iOS 7: I Know Everything About You

iOS 7 I Know Everything About You

As we get closer to the release of iOS 7 rumors abound around the exact feature list. The latest is that iOS 7 will have greatly improved facial recognition features including the ability to detect people blinking or smiling in a picture.

Whilst this is great feature candy, I’m skeptical as to how useful this feature is as a camera enhancement. I have a feeling that the majority of camera users will probably be of the opinion that they could…I don’t know…like actually look to see if people are smiling? The blink feature that pauses shooting a picture until after a blink might be more useful but then that might cause you to miss certain “action shots”. Levity aside though it’s not these aspects of facial recognition in iOS 7 that interest me.

We’re all spending more and more time online and it’s not hard to find out a great deal about someone from running a simple Google search. Now imagine an application that takes a simple scan of you from an iPhone and then correlates that scan against a google image search to start with. Hit enough similar images on the internet and you have a selection of sites that relate to the person you’ve just scanned. Now take a look at those pages and see how many times the same name appears. You now have a name. From this information you can determine phone number, address, occupation, friends, interests, all sorts of information.

For the moment it’s all probabilities. The pictures you correlate will give you a probability that you have the right person and a probability that their name will be correct. After you have a name the probability that the other information will be accurate is far higher. How long before you go to a business meeting and from a simple scan the person opposite you will know more about you than they’d glean from 20 business meetings? Interesting and entirely possible future tech even if it does sound like something from a dystopian sci-fi movie. How Google Glass will use similar tech becomes even more interesting.

For the security conscious there are some upsides to this technology. It would be nice if my iPhone could recognise me and unlock when I pick it up. Combined with finger print recognition, another supposed feature of iOS 7, this could make my phone very secure.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Apple implements this feature and what sort of Apps spring up around it.

Forget Google Glass – Take a Look at Recon Jet Sunglasses!

With all the hype around Glass it’s easy to overlook other players in this market. Recon Jet’s sunglasses are really built with sports in mind. Their sleek design and the fact that sports sunglasses tend to be more chunky means that you can wear this device, ski down a mountainside or leap out of a plane and not look geeky doing it. You can even be relatively certain your glasses won’t fall off because Recon Jet have thought quite carefully about balance placing the devices’ batteries on the opposite side of the glasses to the electronics.

The Recon Jet Sunglasses utilize a dual core processor and dedicated GPU. They have WIFI, ANT+, Bluetooth, a HD camera and GPS integrated. Much like Glass, the sunglasses are controlled by swiping on the right hand side of the device and the display, when not in use resides on the bottom right of your screen in your peripheral vision. The choice of a dedicated GPU means that the graphics are sharp and compelling.

Much like Glass, many of the applications for the Recon Jet Sunglasses are still in development but most of the applications are likely to cater to the sports enthusiasts if the marketing is anything to go by: heart rate monitors, timers, geo-location, sports performance enhancement information, etc. They will also include social media integration and audio/video download and upload from other devices.

At a predicted retail price of $300 – $400 dollars this device would certainly make me think twice about purchasing Glass.

I’ve Got A Tricorder and it’s Smaller Than Yours Spock

I remember watching Star Trek the original series as a slightly techno-nerdy kid and being in deep envy of Spock and his Tri-corder. A near magical device that could give him information on everything from someone’s health to how to find the local green grocers. Looking back on it the odd Bakelite black box with the press button controls was a very 1960’s idea of what future technology might look like but like so many things in Science Fiction we can look forward 50 years now and find some startling parallels.

I was intrigued to discover this week that a group at the University of Illinois has invented an iPhone cradle device that can be made for around $200  and turns your iPhone into the equivalent of a $50,000 spectrophotometer.  For those a little less dorky than myself, a spectrophotometer can be used to detect the presence of proteins in various samples of bodily fluid or water which is useful for detection of infection or contamination. As a simple field device for rapid sample analysis this has the potential to save lives and prevent hardship in places around the world where sophisticated medical analysis laboratories aren’t readily available. The whole device increases the size of the iPhone by about 25%.

Not impressed yet? Take a look at Lapka an iPhone device that can detect humidity, radiation, synthetic nitrates and electro magnetic frequencies. By all accounts this is just the start of the small revolution in hand held computing putting all sorts of new diagnostic devices in the palm of our hands. Whether in five years time we’ll be holding this technology or wearing it will depend largely on the success of new augmented reality technologies like Google Glass.  One things for sure though, the next five years will see us having more information about our surroundings than ever before, what we do with that information is still the province of science fiction!

Google Glass – Shut Up and Take my Money?

Google Glass - Shut Up and Take my Money?

I’ve been watching the hype around Google’s new augmented reality product with great interest. Whatever your opinion as to whether you’d be seen dead in public wearing one, even the most hardened technology cynic would have to agree that they’ve captured the public interest with Glass.

I think that deep down anyone with the least amount of “techno-joy” as Eddie Izzard would put it, will love the idea of Glass. There’s something compellingly sy-fy’esque about wearing a device that feeds information directly across your field of vision.

As time progresses the hardware will become smaller and more proficient and the control system easier to use. There is no doubt that Glass fits the mold of a disruptive technology very well. However, it’s adoption I think will depend largely on three factors:

1. Will people feel socially awkward wearing Glass – The current headset isn’t really a fashion statement regardless of how hard Google are trying to persuade us that it is with futuristic depictions of models wearing it. Miniaturization and designer renditions of Glass will help with this in the future.

2. The apps – we love the idea of information relevant to us being laid across our field of vision (Iron Man anyone?) but that information has to be both timely and relevant.

3. The privacy issues – anyone wearing glass can potentially take a video of photo of you without you noticing…not only is this an invasion of privacy potentially but there are copyright issues here. How do you know that someone visiting a cinema isn’t taping the film?

The issues around privacy actually go deeper than this. Imagine your Google Glass can scan someone’s face, recogise them and feed you information directly about them. The issues around surveillance and further erosion of personal freedoms abound.

All this being said I’ll be watching the Google Glass story with great interest as it launches and, yes, I will be getting my pair!