of drones, ROVs and wandering…

The meanderings of my posts lately are not on purpose. I find myself thinking about various things over the course of the day, so I guess it is last thought first blogged! First off in fairness I do wander a lot, because in part that is the job I have. In part, I wander because there are some things I am interested in. My father always said, “be a lifelong learner.” I truly believe that is the way to be and strive to continue learning. It is why I spend a lot of time focused on the art of the possible, but also looking ahead. What is possible today but expensive, could be easily found and cheap in just a couple of years.

I do from time to time talk about the pain of early adoption. I truly loved the Giroptic product, but realize now it was ahead of its market. It is really hard for a technology when it gets ahead of its market. The reality of markets is that without one, companies fail. With one, companies can thrive. But if you miss the market window, you can end up crushed while waiting for the market. Giroptic, a great product was ahead of its market.

This boating season there are a couple of coming technologies that I find exciting. There are two ROV’s coming, (remotely operated vehicles) that I can’t wait to arrive, due later this spring. The ability to see below the surface of the water is always something that is intriguing, at least it is for me! Using an ROV/Drone to see where I currently can’t see is something I find incredibly interesting. I use it to see damage on my roof, pictures under the water and images of people from above.


wondering what I can see

Innovation to “failure ‘vation’”

The fastest way to fail is to build something that doesn’t work. The second fastest way to fail is to build something that is overpriced. Both of these modes of failure frequently occur in Crowdfunding, stores, and flea markets to name a few places. Many more I am sure where these happen as well. The reality of process is always that you have to be careful what you are building, why you are building it, and what you are selling it for.

Innovation is a tricky game, in part because there is guessing involved. No one has the knowledge of the market, supply chain and “consumer” to the point where everything they release leaps off the shelves. Most companies can point to many failures over the years. The original digital assistant from Microsoft was called Bob. The next was called Clippy. While Clippy and Bob both failed, they made the overall potential for Cortana (the new digital assistant from MSFT, better).

The question you have to ask yourself as you, the innovator, begins to build your product is the problem I’m solving more than one I encounter. You see that becomes the market, if it is a problem that 1000 people have, then there a market, 999 people to be exact (since you are the one building it and are most likely part of 1000). No company ever launched and got 100% of the potential market. That means in fairness you will be able to reach 300 or maybe 400 of the 1000 people. That is the sad reality of markets.


great ideas need great markets!

Of running beta products, or NOT!

I don’t consider myself to be a normal technologist. I understand that I go beyond what normal is quite often. It has to do with my interest in what is next. One of the first things I did when I left Microsoft was to join the Microsoft insiders club. The club gets you the latest build of Windows ten early. I have two machines I update to the newest builds and two machines that I leave at a more stable build. The other computer in my office is my work PC, that is always at the recommended OS my company has selected. More for compatibility and also from the I need my work computer to function every single day.

The same I’ve found is true of my phone. I don’t jailbreak or have my phone operating on beta versions of the operating systems. I did that for years, no more. I cannot tell you how many times a day I need my phone, its more than 10. I do not want it crashing because it is the 2 pm bug. I live on my cellular phone.  It is part of the process for me, from car phone to headsets when I am walking around, to be able to connect and communicate. Therefore, a beta OS on the phone doesn’t work for me.

It is funny sometimes when I think about the way things used to be (all beta) and the way things are now (two of five machines beta). I know most people don’t have five computers, and frankly, most of mine are not state of the art (and one comes from work). I am an IT person, after all, PC’s and technology are what I do.

If I had, as a teacher all those years ago, the tools I have now, I would have probably stayed a teacher. I was always looking for ways to integrate technology into what I was doing in the classroom. It was frustrating for me to always be 5 or more years behind. Not, by the way, because teachers didn’t care, rather that there was no money.



The reality of crowdfunding

In the land of abandoned technology, there is a huge number of things that once were that now aren’t. Devices that rose, and then fell quickly. I would love to say I don’t have a lot of those devices, which I always pick the next big thing. I don’t miss, but sadly I do miss. A couple of the painful ones for me in the past year include 15 Indiegogo campaigns that have disappeared off the face of the earth. While I am saddened when a company delivers but then has to close its doors, I don’t consider that a failure, The failure’s come from Indiegogo. I also know my barrage of blogs is impacting Indiegogo, I’ve gotten two refunds from long-silent campaigns in the past month. Only 15 more to go.

I wouldn’t, by the way, keep posting this if Indiegogo even had something resembling customer service. They are great, when you reach out and looking up things you can’t find in your profile, but useless when it comes to interacting with long silent campaigns. If you log into their site, they now have a disclaimer, that crowdfunding is a risk. Crowdfunding is a risk. I agree with that. But with three Kickstarter campaigns that have died, versus 15 on Indiegogo, I don’t buy it from IG. I have backed Kickstarter projects at roughly a 2 to 1 rate over Indiegogo, and other than one interesting project has not backed a single Indiegogo project this year.

I wrote a post earlier this week, about the difference between innovation and market. The market is the potential for your product to be sold. Innovation is the great idea you have. The reality of innovation is the reality of market speed though, not the potential market, but the real market. I suspect the next thing will be the concept of crowdfunding insurance. Insurance would be where your pledge to a project is guaranteed by an insurance policy. Based on my experience, they would have paid out three times for Kickstarter and many more times than that for Indiegogo. In fact, I suspect based on risk an insurance company would never allow Indiegogo campaigns to get the insurance.

The reality of future tech is you have to take risks. The reality of risks is you have to be happy when all is said and done.

I am happy as a Kickstarter backer. I am embarrassed by my former affiliation with Indiegogo.


crowdfunding is the future, Indiegogo is now in my past…

of smart whiteboards and chalkboards…

One of the things that I have chased after in the past few years is the concept of a smart whiteboard. I have a product I love (SmartKapp) hanging in my basement that allows me to use whiteboard markers and share that crawling digitally. I have also used, and still have the eBeam products. I use them on the big whiteboard that has moved upstairs and the two Ideapaint whiteboards we painted on the wall. I have an electronic whiteboard on my iPad as well. It is very useful, and I use it all the time.

The concept of whiteboards represents both an interaction and a bad communication anti-pattern. One of the easiest ways to seize control of a meeting is to grab the marker and head to the board. But static meetings in a room with a whiteboard aren’t the only way people need to interact. Certainly, the SmartKapp gives you the option of using the physical whiteboard as does the eBeam and still share those via Skype or Webex. But there are meetings as well, that are wholly online and again don’t support the concept of meeting dominance.

You need a device (I use the surface book for this) that allows you to interact both with the computer, Web meeting and other users at the same time. Not one person dominating the board as a static picture, More of the global concept of share, interact and save.  The future of work for many professionals will be work where you are, not work in a specific office. Yes, there are jobs that will always require physical presence. But there are jobs that won’t be remote of course (Hi, I am your doctor, I am 3,000 miles away but don’t worry). Those jobs that operate remotely will require better remote meeting capabilities.

Interesting, I still miss chalkboards. My first classroom as a teacher was lined with chalkboards on 3 of the 4 walls (the last wall was windows). I miss that.


days of old…

Shameless review update Bloomsky Weather!

I have talked about and shared about the Bloomsky weather station for a long time. First off, their device application is amazing. I am updating my review of the product because they released a new version of the software. The new version allows you to share your weather station with other people via email The cool thing about the amazing Bloomsky is the creation of Time-lapse video or as I call, Yesterday’s Weather.

You can also view my station’s time-lapse video directly via this link. Of course, I am still posting the time-lapse video on my Youtube channel (as well as another fun videos I have found, use and best of all have personally taken!). I call my Youtube Channel Yesterday’s Weather. My joke or jab at weather forecasting is that when you are predicting yesterday’s weather, you are never wrong! I have published more than 300 time-lapse videos and in all those posts have correctly predicted the weather 100% of the time. The advantage of sharing yesterday’s weather is that it is hard to get it wrong!

Www.bloomsky.com if you are interested in adding a home weather station and joining the Micro-weather revolution. Bloomsky is a fun product that comes in two parts. The Sky looks upward and takes time-lapse video. The storm measures wind, rain and wind direction. Now you can share your weather with everyone. The software (iPhone, Tablets or Android) is also very nice. I use the software all the time. As they continue to add additional features to the overall solution, I will post more reviews.

Micro-weather is the concept of making sure you know what the weather is, near you, with you and ahead of you!

My previous review had Bloomsky a solid 8 out of 10, with this review they move up to a 9!


weather fanatic…

What once was…

I still miss the Circular Slide Rule my father gave me around 1975. I can do more with my iPhone than I ever could with that circular slide rule, but I miss it. Every once in awhile, I look online at the variously available versions of circular slide rules, but none are like the one my father got me all those years ago. I do, realize that over time I have created a memory of that slide rule that probably isn’t real. It was just that when I got it; it was the coolest thing I had ever gotten. Well, see I think that is the exaggeration of that gift. It was a cool gift, but over the years I have gotten many gifts that were cooler. It was just one that was something I treasured until it went missing, then I treasured it more.

Today I am lamenting the fall of Giroptic more. It bothered me when I saw the email from the founder. I had backed their first 360-degree camera via Crowdfunding. I ended up also adding their IO camera to my growing collection. The IO is the camera that connected to the iPhone or Android phone and gave you 360-degree images. The business reality for new technology is two-fold. The first is an understanding of the Total Addressable market. BY adding the IO product, I thought Giroptic had expanded to a new and ultimately a huge market. Personally, I put the overall 360-degree camera market at less than 100 million. But I figured the TAM (Total Addressable Market) for the add-on market in the cell phone world was well more than 400 million dollars.

I suspect that is the fatal flaw for many inventors. Not the reality of invention. But the simple reality of market and market size.

As a look ahead technologist I know I am not a market. I at times may be a market mover or market driver, but for the most part, I am looking at problems before other people consider them problems. The reality for new companies, innovations, and innovators is the reality of getting to the market quickly but also understand what the real market is. I understand the dream, I love the passion, but reality has to be the one thing inventors keep in front of them. Don’t assume the market is infinite!


innovation fan