Blog posts tagged with 'Innovation'
Thursday, September 24
Online gaming is big — and getting bigger all the time. And now a new startup is hoping to make a splash in the lucrative gaming market by doing away with pesky discs and taking everything online. Reports Ars Technica:
MIT is playing host to Technology Review’s EmTech conference, which focuses on up-and-coming companies and the new technology they’re bringing to market. Steve Perlman, the founder and CEO of the OnLive gaming service, was given the chance to demonstrate his company’s cloud gaming service, and took some time to explain the technology backing it. OnLive is gaming’s answer to cloud computing: the applications run on hardware in a server farm, while users only need low-end hardware (including OnLive’s own mini-console) and broadband Internet to connect in and play.
While the service certainly has the potential to revolutionize the gaming industry, streaming games over broadband isn’t without it pitfalls — namely, pipes capacious enough to make the experience smooth and, well, playable.
Wednesday, September 23
Geoff Daily at App Rising has an interesting post on how the FCC should be re-imagined in the wake of new technologies:
The FCC has spent decades building up these stove-piped regulations that apply certain rules to certain technologies.
And yet the core challenge the FCC faces in this day and age is the fact that these communications technologies are now merging. The distinctions between phone and TV providers has already disappeared, and increasingly the technologies themselves are combining into new forms that don’t really exist in any one silo.
The FCC is operating in a world now that’s completely different from that of the 20th century. But so far it has not adapted to this new paradigm other than to open up a catchall category of “information services” that has fewer regulations and therefore is the category every service provider wants to fall under. The problem with this is that means the regulations that were in other silos to protect the public’s interests are now becoming marginalized.
According to Daily, the FCC is currently in the midst of an undertaking that can re-define how it operates. The national broadband plan, he believes, provides…
...the perfect opportunity for the FCC to stick a stake in the ground and claim ownership over this issue. Over making sure that plenty of high quality, reliable, and affordable bandwidth is available to all Americans. To get everyone online consuming bandwidth. And to encourage the incorporation of using bandwidth to improve all facets of society.
The whole post is definitely worth checking out.
Wednesday, September 16
Following in Apple’s footsteps, the U.S. government has created its own “app store.” Reports the New York Times:
On Tuesday, Vivek Kundra, the federal chief information officer, unveiled Apps.Gov, a Web site where federal agencies will able to buy so-called cloud computing applications and services that have been approved by the government to replace more costly and cumbersome computing services at their own locations.
The push to promote cloud computing is part of the Obama administration’s effort to modernize the government’s information technology systems and to help reduce the $75 billion annual budget for federal I.T. in the process.
Wednesday, September 02
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is already planning to use everything from Facebook, Twitter, and email to keep people informed about the possible spread of the H1N1 (“Swine Flu”) virus. Now, cnet reports, a new iPhone application aims to give people the power to track the spread on their own.
The free app has a scary name — “Outbreaks Near Me” — and is a joint project of Children’s Hospital Boston and the MIT Media Lab. Hypochondriacs are not encouraged to use it.
Monday, August 31
Here’s an innovative new way to increase viewership of television repeats: Using popular micro-blogging service Twitter to entice eyeballs. Via PC World:
Fox is juicing its repeats of the TV series Fringe with a new Twitter twist. The network will introduce this week “tweet-peats”—an on-screen scroll of Twitter messages from cast and producers that will appear during the episodes.
This has the potential to be insanely popular—not to mention a nice source of revenue for TV networks.
One of the long-standing challenges for online, user-generated encyclopedia Wikipedia has been ensuring facts added to the site are indeed factual. While editor communities and verification have helped in that regard, the sheer number of new facts and articles added to the site every day continues to remain a challenge. Now, as Read Write Web reports, Wikipedia is taking steps to better keep users informed when new facts are added or changed. The plan: Color-coding recent edits until they receive confirmation.
Tuesday, August 25
Information Week reports on innovative online efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to combat the H1N1 virus (also known as “Swine Flu”):
Central to the campaign is putting information on other Web sites, rather than requiring people to come to CDC.gov for information, said Janice Nall, director of the CDC’s e-health marketing division. “We’re trying to reach people where they are, not necessarily expecting them to come to us,” she said. “All of our distribution is on channels that people are already using.”
To get the word out—and most importantly, keep hysteria to a minimum—the agency plans on using everything from YouTube, Twitter, e-mail, and even texting to keep citizens informed. It’s an ambitious and extremely smart plan, and the CDC should be commended.
Thursday, August 20
Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have discovered a way to make robots evolve. That’s cool and all, but here’s the part that should concern all of mankind: Some of the robots that evolved learned how to lie:
By the 50th generation, the robots had learned to communicate—lighting up, in three out of four colonies, to alert the others when they’d found food or poison. The fourth colony sometimes evolved “cheater” robots instead, which would light up to tell the others that the poison was food, while they themselves rolled over to the food source and chowed down without emitting so much as a blink.
Seems like now would be a good time to re-visit Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics.”
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Let’s hope lying and scheming robots still adhere to the rules.
Monday, August 10
A woman in New York has become the first person in the world to receive an Internet-connected pacemaker. Via the Register:
The device contains a radio transmitter which connects to receiving equipment in New Yorker Carol Kasyjanski’s home, using a very low-power signal around 400MHz, to report on the condition of her heart. Any problems are instantly reported to the doctor, and regular checkups can be done by remotely interrogating the home home-based equipment - the pacemaker itself doesn’t have an IP address, fun as that would be.
Interesting sidenote: the spectrum 402-405MHz has been dedicated for use by medical devices, so expect more innovations such as this one in the immediate future.
Friday, July 31
Alcohol companies have long been restrained when it comes to advertising on television, their pitches relegated to cable—and only then during hours when kids are likely to be tucked into bed. But now, Advertising Age reports, Brown-Forman, owners of Southern Comfort, are ditching TV altogether and instead taking their advertising dollars online:
Last year, SoCo spent $6 million of its $8 million measured media outlay on cable TV, and another $1.5 million on magazine ads. This year, both those numbers will drop to zero in favor of online properties such as Facebook, Spin, Fader, Pitchfork, Thrillist and Hulu.
The move won’t just allow Southern Comfort to be advertised on more popular shows, it will help distance the brand from competitors. Whether Southern Comfort will partner with iBooze, however, remains to be seen.
Thursday, July 30
With over 11 million monthly subscribers, the online game World of Warcraft is a force to be reckoned with. It’s also, for many players, an addiction. Enter Dr. Richard Graham, a London psychiatrist, who is proposing an innovative way to help treat players who just can’t get enough: Providing therapy for WoW addiction in the game itself.
Monday, July 27
Telehealth can save money and improve quality of life and quality of care. In Pennsylvania, diabetic patients using a remote home monitoring system averaged hospitalization costs of $87,000, versus $232,000 for members of a control group who received only traditional in-person nurse visits.
Rintels, Jonathan. “An Action Plan for America: Using Technology and Innovation to Address our Nation’s Critical Challenges.” The Benton Foundation. 2008
More facts about broadband and health care.
Cell-phones turned communication wireless. Wi-Fi made surfing the Internet sans cable a reality. Now, via the L.A. Times, word comes that the long-held dream of actually powering devices without cords may soon be a reality. The company behind the innovation, WiTricity of Massachusetts, says their product will be on the market within a year and a half. Stay tuned…
Wednesday, July 22
Ever post something online during a heated moment and immediately regret it? Worried that flame war you took part in when you were younger will come back to haunt you during job interviews?
Up until now, the immortal nature of data on the Internet has been both a blessing and a curse. On the upside, information always remains at hand. On the downside… well, information always remains at hand. But now, as Read Write Web reports, researchers at the University of Washington are working on a way for you to “take back” that unadvisable missive or blog post you fired off without thinking. They’re calling it Vanish:
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Vanish is that it’s capable of erasing messages posted practically anywhere on the web. For example, the system is able to erase messages from any web-based email system like Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo, instant messaging chats, or even social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook.
To accomplish this, the messages sent with Vanish are encrypted with a secret key, never revealed to the end user. The key is then divided into dozens of pieces and sent out over peer-to-peer (P2P) networks - the same ones where music and movie files are traded every day. Because file-sharing systems are in a state of constant change, the various key parts eventually become inaccessible. Once enough of them are lost, the message can no longer be decrypted and read.
Right now Vanish is still in beta, which means you can try it out for yourself.
Information Week reports that the National Security Agency is embracing cloud computing:
The system, currently in testing, will be geographically distributed in data centers around the country, and it will hold “essentially every kind of data there is,” said Randy Garrett, director of technology for NSA’s integrated intelligence program, at a cloud computing symposium last week at the National Defense University’s Information Resources Management College.
The system will house streaming data, unstructured text, large files, and other forms of intelligence data. Analysts will be able to add metadata and tags that, among other things, designate how securely information is to be handled and how widely it gets disseminated. For end users, the system will come with search, discovery, collaboration, correlation, and analysis tools.
The new system, once up and running, is expected to help solve a long-standing problem for U.S. intelligence efforts—namely, a lack of sharing between separate intelligence agencies.
Wednesday, July 08
Spammers may be annoying, but they’re also a highly creative bunch, able to shift tactics on the fly. Their latest move, as the New York Times “Bits” blog reports, is to use popular url shorteners to slip into your inbox:
MessageLabs, a division of Symantec, said today the presence of shortened URLs in spam had skyrocketed over the last few days and now appears in more than 2 percent of all spam.
The company says that the dozens of new URL-shortening services are allowing spammers to evade anti-spam tools that aim at Web domains known for sending spam. The services also inadvertently help spammers trick Internet users who would normally be wary of domain names like, say, Spammy.ru.
Rarely noted about spammers is the fact that they often spur innovation, as developers scramble to make their products more secure. It’s like an online Cold War, with both sides continually re-arming themselves. So while spammers will never go away, at least their presence offers some benefit.
Monday, July 06
Here’s something cool: A new mobile application called Airstrip allows doctors to monitor care of their patients on their phone. CNBC reports:
“With Airstrip, we provide physicians with real time, remote access to critical patient data, any time, anywhere, on their mobile device, with just a cell phone connection,” Dr. Cameron Powell, the company’s president tells us. “It allows the physicians to utilize that internet connection, which is the cell phone signal, to obtain these data…so from the patient safety standpoint, it is critical to be able to deliver these kinds of data to a doctor anywhere they have a cell phone connection.”
Right now the tech is used for fetal monitoring, but the FDA is already reviewing its application for cardiac care.
Monday, June 29
The ease and dependability of today’s Internet makes it easy to forget that it takes a complicated backbone of wiring and cables that makes the whole thing run. This backbone is expensive to build and maintain, and like any complex infrastructure, things sometimes go wrong—such as, say, cables being severed accidentally during construction.
So how do we make the Internet “crash-proof”? Is it even possible? NewScientist has an interesting article on the problem, and finds that while cables will always be vulnerable, focusing on routers may actually make a “crash-proof” Internet a reality.
Friday, June 19
Get ready for a new flood of online video content. Via Read Write Web:
Wikipedia, the free web-based encyclopedia used worldwide, will be adding video to their online repository in a matter of months. When the new system launches, you’ll find a new button labeled “Add Media” on Wikipedia articles. Upon clicking this, you’ll be prompted to search through three online repositories for relevant videos which can be added to the article. You can even select particular portions of the video instead of embedding the entire clip.
Thursday, June 18
Mobile broadband is leading to an explosion of innovations and new services. Case in point: Major League Baseball’s official iPhone app, which is now streaming entire games directly to phones.
While traditional TV still rules when it comes to viewers, MLB’s major play in the mobile space further demonstrates that the future of video is online, be it through a cable to your computer or the air to your phone.