. We're honoring Walt Disney's legacy of innovation by researching novel technologies and deploying them on a global scale." Or as its logo states, it's "The science behind the magic."

One of its latest innovative novel technologies has the potential to make all button interfaces obsolete: Touché, which senses hand gestures and turns the human body and everyday objects into virtual touchscreens. The possibilities are huge, as the presentation below at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Austin, Texas, has demonstrated.Continue reading...

tech innovation

Nike Expands Innovative Flyknit Collection

Posted by Mark J. Miller on April 24, 2012 06:33 PM

Nike is setting a goal to have consumers be able to get their shoes individually made to perfectly fit them. The shoe giant takes another step toward reaching its vision with this week's release of the second round of its HTM Flyknit collection, which features the brand's innovative new technology for customizing shoes that debuted in February.

The Oregonian reports that the company sees Flyknit as “game-changing technology” (Bloomberg Businessweek calls it "the swoosh of the future") because of two different things. One is that it streamlines production (read: lessens the need for humans). When the day comes that robots can do the whole thing, you can expect Nike CEO Matt Parker (and all of the company’s shareholders) to be doing a jig of joy.

The second reason Flyknit is so radical is that it creates less waste. The uppers of Flyknit shoes are constructed as they are needed (on the fly, if you will) rather than with excess material that ends up being scrapped, thereby living up to the Nike Better World eco-platform.Continue reading...

tech innovation

Oakley Aims to Give Google Glasses Some Competition

Posted by Mark J. Miller on April 20, 2012 09:57 AM

Headphone lines are running into every ear and the world is constantly staring into its smartphones, seemingly hoping to be sucked into a virtual mobile world. It does not seem that anyone wants to go without their data at any second of their lives. After all, it could be crucial to know the so-called “Nasty Factor” of a pitch as it happens in the fifth inning of a game in April or to see a celebrity Twitter spat unfold in real time.

The good folks at Google and Oakley want to help you, the teeming data-driven masses, see just what is shaking at all times. Google’s “Project Glass,” which quickly became nicknamed Google Glasses, got some publicity recently when it emerged that the company was developing specs that would allow for data to be projected onto the lenses. Now Bloomberg is reporting that Oakley — also making some noise as an official sponsor of the London 2012 Summer Games — has been working on a similar product since 1997.Continue reading...

tech innovation

AT&T Opens Watson Voice Recognition to Mobile App Developers

Posted by Shirley Brady on April 19, 2012 11:14 AM

While Apple's Siri chats with iPhone-happy celebs and Microsoft brings voice-recognition to Windows Phone via Bing, AT&T has been in the speech recognition business for more than a decade (dating back to the Bell Labs days) with AT&T Watson, which it's now opening to other mobile developers with APIs being released in June.

Not to be confused with IBM's Jeopardy! champ of the same name, AT&T's voice recognition tool transcribes spoken words into text on the fly. In the video above, AT&T highlights how it's making Watson accessible to other developers, who can integrate this technology into their own mobile apps — including in-car connected systems, as AT&T talked up at CES this past January.

tech innovation

What Makes Pebble the Most Successful Kickstarter Project Ever

Posted by Sheila Shayon on April 17, 2012 11:09 AM

Pebble has set a record as the biggest crowdfunded launch in history, all for a new class of device (an e-paper watch?!) pitched to backers via its Kickstarter page. Credit the description for the chic, digital-savvy smartphone accessory:

“Pebble is the first watch built for the 21st century. It’s infinitely customizable, with beautiful downloadable watchfaces and useful internet-connected apps. Pebble connects to iPhone and Android smartphones using Bluetooth, alerting you with a silent vibration to incoming calls, emails and messages. While designing Pebble, we strove to create a minimalist yet fashionable product that seamlessly blends into everyday life.”

Pebble received $500,000 funding in a day, reaching $1 million in investments last week just 28 hours after launch on Kickstarter. By midnight Friday, the little e-paper wristwatch that could had pushed past the $1.5 million mark with 35 fund-raising days remaining. Now it has passed the $3.5 million mark.Continue reading...

tech innovation

Into the Looking Glass: Google Envisions a Day Made of Project Glass

Posted by Shirley Brady on April 4, 2012 11:33 AM

Remember all the buzz about Google Googles, using pictures to search the web? The company today unveiled an Augmented Reality spin of the concept out of its R&D lab: Project Glass, which embeds the web in a modern-day spin on x-ray specs. It's purely spec-ulative, but gives a fascinating view of how Google envisions the future. So get ready for voice-controlled instant notifications in your field of vision.

Google described the AR glasses as: "We believe technology should work for you — to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don't. A team within our Google[x] group started Project Glass to build this kind of technology, one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment. Follow along with us at http://g.co/projectglass as we share some of our ideas and stories. We'd love to hear yours, too. What would you like to see from Project Glass?"Continue reading...

tech innovation

Why Google's Self-Driving Car is a Game-Changer

Posted by Michael Janger on March 30, 2012 05:32 PM

Google this week posted a fascinating video on YouTube showing Steve Mahan, who is blind, driving to Taco Bell on his own, using Google’s pioneering self-driving technology. (It is captioned for the deaf, and audio-described for the blind.)

Google points out Mahan drove this car as an experiment on a “carefully programmed route.” Still, it is a brilliant and necessary application of a technology that was developed with the goal of making driving safer for everyone, eliminate traffic jams, and bring people to their destinations without getting lost. Just as the automobile changed the world at the beginning of the 20th century and introduced the so-called automobile culture, self-driving cars will impact how we live our lives in the 21st century.Continue reading...

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