The new “faces” of the Watch World?

There seems to be a growing trend today of all our technology and media becoming more and more connected. That idea has taken the traditional watch to a whole new level. There are many different models entering the market that allow you to synchronize your watch to your smartphone. The two examples I found show off the different directions that designers could take for this concept. One, takes on the appearance of a traditional watch, while the other looks anything but traditional.

The first watch I initially came across was the Citizen Eco-Drive Proximity Watch. The watch, which was being reviewed in an article by Damon Lavrinc from Wired Magazine, takes on the look of a traditional analog watch. What lies underneath it’s traditional exterior is quite an amazing technology. According to Citizen Eco Drive’s website, the watch has the ability to give the wearer alerts when they receive phone calls, emails, calendar notifications and even a loss of connection.(citizenwatch.com) What I thought was great about the way this watch was designed was that the alerts appear to the wearer on the outside band of the watch, which to me makes it a lot less obnoxious and more appealing to the everyday wearer. (Lavrinc, 2013)

There are some key features though that make this watch less than perfect. For starters the system only works with iphone software, which greatly limits their market for the product. Another major flaw pointed out by Lavrinc was the lack of text message alerts. A majority of people receive more texts than anything else, so it is a definite downfall that this technology can’t sync such an important aspect of communication.

Another synchronizing watch I came across was the Pebble. This watch carries many of the same ideas as the Citizen Watch, but takes a much different approach to style. The Pebble’s design take a much more modern approach, with everything about the watch being completely digital. According to Pebbles’s website, the Pebble is customizable, and runs on downloads that the user chooses, including things like email, message, and incoming call alerts. There is also the option of syncing your music, and gps to the watch. (getpebble.com) The Pebble has the ability to sync with both Android and iphone systems, making it a viable options for most of the smartphone user market. 

I’d say the choice between the two watch comes down mostly to what style of watch your looking for, as well as what operating system your phone has. No matter which watch you choose though, this is a great example of the way our technologies ever converging. 

Lavrinc, D. (2013, February 23). Citizen eco drive proximity: That syncing feeling. Wired Magazine, Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/reviews/2013/02/citizen-eco-drive-proximity/

Citizen Eco-Drive Proximity: http://www.citizenwatch.com/en-ir/watches/watch-detail/?model=AT7030-05E

Pebble Watch: http://getpebble.com/

Skype bought Out by Microsoft

This past weekend I had wandered into the Nordstrom on Michigan Avenue to escape the cold, and I walked straight into a huge display of Microsoft’s new Surface tablet. But this wasn’t what caught my attention. The woman assisting those of us testing the new tablets suddenly asked, “Do you use Skype?”

This question struck me as odd, considering that I was there to look at a tablet, not to talk about a video calling service. But as she handed out free Skype calls for one month to myself and the two others who raised their hands, she told me that the company was now owned by Microsoft. This merger actually occurred in May of 2011, but apparently it went unnoticed by people like me. 

According to an article from Mashable, Microsoft acquired the company for $8.5 billion, quite a hefty price for the addition to the Microsoft family. Microsoft has made plans to incorporate the system into their existing devices and systems, things like Xbox and Kinect, the Windows phone, Xbox live and Outlook. (mashable.com) 

Although the company is now associated with Microsoft, they don’t plan on discontinuing it’s development outside of the company. This merger to me shows just how much convergence of media has begun to happen for technology user today. We now have the ability to make video and landline calls from our gaming systems, mobile phones and computers. We now even have the ability to do so across different operating systems, from Windows to Apple iOS.

In an article on Wired.com, this decision to merge has come under the criticism of whether it was really worth the money for Microsoft. The question posed is really whether the long-term payout for Microsoft will be worth the purchase. The addition of Skype to their products will certainly be advantageous for consumers, but perhaps not so much for the companies finances. I will be interested to see if this convergence of these two companies has all the benefits Microsoft was hoping for. 

Bright, P. (2011, May 10). Microsoft buys skype for $8.5 billion. why, exactly?. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/business/2011/05/microsoft-buys-skype-2/

Indvik, L. (2011, May 10). Microsoft acquires skype for $8.5 billion. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2011/05/10/microsoft-acquires-skype/

E-books on a whole new level

The concept of sharing our favorite books, music and movies just took on a meaning. This past week, Amazon was able to secure a patent for the resale of its digital goods. According to an article in The Washington Post, e-books could now have the possibility to be re-sold much like multitudes of college textbooks are every semester.

The process of reselling e-books sounds promising, but there are some elements that could be received quite negatively. One part that I thought sounded particularly concerning was that fact that when you sell a song, you lose it from your library as it transfers to the other person. It would be interesting to see the reaction people had to this concept, as most have become accustomed to keeping our digital music in our computers forever.  

Amazon has only just received approval for this patent that was submitted in 2009, but that doesn’t mean this will be available in the near future. This would be a huge undertaking for Amazon and the future of the digital market, and though it’s an intriguing concept, I think it could potentially cause more problems than it’s worth. 

The idea of sharing this extensively between digital users could also change a lot of privacy policys, something people have already become concerned with on other social media sites. In order for users to be able to share content, they’re going to have to share access to files, which would inadvertently give Amazon more access to user files. File sharing is a good idea to a point, but some amount of privacy is necessary for users to feel comfortable on a site and buying products.

It doesn’t sound like this service is one that we’ll be able to use anytime soon, but the existence of such an idea is cause for a lot of excitement. Being able to share things that we enjoy is always a positive thing, but when do we cross the line to the point of too much? The answer to this question will come with the acceptance or rejection of these kinds of services.

Dewey, C. (2013, February 06). Amazon patents resale marketplace for used e-books, songs and other digital goods. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-02-06/business/36946353_1_amazon-patent-patent-office-digital-music

The New Wave of Animation

The world of animation has grown dramatically since Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs debuted in 1937. Animated movies began as 2D creations, every frame hand drawn by artists at the studio. Since that time, technology has advanced enough to allow for completely CG, or computer generated, movies to be made a lot more than 2D. The latest in animated technology interestingly enough is trying to bring back some hand drawing to the animation process.

The technology is called Meander, and it was created at Disney by Brian Whited. Meander allows for the merging of 2D and 3D in the creation of a movie by letting artists draw directly on top of computer generated sequences. This new technique was used by director John Kahrs in his short film “Paperman,” a film that is currently nominated for (and suspected to win) an Oscar. 

This is an excellent example of remediation, with CG and 2D nteracting to move forward in digital media. Being able to combine hand drawn and computer generated animation allows for the expressiveness and detail that 2D gives you, while also getting the precision that computer generated images create. 

In an article written by Animation Magazine, Kahrs’ talks about what hand drawing adds to a piece. He says that Meander allows for more appreciation for “the line” that 2D animation has, while getting assistance from the computer to get exactly what you’re trying for. 

This idea of bringing back older techniques also brings up the idea that ever advancing technology is not always the best option. For things like animation for example, there is a certain amount of artistry that goes into its creation, and the use of technology threatens to take that facet away. Meander poses an interesting idea, what if we don’t have to completely transition away from the “old fashioned way,” but merely take the best elements of old and new to find the perfect balance. Whether or not you like the idea of Meander, you should still check out Kahrs short “Paperman.”

Zahed, R. (2012, August 6). A cutting-edge valentine to a gone-by era. Animation Magazine, Retrieved from http://www.animationmagazine.net/features/a-cutting-edge-valentine-to-a-gone-by-era/

Robey, T. (2013 , January 31). Paperman is the best thing disney has done in years. The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/9839322/Paperman-is-the-best-thing-Disney-has-done-in-years.html