The Future of Wearables

One of the most visible forms of the Internet of Things, at least from a consumer’s perspective, is the advent of wearables, a term for wearable computing devices. The full range of this new form factor for mobile devices is very wide and I would like to define wearables as electronic systems located on the body that mediate their user and their environment. From activity trackers like FitBit and Up by JawBone and other quantified self applications, to more advanced information devices like Google Glass and Samsung Smartgear, these first generation devices are always on and always connected. Next generation devices will also be contextual and intelligent thanks to the Internet of Things convergence of people, devices, data and the web.

Computing devices have moved from our desktop to our lap, to our pocket and now onto our body. Technology has never been this personal, however, we are far from the wearables endgame. For wearables to truly become a useful addition to our already technology-filled lives, we need to get back to the basics. Here’s a brief look at three ways we can evolve wearables by thinking about the technology itself, our interaction with these devices and the value they should offer. Continue reading

Contextual Is The New Mobile

A new mobile form-factor is coming and it’s not restricted to your pocket. Wearable tech is all about unleashing the power of smartphones onto new types of devices. While the smartphone and tablet market seem to have devolved into a battle of bigger displays and faster processors, the form-factor for wearables is still open to a diverse range of hardware design, although it’s all about the war for your wrist for now. The overarching goal? Creating highly personalized interactions and experiences.

Blueprint for the future

The New Mobile = embedded + personalized + adaptive + anticipatory 
One thing that sets this new phase of the post-pc era apart from the introduction of the smartphone, is the fact that mobility is not the outcome, but the main driver to this transition.

Contextual based interaction with these devices is key to making this new mobility work. The new mobile requires devices, services and information  to be embedded (integrated into the environment), personalized (tailored to your needs), adaptive (change in response to you) and anticipatory (anticipating a users intentions without conscious mediation).

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Anticipatory computing coming to a device near you


So what’s the real deal with the ecosystem of increasing intelligent software services, smaller and more powerful devices and connectivity embedded into everything? It creates an ecosystem in which the user is at the centre of things. The system anticipates a users actions, activity and intentions. Basically it becomes anticipatory.

Anticipatory computing has a small entry on Wikipedia, but it sums it up pretty good:


The term is used to describe when technology anticipates our needs and acts accordingly.


Getting machines to anticipate what you should do will liberate you and free up your mind to focus on other stuff that requires more focus and attention.

So one of the more common examples of this new wave of anticipatory services is Google Now. It’s still in its early stages, but is already impressive. It uses my data to get to know my context. For example, it calculates my ideal travel schedule based on my agenda and sends up soccer scores Google knows I’m interested in without me asking. Check out the demo.

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We got to play around with Google Glass – Here’s my experience

We talked about Google Glass before, there are some really positive articles out there, and some that even go as far by claiming the zombie metaphor as the appropriate one to describe the usage of this new wearable device. Enough opinions, only few people have actually tried it on. But as of yesterday, I am one of that (lucky) few.

I was attending a Google Glass event yesterday with the editor in chief of Engadget Tim Stevens. The event was part of a smart move from a few entrepreneurs who created some buzz around their new company by getting Tim to the Netherlands. I get to play around with Glass for a while and talked about possible applications with guys from the optician industry, a beer brand and a few other companies. Here’s my experience. Continue reading

My Talk on Privacy, Big Data and the Creepy Line at Big Data Symposium Utrecht

This is my talk from the Big Data Symposium organized by Utrecht University as part of the Big Data Week. Check out the full report here. 

From the introduction on the website of New Media Studies:

Thomas van Manen readily began the final series of speakers. A researcher from Sogeti’s VINT Lab and graduate of the NMDC program, his presentation was titled “Privacy, Technology and the Law”. He revealed how big data, especially from a marketing perspective, can “cross the creepy line” and become privacy abuse. Quoting EU Commissioner for Consumer Protection Meglena Kuneva, he states: “Personal information is the new oil of the Internet”. Yet, legislation is in flux, and technology moves faster than the lawmakers. There’s no such thing as anonymous data and there’s no universal privacy law. When companies use data that we unconsciously contribute to market to us, such as behavioral data from search engines, it can lead to some disturbing outcomes. In fact, Sogeti has published three reports on big data that can be downloaded here. Van Manen argues that we should have the fundamental right to data protection, as well as pursue applications that offer privacy by design.

Talking Digital Literacy with Howard Rheingold

Yesterday I attended an event with Howard Rheingold as the keynote speaker. Rheingold is best known for his work at The Well (one of the first virtual community’s) and his 2002 book Smartmobs, a forecast of the always-on era. Rheingold talked about Digital Literacy at the University of Utrecht, who organized this event together with the main Dutch platform for media literacy called MediaWijzer.

Of course his theories from his latest book, Net Smart, feeded most of the talk and discussion. Rheingold on his book: “Instead of confining my exploration to whether or not Google is making us stupid, Facebook is commoditizing our privacy, or Twitter is chopping our attention into microslices (all good questions), I’ve been asking myself and others how to use social media intelligently, humanely and above all mindfully. This book is about what I’ve learned.” Continue reading

Google Glass: shut up and take my mom’s money

Last week Google send out a new video of Google Glass and how it works. The video shows more details of using Glass while doing everyday activities (maybe except the snake thing). They also launched a Twitter campaign for people in the US in which Google asks potential users to explain how they would put the new technology to use. Think of it as a really aggressive beta, something Google is known for (remember Gmail and Wave invites). Continue reading

Gamification zet spel aan het werk, aldus mijn thesis.

Inmiddels ben ik ruim een jaar afgestudeerd aan de Universiteit Utrecht, tijd dus om die thesis maar eens online te zetten. Mijn onderzoek ging over gamification: the good, the bad and the ugly. Al met al een kritische analyse die de potentie weliswaar goed weergeeft, maar ook vanuit de mediatheorie een aantal kritische kanttekeningen plaatst bij de commodificering van play.

Ik ga in op de playabillity van media en beargumenteer dat nieuwe (digitale) media by default een hele speelse affordance hebben. Dit heeft in de tijd van radio, televisie en wat we web 2.0 noemen vooral te maken met creatieve receptie en appropriatie. We zien echter ook hoe play eigenlijk werk wordt op platformen als YouTube, dit noem ik de oscillatie tussen participatie en exploitatie. Vanuit deze tendens van commodificering trek ik de lijn door naar gamification.

Downloaden doe je HIERRRRR en ik heb de conclusie hieronder neergezet voor de DWDD-generatie en een aantal zaken uitgelicht. Service van de zaak. Continue reading

A Facebook for (the internet of) Things

When it comes to the internet of things we talk a lot about infrastructure. Consider this the sensors and the connectivity part of the puzzle with topics such as the IP addresses that everyday objects will need to have and the need for machine-to-machine (M2M) networks that connect all those sensors.

However, here’s another part of the story. I am talking about  the software ecosystem that will live on top of that infrastructure. And one of the most important parts of this ecosystem is identity management. Not for the users’ identities, but for the things themselves. A Facebook for things if you will. Continue reading