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Friday, April 08, 2005

This Weblog is On Hiatus

As if you didn't know. Now it's official. While I've enjoyed playing around with a weblog - this one - over the past few months, I've lately gotten too busy with photography work, and with my continuing job search, to put in any time here. I think it's going to remain that way for awhile.

When you want to find me on the Web, your best bet is my Yahoo 360 pages, or else on Flickr (my Flickr pictures are here). I've been playing with Flickr quite a bit lately and I once again recommend it. Photo sites, especially content rich sites like Flickr, can demand a lot of your time. But of course any time you spend there is up to you and your schedule. And any time at all can be pretty rewarding, if you're at all into photography.

I've neglected my Yahoo 360 pages since April 1. But I can see how the Yahoo 360 facility will enable me to do things I can't do with just a weblog; and to blog more personally. So I plan to get back to it very soon.

I may take up Mobile Eyes again sometime, picking up where I left off. I just don't know when, or if. So, until then, I'll say a hui ho. Yes, this is Hawaiian. Roughly translated it means, I guess, "Until we meet again." Thanks for reading. See you around.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Yahoo! preparing hostile takeover of Google

It is reported in today's issue of the off-line trade journal, RDF Express, that Yahoo! is quietly preparing a hostile takeover bid for arch-rival Google. No word on what the bid consists of or when it will be launched. No word, either, on what would become of Google founders Brin and Page should the bid be successful, though rumor has it they would each consider a monastery in the Far East, or, failing admittance there, belated entrance into the U.S. Marine Corps. Mobile Eyes will be watching this story closely in the coming days.

Sony Does It

Back in January there was a lot of talk, here, on Russell Beattie's weblog, and elsewhere, about mobile media in general, and about, specifically, Nokia and Sony and Microsoft and what each of them was (or wasn't) doing to facilitate media downloads for mobile devices.

In fact, in an entry called Microsoft's Consumer Electronics Endgame, Russ pointed out that Microsoft was essentially stealing a march on its competitors with its strategy in this area. I distinctly remember posting a comment on that entry: "I was sure that Sony had seen this coming and sought to circumvent it by spending billions over the years to become a content provider for its own devices. It appears, however, that this isn't the case, since they've done nothing to utilize their media vault or integrate their entertainment and hardware divisions. How difficult would it be, to encode movies and TV episodes and offer them up at little cost for download to various Sony products, especially phones and handhelds? Or, failing that (because bandwidth is maybe still not there), offer them for purchase on flash media (MMC or Memory stick)? Something exactly like iTunes for the iPod, but in this case a broader media offering for Sony mobiles. They own a treasure vault of movies." Or words to that effect. I've since searched that entry and can't find my comment. Maybe I wrote it elsewhere. Whatever.

In any case, later that month (January), Sony announced that they were in fact planning something. No details were available at the time, but in a ZD Net article yesterday, the plan was made clear. Apparently Sony execs were thinking along exactly the lines I suggested. And the whole thing is pretty exciting.

According to the ZD Net article, Michael Arrieta, senior vice president of Sony Pictures, announced the details at a conference yesterday. Here is some of what he had to say.
"We want to set business models, pricing models, distribution models like (Apple Computer CEO Steve) Jobs did for music, but for the film industry," [said Arrieta], "I'm trying to create the new 'anti-Napster."

To that end, Arrieta said, his group plans to digitize Sony Pictures' top 500 films and make them available for the first time in various digital environments within the next year. He said the distribution for films like "Spider-Man 2" will go beyond just Movielink, the video-on-demand joint venture of Sony Pictures and several other major studios, which to date has hosted a limited library of Sony's movies.

For example, Sony plans to sell and make films available in flash memory for mobile phones in the next year, Arrieta said. It also will further develop its digital stores for downloading and owning films on the PC, he said in an interview. Sony's plans--and similar moves by other studios--are likely to avoid empowering any one technology company--such as Apple in the music equation--and allow studios to pocket more of the profits. The philosophy in Hollywood is "Define your own agenda or someone else will for you."
Clearly, then, Sony execs are getting back into the game. Perhaps the new CEO, Howard Stringer, has the broad picture vision many of us assumed he'd lack.

Thebusiness about creating the "anti-Napster" sounds kind of scary. And we've no reason not to take him at his word. On the other hand, it is an obligatory statement for a Hollywood exec to make. And perhaps Sony realizes that the best way to re-route developing download habits (read: defeat so-called piracy), is to offer high-quality content at extremely low prices. If I had access to over 500 films, perfectly encoded for use on my (former) Nokia 3650, and if each of them cost, say, five dollars: I wouldn't really care if they were DRMed. Especially if I could transfer them to a limited number of other devices. I can imagine having a whole library of films, and renting those I don't want to buy. It's the video sales/rental business, all over again.

Will it stop the free exchange of content across the Internet? No. But it will make Sony devices an attractive portal for good, cheap, easy-to-acquire media. And that will go a long way toward forming people's habits.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

I've just revised my review of Yahoo! 360°. See entry below.

More Sony Ericsson P915/P1000 Concepts

These concept drawings of the next iteration of Sony Ericsson's P series device were posted in a forum on a site called Neowin.net. The person who posted them said he found them on "some website", and he wanted to know, is one of them the real thing?

The second one is a nice illustration - but it doesn't have the lines of Sony Ericsson's designers. And it's obviously based on the slideout keypad concept popular right now among PDA-centric mobile devices - something I trust (hope) SE won't stoop to, because of its obvious ergonomic limitations, and basic lack of aesthetic elegance.

The concept in the top drawing shows more promise. It looks like something designed by Sony Ericsson; in fact it looks a lot like many of Sony's PDAs. The keyboard is roomy, and the screen obviously flips around to turn the device into a mini tablet. All of which is neat. More important, it looks like it could be used as a phone. Except for one thing: where's the keypad? If the keypad is meant to be virtual, then that means the user can only dial while in tablet mode; and talk with a considerable slab of screen against his face.

All of which leads me to believe that this drawing could be, maybe, possibly, perhaps, conceivably, a legitimate prototype from Sony labs. But, if so, it's an early one, and the finished product will surely look . . . not quite like this. Still, though . . . .

My Review of Yahoo! 360°

REVISED, 2 PM. I've just revised this review to make it a little more complete.

First things first. I have to say a big thanks to Russell Beattie for extending me an invitation to Yahoo! 360°, which happened a short time after my last post here. I wasn't expecting it. Second (second things second), it isn't really fair to post a review of something that, A) is in beta and still brand new, and, B) most people don't yet have access to. Still, I figure lots of folks are curious about Yahoo360; and Yahoo360 workers are probably curious to see the reaction of early users. So, here goes with a brief review.

I spent most of last night and virtually all of today playing around with Yahoo360. Well, not ALL day, exactly. Rather, I spent equal amounts of time in Yahoo360 and answering email. The email was from people in my address book that I hadn't heard from, in some cases, in years - people I'd sent a Yahoo360 invite to. They wrote to me after accepting the invitation and looking inside.

Have your own look inside. My Yahoo360 address is http://360.yahoo.com/dougthacker. Here is a screenshot of the page you'll see when you click on that link.

The components of Yahoo360 are Music sharing, of a kind, is also offered by Yahoo360, and it could be considered another major component. This feature consists of the (supposed) ability to share your Yahoo LAUNCHcast Web radio selections. I'm using Firefox as my browser (as most everyone should be), and here's what happened when I tried to launch LAUNCHcast: I got a message saying, "LAUNCHcast doesn't support Netscape on Windows." Not sure why it thought I was using Netscape, but obviously this is something that needs to be fixed - and no doubt it will be. I thought maybe I'd already tried LAUNCHcast some time back, but couldn't remember. Obviously, though, I won't be trying it currently until this little problem is addressed.

The Yahoo360 blog is right now pretty limited. You can't write your own HTML, and you can't link images from other sources on the Web. Instead, there is a WYSIWYG interface you have to use for posting - I suppose this is meant to make things easier; and images can only be uploaded from your mobile or your hard drive - and only one per post. This single image is inserted at the top of the post, and can't be moved around by you.

I guess I don't have a problem with this limited functionality - it forces you to write personally and not rely on illustrations. But, really, you could hardly call it a blog, if we take "blog" to mean what it means here on Blogger, and virtually everywhere else. Namely, a kind of self-published electronic newspaper written by one person (or a group of people). The Yahoo360 "blog" is definitely not that. A more descriptive term might be "online journal". But since "blog" is a big buzzword right now, Yahoo will persist in calling it that. And because they will, it's going to lead to unrealistic expectations on the part of users who have experience with blogs elsewhere - even if it's only experience reading them. ("So how come I can't post pictures like they do on BoingBoing?") Unrealistic expectations will mean frustration and disappointment for a significant number of users.

Unless you're in the habit of doing it, it's a challenge to come up with lists of favorite things ("snowflakes that fall on my nose and eyelashes, brown paper packages tied up with string") - especially when we're not talking about just any old favorite things, like in the Rogers and Hammerstein song, but more specific categories like books and movies. It works best, I think, when you're straightforward about it. But I guess that goes without saying. I noticed that many people are listing things that don't fit the tight categories - authors under "books", for instance. It would be better, I think, to call the category "Books and Authors", as done in the profile section of FLICKR.

Fortunately there is (just as on FLICKR) a broad category: Interests. This leaves plenty of room to list things like "Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes" (though my own proclivities are a little less specific than that). But Yahoo360 might want to consider implementing their other categories as FLICKR has: Favorite Books & Authors; Favorite Movies, Stars & Directors; Favorite Music & Artists. Something like that.

As I said on my "blog" over on Yahoo360, I've always been ambivilent about listing favorites in public. Ambivilent for lots of reasons. But I really grokked what such lists are about, while on Yahoo360. Lists are nothing more than a way of tagging yourself, just as you would pictures on FLICKR. And it serves the same function as tagging anywhere. When you want to know which members of Yahoo360 are into the music of, say, Stereolab, you click on the Stereolab tag in your own list, and voila, you're presented with Yahoo360 users who have tagged themselves Stereolab fans.

Yahoo360 also features some components that might be called minor ones, but that, together, give the service more depth and likability. One is reviews, wherein a user can present the reviews he has written on other Yahoo sites, as well as adding new reviews. Outside of the weblog you're reading right now (Blogger based, of course), I'm not particularly into writing reviews, and won't lay claim to the few lame attempts I've made. But I can see how this would be of interest to some users.

Also, in addition to tying in its own Instant Messenger service to Yahoo360, the site provides a means for contacts to leave messages directly within the interface. A number of my contacts have already done this. I was able to respond in kind; and the whole thing seems pretty useful, since it means not having to fire up your own email - especially for those contacts who don't use Yahoo Mail.

One minor feature I particularly like is called Blast. Blast consists of a short blurb, or, if you like, a link, that you can send to friends and display at the top of your Yahoo360 pages. This seems like a good way to keep your pages active, and to draw attention to updates.

There are a couple of things I might change, if I could - and maybe they will be changed as we go along. For example, after putting considerable thought into my list of favorite films, I finally posted it, only to be told it was too long. Something about a 300 character maximum, I think it was. Needless to say, I didn't count characters. I just lopped a few films off the bottom and kept my fingers crossed. Such a limitation seems kind of silly. If someone wants to list, say, their top 100, who cares?

Likewise, I'm in 35 Yahoo groups. But a maximum of 23 appears on my groups list. And at least one of the groups - devoted to the work of photographer Helmut Newton - is in the so-called Adult section of Yahoo groups. I have a feeling that one won't ever show up on my Yahoo360 page. Is that because we're not adults, unless we're in the adult section? What's up?

But all of this is really just niggling. The bottom line for the broad concept of Yahoo360 is that it's a pretty great thing. The idea of creating and expanding networks of people with whom you share interests, and of becoming reacquainted with old friends, is really exciting. And, more important (because lots of sites have the idea but not necessarilly the execution), the way Yahoo has it set up - its implementation - is, in general and despite the little problems, quite effective. Part of this effectiveness - a big part - is in my view the total lack of ads. This gives Yahoo360 a very FLICKRish feel, and I can only hope Yahoo has the sense to maintain it this way.

In fact, Yahoo would in my view be well advised to tie in even more closely FLICKR and Yahoo360. Especially where photos are concerned. It might also be a good idea to add tagging to their new My Web feature (elsewhere on Yahoo), to make it similar to del.icio.us. And then tie it in with Yahoo360. This would be in keeping with the essential social networking nature of Yahoo360. I could see a "My Bookmarks" section. Or even a "My Tags" section that applied to both bookmarks and photos.

Anyway, as it stands now, even in beta, Yahoo360 is nicely done, and I intend to keep using it (unless I start getting spammed with ads). I think it's going to be a huge hit.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Waiting for my Yahoo360 Invite

UPDATE, 6 PM: I just received my invite. Thanks, Russ!

Given that I announced, long before Wired - or anyone else, for that matter - over on Russell Beattie's weblog, that, "Yahoo seems to me to be a much stronger company than Google, in every way I can think of;" - in some sense I could lay claim to some part of getting the meme started; - and given that I tout Yahoo good stuff at each opportunity (along with, granted, the bad), I'm expecting any day now to get my Yahoo360 invite, which I signed up for some time ago. Hello? We'll see how soon - and if - it comes. :)

Kurt Bigenho (of the Mobile Phone Photo Show)

A lot of people seem to think that SENT was the first exhibition of photos made with mobile phones. While SENT was interesting, what I didn't like about it was that it was so celebrity oriented. The organizers invited certain celebrities and near-celebrities to submit photos made with their camera phones. These were exhibited as the main part of the show, while the seemingly lesser part consisted of random photos sent in by an anonymous public.

I much preferred the mobile phone photo exhibition that preceded this one - and not only because I participated in it. Called MPPS (for "Mobile Phone Photo Show"), it was organized by Kurt Bigenho, of unfinished.com and Multiverse, and took place in San Francisco's Rx Gallery in May and June of last year. For MPPS, people from around the world were invited to send in photos made with their phones. These images were then displayed on monitors throughout the gallery, before being printed for gallery goers to take home.

I sent in maybe a couple of hundred images from Hawaii (where I lived at the time), and even went out on a couple of shooting forays with my Nokia 3650, just for the sake of the show.

Consequently, I was really excited about having the chance to meet Kurt and see the space where the show took place, upon moving to San Francisco. After exchanging numerous emails and missing each other a number of times, Kurt and I are finally getting together later this week. We'll get to know each other, I hope, and possibly talk about some future projects.

Catching Up . . . Again.

Mind of God

Imagine if there were a type of search engine that indexed your whole person.
Based on genetic markers, psychological states, and social situation, this engine could not only give you an accurate inventory of your own traits, talents, and weaknesses, but could also predict, with uncanny accuracy, the reasonable probability for success of any action, train of thought, or plan, you might develop; as well as predicting your near and long term health. It would serve as a combination wise physician and agony aunt or counselor. Such a utility would be invaluable, and all you'd have to do, in order to have it, is agree to give up any pretense to privacy: your personal index, with its probabilities and predictions, would be mirrored on several servers - some of them commercial - where the dynamically changing real-time data would be used for tailoring advertising campaigns directed to you; - and some of them owned by state agencies, for the simple reason that state agencies love this sort of data - or would love it, if they could get it.

This is the search engine Google would like to have - one more step toward becoming the mind of God (their oft-stated goal). We're not there yet, but I kind of felt like we were when, a few days ago, I installed Yahoo's beta version of desktop search.

I already had a pretty good mental inventory of my own data on my home machine, so, given its current limitations, Yahoo's desktop search wasn't all that useful to me. There's a long list of file types the utility can find - but I still felt as though there was a great deal it was missing - just what I'm not sure. I imagine that in the aggregate, a machine you've been using for awhile says more about you than even you know. Or that's the thought, anyway - and I'm not sure I like that thought. Inference is best left, I think, to highly trained Viennese psychiatrists. But that won't stop corporations and governments from thinking they have it right. No sense in helping them.

On a more positive note, Yahoo's new Creative Commons search is fantastic. Fantastic because it is truly innovative and useful, allowing you to mix, match, and mash up other people's work, even for your own commercial purposes, without fear of stepping over the boundary from fair use to actionable offense. Providing such a service is, in my view, the true role of search engines - and far preferable to trying to be the mind of God.

For the past few days I haven't done any blogging - something you'll have noticed if you're a regular reader. interestingly, I've been getting almost as many hits not blogging as I do when posting regularly. Right now there are maybe ten people who come back here regularly, plus ten or so more who subscribe via RSS feed. Most days this weblog gets about one hundred unique visitors - though, depending on the topic and the time of week, that can go up to as high as one thousand. All told, a small and obviously select readership. And not bad, considering that it's so new, and still in the process of taking on a definite identity: tech blog? photography blog? personal diary? blog of whimsy? All of these and none, of course.

It's surprising to me how much time it takes to blog every day. In order to find something worth writing about, or pointing out, I first check the links over to the right; then, if need be, and if there's time, I go through a long list of RSS feeds that I have set up on a My Yahoo page devoted to science and tech.
When I finally get an entry written, with links and just the right images, I often have several hours into it. And that's assuming I don't get distracted along the way. I suppose I should fire up Photoshop and rig some sort of Gone Fishin' sign, for those times when I just can't get to it, or don't want to.

Here are a couple of things that I would have blogged about, had I been blogging over the past few days.

"Our living Earth nurtures an abundance of life. And we believe that human beings are the peak of all those abundant life forms. Human beings are the only ones that have created glittering civilizations one after another, or have sent rockets into outer space. But it is also these outstanding human beings who have damaged nature and our world to a critical degree. Now, we have also started to notice that we have to believe in all seriousness that our living planet Earth is made up of a delicate balance of life forms, and that Earth itself is one living organism.

"That's true. The biggest living organism on Earth is Earth itself. We must protect this important living thing, this irreplaceable Earth, and by making this life even more brilliant, human beings can make themselves truly great.

"Through this exhibition of EXPO 2005 AICHI JAPAN, we in the Mitsui Group want to help people live healthily and prosperously on this greatest of all living things: our planet. A world sparkling with life - that is the theme that we in the Mitsui Group wish to pass on to the children who will support the next generation."

This copy is from the website devoted to the Mitsui-Toshiba pavilion at the above-named expo. So refreshing to see such optimism. How unlike the dreary pessimism and (Christian) nihilism that is so often manifest in the west nowadays.

Current Christian nihilism in the West notwithstanding, one of the things I most like about Europe (which shows a promising abandonment of such ideology) is its recent tradition of form follows function. Here we see it manifest in taking the hood-is-home concept of the hoody to its logical extreme. The illustration above is from the international (but decidedly European) design firm Gopingpong.

Both Gopingpong and the reference to the Mitsui-Toshiba pavilion are from what has become my favorite weblog of all, Near Near Future (AKA We Make Money Not Art) - like BoingBoing, but without the smugness and self-conscious hipness.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Sony PSP News

Kutugari-san reported to be
disappointed, as well

The biggest PSP news of all, for me, anyway, is this - and it's disgusting: I've been planning for some time to be standing in line RIGHT NOW, as I type this, at San Francisco's Sony Metreon store, waiting for the midnight launch of the PSP. Problem is, I've yet to figure out how to position this with my landlord - i.e., "See this shiny new device? Cool, huh? I knew you'd like it. Your rent money is tied up in here." I still don't have a job. I was SURE I'd have one by now, but I don't. Ergo, while the rest of North America is celebrating with Sony, for me it'll just be another day.

Yes, it does suck, but I'll live, I think. When it finally happens, I won't have to wait in line.

Not to be left out entirely, however, here is a list of new links for the PSP - starting with a few from the LINUX community :) :

Linux on PSP

Linux Sony PSP

PSP Linux Project - Coming Soon (includes active discussion board)

PSP Linux (discussion)

Other current PSP links

From the clued-in:

Two from Russell Beattie, here, and here.

Playstation Portable Omegapost (Gizmodo)

PSP Review Roundup (Engadget)

Sony PSP Fashion Model Gallery (i4U)

PSP Japan

PSP: All it's cracked up to be (CNNMoney)

From the clueless:

PSP Wows - But only if you stick to games (Washington Post)

Sony PSP Great for games, not much else (Forbes)

So there you are. Something to read while in line. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a job to find. :)

UPDATE: We now interrupt this job search to bring you breaking news: The line at Sony Metreon, San Francisco.

Monday, March 21, 2005


The above is a screenshot from Krazydad ("Creator of handcrafted software toys of wondrous delight"). It's the Flickr Experimental Colr Pickr, devised by Jim Bumgardner, and, it's a delight alright. This, along with the other Flickr stuff in this post, has been sitting on my hard drive for at least a week. While having fun with all of it, I was ambivlent about blogging it because - get this - it seemed like just so much pretty eye candy. Then it came to me, limping on the knees of middle age: what better thing to share?

Jim used the Flickr API documentation to create Colr Pickr. Colr Pickr offers twelve themes to choose from (such as "color fields", "flowers", "urban decay", "catchy colors") and a color wheel with a slider beside it. Click on a theme, then click on any point in the color field, and Colr Pickr will pull up the appropriately themed and hued images from Flickr. You can then use the slider to change the color value (light to dark) and thereby the images. It's really fun and beautiful.

One quote from Jim that I like, and that, reading it, made me decide to blog this topic:

"To those that question the utility of this little application, let me point out that it is a toy -- like all the stuff on my website. It's purpose is simply to provide wonder and delight. Nothing more, nothing less. Isn't that enough?"

Spell with Flickr is another cool app developed using the Flickr API. This one involves inputting a word, phrase, or URL in the search box and clicking "spell". Spell with Flickr then finds Flickr images and uses them to recreate your input, in the form of images.

Lastly, I've been finding great images on Flickr. Sometimes entire collections are interesting, like the one documenting a graveyard of commercial jets.

So there you have it. Two toys among many for Flickr, and an interesting photo collection, one of . . . well, quite a few. (I've been involved in lots of photo sites, and some of the images on Flickr are exceptional.) Yahoo clearly got this site at a bargain price, and has some interesting times ahead.

FLICKR. At Yahoo!

Earlier today (or, rather, yesterday, since it's now 2 AM), I was planning to write an entry about Flickr. In fact, I've been meaning to for some time, as I keep running into more and more neat Flickr things. But one thing led to another and before you know it, it was time to get ready for work. Well, I thought, it can wait until tomorrow.

I didn't write the entry but kept thinking about it. Some of what I was thinking ran along the lines of, "I sure hope Yahoo! buys Flickr. If they don't, Google probably will. Flickr would - or could - add so much to Yahoo!'s offerings - they could tie it into the upcoming Yahoo360. And do God knows what else with it. I just hope, if they do buy it, that they don't fill it up with ads and ruin the interface."

I come home from work tonight, check on the status of this blog at Statcounter, follow a referrer link to Tagsurf, and see this.

So, Yahoo! buys Flickr. Now this should be interesting. I love everything about Flickr. Even - especially - the name of its co-founder: Caterina Fake. (If she didn't make that up, she maybe should have. I would love to write a movie - maybe a latter day spy thriller - something with an artful edge - and give its protagonist that name. See her post about the acquisition here.)

According to Jeremy Zawodny, a great deal of Yahoo! is going to be Flickrized. Good. The more the better. I could see a Flickrized Yahoo! really cutting a unique, dramatic profile in the Web world. While a case could be made for characterizing Google as, say, Web 1.20, a Flickrized Yahoo! could define Web 2.0 for portals.

I can also see that it will take months, if not years, to fully realize the potential of this. How will Yahoo! implement Flickr? I imagine the first thing they'll do is integrate it into Yahoo360. And hopefully both will be integrated into Yahoo groups. I could see a Yahoo Group having a PHP bulletin board, and Flickr functionality for its pictures, all of it with moderator selectible colors and so on. (And, by the way, if you'd like to sign up to be a beta user of Yahoo360, you can do that here.)

I liked what Jeremy had to say about Flickr:
Flickr has the potential to set the new standard for on-line photo sharing, management, etc. Why? Because Flickr...
  • does one thing and does it well
  • provides a clean and simple UI
  • has clear and helpful documentation
  • exposes core functionality with a documented API
  • account sign up is brain-dead simple
  • makes extensive and intuitive use of RSS
  • like del.icio.us, uses tags to help organize
  • doesn't spam me with graphical/animated/flash ads or try to unexpectedly pop up any sort of window
In other words, it's developer friendly, user friendly, and is a web site as well as a "service" or "platform" (in the Web 2.0 sense) all at the same time.

Everything, in other words, Yahoo needs to be. (I especially like - as you may have noticed - the part about "doesn't spam me with graphical/animated/flash ads".)

Anyway, it's late. Haven't gotten to the "fun with Flickr" part of this post yet. I'll see about that tomorrow. We'll call it Part II.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

I, Vacuum Cleaner

Childcare Robot PaPeRo

According to this article ("NEC Realizes Enhanced Version of its PaPeRo Robots") at PhysOrg,
NEC has been engaged in the development of a childcare robot as one application of its partner-type robot. It has thus developed "Childcare Robot PaPeRo" that boasts enhanced security features and functions enabling it to play with and watch over children. The Childcare Robot was developed by using one part of the technological functions of PaPeRo 2005 and in particular by focusing on interaction between the robot and children.
And further,
There is great expectation surrounding the development of partner-type robots, which will be able to live with us and assist us in our daily lives. Although a variety of robots have been developed in response to such expectations, they still possess insufficient performance in terms of speech and image recognition, in addition to their interaction being monotonous and boring. Therefore, development of a robot, which enables natural and enjoyable communication, as well as a wider variety of interactions, has been highly sought after and desired.
This is all great - I love robots and the idea of robots. But the bottom line is, given the intelligence level of todays computers - namely, zilch - having one of these things watch over your children is like leaving the vacuum cleaner in charge. Except that in this case the vacuum cleaner is networked, so that you can use your mobile to see and hear the kids remotely.

Give NEC and companies like it all credit for trying to bring "robots" to market. But clearly there is a very long way to go.

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