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Too Far Ahead of the Curve?

My former employers used (I’m stressing used here ) to like my tech stories because they had never heard about the stuff I wrote about before, which was considered good. But in later years as the editors were replaced by other, saner heads, and there were grumbles. Write about what’s happening now, not what’s going to happen, was usually the refrain. They had a point. But I didn’t think that was my job, and I still don’t. But it does raise a question which journalists in any field often have to address: When is the right time to write about something that you know willContinue readingToo Far Ahead of the Curve?

Why we hate video calls

Good piece in the New Scientist about why we’ve always hated video calls: When another New York Times reporter went to Pittsburgh in mid-1971, however, he found only 33 Picturephones in operation, with just 12 able to dial outside their own buildings. Aside from impracticalities such as cost, it seemed that, against all predictions, no one actually wanted video calling. Users were more interested in seeing graphics than face-to-face video conversation. At Bell Labs, Lucky recalls that the only person who called his Picturephone was his boss, Arno Penzias. “I found it very awkward because I had to stare at him,” he says. More thanContinue readingWhy we hate video calls

Xiaomi Goes Virtually Edgeless By Using Ultrasound

Regular readers will know I’ve been looking out for this to happen for a while: the use of sound, or rather ultrasound, as a form of interface. Here’s a Reuters piece I did on it a year ago:  From pixels to pixies: the future of touch is sound | Reuters: Ultrasound – inaudible sound waves normally associated with cancer treatments and monitoring the unborn – may change the way we interact with our mobile devices. But the proof will be in the pudding, I reckoned: Perhaps the biggest obstacle to commercialising mid-air interfaces is making a pitch that appeals not just to consumers’ fantasies butContinue readingXiaomi Goes Virtually Edgeless By Using Ultrasound

iPad Pro Thoughts

Jean-Louis Gassée again hits the right note in his piece on the iPad Pro: Wrong Questions | Monday Note. Tim Cook shouldn’t go around saying it will replace the laptop. It might for him, but the laptop/PC has evolved to be used in myriad ways, not all of which are best suited to a big screen and unwieldy, optional keyboard.  Why not say that the iPad Pro will helpfully replace a laptop for 60%, or 25% of conventional personal computer users? In keeping with Steve Jobs’ Far Better At Some Key Things formula, why not say that the iPad Pro is a great laptop replacement forContinue readingiPad Pro Thoughts

From pixels to pixies: the future of touch is sound

My piece on using sound and lasers to create 3-dimensional interfaces. It’s still some ways off, but it’s funky. Screenshot from Ultrahaptics video demo From pixels to pixies: the future of touch is sound | Reuters: SINGAPORE | BY JEREMY WAGSTAFF (The video version: The next touchscreen is sound you can feel | Reuters.com) Ultrasound – inaudible sound waves normally associated with cancer treatments and monitoring the unborn – may change the way we interact with our mobile devices. Couple that with a different kind of wave – light, in the form of lasers – and we’re edging towards a world of 3D, holographic displays hoveringContinue readingFrom pixels to pixies: the future of touch is sound

Force field: Apple’s pressure-based screens promise a world beyond cold glass

A piece looking at the technology behind the pressure sensing. My prediction: once people play with it they’ll find it hard to go back to the old way of doing things. Maybe typing on an touchscreen may one day feel natural, and maybe even enjoyable.  Force field: Apple’s pressure-based screens promise a world beyond cold glass | Reuters: SINGAPORE/TAIPEI | BY JEREMY WAGSTAFF AND MICHAEL GOLD By adding a more realistic sense of touch to its iPhone, Apple Inc may have conquered a technology that has long promised to take us beyond merely feeling the cold glass of our mobile device screens. In its latest iPhones, Apple included what it callsContinue readingForce field: Apple’s pressure-based screens promise a world beyond cold glass

The path to a wearable future lies in academia | Reuters

The path to a wearable future lies in academia | Reuters: My oblique take on wearables For a glimpse of what is, what might have been and what may lie ahead in wearable devices, look beyond branded tech and Silicon Valley start-ups to the messy labs, dry papers and solemn conferences of academia. There you’d find that you might control your smartphone with your tongue, skin or brain; you won’t just ‘touch’ others through a smart Watch but through the air; and you’ll change how food tastes by tinkering with sound, weight and color. Much of today’s wearable technology has its roots in these academicContinue readingThe path to a wearable future lies in academia | Reuters

Smartwatches: Coming Soon to a Cosmos Near You

This is a column I did for the BBC World Service, broadcast this week.  There’s been a lot of talk that the big boys — by which I mean Apple and Samsung — are about to launch so-called smart watches. But how smart does a watch have to be before we start strapping them to our wrists in numbers to make a difference? First off, a confession. I’ve strapped a few things to my wrist in my time. Back in the 80s and 90s I used to love the Casio calculator watch called the Databank, though I can’t actually recall ever doing a calculation onContinue readingSmartwatches: Coming Soon to a Cosmos Near You

Smarter smartphones for smarter people

This is a piece I wrote for the BBC World Service.. So, the iPhone 5 is here, and while it will sell well, probably better than any phone before it, there’s a sense of anticlimax: this, we are told, is evolution, not revolution. None of the mind-bending sense of newness and change that the iPhone and iPad used to engender. This is a sign, we’re told, that the market is mature, that there’s not much more that can be done. I’d like to suggest another way of looking at this. For sure, not every new product that comes out of Apple HQ can blow ourContinue readingSmarter smartphones for smarter people

The Tablet is the Computer

One thing discussed often and at great length in nerdy circles these days is this: Is the tablet—by which we really mean the Apple iPad, because it created the market, and presently accounts for nearly two thirds of it—a computer. A PC, if you will? Some say that the iPad is not really a computer. It has no keyboard. People don’t sit at desks to use it. It lacks the horsepower of most of today’s computers. So they think it’s a big smartphone. I think they are wrong. They misunderstand what is happening. This is not hard to see in action. Wandering around an airportContinue readingThe Tablet is the Computer

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