Your wrist is as good as your brain

Monday, 21 April 2014 - 8:20am IST | Agency: DNA
The future of computing lies in contextual computing. Companies like Qualcomm has already taken the first steps on this life-changing tech. Krishna Bahirwani explains what it means

Nicholas Negroponte once said: "Computing is not about computers anymore. It's about living." Today, his insight on the intersection between technology and society is make a tremendous impact on the lives of millions. Google glass and fitness trackers are the most prominent examples of this change.

We are now connected to our devices inseparably. A new kind of technology is emerging at the epicentre of our lives. Welcome to context-based computing.

The good, old PC is not at the forefront of the computing revolution today. People's lives are dependent upon their Internet-enabled devices they carry. These devices are growing in terms of processing power and storage capacity. Not just that. The next generation of wearables is also going beyond the architecture of traditional computing, taking inspiration from the human brain.
Dennis Woodside, chief executive officer of Motorola, said at the AllThingsD conference in May last year that the Moto X will know when it is in someone's pocket, as well as when it is taken out. This allows the device to automatically dim the screen, save battery life, and wake up from sleep mode, eliminating the need to press a button. This is the essence of contextual computing: devices are aware of their surroundings or context.

Qualcomm is one of the companies sperheading contextual computing.It unveiled a line of Brain-Inspired Zeroth Processors late last year to help accelerate contextual computing.In its blog, Qualcomm describes the functions of these processors as "biologically inspired learning." For a demonstration of technology,Qualcomm built a robot on wheels with its Zeroth processor and placed it in an environment with colou red boxes on the floor. They then taught it to visit the white boxes only. Instead of giving it programmed instructions of where the white boxes are, the robot figured it out by itself. And, it was able to reproduce the results in a similar environment. They did this using something called dopaminergic-based learning, a complicated word for acknowledging when the robot does something right—not by programming lines of code.

Qualcomm isn't satisfied with just brain-inspired processors. It has also developed the only context platform in the world to offer, among others geofencing, proximity utilising Gimbal Bluetooth Smart beacons, giving Apple a run for its money when it comes to proximity-beacon technology. Qualcomm's all-encompassing approach to contextual technology is the cutting edge story today. Apple is already using its iBeacon technology, which it describes as "a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7" in Apple stores to provide customers with a better experience.
Smartwatch is one technology bringing contextual awareness to your wrist with customised alerts and predictions. Android wear is using Google Now's technology, which tries to forecast weather and trafffic, based on your current context or location and interests.In future, this technology may be capable of doing things like analysing your social network, like telling you which girl you have the best chance to begin a relationship or analyse your diet and tell you what you should and should not eat in real time. Depending on your medical or location data, it will tell you where to go to make a friend, based on how many friends of friends are nearest to you .

Designed as an intelligent personal assistant, it collects and stores data about you the same way a person who accompanies you everywhere would. What's more, it will be able to store potentially limitless amounts of data which it can later analyze for Patterns.

Now that you have the information as a reader it is upto you to decide if you you are enthusiastic about the forthcoming technology or if it scares you. Technology can serve you better if it knows more about you.How much you want it to know is something you need to think about right now. Completely shutting out now is not an option. Adapting is going to transform your experience of interaction with technology, the end result however depends on how much you embrace it.

Students on Contextual Computing: 

"Google Glass has exceeded the potential of todays technology. It's the future"
- Manna Kanuga, New Cambidge College

"Wearable technology takes fashion to the next line, it forces designers to think outside the box and push forward to create innovative designs that are not only appealing but functional too "
- Nikhaar Agarwal, FIDM

"As great as the thought of wearable technology is, it's important to remember that technology comes with a destructive streak - to the environment and to the human body. It emits harmful radiation which is like virtual poison. That is a deal breaker. "- Aishwarya Pandit, Parsons School of Design




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