Just minutes after landing Solar Impulse 2 at Kalaeloa Airport this morning, pilots Andre Borschberg and Bertand Piccard gave this first English language interview to reporters. The plane made a flawless landing after being in the air for just under 118 hours in a non-stop flight from Nagoya, Japan. Using nothing but solar power, Solar Impulse broke the world records of distance and duration for solar aviation, as well as the world record for the longest solo flight ever.
Buying Apple products has become an experience in and of itself. Ever since last year's Apple Watch announcement, April 10th was one of Apple's most anticipated product launches. At 9:00pm HST you could go online and schedule a try-on and/or order online. I managed to grab a 9:45 appointment and had the pleasure of experiencing the launch of a brand new computing category, the wearable. It's been more than 10 years since I've worn a watch. My last watch was a Casio Pathfinder with triple sensor including altimeter, barometer, thermometer and compass. It was primarily for outdoor activities like hiking. The watch was a huge monstrosity but I got used to it. Once I got a smartphone I abandoned the watch. I wasn't hiking as much and I could check time on my phone. I also wanted to free my wrist of this bulky mass. But when Apple announced their watch I wrestled with the idea of putting on another watch. At first glance I thought the Apple Watch going to sit high on my wrist like a little pillow, but when I compared it to my Pathfinder, it was surprisingly slim. That was a selling point. What also convinced me was the new built in sensors. Instead of altimeters and barometers, there are heart rate sensors, GPS and accelerometer. Much more important if you want information about your personal activities. I like the fact that my devices, both watch and phone can collect data about my runs or walks. Of course the Apple Watch does a lot more with apps, taptic and notifications. I am very curious about the impact of bringing the computer closer to the body in the form of a wearable. Where the smartphone and tablets open new use cases, the wearable will usher in a new set of ways to interact with information, community and environment. So for me to understand (and appreciate) this is to wear one and experience it first hand. Hence I am going back to wearing a watch and thankfully one that is not anywhere as bulky as the last. My online order will not get filled until June so until then I wait in anticipation...
This morning in a relatively nondescript location on the North Shore, Uber, the private on-demand car service, soft launched with rider zero, Kala Alexander. The Uber launch team has been in town quietly scoping out the transportation options. The business is a disrupter to the traditional taxi and limousine car services. I got a chance to talk to one of the Uber reps and he told me the model is quite simple. They sign up independent car services that have applied and received a Motor Carrier Certificate from the State Public Utilities Commission. This is the same certification a limo service would be required to have. Uber works out a pricing agreement and with all the t&c completed the car services becomes an Uber Partner. Uber has no hardware on the ground. Uber hires an Associate General Manager and a Community Manager for Hawaii to work the market and partner relations. The rest is done with with Uber mobile app which you can download to your iPhone or Android smartphones. You don't have to hail a taxi which evidently you can't do in Hawaii anyway. Instead you use your Uber app and find the car nearest your location and schedule a ride. In a recent blog post, Uber makes it simple to share the fare with another rider. This way you can easily divide the fare amongst multiple riders eliminating that awkward moment of settling up the bill. Right now the Uber service on Oahu is Uber Black. Since the service is ramping up, don't expect cars to be available everywhere. Uber is signing up Partners as we speak. It will be interesting to see how this service takes shape in Honolulu. There are no plans yet for neighbor islands. In other cities across the country, variations of lower cost options are cropping up due to competition. But for now Uber Black is comparable to your own private car service and you can expect the service to be Uber comfortable.
As I look back at 2012 I can honestly say it was a good year. The year of the Dragon was a dynamic year with lots of changes going on all around. It was the confluence of many events that came together in 2012 and will set the course for 2013. Here are some of the memorable moments of my 2012, in somewhat chronological order:
1. The first Civic Hackathon resulting from CityCampHNL was held in conjunction with the City and County of Honolulu.
2. Unconferenz 2012 was memorable not only because of the topics and attendance (Tim O'Reilly, Jen Pahlka, Kirk Caldwell, Kym Pine, etc.) but it also debuted Code for America to the Honolulu community.
3. Geeks on DaBus was the culmination of an idea that sprung from CityCampHNL and the Civic Hackathon. We used DaBus app and converged on Kaka`ako to talk transportation with Mayor Carlisle and folks from TheBus.
4. Transparency Camp and the folks from Sunlight Foundation. I never thought Washington D.C. could be so much fun.
5. Getting the chance to visit a floating hospital on the high seas is always a memorable event. Here is a helicopter landing on the USNS Mercy in the waters off O`ahu.
6. Visiting Midway Atoll for the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Midway was incredible not only for its historical significance but for the experience of seeing thewildlife reclaiming the island.
7. This large golf ball shaped radar has become a regular feature in the Pearl Harbor view plane. Few get to visit and tour the insides of the SBX.
8. Have you ever felt like you are part of a bigger movement? I felt that way when attending the Code for America Summit. Open Government and Open Data is making great strides thanks to the efforts of CfA.
9. Visiting South Korea was an awesome experience. I have a much deeper appreciation for Korean culture and people. It is a place I will return to soon.
10. We capped the year of Open Data with a demo day called Hon*Celerator. It was a code contest of applications built around data from data.honolulu.gov and data.hawaii.gov. This is just the beginning...
The Quantified Self 2011 conference was quite an incredible experience. After the first day of the conference I could barely sleep thinking and researching all the links and references brought to my attention from people I had met. As I walked into the Computer History Museum, site of the QS2011 conference on the second day I received an email from a friend who was supposed to attend but could not make it. The email said:
From what I can see observing QS2011 from afar via photos, tweets, and blogs, what you're experiencing today is almost undoubtedly the same as it was like at Apple back then. Packed in rooms with hundreds of smart, passionate, driven, free thinkers who are defining and redefining the cutting edge -- sometimes moment by moment -- for days at a time: is that what it feels like for you at QS2011? Alternately humbled, dwarfed, and, yes, scared; then exhilarated as I "got it" better or faster than two-thirds of the people into the room.Yes, that is exactly what I was experiencing. I was witnessing the birth of a new industry, a new movement. This conference had all the feeling of a grassroots tech movement, not encumbered by any multinational corporate brands. This conference was more about individuals and small businesses talking about their research in self-experimentation or programming the next best social tracker. It exhibited all the passion and drive of people on a mission to change the world and in this case starting with themselves. There is a lot to absorb. Standout sessions for me were many. Seth Roberts talked on How to self-experiment and stimulated discussion on the role of the personal (as opposed to the professional) scientist. I was intrigued by Frank Chen's presentation on Mindful Technologies and how it applies to our interactions with systems we come into contact with on an everyday basis. He also turned me on to research at Stanford being done in Calming Technologies. Gary Wolf, contributing editor of Wired Magazine and one of the organizers for the conference lead a discussion about the Quantified Self in a Quantified World. If we are better able to keep track of our personal health activities with sensors, what about the world around us? There are sensors on cars, buildings, infrastructure, animals, plants, the air, water and earth. This opens up an area rich in opportunity to better understand our environment, natural and man made. There was so much more and I hope to talk about them in future posts but I do want to mention Kevin Kelly's closing talk beautifully summarized in Ethan Zuckerman's blog post. Over the last 10 years information is increasing at a rate of 66% per year, equal to Moore's Law, where every 18 months computing hardware doubles in capacity. In this case information is doubling at the same rate. The new metaphor is lifestreams, where we are all creating streams of information and the wake from these streams are influencing many around us. This raises the question of how this influence is taken and how we act on it. Can behaviors be changed? Will be take better care of ourselves? Will this lead to a better world? What is privacy in the paradigm of lifestreams? Yes, there are more questions than I have answers. But at least we are asking the questions and not oblivious to the groundswell that is happening around us. If you are interested in this topic of the Quantified Self there is a Meetup group in Hawaii and we plan to get together in June for at debrief on QS2011. Bring your thoughts, ideas and suggestions. Hope to see you there.
It's testament to Pat Sullivan for not only lasting 25 years in Hawaii but to actually grow Oceanit and thrive in this arguably isolated market. I remember visiting him some 20 years ago in a small one-man office in downtown Honolulu. Now they command an entire 6th floor space in the Oceanit Center on Fort St. Mall and are expanding on the ground floor to accommodate their lab. The projects they take on seem to have no boundaries. On one side of the floor is Hoana Medical where they develop and market the Lifegurney. Think of Star Trek's Sick Bay beds that read your vital signs as you lie there. On another floor in the Oceanit Lab, work is going on to develop nanoparticles consisting of nanatubes that are filled with toxins. The design of these nanoparticles make them seek out specific cancer cells upon which they bind and inject their toxic payload, killing the cancer cells. In the photo above, programmers have devised a way to read your heart rate by placing your finger on the camera lens of your iPhone. The approach is novel enough to be patentable. In the growing market for personal activity and health monitors this would be a must have. During the short program, Pat Sullivan talked about being disruptive and finding new ways to use technology to make a difference. But it's not only about being smart with technology but it is also about being smart with the connections that will get you there. Obviously Hawaii is a big Department of Defense location and the right Federal connections are important in making the equation work out. Each of the Hawaii delegation to Washington DC were on hand to talk about tech in Hawaii and Oceanit in particular. US Rep. Mazie Hirono, Sen. Daniel Akaka and Sen. Daniel Inouye each spoke. Sen Inouye brought attention to earmarks which he has been publicly criticized for. If you listen to his talk, about 30 minutes into the video, he is no where near giving up on this tool for Federal funding of special projects. All in all a delightful, thought provoking evening about what it takes to survive and thrive in Hawaii's technology industry.
Invent. Disrupt. Inspire. How can you not be intrigued by a company with such a bold motto? This past Friday (9/25), the Bytemarks crew converged on Cellular Bioengineering Inc. for the monthly geek lunch gathering. CBI graciously allowed us the take over their conference room. We usually catch up on the tech happenings around town but on this occasion, Dr. Mark Mugaishi launched into a presentation about some of the interesting projects the company is undertaking. Their flagship products are Eyegenix and Decongel both of which are far enough along the product development cycle to be available in the commercial market. The above photo is one of CBI's newer projects called Trutag (aka PixieTag). They have figured out a way to encode spectral codes onto a pure form of silica, as shown in the monitor on the right. This silica is broken down to very small particles, smaller than a grain of sugar that can be embedded into a drug coating. This can be read by a spectrometer and the corresponding code read to verify authenticity of the shipment, as shown on the monitor to the left. Another interesting project, still in its early stage is eCanary (aka CMC Chip). The idea behind this application, much like the name implies, is to build a device that you can place into a potentially hazardous environment, for example, poisonous gas, radioactive or particulate matter and determine if it is deadly. Instead of using a canary, CBI has developed a bio-sensor which combines live cardiac cells on an electronic detection chip. The integrated bio-electronics can detect responses to the live cells and conclude whether or not there is a hazardous condition. The photo shows a microscopic view of the live cardiac cells. In the image the cells were beating. If they were to stop beating, i.e. die, the electronics would detect this. Mahalos go out to Hank Wuh, Georgette Ulloa, Mark Mugaishi and Mike Oneill for their gracious hospitality and informative tour. Great work being done right here in Hawaii.
Vint Cerf, one of the true architects of the Internet during the DARPA years, spoke at the Pacific Telecommunications Conference (PTC) 2009. It's always inspiring to hear people like Vint speak as they are influential in the development of the Internet. With trusty Xacti in hand, I was able to capture his keynote on Jan. 19, 2009. The entire talk was about an hour long so I clipped a couple of passages that you might find interesting. The first is his thoughts on the state of the Internet and some of the new developments in 2009. In this segment he talks about IPv6, new TLD names, copyrights and cloud computing. The second clip is about a future view on extending the Internet beyond the Earth and into inter-planetary space. Here he talks about the protocol development to enable space vehicles and satellites to communicate with each other. His entire keynote was quite engaging and I hope make more of it available later.
Now that I work in an good size IT department, articles like these from TechRepublic catch my attention. I've been a longtime fan of Google and find myself using them more and more in my personal and small business computing. My Firefox home page is set to iGoogle, I am always on Gmail and get my Tweets get sent directly to Google Talk. I use Google Reader, Google Docs, Google Analytics and the list goes on. If and when Google Health was available I would definitely use that. Google is everywhere and as this article points out sits "on the biggest pile of information that has ever been collected in the world.” Enough so that Gartner has classified Google as a disruptive technology. It's not hard to imagine IT services being outsourced to Google, if not in whole, certainly in parts. It is clear that any IT shop unable to quantify and communicate its value will get outsourced. Hold onto your seats as another paradigm shift is about to occur.