YouTube TV jacks up price

Cutting the cord is looking less attractive

Cutting the pay TV cord from cable or telco TV provides significant savings, until it doesn’t. YouTube TV, originally offered at $35 per month, is now $65 per month. When compared to cable bundles starting at $67 per month before set top box and HD fees, the motivation for cord cutting is diminished. Forbes

dis-rup-shun: It is inevitable that content providers seek to earn a profit, and it is inevitable that the costs of content increase as NFL owners expect to earn more, and customers expect to binge more. More streaming competition from the likes of NBC (Peacock) and AT&T (AT&T TV) will keep the pressure on the incumbents (DirecTV and Netflix) to keep prices competitive, but the rising costs of content will maintain pressure to charge more. In the end, cutting the cord may result in temporary savings that are not sustainable.

Google acquires smart glasses maker North

North, the smart glasses maker that has been quietly chugging along, creating smart glasses that look like ordinary glasses, has been acquired by Google for an undisclosed sum. Speculation puts the acquisition at $180 million, but that is less than the funds raised from investors. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: It is not like Google to wildly overpay for a strategic acquisition, so one would expect that the number is higher than capital raised, but this is a tricky space. No vendor has yet proven that there is real demand for smart glasses, and Apple, for years, has been rumored to be working on glasses. If any brand can make smart glasses mainstream, it is surely Apple, and Google needed to make additional acquisitions in order to maintain its position of “fast follower” behind Apple innovation.

Sound detection part of new IOS 14

As the media unpacks all the new stuff in the next Apple iPhone operating system, one interesting feature is the ability to identify sounds that your phone will warn you about: smoke alarms, car alarms, leaky faucets, coyotes, cookie jar rattle… CNET

dis-rup-shun: Audio detection is an entire industry, possibly the size of the video camera industry. Imagine if all of your devices (phones, tablets, computers, smart speakers, smart appliances) are listening for suspicious sounds. They could detect a fall of a senior, a burglar, or a malfunctioning AC unit, and they could also detect and transmit words or sounds that you want to keep private. The conflicts and debates will be ever present as listening technology goes mainstream.

How to capture fireworks with your phone

Capturing the glory of annual 4th of July fireworks will be, more than ever, attempted with phones rather than standalone cameras. Certain settings, like no zoom and no flash, will result in better photos. Steadying the camera on something is a first step. Wired

dis-rup-shun: The constant upgrade of camera phones means that most people aren’t very skilled at the new art of smartphone photography. The only way to learn is to try, and this holiday is a great opportunity to relearn the lost art of photography. Happy 4th of July!

Lululemon acquires mirror

Lululemon acquires Mirror fitness

Workout clothing maker Lululemon makes its first acquisition, agreeing to purchase at home personal fitness provider, Mirror for $500 million. Mirror, a competitor to Peloton, provides a $1,495 connected mirror camera device that offers online group fitness, or one-on-one personal training sessions. The company’s primary competitor, Peloton, has 886,000 subscribers, up 94% in a year. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The clothing company is making some very strategic moves here. It is cashing in on the “connected community” movement that has resulted from Coronavirus, ensuring that its core customers, the workout enthusiast who wants to impress those at the yoga studio, have a way to continue to spend time and money in leggings. It has an advantage that Peloton does not, and that is the ability to offer one-on-one personal training sessions. This is an opportunity for premium customer experiences which will offer more opportunities for Lululemon to demonstrate its clothing line to a well heeled buyer. The clothing company is following business icon Apple’s model of using content (classes) to increase the value of its hardware (clothing).

Despite Coronavirus, 5G rollout begins in 2020

Coronavirus, in late February, led to the cancellation of the mobile industry’s primary trade event, Mobile World Congress. That cancellation put the world on notice that the virus was a force to be reckoned with and blocked thousands of opportunities to promote the next mobile telecom standard, 5G. The same pandemic, however, has fueled demand for 5G, as people are spending more time online. China, in particular, has shown its interest in 5G as the bulk of the expected 190 million 5G subscribers in 2020 will be in China. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The pandemic has not slowed the development of 5G infrastructure, meaning that as soon as consumers are ready to upgrade their smartphones and networks, the carriers are ready. With the world sheltered in place, drops in Internet service have become more common than ever (I bet there is data on that). Consumers are ripe for a migration to an all 5G home and mobile network, if carriers wish to offer fixed mobile broadband solutions. Let’s see if AT&T, distracted by its absorption of Time Warner and its change of CEOs will seize the moment, and if T-Mobile/Sprint, mid-merger, can make 5G a marketing priority.

An iPhone without charger or headphones?

An Apple expert, TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, speculates that in order to keep the next iPhone (iPhone 12) at the same price as its predecessor, Apple will ship the device without a charging cable or earbuds. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: If the speculation is true, Apple will change the industry standard such that other makers will also stop shipping accessories in the box. But is a charging cable to power the very device in the box really an accessory? It is in Apple’s best interest to not include earbuds, thus compelling buyers to gravitate to their premium priced Airbuds. Can Apple provide less for their flagship device and still delight its loyal customers? Probably.

The future console is in the cloud

The future of gaming is in the cloud. With every major gaming platform offering a cloud service and more rumored on the way, the role of the cloud is at the center of gaming. Gaming, like video, drives enormous revenues, and other than bandwidth, the responsiveness of data centers will be the biggest factors in good game experiences. Data centers are in a race to create the best gaming infrastructure, not only by having high capacity, but by placing data centers on the right parts of the globe to minimize latency. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Like Netflix for video, cloud gaming services will become the new standards for gaming, and consoles will remain to serve only the enthusiasts who want the experience that only hardware in the home can provide. But the middle of the road gamer, who has traditionally been on the edge of the console customer base, will be content with cloud games, meaning Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will have to work harder to serve the core gamer, or will have to create an experience so unique that it simply can’t be replicated in the cloud. And at least one of them will.

Apple Watch goes medical

Apple watch adds medical insights

Apple continues its pursuit of healthcare through it primary wellness device, the Apple Watch. The company announced a number of wellness feature enhancements this week, but one, in particular, seems designed to serve the medical, not consumer, community.  The device’s abilities to measure gait, heart rate and mobility enable it to form an activity index that could help doctors measure overall health or decline over a period of time. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The fact that these features are designed to appeal to medical professionals, not just consumers, is likely a sign that the company’s tight partnership with care professionals is resulting in marketing to the medical community. Of course, equipping the medical community with unique tools leads to doctors, therapists and clinicians urging seniors, in particular, to purchase these devices to track long-term health, promoting the device as a leader in wellness tracking and driving it to become a standard among the growing senior population.

Omnicom division joins boycott of Facebook ads

Facebook continues to be embroiled in controversy, this time due to its unwillingness to curtail what the group calls “irresponsible propagation of hate speech, racism, and misleading voter information,” according to Omnicom ad adency Goodby Silverstein. The agency represents brands including BMW, PayPal and Pepsi. CNBC.

dis-rup-shun: Facebook, the platform that people love to hate, along with other social media platforms, faces increased pressure to draw a tighter line on what it allows to be posted. Is this censure-ship, or just the right thing to do? Should social media platforms be a platform for freedom of speech — all speech, right or wrong, or should they be the new newspapers, all known for their editorial decisions and inherent bias? The social networks are at a junction, and the public has essentially dictated that they will be the new newspapers, requiring them to choose their editorial bias, which will guarantee that whatever position they choose will enrage some segment of the public that believes use of social networks is a “right,” not a privilege.

Wyze continues to rock the camera world

Wyze has introduced a $50 no-wires outdoor camera. The camera communicates wirelessly to a  base station which connects to your router via ethernet or WiFi. Cloud storage of video is free. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Remember Datsun or the first Hondas? These were very inexpensive newcomers to the auto world that were initially mocked, but, a decade or two later, taken very seriously, especially as they later built premium brands such as Infinity and Acura. Wyze feels similar in that they have rocked the smart home gadget market with high quality products at ridiculous prices, and have continued to introduce quality products at gradually higher prices. Expect Wyze to be swallowed by a Big Tech player. I will cast my vote for Google Nest.

8 best smart speakers for Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant

Wired provides another look at smart speakers. This review assumes that the reader can choose a preferred smart assistant technology — Wired prefers Alexa or Google Assistant. The review then crowns winners by category: Best Overall – Sonos, Best for Alexa — Echo, Best Portable — JBL Link, Best Soundbar — Yamaha, and so forth.

dis-rup-shun: In the past few years, several product categories have collided into one: bookshelf speakers, portable speakers, and smart assistants. It is increasingly difficult to separate these products into those categories, but rather call them one and designate, as Wired has done, the best for a particular application. Whatever you call them, chances are that several of these devices exist in each home and that one of them is your primary source of music.

The Apple show — dazzling software enhancements

A summary of Apple’s Monday product announcements

Apple’s announcements are well covered in the press, but here is a quick read:

  • Future laptops and desktops will run on Apple’s processor, not on Intel’s. Apple says this will enable better performance.
  • iOS14 (iPhone) software enables a person to customize their home screen and choose other email and browser apps as defaults (instead of Apple Mail and Safari). AI automation helps determine when a user wants to see which data and widgets, perhaps making the experience less “cluttered.” Message interfaces and features are enhanced, and a video window can float on top of other apps while multitasking. Siri has a new interface, and maps are enhanced by tips from partners such as Zagat.
  • Apple Translate is a new language translation app that, running on an iPhone, can be placed between two different language speakers and can translate in real time.
  • CarPlay updates include the ability to send an electronic car key through text messaging, enabling your friend to borrow your car when you text the key. Currently this feature only works on BMW 5-series, but will expand soon.
  • AppClips are small, lightweight apps that can be downloaded via QR code or textx message. These clips take the place of a store’s promotional app — increasing the chance that people will use them on impulse since one no longer has to go to the App Store.
  • iOS14 (iPad) is designed to look and feel more like a MacBook, with improved search and with a new stylus (Pencil) that can enter text by handwriting anywhere there is an input field.
  • AirPods will automatically switch between iPhone and computer — without requiring a manual Bluetooth switchover.
  • Apple Watch has enhanced sleep tracking features that will help nudge people out of bed in the morning. A new app includes a hand washing timer to make sure you are practicing healthy living habits.
  • Home App, the app designed to control smart home devices that comply with Apple’s standard, uses the iPhone camera’s facial recognition technology with external security cameras.
  • Apple TV now supports picture-in-picture, and allows multiple accounts per device.
  • MacOS Big Sur — the computer operating system, includes bigger, better interfaces, a messaging app that mimics the iPhone, and enhanced Safari that automatically reveals the security features of websites and automatically translates websites.

dis-rup-shun: Apple continues to enhance its customers’ experiences across the product line and continues its march into more proprietary avenues, eschewing the chipset made by the world’s largest silicon vendor, Intel. But the company is clearly capable of delivering on its promises, and seems now stronger than ever. Of some concern is that most enhancements are software based, suggesting that it is now extremely difficult to conceive, invent, build, launch and market new devices — the very thing that Apple is so good at doing. Hopefully Apple will invent a few new cool devices, along with its outstanding software.

Can Apple truly transform healthcare?

Apple’s progress report on revolutionizing health care

Apple has stated that health is a target market for the company, and its Apple watch is arguably the most sophisticated all-purpose wearable that is also packed with heart monitoring and fall detection features. But what are the next big chasms for Apple to cross to transform healthcare? The data generated by Apple devices is not being easily integrated into care provider routines as doctors are already overwhelmed. Integration and access to consumers’ electronic health records remains a complex challenge. Many opportunities for Apple exist, and perhaps more direction will be revealed at the company’s worldwide developers’ conference this week. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Apple has equipped consumers with data about sleep, body motion and heart activity, giving us all more data than ever before. The healthcare industry, however, has not been screaming for more consumer data. The industry is being roiled by falling prices and new reimbursement models, so 180 days of your cardiac data may not be your doctor’s first priority. The question Apple must answer is if it wishes to continue its focus on equipping individuals with new insights into their own health, or if it seeks to transform clinician practices through providing remote care tools. There is plenty of room down both paths, but likely not enough time and resources to effectively pursue both.

Moneyball comes to European football via AI

Moneyball — the practice of analyzing large amounts of sports performance data to improve the results of a team and maximize return on investments, is finally coming to European football thanks to the AI analytics company, Acronis. Acronis has partnered with clubs including Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Inter Milan to help the organizations collect, analyze and eventually monetize data. Wired

dis-rup-shun: While data analytics has long been a critical part of sports management for baseball and other sports, it is new to European football. Whether data is used to improve player recruiting, play calling or advertising effectiveness, expect some very noticeable changes to occur as teams use numbers to improve both on-field and overall financial performance.

Drone deployed mosquitoes help control illnesses

Sterile male mosquitoes injected into infested areas reduce the insect’s populations by reducing the next generation, lowering the overall count of the malaria spreaders. This sophisticated treatment method eliminates spraying but requires people to introduce the sterile mosquitoes into infested and/or hard to reach places (swamps, mountains, etc.). The use of drones to release cartridges of sterile mosquitoes in infested areas, then return to base to refill, has increased the effectiveness and reduced the time of deployment. Techcrunch

dis-rup-shun: Drones continue to find their niche applications outside of hobbyists, and global disease prevention is clearly an important and potentially lucrative opportunity. Hobby, military, medical, real estate, film making and photography are all areas in which drones seem to have found adoption beyond trials. Expect to see the work of drones become a staple in these industries.

Camera wars: Arlo joins the floodlight camera race

The smart home category continues to gain heft, and Arlo has been a quality provider since Netgear purchased the brand (then spun it off in 2018). Ring gets the credit for inventing the flood light camera category, or at least for making it popular. According to CNET  Arlo has taken the lead with this high quality, $250 very bright light/camera combo which can be powered via battery, solar or AC power. Quality, as always, may be dependent on the device’s WiFi connection.

dis-rup-shun: For people seeking home security without committing to a long, large contract from a traditional provider, these new devices continue to offer strong alternatives. Device makers such as Arlo, and integrated-monitored systems providers such as ADT need to quickly partner to make these devices common for both DIY and pro-installed customers, and benefit from customer interest in this new product category.

 

Spotify joins with DC Comics and Kim K

Spotify stock climbs with addition of DC Comics and Kardashian content

Spotify, the major player in streaming music, has found its next growth spurt in podcasts, which the company has been adding over the past year and a half. The company has inked deals to bring podcasts from DC Comics and Kim Kardashian — bolstering company value. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Podcasts continue to be an increasing form of entertainment, replacing time reading books, newspapers and even listening to music. Spotify is an example of a disruptor that is staying ahead of its own disruption, by carefully watching consumer habits and shifting to capture the consumer where he or she is moving. It’s a smart move that is being rewarded by the market.

California initiative to create an electric highway

West Coast Clean Transit Corridor Initiative, led by West Coast state governments, is an initiative to lower emissions by encouraging the switch to electric powered trucks to carry freight up and down the West Coast. The initiative will begin by placing charging stations every fifty miles along Interstate 5. Initially the stations will be for mid-sized trucks, and then for long haul trucks. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: California’s leadership is impressive, as it is ready to provide infrastructure support for vehicles that are just now appearing at scale. Many other states will wait until their roads are crowded with large electric trucks and will expect private truck stop operators to provide electric charging. Pacific States’ initiatives will be a model to watch — will providing electric infrastructure actually accelerate adoption of electric over the road freight carriers?

Siri command to remember if you get pulled over

An outside developer has created a Siri command to remember if you get pulled over. The command automatically turns on your iPhone camera, mutes your phone, and sends a text with your location to an emergency contact. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Bad cops are making life hard for the majority of well-trained and cool-headed officers that protect us and keep our communities running smoothly. It would be important, however, for loved ones to know where you are if you are pulled over and possibly removed from the scene. This utility could be critical if legal proceedings were to follow a traffic stop.

Amazon bundles Blink camera with Echo Show for $5

Amazon owns connected WiFi camera maker Blink, and is now bundling the product with its Echo Show smart display product for a mere $5 extra. It is a no-brainer if you have someone or something around the house that you want to keep an eye on (baby, pet, teenager’s room, driveway, etc. CNET

dis-rup-shun: As Amazon dominates the smart speaker space with Alexa, it is important to watch where Alexa’s influence will expand. In the music space, Amazon has not swallowed up other music device makers, and has struggled to make its own music service, Amazon Music, the top contender. On the search side, Alexa is a distant second to Google Assistant, and the company appears to not be working to close that gap. On the smart home side, Alexa is dominant, controlling hundreds of connecting devices. Amazon’s ownership of Ring and Blink provide a strong foundation for creating a bigger, connected, smart home ecosystem, and expect to see more complete, fully integrated home security offerings from the Blink/Ring/Alexa coalition in the near future.

 

Will private colleges recover from Covid-19?

Private colleges: terminally infected by Covid-19?

Online educational provider, Coursera, reports that enrollment in its online classes us up 520%. This follows the closing of 91% of schools worldwide during the pandemic. Many colleges are now facing class-action lawsuits from parents and students who are demanding a refund for expenses paid and services not received. Coursera founders expect online learning to be the new normal. Many universities, such as Georgia Tech, have already invested in online alternatives, however many colleges are unprepared to face a changing customer base. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Covid-19 is the tsunami that has reshaped value perceptions for colleges and universities, whose pool of applicants will be reduced by parents whose finances have changed, and by students who reexamine the value of a $50K to $400K investment in a four-year degree. Competitive mid- and top-tier colleges that offer online alternatives will hobble those that do not. The fact that few foreign students will apply to colleges abroad during Covid will greatly reduce the applicant pool.

Robinhood fintech app spurs millennial participation in stocks

The mobile trading app, Robinhood, is designed to help consumers make small investments easily from mobile devices, with no fees. The platform has grown to 10 million users since its inception in 2016. Its convenience and free model is spurring interest and participation in the stock market, and many are taking government stimulus checks and investing extra funds in the beleaguered stocks, such as airlines. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: In a matter of a few short years, one of the most established industries on the planet — retail stock trading — is turned upside down by a small upstart in Silicon Valley that decides to offer stock trades for free, causing huge established players to follow and shift their business models. Retail brokerage houses now must make money off of other financial services, including credit cards, and banks need to have their innovation teams on the ready as Google, Samsung, Apple and others have entered the financial arena.

Movie theaters post-Covid

CNET considers the fate of movie theaters — an industry rocked by Covid and, in many cases, racked by debt. Some potential outcomes of theaters include: returning to normal and full capacity sometime in 2021, offering subscriptions similar to the failed Moviepass app, ensuring steady revenues for theaters who cater to a loyal core customer. Another outcome, already occurring, is the acquisition of theater chains by Big Tech such as Amazon, Apple and Netflix. As Big Tech deepens investments into creation of original content, securing theatrical distribution for expensive products will bolster the top line. Amazon has reportedly initiated plans to purchase some theaters, which will undoubtedly drastically disrupt the movie theater business.

dis-rup-shun: Imagine the various services that could be offered from an Amazon-owned movie theater.  First of all, kiosks in the lobby could be used to order almost any product, which would be waiting in the lobby to take home after the show. Or one could walk through the concession area and select any refreshments — no lines and no cashier — and the charges would magically appear on one’s Amazon account. Prime members would likely get the best seats in the house, and possibly a free drink, and those that aren’t Amazon members could buy their tickets with the assistance of an Alexa-powered ticket booth. The Amazon movie theater would offer a dramatically different experience from competitors.

Baidu withdraws from U.S. led AI coalition

Baidu, the Chinese online giant, has withdrawn from the Partnership on AI, a US-led consortium developed to address the ethical dilemmas inherent in artificial intelligence  applications. The company was the only Chinese participant, and its withdrawal further pits China vs. U.S. in next generation technology development. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Public opinion seems well divided regarding partnerships with China, with many citing unfair practices as reasons for withdrawal, and others calculating the loss of access to inexpensive and fast production, as well as the vast Chinese market. It is clear that U.S.- China relations will be one of the top political issues in coming elections.

Apple’s app ecosystem the size of Sweden

Apple’s App Store ecosystem generated $500 billion in 2019

The staggering sum is an estimate of the amount of revenues that flow through Apple’s app and commerce ecosystem, not direct revenues to Apple. The total includes merchandise, travel products, entertainment products, app sales, and content. The figure puts Apple’s app store the size of the GDP of Sweden. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The economic power of U.S. based BigTech companies continues to amaze, as these engines are big drivers of economic growth, even during this pandemic. As one considers the amazing contributions that Steve Jobs made to the world, one of them was placing Tim Cook at the helm, as Cook has not only continued Apple’s innovations (arguable at a slower pace than Jobs) but has provided even handed leadership in place of Jobs’ firebrand personality.

Walmart acquires technology from CareZone

Walmart’s acquisition of CareZone’s technologies helps the company compete more effectively with Amazon as it continues to ramp up its healthcare strategy. CareZone’s technologies helps people manage their drug prescription dosages and better understand insurance coverage. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The consumerism of healthcare has been slow in coming, and with Amazon and Walmart racing to innovate the pharmacy industry, the rest of the healthcare industry won’t be far behind. Expect apps that demystify the pharmaceutical lingo, explain the pricing and offer multiple options on the app, provide dosage- based packaging, and that change the way we order and receive prescriptions from the corner pharmacy. Look out doctors and care organizations, you’re next.

FCC casts doubts on the viability of SpaceX’s broadband satellite service

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been hurtling chains of satellites into low orbit for the past year. So far, 500 are orbiting the earth. The Starlink “train” is designed to provide broadband services to all corners of our planet — especially beneficial to rural locations. The FCC has stated that it does not believe that Starlink can meet its latency thresholds, and therefore won’t be eligible for the FCC’s $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund investment. SpaceX has one month to convince the FCC otherwise, or else it will lose a shot at the first awards of the government program. CNET

dis-rup-shun: SpaceX is coming off of a big win after its successful launch of astronauts Bob and Doug two weeks ago, and it is hard to imagine that SpaceX would have launched the Starlink without being certain that its performance will be a game changer. This leads one to wonder if politics have crept into the performance evaluation of the satellite program — but of course that would never happen.

2020 as predicted in April 1975

University of Pennsylvania professor, Lewis Shayon, predicted in 1975 that the world in 2020 would be very different. That world, according to Shayon, would include newspapers that would flash on a computer screen, and could be shared with many people. He went on to predict:

“TV will be the ‘ask-for-it-and-get-it medium. Information, games, education will be created in electronic packages, stored in vast computers and retrieved by individuals to suit their special tastes at their own time preference.”

“Every room will have a TV screen and a finger keyboard. In the kitchen you’ll punch up a film and follow a recipe. Kids will do their homework by checking in with two-way television instruction programs. They will solve math problems with the help of distant computers via the homecom center screen.” Forbes

dis-rup-shun: When one stops to ponder the world we live in, especially through the lens of this 1970s author and professor, it is hard to conceive what our world will look like in 50 more years. Certainly flying taxis, self-driving cars, and medical scanners that diagnose us from home or office (if those still exist) and teleportation will be one of the few technology fantasies yet to turn reality.

 

Want to Zoom with your favorite celebrity?

Cameo service enables Zoom calls with celebrities

If you would pay anything to chat with Brett Favre or skateboarder Tony Hawk, you have an opportunity to book a call through the Cameo celebrity site. For fees ranging from $1000 to $15,000 for up to 10 minutes, you can gawk in person (virtually) or have a celebrity drop in to a loved one’s birthday celebration. Cameo is reporting a significant uptick on participation by both paying customers and interested celebrities. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: The Internet enables the economic theory of supply and demand, first set to print by Alfred Marshall in 1776. If Marshall could see us today, paying celebrities to further monetize their “down” time, and bidding up the prices for access, he would be proud of his theories. People or Vanity Fair will do well to develop a pricing tracker of celebrity chat time and publish rankings of whose time is worth the most.

AT&T considers selling Warner gaming assets

What do you do when you are $200 billion in debt? You sell whatever is not absolutely essential to your business, and AT&T, having acquired Warner Brothers for content to fuel its various video distribution platforms, is rumored to be selling Warner Games which includes assets such as “Harry Potter,” “Game of Thrones,” “Mortal Kombat.” The sale could raise $4 billion. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The old leaders of video distribution are in a life or death battle for a place in the new world of video distribution, and AT&T can certainly be credited with going big. While the world still questions the company’s purchase of DirecTV for $49 billion, AT&T’s grab of Time Warner for content makes perfect sense.

WiFi 6E is coming soon

On the heels of WiFi 6 that debuted in 2019 comes WiFi 6E. The new standard is the result of the FCC releasing additional spectrum. The 6 Gigahertz spectrum enables the transmission of very large amounts of data at very close distances, but requires new routers and new chipsets for client devices. In other words, until you buy a new phone, computer or tablet with the new chipsets, you won’t enjoy the new benefits. CNET

dis-rup-shun: WiFi seems to be the invisible commodity that no one can get enough of, despite paying handsomely for it on a monthly basis. Perhaps it is time for service providers to offer an 18 month technology (router and speed setting) refresh as a part of ongoing subscriptions, keeping customers on the latest and fastest technologies, rather than risking customer ire. 

How to clean up your act online

If you have awakened and decided that you are not the person you used to be, you will be pleased to learn that social network giants Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have provided utilities to make it easier to delete old posts and photos.  Wired

dis-rup-shun: Social network operators are getting thrashed just as often as their members for allowing or not allowing a certain post, and as a result, are helping their members clean up their old posts and living less incendiary online lives. While “The Facebook” was started in a Harvard dorm as a way to have some online fun, a lot of people are not having much fun answering to Facebook posts.

Facial recognition technology: too risky for prime time

The problem with facial recognition technology

Following IBM’s retreat from the facial recognition business, Amazon has announced that it will defer sales of the technology to police forces for one year, while the deficiencies of the technology are reviewed and potentially rectified. The black and brown communities have been aware of the inaccuracies of the technology for a number of years, as the tech is often used in those communities (housing projects in Brooklyn, for instance). CNET

dis-rup-shun: For those who feel that “the system” has long been biased against them, automating that bias is a reason for despair. The fact that researchers have proven that facial recognition is less accurate on types of people who were not test cases in building the technology, and yet it has still been installed in many public areas, is a small deal for some, and a very large deal for others. Automating law enforcement is a tricky issue, as police have found with body cameras.

Sony unveils the Playstation 5

In a flashy online presentation, Sony unveiled the Playstation 5. The presentation was more about the games that will eventually be available on the console, and less about the device, but the graphics look brilliant. The device comes with a disc drive or without, suggesting that Sony has eliminated some moving parts in an effort to squeeze a little price out of the device. The device is powered by an eight-core AMD Zen 2 processor and available will be a wireless headset with 3D audio support, an HD camera, a special remote (enhanced media player?) and a DualSense charging station to charge controllers. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: This device is cool, and the images are near movie quality. Sony will be bringing back the Grand Turismo car racing game, with much more beautiful car renderings than ever, making this device a lot less expensive than buying a classic sports car.

Is BMR the key to weight loss?

Calculating your basil metabolic rate, essentially your resting calorie burn rate, is the critical measure for weight loss, says this researcher on CNET. A number of calculators are available to compute your BMR and plan exercise and weight loss accordingly.

dis-rup-shun: For those who need to manage their weight closely, exercise and food trackers, such as MyFitnessPal, are critical in the journey. The free version provides most of what you need, and the premium version, aside from not showing ads, provides a number of helpful metrics.

Automation of basic tasks may be next surge in productivity

Basic tasks, performed by people, like reviewing the online files of thousands of applicants for a clinical trial can be easily automated with some basic software. These moves can reduce the time required to perform dozens of tasks, as determined by pharma company, Takeda. Robotic process automation software (RPA) has been available for some time, and does not require AI, but simply runs on commands to perform repetitive tasks. RPA not only increases efficiency, but potentially replaces administrative workers. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Recessions lead to change and increases in efficiency. Our current recession will likely, at a minimum, increase personal efficiencies by keeping many people working at home, potentially forever. Automating ordinary administrative tasks will, on a macro level, perhaps reduce the number of clerical office jobs, but increase the demand for software development and support staff. The labor economy continues, with every recession, to further bifurcate, with higher demand for knowledge workers, and less intelligence needed for repetitive tasks like preparing fast food.