JanRezab / Blog

Founder & Executive Chairman of Socialbakers.com

tech innovation articles

What did Facebook buy virtual reality goggles Oculus Rift for?

Published: March 26, 2014

Facebook is on a buying spree. After it bought Whatsapp for 16B (you can find my view on it here), it just bought Oculus Rift for $2 billion.

In a post announcing the acquisition yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg said they will build immersive social and communication experiences for the platform, but to get to my point: In my recent division of social networks that I defined earlier, that I will be writing about even more, I am saying there are 2 types of social networks: Ones more around connections and communication (building a base), and ones that are more around content.

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The logic here is that Facebook is trying to build a stronger connection network, and trying to build a new screen for people to use, possibly even with their phone. I mean its not hard to put together 1+1. Even the connection of Oculus Rift + Whatsapp as a live chat is just great. And there are many, many others… This could spark a new wave of a new type of media, perhaps, even in an extreme situation, making the television obsolete.

Augmented reality and Virtual reality are probably things that are most under-evolved in todays world compared to modern sci-fi, and I think its really time for the world to embrace these new technologies.

So what would be the best use-cases for Oculus Rift?

  • Obviously Gaming – thats already a use-case, but I think Oculus Rift is still at the very beginning of the gaming experiences and social gaming experiences it can truly bring
  • Virtual Reality Chat – everyone knows video conferencing as it is today sucks, thats why at Socialbakers we will probably get a presence-bot. But with virtual reality where you could turn left and right in a meeting, this would really be amazing. A virtual reality meeting platform would be a very cool use-case especially for long-distance meetings.
  • Virtual Reality Social Chat Touch – same as above, but with a robot on the other side mimicking the other side. You get the many use-cases.
  • Sports, Movies, physical experiences to watch with friends – this is something thats great
  • New virtual reality social game – The Sims live – you could create an entirely, and this is the part to be a bit careful about.

The threat of virtual reality

The threat of virtual reality, as also depicted by many sci-fi movies, its quite immersive. We have to be careful as humans not to fall for a virtual world to the real one.

What does this mean?

The announcement also means Facebook just partly became a hardware company, which is quite a big deal! It might show more acquisitions in the hardware space if it finds that there is a strong fit with the product.One things for sure, it will be interesting, and as a lover of every gadget, I am looking forward to seeing the amazing use-cases!

Jawbone Up vs. Misfit Shine (Update) and where could wearable technology lead?

Published: October 23, 2013

If you have been following my articles on Jawbone Up vs. Misfit Shine and other wearable measurement technologies, you will probably want to hear an update from my side. If you are new to this series, certainly read my earlier articles on the wearable measurement devices: Which wearable measurement is the best – Review of Nike Fuelband, Jawbone UP or Fitbit and Which wearable measurement is the best – Review of Misfit Shine vs. Jawbone Up.  If you are interested in reading my thoughts on where wearable technology could read, skip to the end.

Here is the awaited update: I have been using Jawbone Up and Misfit Shine side by side for quite some time – several months. The data coming from both devices is actually quite similar (except when I go swimming, Shine clearly wins there).

Update on both devices:

  • Replacing Jawbone Up again – I am now getting a third Jawbone that Jawbone Support was so nice to provide, the device simply doesn’t last, and next time when I am betting on a particular wearable technology, I am going to get it in doubles
  • Misfit Shine – when you are turning on a particular activity – for example sleep, you cant really know if you are switching the activity on or off. It basically seems the Shine is trying to actively detect this. This doesn’t help when you forget to turn on a particular mode or don’t know which one is on – as there is no way to ask the Shine (there could be a specific tap to make). Also you can’t add sleep manually when you “forget” to tag the activity, which is something that I really miss.

Measuring – Misfit Shine vs. Jawbone: 1:0

Even though I would normally say 1:1, there are only nuances, the Misfit Shine measures more things

Analytics, displaying, interface, apps – Misfit Shine vs. Jawbone: 0:1

The interface in Jawbone UP is simply much much clearer, much nicer, the charts used are more flexible but also more readable. I heard that Shine is preparing a new application, hopefully coming soon!

Couple other points:

Handling – especially because of Misfit Shine”s (solvable!) interface management problem mentioned above, Jawbone is better.

Look – the Misfit Shine is very elegant, beautiful, especially in the dark its very nice, clear, and creates some attention if you double tap it.

Measurement – Misfit Shine wins here, not because its a lot better, but because of its battery (huge battery life), and the fact that you really don’t have to turn it off. I bought a few batteries and I think they can last for a few years.

Waiting for the “big” little device

I know there are wearables that already do take your pulse, but they are extremely bulky. I would like something practically wearable that does measure your pulse today. Something in the maximum size of the Nike Fuelband, but ideally the size of the Misfit Shine. I have hope such a device will be on the market sooner, rather than later.

Where could wearable technology lead?

It could lead to amazing places, thats why I am really excited about wearable technology. Everyone in the world is quite unique, but our patterns of movement, sleep, and blood pressure have something in common. It shows what our lifestyle is, and allows us to improve it. The accelerometers inside the wearable technologies could also soon function as an activity coach connected to your Google glass – Phone – or Tablet. It could tell you if your golf swing is off, it could tell you if you are running style is a bit off, it can tell you to put a little less or more energy into something. Many of these things are quite amazing. I can even imagine a very cool gamification of wearable technology and augmented reality, where you would wear 4 devices or more – one on each hand and one on each foot, and could play something really cool. The medical use-cases of wearable technologies are unexplored completely. You could detect things like heart attacks or anything close to them, you could train much better and generally live a healthier life. Your band could really help identify when you should do something and what that activity should look like.

Of course, the big future of wearable measurement is also that you would have a chip in your body – that today might be seen by going a bit too far, but I don‘t think we will think that in the future. That chip could help do a lot of things medically, possibly even be movable in the blood stream and help us fix and detect some issues.

Any wearables that you recently saw that you would like?

Which wearable measurement is the best – Review of Misfit Shine vs. Jawbone Up

Published: August 22, 2013

I recently bought a Misfit SHINE (John Sculleys company – for those of you that don’t know John Sculley, he is the former Apple CEO) on top of my Fitbit (broken), Nike Fuel (broken). One update, I had to get a new Jawbone, because it didn’t survive some water contact, and its water resistance (OK yeah, they only claim “shower proof” is not really perfect). If you haven’t read my previous article on: “Which wearable measurement is the best – Review of Nike Fuelband, Jawbone UP or Fitbit“, definitely do so, it gives basic grounds for this article. I have already compared those quite a lot, so I will focus on the comparison of the Jawbone UP and Misfit SHINE, which, call me crazy, I currently use both.

Misfit Shine Benefits

  • Water proof – writing this from my holiday, I especially appreciate the fact that its water proof, and shows you the activities. I have dived, swam, been on slides, was in water for practically a week and no effect on the Shine. So this is provably proof :) 
  • Battery life – apparently a 6 month battery life, which is absolutely insane, at that point I won’t even know where I put the thing that clips out the battery :) No indication of battery life going down so far.
  • Wearability – generally the Shine is a much more wearable device, its nicer, lighter, and goes better in different places (pockets, watch, etc.).
  • Beautiful watch – its truly a magnificent watch, compared to the Nike Fuelband which is not so good.

These all together are huge up-sides, and perhaps match or overtake some of the issues below, that seem to be easily fixable with a firmware upgrade and a bigger app upgrade.

Misfit Shine Issues and Mistakes

  • The handling – as I understand it today after more than a week of use: 2 taps for progress and watch, 3 taps for “sleep” mode.
    • I am really unclear how to detect if “sleep” is on or off, there is not a clear distinction, but it seems to be monitoring the sleep, thats certainly good. With Jawbone you clearly see – sleep, no sleep. Here you are not sure, making the data harder to trust
    • Once you hit your daily goal, you are just “at goal”, there is no clear visualization on how much you are over your goal, which I can imagine would be possible with adding a small around a 1 second “roll-over”, where it would clearly show you how much are you over. It doesn’t motivate you to do more beyond your daily goal like Nike Fuel or Fitbit do (Jawbone has no direct feedback, but a stellar app)
  • The app – even though you can see the “data are there”, the visualization is very bad, no large charts, no clicking in to get data info, not a proper visualization of the activities
    • The app is a generation before all other apps, especially the Jawbone Up app which I consider together with Fitbit the best app
    • It really needs work on the charts and all other areas
  • The device itself
    • Is a beautiful gorgeous thing that is perfect and is a perfect watch too. The only issue it has it doesn’t see to be perfectly scratch resistant. Lets see over time.
  • Customer service
    • All other companies, Jawbone, Fitbit, and Nike do pretty good Twitter support. Misfit Shine really misses this.

Once I get home, I will share the screenshots from both the apps so you can compare and see how the visuals work, and how the data overlays each other.

I am thinking of putting a project on one of those freelance sites to grab data off of all these networks (Jawbone, Nike, Fitbit, and Shine), and finally put it in one, socially comparable place. Documentation would take 20 minutes, development probably no more than a few days and would pay a couple hundred bucks. Cool free tool that might be worth it.

OMSignal – New player on the market

Also, watch this video about OMsignal. They put in the wearable measurement in literal means – for it to be wearable! :) This seems to be something else and hey @omsignal, I am willing to be a tester! :)


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Flashback: Automated algorithmic mobile testing

Published: August 12, 2013

A few days ago I was migrating my computers and doing some photo archiving during doing that, and I found a picture that I just needed to share but it certainly needs commentary.

Back in 2008 / 2009, when I was finishing with mobile games, platforms, and mobile apps and interfaces, we had the idea of automated algorithmic game testing, that you would basically plug the screens to, and read both input and output of the screen and manage the keyboards device directly (yeah, at that time phones have keyboards)

The idea was to use a proprietary chipset, “hack” in the phone screens output and work with it in application testing. This could work on both black and white and color screens.

I think it could still be reproduced today, whoever wants to execute the idea, go ahead. The execution could be much easier: Phones could be easily put into television and a manual little touch robot over it could test.

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Self-driving cars could save up to 50 000 years of life every day in U.S. alone

Published: August 8, 2013

I was driving from San Francisco airport today to Palo Alto because of my meetings in the morning, and I have to say after 15 hours of flight and a total of 20 hours of flying, its not easy to sit in the car and drive for an hour, making me think even deeper about self-driving cars, especially since this is the place the Google one is being born. I admire that Google and other players have gotten so extensively involved with self-driving cars. In fact, I would adore self-driving cars. Even though I love driving for the sport itself, its a complete waste of time. If I look at the number of hours in my life that I have spent in my car, at the end of my life, it could be up at maybe a few years in a car? Thats horrible, especially if you are the driver and constantly have to watch the road.

An average american spends under 2 hours in a car every day. Its an average, so with 250 million driving americans, we are looking at quite some time change. You can say that not all are drivers, but even if one is just riding and not driving, he has to have some level of eyes on the road. Quick look at the highway today, over half the cars were only with the driver (including mine). Still, 50 000 years a day is a huge saving, even though the number might be a heavy estimate, and it could be more like 20 – 30 000 years. Hell, thats not bad.

If all drivers in the world (lets say 1 billion) drive self-driving cars for say 1 hour per day (not to mention efficiencies if there are 100% of them), over 1 billion people-years would be saved in the next 100 years. Now don’t get me wrong, but thats a LOT of time saved, possibly the biggest time saver you can find in the world.

This is why I am a huge advocate of self-driving cars, and I really want them to come as soon as possible. Just imagine the savings.

Where would the savings go? I am pretty sure a majority of regular work commuters would spend it working more efficiently. The minority would then probably spend it as they are now, lowering our overall efficiency savings one last time.
1 huge obstacle of self-driving cars

The biggest obstacle I can see with self-driving cars other than technologically completing them (although they seem pretty good to me) is safety. Not for the first few drivers, but when there is a big amount of them on the road. And not because of the self-driving cars, but because of other cars. Of course, in the long-run, when 100% of people use self-driving cars, the road becomes a much safer place (almost 100% safe). The problem of course is different, its the other drivers that don’t have self-driving cars. I could easily find “auto hackers”, that might want to get your insurance by knowing how to trick the self-driving car to bumping you just a tiny bit so it has to pay for insurance, or even worse, really do something bad to you. You would think who would do that? If self-driving cars get quite advanced, I can see this happening very easily. Of course, a self-driving car can’t have bugs, as you rely on these bugs many times with your life and the life of your children. I think there is a technological & mental barrier that needs to be taken down.

The number of backup systems that needs to be in place for people to trust it well is huge, and when the car fails, it needs to have some sort of module to do something. I think this will come down to the engineering and actual building of the cars when you work on them. The other thing is crazy situation where the human driver (at least for now) might be better equipped (natural disasters, etc. – where a humans instinct might not be replaceable at least for now).

1 huge downside of self-driving cars

The biggest downside of self-driving cars other than security is the fact that there are quite a lot of drivers in the world. These drivers of taxis, delivery services, transportation basically will not be needed anymore (or at some very basic level). If the entire world is running on self-driving cars, all of these people’s jobs are practically gone once this happens, and this is not the thing of tomorrow. If blind people can drive self-driving cars from Google (see YouTube video), then everyone really can.

We are talking about taxis (like 100 000 jobs), truck drivers (3 million in US), postal services (USPS alone had 212 000 vehicles in 2012, and thats not even ), possibly more drivers), and many more. We are probably talking about 15 – 20% of jobs immediately at threat with self-driving cars. Vehicle transportation is the first industry really heavily endangered by self-driving cars. I didn’t do enough research to look into what people started doing after the industrial revolution, but I have to certainly look into it. Because this is surely coming.

If you are a say on the board member of DHL, and your competitors are just talking to self-driving car companies, wouldn’t you be the first company to innovate? These moves of these companies and the competitive aspect when they save hundreds of thousands on jobs – this could go in billions of dollars in savings for such huge companies.

How would a taxi work? Well, similarly to how Uber works. You would call a cab, it would have a set place, park in it, you’d get in and punch the destination. Very easy. With buses its a bit harder. The bus driver can act as a hostess and operating mechanic in one in this case.

When we are finished – and 100% of the world is self-driving

We will really save 50 000 years of car time only in the U.S., and where  we can take our eyes off the road. Accidents will be practically gone.

Maybe we can use that time to finally solve some of the deeper real-world problems, rather than chasing for short-term issues.

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