Mo’ Better Tech

future_wowThe one certainty about technology companies is that they’ll continue, where applicable, to churn out hardware upgrades and software updates. Sometimes even brand new products.

Technology marches forward, but sometimes new features and products aren’t much to write home about. Other times, however, they represent truly amazing leaps forward—inventions, innovations, and improvements that transcend the typical user experience.

More and better throughput, clarity, security, juice—and WOW factor. With apologies to Spike Lee—Mo’ Better Tech.

More throughput

The current leading Wi-Fi technology—802.11ac—achieves data transmission speeds up to 866 million bits per second. That’s fast, right?canstockphoto22252518

Well, Samsung this week announced the development of a 60GHz Wi-Fi technology that reportedly enables data transmission speeds of up to 4.6 billion bits per second. If my math is correct, that’s a five-fold increase over the 802.11ac standard.

Samsung claims its new technology—which it is calling 802.11ad—will transfer a one gigabyte movie from one compatible device to another in less than three seconds. Now that’s fast! The company expects that its technology will be available to the market in 2015.

Which is timely, as video streaming on the Internet is becoming mainstream for consumers, and  the popularity of 4K video streaming is right around the corner.

More resolution

Speaking of 4K video, we’ve seen the increasing popularity of this standard, especially for mastering digital cinema and other high-end video applications.

imac-retina-step1-hero-2014In addition, 4K televisions are now plentiful on the market, and Netflix is offering Ultra-HD (4K) video streaming as part of its service.

This week Apple did the industry one better, by announcing immediate availability of its iMac 5K Retina, an all-in-one computer with the the world’s highest resolution monitor—offering the ability to display almost 15 million pixels. Is this just Apple showing off, or is there a good reason for a 5K display?

Actually, clearly the latter. For people editing 4K video, the ability to see the video at full resolution, while also simultaneously being able to see and access the various editing toolbars surrounding the image offers a powerful professional advantage.

This is true of any vertical market where high-resolution imaging is important—medical imaging, photography, chemistry, science—the list goes on.

I haven’t had a chance to see the new iMac in person yet, but early hands-on reviews describe the computer as drool-worthy, a game-changer, and jaw-dropping.

Once again, Apple is leading the way here, and it appears that its competitors, and the industry in general, may have been taken completely by surprise.

More security

We speak often of a desire to reclaim our privacy on the Internet, and there have been a few technological solutions to this, but none very easy for the average user.

That’s perhaps why a new Kickstarter project had apparently captured the imagination of a great many investors. Called Anonabox, the project described a simple box that could be connected between your cable modem and home router.

anonabox

All traffic, incoming and outgoing, would be routed through the Tor network, which was designed to enable users to surf the Internet anonymously, preventing their activities and location from being discovered by government agencies and others.

From the Kickstarter site, the inventors described their process and rationale: “As is our habit, a few friends who work in IT consulting got together for beer and tacos…As we finished our beers, we noticed a news story on the overhead TV about the Arab Spring protesters in Egypt being cut off from Twitter. We wished we could help somehow.”

The result of nearly four years of effort: the Anonabox. What the Anonabox would do is provide an easy way for even non-technical users to anonymize their web browsing.

We learned yesterday, however, that Kickstarter has suspended the Anonabox project for breaking its rules, according to a story on the Digital Trends site. Reportedly, nonetheless, the developers of Anonabox said they will be selling the device from their own website.

I know the NSA and dozens of governments think this is a bad idea, but I disagree. Users should be allowed to browse the Internet anonymously, because otherwise there’s a very real possibility, particularly in oppressive regimes like China, Syria, and Iran, that they’ll be punished for it.

More juice

One of the issues with electric cars, indeed, all mobile devices is battery life. A start-up company in Michigan, Sakti3, claims that its solid-state battery components more than double the energy density of today’s best Lithium-Ion batteries.Sakti3_battery_cell

According the a report in Scientific American, “Sakti3’s technology is a solid-state battery produced with the same thin-film deposition process used to make flat panel displays and photovoltaic solar cells. The cell contains no liquid electrolyte; an “interlayer” acts as both the separator, which keeps the positive and negative electrodes from coming into contact, and the electrolyte, allowing desirable ion transfers to take place.”

If that’s just a bit too technical for you, perhaps it’s enough to imagine in the not too distant future affordable electric cars, and smartphones and laptops that last weeks between charges.

More WOW

And speaking of affordable electric cars, Tesla’s new Model D is definitely not one, at least for the vast majority of us.

Tesla

At $120K, it is an automotive masterpiece. Dual-motor, all-wheel drive, 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, top speed of 155 MPH. As Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, reportedly described it, “This car is nuts. It’s like taking off from a carrier deck. It’s just bananas.”

The Model D is also a technologist’s dream with a multitude of innovative safety features. It comes with every conceivable sensor, including a 360-degree sonar system to detect nearby vehicles and other obstacles; radar that allows it to see through fog, sand, and snow, and a camera that is able to recognize traffic signs and lights, as well as pedestrians.

The new Tesla also has a killer feature: auto-pilot. The car is able to combine all sensor information with real-time GPS, navigation, and traffic systems, effectively creating a “protective cocoon” around the car that warns of, and avoids, impending collisions.

Bananas, indeed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *