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.
Wearable tech is currently all the rage, Google Glass is probably the most talked about piece of tech since the iPhone and other exciting products like Recon Jet’s sports sunglasses are capturing our imagination. Into this exciting mix enter the Pebble Smart Watch. Marketed as an E-Paper watch for iPhone and Android the Pebble Smart Watch allows wireless access to your mobile phone to control music, get notifications, use as a sports device or answer calls. The watch face can be fully customized with a range of different displays and the device will run for seven days between charges.
Pebble ran a phenomenally successful Kickstarter campaign generating over $10 M in funds to get the project off the ground. The watch has an SDK allowing developers to create apps specifically for the Pebble. It can currently be purchased from Pebble on pre-order for $150.00.
Italian Technology company Inglobe has been featured on Mashable this week with a new tablet app that turns you into an expert car mechanic. Just point your tablet’s camera at your car engine and the picture is overlaid with all sorts of useful information to make car servicing easier.
This isn’t a new concept, BMW has been looking at this technology since 2008 and other car manufacturers have also flirted with AR.
As a technology this is almost screaming out for becoming a Google Glass application. It’s interesting because it’s one of those use-cases that helps us start to see just how useful augmented reality could be when combined with the right hardware. Holding up a smart phone or pad is unwieldy but this type of app integrated with a pair of glasses becomes really interesting as it could continuously be feeding us useful information whilst we tinker. It will be interesting to see whether the car manufacturers partner google to deliver Glass apps to support their products.
Let your imagination range a little all sorts of interesting augmented reality applications come to mind. In a recent article I featured Google’s project to bring wireless communication to Sub-Saharan Africa; imagine that you’re a doctor performing a new procedure in a field hospital somewhere in the middle of Rwanda. A daunting prospect. Now imagine that you have medical information overlaid across your field of vision by Glass and better still a more experienced colleague is watching what you’re doing through Glass and feeding you advice and instruction.
The potential of Augmented Reality Service Applications is fascinating and is set to revolutionize the way we look at technical services in the future.
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!