Todd’s Tech Report: August 20, 2014


Find Out Where Poor People Live

What’s going on?

Aaron Krieder took $10k from the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation (suns out, guns out!) and dropped the hammer on the Justice Map. By layering Google Maps and U.S. Census data, he created millions of map “tiles” that users can analyze and annotate after searching for a location. So if you wanted to you could demonstrate that your city’s poorer neighborhoods have less green space than their wealthy counterparts.

Why does it matter?

It’s big data laying things bare. Urban planners and social activists are interested in tools like Justice Map for their potential to stymie policy decisions and budget allocations that might favor wealthy voters. I like to use it to find out if I make more money than my friends in other cities. To each their own.


Uber Has Achieved Omnipresence


What’s going on?

I love the Ube’s. Can’t deny it. Gotta say I do. It’s the fucking “now economy” and I like it! Two big things happened: One, they hired Obama’s former campaign manager David Plouffe to convince the world that black cars are good for the soul and two, they launched an API that allows anyone to bake in the black cars into any service / app / site / yurt.

Why does it matter?

If Uber was a virus it would kick Ebola’s ass. They want to be the instant economy backbone. From cars, to groceries, to medications, to whatever you want. They want to be king. #kinginitbro. They want to own the whole damn Monopoly board and they probably will. My kids will be using Uber in 2020 like I use Google and never leave the house.


Tumblr Tumbles To Its Death


What’s going on?

To the legions of Tumblr faithful, I regret to inform you that your leader has given away the keys to the kingdom. In a partnership with Ditto Labs your images will now be scanned for brands. But don’t worry: “Right now, we’re not planning to do anything ad-related,” says T.R. Newcomb, head of business development at Tumblr. Sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure et al.

Why does it matter?

Besides Snapchat and anything belched out by the Kardashians, Tumblr is a hub for the kids. The golden demographic with daddy’s credit card and quiver full of guilt trips. It’s image heavy and “brand affinity” is the fucking holy grail for advertisers. Because it’s only about, “understanding conversation around a brand.” Sure. Well I hope they build drones too so I can get a glass of Chardy dropped from the sky while I walk to lunch.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

We Are So Over


What’s going on?

It’s 15 minutes of potential doom but worth it.

Why does it matter?

Yes, a tad terrifying but maybe it’s the bright future we all hope for and will personally free up more of my time to trim my Bonsai.


Wearables On The Law’s Long Arm


What’s going on?

Wearables. Sophisticated and prevalent. Now they’re beginning to attract the attention of senators and regulators. This week, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a press release calling on the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to push fitness device and app companies to provide users with a clear opportunity to “opt-out” before any personal health data is provided to third parties.

Why does it matter?

We should get out ahead of this for obvious reason. Data is the new oil. I don’t need anyone selling my Midichlorian count to the highest bidder or my insurance company declining coverage because I was shooting womp rats in my T16 back home. You dig?



3D Printed Pot…s.


What’s going on?

Oh damn. Got you’re blood pumping with that title right? Thinking your MakerBot could crank out the stanky sticky green goodness, eh? Wrong. This is about art. Take it seriously. Artist Oliver Van Herpt designed and created a five-foot-tall 3D printer that is capable of producing ceramic objects up to 80 cm tall and 42 cm in diameter. The machine also allows the artist to add his own style and detail to the pieces. The metal contraption serves as a modernized alternative to the potter’s wheel.

Why does it matter?

Just another example of machines and humans doin’ the no pants dance. Van Herpt’s machine and process are another example of how 3D technology can be used in one’s craft and still allow the artist to stay true to his artistic style and aesthetics. And you can make things to put weed in…brah.


Space Mining Robots That Swarm!


What’s going on?

It takes a ton of time and money to get things to space. Stuff like fuel, water and air. The better plan is to find this stuff along the way to wherever. To do that NASA’s “Swarmies” robots are designed and programmed to forage like ants do. Each individual robot has basic hardware and follows a simple set of rules, and when it finds something interesting (a barcode on the ground, in this case, but you can slap whatever sensor package on them that you want), the robot calls over all its Swarmie friends to come help it out.

Why does it matter?

Baby steps are good as we move to mining asteroids and the moon. Even better, this idea could have applications on tera firma too. Less Chilean miners trapped underground and more Swarmies doing their deeds.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvLZl1HlW3Y

Bjork. Nuff Said.

What’s going on?

Bjork dropped Biophilia a few years ago. Most everyone thought the entire concept was otherworldly from the music, to the mobile app, to the live show. The Biophilia tour was a pyrotechnic, multi-sensory performance featuring Tesla coils, a pendulum harp, a gold lamé-clad women’s choir and a hybrid gamelan-celesta (googs that). All-in-all some strange and compelling shit. It’s Iceland’s fault.

Why does it matter?

Because it’s Bjork and she’s about as convergent as you can get. She doesn’t give two damns and watching it unfold live would be undoubtedly inspiring. And I can never understand a word she sings.


http://vimeo.com/103425574

Face/Off


What’s going on?

Oh you know just some projection mapping on a model’s face. Real simple to do. Especially given the fact that she doesn’t remain stationary so the projection moves with her. Basically a real-time layer of animated light that’s inseparable from the object itself. Easy peasy.

Why does it matter?

Most projection mapping is done on somewhat flat and stationary objects. This is next level since the computer is trained in real-time to scan and follow the models face. This would have made Face/Off a much more interesting movie.


iPhone Doubles As Portable Disease Lab


What’s going on?

Biomeme is backed by Mark Cuban and is developing a piece of hardware that attaches to an iPhone and essentially has taken a common diagnostic tool called the “real-time PCR machine” — which can cost thousands of dollars — and made it portable. It uses the iPhone as a platform to test people for diseases and run other biological diagnostics in almost any setting.

Why does it matter?

It’s early but this could be a full lab in a to-go box. Here’s an example: “After a sample of, say, urine has been prepped, it is inserted into the top of the thermal cycler, which uses a process of heating and cooling to identify the presence of a certain DNA or RNA strand for, say, the flu. If the flu is present in the sample, the thermal cycler will multiply the RNA strands, and they’ll begin to glow. If it’s not present, the thermal cycler won’t be able to multiply it, and therefore, the sample will not glow. The machine would then use the smartphone camera to measure the luminosity of the sample and determine whether the flu was present.” Complex? Yes, but cool as hell.


Linear Note: I help the SXSW Interactive Festival curate content and jump the shark.