The Times looks at the commercial promise of neural interfaces and concludes that the crude devices available on the market today will seem archaic in just a couple years. I’ve read enough of pieces like this over the years to realize that tech journalists lack a functioning hype filter. As much as I’d like to believe otherwise, the sixth- or seventh-gen iPad probably isn’t going to include a neural connection. We have yet to understand how to accurately decode brain signals using noninvasive hardware, much less figure out how to cheaply produce that hardware. I have no doubt we’ll eventually see such tech emerge, but it’s probably not as imminent as this article would have you believe.
Comcast recently increased broadband speeds in the Twin Cities area. Unfortunately, my trusty but aging router can’t quite keep up with the faster throughput. I’ll have to upgrade to a new router to fully enjoy my 50mbps connection (and for someone who remembers dial-up speeds, this seems almost comically fast). Routers can be notoriously flaky, so I’m not in a hurry to replace my existing model with something less reliable. This may be one upgrade that I can resist for at least a while.
While cord-cutting (dropping cable television in favor of streaming video over the Internet) is still a fringe phenomenon, the Internet loves to speculate about about if and when HBO will offer a broadband-only subscription. Until recently, network executives dismissed the idea, saying that they were happy with their current business model. But this week, they hinted that HBO could eventually be a surcharge on your Internet bill instead of your cable bill. Possibly. Maybe. In most cases, cable and Internet providers are the same entity, so HBO could probably renegotiate existing contracts.
HBO executives are certainly aware that most networks have digital offerings and that the market is inexorably shifting to on-line distribution models, which makes it more likely than not that we’ll see broadband-only HBO subscriptions in the next couple years. I’d certainly sign up for one, assuming that I can still watch the sexposition on Game of Thrones in all of its sweaty high-definition glory.
The newest addition to my gadget wish list is a Roku 3 streaming box. My TiVo is still one of my favorite toys, but its interface is beginning to show its age (particularly when using Netflix). It also can’t access services I’d like to use such as HBO GO and Amazon Prime. I may wait to see if TiVo will release a compelling new product that can woo me with its shininess. Then again, $99 isn’t a huge investment and I can always give it away easily enough.
I’m still tempted to completely cut the cord, but cable is still handy for football and content that isn’t available on-line yet. Plus, I gots to have my Game of Thrones.
Today I read in my Google Reader that Google Reader is going away. I use Reader to scan hundreds of articles each day, so I’m pretty annoyed with Google at the moment. It’s my primary source for blog material and in its absence I may be forced to wax at length about my daily commute.
“You could use Twitter.”
Okay, who said that? Because you don’t want to fuck with me right now. Twitter has its uses, but I prefer to get my web content in complete paragraphs. Twitter is fine for a quick scan of the latest, but it’s not a convenient way to keep up with a multitude of websites.
Somebody hold me.
On the heels of news that the latest Samsung phone will feature eye-tracking technology, the Times profiles uMoove, an Israeli startup developing its own eye-tracking software that can be used on a variety of mobile devices. Standardizing this technology would be good news for consumers. As much as I like my iPad and iPhone, I may eventually want to use an Android product or something else that isn’t even on the market yet. A standard eye-tracking interface would allow me to use whatever device I liked without losing any functionality. An open source solution would be even better, but that seems unlikely.
Researchers have developed a rechargeable brain implant that can wirelessly transmit signals. If they can get this to work with something like Google Glass, I could finally realize my dream of watching, er, educational content in complete privacy. Because it’s important to have dreams.
I still worry about how upgradeable these devices will be. I don’t want to go through the fuss of getting something implanted in my skull only to discover that the next version has a built-in pleasure center stimulator. Perhaps firmware updates will be available.
A friend and I will be doing a partial computer upgrade this weekend. It all started when I purchased a new video card (a Radeon 7850, for any geeks who might be reading) and discovered it wouldn’t fit in my five-year-old case. I contemplated replacing all of my components, but decided to simply replace the case. Everything else is still running smoothly and I’m not sure I would see much benefit from a newer processor. My trusty AMD Phenom can probably give me another year before it begins to sputter on the newest games.
People give me funny looks when I tell them my PC is not store-bought. And I suppose building a computer is a little archaic in this age of smartphones and tablets. But I get a lot of satisfaction from using a system that I customized to my own specifications. Perhaps this is how my fussier side expresses itself.
Google released a new video showing off its Glass wearable device. The interface is pretty minimal, which is probably a good thing. I wouldn’t want a bunch of icons constantly blinking in the corner of my eye. Google is seeking additional beta testers and I’d be interested in testing it from an accessibility perspective, but the $1,500 pricetag may be a dealbreaker. And that’s too bad, because this could be much more useful to me than Apple’s rumored iWatch.
Here’s the video:
Keeping up with the latest developments in human machine interfaces may require a blog of its own before long. Over the past week, news came of a bionic eye receiving F.D.A. approval and clinical trials beginning for a prosthetic arm capable of delivering sensation to its user. I understand that years of research and development precede these announcements, but this tech seems to be advancing at a quickening pace. Five years from now, re-reading this post may be akin to reminiscing about the emergence of dial-up modems today.