Thursday, April 23, 2009

Google Profiles

You may have heard of the new Google Profiles. I tried it out the other day by creating a profile: My LinkedIn page went from being 7th in the search results for my name, up to 1st. Strange how that works.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Android Voice + Touchscreen home computer applicance

I have been thinking lately of wanting a hands off voice activated computing device that could answer / do simple tasks...the times when you don't feel like pulling out your computer or smart phone and googling something. Simple answers like the weather, a sports score, define a word, aren't always worth looking up unless you are already online. The concept is somewhat similar to the Verizon Hub, except the voice control and the Android OS making it an open and customizable and not requiring a contract (just a home internet connection).

What would something like this look like:

  • I'm picturing it sitting on a counter or prominent area of the house.
  • Possibly using the Android OS from Google to build on existing custom apps and allow the device to be extended easily.
  • Voice control is the big thing that seems to be missing as an input. Stepping through hoops to get the info isn't always cool when you need to get other things done. With voice control the touchscreen would be more of a secondary input.

Some other things the device might do:

  • Update Facebook status, or Tweet with a couple words.
  • Use it as a VoIP phone. Or Video phone with built in Camera.
  • Use camera to scan barcodes to get user manual or add items to shopping list.
  • Home automation.
  • Controlling stereo, or use voice to control song/artist (like the Ford/Microsoft Sync system).
  • When the computer is not in use it can serve as a photo frame with rotating pictures, or RSS feeds.

Other thoughts:

As a startup selling a open hardware device, the profit margins doesn't seem to be huge. Ad supported devices may be an option, or some type of subscription (such as the Verizon Hub's $35 fee for unlimited calling VoIP).

Friday, May 9, 2008

Photos = 3D

I discovered Microsoft Photosynth this past week. If you have not tried out the demo, you really should. Basically the program takes a bunch of pictures of the same place and finds the similarities between them to construct a 3D space. You can zoom in on individual pictures or fly around the 3D environment. I was very impressed. In the Virtual Earth blog they had an entry about CSI using the program, it has a YouTube of the show.

It is a very cool concept, and it could easily be taken further. Like for example using standard video fotage of a scene to create the 3D space. How about combining various sources of data to create a hybrid source of data? 2 or 3 security cameras, motion sensors, RFID, to construct a full 3D scene in full motion. Of course their would need to be some way to syncronize the time of each individual source of data for it to be used. The video should be able to use recognition techniques to find a moving object common to all sources and capture it passing a fixed reference point (also in all sources) and thus syncronize it roughly as the object passes the same reference point.

A scene in full motion 3D would be invaluable in solving crimes and traffic accidents. It shouldn't be long before most cars will come equiped to store video and other stats that are more readily available (of course there are obvious privacy issues). But, the ability to construct a full motion 3D scene of a traffic accident would save investigators countless hours, as well as giving valuable information to car manufactures to help avoid crashes.

Heck if we want to take it to the extreme, you could have a service that people could opt into to provide all video from their vehicle and it would be processed for poor drivers. The vehicles of the poor drivers would get marked in the system based on the make, model, color and ultimately the license plate. If your vehicle camera spots one of the marked vehicles it could let you know (maybe that is paranoid, but maybe there is something there). The service could be tied to other GPS/navigation information like traffic (real time, other vehicles in the service could all be bouncing back and forth data to let all the users what the conditions are). Ok, I realize this is getting very 1984ish. So, I'll stop.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Who own's reviews?

I am sick of reviews being spread all over the web. Some websites have started to aggregate reviews from all over, but this is just the beginning. It must be more than this. One example is Google offering reviews when you do a search on Google Maps for businesses. They have reviews from Yahoo!, Yelp and etc. These reviews are mostly for restaurants and bars, but other businesses have some reviews too.

I think the worst are product reviews such as appliances and niches not covered well by the likes of Amazon. If I search for the model number of the dishwasher I want to buy I usually get no reviews, similar dishwashers have reviews, but how "similar" are they? Are the main components the exact same? Does that translate into the same performance?

So who actually owns the reviews? The website someone put them into, probably technically. But, why would someone put out a review unless they want to share it with others? Wouldn't they want the biggest possible audience to see it. They should be in the Public Domain, they should not be privately possessed unless the review or comments are collected by or for the actual company being reviewed.

I would like to see Reviews made into a open source set of data. That way people searching could get a much bigger return on their search. By having them in a standard format everybody could access them. You could do mashups like you can with Google Maps. Make them part of a type of open source wiki of reviews.

I think I am dissuaded at times to leave reviews, because I don't know where to leave them. I usually search for reviews on multiple sites, so which of those should I leave the review on? All of them? Its confusing and frustrating, if there was a way I knew most people searching for a review could find it I would do it that way. So maybe like a wikipedia of reveiws.

It also could be part of an open id so that in someones profile are all the reviews that person has ever written. Those reviews would be "hosted" by the person who wrote them or Google or someone else could facilitate hosting people's review profiles. That way a search would turn up all relevant reviews (as long as criteria for how reviews are setup are followed).