As if everything had a camera…

Cameras. They are in everything. If, and by if I am assuming up front, you agree, that we postulate that the existence of cameras is ok then the conversation has to move on from there. I, however, do not postulate that. In fact, I worry post and ruminate on that very fact often. I think the presence of cameras could be a really bad situation and frankly not that so far into the good night. As a fan of Dylan Thomas I can say now, we need to tread carefully, or we will be in that good night and be left with nothing to say except oops.

Does my image exist separate from me? The answer is yes. Today there are some global programs that many of us have become a part of, that store our pictures forever. In part that is a good thing, in that we as people have our pictures on our passports that can then be shown at a border verifying that we are who we say we are. That is a bad thing because it means that picture has to be updated (every ten years) and has to be kept forever. I lose the ownership of my image at that point. No matter what I would like the situation to be, I don’t own that image anymore. Now in part that is the government of the country I live in saying I am who I say I am, so there is a value to my giving up image ownership.

The other side, the bigger problem goes back not to the voluntary passport or drivers license pictures. The bigger problem goes back to the reality of all those cameras floating around. First off I do truly mean floating, the other day I was walking in the park near my house and saw three selfie drones flying around. There are also larger drones that fly around, but they tend towards open spaces and away from power lines. I also counted home security cameras on my traditional walking path. There are 44. That means my image is sitting on the DVR’s of 30 or so houses. I still own those images, but I can’t make them go away. It becomes a personal privacy issue. I own my image. I choose to have my image on my passport. I do not have to have either a drivers license or a passport. It makes life easier, but I can choose not to have that. I do not choose all the security cameras around me that are capturing my image, however. Those are violating my privacy…

Author’s Note: The reality of the problem isn’t the laws protecting photographers. It is the law now also protects millions even billions of security cameras. While I understand the right of public photography and respect that, I do question the right of security systems keeping my image for a long time.


Security worrier!

More on Digital Cameras…

To continue my ongoing digital camera discussion I was thinking about two distinct camera types that I have alluded too, but not talked about. The first of those is the growing 360-degree market. The second is the AR/VR capabilities that the 360-degree camera opens up. AR allows you to interact with the environment you are in, but add additional components. Hololens from Microsoft is a great AR toolset, where you can interact with your environment and the computing power of Hololens right there.

But the concept of 360-degree cameras is an interesting problem. In part because many are not truly 360-degree cameras. They are a grouping of multiple cameras and the software to bring it all together. The software becomes a large portion of what has to be effective.  In the AR space, you need the rendered image first. VR, on the other hand, is a virtual environment; it can be based, however, on captured images from a camera. So the 360-degree camera can still be used in VR creation as well.

What is interesting to me is the continued development in the space. There are 360-degree cameras that include waterproof cases. Some include selfie sticks (which are great when you need to whack someone’s selfie drone that is buzzing you). There is even one available now that can be directly connected to your cell phone allowing you integrated 360-degree images where ever you are. The market is expanding for functionality. The market for digital cameras is declining, but the attachment world is expanding rapidly!


camera fan

It might be, it could be, a home run!!!!

I am going to expand on the concept of digital cameras a little from yesterday. There are some features that cameras can now offer that expand the ability to interact with the world around us. The first growth area is adding functionality to cell phones. I find myself still using my digital camera but only because it has some functionality that the iPhone doesn’t offer easily.  In part, it just takes better pictures overall. But the iPhone does buy me an interesting ability; it is with me all the time.

One of the connections you can add is a Bloomsky. I share my time-lapse videos every day on my YouTube Channel. I call the feed, yesterday’s weather. But that is a connection, where the Bloomsky sits at my house, and I can connect to it via wifi or cellular data from my phone or tablet. There are some other things you can add. For example, there is a new 360-degree camera add-on that is available from Giroptic. It plugs into the USB, Lightning or Micro USB port of your phone and allows you to add 360 degrees still and video imaging to your cell.

You can also get the FLIR add-on for your phone and take infrared imaging. Or you can use the many add-ons for your phone to make the camera better. I use the Olliclip myself and have been very impressed with the quality of the images. They still aren’t as good as a stand-alone digital camera, but they are pretty good. Add to that some of the new motion reduction systems for handheld cameras (cell phone in particular), and you may end up with better pictures on the phone than on the digital camera.

I will leave you with this thought, a question I have asked a few times now if I knock your selfie drone out of the sky with my selfie stick because you are taking my picture is it ok?

Because the next one that buzzes me in the park to get a better angle is going to be a home run. As in, hit out of the park!


Swinging for the selfie drone fences!

Of digital cameras…

What are the three things a digital camera should do, right now? If you look back over the last five years, that is a moving target. Where in the past it was different than today, the concept of digital zoom being the initial big play. Now, there are some other things we expect from our cameras. The first being the ability to shoot still images and digital video. 4k video is the minimum most cameras offer right now. The big growth area is frame rate.

The video presents images to you at rough 28 frames per second. You can speed that up to 60 or more, thus creating the ability to show a video in slow motion. Or you can intentionally drop frames from the capture rate and create time-lapse images. Those features were available on high-end cameras five years ago. Now you can get those in nearly every cell phone that is sold. Digital cameras will continue to add additional features and functions.

Low light is another area that has improved considerably. Finally, the world of underwater imagery is vastly improved. In part because the cost of the underwater enabled cameras continues to decline. The growth of 360-degree camera services and additional functionality continue to expand. Of course, OIS is one feature that needs to continue to get better (Optical Image Stabilization OIS). Currently, most OIS systems can reduce a level of shaking, but that is the shaking from the human hand. If you are wearing a sports camera and on a bike, the OIS system will be overwhelmed fairly quickly.

Welcome to the brave new camera world!


camera fan

The universe of IoT around us…

spent a lot of time considering the next steps, the next trends and the reality of what technology is. I began looking at, considering and evaluating IoT components for the past couple of years. From smart appliances to sensors changing the world around you, IoT devices are exploding. That explosion remains interesting to me. In part because the market for IoT devices is constantly shifting. It isn’t a set in stone this is what is going to happen.

When I first saw wireless technology I knew, in fact, that what was coming next was more and better wireless. What happened was an explosion of wireless. With IoT, I don’t see only one improved technology. I do see a rise of smart sensors. There are sensors that broadcast all day every day the readings they are taking. As we move into the world of smart sensors they, these sensors deployed, will begin to only broadcast information when there is a change. Today, they broadcast all the time. Eventually, they will broadcast only changes. Where I say this is the range I consider normal, tell me when your readings are not normal.

So that is a direction, smart devices, but the number of those devices is going to be huge. From weather sensors to indoor air sensors the market is huge. Rust sensors deployed on equipment that is outdoors can warn and improve maintenance of machinery. The market is huge. 12 billion devices deployed today (probably closer to 16 billion) means that the number of these devices continues to expand. You can have a seismograph in your home. You can carry a Geiger counter in your pocket. You can tell what the current UV level is, the temperature is, humidity and barometric readings, right on your phone wherever you are standing. The market for IoT and the eventual expansion will continue to be amazing. I knew Wireless was going to take off. I know IoT is going to take off, which part of the IoT market though, I do not know!



Simple is, simple does simple may be good enough…

The concept of simple is critical for technology. Simple is what we try to get to with the implementation of systems. If, you consider the concept of systems they are often very simple. The reality of inputs, processes, and outputs for a system can be applied to almost everything. While the complexity of what is happening can be expanded to more than the three components, it is ultimately just he three. In fact, if you take John Boyd’s exceptional OODA look concept, it fits nicely over the traditional system model. OODA or Observation, Orientation, Decision, and Action fits nicely into the input (Observation) process (Orientation) and finally output (Decision and Action).

But it’s important that we get to simple. The complexity of Technology solutions can cause issues. The reason for this diatribe today is simply pulling various thinking threads together into one space. I spend a lot of time wandering around the edges of technology and don’t always touch base with the core. You need, on occasion to reset where you are with what you are talking about, so my goal is to do that today.

As a software architect, I look for answers where sometimes there aren’t any. The concept of a path forward sometimes doesn’t exist. I do love Robert Frost’s brilliant poem about taking the road lesser traveled. I have to say there are many times when I have come to believe that my path has long been the path less traveled. I don’t have a degree in engineering, so at times the expert culture that advanced scientific and engineering degrees create makes me uncomfortable. I do, however, have a degree in education. My goal is to take complex ideas and break them down so that everyone can understand them.

It is important to remember the why of any technology. For me the why is I love technology. I believe technology has changed the world we are in. I can’t wait to see what is next!


just a simple man…

Cool Tech Wander and a very short rant…

Begin Rant…

As a lifelong technologist, I try to accept there are things I need to let go of. In doing that I don’t waste my time and the time of other’s chasing after a problem I really can’t solve. It is also why I hate the expert culture, where the “loudest and smartest” person always wins arguments. Both drive me up the wall sideways. The reality of intelligence is listening. The smartest person I ever met never said anything during meetings, unless they were running the meeting. They sat, listened and took notes. Later they would talk to other people about their ideas and thinking and come up with a good answer to the problem.

End Rant…

From a what is cool perspective, that is the majority of my technology blogs; there are some cool things shipping or shipped that are now in the market. I’ve been playing with Jibo a lot since he/she/it arrived at our house. With a less robotic voice than many robots and frankly a quirky sense of humor Jibo is entertaining today. The upcoming storytelling and interaction skills make Jibo even more interesting. Telling stories is something that I think will make a huge market impact.

The other thing that shipped recently is the Bixby water jet. A water jet is a personal movement device in the water. It is a waterproof system to allow you to move through the water with power! With roughly 40 minutes of power, you can go more than two miles. As a 12 year old I swam a mile, it took a little over an hour. With the Bixby, I could have gotten that done in less than 20 minutes. Roughly the same speed that we walk the dogs at on land.  We have the swimming version; there is also a Kayak attached and surfboard attached version that allows you to power either of those (as well as a Canoe). For me, the ability to swim faster seemed like a good deal!

Author’s Note: The Bixpy is a crowdfunded water jet. You can imagine why it caught my eye. For the most part it was water, and Jet. The device is very well built. I can’t wait to try it out!