Todd’s Tech Report: August 27, 2014


Would Native Americans Be Cool With Native Advertising?


What’s going on?

Sponsored content. “Native Advertising.” Something a little less lame than a man fixing a printing press after popping a Levitra. Don’t worry, “He’s learned a thing or two.” Or has he? Or have we? What we all can learn now is we’re reading propaganda disguised as legitimate prose. Oh, how so Todd? Glad you asked, WORLD. Drop the AdDetector extension in your browser and lift the skirt on the matrix just a little bit. She’s a shy one but she’ll give up her secrets for free.

Why does it matter?

Because it’s getting harder to tell what is journalism and what is some PR hack pumping out content to push the agenda of huge multinational corps. Yes, great it’s creating jobs for ‘brand journalists’ but can objectivity reign when you’re the cheapest hooker of a blue-chip pimp? Maybe. I don’t know. I’ve been duped enough but I’ve also learned a thing or two. Cue the awkward embrace of middle aged actors indicating to us viewers that an impending sex fest is about to ensue.


Dubai As The Sun’s Slave


What’s going on?

See that up there. That’s Dubai. It’s in the middle of the desert. It should not technically exist. But it does because we are lords of the earth. It’s also built with slave labor and has the ecological footprint of a brobdingnagian scale. To make up for it they could replace all the glass in every building with transparent solar collectors recently developed by Michigan State.

Why does it matter?

Because every building should be slathered in this stuff. Up until now this type of collector or “window” had a tint to it. Most people don’t like being bathed in bluish light (unless on bath salts) all day so the breakthrough is in the transparency. Cities as solar farms. Buildings that power themselves. Dubai as a series of massive Duracell batteries in the sand. The sooner the better.


Bionic Ball Boys of The US Open


What’s going on?

The kids are getting wired up for the big show this week thanks to OMSignal and Ralph Lauren. They’ll be dressed in nylon T-shirts lined with conductive silver-coated thread and sensors, recording all of their biometric data. Heart rate, breathing and stress levels, will all be monitored allowing officials to keep an eye on these spry young beasts of ball management.

Why does it matter?

Pop on a shirt and track everything about you. No headbands, wristbands, watches, bangles, jangles or dangles. Mr. Lauren is going to launch a full line of clothing with this tech. Soon it’ll be everywhere. Shirts, socks, undies and jocks. And another pound of our privacy will be lost to innovation. Thanks a lot tennis.


Give Your Brain A Back-up Plan


What’s going on?

Those evil geniuses at DARPA want into your brain and they’re gonna get there in four years. The RAM (Restoring Active Memory) project’s researchers are charged with understanding the neuroscience of memory and then building a prosthetic memory device that’s ready for implantation in a human brain. How daunting a task you ask? Just a walk in the park Kazansky (h/t Top Gun). Researches say, “We need to take analyses that used to occupy a personal computer for several hours and boil them down to a 10-millisecond algorithm.” Clearly no dumb people are working on this.

Why does it matter?

Since 2000 over 270,000 U.S. military service members have suffered traumatic brain injuries that impair their memories. That’s the population of Des Moines, Iowa. Which is a forgetable place but I don’t think I’d want to forget I’d lived there, if I in fact had. Maybe I would. They have a 600 pound butter cow at their state fair. That’s worth remembering.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82spsYiCB4A#t=51

What Kind Of Spherical Witchcraft Voodoo Is This?


What going on?

It’s a giant snow globe from the future. Researchers from the University of São Paulo, in Brazil, and University of British Columbia, in Canada, have developed a spherical display that lets users see and interact with 3D objects. It’s called Spheree. Kind of sounds like the name of a Pug or maybe Siri’s twin sister who was separated at birth and raised by Himalayan Sherpas.

Why does it matter?

Any advance in how we interact with our digital world, the better. Oculus is the “Belle of the Ball” right now. Variations on that theme are good. Researchers envision Spheree helping animators or modelers by showing 3D computer animations or the results of image-based rendering applications — perhaps as a second screen. A larger version of Spheree might provide walk-around experiences for team projects or show up in interactive museum displays. Or you could project the inside of a snow globe. So meta.


There Are No Sanctions On Life In The Vacuum Of Space


What’s going on?

Putin’s crew who’s floating the globe in the ISS dropped some serious WTF on the world. Word is microrganisms have attached themselves the outside of the space station and Russians know not how/why this is happening. Their only explanation is that atmospheric currents may be lifting these particles from the ocean all the way to the station, 205 miles (330 kilometers) up in the sky. Well hell, there you go. Space winds. Winds beneath their wings. Bette Midler and what not.

Why does it matter?

One sassy mystery of the universe is how life spread through out the void. Big IQ problem right there. Lots of questions, few answers. Maybe this solves that question. If these microbial hop-ons can survive why couldn’t more hitch a ride on a comet (which we are going to land a probe on soon) or an asteroid? Oh, do tell. Think less that Engineer melting scene from Prometheus and more apocalyptic comet devastation during the early years of planet earth.


Hey Bro Your ACL Is Gonna Tear Today


What’s going on?

Some crystal ball shit is happening my friends. The fast-growing industry of performance analytics says it can minimize injuries via prediction. How does one do such magic? Example: During practices last season, players on the Toronto Raptors wore a cell phone-sized unit called an OptimEye. This puppy’s gyroscope and accelerometer provided reams of data about how players actually move—accelerations, decelerations, elevations, jumping ranges, and so on—and at what intensity. A bunch of data, a few geeks, some algorithms and dash of doctors produces a prediction model based on previous injuries or medical conditions.

Why does it matter?

Injuries don’t just cost wins. They cost racks on racks. MLB teams spent $665 million last year on the salaries of laid up players and their replacements. NBA teams lost $358 million last season; $44 million alone by the injury-ridden Los Angeles Lakers. That might have cut into Kobe’s private helicopter budget. And in the NFL, where the average salary is about $2 million, starters missed a record 1,600 games in 2013. Do the math.


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