Why will Ostendo’s holographic display on mobiles fail?

I am generally a tech-enthusiast. It is rare to find me criticizing a technology so early in the hype cycle.

However, Ostendo’s new technology of holographic display on mobiles is heading towards failure in my view.

The reasons are fairly clear.

  • Content availability in 3D has always been a spoiler. Something as expensive as a 3D viewer doesn’t have World Cup Football (Soccer) being streamed? Not worth it!
  • Counter argument to content availability is starting with socials and chats and *generating* content. The trouble will be, how would the cameras be placed geometrically during chatting? Avatars may work but novelty will soon fizzle out. Mobility isn’t about setting up speakers and home-theater. How do you think setting up 3D, heck, Holographic 3D cameras would suite a casual chat setup? Just look at poor selfies! Getting decent angles in selfies has been a problem
  • Alone 3D projection isn’t going to be enough. It has to accompany camera on the other side and protocols in-between. There are too many players in these three spaces. Too many cooks have spoiled the broth too many times
  • Last, but not the least, it appears that the projection is likely to be perpendicular to the display. That means, if I could see what is being projected, so would the person sitting next to me. That kills privacy

What do you say?


Is interference the next big thing?

Recently I have covered spying applications like “audio zoom“. Here is an excellent article about pCell, a technology that 1,000 times faster WWAN coverage. Though pCell may never become a reality for the cold, hard economics, something VERY interesting is common across such developments.

The common theme here is exploitation of interference or superimposition through multiple, yet small number of transceivers.

As a trend, I see that physics still matters to engineering even after computers got into our pockets 🙂 I also see that a phenomenon of wave physics called Interference is suddenly being paid attention to. So far technology (or the technology I know) has focused on brute force power of signals and number of transceivers. This is the first time I see “transceivers working together” yielding “sum bigger than  parts”. This phenomena of exploitation of interference can be attributed to availability of cheaper and less power hungry processors. As time passes, we may see more and more such interference based technologies to emerge and help us better.

IMHO this could be a paradigm shift in technology as big as superheterodyne transmission (or the radio) , which had moved the possibility of information exchange much farther, faster and cheaper than earlier methods of base band communication.

Also, any such change brings up bigger changes in the way other branches of knowledge (like philosophy) perceives the world. I can see what kind of impact success of such technologies may have in our collective thinking. I can predict some philosophical ideas of future. However, this is largely a tech blog. So let us stop here 🙂




Laptops, tablets and cell phones – a crucial feature is missing

I know that YouTube has turned into almost a university, paralleled only by Wikipedia. I am a Wikipedia rat. However, I am a VERY reluctant user of YouTube. Why?

Because YouTube involves sound. Unlike vision, sound can’t be restricted with default Laptop interface. One needs headphones to keep nicety and privacy.

Carrying around headphones is a pain. Big headphones can’t fit into a pocket. Small ones get torn off or jumbled. Bluetooth ones are quite expensive. It is quite a hassle carrying them. And it is so easy to displace them! They aren’t simply there when you need them!

There is a simple solution!

Just provide headphone fixing slot in the case of laptops and tablets – and cell phones! Because there is a handy, logical, neat, stylish place to keep small headphones, they will REMAIN there.

The other way to see the idea is:

Display : Head phones = Projectors : Loudspeakers (= Keyboard+Mouse: Microphones)

I bet with this simple change, audio interface itself will see huge surge in popularity.

Inverse Alarm on Cell Phone and for Testing

I need an inverse alarm on my cell phone.

I work from IST. We have conference calls in day time PST. Everyday I free up a few minutes earlier and then aimlessly wait for 22:00 to dial with a cell phone in my hand.

This is terrible waste of time.

If I had an inverse alarm system in my Android which allowed me to play music/radio/an audio book till 22:00, I don’t have to continue looking at the phone as if at 22:00 the world is going to end at that time.

Earlier, for testing purpose also “continue till interrupted” function was needed. I asked Tcl community for an inverted version of vwait procedure. There existed none.

I don’t think anything computationally impossible here. What do you say?

Technological angle to 2G scam discrepancy

The 2G scam was labelled at INR 1.76 Lakh Crores. When GoI auctioned 2G spectrum again, it is fetched mere INr 9,600 Crores. Now pro-government forces are in “We told you so!” mode.

I am not a student of scam-ology. However, I have a reason to believe in the original estimate – it is called Obsolescence.

Technology gets obsolete at an exceptional rate.  Roughly, technology halves its value every year.

For example, your cell phone for which you paid INR 25,000 two years back is now worth INR 6,000.

A spectrum for 2G is not like land sites. A land site doesn’t have any competitor. 2G now has 3G and even 4G.

So, if in the end of 2012 the spectrum fetched INR 9,600 Crores, in 2008 it should have fetched

INR 9,600 Crores * 2 (for 2012) * 2 (for 2011) * 2 (for 2010) * 2 ( for 2009) * 2 (for 2008)

= INR 9,600 Crores * 32

= INR 307,200 Crores in INR terms of 2012.

Given the fact that INR (rupee) lost its value significantly over last 5 years, let us halve that value to INR 1.53 Lakh Crores.

That is a close match to original CAG estimate, isn’t it?

Phone options, language code and a caller-id based service

India saw a surge in telephones/cell phones only recently.

There are advantages of adopting technology late – like not getting stuck with wrong assumptions and old technologies.

However, there are some disadvantages also.

For example, the phone choice menu. Typical menu sounds like:

“Welcome to XYZ corporation. For English, press ‘1’, for Hindi, press “2”, for Kannada, press ‘3’…”

Such menu would work excellent in bi-lingual countries like Canada or pseudo-bilingual countries like the US.

India is a different story. Here, number of mutually unintelligible languages exceed a few dozen – and none is commercially more important than the other, except Hindi.

This poses an interesting problem. How to deliver the message in the language closest to the speaker without making the language selection menu too long?

To make matter worse, as India marches on to prosperity, millions of Indians migrate to other language speaking areas. This demographic shift is FASTER than the rate at which people learn local languages.

For example, in Bangalore, within a decade, Kannada speakers ceased to be majority. Tamil is the second largest language group, closely contested with Telugu. This means policies like “All phone numbers in Bangalore must have 3 languages – English, Hindi and Kannada” will become (if already aren’t) ineffective.

I can think of two options:

  1. Just like PIN (ZIP) code, provide standard language code (e.g. 00 for English, 01 for Hindi etc.) – this is VERY simple and effective. This will reduce the menu to: “Please enter your language code:” OR
  2. Start a phone number to preferred language service mapping as a third party service. So, if I dial somewhere, the caller-id to language mapping at the server would select Gujarati as preferred language WITHOUT I selecting it

Can you suggest more options?