Start up: Hololens on the edge, what self-driving cars need, the buttons that do nothing, and more


Might make a difference. Might not. Photo by Cyron on Flickr.

A selection of 8 links for you. No strings attached. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Google’s self-driving cars have been in 11 accidents, but none were the car’s fault » The Verge

Chris Ziegler notes that Ford thinks we need some flexibility:

another example [Mike] Tinskey [Ford’s head of electrification and infrastructure] brought up was that of overcoming the excessively careful self-driving systems of the future:

Q: So you’re saying that from the driver’s perspective, the car will be self-driving, but really there’s someone else driving it from afar for them?
Tinskey: That’s right. If you’ve ever had the pleasure to go to, for instance, China, if you’re not aggressive to try to turn left, there will be people that will walk in front of you all day long. And an autonomous vehicle would end up sitting there forever. And a driver normally just has to kind of say, “Alright, I’m going,” and the people will stop and the car heads through. So there are going to be situations where a remote driver can actually pilot a vehicle better than an autonomous in certain conditions. Or just because of policy, that might be the way that we have to deal with it.

Indeed, in Google’s view of vehicle autonomy — as in the generally rational view — a car can never assume (or hope, at least) that a pedestrian will stop or jump out of the way the way a human driver can. Sometimes, simply moving (particularly in the world’s most congested cities) requires a degree of cowboyishness that a stupidity-proof autonomous car can never permit. There needs to be a way for the car to say, “well, I can’t make this potentially dumb decision, but I invite a human to make it for me.”


The growing US smartphone base » Tech.pinions

Jan Dawson, in a subscriber-only article looking at the disparity (of about 40m smartphones) between Comscore’s US smartphone number, and that shown by mobile operators – which has various explanations:

If you were relying on Comscore’s data to forecast the total iPhone market in the US, for example, you’d end up with about 80m users, while there would be just under 100m Android users. But we already know that Comscore is under-counting the total smartphone market by around 35-40m, so each of these numbers might be 15-20m higher in practice. That’s important if you’re trying to get an accurate gauge.
The next question is whether the split between operating systems is accurate, or whether that’s defective too. That’s harder to ascertain through other sources and Kantar and other data seems to bear out similar trends in broad terms, so I’m inclined to believe it’s fairly accurate. But I take it with at least a pinch of salt on the basis that I know the overall data is flawed. I think the key, ultimately, is not to rely on any one data point, but rather to find as many data points as possible that either corroborate or contradict one another, then synthesize and aggregate them to arrive at the best possible picture of reality.


On sale now: Tesco Mobile » Counterpoint Technology Market Research

Peter Richardson, on the UK supermarket MVNO, which is up for sale to try to alleviate corporate debts of around £22bn:

Tesco Mobile is actually one area where is has carved out a strong position. Its range of attractively priced and no-nonsense tariffs appeal strongly to particular segments: young people, family orientated consumers and seniors being primary focal areas. It also offers a good range of handsets at prices on par with most high street mobile stores. Its success means it contributes approximately £100m per year to Tesco’s profits. Assuming similar multiples as other recent trade sales, Tesco could realize seven to eight times net profit — therefore something around £800m when it sells its stake in the venture. The most likely buyer is Tesco’s partner in the business, O2. However other MVNOs may also enter the bidding including Talk Talk, which recently purchased Tesco’s video TV service, Blinkbox.

Tesco Mobile also operates around 250 Tesco Phone Shops, that provide point of sale for a range of feature phones, smartphones and accessories. It sells around 2m units per year through these stores and online. Tesco has done well addressing seniors and is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of Doro’s range of products that are designed specifically for older generation consumers. It is not clear what will become of Tesco Phone Shops — even to staff working in them.

Last year saw Phones4U squashed; will Tesco’s outlets be next?


HoloLens: why Microsoft has to play down expectations to avoid Google Glass failure » IBTimes

After yesterday’s post from Tim Bajarin on why Google Glass didn’t click with consumers, David Gilbert contrasts the stage promise of Hololens with the experience (at present):

Just hours later I was given the chance to test out this game-changing technology for myself and my initial reaction was one of huge disappointment and being completely underwhelmed.

That was until I realised what HoloLens really was and what it could do, and I readjusted my expectations. By the end of my time with HoloLens I saw the huge potential this device has, but Microsoft is in danger of falling into some of the same traps as Google Glass.

Microsoft is a company in need of a revolutionary product like HoloLens. Unlike Apple, Microsoft is seen as a stale and staid tech company, one which is associated with “boring” products like Office and Windows rather than the iPhone or iPad.

The problem for Microsoft, is that while HoloLens may be revolutionary, it is not (yet) a mass consumer product like the iPhone or iPad. It is a hugely powerful holographic computer that is ideally suited to enterprise applications and that is where the company needs to focus its attention.

Via David Gilbert. (It’s OK to promote your own stuff to me, folks.)


How the Apple Watch cured my iPhone addiction » Medium

Evgenia Grinblo:

It’s not that I was addicted, per se. I just spent a lot of time using my phone. But the app Moment, which I installed on my phone to prove I didn’t have a problem, told me that my average total daily iPhone use added up over two hours.

On my worst day, I spent 7 hours and 41 minutes on my iPhone.

As a UX designer and qualitative researcher, this was not only alarming but also fascinating. I wanted to know what it was that kept hooked on my phone. I researched mobile phone addiction (it sounded dramatic), I tried a 30-day-off-Facebook challenge (but still clocked considerable time on my phone). I also spoke with others. It appeared that many felt equally drawn to their smartphones but no one quite understood why.

Then came the Watch.
Everything changed when I got my Apple Watch. Within twenty-four hours of wearing it, I forgot where my iPhone was for the first time.

(Via Jay Kannan.)


How World of Warcraft led to Glassdoor » Business Insider

Julie Bort:

in 2006, Hohman quit a fabulous job as president of Hotwire to do nothing but play the game. Full time. For a year.

And the second he hit the highest level, the itch to play was scratched, and he needed a new thing to obsess over. So he launched a startup.

In his words: “I took a year off and played World of Warcraft. I would pat the kids on the bottom every morning, send them to school and then I would dominate as an Orc Warrior.”

He adds, “I played for a year nonstop and then I hit the maximum level in WoW. I was maniacal in chasing this goal and literally the next day I started a company, Glassdoor.”

The meaning of ‘community’
The year of WoW helped him decide the kind of company he wanted to build.

“I learned from playing WoW about community. It was the first time I really felt part of a online community. I’d be up the morning and be excited to see my guild. Isn’t that nerdy?” he laughs.

Yes. Yes, it is. But it’s hard to argue with success: he learnt the difference between offline and online community through that experience. (Arguably, he could have learnt it in less time than a year.)


Press me! The buttons that lie to you » BBC Future

Chris Baraniuk:

Computer scientist Eytan Adar at the University of Michigan has described a series of fascinating “benevolent deceptions” in a paper co-written with two Microsoft researchers. Take the 1960s 1ESS telephone system for instance. After dialling, a caller’s connection would sometimes fail to go through properly. Instead of a dead tone or error noise, the system would instead simply route the call to a completely different person. “The caller, thinking that she had simply misdialled, would hang up and try again: disruption decreased and the illusion of an infallible phone system preserved,” notes the paper.

Adar and his co-authors also describe how Skype phone calls today sometimes contain “fake static noise” because when users experience a completely noise free line, they are prone to thinking that the call has in fact dropped. A quick Google search reveals that there are plenty of examples of fake noises. From pre-recorded car door slams to artificial shutter sounds made by digital cameras, the world is full of noises designed to delight users and reassure them that the device is working as intended.

Those noises deserve a word of their own, rather like onomatopeia.


Snapchat debuts video ads for 2 cents per view » Adweek

Snapchat wants companies to know its not just for millennials: Advertisers can find a home there as well. At the Daily Mail/Elite Daily Digital Content NewFronts presentation Thursday, the platform announced it would be unveiling 10-second ads that cost 2 cents per view.
The new ad offering creates a new way for Snapchat Discover publishers to generate revenue. Daily Mail North America CEO Jon Steinberg said his company was standing by to create those snaps for brands.

Another American platform using adverts to monetise. I often wonder whether if US TV were more like the (licence fee-subsidised, ad-free) UK’s BBC whether “advertise for money” would be a less reflexive monetisation strategy.


2 thoughts on “Start up: Hololens on the edge, what self-driving cars need, the buttons that do nothing, and more

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