Monday, June 27, 2011

The Singularity is Near

How many more doubles until the singularity?

If you don't know what the singularity is - and you have some time - read the following article by Ray Kurzweil,
The Law of Accelerating Returns. It's one of my favorite articles and informs much of my thinking of the future of technology.

Processing speed is growing exponentially. While the first few doubles may not be noticed, or seem exciting to outside observers, it can soon grow to game-changing proportions.

Year Name Transistors
1971 4004 2,300
1972 8008 2,500
1974 8080 4,500
1978 8086 29,000
1982 286 134,000
1985 386 275,000
1989 486 1,200,000
1993 Pentium 3,100,000
1997 Pentium II 7,500,000
1999 Pentium III 9,500,000
2000 Pentium 4 42,000,000
2002 Itanium 2 220,000,000
2004 Itanium 2 592,000,000

I got the above table from Intel, published in 2005. Six years later the Core i7 (Sandy Bridge E) has 2270 million transistors (2,270,000,000).

Where will we be in 20 years? Assuming computing power (equivalent but not equal to transistors) continues to double every 18 months we will go through 13 more doubles, 2.27 billion will become 4.5 billion in 18 months and become 9000 billion in 20 years. Imagine that if you can.

Twenty years ago we had clunky "portable phones" with huge batteries, today we carry around TVs in our pocket. Tomorrow will it carry all our books, medical records, photos? Of course. We need to imagine what new things could be there. Could it be a portable "pensieve?" A place to store and review memories?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

QR Codes - Why Aren't We Hearing More About Them?

QR Code usage is ramping up very slowly. Why is that? It's a wonderful idea. Use your phone as a scanner and get more information about a product, or include it into an existing app. For instance you can scan your food and an app could help you come up with something to cook for that night; another app could help can keep track of your clothes. Let an app know what your favorite beer is (it could tell that from your purchases and web queries) and as you pass a bar you could get a notice that this very bar has Six-Point Righteous Rye on tap and a great selection of Avery beers.

Why has it not taken off? Because right now selecting a QR Code provides limited utility to the end user. This will change shortly - in 5 years or so - when there are apps galore for the end user. Of course then QR Codes will be invisible, with dozens, if not hundreds hidden in EVERY graphic.

We can see the inevitable problems: as QR Codes become "pushed" on consumers there will be new calls for privacy; new data piracy problems. We will solve these problems as well.

EDIT 12/2/2011:

Starbucks Cup Magic launches for iPhone and Android devices in the US next week and allows users to point their iPhone at specially designed Christmas cups and see all sorts of fancy dancing things and enter competition.

The app works by pointing your phone’s camera at the company’s red holiday season coffee cups and 47 additional objects, such as bags of coffee, on display at Starbucks retail locations. Doing so will produce animations involving five characters — an ice skater, a squirrel, a boy and a dog sledding and a fox — on your screen. You can also interact with the characters. For instance, if you tap the boy on the sled he does a somersault. Those who activate all five characters can qualify to win an as-yet-unnamed prize.

Starbucks brings seasonal cups to life with AR

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Password Codes

LifeHacker has an interesting article regarding the most commonly used pin numbers.

iPhone developer Daniel Amitay anonymously recorded and analyzed passcodes of users of his Big Brother Camera Security iPhone app, resulting in an interesting list of the ten most common passcodes, which, in order of popularity, include 1234, 0000, 2580, 1111, 5555, 5683 (spells LOVE), 0852, 2222, 1212, 1998.

These 10 numbers were accounted for approximately 15% of all the passwords, 1 in 7 of the total. Of course people are slightly less concerned about their password security for their camera app than they are regarding their finances but the moral of the story is that one must be careful in the way one creates password algorighms.