Do motorcycle riders need a visual display in their helmets?

Recently I had a chance to contribute to a group work on flexible displays and one of their practical uses was having a visual display in a motorcycle helmet. This could be used to display relevant situational information for the rider. While researching my contribution to this I found it really hard as the more I looked into this the more I found that I did not agree with it. Yes this was practical for pilots and maybe military in the field but for motorcycle riders? No ways!

As long as motorcycles remain the same with the rider in control and with the high death rates, adding a visual display will only increase the problem. The biker would need  to concentrate extra hard as he/she has to divide attention between the outside, real environment and what is displayed on the visual display. This creates different sources of attention and some people find it really hard to multi-task therefore creating a recipe for disaster.

I think having a visual display in a motorcycle helmet would be more of a pain than something that would solve a non-existent problem. We would just have more accidents happening as a lapse in concentration could prove fatal. So do riders need a visual display in their helmets? I think not. They need all their faculties to concentrate on avoiding all the cars on our roads and having a visual display is only asking for accidents to happen.


Reality Mining

Reality mining is the study of human interaction based on the usage of mobile phones and other portable computing devices like tablets. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, researchers say can get a more accurate picture of what people do, where they go, and with whom they communicate from a device they carry than from more subjective sources, including what people say about themselves. There is some interesting reading on reality mining especially the benefits on the Bloomberg Businessweek website.

But like all good things in this information age the issue of privacy comes up. It is very important for people to that information is being collected about them. As more and more people nowadays use mobile devices, any information collected becomes very useful and could easily be abused. It could also be put to good use. Just remember that if you have a mobile device, your every move can be tracked.

See how the American military is using reality mining in Afghanistan. 

Innovations by Acquisitions


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Organisations need to continually innovate by creating new products, services and processes in order to maintain their competitive advantage. One way that technology companies are able to innovate and maintain their competitive advantage is by acquiring other companies with key technology and intellectual property. This can include patents, trademarks, production processes, R & D labs etc.

Instead of developing their own technologies, sometimes it is more economical to acquire a company that already has the needed technology. Another reason is to increase market share by acquiring a competitor which allows them to enjoy a cost advantage over competitors.

Find the data website has a lot of information about acquisitions in the technology sector.

The Next 10 Years – Top 10 Most Likely Trends

There are so many unprecedented advances in technology nowadays its hard to predict what emerging technologies will be making the headlines in 10 years time. Thought I should put on my wizard’s hat and try the black magic of predicting the future! So here is my Top10 Most Likely Trends and some from the experts.

  1. Mobile Internet – More and more people are accessing the Internet using mobile devices and it is expected that mobile Internet will overtake PCs as the most popular way to get on the web in 5 years time.
  2. The Internet of Things (IoT) – Cool name and this will be happening sooner than later.
  3. Cloud Computing – This is already becoming very popular and has many advantages for both small and big organisations and individuals.
  4. Smart Textiles – Who doesn’t want to wear clothing that senses the environment and keeps you warm when its cold and cools you down when its hot? Bet you the military can’t wait!
  5. Autonomous Cars – Imagine not having to go for a driving licence without paying for failing and no more drink driving!
  6. 3D Printing – At the rate the technology is growing I will be able to print my house and all the furniture in it.
  7. Flexible Displays – These will virtually be shatterproof as no glass is used. Rollable e-paper, rollable PC, roll-up TV, bendable GPS etc are just some examples of products.
  8. Smart Grids – I think it is time for a radical change in how we get our electricity. The current technology is over 100 years old and is obsolete.
  9. Natural Language Processing (NLP) – Who doesn’t want to talk to their devices naturally?
  10. Affordable Green Energy – Will never run out and causes much less pollution. Cannot say no to that can you?

Well that is my Top 10 but as Andrew Maynard says as with all crystal ball gazing, it’s bound to be flawed. But what do some of the experts say? See their predictions.

Andrew Maynard

Yali Liu

Chetan Sharma

Dr. Hossein Eslambolchi

Apple versus Samsung U.S trial

Anybody been following this? There is a time line about it here. Companies need to be innovative in order to stay profitable and in a billion dollar market like the phone and tablet market there is a lot of competition. This is just one battle going on with companies accusing each other of using each others patents without paying. At the rate new trends are progressing there will be no stop to these battles especially for patents which are essential. What needs to be done seeing that the patent regime in its present state does not seem to be working?

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The phrase “Internet of Things” (IoT) was coined by Kevin Ashton in 1998. He described the IoT as “a standardised way for computers to understand the real world”. Gérald Santucci, Head of Internet of Things and Future Internet Enterprise Systems at the European Commission in his text “The Internet of Things: A Window to Our Future” estimates that the IoT will primarily expand communication from the seven billion people around the world to an estimated 50 – 70 billion machines. Sophie Curtis writing in Techworld estimates the number of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) connections to be as high as 50 billion by 2020 and for these connections to reside within virtually every major market category – from healthcare to transportation and energy to agriculture.

In what is called the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors and actuators embedded in physical objects — from containers to pacemakers — are linked through both wired and wireless networks to the Internet. When objects in the IoT can sense the environment, interpret the data, and communicate with each other, they become tools for understanding complexity and for responding to events and irregularities swiftly. The IoT is therefore seen by many as the ultimate solution for getting fine-grained insights into business processes — in the real world and in real-time. (IoT 2012 Organizing Committee, 2012)

Machine-to-Machine (M2M) is the technology behind the Internet of Things. This is the technology that will enable the smart cities in the future. Already a global organisation to set up standards for efficient deployment of machine-to-machine communication has been set up.

Deployment of physical information system has already started with some of them already working without any human intervention. Patients with chronic ailments can be fitted with sensors and monitored continuously giving doctors early warning of conditions that might result in expensive hospitalisation and care. This alone could lead to savings of billions of dollars by reducing hospitalisation and treatment costs. Businesses will be able to track the movement of their products and in theory never run out of stock. The car industry is already developing systems like braking systems that can detect imminent collisions and take evasive actions.

The Internet of Things has great promise. There are still a lot of business, policy and technical challenges to overcome before it becomes widespread. Challenges like data privacy and security, legal frameworks for bad decisions by automated systems, the cost of sensors and actuators is still high and needs to fall further to a point where it sparks widespread use. Networking technologies also need to improve to a point where there is free flow of data between sensors, computers and actuators.

Eye-Movement-Based User Interface

Lying in bed on a very cold Auckland night, reading a 50 page document on an iPad made me realise how handy it would be if I could scroll down or up a page by using my eyes. Its not fun if you have to take out your hand from under a warm blanket every time you have move down or up the page! This type of user interface (UI) would also be a boon for disabled computer users.

Well it looks like there is quite a lot of movement in the research area on eye-movement-based user interfaces. An alternative to the computer mouse is one example. Another is Tobii Eye Tracking Research. Looks like I might not have to wait long before I can enjoy the warmth of my bed while reading on a tablet or computer while my hands stay warm.

Hijacking a Drone

Would someone steal your drone? Looks like its very possible. So all your data would fall into the wrong hands!

I guess this would happen to any new technology. The worry is if your pacemaker or your insulin pump would be hijacked by a malicious person and reprogrammed to do something else that might kill you. No safeguards are safe with new technologies as people get to use them and others try to find out what their limits are. 

Like anything else that humankind has invented I guess there is a good and bad side to everything. The first cutting tool was probably used for cutting up meat before someone quickly realised that it could also be used to kill another human. Nothing much has changed!


Technology and the Third World

Most people who have never travelled to places in Africa do not know that it is the fastest growing area in mobile phone usage. This is one technology that has had the greatest impact in countries in the third world in a few short years. We tend to take phones for granted but in places like Africa to get a landline is almost impossible and these are luxuries only found in major cities and towns and mostly in businesses and government offices. You will never find a phone in the villages where the majority of the population live.

A few countries like Botswana have put programs in place to install solar powered phones at health centres but this is a slow process. Mobile phone technology has been the answer to this. Zambia for example has 3 mobile phone providers who have been busy trying to outdo each other in putting up towers and covering the whole country. The government is hoping to enable each and every village to have access to this technology.

This has enabled cottage industries of phone repairs, phone charging for a fee in places with no access to electricity etc. Mobile phones are also used to transfer money around the country, find the best markets for farm produce and even phone doctors in the city from remote health centres which do not have doctors on site. Even politicians have got in on the act and send SMS to their supporters during elections.

It is not unusual to see young people on social media sites like Facebook in places where a few years ago had to walk miles to post a letter and hope it got where it was supposed to go. The competition for customers is also driving down the price of phones and the cost of using them.

This is a very good example of a technology that is having a big impact worldwide and is not leaving the third world behind.