Posts Tagged ‘progress’
Microsoft’s efforts to build out the app ecosystem for Windows Phone 8 appear to be reaching a plateau. Buried in today’s announcement of the Nokia Lumia 928 for Verizon was the fact that the Windows Phone Store now has 145,000 apps, up only slightly from the 120,000 apps announced in October. The figures suggest momentum has slowed after the Windows Phone catalog doubled in size over the first half of last year. And it raises the question of whether developers are shying away from a platform that is still struggling to catch on in North America.
So far, the Pebble smart watch has done little besides offer up watch faces for users to tinker with, but the apps are starting to come in, and today marks the much-anticipated debut of early marquee partner RunKeeper. RunKeeper was an early player in the smartphone-based activity tracker market, and continues to be an industry leader. It was a natural partnership for both Pebble and RunKeeper, and now consumers get to see what the two can do together.
The new Pebble RunKeeper integration works with both Android and iOS apps, and provides the same functionality for both. RunKeeper CEO Jason Jacobs says that his company is very interested in the wearable tech market, and he believes that the key to cracking open a much broader audience for fitness and health tracking tech could be gadgets like the Pebble, which make it even easier to access and use information gathered by tools like RunKeeper.
“What’s really exciting for me is that what people were expecting was that it just makes it easier to have a RunKeeper controller on your wrist,” he said, describing the experience of the Pebble integration’s early beta testers. “But what they’re finding is not only can it do that, but it’s actually more powerful than an app because it’s starting to change the way they’re interacting with the data, it’s more seamless to their experience, it’s not disrupting their flow.”
Jacobs says RunKeeper’s thesis as a company is that that’s exactly what needs to happen in order to help this kind of activity tracker technology find wider purchase among a mainstream audience. “The data needs to be more actionable, and it needs to be proactively given to you so that you don’t need to hunt and look for it,” he said. The Pebble is a good way to achieve that, since it can surface any data that a smartphone, either Android or iPhone, can gather on its wrist-mounted display.
On the Pebble, RunKeeper will display pace, speed, and distance travelled and offer workout start and stop features. It can work with runs, and also bike rides and walks, and does everything most will need to get a lot more out of their smartphone supported workouts right away. It offers RunKeeper a way to compete with wearables like the Nike+ GPS sport watch, all the while allowing them to focus on the tech they do best, leaving hardware to more specialized partners.
“The software is really hard, and we think it’s a really big opportunity, and we want to be the best at the software piece,” Jacobs explained. “Part of that is pushing the phone’s capabilities so that you don’t need hardware, but part of that is also playing nice with all the best of breed hardware that comes out. In terms of being that best of breed hardware ourselves, it’s not in our roadmap or aspirations. It is in our road or aspirations to be a good neighbour.”
This version of RunKeeper for Pebble is just a start, Jacobs says, noting that during the development process they realized they could add in much more, like setting pace on the smart watch, setting distance targets and more. RunKeeper also worked closely with Pebble to get this particular integration developed, and says we’ll see similar UI elements used as other fitness tracking apps come on board. Future work could go into helping RunKeeper differentiate its experience further as the development ecosystem for Pebble progresses.
Jacobs leads me to believe that RunKeeper will be opportunistic about partnerships with hardware companies and other software efforts operating in the same general space, and this Pebble partnership is just one part of a larger strategy to try to find the key to cracking the mainstream market with a product that, while successful, has had more niche appeal up until now. The Pebble is also arguably a niche product, but taken together, it’s possible two things aimed at a very specific audience could combine in just the right way to attract a much broader following.
If you’re into 3D printable stuff, or into remote control cars, then the OpenRC Project is for you. A gentleman in Sweden named Daniel Norée is sharing his progress on a 3D-printed Truggy, as well as sharing the recipe with the OpenRC Project group that he created. A truggy is an off-road vehicle, in case you weren’t sure.
The cost of 3D printers are dropping both for at-home use and enterprise, so it’s a very real possibility that consumers all over the world could soon have these devices in their living rooms. Crazier things have happened. We’ve seen 3D printed iPhone docks, violins, pottery and even a robotic hand for a child.
If you can print out your very own customized remote control car with one, count me in. While not all of the parts are printable, such as the wheels, for really die-hard remote control car fans, those are parts that they probably have sitting around in the garage already.
Here’s a video that Norée uploaded today that showssome of the schematics behind the parts, and the actual 3D printing process using one of those fancy MakerBot Replicators:
The project has come a long way in the past few months, as here’s a video of an earlier model breaking down:
I want one.
While this isn’t the only 3D-printed remote control car out there, the advantage here is that you can follow the progress of the project on Google+ and join the discussion. If you’re ready to print one out, go here.
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Things seem to be rolling along nicely for Kickstarter success story, GameStick. The makers of the compact Android console will be shipping a dev unit later this month, measuring slightly larger than the final version, thanks in part to a Type A USB slot for mousing / keyboarding. The company also used its Kickstarter newsletter to note that the controller is “nearing readiness,” despite almost giving “the lead mechanical engineer a heart attack,” due to its size. GameStick will be releasing an SDK later this week and will be announcing some unnamed partnerships soon (subtly hinting that it will be at ARM’s GDC booth this month). The UI, meanwhile, is pretty much done, and the retail excitement is quite high, according to the company. Hopefully this all means that we’ll be wrapping our hands around the console soon.
Filed under: Gaming
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DARPA made some bold promises last summertime when it announced its Phoenix program to collect dead satellites for still-valuable parts, however it didn’t have a lot more than some concept videos to show at the time. It appears like the agency has been making some steady progression because then, however, and has today launched a new video revealing a few of the work it’s done up with November of last year. As you can see after the break, that work is all still being finishing the laboratory, but it covers several of the elements that DARPA ultimately wishes to utilize in room, including robotic arms and gripping systems. Those tests will stay Earth-bound for the next few years, however an exhibition objective is slated for 2016 to see how the system fares on a real satellite in orbit.
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Question by nurmemmedov: what are the causes and the effects of the progress in the robotics?
Answer by NanaRooskie
You should try reading “Flesh and Machines” by Rodney Brooks. He does a nice cursory overview of the history of robotics and the implications on society of their existence.
Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!
Question by ThatRandomGuy: How will progress in robotics affect our future?
Answer by Mike G
Robotic like machinery, has already been replacing jobs for years. Every job we have, could easily become completely automated. It’s a realistic possibility that we can make things, that will unmake us.
Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!
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what do you mena by “cancellation in progress in Xoom”? Why the balance wasn’t reflected in Paypal funds?
Question by bobex: what do you mena by “cancellation in progress in Xoom”? Why the balance wasn’t reflected in Paypal funds?
Answer by Ben19999
and why did you post this question twice?
What do you think? Answer below!
I always wondered why OS X progress bars had an odd ripple effect and now we know: rippling progress bars seem to move faster across the screen, making you think stuff is getting done faster.
And now you know, and we all know what knowing is half of.
Inventor: Paul Allen
Filed: August 27, 2010
Abstract: A method for preventing innovation, specifically in the tech sector, by way of a dangerous misconception of what is patentable and a sadly overtaxed intellectual property regulatory system.
Summary of the Invention: During a period of change and invention, ideas may occur to a person, and a few possible ways of manifesting those ideas. By instantly submitting a patent request, the person can secure as their own property not only the methods they have actually invented, but all possible derivatives and independent creations resembling said methods. After waiting a suitable period of time, during which the entire landscape of the industry may change, the patent holder then can exchange these patents for riches, while simultaneously nullifying the gains of a decentralized, idea-powered economy.
There are so many things wrong with Paul Allen’s reprehensible and baffling lawsuit that we might do better by trying to figure out what he’s doing right, and then condemn what remains.
Take a look at the patents:
6,263,507: Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data.
6,034,652 & 6,788,314: Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device.
6,757,682: Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest.
Really, at least give them a good once-over. Because they certainly aren’t without merit. The 507 patent, filed for in 1999, is forward-thinking and acknowledges the need (then not particularly pressing) for obtaining samples or a summary of far more information than one could possibly review by simply browsing it. And the 682 patent, from 2000, is right on in suggesting the need for more or less real-time notifications showing items related the user’s interest.
The patents provide some specific implementations of these ideas — good ideas, too. And those implementations should be protected by law, since they are essentially machines invented part and whole by the filer. But the step taken by Allen today and similar steps taken by others in recent years indicate a deliberately overreaching interpretation of what exactly they have been granted rights to.
Here’s a revealing excerpt, from page 16 of patent 682:
It should be appreciated that the present invention can be implemented in numerous ways, including as a process, an apparatus, a system, a device, a method, or a computer readable medium such as a computer readable storage medium or a computer network wherein program instructions are sent over optical or electronic communication links. Several inventive embodiments of the present invention are described below.
Well, well! Apparently they are filing for several patents here. The invention itself, some “inventive embodiments” of that invention, and all possible embodiments of that invention, which they lay claim to simply by suggesting that such and such an embodiment could potentially exist.
Please permit me a slight digression.
A long, long time ago, humans lived in darkness because jealous Zeus had hidden the secret of fire from them. Prometheus felt bad for them, so he smuggled a spark to them in a fennel stalk. Zeus found out about this, and to this day (or so they say) Prometheus is chained to a rock, having his liver torn out daily by an eagle. I like to consider this the first intellectual property dispute.
Paul Allen has appointed himself Zeus in this situation, and is getting ready to chain Google, Facebook, Apple et al. to the rock of licensing agreement, with his crack team of eagles extracting damages from them day after day.
The trouble is, the tale is allegorical, and when you look at it this way, the trouble with Allen’s (and everyone else’s) disputes becomes plain. Prometheus (“forethought”) isn’t just some guy — he’s the embodiment of original thought and invention. Fire didn’t literally get smuggled to us in a straw. Human ingenuity produced that which the powers that be didn’t want us to have.
This is all just a monstrously roundabout way of saying that you can’t patent an idea (I never could resist a classical allusion). I mean, it’s elementary: even if you were to be the first to have it, there is nothing stopping another person from having the same idea occur to them independently. Consider perhaps the most famous example, in which Marconi patented a number of things related to radio transmission, despite Tesla and others having demonstrated it years earlier. The court said some years later, after a number of conflicts:
Marconi’s reputation as the man who first achieved successful radio transmission rests on his original patent, which became reissue No. 11,913, and which is not here in question. That reputation, however well-deserved, does not entitle him to a patent for every later improvement which he claims in the radio field.
Sounds a little bit like what would happen a century after that momentous invention. In the early 2000s, companies taking advantage of the internet were sprouting like weeds, and I guarantee that there was an enormous overlap in the ideas they had for how to display their information, navigate and parse large stores of data, and so on. How could there not be?
If patents granted exclusivity on the scope Allen and his firm think they do, then Marconi wouldn’t have applied for a patent for his method of radio transmission. He would have patented the idea of a box that can communicate with another box, and provided a few possible methods. Someone would have patented “an invention in which people are propelled by a mechanism with wheels.” And as long as we’re at it, why not patent a way of applying for and exploiting the patent process in the way I’ve suggested above? It’s like building something out of LEGO and then patenting LEGO.
“We recognize that innovation has a value, and patents are the way to protect that,” said one Mr. Postman, spokesman for Interval Research Corporation, Allen’s instrument in this drama. To be sure! Unfortunately, the patenting process, as we’ve suggested on this site before, is grossly inappropriate for the current generation of software (and software-like) innovations. Not that the process to blame, exactly: it was just made with a different time scale and invention category in mind. The USPTO says:
Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof
The idea of a process is not a process. The concept of a machine is not a machine. Patents are granted to protect real things — things which are in danger of being stolen. Algorithms, code, exact layouts, specific methods, these are things which deserve patent and should be protected, because they are the informational equivalent of actual manufactured machines and parts. But the underlying ideas for the machines and parts are not protected, first because it would prevent anyone from creating “useful improvements thereof,” and secondly because, as we have observed throughout history, it’s rare that you’re the only one with that idea.
If Allen were suing just Facebook, or just Google, for this or that specific infringement, one might be able to look at the allegations and say “yes, it seems that Google really did replicate this invention rather than creating something new.” But he’s suing all of these companies for the exact same thing, or (as would probably have to be proven in court) slight variations on the theme. He’s suing them for having the same idea as someone else.
It may be that I’m going off half-cocked here (in addition to simplifying things, the better to editorialize), and perhaps it will transpire that all these companies are in fact using some piece of Vulcan-owned property without permission. But I seriously doubt that; over ten years, even an exact replica of the methods described in these patents would have undergone such changes as to make it a totally different “machine.” Furthermore, while it may be legal to do so, strictly speaking, don’t you think it’s arbitrary and opportunistic for Allen et al. to pursue these now, having waited years since they were granted, letting innovations and products arise as fresh targets for litigation, thinking themselves safe from legal predation?
I also doubt this will be adequately handled by the courts, either. Imagine representatives from a dozen high profile tech companies all arguing on different levels against this or that implementation of something the judge has no idea about, and Allen’s team stolidly pointing at a patent clearly granted, yet just as clearly ridiculous to anyone with eyes to see. I’d rather eat glass than preside over such fruitless pageantry.
Could this be a blessing in disguise? I hope (against all odds) that this case gets swiftly and decisively struck down and becomes a useful precedent and bulwark against future patent trolling. That’s a practical deterrent, and as much as patent law needs serious reform, we have to work within the system for the time being. Plus, it’s far more likely that it will drag on and come to a meaningless resolution in a year or more, when the industry will have moved on yet again and the decision rendered doubly moot (if not moot ten times over by now).
This is an excellent way to cancel out the goodwill Allen may have generated by pledging to donate much of his fortune to charity. Everything about this lawsuit breathes greed and obstructionism — not that he’s acting alone, or the only guilty party, but this is certainly a very high-profile and characteristic demonstration of the troubled nature of intellectual property in this country. Luckily for us, the real innovators don’t let this kind of petty meddling get them down.
Props to CrunchGear