Now for my next mobile computing trick….

October 29, 2011

Our M.C.’s (mobile computers and phones) have come a long way since my first $4,300.00 brick in 1988. Not only in technology and computing power, but in its sheer intrusion in our daily lives.

The resounding comment back then was it’s a fad; it will never catch on; it’s too expensive and really nothing you have to say and nothing I have to ask you is so important that it can’t wait till you get to a land line.

Fast forward to today and we have an Australian population of 22.3 million and 24 million connected handsets.

We already know that today’s mobile phone is far more powerful than the computer that launched us to the moon in the 60’s, but the innovation, purpose and new frontiers are all still ahead of us.

Jason Jordan of Perth’s 6PR and I in our weekly segment had a look over the near horizon of mobiles and chatted about NFC and QR code technologies.

NFC – Near Field Communication – has been on the cards for a while, but is now just about to hit. It is the ability for our mobile devices to set up gateways between ourselves and others and share information and payments, the best way to comes to terms with it, is it to take a quick look at this video.

NFC will be hard wired into new mobile phones within the next 6 months and with some certainty will be a feature of the next iPhone released.

Banks and credit card providers are also pushing hard on bringing this to reality as everyone has a financial stake and incentive in shifting forever the paradigm of technology expense and ownership onto the consumer.

And consumers, once they get used to it, will find it a boon as they use one device for their keys, wallets and communication – the Swiss army knife equivalent of managing most of our day to day affairs in one little handy carry in your pocket device.

QR codes are the other short term new mobile phone toy. It looks like a bar codes on steroids. To activate it download a free QR code reader from your app store (I recommend I-nigma).

This app turns your smartphone’s camera into a QR code reader and allows you to take a picture of the code and for the smartphone to automatically call up the web address and show you its contents – think of it as the mobile phone equivalent of getting a URL in an email, when you click on it it automatically takes you to whatver the sender wanted you to see.

For a really interesting example take a look at how Tesco in South Korea uses it to sell groceries to travellers waiting to catch their trains:

For more on this topic, listen in to this weeks segment:

and listen live each Sunday at 4.40 p.m. (WST)

Teach it forward

October 23, 2011

Those entering the workforce today will have 6 distinct careers and 13 jobs. 60% of the work and tasks they will be doing in their 50 years career have not yet been invented. 30% of them will be working remotely using technology that has not yet been invented.

If tomorrow’s world offers a constant feast of change, new professions, tasks, work-styles and places then it doesn’t make sense to keep teaching our children only about old professions, work styles and methods.

That’s not to say that that what we were taught is not necessary, it is. But what we were taught was perfect for an employment world of career and employment certainty.

Today’s’ classrooms needs to go beyond the 3R’s to teach tomorrow’s leaders how to continuously problem solve, work collaboratively, work globally and seize opportunity.

In today’s radio segment Jason Jordan of Perth’s 6PR and I chatted about tomorrow’s education, the use of technology in the classroom, building classrooms of tomorrow and what new jobs lie ahead.

Listen to this weeks segment now:

and listen each Sunday at 4.40 p.m. (WST)

Do as I say, not as I did

October 19, 2011

This afternoon I spent some time at #OccupyMelbourne protest site, housed poignantly in front of that great five-star capitalist bastion The Westin Hotel.

This make shift shanty community is one of about 1,000 similar communities around the world that have sprung up in the five weeks since Occupy Wall Street began.

Each city group is similar in its informal offering of library, housing, information, kitchen and sanitation, and although each has been sparked by an urgent sense of social reform there is no overarching cohesive theme, approach or member demographic to the occupants and their required outcomes.

Each city and protest is instead a micro example of the issues and concerns of its unique place on earth. Some protests are more violent, some more pointed in their demands. Others are more general in nature and less politically motivated.

From a futurist lens, this is a fascinating social phenomenon.

The first is that things in many ways do not change, today’s agitated and motivated protesters are taking on the capitalist world created by the previous generations anti capitalist protestors of the 1960’s.

This protest, so similar to ones seen in every generation, does have some stark differences though to those that have gone before.

Unlike previous localised mass demonstrations, sit ins and protests, this simultaneous global people powered outcry is nourished by an online umbilical chord, giving it a real-time global consciousness and connectedness.

The notion of being a local, national, global citizen is one that has grown significantly in its importance over the last two decades and these 1,000 protest cities are perfect examples of how this plays itself out today and offers insights into what is to come.

The sexual revolution of the 60’s, brought about by the seemingly insignificant pill , changed for ever the status and thinking of women. It ushered in a new era of female equality and gave final rights to females over their bodies and actions.

This single seemingly insignificant innovation irrevocably changed the fabric of family, society, our belief systems and our sense of normal.

These protests are a similar harbinger of tomorrow’s world.

They demonstrate, through their ability to easily attract a global audience; spread a message through social media and ubiquitous always on technology; to galvanise and motivate; regardless of outcome is a model of the way that we will from here on speak, hear and react to each other.

This, and more made, for an interesting discussion this afternoon, between Adelaine Ng of ABC Australia radio and myself in our regular look at the world ahead (no audio available).

If everyone’s talking, who’s listening?

October 14, 2011

Who the hell cares where you’re having coffee and with whom. Why should I be impressed that you have 100,000 Facebook friends and 1 million twitter followers. Really just get over it and let’s move on.

I hear these rants everyday from my audiences and clients as they collectively pray that Social Media will disappear.

The bad news is it isn’t going to.

Over the last 30 years we have grown ourselves a new shiny virtual planet.

For the last ten years we have tentatively moved our day to day activities into it and begun to look around and wonder what else is out there.

In the last few years, as we begin to feel increasingly at home in our virtual world we eagerly look around to see what our fellow inhabitants are doing and saying.

We peer longingly over virtual fences to discover what our extended family, friends, colleagues and brands are up to and re-imagine ways and purposes to connect and share with our newly acquired extended on-line family and virtual tribe.

Social media is the roots of this new communication and sharing engine.

In this weeks radio segment Jason Jordan of Perth’s 6PR and I chat about what social media really is, what it may become, how to make best use of it and how to remain safe, healthy and sane through the experience.

We also chat about the Occupy Wall Street movement as an example of a global physical phenomenon that takes part of its sustenance from the on-line world.

Listen now:

and listen each Sunday at 4.40 p.m. (WST)

Your brain’s new world

October 11, 2011

Back in the 1950s a cinema in the US tried to push its merchandising efforts by flashing up ‘Eat Popcorn’ and ‘Drink CocaCola’ subliminally through a movie. This sort of advertising is not permitted these days — it probably didn’t work anyway — but advertisers are doing a lot more to influence behaviour using neuroscience.

This could just be the beginning of how marketers and product manufacturers start using our brain. In this edition of BTalk business futurist Morris Miselowski talks about how researchers at the Tel Aviv University have stored some of a brain’s activity on a memory chip. Imagine that, being able to dump part of your brain onto a removable drive. Or plug in the past from someone who has had a more interesting life.

It’s the stuff of science fiction novels, of course, but as we understand more about our brain the more the opportunity arises for products that interface with our brain — like driving your car just by thinking your way through. Morris calls this a brain-machine interface? Where will it all end?

(taken from BTalk)

Listen now (18 mins 58 secs):

One person has made a difference

October 9, 2011

The online virtual world most of us take for granted is only 20 years old.

In the very short space of two decades we have eagerly and voraciously moved our lives and businesses into it and become dependent on it.

Look around you and see people everywhere staring longingly at their mobile screens, checking status, checking in and checking up.

Each seems intent on their interaction, to the point where it appears to the innocent passer-by as if they are greedily sucking air from their virtual breathing apparatus.

This new online and PC world required a pioneer, a visionary.

Someone to stare far into tomorrow and beyond and see what can be done. Someone to bravely say “what if” and then see about getting it done.

In our generation that forward looker was Steve Jobs, pioneering products, brands and people.

He started Apple Computers at a time when the PC was unknown and unwanted. He built software platforms far in advance of their marketplace needs. He innovated digital films when he purchased and breathed new life in to Pixar films. He returned to Apple after his forced departure, to take an ailing almost irrelevant company to corporate world dominance, with a suite of new horizon products that include iTunes, iPhone and iPads.

Steve Job’s gift seems to be his unwavering consumer focused vision of technology and what they could become as he uncannily built category definers that would be purposeful, useful and intuitive.

He thought nothing of relentlessly driving his handpicked tribe to seemingly reach far into the future and drag back to today unseen of and unheard of technology.

His ability to make the world see the future is also clear as he regularly ignited the passion of the everyday consumer, geek and non tech ahead alike, to stand for hours outside one of his global retail stores to be the first to buy and use one of his latest who would have known I needed gadgets.

From a corporate viewpoint he rebuilt Apple over the last decade and a half to tack into the wind. To seek and desire difference in order to find market opportunity. To work for Apple requires checking in the obvious at the door and joining the Don Quixote search for virtual and technological windmills.

This and where to from here for Apple was the on air discussion between myself and Jason Jordan of Perth radio’s 6PR in this weeks FutureTech segment as we paid tribute to the life and times of a gone to soon true innovator.

Listen now:

and listen live each Sunday at 4.40 p.m. (WST)

Heaven just got a hell of a great innovator

October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs legacy will be the cause of much writing and review but his place in history is, I’m sure, certain for bringing innovation and fresh thinking to the brave new computer and digital worlds.

Today as a tribute to the man I am choosing to reflect on his determination to see the future for what it had to be and not merely as a poor reflection of what has been.

In 2005 he told a group of Stanford graduates “remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important”.

His gift to us all is that we figure out, in life, what is truly important to us, steel our determination, gather our courage and go for it.

Adelaine Ng of Radio Australia and I chatted about Steve’s legacy, Apple’s road ahead and where to now for innovation, in our on air tribute to Steve Job.

Listen now:

Grow a brain!

October 2, 2011

There must be something in the water lately, because I haven’t seen so many “human brain” related stories, innovations and breakthroughs for a long time.

This week Jason Jordan of radio Perth 6PR and I chat our way through some of the new horizon research including:

1. a group of researchers at Tel Aviv University have taken the first and very very early steps towards replacing our damaged or faulty brain synaptic micro-circuitry, the stuff that stores our memories and helps pass our thoughts backwards and forwards, with a computer chip.

2. Scientists from the University of California Berkley have been able to peer inside our brain using a fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and with a lot of calculation and effort extract moving pictures that show what we are thinking, take a look:

We also took a quick look at wheelchairs that are activated by your thoughts, Nissan working on brain assisted cars that will know what you want to do and instantaneously correlate that with the car’s activity, what’s happening around the car and up ahead and check whether that’s the safest / best thing to do; and the perennial story of the death of the keyboard and mouse as we tap into our thoughts to type and navigate our way around our computers and devices.

Brain assisted devices, synthetic brains, downloading and storing our memories are tomorrow’s frontier.

The human fascination to understand and tinker with our brains has been there for millenniums. Our understanding of the brain is developing exponentially. Technology and medicine are rising to the challenge and slowly evolving research into purposeful reality. The question is, as always, what will we do if we can ultimately alter and control our brains.

My reality is that we will not automatically all become cyborgs, fused with artificial intelligence, but rather that we will harness this new knowledge (and what is yet to be discovered) to progress our well being, health and longevity.

Doctors already routinely map our brain before during and after operations and treatments. We are already replacing worn out and defective body parts with machines – cochlear implants, pacemakers, bionic eye, stints, artificial hearts, hips and limbs.

That’s not to say we can’t, and haven’t, abused what we discover, but as always these are humans using technology for evil, not technology itself (which is benign in its dormant state) doing the abusing.

Anyway have a listen and let me know your thoughts on this “brave new world”:

and listen live each Sunday at 4.40 p.m. (WST).