Tag Archives: Google Glass

2015 is The Year of Mobile and 5 other predictions

crystal-ball

Around this time of year, you’re going to be inundated with “resolution” and “prediction” posts, with folks proselytizing on their views of tech trends for the upcoming year.

Your boy is no better.

But unlike these other jokers at Mashable, Techcrunch, Gawker, et al., who spend time researching, interviewing experts and reviewing industry reports, I simply comb through their work, cherry-picking the tastiest tidbits and regurgitating their work as my original thought.

I kid, I kid.

But seriously.

The end of the year provides a great opportunity to review the wins, hits or misses or the previous year and reliably forecast what may happen in the year ahead.

There have been a number of interesting developments over the past year, which give me confidence to say that 2015 will be the year of mobile.

For example, there are more mobile devices than people on the earth.

Let that sink in for a moment.

That’s significant, especially if all of these people are browsing from their mobile devices.

Even if only half of them utilize their mobile devices as the primary means for getting online, brands that aren’t mobile-enabled are going to see their bounce rates increase and revenues decline, as folks abandon them for sites that are mobile optimized.

But rather than talk about how mobile will impact brands generally, here are my top five mobile predictions for 2015.

1. Mobile payments are going to take off. With Apple Pay already being adopted by 220,000 vendors, the mobile payment trend is undoubtedly going to grow. Apply Pay joins other established mobile payment solutions, like Google Wallet and PayPal, and newcomers, like LevelUp and Paydiant, as well as a host of others scoping the mobile payment space, including Square and Swipely. With folks taking privacy and security seriously, e-commerce sites and mobile applications that allow users to avoid the necessity of having to manually input payment details over insecure wifi networks, will undoubtedly be the preferred method for completing online transactions.

This year, I predict mobile payments becoming a standard.

2.  Mobile sites will proliferate this year. As brands start to realize that customers are spending increasing amounts of time on mobile devices, getting in on this action will be a critical strategy to engagement. Last year, the average person spent almost 3 hours a day on their mobile devices. That’s more time than they spend online, and this trend will likely continue. With streaming services offering television-like abilities, mobile may eventually outpace tv. But at a very basic level, this year brands will acknowledge that the failure to have a mobile site (either mobile enabled or fully responsive) is a distinct competitive disadvantage.

I predict the number of mobile sites will invariably grow at a tremendous pace this year.

3. Widespread adoption of auto-fill. Retailers bemoan cart abandonment as the bane of their existence. Over 68% of e-commerce shopping carts are abandoned. The holy grail for online shopping involves seeing shoppers through checkout. But for mobile shoppers, there is nothing more frustrating than having to complete payment and shipping forms on their mobile device. Payment options like PayPal or Amazon One-Click save users from filling out many of the fields required to complete their online purchases, but too few online vendors are set up with streamlined payment processes. And while a fine tuned checkout doesn’t necessarily equate to fewer abandoned carts, it couldn’t hurt!

Auto fill is a simple and easily implemented solution, that can occur at the browser or native (device) level, which will enable users to quickly and securely complete online forms, typically with one click, dramatically reducing the amount of time (and frustration) required to complete payment or shipping information (or forms of any kind). Google Chrome has already implemented the ability to auto fill forms in both full HTML and mobile web browsers, and many of the mobile payment solutions described above, also include the ability to complete non-payment forms as well.

I predict widespread adoption of mobile autofill solutions, as more players enter the space and users become more conversant with these types of platforms.

4. Mobile loyalty programs will grow. Nearly every retailer I frequent has some sort of rewards program. Stores like Anthropologie, Sephora, CVS, Modell’s, Target, and ShopRite all have rewards programs tied to a keychain or wallet-sized reward card that patrons can present at checkout to earn points or qualify for rewards. But 2015 will see an increasing number taking advantage of Passbook or eliminating cards in favor of mobile loyalty or punch cards. Instead of having to present a loyalty card, users will simply whip out their cell phones flash a QR code and transmit their rewards or loyalty account info, similar to how Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts’ mobile rewards work.

I predict that 2015 will see more brands taking advantage of the convenience of mobile loyalty and release Passbook-like offerings of their own.

5. Wearables will change the mobile landscape. In the not-too-distant past, when you thought “wearables” a massive virtual reality helmet was probably all that came to mind. But with Oculus Rift making wearable headsets more like goggles, and less like NFL helmets, the concepts is more palatable. The definition of wearables has extended from virtual reality headsets, to Google Glass to fitness devices like the Nike FuelBand, the Fitbit tracker, the Apple Watch and Android smart watches. Wearables will open a whole host of smart applications, devoted to health and fitness, as well as medical diagnostics.

I predict that wearables will have a breakout year in 2015, driven primarily by the Apple Watch, but supported by advances in Android wearables, the proliferation of 3D and augmented reality applications adding rich virtual layers to users’ real life experiences.

What are your mobile predictions for 2015? Feel free to comment and share!

Happy New Year!

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I am a Rockstar. You are a Rockstar. A study in self confidence.

Lipperhey_portrait

I regularly find myself giving out sage advice to folks.

Of course my advice is sage, why else would people seek me out I offer it unsolicited?

Anywho, the advice I give ranges widely from person to person.

Sometimes its about technology, sometimes business, sometimes branding.

But usually, its about helping folks to overcome whatever obstacles they face in their path to success – however “success” is defined.

“Stephen, how can I get my boss to give me more money?”

“Stephen, I don’t feel appreciated at my job. What should I do?”

“Stephen, why do I keep getting passed over for promotions?”

“Stephen, can you show me how to get more followers on Twitter?”

“Stephen, what if no one reads my blog?”

I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

And while the individuals and circumstances they find themselves in may change, there is one constant theme: self confidence.

I find that people are often unaware of their self-worth, and as a result constantly look to external sources for validation.

And that, my friends, is what I call “The Mind Fuck.”

The Mind Fuck is when the opinion of others matters more to you than your own (opinion).

You fuck yourself royally, when you’re incapable of achieving a sense of self-worth in the absence of the support of others.

But, it’s not your fault – well not totally your fault.

I’ll tell you why.

Since we were children, we’ve been programmed to seek the approval of others.

It started with our parents.

Oh how they cooed when we spoke our first word, ate solids for the first time, crawled, then walked, made caca on the potty.

Our formative years were spent being trained like puppies to live in civilized society.

Such that today, Like Pavlov’s dog, we still salivate for those doggy biscuits of approval.

With that kind of insidious brainwashing, it’s understandable why we fall into the trap of giving two shits about other people’s opinions.

What are we as humans, if not social creatures?

But that’s the rub.

Because we are all social creatures, we crave that approval, the “likes” and “follows,” shares and retweets, that say, “you are somebody” and (unfortunately) define many of our current social interactions.

And when we don’t get it, for whatever reason, many of us take it as a blow, a slight, a diminishment of who we are.

Why?

That’s easy: we’ve never cultivated our Inner Rockstar.

What’s an “Inner Rockstar”?

The Inner Rockstar is that thing that makes us unique.

It’s that special characteristic that sets us apart from the rest of the world.

It’s that thing that we possess, that defines us.

Maybe you’re a whiz with PowerPoint.

Or can automatically calculate the ROI for every dollar spent by your firm.

Perhaps you’ve revamped your company’s non-existent marketing strategy.

You might be able to whistle the Stars Spangled Banner with your nose.

Yes. Whistling through your nose is awesome.

Your Inner Rockstar is the part of you that is awesome, regardless of who else knows it.

“Okay Stephen, I’m a rockstar to myself.  So what?”

So what?

So everything!

What makes a rockstar a rockstar?

They let everyone know they’re a rockstar.

They may not rock a t-shirt emblazoned with “I Am A Rockstar” on it.

Although they should – it would make them easier to identify.

But they wear their rockstar status openly.

Think about it.

Tony Robbins. Wayne Dyer. Steve Jobs. Corey Booker. Mick Jagger.

What do all these people have in common?

Confidence and swagger.

They way they hold themselves out to the rest of the world.

The presence they command when they walk into a room.

It’s their confidence.

Confidence.

Plain and simple.

Confidence makes you a rockstar.

Don’t believe me? Try this little experiment.

The next time you’re with a group of people, offer up a fact about something obscure.

For example, did you know that Google Glass was actually conceived by the 16th century inventor Hans Lippershey, who created the telescope? He was the first person to conceptualize images projected on (or through) thin panes of glass. Google owes their innovation to Hans.

This is not true.

Hans Lippershey did invent the telescope, but didn’t conceptualize a wearable computer.

But if you present this information with confidence and authority, stating it as fact, 9 out of 10 people will believe you, without pause.

Why?

It is because Hans Lippershey actually developed a Google Glass concept in 1570?

No. It’s because of your delivery.

You sell it and they’ll buy it, hook, line and sinker.

Imagine, now, that you do everything with that same level of confidence.

Especially things that you’re good at.

I’m certain that you’ll start to realize that you’ve got some mojo.

To be clear, being confident and good at something will not necessarily make you a rockstar in the eyes of the public at large.

But if you can manage to convince yourself that you’re a rockstar, you’re one step closer to convincing others of the same thing.

Now get out there and rock out!

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Google Glass isn’t all bad. If you’re a dork (like me).

20131206-095258.jpg

Several months ago, I wrote a post about one of the Google initiatives announced at the developers conference, a wearable computer called Google Glass.

At the time, it was theoretical, and for some odd reason, Google didn’t deem it necessary to either invite me to their developer pow wow OR send me a Beta pair.

Go figure.

But this Monday, a pair showed up at my office and I can confirm, despite the previously reported Yeti-like sightings of Google Glass in the wild (of which I had not witnessed) they are very real.

I could blather on about them, ad nauseam, but the quick and dirty is that Google Glass is an interesting piece of technology that takes a bit of getting used to, but which will go over well with dorks.

Now, I’ll blather on ad nauseam.

To be fair, my assessment of them is based on less than 20 minutes of hands-on testing. There was literally a queue of cats in my office waiting to try them out. So I felt like a hog spending more than a few minutes trying to take GG through its paces. But I made the most of my time and will now share my observations with you.

Because you care so much about what I think.

GG is literally a pair of glasses, with plastic lenses and a small translucent square mounted to the top of the frame of the right lens.

Putting them on is a little weird because they’re not symmetrical. The “fat” side contains all the components, which reside in a wide flat casing, while the “skinny” side is a simple curved metal bar, encased in soft plastic, that clings tightly to your head.

Even though it looks imbalanced, remarkably, GG feels right on your face/head/noggin.

When you first put them on, there’s nothing to see because the device is off. So at first glance, it looks just like you’re wearing a tricked out pair of Oakleys.

But once you turn them on, you know, immediately, that these are no bike riding glasses.

To turn Google Glass on, you simply tap the fat right side gently with your finger or tilt your head up 30 degrees.

Yes. I said “or tilt your head up 30 degrees” to turn Google Glass on. Just be careful if you use this method of activation around brothers (Black men, not male siblings), or they might think you’re giving them “the nod” and be offended if you don’t acknowledge them in return.

Turning on Google Glass pulls up the screen, which is projected in space about five feet in front of you. It’s like augmented reality without the helmet or wrap-around visors.

Now, you’ve got to look up slightly to see the screen because the placement of that little square on the frame (which is essentially what generates your projected screen) places it just above your normal line of sight.

You can manipulate your screen and Google Glass’ functions through both voice and touch. You control items on your screen or the menu using your finger along the side or via a set of simple voice commands. I wasn’t able to utilize the voice commands in the brief period I was playing around with it, but the dev who had them said that the voice commands work well (within the range of commands available).

To scroll up or down, back or forth and left or right, you rub your finger along the touchpad on the side of the glasses. Tapping with one finger selects, using two fingers lets you grab and move objects.

There is a small speaker on the section behind your ear, which projects sound, and it’s clear but low. And there’s also a small forward facing camera that shoots pictures and video.

During my little test run, I accessed Google Maps, watched a video, scrolled through a bunch of web pages and (unsuccessfully) tried to use Google Glass’ voice commands.

And outside of looking (and feeling) like a fucking dork – tilting my head up and down, tapping the side of my head, mumbling in audible commands and staring off into space – they’re not that bad.

I was initially prepared to write them off as a novelty, but I just had a 15 minute chat with the dev dude who got them and he actually had a lot of praise for it. I was skeptical until he told me he was is not an Android dude at all, so his opinion was patently objective.

He’d been rocking Google Glass for a week, and as a result, had a slightly more informed perspective than my 15 minute run. But just slightly.

We discussed my assessment and critique of how Google Glass makes you like a dork because you’re always looking up. Beyond that, your virtual screen is projected against the world behind it. So if you’re using Google Glass and you’ve got a funky background (bright lights, lots of traffic, etc.) it takes a minute for your eyes to adjust to all the BS/noise and focus on the screen.

When I gave him my assessment, lampooning its shortcomings, his response was that the field of view is intentionally placed above your line of sight so that you’re not looking at the screen on top of your natural field of view. The point of its placement was to avoid creating a distraction for the user or having to compete with visual background noise.

I had to concede that his argument made sense. And then I kicked him in the shins and cracked on his momma.

But that’s not to say that Google Glass gets flying colors. Google’s got work to do to get Google Glass ready for the major leagues.

A friend of mine suggested that Google Glass would be great for watching porn in mixed company, and while I initially thought that they were onto something, having rocked and witnessed others wearing them, I realized that Google Glass does have some limitations.

For one, there’s the issue of the voice prompts. Dev dude was able to execute several commands fairly easily when it was one-on-one, and when traffic and ambient noise was low. When many of us were milling about, buzzing and cackling, his attempts at controlling Google Glass through voice commands were an absolute fail. And my name “Stephen Chukumba” spoken into Google search, returned “Stephen Takuma” – although it could have been the dev dude’s Korean accent skewing the results.

Next, if you’re looking directly at someone wearing them, you can see the images projected on the small translucent square in front of the lens. Sure, the image is about a quarter of an inch big, but it’s a crystal clear quarter of an inch image, which is clearly not conducive lascivious content viewing.

And finally, even though the volume on the speakers are low, it’s still slightly audible if you’re within a few feet of the wearer. So the grunts and groans of true porn thespians is perceptible but those around you.

Anyway, as I digress into porn, I realize this post has gone on long enough.

My point is that Google glasses is still a work in progress.

Final analysis?

Google Glass is here.

You’ll look like a dork if you rock them.

But if do happen to get a pair, you’ll be a happy dork.

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Apple TV, Roku, watch your backs. There’s a new dongle in town. Chromecast.

Chromecast dongle

One of my colleagues, Salvador Risk (not his real name), is an avowed Google fanatic.

Google Glass, Chromebook, Jellybean. If Google makes it, he lauds it.

Invariably, whenever there’s a Google announcement or milestone, he shoots a link over IM for us to check out.

It was he who recommended that we watch the hellacious Google 1/0 2013.

My eyes are still bleeding.

We usually mock him for being so devout a disciple.

Yesterday was no exception.

You see yesterday, in his typical zeal, he shot us a link for some new innocuous Google product.

Followed by the statement (and I quote) “i so want this” (lowercase “i” and all).

Of course, we mocked him mercilessly, once again.

Who the heck would want “this” stupid thing?

“This” is another attempt by Google to stick it’s tentacles where they don’t belong.

“This” (we opined) would go the way of many of Google’s other lame-brained, ill-fated, poorly executed schemes.

What was “this”?

“This” was Chromecast.

What the heck is Chromecast, you ask?

Well it’s a dongle which will allow you to stream content from your phone, tablet or laptop, directly to your TV.

Simply plug Chromecast into an HDMI port of your HDTV, and voila! You’re streaming.

Chromecast in your TV

Even though the Chromecast dongle isn’t available yet (it’s available for pre-order in the Google Play store), it’s already making waves.

Why all the commotion, you ask?

For one, it’s not a box.

It’s a…dongle.

Unlike other set top box makers, like Apple and Roku (among the more recognizable names in the game), Chromecast won’t take up any space on your TV stand.

It’s just a simple fob that plugs in discretely to your TV.

Which means no power cords or HDMI cables.

With Chromecast, there’s nothing to hide, tuck away or get tangled in.

Actually, there is a little cord, which plugs into a micro USB port in the top of the dongle…but it’s not a big cord.

Second, you don’t need a remote control.

Virtually every other set top box is manipulated by some additional piece of hardware.

But not with Chromebook.

Your Android, iPhone or tablet device serves as your remote.

Third, Chromecast provide much of the same utility of other set top boxes.

Like Apple TV and Roku, Chromecast lets you grab content from Netflix and YouTube.

But they also let you access content from your Google Play account (like iTunes/iPhoto) and the Chrome browser.

But wait! That’s not all.

Lest you think that Chromecast is just some dumb portal that simply lets you stream what’s on your device to your TV, Google claims that Chromecast will also automatically update apps.

And if they’re going after Apple and Roku, I can see the available list of options growing in short order.

Finally, and more (or most) importantly, there’s the cost.

Chromecast is only $35.

That’s way below Apple’s $99 price point.

And significantly less than Roku’s $49.99 streaming player.

In the final analysis, even though we were originally ribbing Salvator (not his real name) mercilessly for his blind allegiance to Google, we had to concede that he was really onto something.

Call me gullible (and a nerd), but I’m kinda excited for the release of Chromecast.

As someone who rocks with Apple TV, I’m interested to see how Chromecast stacks up.

Anyway, nerdfest over.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled life.

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Is Google Glass the future of computing (or a passing fad)?

Google GlassMy colleagues and I are a bunch of (admitted) geeks.

Every day, we share links from Engadget, Gizmodo, TechCrunch and the like.

About interesting apps, techie news, digital trends or hot topics.

A few days ago, someone passed around a link to a promo video for Google Glass.

For the uninformed, Google Glass is Google’s foray into developing a wearable computer.

Unlike the alleged smart watch being developed by Apple, Google Glass is a frame you wear on your face, like a pair of glasses.

Google Glasses

There are no lenses, per se.

Just a small rectangular surface, sitting an inch or so away from the eye, within which sits the Google Glass display.

Google Glass is very limited in its functionality.

From the video demonstration, Google Glass lets you record and playback video, video chat, get turn-by-turn directions, or send a message.

The What It Does part of the Google Glass site seems to suggest that it does a little more than this.

But not much more.

Since there is no keyboard, you’re limited to voice controlled functions.

Now, we can talk to our computers, Star Trek- like, and have them perform increasingly complex functions.

There is a little button on the side, presumably to allow the user to switch between functions.

But beyond that, it’s totally hands free.

When I first watched the video, it reminded me of a GoPro commercial.

It was all about the visuals.

But unlike GoPro, Google Glass allows you to do more than just record video.

You almost forget about the little screen in the top right corner, because your field of vision is right in front of you.

And that got me wondering…

When you’re wearing a pair of Google Glasses, are you always staring up and to the right?

Like you’re thinking about something?

“Do I look like a dork?” perhaps?

My curiosity got the best of me, and I signed up to try out the damn things.

But a happy black chick on the sign up page told me that the applications to try Google Glass were closed.

If you we're so cute, I'd be mad atcha.

If you weren’t so cute, I’d be mad atcha.

I signed up anyway.

I doubt I’ll see a pair in the wild before they’re available for sale.

But one can always hope.

In any instance, it’s definitely got me intrigued.

What do you think?

Is Google Glass the way of the future?

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