Embrace augmented reality eyewear even if it looks funny right now

A lot of people couldn’t imagine life without their iPhones, Blackberries or Android smartphones. Just a few years ago Blackberries were the domain of of guys in crisp suits and power ties, plucking away on a tiny keyboard that would somehow lead to the downfall of some poor schlep’s bank account.

Taxis don't care that you're texting

Taxis don't care that you're texting

Now, whether it’s on the streets of New York City or down the aisle of a local Walmart, its commonplace to see someone paying more attention to the tiny screen of their phone than to to the sights and sounds around them.

There has been, finally, a lot of forward progress in the world of augmented reality, and more importantly, the futuristic hardware that will drive it. Up to this point, virtual reality has required goofy looking eye-gear to perform its duties. Usually the viewer would be given an image made from small LCD screens that would “project” an image of 45-90 inches in front of them. Nothing behind these images were visible and because of the close actual proximity of the screens a eyestrain-induced headache was sure to follow.

Few people would be caught dead wearing such a contraption. In a society where bluetooth headsets have a certain amount of douchiness associated with them (at least according to The Daily Show), a Geordi LaForge piece of eyewear would be sure to cause one’s chase from town from an angry torch-wielding mob. The thing about those bluetooth headsets though is that there weren’t really necessary. In fact, they were often more trouble than convenience. The batteries on them had to be charged, they had to be readily accessible (or permanently attached to your ear), and you had to have already figured out how to pair it with your phone – usually not an obvious task. It’s was just easier to hold the phone up to your head when the phone rang, phone radiation be damned.

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“If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it.”
— W.C. Fields

Google releases Dart programming language

Google unveiled the working version of Dart today. It looks to me that one of the primary selling points is that it’s designed to be run both on the server side and the client side (browser). I love my PHP but it has to depend on other client-side code (HTML / JavaScript / Flash) to do anything.

What’s also interesting is that Dart code runs in Javascript right now – so no plug-ins necessary if I understand it correctly.

I’ve been looking at a lot of different languages and how to apply them lately and i think my next big project is going to be done in Python. That said, I’d love to take a peek at Dart and see what it can do. I’d be hesitant to use it for anything large-scale right now (it has been out less than a day) but I’d love to see if there is a groundswell of curiosity around it in the next few weeks.

Take a look at Dart for yourself.

Major grocery chain gets rid of self-checkout

See the original article at CNET News.

In a move that might stun those who believe that capitalism exists merely to ensure that the majority of workers end up unemployed, Albertsons, the very fine grocery chain, has reportedly decided that self-checkouts are just not so good for business. It is removing all the self-checkout lanes from its 217 stores.

The way The Seattle Times tells it, Albertsons felt that the machines took away from employee/customer interaction.

Please pause to consider the depth of that one while I offer you the thought that, even though companies might offer many reasons, one just might be that people don’t enjoy using the self-checkouts. In my own regular wanderings through Safeway, I see the self-checkout lanes routinely empty while the lanes manned by stressed human beings are full of customers.

In support of my entirely unscientific observation, my regular reading of Storefront Backtalk reveals to me that Kroger’s, another fine chain, is also experimenting with removing self-checkout lanes from one of their Texas stores.

The simple truth is surely that self-checkout machines are a lot harder to operate than an iPhone and a lot less fun. Which doesn’t mean that technology and retail are enduring a permanent falling out. The Seattle Times reports that Home Depot is trying out 30,000 First Phones, which allow its staff to check customers out anywhere in the store. (That last sentence might have a double meaning, but it is entirely unintentional.)

In retail, the customer experience isn’t merely about speed. It’s about something that makes you feel good (or at least doesn’t make you feel bad) every time you do it.

Up to 25% of Accidents Are Associated With Gadgets

A new study from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) highlights the impact thatcellphones and other gadgets can have on car crashes. According to the study, as many as 25% of U.S. car crashes are associated with drivers distracted by a cellphone or gadget.

Produced using a grant from State Farm, the GHSA report, titled Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do [PDF] looks at the main external driver distractions. Not surprisingly, talking on cellphones, fiddling with gadgets and texting while driving are some of the most common driver distractions.

After reading the 50-page document, it’s clear that this study contains as many certainties as uncertainties. As GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha says in a statement, “Much of the research is incomplete or contradictory. Clearly, more studies need to be done addressing both the scope of the problem and how to effectively address it.”

Still, one certainty is that cellphone usage increases the risk of crashing and texting is likely more dangerous than using a cellphone.

What is the Solution?

Understanding that drivers who text or talk on the phone are more likely to get into car crashes than those who don’t, what can be done to decrease these distractions?

Unfortunately, the GHSA study is inconclusive on the effects of both texting bans and public service announcement campaigns for distracted driving.

From the report:

  • Laws banning hand-held cellphone use reduced use by about half when they were first implemented. Hand-held cellphone use increased subsequently but the laws appear to have had some long-term effect.
  • A high-visibility cellphone and texting law enforcement campaign reduced cellphone use immediately after the campaign. Longer term effects are not yet known.
  • There is no evidence that cellphone or texting bans have reduced crashes.

Still, the GHSA encourages states to pass more bans of driving while texting and while talking on cellphones — hands-free or not.

 

via Reuters on Yahoo! News

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