Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Our Children's World Is Magical

(This post, originally published at www.dadomatic.com, was inspired by my recent trip to Intel's Santa Clara Headquarters for their annual "Upgrade Your Life" Experience...)

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic..." - Arthur C. Clarke
Of all the wonderful words that Clarke wrote, few have been as powerful and prescient as his frequently cited statement above. He was right.  More than right, he has defined the world we live in today, and more importantly, the world our children will carry forward. It is truly a magical world.

The Magic

In our lifetimes we have seen technology advance well beyond "sufficient," to provide us with tools and capabilities that are so indistinguishable from magic we already take them for granted. You wouldn't think twice about standing on a street in NY and speaking to your friend while they are on a boat off the coast of France...yet that is magic.  We take for granted that we can sit on the couch with a laptop or tablet and watch a movie sent to the device without wires or discs... yet that is magic.  Having near instant access to the answer to nearly any question imaginable, from a mobile device you carry in your pocket... is magic. Getting off a plane at crowded airport and getting a notification that a friend you haven't seen in person in years is also in the same terminal building, so you get to hang out together for ten awesome minutes... is magic.  I could go on and on.

The Magicians

Unlike the magic of wizards and sorcerers, the magic of technology cannot simply be invoked with incantations and chants of "abracadabra."  The magic of technology is created by a different type of magician - the engineers, scientists, visionaries and entrepreneurs who can not only envision the magic but who can also figure out ways to build it.  Today's magic comes from people and companies who have leveraged brainpower, innovation and imagination to make the impossible possible.  Chief among these modern day magicians is Intel. As an Intel Advisor I've had the privilege of taking a peek inside Intel and meeting many of the brains behind the magic and the wizards behind the curtains of innovations that have changed our lives and will change the lives of our children.

It's The Process, Not Just The Processor

What makes technology become magic is what it empowers us to do.  As amazing as it is to acknowledge the advancements and engineering prowess it has taken to facilitate the evolution of the microprocessor (following Moore's Law and decreasing in size while increasing in power and efficiency by silicon leaps and bounds), the true amazement is not in the chips, but rather in what the chips enable us to do.  Intel employs scientists, researchers, anthropologists, sociologists, even futurists, to study human behavior to better understand where the true power of the microprocessor can be put to work. In one day on the Intel campus for the Upgrade Your Life event we saw firsthand how technology is changing healthcare, education and the care of our environment.  We saw how technology is facilitating independent living for a rapidly growing population of seniors.  Magical things like placing sensors in chairs to wirelessly alert the wife of an Alzheimer's patient when her husband, known to wander off, gets up from his favorite chair, so she can come home from next door and make sure he is ok.  By using technology to place shift and skill shift aspects of healthcare, many of the services provided today by institutions can potentially be moved to the home, which for many could diminish the need for a nursing home.  The possibilities are endless, and the advancements are desperately needed as cost effective, and more importantly - effective healthcare is critical for an aging population.  We live longer, and the magic of technology may enable us to live better too.

Unleashing Human Potential

The talented artist Hugh MacLeod was hired by Intel to create some of his inspiring cartoons at the CES Show in January and he leveraged the phrase "The processor is an expression of human potential," which succinctly and sincerely captures the essence of the magic of technology.  While I don't mean for this to come off as just a puff piece for Intel, I do mean to use Intel as an example of one of the many companies that really are creating magic that will likely benefit our children in ways we can only begin to imagine.  Think of the world you lived in when you were the age your children are today.  How many of the things your children now take for granted would have seemed like magic to you back then?  I grew up in a world before there was a computer on every desk (and now in every pocket.)  My kids know no other world.  What is magic to me, is ordinary to them.

I can't wait to see the advancements that my kids won't be able to distinguish from magic!  Can you?

Disclosure: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf.  Intel covered my travel, accommodations and expenses for my trip to Santa Clara for the Upgrade Your Life event. 

Photo Credit: © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Long Term Relationships Are Not For Geeks

Before the geeks among you start attacking me, let me clarify.  I mean long term relationships with gadgets, not necessarily humans.  Take me, for example. Generally speaking, I'm a committed kinda guy.  Most places I have worked I was there for at least four or five years. I was married for sixteen years.  I'm currently in an eight year relationship. Not too shabby, right?  But when it comes to gadgets I am the complete opposite.  The proverbial seven year itch is more like a seven month itch.  This is especially true for phones. For the past ten years or more, I have changed my primary phone at least once a year.  As I work in the mobile industry, perhaps that's not so surprising, but what surprises me is the emotion I attach to each of my phones, and how quickly that emotion fades as soon as there's a new model in town.

Love the One You're With

I find I am always in love with my phone of the moment.  From Palm Treo, to HTC Touch Pro, to Palm Pre, to HTC Evo 4G, to my latest love, the Motorola Photon 4G... I was smitten with each and every one of them, from the OS to the bright pixels and silky touch of the glass screen as I swipe my finger across and tap the icon of a favorite app...  For all my lust and devotion, however, it always reveals itself to be a fleeting emotion, for I will inevitably soon have my wandering geek eyes on another.  A sneak peek at CES or CTIA, an early product announcement on TechCrunch or Engadget, and suddenly, I know in my heart of hearts that it is over, and a breakup is imminent.  As soon as I realize that my handheld mobile soul-mate may still be out there I begin to notice little flaws in my current mobile partner.  Screen swiping speeds that once wowed me suddenly seem sluggish.  The internal storage that seemed endless when our relationship began soon becomes far too little to fulfill my (app consumption) desires.  It's over.

Breaking Up Is (Not So) Hard To Do

I thought my HTC Evo 4G was my ideal mobile mate.  I adored the buxom 4.3 inch screen and flashy HTC Sense version of the Android OS. The allure of 4G was nice too, but alas, the dearth of coverage and demands on the battery life made 4G a minor attraction in our daily lives together.  Regardless, the Evo was a wonderful phone, and we were happier together than I had ever thought I would be, based on my prior phone relationships.  Though I began to notice other devices, I remained faithful to my Evo, and even resisted the temptations of the younger, slimmer, Evo 3D.  But then, the Motorola Photon arrived... and the reviews were good.  Dual core processor. Gorgeous screen.  Lighter, more appealing version of Motorola's MotoBlur software. And to top it off, the very latest version of Gingerbread.  She was sweet.  I had to have her.  I went to Radio Shack to see if she was there, and she was.  I put my Evo on the counter face down, and picked up the Photon.  It had me from "Hello Moto..."

How about you? Are you fickle with your phones too?  What kind of relationship do you have with your smartphone?

Photo Credit: NinaMalyna - Fotolia.com

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