In this episode I am joined by Steve Nicholls (https://twitter.com/nichosteve1971) and discuss podcasting.
The podcast is also available in iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/technology-couch-podcast
In this episode I am joined by Steve Nicholls (https://twitter.com/nichosteve1971) and discuss podcasting.
The podcast is also available in iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/technology-couch-podcast
Listening is one of the key skills in life and it is also the same across the various information streams, however you can get flooded with “noise” that you need to filter out to get to the messages and content that you want to hear about.
I have written in the past about a Personal Knowledge Management System that can be used to help filter out noise and focus on the streams and information that is relevant to yourself.
We have many forms of information streams that can be tapped into such as email and social media platforms. It can take time to keep looking at each stream in turn and scrolling through the history. Many of the streams change at a very fast rate – for example how many people you follow on twitter and who you follow can make a difference. If your following a bot that basically picks up other tweets about a subject and re-tweets them you will be picking up a lot of traffic from many accounts. This can be to coin and old phrase “drinking from the firehose”. You are only able to take in so much information.
Top 4 tips for Balancing the Noise:
Following on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “H is for Hearable”.
A Hearable is a device that enhances or adapts our hearing. The most common developments in this area is the hearing aids to help with hearing and the headphones.
Hearing aids have come a long way from being a large unit sometimes carried on straps around the body to small devices that fit around the back of the ear. There have also been developments which implants have been used to enhance these devices helping the user to hear sounds. Headphones have also used these developments with Bluetooth earpieces that allow the user to listen and talk as an extension to a mobile phone.
Bone Conducting devices allow a device to be placed next to the ear and allow sound to be heard by sending sound from transducers to the inner ear through the skull. This technology allows the user to hear a conversation or sounds through the transducers whilst still being able to hear the surrounding environment. Popular with runners as they can hear the traffic for crossing the road whilst listening to a podcast or music.
Devices are being developed to provide Layering to the sounds to allow the filtering out of some sounds and allowing others. You can purchase noise cancelling headphones today that filter out all of the background noise, however some of this we may still need to hear. Going the other way, Personal Sound Amplifier’s are also available on the market for boosting sounds. Working in a similar way to a hearing aid, a search and rescue team use them for listening for small faint sounds of someone trapped under rubble in a building collapse. shrinking these devices and placing one in every teams ears increases the chances of someone being found in this scenario.
Language translation is another growing area in hearables. The Babel Fish first introduced in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams has spurred a range of companies to design a 21st century digital version in the form of hearable that can translate languages.
“The Babel fish is small, yellow, leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier, but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish”
We are not walking round with small, yellow, leech-like fish in our ears, however we are using the next best thing – the Earbud. Language translators and headphones are being modeled around this concept, providing a compact device that can fit inside your ear with enough charge to keep it running for a few hours and recharging when placed back into its carry case.
The next level of hearables will probably take the form of thin tattoo electronics that could be placed on the skin around the ear and provide bone conduction through small. Hand Phone anyone? (Total Recall 2012) Just place it against a solid surface…”
Following on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “G is for Geolocation”.
The ability to track items and devices is a common technology these days with the prime example being a mobile phone. From being able to pin point a device using triangulation of cell towers being developed into onboard GPS passing location details into applications.
Geolocation provides one of the backbone services of Digital and IoT (Internet of Things) being able to track item or triggering things to happen at certain locations (Automating leaving a geolocation area).
An example of an application using Geolocation is Google. Having Google maps installed on your mobile device and being sigend in allows your location to be tracked. This has the advantages of providing related services:
A new Location Sharing tool allows family members to share their locations with each other. There is also the ability to upload photos of locations based on the GPS tagged information that can be added to the photo when taken.
Location based events can also be triggered using beacons (such as Estimote Beacons) set in locations that can be triggered using applications such as Google or Physical Web. An example of this is beacons placed in a shopping mall by shops providing offers and discounts to those with the applications running, or using the beacons to track shoppers around the shop to identify browsing and buying patterns.
Leisure based activities and gaming are making use of geolocation with the ability to find things such as Geocaches, which has been around since 30 May 2000. Geocaching has evolved to using additional beacons (such as Chirp) and GPS location tools to provide a popular game with over 2.5 million caches and 10 million registered users located around the world.
Games such as Pokemon Go use location and mapping to show Pokemon, Pokestops and Gyms in your area.
As with all services there are opt out options in the applications not to be tracked or give out location, however as we move to a more social and digital society does opting out mean your missing out on services and information.
Following on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “F is for Fitness Trackers”.
Fitness Trackers are one of the most popular wearables available today. They can take many forms with the most recognisable being ones worn on the wrist, others using capablities on mobile phones or devices worn on the chest or embeded into clothing.
The number of devices being sold in 2017 is estimated by Gartner to be around 176 million, taking the categories that have fitness tracking capabilities.
From a basic pedometer function to recording additional statistics such as Heart Rate, Location, Altitude etc. these devices are collecting and generating a huge amount of data. Mainly used on a personal basis, industries are now tapping into this information bank such as Health Care looking at monitoring the health of patients and Insurance companies looking at how an adaptive health insurance policy can be influenced by our fitness.
The power of this data can be seen in the data collected through a popular application called Strava which connects people together to record and share their activities. in 2016 350 million Strava activies were collected and the data is availble to view via Strava Labs which has clustered the information together over a map of the world. At a high level there doesnt look to be a lot of data highlighted however zooming in shows a lot of data in different areas around the world.
Businesses are starting to utilise these devices to benefit the business and employees by collecting data to monitor and analyse areas such as:
The devices are also adapting and evolving to meeting this growing demand.
The trackers are only one part of a solution for collecting the information as shown in the Strava example an integrated analaytical back end is needed to gain useful meaning to the data.
Following on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “E is for Evolution”.
Evolution covers the advancements and new technologies that are shaping the Journey to Digital.
The most impacting area that is shaping the conceptions around Digital is that of the end user devices. End user devices such as Tablets, Mobiles, Watches, Smart Glasses, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, 3D Printing, 360 Degree Cameras, Voice Activated Home Interfaces and Fitness Trackers are probably the most reported on items shaping how we consume and use services and data.
A good way to look at evolution is to recall the number of mobile phones you have had and how they have changed over the years from being large and heavy with the ability to just make a call to being a smartphone capable of providing information and take pictures as well as make a call.
The Evolution of the Mobile Phone in Pictures provides a brief history of these devices and how they have evolved.
From this evolution, the mobile phone is becoming the central hub of the connected person allowing connectivity of the devices that we wear and use and send data to and from the various related services.
Other areas of technology sees competition between vendors driving new developments as they become the first to patent and develop new technologies. Games consoles providing Virtual Reality capability with some vendors now developing Mixed Reality for future releases.
There are also lots of new ideas and products coming out of sites such as crowdfunding and crowd-sourcing sites, some work however some do fail or not enough funding is reached. These sites are worth tracking to see what developments are coming around the corner. (Sites such as https://www.kickstarter.com and https://www.indiegogo.com can provide a glimpse into what is being developed).
However there is as much innovation and development happening in the back end such as Virtualisation, Cloud Computing, Containers, Micro-Services, API’s and Automation. These form an important part of the Digital Evolution as they help deliver the applications and delivery to the end user devices.
Examples of technologies proving containers and enabling micro-services would be a service running on Amazon Cloud, using Docker and Ansible to script automated deployments of servers and solutions with the ability to grow or shrink as need by a business or service.
It is important to understand what is available and feasible by taking advantage of today’s technologies as a step on the Journey to Digital, whilst also keeping a view on the future to help shape a roadmap for your business.
Following on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “A is for Automation”.
Cobots are collaborative robots that work and interact with humans.
Wikipedia defines Cobots as:
A cobot or co-robot (from collaborative robot) is a robot intended to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace. This is in contrast with other robots, designed to operate autonomously or with limited guidance, which is what most industrial robots were up until the decade of the 2010s.
Robots have been around for sometime within industries and work places mainly in manufacturing verticals. These are now moving towards being cobots with many research and development programs now underway within companies and academia to produce the next generation of cobots. From ones that help carry loads and work along side military personnel, assisting a production line assembling items alongside a skilled worker to cobots helping a medical technician with clinical research.
Robots have often been seen as a replacement for humans in many roles. Cobots, however are not, they instead work and interact with humans in various tasks and levels. Cobots have been around for the past few years, mainly in industrial workplaces such as manufacturing, automotive and supply chains. Their evolution is now bringing cobots into many other workplaces and use cases.
Cobots will not replace jobs, but allow a different way of working to be experienced, helping to remove repetitive and tedious tasks allowing the more complex tasks and ones that need more time to be undertaken by the worker. As cobots are introduced into the workplace the adoption of new working practices will help to reduce stresses and improve the workplace.
Following on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “B is for Blockchain”
What is a Blockchain. Well there are lots of articles on Blockchains that explain them, so rather than repeat, I will reference a some colleagues blog posts.
A blockchain– originally block chain – is a distributed database that is used to maintain a continuously growing list of records, called blocks. Each block contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block. A blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the collusion of the network. Functionally, a blockchain can serve as “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. The ledger itself can also be programmed to trigger transactions automatically.”
One common train of thought that can occur when talking about Blockchains is to also think about Bitcoins. Often associated due to Bitcoins using Blockchains for their transactions, there are other uses for Blockchains. A colleague Neil Fagan covers this point in his blog on Bitcoins and Blockchains
Blockchains are secure by design (another colleague Faisal Siddiqi discusses this in his blog post Blockchains and Birthdays). The ledger method makes their use ideal in many industry sectors including, Healthcare, Banking, Insurance and Legal where transactions can be time stamped, verified automatically, encrypted and trusted. This helps reduce the amount of fraud with transactions being proved. Some of these verticals are covered in a number of posts by colleagues listed below with some excerpts from their blogs:
Blockchain or, more precisely, Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is currently one of the hot topics in the banking industry.
Its main focus is on clearing and settlement, where DLT can reduce reconcile efforts, address liquidity needs and accelerate processing. Several reports and studies suggest benefits and substantial savings – in particular, when DLT is applied in financial market infrastructures spanning multiple jurisdictions. But there are also a number of open points, not least in the legal and regulatory realms.
A compelling scenario could be an insurance policy blockchain smart contract with multiple transactions throughout its lifecycle. An initial purchase transaction would trigger an automatic deposit of monetary assets into the contract. A second transaction might add documentation proving ownership and value of real world property being insured. Subsequently, a loss notice event from an external claims system might trigger a Claim transaction which would execute autonomous Verification and Payout smart contracts. The policyholder would not need to file a claim, and the insurer would not have to administer it. This would reduce the potential for fraud, decrease administration costs and simplify the claims process.
In addition to the elegant technology behind distributed blockchain applications, there is a solid business proposition to be made. With Bitcoin having successfully demonstrated the decentralization of money, it becomes feasible to consider that all kinds of other transactions can also be decentralized on blockchains with similar benefits. Decentralized applications are being developed on blockchains for tracking the provenance of diamonds, simplifying interoperability of electronic health records, adding IoT smarts to the power grid and disrupting a range of industries with these other fascinating use cases.
In some cultures, a handshake is as good as a contract. In some situations, emotional intelligence plays a role in shaping how a person responds to another person, and the trust level you build. In the blockchain world, this interaction will be unnecessary; a person will simply trust another through the use of a software program.
There have been many different attempts to create a J.A.R.V.I.S type of AI system to act as a personal assistant, able to interact with you and automate things. (If your not sure what J.A.R.V.I.S is then you need to look up on Marvels Iron Man and his AI Assistant).
These have been from high profile people like Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) creating a version on J.A.R.V.I.S in his home, voiced by Morgan Freeman. This system has linked simple things like lights, music and toasters which all have IoT devices that you can link together, to more elaborate items such as a t-shirt dispenser, motors to open the curtains and face recognition door system. The brains behind is based on a chat bot and mobile app that the user can integrate with. Details in Mark’s blog post: Building Jarvis
Other J.A.R.V.I.S examples and developments range from simple lights and desktop interactions, to Amazon Alexa being used to control interactions with apps called J.A.R.V.I.S.
The explosion of IoT and Voice controls is driving innovation and making it easier to start building your own version of J.A.R.V.I.S. There have been several recent announcements from Amazon that help with this:
Amazon have announced the Amazon Echo Look which is a device that can take a photo of you through an Amazon Alexa providing voice commands for the look and then displaying on your app. Another addition is Style Check which can compare your photos and using machine learning check against the latest fashion advise.
Another announcement from Amazon is LEX, which is the program behind aLEXa (Alexa) which has been opened up for developers to start creating conversational chat bots using voice and text.
For those thinking about an actual Iron Man Suit – Richard Browning is certainly a step closer to that vision – Richard Browning and his Real-Life Iron Man Jet Pack Suit
“Adding J.A.R.V.I.S Project to To-Do List.”
Its easy for the older generations to look at the subjects available at Schools that relate to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and understand the value that they hold in the workplace today, however looking through the lens of young person choosing their option subjects its not so easy.
How do I know? Well, I am basing this on what is going on in my family circle at the moment with my son having just gone through the myriad of options available and what he wants to do as his future career. We now are waiting to see if he has the subjects that he has chosen.
One of the challenges that we faced was that the subjects in the options are grouped into a set of choices and you are steered down a set of choosing one from group A, two from B etc. A formula that seems to be based on popularity of the subject, number of teachers of that subject and the national curriculum at that time. This can be a stress full time for a young person having to make a big life decision about what career path and subjects they should take.
The value of STEM subjects is invaluable to the knowledge and building blocks for a young persons career and for their future.
The internet has made it easier these days to research a career, as you can look at the many available and what types of qualifications are needed for them.
It is also important to look at the future and what is happening in the industries related to that career path. Many industries are increasingly utilising technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things) and Mixed Reality (Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality) to help drive innovation, growth and creativity. These will help shape career paths in the future, for example:
STEM subjects are the core of most of the way that the world works today and will shape the future. Help challenge the way that we think and the way that we evolve.
When choosing your options, my advice is: