Monday, 28 April 2008

Why the future of all computers is beige

Digging around Diggit came across this strangely fascinating article from the Vintage Computer blog. It answers that question that all owners of lovely snow white laptops will utter one day - why has my computer gawn brown?

We have the technology…

A couple of years ago, Jason Bradbury created the phone glove. A relatively simple idea, he took apart a Bluetooth headset and implanted the contents within a gentleman's driving glove. He was then able to answer his phone and even re-dial numbers with a simple flick of his wrist, whilst hold conversations using the classic hand phone aka your thumb and pinkie.

Fast forward to 2008 and Nokia have extended the concept of the wearable mobile phone device with their announcement of Morph-based handsets. Using nanotechnology, the handsets could theoretically clean themselves, recharge by solar energy and even be transparent where that helps and much more.

So what can we expect next? Qualcomm seem to believe a combination of the above, with the creation of a microsite promoting the Hand Solo Phone.

Although clearly a joke and fun marketing activity, it is clear that nanotechnology, once the subject of science fiction movies has moved into the laboratory and we are now exploring the true potential of this technology.

I wonder how long it will be until a similar advert appears on our screens for real.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Technological Fortune Telling

While browsing recent technology news, I came across Michael Chen, this year's winner of the James Dyson award with his ‘Reactiv’ jacket for night cyclists. The James Dyson award is an annual worldwide technology contest, which aims to encourage young inventors to think more creatively.

Chen’s light-up jacket uses movement sensitive technology originally devised for the Nintendo Wii to make cyclists’ movements clearer to motorists. LEDs are sewn into the back of the jacket, and are controlled by ‘accelerometers’. The lights glow green when the bike is moving at speed, and red as it slows down. When a cyclist indicates, their raised arm flashes amber.

Chen’s design has certainly caught the attention of the journalists, and the Dyson Award is the perfect accolade for the launch of his product. But I can’t help thinking that in many ways, awards like these are little more than well educated guesswork.

This is hardly surprising when you consider how so many great technology businesses arose out of real obscurity.

Everyone knows Microsoft was the invention of a student drop out, HP was born in a shed and the Google guys started off making inkjet printers out of Lego bricks and building a solar powered car. Who can say where the next big idea will stem from?

Technology awards provide a great forum for airing the latest trends and developments. But
often the best ideas come from less predictable sources.

If the Reactiv jacket improves road safety for cyclists, we’ll have the Dyson award to thank. However, when it comes to technological fortune telling I suspect we’re still in the dark.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Mobile Monday

I am no longer a MoMo virgin, having been to my first Mobile Monday event. Held in Munich, it was amazing to see how popular and influential MoMo is becoming. People had tried to get onto the guest list and couldn’t.

Mobile Monday has become a true brand. Both the industry and the media are recognising that the event organisers are THE experts in the telco space. The latest example is the article by Jemima Kiss, well known blogger and columnist at The Guardian, who covered a recent London MoMo.

It is great to see how big MoMo has grown since its inception in 2000. I first heard of it only a year or so ago. The events have the reputation of being well organised (I agree from what I have seen in Munich) and attract everyone from telco start-ups to the big brands. Companies on the guest list at the Munich event included Jamba, Microsoft and Netbiscuits.

The idea of organising events to discuss issues in the mobile space was first introduced in Finland where the first Mobile Monday took place in September 2000.

The founders of Mobile Monday decided to form a company with the same name in 2004. In the same year, Mobile Monday went international. The first chapter (subsidiary) outside of Finland was Tokyo, followed by Silicon Valley and Italy. Presently MoMo has around 64 active chapters and has 14 more in the pipeline. The next countries to join will be Estonia, Argentina, the Philippines and Malta.

We’re finding that our clients regard MoMo as an integral element in their communications strategies. If MoMo can maintain the high quality of subject matter and audience its reputation should remain high for several years to come.

Monday, 7 April 2008

A WEEE bit for the environment....

Recycling is a huge topic. Everyone is talking about 'going green', 'recycling', and ‘preserving the planet'. We are all trying to do our bit for the environment both at home and in the office. At GBC, we have been recycling and re-using printer and copier paper for a while now as well as making a conscious effort to switch off PCs, printers, lights and any other equipment which may waste electricity. But what about the disposal of electronic equipment like PCs and printers - do you ever wonder what happens to them when your office decides to get rid of it?

If not disposed of correctly, they end up in a landfill somewhere which has a huge negative effect on the environment. Many studies have shown that old printers contain materials that can make their way into the water system. In turn, this ends up causing a number of different problems for the environment.

A year after the introduction of the WEEE Directive (Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment), the UK now has a nationwide collection and recycling network with 1556 collection sites. Electronic equipment manufacturers as well as retailers are obliged under the regulations to take end-of-life items back or inform consumers of local disposal facilities.

Late last year, on a cold December's day, I visited one of these local disposal and recycling facilities that Toshiba uses, to see for myself how electronic equipment such as printers, copiers and PCs is recycled. To see the recycling in process for yourself, please click here.

Huge corporate printers are shredded into small materials around 100mm in size, before being separated into re-usable materials, such as iron, steel, copper, glass, plastic and aluminium. Most of the material recycled can is sold on or re-used following the process. While vendors such as printer manufacturers are taking the WEEE directly very seriously, UK consumers are also being encouraged to recycle their unwanted electrical and electronic equipment, in a bid to reduce waste going to landfill.

So.. next time you are replacing your mobile phone, home PC, fridge or flat screen TV, consider asking your local authority or retailer on how to do your WEEE bit on recycling.

Friday, 4 April 2008

What's High Tech Really All About?

Perhaps the beginning of an irregular series of doodlings and musings but the whole concept of high tech deserves a good old debate.

This story on today's BBC News website caught my eye (and imagination). The knitting machines at the world's oldest factory still in operation have changed over the centuries but the basic technology is probably the same.

Good technology lasts. High technology isn't simply about junking the old and replacing it with something new. If the technology works why replace it? Surely the best strategy is build on its strengths.

In the case of this woolly jumper factory (is there anything more quintessentially English than this?) the traditional knitting factory technology is being focused on producing quality products. So technology designed for mass producing the woolie items that made Britain great are now producing high ticket fashion items for consumers in the Far East.