Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Best of CES 2013

The recently concluded CES 2013 (Consumer Electronics Show) at Las Vegas, Nevada showcased some of the best breakthroughs in consumer electronics that will soon find their way into the hands of consumers. Here are 5 of them that are worth watching and tracking

  1. Bendable Displays - Gorilla Glass put on display its new bendable glass named Willow. Truly bendable into a full 180 degree arc without any strain, the glass from Corning will herald a new wave of mobile computing devices that will stretch the limit of portability and convenience. Samsung too put up on display its range of bendable displays. It went a step ahead and actually etched out how a futuristic mobile gadget screen would look like on these displays.
  2. Hybrid Computing Devices (Laptops + Tablets): Dell and Lenova led the pack while showcasing the next wave of computing devices. The Dell XPS 12 and Lenovo ThinkPad Helix demonstrated a tablet+laptop hybrid
  3. 3D Printers: 3D printers enable you to print in 3D. Not exactly fresh out of oven, but what's of importance is that speed with which the price of 3D printers is falling and bring them to our offices and homes. CES saw CubeX, a 3D printer maker release several variants priced in the range of $2500 to $3500.
  4. Goliath LED TVs: Samsung unveiled a mammoth 110" LED TV that was a stunner. Samsung's 4K 110" TV dwarfed the already commercially available 85S9 model at 85"
  5. Mind Control Headset: Interaxon, the company behind Muse, a wearable headband uses EEG technique to pick up brainwaves and use them to help control apps on your mobile. On display at CES was a small technology demonstrator that allowed the user to will two circles to overlap and see it happening on the screen as willed by the brain.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Imparting education via Tablets - A Live Experiment Report

The "One Laptop Per Child" program from Negroponteis engaged in some interesting work in Ethiopia where they are distributing tablets to kids without providing them any instruction on how to use them or what they are for.

What's interesting is the speed at which illiterate kids are picking up not just pieces of learning as know to the civilised world but also picking up and even hacking into technology....

Read the full story here as posted by one of my MBA professors, Shlomo Maital
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Monday, October 08, 2012

India joins the Data Democratization bandwagon

Heard of Data Democratization? Well, you might not want to dismiss it as another of the fancy terms geeks keep inventing. It is here to stay and is expanding as you read this post. 

Data Democratization was a term invented to signify the opening up of huge datasets owned by corporations and governments and making the data available to the general public. The public could leverage this data via apps, thesis reports and help contribute to improving the quality of the data and also help bring innovative services that the rest of the public could make use of. The benefits of opening  up of data or "democratizing data" is evident at GapMinder where professor Hans Rosling has used world data made available to general public by United Nations and sister concerns to provide interactive charts that help reveal interesting trends

In this age of tablets, smartphone that have made information at fingertips a reality, the power of harnessing the collective mind of the crowd can pay rich dividends to whoever decides to make their data sets available for public consumption and contribution. US has been on the forefront of this wave and have till date democratized 22 data sets. 

Here comes the exciting part. Indian government too has bitten the bullet with the opening up of their new website Data.gov.in. Still in its infancy, the government has already uploaded sample datasets from the MNREGA, AICTE,National Transport Registry and even list of Allopathic hospitals across the nation. It also has a sample app of the Bhuvan project, ISRO's attempt at providing something similar to Google maps.

What remains to be seen is how this data will start getting consumed. Akin to how BMTC (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation) has democratized data which helps Google provide transit services app for Bangaloreans or akin to how Climate Corporation in USA analyses land and weather data made available to public by the US government to decide the insurance premium payable by farmers based on their locations.
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Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Technology awash Formula 1 Car Racing Sport

The second edition of the Indian Grand Prix (Formula 1 Racing) is due this October 26-28. TV ads are increasing in frequency and so is the buzz around the second race to be held at the Buddh International Circuit, New Delhi.

A causal conversation with friends led to a debate on which sport leverages technology to the maximum. Formula 1 racing pipped the rest to the top. This led me to do a quick check on the facts. 

Formula 1 racing uses almost every advance that technology provides. 
  1. Typically about 20 races are held in a year and the remaining time is spent by the F1 teams in trying to improve every small aspect of the racing machine to provide incremental boost to the driver
  2. Aerodynamics of the Formula 1 racing car is the #1 area of focus. Supercomputers for Computational Fluid Dynamics simulation that replace wind tunnels and help the R&D teams to study changes to a car's stability, speed and maneuverability resulting from changes to the design. These supercomputers pack the processing power equivalent to 40,000 modern day PCs - about 40 tera flops of processing power. There is also an upper limit that is set by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) governing body.About 40% of a R&D team typically is focused on this single area.
  3. There are close to 100-150 sensors embedded across the car's body which pump out telemetry data during a race continually to the pit crew. The pit crew is a full-time staff of half a dozen engineers and mathematicians devoted to analyzing the right combination of fuel load and tire changes and when and how many pit stops to make during a race. They use the telemetry data to analyze car performance and relay feedback to the driver.
  4. Simulation is also used to design the F1 track. Computers are extensively used to understand and simulate the kind of G-Forces experienced by drivers during the turns and bends and keep these forces within sport's regulations.

Here's a video that shows more for the tech fanatic in you....

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Remember Chandamama stories....Now you can access them online

I have been a fan of Chandamama stories and I had written an earlier post on Chandamama going online.

Chandamama now is available online. You can read stories of Chandamama dating back to June, 1955 all the way upto the last issue. Not just that, you can select the language in which to read the story in. Man, the good old days are back here. Click here for the archives. Thanks to technology, Chandamama can be savored by our children and theirs too...

Thanks to Vasuki who refreshed my memory of this link via a Facebook post.
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Leap Motion - Bringing to Life the scene from Minority Report

I came across an amazing next generation computing interface company named Leap Motion. The company has invented a small rectangular piece of computing hardware that generates an invisible fabric of waves in front of a screen. You could then interact with this fabric and your inputs are translated into action on the screen of the computer.

You could zoom, rotate, pinch, cut, slash, play, input commands - all at the gesture of your fingers.

Have a look here

Imagine the possibilities when this launches. Steering wheels on cars can be done away with, students can interact with the blackboard right from their seats in the class room, tablets can get empowered enough to start replacing laptops....

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Big Data principles harnessed by Mumbai Dabbawallas

A well written article chronicling how the Mumbai Dabbawallas use the same principles that are the force behind the Big Data technologies today. Titled "What is Common between Mumbai Dabbawalas and Apache Hadoop?", the article details out how the entire process of collecting, shuffling, sorting and delivering tiffin boxes by the Mumbai Dabbawallas is akin to the MapReduce algorithm that is key to dealing with huge data collections.

Here's the crux of the article

  • Just like HDFS slices and distributes the chunk of data to individual nodes, each household submits the lunchbox to a Dabbawala.
  • All the lunchboxes are collected at the common place for tagging them and to put them into carriages with unique codes. This is the job of the Mapper!
  • Based on the code, carriages that need to go to the common destination are sorted and on-boarded to the respective trains. This is called Shuffle and Sort phase in MapReduce.
  • At each railway station, the Dabbawala picks up the carriage and delivers each box in that to respective customers. This is the Reduce phase.

Whats your take on this?

Strongly recommend you read the full article here

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