TechZone 360 Week in Review


We're going to begin this week's review by issuing a public safety alert and warning. Newly available camera technology now makes it possible for police and state troopers to quickly scan your license plate while you are whizzing by on the road or highway, and through a new ability to rapidly get information back on whether or not your license plate is flagged, you may find yourself with red lights suddenly flashing behind you. In particular, you will have to worry if you happen to be in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where exactly such a system is now being deployed. Better pay those parking and registration fees right away. Of course, if you are clean you can now stop worrying about that police car you just passed…right?

Every year you hear of companies with enormous powers to generate patents - in particular the likes of IBM, Xerox, Microsoft, Apple, Samsung…to name but a tiny little group of them - and these companies are always in the limelight regarding patent creation. More recently, Apple and Samsung have turned lots of attention on patent wars rather than patent developments, but that is a conversation for another day. Aside from these very successful patent generating companies, however, new research now shows that when successful private companies go public they much more typically end up releasing fewer patents. Why is that? In any case we hope the folks who invented the license plate scanning tech fall into this camp!

Aside from the police scanning your license plate, there's been news this week that the U.S. government wants to let spy agencies gain widespread access to massive amounts of data on Americans and other people who use U.S. banks. Details were included in a Treasury Department document, and the plan would allow spies and others to locate terrorist networks and crime syndicates - a goal of many in law enforcement and federal intelligence.

For anyone who hasn't been hiding out or maybe taking time off to sit on a beach somewhere in Hawaii, the odds are pretty good that you knew Samsung was launching its next state-of-the-art device, the Galaxy S4 (or S IV if you prefer). There's been a lot of chatter about Samsung suddenly becoming the smartphone innovation leader and there's been talk that the S4 would put proof to the thought. We'll politely disagree if anyone actually thinks the S4 accomplishes this. We've got some very interesting thoughts to share on the subject of smartphone innovation and the S4 for you that we're sure you will find of significant interest. Let us know what you think.

On an entirely different front of innovation, Twitter spent some time blogging this week to announce that it is making the jump to Windows 8 with Twitter for Windows 8. But the jump isn't just about a new operating platform for Twitter, it's also about a whole set of new features that are going along with the jump. For example, with "snap view" you can snap Twitter to the left or right side of your screen, then switch over to a new app while still being able to keep track of all Twitter conversations. There's more. Twitter also announced that it has decided to move into unchartered territory: it is currently in the midst of developing a music application. This follows Twitter's recent purchase the We Are Hunted music service. Twitter is initially targeting iOS. BTW, what do you think of allowing line breaks on Twitter posts? It seems excessive to us.

Meanwhile, one of YouTube’s original founders is set to launch a potential competitor to the online video giant. Chad Hurley, who exited the company after selling it to Google in 2010, is planning to launch a new video collaboration platform, or so he noted during the weeklong SxSW technology and music festival that just wrapped up in Austin, TX. He wasn't able to say much else about it, but another month or so and we'll know exactly what it is he has up his video sleeve.

On yet another entirely different realm of innovation, we've all now heard a great deal about 3D printing - that magical new capability that 3D printers have to "build" real objects. It's quite amazing, and reality is leading to some interesting scenarios. First, how about the ability to design something yourself - let's say a piece of pottery using an app. In the old days you would be both satisfied with your creation and perhaps also forever unsatisfied that the computer image of your creative achievements was the only thing you would ever have to show for it. No longer. Through the magic of that 3D printer reality and a new service called Sculpteo, now you can have your pottery for real.

There is a flip side to all of this however. There is a 3D printing company called Defcad, a company that started out trying to find a way to print a handgun, that many are now calling the Pirate Bay of 3D printing - and not without reason. Defcad is gearing up to become a search engine of 3D printing templates, all of which will be available without copyright or the need to pay for them. It's an approach that so ignores copyright is likely to run into problems - in the end it may prove a good thing if the company doesn't survive.

We'll end the week's review on the following: Most of us have heard about the Internet of Things - aka IoT - that rapidly evolving massive collection of machine to machine devices that will all be massively connected via the Internet in one form or another, creating all sorts of opportunities for us to find ways to use it all to make our lives better. The IEEE recently took it upon itself to conduct a survey to scope out just where exactly we might look as to what aspects of our lives we might want to make easier through IoT. The answer may surprise you - an overwhelming 65 percent of respondents want to make their work lives and jobs easier. Check out what else the survey uncovered.

Have a great weekend!

TechZone360 Senior Editor

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