Will we see a Samsung product in Apple Stores?

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The home automation is heating up, with both Apple and Google announcing home automation APIs. Google’s purchase of Dropcam also signals their intention to be a major player.

Many home automation devices (e.g. sensors for home security) run on battery power to eliminate the need for costly wiring. Low-power wireless allows for powering these device with coin-cell batteries. Zigbee and Bluetooth Smart (I’ll use BLE as it is less of a mouthful) are two of many lower power wireless communication protocols in use today.

Apple embraced, the then nascent, BLE, by supporting it on the iPhone 4s, and by using it to implement iBeacon. This shifted the balance away from Zigbee to BLE, but ZIgbee still held one key advantage, range. Zigbee is a mesh network, meaning any node can communicate with any other node, allowing messages to be passed from node to node over long distances. BLE is a star network, where peripheral nodes can only communicate to a central  master, and messages are limited to the range of a single transmission.

Early this year CSR announced  “Game-changing Bluetooth® Smart solution enables whole home control from the smartphone for the first time”, where the BLE standard was tweaked to allow messages to be passed from between peripheral nodes, extending the communication range.

Early this month Samsung announced  “Samsung Unveils Industry-First Bluetooth Mesh Network Enabled Smart LED Light Bulb”.

Mesh network BLE may indeed be the game-changing technology for home automation for Apple, as it would allow a single central device (perhaps the next Apple TV) to communicate to every wireless node even in larger homes.

Phillips Hue, is the smart LED light available at Apple Stores today. It runs on Zigbee, and requires a hub to bridge to the iPhone.

As Samsung is the first player to introduce a mesh BLE product, will Apple Stores carry it?

 

Wearables in Professional Sports

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Last week, I wrote about how technology & Big Data can be used to gain an edge in sports. Today, I will look at how Wearables have the potential for making contact sports safer.

Many years ago I was a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs when their playoff nemesis were the Philadelphia Flyers. In 1991, the Flyers drafted Eric Lindros, who became one of most dominating players in the NHL. His career was marked by a series of concussions, which led to his premature retirement at age 34.

I now live in the SF Bay Area, where Jahvid Best played college football at Cal Berkeley. In 2010, he was drafted in the first round by the Detroit Lions, but was out of football by 2013, due to the after-effects of a series of concussions.

The list goes on with profession athletes’ careers shortened by concussions and former athletes showing symptoms related to concussions from their playing days.

Today, when a player shows signs of a concussion, they are removed from play and medically examined before they are allowed to return. However, without showing outward signs of a concussion, an injury could easily go undetected.

Every wearable fitness tracker and most smartphones today have built-in accelerometers, which can detect the magnitude of impact forces. This technology could be incorporated into wearables that could monitor head impacts on athletes. An example is a mouthguard being developed at Stanford. A mouthguard may not be appropriate for all athletes, for example the quarterback in football, where a mouthguard would impair their ability to communicate, but one can imagine variants that would work.

When players sustain head impacts that exceed limits, which can be individually set by direction of impact, they would be removed from play. To monitor impact in real-time, these wearables would communicate wirelessly using IoT (Internet of Things) technology.

With the millions invested in star athletes by profession teams, and the ongoing litigation by former NFL players, including Dan Marino, against the league, I anticipate that this technology will be introduced into professional sports in very near future.

Which companies will bring this technology to market?

There, Big Data, Wearable and IoT all in on post :)

Dropcam – Did Google just buy their version of Apple’s Homekit?

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Google’s $555M purchase of Dropcam signals that Google is serious about the home automation/security market, and now, its a two horse race with Apple.

In Dropcam, they get the centerpiece of a home automation and security system. Dropcam was trying to attract home security products to join their ecosystem by opening up their API http://www.cnet.com/news/dropc… , so Google may leverage that API to compete with Apple’s Homekit.

I feel that Dropcam could become much more of an integral part of Google’s home automation strategy than Nest.

Perhaps Google thought that Nest could be the centerpiece for them, but may end up only being an nice peripheral device, playing no more important a role as the Honeywell’s Lyric in Apple’s home automation ecosystem.

P.S. if this article on DropCam from the Verge is accurate and they are working on Bluetooth LE sensors, then Google is clearly getting some traction into home security with this purchase.

The Power of Extensions

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A fellow blogger posted his thoughts on the many (unsatisfactory) ways of finding out the length of a String in Swift.

His wish is that Apple would let him use this syntax:

s.length

With extensions in Swift, he can, as we see in the screenshot above.

P.S. This could be done with Categories in Objective-C, but this just seems easier, and the name makes more sense than “categories” :)

Unbuilt bridges in Swift

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I’ve been building some simple apps using Swift and finding that I am liking the direction that Swift is taking iOS programming. But with any new technology, especially in beta, there are rough edges. One area is in bridging data types between controls and the new data types in Swift.

The first example is in the picture above. Label control text isn’t of type String, which leads to a subtle issue.

The second example is below. Slider control value is of type CFloat, not Double.

doubleDown

Neither issue is difficult to work around, but issues like these will frustrate some early adopters. Hopefully there will be bridges built before the formal release :)

Technology in Sports – Goooooooool!

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In the first real test of GoalControl, France was controversially determined, by a computer, to have scored its second goal against Honduras in today’s match.

This is the first World Cup where “goal-line” technology has be used. This technology goes beyond the system of instant replay, widely used in the major sports in the US, where the decision is made humans reviewing video footage. With GoalControl, the decision as to whether the ball crossed the goal line is determine in real-time, by a computer based on input from a set of 7 cameras trained on each goal.

Video technology has been making its way into professional sport over the last several decades, where now the job of an assistant coach may consist of watch hundreds of hours video to gain some insight on how to defeat an opponent.

If we draw a parallel between instant replay and GoalControl, we should expect computer systems to take over video analysis. Not constrained by the limitations of human endurance and memory, computer systems could, for example, process every at-bat of a baseball player throughout his career to optimize the defensive positioning against him. This optimization would include models of acceleration and maximum speed of each fielder, the type and intended location of the pitch, and the real-time weather conditions in the ballpark. This technology would be expensive, not only in hardware, but also in software talent. But considering the salaries of star professional athletes, the return on investment on technology would be quite attractive.

Using today’s buzzwords in technology, should we call this Sports Big Data?

P.S. Wearables and iOT are other are other areas where technology could benefit profession sports. More in future posts.