Friday, August 13, 2010

End of Hardware!

Too much hyped up a title for this post?? I dont think so...

In fact, I got this title from one of the amazon books that I came across recently. Sometime back, I had written about the evolution of hardware devices such as analog devices in recent times like how they are morphing themselves into smart, internet-enabled digital devices. But, if you notice, those devices are actually relinquishing their physical forms...

For example, we were using analog alarm clocks a decade ago. Do we buy them at all today?
I dont see many of the today's smartphones have keypads. KeyPads are disappearing and converged into touch-panels within the mobile devices. Today, I came across this mobile app from General Motors that plans to have embed your car key functions within an application. Here, your physical car key disappears. One more example - recently California Administration recently came up with an innovative idea of turning car name plates to digital sign boards that can display advertisements.

Maybe, Ten years from now, we will use less physical devices compared to today's scenario. As the book states, we may not see huge physical machines such as Cars, Utility machines going away.They would be still around. But, what I see is that most of the information-emitting or information-requiring special devices will go away. They would all converge to a new digital experiences.

Yes, the new digitial experience that is gaining momemtum these days is 'Augmented Reality'.

Augmented Reality is a term for live direct or indirect view of physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery. Its basically an enhanced view of reality mediated by technology.

One of my colleagues introduced me to Layar, an augmented reality browser for Android platform. It is available in most of the smartphones today. Using the browser, the user can view enhanced / additional or hidden information by focusing the mobile on a real-world object / location. This is enabled by GPS technology & Internet feeds with exclusive additional information about the real-life objects. For example, using this app on your mobile, you can search for health care facilities or even jobs around your location or a Service person can view the hidden mechanical parts information within an automobile.

One could explore the other possibilities of this technology by looking at the examples quoted in Wikipedia.

I personally believe this technology has lot of utility value and could explode in useful business/consumer applications in future.

More than that, It could also be the beginning of the end of Hardware devices.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Future of Portals

What is the site that you frequent quite often in the last six months?. Has it changed?

Here is my experience..

I used to visit my personal dashboard on atleast once a week. But, Of late, I am seeing myself visiting LinkedIn very often compared to Am visiting LinkedIn to keep up with my contacts, find old/lost contacts, participate in group queries/discussions. If you are not visiting Netvibes, you should be visiting Facebook. Yes, the focus is clearly shifting from Portals to Professional/Social Networking sites.

I believe the reason why networking sites are such a big hit are - its about "me", interacting with people is fun than interacting with plain information,its real-time/lively, the information flow is bi-directional, it can bring new opportunities.

I dont know what LinkedIn is thinking about its roadmap. But, I firmly believe the personal home pages of these networking pages can become "the universal web desktops" and gobble the personal portal solutions like netvibes.

This Web Desktop can provision access to whole lot of services including networking. Yes, the networking would become "one of the services" provided.Many other services could be knowledge portal, bookmark sharing, access to social/enterprise applications and gaming.

And more importantly, the users would expect those sites to learn about themselves instead of users teaching the site about their preferences. I have been using Netvibes for more than three years now. What kind of knowledge it has acquired to provide me better services?

In the context of emergence of these networking sites, where do the personal portal sites stand? More importantly, in the Enterprise IT context, do you still need those expensive Portal servers?

Portal servers are expensive, complex and attempts to provide one-stop solution for everything whereas lightweight portal alternatives and new user behaviors are emerging in recent years.

Time has come for Enterprise IT to evaluate their portal investments and take decisive actions. Interestingly, this article also shares the same views about the future of Netvibes.