Thursday, February 21, 2013

Why do we need washing machines that talk to us?

Would you purchase a rice cooker with the Android operating system built into it? What about a dryer or refrigerator? Would you ever consider installing a microwave oven that was partially operated by Android? You might soon get the option, according to a recent story by BusinessWeek. According to that story, Google is installing its Android operating system in many of the wierder places you can imagine. But here’s what’s especially interesting: This move actually makes financial sense for Google.

Android’s rise

The Android operating system has already dominated the smartphone world, conquering out its rivals easily. The BusinessWeek story quotes numbers from research firm Gartner showing that smartphones running the Android operating system accounted for 72 percent of the market share in the third quarter of last year. How impressive is that? The nearest competition, Apple, could only claim 14 percent of this market.

Why the refrigerator?

That still, though, leaves open the big question: Why on Earth would Google want its Android operating system in your rice cooker, microwave oven or washing machine? The easy answer? The more places where Android appears, the greater amount of customer data that Google can collect. And the more customer data that Google collects, the more it can tune its already uber-powerful search engine. Google still makes a ton of money from search. Anything that can help it refine and improve search, then, needs to be viewed as a key investment.

What would it do?

But just how could having Android in your household appliances make your life easier? BusinessWeek covers that, too, in their story. Say you cook lots of rice. And say you cook a lot of different kinds of rice, from jasmine to white to brown. It can be a pain to remember how long to cook each one of these kinds of rice. A smart rice cooker programmed with Android, though, could make this easier. Simply put in your rice for the evening, tell your rice cooker which kind of rice you’ve poured in and sit back. The rice cooker, thanks to Android, will automatically cook your rice for the right amount of time. That might look like a relatively minor benefit. But if all of your household appliances were as smart, imagine the time you’d shave off your everyday chores.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

These tech trends will change your business this year

There was a point in time when e-mail was considered cutting-edge tech. Before that, businesses were considered tech-savvy if they had their own fax machines. Technology, though, is constantly evolving. What companies needed three years ago is nowhere near what they need now to thrive. CIO Magazine, naturally, recognizes this. That’s why the magazine so emphasized the evolving nature of technology when it listed its top tech trends for companies. The trends the magazine’s editors cited will certainly change the way businesses work in 2013. If you’re a smart company leader, you’ll pay particularly close attention to them.

Hospitals and BYOD

The BYOD movement -- bring your own device -- has recently changed the way many businesses operate. By allowing their employees to bring their personal computers and tablets to the workplace, organizations have boosted their workers' productivity and saved themselves big dollars. CIO Magazine, though, predicts that the BYOD movement will this coming year move to hospitals. The magazine's editors state that a growing number of hospitals across the nation will encourage their doctors, nurses and administrators to bring their iPads and laptops to their stations.

3-D Printing Continues to Soar

3-D printing is a marvel to many people. It feels almost like magic. But in 2013, 3-D printing will end up being less awe-inspiring and more of a given. That's great news for the industry. It signifies that a growing number of companies are recognizing the value of 3-D printers. 3-D printers today let businesses fabricate their own plastic parts. That's pretty incredible. It's little surprise that companies will continue to embrace this technology in 2013.

The End of Passwords?

Passwords have always been a technological problem for businesses. Too many of their employees rely on their children’s names, street addresses or favorite basketball team when deciding on passwords. These passwords are easier for hackers to guess. When hackers guess a password, they can quickly access confidential company information. But what if companies instead used biometrics to protect their computers and confidential data? That day is on its way, predicts CIO. In biometrics, companies use such body parts as the iris’ of their workers’ eyes or their fingerprints as replacements for passwords. It truly is a very secure way for businesses to secure their critical data.