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One of the main reasons why I wanted to move to Phoenix is so that I could have a ton of new areas to explore.  From Glendale and Scottsdale to Mesa and Tempe and everything in between there’s hundreds of miles and thousands of blocks to explore.  It’s going to take me a while to cover it all but that’s okay.  The journey is half the fun, right?

As I make my way around the city I’ve been taking mental notes of new favorite hot spots as I try to remember which bar has the best ambiance, which deli has the best Roast Beef, and which antique store has the best hidden treasures.

The mental notes approach, while tried and true, is a recipe for disaster.  Returning to an area armed with nothing more than your own recollection from two months ago is how people spend hours on end, roaming the streets endlessly in search of that elusive hole in the wall cupcake store that they fell in love with.  It would obviously be much better if there was a way to digitize your experiences.  A way to annotate your life on an ever evolving map.  Thankfully, now there is.

As Springwise explains, “The days of hand drawn routes and dogeared car maps are long gone. Most people now turn instinctively to their smartphones for directions, and while existing online maps do the job of getting people from A to B quite satisfactorily, the latest version of Citymaps has a lot more to offer. Citymaps 2.0 is a visually rich map which enables users to annotate and bookmark their digital world. It lets them create shareable ‘collections’ and will even learn the tastes of users over time, resulting in a personalized map which emphasizes specific venue types and brands.”

What I love most about this idea is the fact that the software evolves over time as it learns about you.  If I annotate all the antique stores and flea markets that I go to I could eventually receive a recommendation about an unknown mom and pop shop that could have exactly what I’m looking for.  The kind of recommendation that a Google search would never turn up.

I also like the fact that you can interact with your friends or other people and share your “collections” as you make them.  And I especially like the fact that you can collaborate with other people and pool your knowledge together in a shared collection.  When you’re traveling to a new city on vacation following a pooled collection seems like it could be a much better use of one’s time than following a Fodor’s guide or a few biased Yelp reviews.  It’s certainly a lot better than going it alone.

Now if only someone could tell me where I could find some good Roast Beef in the Phoenix area before I get the app I would greatly appreciate it!

Is a personalized smartphone map the Greatest Idea Ever?

In honor of March Madness I thought it would be fun to set up a 64 team bracket of tech companies and the innovations and trends driving them.  Readers of this blog could then vote for the idea that they think is the best.  However, considering that more people ride the bench for Valparaiso than read this blog that’s probably not a very useful exercise.

Rather, what I’d like to do is a bracketology style analysis of the major players in tech assigning seeds the way that the NCAA selection committee does.  Here’s a look at what I came up with:

#1 Seeds

These are the best of the best.  Big name programs that attract the top talent year after year.  In the NCAA that’s Duke and Kentucky.  In the tech world that’s Google, Apple, and Facebook.  Top talent like Johnny Ive and Ray Kurzweil reside here as do leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page.  From wearables to virtual reality to driverless cars these companies are at the forefront of innovation.

#2 Seeds

More big name programs that just missed the cut.  Very easily could have been #1 seeds.  Long history of success over the last ten to fifteen years.  In the NCAA that’s Kansas and Arizona.  In the tech world that’s Microsoft and IBM.  Play your cards right and you could get back on top very soon.  Can Watson and Hololens do the trick for IBM and Microsoft respectively?

#3 Seeds

Usually programs that had great years can be found here as a reward for their recent success.  Think Iowa State, Notre Dame, and Baylor.  No sure things here but they could make a deep run.  In the tech world that’s Tesla.

#4, 5, 6, 7 Seeds

Lots of big name programs here from strong power conferences.  Maryland, Louisville, Georgetown, Michigan State, etc.  Programs with a track record of success but who could be primed for an upset from a young upstart.  In the tech world think about Intel losing ground to new chip makers, Twitter’s uphill battle to make money and stay relevant and the litany of challengers trying to take down Amazon.

#8 & 9 Seeds

These match-ups are usually a toss up.  The outcome could go either way.  Cincinnati or Purdue? Too close to call.  In terms of technological concepts think about 3-D printing and BitCoin.

#10, 11, 12 Seeds

Lots of potential here from big name and small schools alike.  Some will have success (UCLA) while others won’t (Wofford, SF Austin).  In the tech world this is where you’ll find Lockheed Martin’s fusion reactor, Oculus Rift, Magic Leap and the Leap Motion Controller among others.

#13, 14, 15 Seeds

Small schools who just may pull off an upset can be found here.  Hello, Cinderella!  Their technological equivalent are young start-ups with big dreams.  Think liquid food alternative Soylent Green and live video streaming service Meerkat.

#16 Seeds

No sixteen seed has ever beat a number one seed.  But hey you never know!  Think flying cars, space elevators, and the like.

Filing out a bracket for March Madness is fun!  But you know what would be even better?  If we could fill one out for tech companies and concepts too!

You probably know about the Circadian rhythm that affects your sleep cycle.  But did you also know that there’s another rhythm, known as the Ultradian rhythm, that affects you when you’re awake?

I didn’t until recently but it makes perfect sense.  If our brain cycles through periods of activity and inactivity at night there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be doing the same thing during the day.  And yet we completely ignore this fact, working for hours on end without taking proper breaks, completely oblivious to the ebbs and flows of our energy levels throughout the day as we soldier on without giving our bodies and minds the proper rest that it needs to stay on rhythm, just going and going, powering through all obstacles, all day long, non-stop, without an end in sight, kind of like this sentence.  And just like the way a run on sentence needs to be reined in so too do our bodies.

We attempt to do this by pounding coffee, red bull, and five hour energy capsules to compensate for the fact that we’re not operating at peak efficiency.   We chalk up our sluggishness to that “3:30 feeling” , a made up marketing term instead of acknowledging the real science on hand.  We take fifteen minute power naps whenever we can squeeze them in.  We try different diets and consume several portion controlled meals in an attempt to boost our energy level.  We even read New York Times best-selling books from self-proclaimed self-help gurus that make millions just from stating the obvious.  We do it all except for the one thing that could actually make a difference in our lives: monitoring our Ultradian rhythm.   That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  We’ve been living in the dark for far too long, oblivious to the fact that our bodies were even on day time cycles.  Now that we’re armed with the knowledge about what is really going on inside our bodies we should be doing something about it.

So here’s what I’m proposing: a wearable device that tracks our Ultradian rhythm throughout the day.  When we’re at work it’ll tell us the precise time to take a break.  When we’re restless it’ll tell us when it’s the best time to start exercising.  At night we can use it in conjunction with sleep monitoring devices to time when we should go to bed.  It’ll be with us, all the time, nagging us like an over protective mother, telling us what to do and when to do it.  And unlike when our mothers do it we’ll love every minute of it.

We already have wearable devices that monitor our sleep cycles, waking us up at exactly the right time.  We even have other brain monitoring devices that allegedly make us smarter, help us concentrate more, and control our mood, among other things.  In the future we may even be able to fly a drone with our minds or communicate across long distances telepathically.    If all of that is possible shouldn’t it also be possible to get in tune with our Ultradian rhythm?  I think so and I think that we owe it to ourselves to try.

http://b.fastcompany.net/multisite_files/fastcompany/imagecache/inline-large/inline/2013/06/3013188-inline-ultradian-rhythm-inline.jpg

We shouldn’t be working during the day for more than 90 minutes straight.  Shouldn’t we make a wearable that tells us exactly when it’s time to stop?

#636 – Hunch

The other day I had my first fantasy baseball “draft” of the year.  I say draft in quotations because this draft was really an auction where you use a fake budget to bid on the players you want.  And while I did come away with some of the players that I was targeting I didn’t get all of them.  There were number of factors as to why that happened.  Roster size restrictions, budgetary constraints, and most of the all the fact that since this was a keeper league a lot of good players were already kept.

I now enter the season with a less than confident feeling about my team.  Considering all the time, effort, and money I put into playing fantasy baseball shouldn’t I at least be starting out the year feeling good about my chances?

With the way fantasy sports are currently set up that can never happen.  You can never get all the players you want.  You’ll never have a team just the way you like it.  Sure there are salary cap leagues that give you a little bit more control over who you get.  But even then you probably won’t be able to afford everyone you want.  With a plethora of different types of leagues to join from redraft leagues to keeper and dynasty leagues you would think that there would be some way to ensure that no matter who you like you can have that player on your team.  And yet there’s no way to do that.  Until now that is.

What I’m proposing is a league unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.  No roster limits.  No teams to compete against.  No real rules.  Just you and your “hunches” against the rest of the world.  And to be honest I have no idea how it would work.  I’m just spit balling ideas at this point.  But what I’m envisioning is a league where you can form an opinion about a player whether it’s the fact that player X is going to have a breakout year or that player Y is going to under perform and then you’ll gain or less points based on whether you’re right or wrong.

Unlike most fantasy leagues you won’t earn points on a daily or weekly basis and there’s no need to maintain your roster, scour the waiver wire, or work the phones for trades.  You just sit back and enjoy the season once you’ve placed your “bets”.  For busy professionals who have grown weary of the grind of a long season this could be the perfect antidote, a way to enjoy the game that they love without getting burned out in the process.

At this point I’m open to suggestions on how exactly this format would play out.  Would it utilize a confidence points format where you risk a certain number of points that you’re awarded on various outcomes?  If you’re right more often than not and right on the outcomes that you ranked the highest you’ll outperform someone else who was way off on their most confident predictions.  Or would it work like placing a series of over/under bets?  Wherein you can place as many bets as you want on outcomes that you think are likely to happen such as player X hitting 30 or more home runs or player Y winning a certain number of games.  This way you don’t need to own a player on your team to be able to root for them.   Or maybe it would work like a stock market game where you can buy any player that you want and potentially profit from their performance if they do well?

Either way I feel like this is something that should exist.  With so many different leagues to chose from it’s shocking that there’s no way to guarantee that you get to align yourself with the specific players that you want.  Why would we continue to subject ourselves to formats that leave player selection to fate, chance, and just plain old dumb luck when we can create a more intuitive system that gives owners complete control over the process?

I may not have all the details figured out yet but I do think that I’m on to something here.  Now if you excuse me I have to go cut some players that I never wanted in the first place.

This guy may be on a deserted island but he’s got it all figured out.  When it comes to fantasy baseball you should have complete freedom to pick anyone you want.

 

#635 – Buzzworthy

At any given time our phones know where we are and what we’re near.  That’s a pretty powerful tool.  One that we use to find the nearest Taco Bell when we’re hungry at 2 am.  Sure, we can also check-in on Facebook or receive coupons from advertisers but none of those things are game changers.  Apple’s iBeacon technology may be but even then we’ll just have a smoother shopping experience and not much more.

Surely there must be a better use of this technology.  A use that actually adds value to our lives.  Something that informs us.  Educates us.  Entertains us.  Something that does all that and more without putting us at risk and without hassling us or annoying us.

Thankfully, I think I have just the thing: an app called Buzzworthy that uses your phone’s location to send you push notifications or “buzzes” whenever you are near something “Buzzworthy”.  These “buzzes” will actually cause your phone to vibrate giving you immediate tactile feedback that alerts you to the fact that something awesome is about to happen.

For instance you may find out that Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure was filmed at the mall that you just walked into as I did recently.  Or that a famous figure used to live in the house that you just drove by.   Whether we’re talking about movie locations, places where historical events occurred, or areas frequented by celebrities there’s no shortage of interesting tidbits, fun facts, and obscure minutia that could be shared via this app.

And regardless of what kind of notification you’re receiving from this app it’s likely going to be something interesting, something actually worth reading aloud to your friends, something worth getting excited about, something worth sharing.  In other words.  Something buzzworthy.

Granted, receiving a bunch of unwanted notifications could get annoying but I don’t think it’ll be any more annoying than the breaking news or score updates that we currently receive from CNN or ESPN.  Not to mention all of the alerts from Facebook, Twitter, texts, and emails.  In fact, as we segway from an app based ecosystem to a push notification based experience this is exactly the kind of app that could fit right in.  One that helps us navigate the world around us.  Enhancing our experience instead of detracting from it.

Doesn’t that sound like a much better use of location based technology than alerting thieves to the fact that you”re not going to be home for a while because you just arrived at the Olive Garden for never ending pasta?

I know, Keanu and that other guy.  I couldn’t believe that this app didn’t already exist either.

The other day I read a profile in Inc. about Edo Segal, a man who the article describes as the Willy Wonka of Tech for his propensity for outside the box thinking and his ability to spin off his ideas into dozens of disparate companies.  A man after my own heart!

One of the ideas that he had was back in 2000 for a web based service known as eNow.org that would search for insights from the thousands of thoughts in online chat rooms.  As Segal states in the interview with Inc., “If you have a machine that gets the live feeds of everybody’s thoughts, and you derive insights from that, that’s really a form of collective consciousness, and that’s really a form of God.”

The article goes on to state that Segal gave up on the idea because he believes that it’s what Twitter has become.  But he’s wrong.  Twitter is a broadcast medium.  When we use it we chose our words carefully, crafting succinct messages that can fit into a 140 character limit.  We know that what we say can be seen by the entire world and used against us and we act accordingly.  Most of the time.  At this point it’s more performance art than collective consciousness.

If we want to find true insights then what we need to do is create a medium that’s completely anonymous.  No names.  No twitter handles.  No identifying marks of any kind.  But don’t worry.  This won’t be a place for anonymous “trolls” to bully innocent people relentlessly.  There will be no broadcasting here.  Nobody will ever see what gets said here.  No one.  Not even the government.

Rather this service will be a place where people can say anything they want about any topic.  A digital equivalent of a bedside diary.  A true look into the subconscious, into the deepest, darkest thoughts of every person in the entire world.  And it’ll use Bitcoin style encryption to enforce the anonymity.

This is the kind of idea that wouldn’t have been possible fifteen years ago when Edo Segal was first dreaming up his concept.  It wouldn’t have even been possible a year ago.  But now thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, cloud storage, and the like it is possible. Just build a website, have the entire world add content to it on a daily basis, or whenever they feel like it, and have IBM’s Watson have at it, searching for patterns and insights in the data.

What kind of insights?  Well, think about it from a public safety point of view.  If this super computer that we task with analyzing all this data finds out that a lot of people in one particular region are having violent thoughts it can alert law enforcement in that area to be on the lookout for aggressive behavior.  Or if a lot of kids in one particular town are complaining about bullying school officials can be put on notice that they have a serious problem on their hands.

Furthermore, if we knew what everyone was thinking we could track the spread of diseases more efficiently by tracking the number of complaints as they rise from one area to the next.  We wouldn’t even need to conduct political polls anymore.  We would just know what the public was thinking without even having to ask.

One of the major pushes in technology is to develop predictive tech that knows what we want before we do.  Digital assistants like Google Now and Cortana fit the bill.  But shouldn’t we be taking that a step further?  Instead of knowing what any one individual wants shouldn’t we also know what all of society wants?  If we did we could start acting proactively instead of reactively, solving our problems before they manifest.

Edo Segal may be the Willy Wonka of Tech.  But he also may have been ahead of his time.  So let’s turn his dream into a reality.  Let’s play God.

Edo Segal, the Willy Wonka of Tech, may have had a great idea fifteen years ago.

The other day I found out that there used to be a drive in movie theater around the corner from where I’m now living, in what is now a vacant lot populated by tumbleweeds.

I’ve never been to a drive in movie theater but I used to pass by one in South Florida all the time and I imagine that the mere mention of one invokes nostalgia from the people who grew up with them.  There’s just something about sitting on the hood of your car on a clear night with a love interest or family member right beside you as you watch your favorite movie under the stars.  It’s the epitome of the perfect date night.  It’s also something that an entire generation of people will never get to experience.

Sure there are downsides to watching a movie outside.  Car alarms, car horns, the roar of a motorcycle, headlights, and other nearby traffic that’s coming and going could be distracting.  Weather patterns could change unexpectedly.  Concessions and amenities may be few and far between.  Your car battery could get drained.  Walking out of a movie is easy.  Driving out may be trickier.  All of which probably explains why the Drive In Movie Theater has died a slow death and given way to reclining seats, surround sound, and waiter service.

However, I think there’s still a market for a drive in theater but the key is to find something that you don’t need to actively listen to, something that’s worth watching but that doesn’t require you hanging on to every word.  Something like sports.

What I’m envisioning is a drive in theater with several huge stadium size Jumbotrons that showcase multiple sporting events.  Just think about how cool it would be to pull up to one of these screens on a football Sunday with a car full of your buddies.  People who attend games live say that tailgating in the parking lot before the game is the best part of the experience.  Now you could do that even when your team is playing on the road.  Even when you don’t have a ticket to the game.  Just imagine how cool it would be to watch a live UFC event in an open air environment like this instead of in a crowded bar.  Just imagine how great it would be to roll up on a place like this during the NCAA tournament and bounce from screen to screen to catch each of the games.  You could make an entire day out of it.  Alumni associations could rent out screens to host viewing parties for when their school is playing a televised game.

Playing up the sports theme this establishment will be known as Pit Stop as a homage to NASCAR.   The concession stand will be a refueling station.  Staff will be dressed like a pit crew.  I;m still debating whether you actually park somewhere else, leaving your car to get serviced, and then sit on old used cars that are permanently parked near the screens.  This would eliminate some of the distractions of when people come and go and would further play up the NASCAR pit stop theme.

All in all, isn’t it time that drive in theaters made a comeback?!?!  And isn’t turning them into sports viewing theaters the perfect anecdote for what ailed them?!!?! Let’s make this happen!!!!

Drive in movie theaters have come and gone.  Isn’t it time that we replaced them with drive in sports viewing theaters?

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