My Vision for the Ultimate Smart TV

Image: © Samsung

Image: © Samsung

Many companies have tried to unleash the “smart” trend onto TV’s, but it hasn’t completely caught on. Samsung has a brand of Smart TV’s. So do Sony and LG. Google has a $30 plugin option dubbed chromecast that tries to make regular TV’s smarter. And, there’s rumors that Apple is looking into entering the TV market–maybe as soon as this year.

Here’s what makes creating a great smart TV difficult. It’s hard to make the experience personal and dynamic, because the TV is so detached from our realm of interaction. Even with a remote, interacting with the TV is a complicated experience compared to others, because you can’t manipulate it using the controller and see what’s happening at the same time. This is why there’s been a push to use smartphones as controllers.

So, what can be done? First, we need a controller with a nice touch screen, and buttons. Buttons allow the user to see the TV while changing the content because with buttons you can just feel around without looking down. The touch screen would allow for more complicated options, and the ability to see content while looking away from the screen.

My next idea, which is the better idea as far as controlling, is to remove the remote from the equation, using hand and arm motions along with voice recognition for control. This would make for the smoothest experience. Using the technology from Siri, Apple could definitely make this happen.

Finally, because smart TV’s will undoubtedly be expensive it is imperative that they have high quality design to attract their customer base. This means having a thin exterior, 4K resolution, and advanced programming that can change brightness and contrast of localized areas of the screen, according to shadows and light in a certain room.

The good thing about this is that all these ingredients already exist. Now, all we need is for a company to come along and compile them together smoothly, creating an experience our smart TV viewers can enjoy.

Invisible, Weightless Money

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The exchange of money has developed in numerous ways over human history. At one point, people traded clay tablets which signified an amount of crops to be paid at the end of the season. Eventually, coins became popular. Then came paper currency and in the past fifty years credit cards. The general trend has been to make transactions as simple and weightless as possible. Recently, the race has begun to make money completely weightless, using today’s and tomorrow’s technology to make it happen.

One method being implemented is payment using smartphones or portable chips on rings or cards with Near Field Communication (NFC). This allows people to tap smartphones against a terminal through a contactless transaction to make a payment. The good news: most new phones (not iPhones) already have NFC technology. To take advantage of NFC payments, a person just has to set up a virtual wallet with a service like Google Wallet. iPhone users that can’t use NFC because they don’t have the hardware necessary in their phone can use other options like the Square Wallet app that doesn’t require a physical tap. The idea is that in today’s world a wallet won’t be necessary anymore, because most people already walk around with smartphones which can just as easily serve as wallets.

Another recent development is the use of virtual money like Bitcoins. Bitcoins is a currency that exists solely in digital format, and can exist on anything that can hold digital memory. This could take a long time to be used commonly by people because at the moment Bitcoin transactions are too complicated for most to understand. They will probably never be used widely beyond investments or transactions for illegal goods, because like cash, Bitcoins cannot be traced. Unlike cash, they have the potential to be transferred online across the globe. Also, because Bitcoins aren’t controlled by any central bank, the value of a Bitcoin fluctuates in large amounts which might turn consumers away. As I write this post, the value of a Bitcoin is at 350 USD, but it could drop back down to 250 tomorrow.

There are a few hurdles that must be crossed before the use of these new technologies becomes widely accepted. First, one of the major concerns with being dependent on virtual currency is security. Anything that is digital and connected can be hacked. If there is anything that people like to keep more secure than anything else, for good reason, it’s money. Additionally, using these new technologies has to be introduced into the common consumer’s habits, which may be difficult considering how attached many are to their credit cards. Old habits die hard. However, I have faith that in the next ten years many of those currently using credit cards will be using alternative forms of payment. But, If the credit card users don’t convert, the new generation of consumers will probably swoop in to pick up the invisible payment market. People questioned the introduction of the credit card half a century ago. Plastic to invisible shouldn’t be too big of a leap now.

Most People Don’t Care About Wearable Technology, Despite the Hype

Tech companies come and go. Sometimes very fast due to the nature of this ever changing industry. When critics begin to charge companies with a lack of innovation, they are basically predicting these companies’ imminent demise. This makes the tech guys scared.

So what do they do? They try to innovate. That’s why there’s all this hype around wearable technology, devices that can be worn like a watch or glasses. “It’s the future” they tell me. “I don’t care” says the average consumer. I agree: wearable tech is the future, but consumers aren’t ready to invest in it.

Now, let me get something clear, I’m not saying I don’t like wearable tech. If I could get my hands on some Google Glass I would literally go insane. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, a touch screen watch that connects to Samsung smartphones, would be incredible. I would love these devices but the average consumer these companies rely on doesn’t care.

By being “innovative” and creating wearable technology, tech companies that are feeling old and out of date are trying to get back in the game, but they aren’t doing it the right way.

What these companies need to do is make wearable tech realistic in people’s minds. Wearable technology has to start off really simple. For example, Samsung’s new smart watch has voice recognition, can take phone calls, and even has a camera. With a 1.6 inch screen, most people will find so much stuff unrealistic and inapplicable in their lives. Definitely not worth the 299$ dent it will make in someone’s wallet.

Instead, I would recommend a watch that can only do a couple things that are simple yet extremely helpful. A smartwatch that can simply check emails and answer calls would be the perfect step into wearable tech for most consumers. Between $100 and $150 it could also become an instant hit. People could imagine having such a device, and it could make their lives easier, as innovative and powerful technology should.

How does Google Make Money?

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Have you ever thought about the fact that you use Google on a daily basis but never have to pay for it? Yet, the company is worth BILLIONS (market cap of about $261 Billion). Googles founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin are each worth over 20 billion dollars. How does google make that much money when you probably never even gave them your credit card?

Data. Every time you do anything on Google, (as in search, get directions, read a review, or track the news) Google records it. Using that data, Google can then create accurate advertisements which you are likely to click on. Then, when you click on the ad, the advertiser pays back Google. It may not seem like a lot, but it piles up.

Why is this so effective? Well, Google is continuously becoming more important in everyone’s daily lives by increasing the number of products people use, and the amount of time people are using them. These are products like Google+, Google Docs, Blogger, Picasa, and YouTube. This means you have more activity they can track, and use as data. The more data they have, the more accurate they can make ads, personalized for you. Clicks equals money, and its all about making sure that you keep clicking on Google.com.

Also, in case you’re wondering, Google does have different sources of revenue, through Google Play, Chromebooks, and other products. However, these are minimal compared to the 96% of revenue which comes from advertising.

What is the Cloud? Where is it?

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Nowadays we often here about the cloud. Supposedly it’s everywhere, but where is it exactly? For starters, what is the cloud anyways?

The cloud is where all of the data on the internet is stored. It’s everything that can be accessed from anywhere in the world with access to the internet. The data itself, however, is not everywhere at once, or in the sky as the terminology “cloud” suggests. Every website, photo, or document in the cloud is actually stored on a server. There are a lot of servers. It is these servers which hold the seemingly infinite amounts of data that cumulate into what we call the cloud.

How’s it used? Now that mobility is the most critical aspect of technology, the cloud has become very important. Many services, such as Google Apps, are “in the cloud” and allow you to edit and access your documents wherever you are. This means you can change a slide on a slide show minutes before your presentation, on a phone in the subway. Meanwhile, someone else around the world could technically be viewing your changes. This is possible because the presentation isn’t actually on your phone, but in the cloud. You are just using your phone to access the information.

The cloud allows us to be more mobile, because all of its data is accessible where ever we are. Soon, everything you need, will be in the cloud, reachable at any time through any device. The cloud makes technology more convenient and mobile, improving the efficiency of everything we do.