Student Resource: Tech Reviews

"Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important" - Bill Gates

One important observation I have made as I lecture around the globe is that the younger generation is very adept at multitasking, and they throw themselves into new technology without any trepidation. At the same time, the older generation, my generation, is much more resistant to change and slow to adopt new technology. This restraint is not without justification as many have witnessed firsthand what technology can do in the wrong hands. Albert Einstein said, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” How true. But that is another issue.

Technology is just a tool. Used properly technology magnifies efficiency. The point is technology by itself is a gift, and you can’t survive and prosper in today’s world without it. Those that embrace the right technology first profit the most. That is called a “strategic inflection point.” You need to set your fears aside and adopt fast or you will fall behind. Technology is not just for the young, tech benefits everyone.

Inflection Point is where we will post reviews and field test reports of up and coming technology for applicability to the workplace and insertion into our training. Trends come and go, and they are not always good. But the door to the future is opened by what are called “strategic inflection points.” Again, a strategic inflection point is the point in time that something new replaces the old, like moving from DVD to digital download services. Adopting the right inflection point keeps an organization ahead of their competition, while betting on the wrong technology can cause you to stumble and fall behind. An example of this was the format war between Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD. Backers of Blu-ray bet on the winning technology. The winners are not always the best engineered or tech, but that is a moot point to business. Hope you enjoy ... I am having a blast with all this tech! Contact us if you would like your tech products reviewed on Inflection Point.

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Field Test Of Google Glass

First impressions of Google Glass, fantastic!

Google Glass is still in development by Google X Lab, the people bringing us driverless cars and other futuristic technologies. But even at these early stages one thing is clear, this is a real winner. A consumer version should be out in the next year. My prediction, at the right price of under $500, they will fly off the shelves. Everyone will someday own one, just like a cell phone.

But for now, I joined the Beta program and picked up the Google Glass Explorer Edition which is available for the outrageous price of $1,500. For that price I was hoping they would throw in a few shares of Google stock. It does comes in great packaging, with a charger, choice of color and extra glass frames. I took mine to LensCrafters who put a rush on it and had my prescription lenses ground and installed in a few days. I think I was their first glass customer, but they did a great job.

For those who don’t know, GLASS is built around technology pioneered by the military called augmented reality and ubiquitous computing. Fighter pilots today wear helmets that erase all obstruction to their field of view while at the same time projecting critical information from other sensors that is not in their visual range. The helmet responds to eye movements and voice commands leaving their hands free to do other tasks. GLASS will provide some of the same capabilities.

Using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity GLASS makes the Internet, Intranets, computers, and software applications accessible anywhere and anytime while leaving your hands free. It is like having a data portal projected right into your eye. Efforts are already in the works to fit this technology into contract lenses. GLASS flawlessly connects directly to the web or other devices like your cell phone. GLASS becomes even more powerful as you integrate it with other technologies and products.

I found wearing GLASS like tasting my favorite chocolate candy for the first time. The experience is like nothing else. Give it a try for half an hour and you will be hooked. And more importantly, you will understand its potential to change our lives and the world around us. Improvements are needed, but GLASS is already a winner.

This is not intended to be a technical evaluation or formal test report, but rather a real life field test by an average user looking for practical application of new tech.

Using GLASS is very simple. Charge it up, set it up, log into to download some free apps, and you are up and running. A button on the inside of the frame turns GLASS on. There is also a button on the top for taking photos and movies. And the right outside frame also responds to swiping and tapping commands. But the real fun is using voice commands, which work great even in a noisy environment.

I found GLASS surprisingly comfortable to wear. It does not add that much weight to a normal pair of glasses. After 30 minutes it becomes part of you and you don’t notice it is there. The projector piece is located in just the right spot, easy to view yet it does not interfere with your regular vision. A charge last about five hours under normal use because GLASS goes into a low power mode when not used. If you take a lot of movies it will only last about an hour.

How easy is GLASS to use? “Ok GLASS,” brings up a menu of commands. Follow that with “take a picture, record a video, get directions, make a call, send a message,” and my favorite “Explore the stars.” A program called Star Chart makes the world of astronomy visible, even in broad daylight, and even comes with audio descriptions of all the plants and many of the stars. Love it!

What about privacy concerns? False stories about privacy abound today. Ignorance is always a stumbling block to progress. And the only people whining about their privacy are the ones with something to hide. Face it, your privacy was gone years ago. The government monitors your email, social networks, snail mail, financial transactions, phone calls, medical records, and cameras are now at every street corner. I would argue that GLASS and facial recognition software are a perfect match. And with the right software could prove very useful in unlimited applications where people "opt-in."

I think GLASS will become common in the workplace from hospitals to auto repair shops. Anything you can see you can do, so goodby paper tech manuals. Years ago a lot of effort was spent on moving away from paper towards Interactive Electronic Tech Manuals, IETMs. Today there are many new form factors that fit on a person’s body, leaving their hands free to perform work. This may bring a shift towards wearable devices that feed up audio and video step by step paperless Tech Manuals. No one has a crystal ball into the future, but we will do our best to bring the future to our classes so students can decide for themselves how they might be impacted. Web 4.0, SAAS, BYOD, iButtons, Near Field Communication, Google Glass, hear about it, see it, and experience it first in our training.

Given the success of products like GoPro, I focused my first field test on just one of the features of GLASS, its camera. Findings: voice command is the future of taking photos and video, and GLASS makes it so easy. The camera does well in low light but does not like bright areas with spot lights. When GLASS photos are compared to those taken with cell phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5, the GLASS photos fall way short. And it takes some time to learn how GLASS frames the picture, the projected window does not always represent what the final shot will capture. But these are issues that are easy to fix and I expect the consumer model to be on a par with cell phone cameras. Movies are limited to seconds to conserve battery power. That is also an issue time and advancements will fix.

Google Glass:

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Field test of Google Glass camera at COMIC-CON in San Diego

We put our Google Glass Explorer Edition through its paces at COMIC-CON and have an exclusive report on how well it performed at the popular event. It was difficult to walk ten feet without attracting questions or hearing someone say “he’s wearing Google Glass,” as if I had a real light-saber strapped to my side. At the Warner Brothers booth a few stars from the "Originals" looked up from signing autographs and also took note of the glass.

General observations after constant use over several days:

  • Battery last about 5 hours
  • Glass is comfortable to wear
  • Voice commands work flawlessly
  • Gets hot with constant use
  • Good camera, avoid spot lights
  • Needs recognition apps

For the wise man looks into space and he knows
there is no limited dimensions.

More GLASS Coming Soon

Including photos inside Biosphere 2 and Tombstone!