Archive for September, 2015

When the new iPhones come out later this week there will be a baker’s dozen worth of new features for fan boys to swoon over.  Primarily, we’re talking about improved specs.  A better camera, a better microphone, a faster Wi-Fi connection.  Selfies will also be easier to take.  The list goes on and on.  But overall, the biggest take away from the list of improvements is going to be the two new signature features.  You know, that one new function that is actually great enough to justify rolling out a whole new phone.  Or so Apple thinks.  Two years ago it was Siri.  Last year it was the Fingerprint Sensor.  This year it’s 3D Touch and Live Photos.

Of the two, 3D Touch has the ability to be the most revolutionary new aspect as it introduces us to a whole new way of interacting with our phones.  By pressing down on our screens certain functionality will be enabled.  Pressing down even harder will unlock even more features.  For example, when you get a new email you can press down lightly to see a preview of it and then press down harder to open it all the way up.  Pressing down hard on the camera icon will give you options to take a picture, selfie, regular video or slow motion video.  The added functionality will depend on what app you’re using and not every app will be supported at first.

Ultimately, I can see this functionality becoming useful to those who wind up mastering it.  The mobile phone equivalent of keyboard shortcuts.  But then again I can see also a whole slew of people, already use to using their phones a certain way, who will just wind up ignoring 3D Touch entirely.  That’s why I’m more excited about the second feature, Live Photos.  By capturing a second and a half’s worth of footage before and after you take a picture your phone now has a quick and easy way to turn any still photo that you take into a live action gif.  Essentially, this capability brings your photos to life just like the images in the Daily Prophet from the Harry Potter movies.

Like with most first generation products Live Photos isn’t a finished product yet.  Slightly moving your phone before or after you take a picture basically ruins the effect, ambient noise gets captured even if you don’t want it to and you can’t share to social media yet, just with other iPhone users.  But all of those kinks will get worked out eventually and in the end we’ll have a killer new product that we can’t live without even though we never even knew we wanted it in the first place.  Sound familiar?

Is either 3D Touch or Live Photos the Greatest Idea Ever?

Read Full Post »

#793 – The Wize Mirror

I usually don’t spend a lot of time looking at myself in the mirror.  Just a quick once over to make sure all of my facial features are where they’re supposed to be.  A good habit to get into considering that my grandfather stole my nose a few times over the years.  However, I soon may have to change my morning routine and leave a few more minutes for self-reflection.  Not because I’m suddenly becoming narcissistic.  I already had that covered.  But rather because there could one day be a mirror with the ability to check your health just by looking at you.

As Fast Company puts it, “The Wize Mirror knows if you’ve been drinking too much or eating foods you shouldn’t. It can sense if you’ve got high cholesterol or are on the way to getting diabetes. And it does all of this without ever taking a blood sample or getting you to pee in a cup.  Under development by 11 European research groups, the mirror isn’t like any looking glass you’ve seen before, and it sounds barely believable. But the scientists behind the project are confident they can diagnose a string of health problems just by looking at people’s faces. So, soon you could be checking your health as well as your appearance, as in Mirror, mirror on the wall… tell me if I’m drinking too much.”

How exactly would it work though?  Well, according to Discover, “Its cameras would document the day-to-day changes in your facial features in order to identify known markers of stress, anxiety and disease. Images could also be used to assess a person’s blood oxygenation and heart rate, thanks to minute fluctuations in skin color that occur with blood flow.  A full 3-D facial scanner would let you know if you’ve gained or lost weight. Finally, gas sensors would sniff for chemical compounds in your breath to determine how much you drink or smoke, and if you’re at risk for disease.”

As of now, this project is more in the concept and prototype stage than actual development stage.  Meaning that while we may have to wait a few years for it, the finished product could evolve to contain even more capabilities than have currently been imagined.  Suffice it to say we soon may all be spending a lot more time in front of the mirror.   

Is the Wize Mirror the Greatest Idea Ever?


Read Full Post »

The other day Facebook finally announced that they would be giving into peer pressure and adding the one feature that everyone has always clamored for but never thought they’d actually get: the dislike button.  This prompted one of my friends to bash this decision, claiming that there is already too much negativity and hate in the world to deal with.  A post I would have disliked if I could have.  And… we’ve come full circle, highlighting exactly why it is that we need a dislike button.

But before anyone else gets all riled up about this decision we should make one thing clear:  Facebook is not getting a dislike button in its purest form.  Rather, what it’s getting is a so-called empathy button.  A way to show your support for  someone when they share bad news.  That way you don’t have to “like” the post and make it seem as though you’re liking the fact that something bad happened to them.

As TechCrunch explains, “If Facebook built a Dislike button, it would just cause confusion. If I share a post about victims of a natural disaster, and you Dislike it, does that mean you Dislike that the tragedy happened? That you Dislike the victims? That you Dislike that I posted it? It’s extraordinarily ambiguous in a way that directly conflicts with how Facebook builds products.”

So instead we’re going to get an empathy button or buttons enabling us to more clearly express some of our emotions such as sympathy or feeling sorry for someone.  I totally understand why Facebook wouldn’t want to add a Dislike button.  Why they wouldn’t want to create a competitive culture of down voting posts that could let weeds of negativity fester inside their walled gardens, turning their promised land into a breeding ground for bad behavior ala Reddit.  But at the same time I think their fears are misplaced.  For the simple fact that, sometimes, disliking something is a totally harmless and accurate way of expressing your emotions.  Such as when you’re ex-girlfriend announces that they got engaged or when an obnoxious fan from a rival sports team puts your favorite player on blast.

Ultimately what this debate comes down to is whether you think negativity is a bad thing.  I know that’s a weird thing to say.  Negativity is obviously a bad thing, isn’t it?  Well, it doesn’t always have to be.  It can be used for good.  For example, when I was in college I tried to use negativity as a marketing ploy to get an apathetic student base to care more about the University.  The campaign was simple.  This place sucks.  Let’s make it better.  By and large the campaign was a rousing success.  Students who previously didn’t care about one another were now united in their hatred for a common enemy: the school’s President who cared more about moving up the rankings of best colleges than about the well-being of the students.  However, the school’s administration didn’t take too kindly to the negative approach and shut it down.  Ten years later the student body is still apathetic and the President still only cares about the rankings.  And I’m left wondering what could have been.

What’s the moral of the story?  It’s simple: negativity isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It’s a source of energy.  One that could lead to great things if it’s properly harnessed.  The Facebook dislike button could have been a step in the right direction.  Instead we’re left with a watered down, politically correct version of what we wanted, a square peg solution to a circular problem.

Is Facebook’s Empathy Button the Greatest Idea Ever?

Read Full Post »

The other day Apple unveiled their latest wave of products including a new version of Apple TV featuring a touch screen and integrated Siri search and a new jumbo iPad complete with a stylus, the one thing Steve Jobs vowed to never incorporate in an Apple product.  The hope is that this controversial stylus (referred to as Apple Pencil by Johnny Ive & Co. since it feels like a real pencil) will inject some much needed life into Apple’s stagnant iPad sales.  Gearing these larger screen behemoths towards enterprise customers is a step in that direction as well.  But let’s be honest.  That’s probably not going to happen.  There’s nothing earth shattering or game changing about a stylus.  Nothing here that can move the needle forward.

At least not when it comes to this still particular stylus.  But as it turns out, Apple may actually already have a difference making stylus in their arsenal.  Or at least the patent for one.

As Fast Company puts it, “Easy to imagine: you’re sitting at Starbucks, drawing on your iPad. You need to add a nice wood grain to a render that you’re working on, and instead of searching for one via online databases, you simply tap your pen to the table, digitize the walnut finish, and add it to your scene.”

Now that’s a stylus worth getting excited about.  A creative tool like no other, one capable of digitizing the entire world by ‘absorbing’ what it comes into contact with.  The kind of device that even Steve Jobs would have gravitated towards.  And best of all, this isn’t another case of Apple ripping off a competitor as their iPad stylus did with a similar product from FiftyThree and as the functionality of their Apple TV did with Roku.  Rather, this is a unique idea.  Something new, something fresh.  Something unlike anything else we’ve ever seen before from Apple or anyone else. 

Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come.  An indication that Apple isn’t done innovating in the post Steve Jobs era.  But based on everything else we saw the other day I’m not going to hold my breath.

Is Apple’s stylus capable of digitizing the world the Greatest Idea Ever?

Read Full Post »

Regardless of where you were or what you did this summer, chances are, you spent at least a portion of it dealing with the aftermath of ice cream that melted too fast.  From stained clothing to ruined car seats you probably sustained some collateral damage along the way as well.  Thankfully, all that’s about to change for scientists have discovered a way to create ice cream that won’t melt so fast!

According to CNN, “Researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee have discovered a naturally occurring protein that can be used to create ice cream that is more resistant to melting. The protein binds the air, fat and water in ice cream, creating a smooth consistency that stays frozen longer.

The article adds that, “The protein, known as BslA, occurs naturally in some foods and works by adhering to fat droplets and air bubbles, making them more stable in a mixture. Researchers at the two universities say they’ve developed a method of producing BsIA in so-called “friendly” bacteria, which have positive health benefits.”

Aside from creating ice cream that melts slower there are several other added benefits as well to using this newly discovered protein such as the fact that the ice cream can be stored at lower temperatures saving energy and that it can be made with less saturated fat saving calories.  It doesn’t get any better than that. 

 A healthier, slower melting ice cream?  Um, yes please!  Where do I sign up!!?!?

Is a slower melting ice cream the Greatest Idea Ever?

Read Full Post »

There are several novel approaches to killing cancer cells, all of which give hope to the idea that we’ll find a cure for cancer within my lifetime.  However, none sound more promising than using the venom from a Brazilian Wasp for it has been shown to kill cancerous cells while leaving healthy cells untouched.

What the what?!!?

Here’s how it works according to I Fucking Love Science:

“The cancer-targeting toxin in the wasp is called MP1 (Polybia-MP1) and until now, how it selectively eliminates cancer cells was unknown. According to new research, it exploits the atypical arrangement of fats, or lipids, in cancer cell membranes. Their abnormal distribution creates weak points where the toxin can interact with the lipids, which ultimately pokes gaping holes in the membrane. These are sufficiently large for essential molecules to start leaking out, like proteins, which the cell cannot function without.”

The reason why I like this approach compared to other cancer therapies that try to either kill cells through brute strength or by tricking them or reprogramming them is that it’s an approach found in nature.  You see, I’ve long held the belief that every single thing from natural resources to plant and animal species is here for a reason.  If we haven’t found a use for something yet we just have to look harder.

This practice is known as biomimicry and it’s been used to design everything from more aerodynamic planes that fly like birds to hospital counter tops that act like shark skin in order to repel bacteria off of them.  Now it could very well be what cures cancer.

Which begs the question:  what else haven’t we discovered yet?

Is using the venom from the Brazilian Wasp to cure cancer the Greatest Idea Ever?


Read Full Post »

Having grown up watching SeaQuest DSV and reading the Clive Cussler NUMA files starring Dirk Pitt I’ve always had a fascination with the ocean.  From sunken pirate ships and lost civilizations to undiscovered marine life and breath taking views there’s no shortage of incredible adventures that one can partake on under the sea.  Just so long as one steers clear of the Bermuda Triangle, sirens, and the Cracken.

Unfortunately, I’ve never come close to seeing any of the wonders of the world’s oceans and probably never will.  Truth be told I don’t even like going to the beach anymore on account of all the sand.

But if that ever changes and I do find myself exploring the final frontier I know exactly how I’ll be doing it: in style thanks to the ORB Oxygen Rebreather.  Appearing more like a motorcycle helmet than traditional scuba diving gear this newly designed device ditches the heavy oxygen tubes in favor of an amazing do it all helmet that recycles a user’s oxygen thereby allowing them to explore the ocean floor unencumbered.

The designer, Thomas Winship, had this to say about it on behance:

“This is my 3rd year final project for Ba (hons) Product design at Staffordshire University.  I have taken the heavy and bulky scuba diving equipment of today and through the merging of rebreathing (recycling your own oxygen) and new modern lightweight materials, I have managed to condense all of the breathing system into the stylish rebreathing helmet.”

So much so that the helmet even comes with Bluetooth allowing divers to communicate with one another directly.  There are however, some concerns about this design as well as pure oxygen at certain depths could be harmful to divers.  Assuming those concerns can be alleviated and this product is 100% safe there’s only one thing left to do: figure out where to go diving first!

ORB Scuba Diving Helmet by Thomas Winship

Is an oxygen rebreather helmet the Greatest Idea Ever?

Read Full Post »

#787 – Cat Cafes

The other day the Oxford dictionary added a bunch of new words including McGvyer, manspreading, and beer o’clock.  My reaction: Awesomesauce!  Which, by the way, was another new word that they added.  But what captured my attention the most was their inclusion of the term cat cafe.

That’s right.  The act of going into an establishment just to pet a cat is now so prevalent and widespread that it is now an official dictionary word.  My first thought was, “what is the world coming to”.  But upon further review I realized just how great of an idea this is.

Not everyone can own a pet.  Perhaps they aren’t going to be home enough or maybe they can’t afford it.  Or even if they could afford it and would be home enough maybe there are other circumstances preventing them from becoming a pet owner such as the fact that their partner has an allergy.  For people like that having the ability to go somewhere and play with a cat from time to time is the purrfect trade off.

Who else might consider going to a pet cafe? Well, according to the people who spend their free time tracking cat cafe statistics the demographics tend to skew towards young females.  But there are a lot of people from all walks of life who attend from stressed out students to lonely senior citizens.  So many people are attending in fact that one cafe in New York City is already booked up through next April.

And best of all the cats are up for adoption as well.  Awesomesauce!

Is a cat cafe the Greatest Idea Ever?

Read Full Post »

One of the most popular articles that I’ve ever written was about unique fantasy football leagues.  So sad.  Here I am trying to save the world with science and technology and all anyone cares about is fantasy football.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  It is, after all, a multi-million dollar industry, a great way to keep in touch with friends or make new ones, and addicting as fuck.  With that in mind I might as well just succumb to the pressure and give the people what they want.  Without further adieu here’s a quick look at a few more unique ideas/concepts to help you mix things up or gain an advantage in your league.

  • The no drafting league:  Anybody can get lucky on draft day and come away with a killer team.  What’s harder is wheeling and dealing your way to a championship.  In fantasy baseball it’s rather easy to make a trade.  Just trade a surplus starting pitcher for a hitter.  Trading in football is far rarer because most teams never have any depth to work with.  Trading a wide receiver for a running back is like robbing Peter to pay Paul.  Which is why I’d like to introduce the no drafting league.  All you have to do is set up your league to auto draft.  Each owner that has to make the most of the team they’re handed.  Whoever trades the best or works the waiver wire the best would win.
  • Team positions: Most leagues do away with individual defensive players in favor of a team defense.  But why isn’t the opposite true?  Why are there no team offenses?  Well, I think there should be.  Here’s how it would work.  Instead of just drafting Tom Brady you’d draft the New England Patriots QB unit.  That means you’ll get the stats for Jimmy Garoppolo in weeks 1-4 and then Brady’s stats in weeks 6-17.  Better yet if Tom Brady goes down with an injury in the first quarter of week 11 you’re not screwed over.  You’ll just get Garoppolo’s stats for the rest of the game.
  • Lineup Optimizer App:  It used to be that you could gain an edge over your friends by having access to a source that no one else did.  Whether that was a handy magazine cheat sheet or a website that nobody knew of yet.  But those days are gone.  With dozens of magazines on the news rack and hundreds of websites and blogs there are no secrets anymore.  Until now that is.  That’s because there’s now a website capable of giving you an edge over your competition.  All you have to do is upload your league’s settings and in just a few seconds you’ll be given a breakdown of what your optimal lineup should be according to those very settings.  In fact, if you are willing to manually enter who gets drafted in your league the site will even give you real time updates on who is left.  The manual updating is annoying but the pros far out weigh the cons.  Your welcome.

Are any of these unique fantasy football ideas the Greatest Idea Ever?

Read Full Post »