Master — Slave: Rise of the Smarts
We’re all seen the movie where the brain eating succubus takes over the body of a human and turns them into an avatar. Then they all band together to perform a mission of the alien race. What if that was happening here, right now, but to our “dumb” devices?
TV sets have always been a display surface for our cable and DVD players. And since the rise of smartphones, there was no way to marry the two screens.
Google released the Chromecast in 2013 to help the two devices speak. Chromecast plugs into a TV’s HDMI port and through the home’s WiFI network, transmits whichever data the phone wants to push it’s way. Because it was Google that was building this, they had an open platform where more that 20k apps were built for the Chromecast enabled TV.
Now for a person to enjoy the iPhone’s Netflix app, they won’t have to be subjected to their 5 inch screen, but enjoy that movie on a 50 inch screen in their home.
So much work has already been done with creating an ecosystem for our smartphones, there was no reason to recreate the wheel, simply create an extension. Now the TV is simply an extension of the smartphone, and the smartphone is simply a remote.
Cars have been around since 1920, but the feedback that we get from them has not really evolved. According to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau, 10.8 million people, or 8.1% of workers, commute an hour or more to work each way. What’s more, 600,000 are classified as “mega-commuters,” traveling 90 minutes or more and at least 50 miles to get into the office. This is in sharp contrast to the national average commuting time of 25.5 minutes.
Companies like Dash and Automatic are making your car smarter, even if it’s not the latest model. They are enabling all car manufactured since 1996 with “smart” tech. They allow the driver to decode engine light problems, and improve fuel efficiency. In addition, it unlocks a whole platform of apps for the car.
- Fleet — Increase your fleet’s productivity and safety
- Concur — Frictionless expensing for Concur users.
- Expensify — Frictionless expensing for Expensify users.
- FreshBooks — Create invoices from mileage.
- Hustlebox — SMS and email based trip tagging.
- Nexonia — Streamlined expense reporting.
- Quickbooks — Add your miles to your books.
- SherpaShare — Easy tax savings for rideshare drivers.
- Tripdots — Powerful trip tagging for expensing.
- Xero — Manage your vehicle costs easily.
- IFTTT — Automate routines across apps.
- Amazon Echo — Hey Alexa, where’s my car?
- Auto — DashYour customizable in-car control panel
- Nest — Pre-heat on the way home.
Self Driving Add-on
George Hotz, a 26-year-old hacker, built Comma.ai, a self-driving car add-on that allows any car to become just that. The technology he’s building represents an end run on much more expensive systems being designed by Google, Uber, the major automakers, and, if persistent rumors and numerous news reports are true, Apple.
More short term, he thinks he can challenge Mobileye, the Israeli company that supplies Tesla Motors, BMW, Ford Motor, General Motors, and others with their current driver-assist technology. “It’s absurd,” Hotz says of Mobileye. “They’re a company that’s behind the times, and they have not caught up.”
He trains the control software for the cameras using what’s known as a neural net — a type of self-teaching artificial-intelligence mechanism that grabs data from drivers and learns from their choices. The goal is to sell the camera and software package for $1,000 a pop either to automakers or, if need be, directly to consumers who would buy customized vehicles at a showroom run by Hotz.
New platforms don’t have to be something that has been newly invented. TVs and cars have been around for over 50 years, and are now becoming battlegrounds for companies to compete on. As long as these companies can offer more value (and extract slightly more than they offer) than their competition, the consumer will choose them. Remember, there are 253M cars on the road and according to Nielsen’s 2014 Advance National TV Household Universe Estimate (UE), there are 115.6 million TV homes in the U.S.
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