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Showing posts with label technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label technology. Show all posts

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Nexus 7 From Google and Asus

Google and Asus join forces to produce the Nexus 7 with Android Jelly Bean
After some speculation in the recent days, Google and ASUS have confirmed the creation and launch of a new 7" tablet, the Nexus 7.

It's the first 7" tablet to be running the all new Android 4.1 OS, aka Jelly Bean.  Google say the focus of the tablet is to make it portable, easy to use, and fast.  And from first impressions in the video (see below), it certainly does look that way.

In terms of specifications, it's running on the quad-core Tegra 3, has an IPS based LCD screen running at a resolution of 1280x800, has NFC (near field communication) and also has a 1.3 mega-pixel front facing camera.  Unfortunately, it doesn't have an SD card slot however.  In terms of size, it measures 7.81 x 4.72 x 0.41 inches (19.84 x 11.99 x 1.04 cm).  It weighs in at a very light 340 grams (12 ounces).


From the outset, it looks like Google are trying to fill a hole in their portfolio by creating the 7" platform, and entrusted ASUS to come up with a stunning tablet, building on the success of other ASUS products.  Google are keen to emphasise just how easy it is to carry this device around, and use it to watch digital media, read books or play games.  They also want to make it clear that using Jelly Bean, which has been tuned to make the OS slicker, faster and smoother, will make this device a top performer.

As for pricing, well, here is a bit of a shocker - but a nice shock!  Initial launch price for the tablet is $199/£159 for the 8GB model, and $249/£199 for the 16GB model. It will also ship with a $25 credit to use on the Google Play app store.  Expect this device to start shipping around mid July in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia.

All in all, this seems to be one stunning piece of kit, and no doubt looking to rival the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note, all be it with a slightly bigger screen.


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Thursday, 21 June 2012

Mixed Reality - Canon to Launch Game Changer

Canon have announced that they will launch their "Mixed Reality" (MR) technology at the end of July this year.  What does this mean for the likes of you and me?  Quite a lot actually.

What Canon has done is, quite simply, outstanding, by giving the ability to combine full size computer generated images in 3D that interact with the user.  It's uses are endless, including prototyping new products in a much reduced time scale than traditional methods.  The user will be able to use the prototype combining it with the MR system and actually get a feel of how the product will handle in the real world.

Canon state that the technology will "initially focus on the industrial design and other design fields".  But ultimately I can see this technology making it's way into our homes.  For a while now, users of consoles and hand-helds such as the Sony PS3 and Nintendo 3DS have been using augmented reality (AR) to play games, whereby the use of cards or everyday objects are reflected in their games.  But should Canon develop (and undoubtedly miniaturise) the technology, and I can see console manufacturers being very interested in buying into the technology.

And let's not forget what this technology could do in the field of medicine (something Canon are already pioneers of).  Using MR in this field could allow surgeons to practice complicated procedures on patients as if it was a real-life situation.

So yet again, Canon have come up with a technology that will benefit us all in the long run, be that allowing manufacturers to bring to market products quicker, or to enhance game play in the future, or even help save lives.

The full press release from Canon on MR can be found here

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Friday, 15 June 2012

Young Girl Banned from Blogging

This is a very quick blog entry, and because it relates to technology, I wanted to put it out there to you all.  Please look at the blog listed below.  The young girl in question has been blogging about her school meals, and taking photos, with the permission of her school.  Now Argyll and Bute Council have banned her from doing so.  This is an outrage in my opinion.  This young girl obviously enjoys her blogging and she should be allowed to continue to do so. Take a look at her blog and you decide if what she has been doing constitutes censorship!

NeverSeconds: Goodbye.: This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos...
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Saturday, 9 June 2012

Phone Manufacturers Need to Stop Bickering

are smartphone companies filing needless patent claimes
Am I the only person who is a fan of technology who is fed up to the back teeth of reading stories regarding smartphone manufacturers constantly trying to ban sales of each other's devices?  I suspect not!

Don't get me wrong, I understand that patent infringement is a serious issue.  If you've spent millions, if not hundred of millions of pounds developing a technology, you sure as hell don't want another manufacturer out-and-out copying it.  If they do, then you're more than entitled to be served justice in the courts.

What I have a real hard time with is when these companies try to find the slightest thing that may have some relation to one of their patents and then do their best to try to ban the sale of that device in as many countries as possible.  For example (and this is not a purposeful dig at Apple, but it's the only one that comes to mind at this moment), a few months ago Apple sued Samsung (and I believe Motorola also) over the "Slide to unlock" feature on their smartphones.  I mean, come on.  How can a manufacturer be able to patent that?  More to the point, WHY should manufacturers be allowed to patent something like that.  It's an action that a user does, and more to the point, it's just a graphic representation.

Now we hear that Apple are trying to get the courts to ban the launch of the Galaxy S3 in the USA on 21st June over more alleged patent infringements.

Here's my two-penny worth here, as a technology based person, and a "normal Joe in the street person", and it's directed to all smartphone manufacturers... GROW UP!  Protect innovative ideas in your devices, yes, but stop with the petty, nit-picking, and ludicrous law suits in an attempt to gain the upper hand in sales by stopping your competitors from selling their devices.  Give me, the user, new, innovative ways to use my device that nobody else has done.  Make me excited over your products, but do it in a way that makes me want to choose your phone over your competitor.  Don't think just because you slap a law suit on your competitor and if you subsequently manage to block sales for a month that I will buy your device instead.  Use that money you would spend on law suits to push the boundaries of what is possible on a device.

If, of course, a competitor is proven to have outright stolen your code, or a technology on the device, and it's as obvious as the difference between dark and light, then of course, I will support your actions and applaud them.  But if you all continue to keep suing each other for things like the top left hand pixel on the phone directly lines up with the inner most ridge of the bezel (yes, I made that up!), then I won't want to buy your devices.  On the same tangent, all this suing for crazy things must be pushing the price of the devices up, which inevitably gets passed on to me, the consumer, so from that point alone, you should cease!
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Thursday, 7 June 2012

How Modern Technology Can Help in So Many Ways

sunny view of fuerteventura
You may have noticed that I've not posted in a couple of weeks or so.  That's because I was off in the Canary Islands sunning myself in Fuerteventura.  And yes, I had a fantastic time thanks!  Unfortunately, I was too busy having a good time to do any research on what Fuerteventura holds in respect to technology, so this article is not about that.

Instead, I want this article to focus on how much modern technology helps us in so many ways in situations that may not be entirely obvious.  The reason for this is upon returning from my holiday, my beloved pet cat had decided she was going to go missing whilst being looked after in my absence.  As any pet owner will understand, whether it's a cat, dog, ferret, bird, whatever, the loss of a pet is a traumatic event.  I spent a good couple of hours searching up and down the streets, but to no avail.

using modern technology to help in ways which you may not consider
So, I turned to technology to help.  I gathered email addresses of all the local veterinary surgeries in the area, as well as organisations such as Animal Search UK, the Blue Cross UK and RSPCA, and emailed them with a picture of my cat, and the circumstances in which she had gone missing, giving every contact method that they could get me on.

I then created a Facebook advert, which was targeted specifically at people living in my area, again with a picture of my cat, and linked it back to the missing pet page at Animal Search UK.  Another example of how social networking can assist in getting your message to a specific sub-set of people.

As the deadline for her being missing almost approached a week, I was beginning to give up any hope of seeing her, and resigned myself to saying goodbye.  But then, on my first day back at work, I received a phone call on my mobile.  It was a local vet surgery who said that they had contacted another vet surgery asking if anyone had reported a black cat missing. A kind member of the public had brought her in after she was sitting on their front doorstep crying all night.  Incidentally, the vet surgery who rang me I had been unable to contact, as they didn't have a contact form or email address and were closed apart from emergencies over the bank holiday.

As proof that some tales (or should that be tails!) have a happy ending, I hot-footed it from work to the vet, and sure enough, it was my cat.  We were reunited!

So technology really has saved the day, and proven how in a modern world without it, me and my cat may never have been reunited again.  In years previous, I would have put up posters, and maybe a leaflet drop, and in this case, may have still been reunited.  But modern technology speeded up the entire process and within 2 days of me reporting my cat missing, we were back together again.

Up to this point, as I had originally adopted my cat, I'd not had her micro-chipped.  Another wonderful use of technology that helps track down owners of missing pets perhaps before they realise they've gone.  Naturally, my cat is now walking around with a chip in her skin which means if she should ever decide to go on another little adventure and arrive at a strangers door, I should get to hear about it a lot sooner.

And for those of you wondering, this is the little madam who caused me so much distress, but who is now back home, and as I type, sitting looking at me waiting for me to vacate my chair, and the moment I do, will curl up on it - content, and not too worse for wear after her adventures!
how modern technology helped reunite my pet cat with me

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Monday, 14 May 2012

How Mobile Technology Has Changed Our Lives

using video on a smart phone
It's been a little quiet on the technology front this last week, or at least, nothing worth writing home about.  Yes, there are some developments at Yahoo! but apart from that, pretty slim pickings.

So, I thought I would write something about how I perceive that mobile technology has changed our lives.  And by that I mean how most of us seem to carry our smartphones everywhere.  The reason for this, and why I started thinking about it was due to a family celebration we had at the weekend.

There was about 11 of us celebrating my Mum's birthday.  Anyone under the age of 45 (and yes, that includes me!) had their mobile phone with them.  Pictures were being taken and exchanged, and uploaded onto Facebook.  But not just pictures, videos of the event too.  And as the fun and laughter went on into the evening, so did the use of the mobiles.  And it got me thinking that without these mobiles or smartphones, how much we used to miss out on and be able to share so easily with our friends and family.  For example, without my trusty HTC, I could not have recorded the [following movie] ([click] to watch) which turns out to be a bit of video gold.  And within moments of me uploading it to YouTube, which is linked to my Facebook account, people were laughing and sharing it - even those not in close proximity to me.

Now if you go back say five or ten years, moments like this would have been missed - purely because without a dedicated camcorder which you would have had to lug around.  But in today's modern society where so many of us have smartphones, we can capture videos like the one I've put in the link above at a moment's notice.  Okay, so I spruced it up a bit using Windows Live Movie Maker, but it doesn't change the fact that I was able to capture something pretty damn funny.  What's more, as is becoming more the case, that movie was captured in full 1080p high definition.

There's often a lot of criticism levied at people using smartphones and how in some ways it can be anti-social.  And to a degree, yes it can.  If you're sitting in a nice restaurant with your partner and you are sitting there checking Facebook, then I can understand it.  But in social situations, at a party for example, I personally think it's a great asset to be able to share the picture you've just taken with all your friends and family.

All in all, I think that smartphones, whether they be an Android phone or an Apple iPhone, have changed the way we interact at social gatherings, allowing us to instantly share those precious memories.  And it's great at the end of the party, returning home, sitting down and being able to see how much everyone enjoyed themselves.
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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Google's Self-Drive Car

Google have been granted the first ever self-drive license in Nevada, USA
In today's article, I am going to look at the concept of autonomous vehicles.  Today we learn in the news that Google have been granted by Nevada their first ever self-drive license.  And other states in the USA are also looking to follow suit regarding  autonomous vehicles.

When Henry Ford introduced his Model T in 1908, nobody could have ever imagined just how far cars would come technologically wise, or how popular they would become.  Today, cars are common place around the globe.  And each year, they get technologically more advanced.

So it was only a matter of time before the next logical step would come.  A car that doesn't need to be driven by a human with computers on board taking over the duties of a driver, encompassing all the technology we currently are used to like satellite navigation and guidance.

Cruise control, common on many cars around the world today
I wonder, however, how many of us drivers of the current era would feel totally at ease with letting a computer do all the work for us, and not having the control over the vehicle.  I for one get twitchy about using the cruise control in my car.  Sure, I can set the speed I want to go at, and take my feet off the pedals and just steer.  But I find myself constantly hovering my right foot above the break pedal, not 100% trusting the car get on with what I've asked it to do.  Now take all that into account, and take your hands off the wheel and put your faith in thousands (if not 100's of thousands) of lines of computer code, and the multitude of computations performed every second to keep the vehicle on the road, pointing in the right direction and making sure the car doesn't crash.

You have to assume stringent tests and certification means that the Nevada authorities are confident that this car will be just as safe, if not safer, than any other car being driven by a human being.  And I guess it makes sense. A computer with all the right sensory equipment in theory should be able to outperform any human.  Much like in the same way that we accept that when we're on a plane, most of the time the pilots have handed over complete control to the on-board computers to guide it to the destination.  And yes, there are savings to be made here, with better fuel economy, and in theory, less vehicle accidents meaning fewer insurance and personal injury claims.

However, no computer at the moment can truly replicate how a human perceives the road ahead, can it?  Yes, in time, this technology will get better, and fine tuning will make it even more responsive.  But computers, no matter how resilient, are still programmed by humans, and are liable to "bugs".  And what happens if the computer crashes? If your Android phone locks up, and reboots, it's a minor inconvenience.  If it happens in a car doing 60mph down a motorway (or freeway as they are known in the States), then this would cause all sorts of issues.  I presume there are redundant computers on-board to instantly take over.

Cars of the future are more likely to be designed as autonomous vehicles
Don't get me wrong, I am all up for this new technology, and I am sure in 25 years from now, we will sit back and mock the fact that we actually used that circular device in front of us to steer a vehicle, and those pedals in the foot well to control our speed and to slow the car.  But the question is, for me, is the technology proven enough in it's current state to allow us to make that leap from human controlled vehicles to autonomous vehicle control.  A study released by J.D. Power & Associates suggests that in the States, only 1 in 5 of those questioned would be interested in buying an autonomous vehicle.  I am not sure it would be that high here in the UK, especially when you factor in some of our road layouts (I would be interested to know how the Google car would handle our roundabouts!).

Still, all that said, I remember people's apprehension,  and the scoffing when the DLR was introduced in London.  They said it would never take off, and people would not feel comfortable about a driver-less train. Twenty-five years down the line (no pun intended!), it's accepted as part of thousands of people's everyday commute.  I am sure we will be saying the same about autonomous cars in the year 2037.
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Sunday, 6 May 2012

My Guest Article

I was invited to write a guest article regarding technology in today's modern classrooms.  Thanks to http://Pre-Pay-As-You-Go.co.uk for publishing this.

I'll be back during next week with another article here on my own blog.
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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Google About to Jump on Cloud Bandwagon

Google are about to announce their Google Cloud Service
Rumours have been flying around for the last few weeks that Google may be about to launch it's own cloud service.  Well, it appears that these rumours are about to be turned into fact.

Several sources, including Reuters, suggest an announcement by the California based company is imminent.  I believe this is a forgone conclusion!  All that remains is to see how much space they will give away for free to start with, many believing it will be 5GB, which you can expand up to 100GB by buying further storage space.

So what will this mean for us, the general public.  Well, if you use any of the Google products, like Google Docs, GMail, Picasa or even Blogger, then you're bound to be able to hook into your Google drive to store and retrieve files, picture or music.

For those who don't currently use any of Google's services, then this is bound to be seen by the majority as Google trying to get a slice of the pie already being shared by the likes of DropBox and Microsoft with their SkyDrive.

The use of the cloud to store data and files has increased rapidly over the last couple of years, with corporates even beginning to take a serious look at it's viability and resilience especially in disaster recovery scenarios.  For the average home or casual user, the cloud is now being seen as a safer alternative to carrying around data on a USB memory stick or CD.  If, for example, you're a composer, would you rather store your latest masterpiece on a USB stick or in the cloud, where only you have access to it, but having access to it anywhere you can get a connection to the Internet?  I think the answer to that one is quite simple.

Of course, there have been instances lately where people have lost their data, by which I am referring to MegaUpload.  They were closed down this year, and if you were legitimately storing data on their service, it is no longer currently available (discussions start on the 26th April to decide what will happen to this data).

Google and Microsoft however are a much safer bet when storing your data in the cloud.  They are unlikely to be closed down.  However, it would always be wise to have a local backup copy of your data in my opinion.
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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

My Must Have Android Apps

I don't know about you, but I have a collection of Apps on my Android phone that I just can't live without, either for their functionality, or for their entertainment value.  So, what I thought I would do today is list my must have Apps, and see how many of you also use them.  Some of you might not know of them, and perhaps I will have enlightened you!




Draw Something by OMGPop
I had to mention this one.  Currently taking the smartphone world by storm, this addictive little app gives you 3 words, and you have to get your friends to guess what they are!  Sounds easy?  Well, maybe if you have the ability to draw in the first place!  Which I don't.  But it's a whole load of fun.  Get the Draw Something App (Free) from the Google Play Store

GAnalytics Logo
If you run a blog like this one, or have any other form of website, then you'll probably be using Google Analytics.  And if you are, then this GAnalytics App is perfect for having a quick view of your stats whilst you're out and about.  Whilst currently in beta, it is free.  But an App I would have no qualms about paying for.  Get GAnalytics (Free) from the Google Play Store

XDA Developers Forum App
XDA Developers forum has been around for quite a while now! And it's a good place to visit if you want to find out about your phone, and get advise.  Now the guys over at XDA have released an Android App to hook directly into the forums, making them easier to read on the go.  Get the XDA Developers App from the Google Play Store, Free or Premium Version

Image of SwiftKey X
How good are you at typing? Rubbish like me?! Then SwiftKey X is a great replacement to the stock Android keyboard on phones (or your manufacturers keyboard).  With the paid version, it will predict the next word you are likely to want (by learning from your emails, texts etc). Get SwiftKey X App from the Google Play Store, Free or Premium Version

Zedge phone ringtone finder
A great App if you like to assign individual ring tones to your contacts.  Works for both the ringtone and message alert.  There are some excellent ring tones in the App, for example "Oh no, it's your mother calling, what does she want". You can download Zedge for free from the Google Play Store.

Heytell push to talk communicator
There are quite a few Push-to-Talk type Apps around, but I think Heytell is probably one of the best.  I use it to send my sister quick messages.  It can be much better than writing an SMS, especially for those special events like birthdays, so long as you both have the App on your phone.  Although she may not agree with my rendition of "happy birthday".  Download HeyTell for free from the Google Play Store.

My final App is useful if you use Chrome as your desktop browser.  Simply download the App to your phone, and then an extension to Google Chrome.  When you're browsing on your desktop, you can send the link as a bookmark to your phone.  Handy when planning days out!  Download Chrome to Phone from the Google Play Store.

So there you are, 7 Android Apps that I use, and thoroughly recommend.  But would welcome any comments on Apps you use that you think others might also enjoy, and that you think I might be missing out on.

Thanks for reading
Wavey

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Friday, 13 April 2012

My Top 5 Gadgets I would Love to Own

I'm going to pretend that money is no object (read into that I am desperately hoping to win the Euro Millions tonight!).  So if that was the case, what would be the top 5 gadgets that I would consider buying with my new found fortune...

At Number 1: The ASUS Zenbook UX21E

ASUS Zenbook UX21E Ultra Thin Laptop
I make no apology for this being the first of 3 ASUS products I would buy.  The ASUS Zenbook UX21E is a thing of beauty.  Just look at it.  How can you not love what ASUS have pulled off here, and something that rivals any MacBook Air in my opinion.  The Zenbook only measures 9mm at the rear, and tapers to an almost impossible 3mm at the front.  Yes, that's right, I did put millimetres as the measurement, that's not a typo!

The top of the range model features the  Intel® Core™ i7 2677M Processor.  You can put this baby into standby for up to  two weeks, and resume in just 2 seconds.  Add to that the laptop itself only weighs in at a mere 1.1kg and, oh my, I'm going.... SWOON!  For full specifications, click here.

At Number 2: ASUS PadFone

The unique, super stylish, ASUS Padfone
I posted a blog a few weeks back about the unique, super stylish, ASUS Padfone.  In fact, it has received more views and hits on my blog than any other post I've made.  It seems quite a few people will be falling over themselves to get a hold of one of these.  Conceptually, it's unlike anything ever seen before.  And for people who ask "what's the point, surely you can achieve the same with a laptop and mobile", well, yes, I expect you can.  But it's the style of the device I love.  Plus the fact that whatever you're doing on the tablet, the moment you un-dock the phone, you can continue on that whatever you were doing on the tablet device.

I just think ASUS have got this product right! End of!

At Number 3: ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe Motherboard

The amazingly powerful ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe Motherboard
The amazingly powerful ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe Motherboard is the last of my 3 ASUS must-have's.  Especially if you're building your own PC from the ground up.  ASUS have always traditionally been right up there in innovating what's happening in the world of motherboards.  And this little beauty is no exception.  It's designed to support the socket 1155 Intel® 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor-based platform and 2nd generation Core™ i7/i5/i3/Pentium®/Celeron® processors.  But, as you would expect from ASUS, it's got a multitude of tricks up it's sleeve, including their Wi-Fi GO! which supports DLNA Streaming and PC Remote Control (There's even an App for Android devices for that).  There are far too many features to go into here, but head on over to the overview and specifications pages and marvel at what this motherboard is capable of.  A must have if you're building your own PC from the ground up.

At Number 4: Scan 3XS White Tiger Gaming PC

Scan's 3XS White Tiger Gaming PC
Okay, so you don't want to build your own PC, but you do want a gaming PC that kicks some serious backside!  Look no further than the Scan 3XS White Tiger.  With the  Intel® Core™ i7 3930K processor which is over-clocked to 4.6Ghz, the three over-clocked EVGA NVidia GTX680's in tri SLI, and the 16GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR3 RAM, this is a beast!  And that's just the basic configuration.  You can up-scale this in Scan's system configurator (err, mine came out just under £7,500, and that didn't include a monitor!).

There was a time when I thought Alien-ware PC's were unbeatable.  Not anymore!  This PC, in my opinion, blows any Alien-ware PC out the water!  I want!

At Number 5: Samsung 55" ES8000 Series 8 SMART LED TV

Samsung ES8000 Series 8 SMART LED TV
Well, what can I say about this stunning TV?  The Samsung ES8000 Series 8 SMART LED TV is just an amazing bit of viewing pleasure.  Packed with features, crisp, precise screen, and always updated using Samsung's Smart Evolution technology (providing you connect it to the Internet).  It even has voice and motion detection built in to allow you to control the TV using your voice or hand gestures, a bit like an XBox Kinetic.

The TV also supports 3D viewing, and naturally, as you'd expect is fully HD compliant.  Watching films on this TV is going to blow your mind.

On top of all that, the design of the TV is just awesome.  The super-thin bezel doesn't detract from the viewing experience, and even the TV stand looks like it would be at home in Star Trek.

So, there you have it.  My top 5 gadgets I would love to own if money was no objective.  Somehow, I don't think I will win the lottery tonight, but hey, a man can dream, can't he?!

Have a good weekend all.
Wavey
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Monday, 9 April 2012

The Future is Glass...

Every now and then, I see a gadget, or a video of something futuristic, which really excites me!  The most recent video that someone sent me was from a company called Corning.  The original video was released just over a year ago.

Corning manufacture, amongst other things, Gorilla Glass, something we're all getting used to hearing of on our mobile devices.  

Back to the video however.  It shows a truly unique view of where our lives could be heading in terms of integration of technology with glass and ceramics.  And whilst to some it may seem like something out of science fiction, I for one truly believe that within the next ten or so years, some of the stuff you will see in the videos below will start to see their way into our homes and businesses.  

Why?  Well, if you think about how much Social Networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ are already a part of our day-to-day lives, then this makes sense.  Then add into the equation how our calendars are linked in with our email, or tablet devices and smart-phones, then you can see why Corning believe that having surfaces made of glass and ceramics could dynamically display this information.

On top of this, as broadband speeds become, for the most, faster and faster, then it seems inevitable that our devices will all connect and be integrated into every facet of our homes, including the surfaces we currently use like mirrors, worktops and desks.

Take a look for yourself at the video below, and marvel at how one day we could be using surfaces that integrate into our day-to-day lives.  I hope you enjoy.

They have subsequently released a new video, "A Day Made of Glass 2", which I hope you also like!

So, science fiction, or science fact eventually, you decide!  But it's a possibility that our children, grandchildren and beyond will be living in a world where glass and ceramics are key.

Wavey.
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