Latest industry insights

‘Selfies’ makes it into the dictionary

The avid reader in me reacted with some horror yesterday that the infamous ‘selfie’ (or sometimes ‘selfy’) is the Oxford English Dictionary’s 2013 word of the year. With the upshot of Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and sterling support from the likes of The President of the United States and the pope (!), it’s not surprising, although it pains me to say it. I’m just wondering with some anxiety what the next trend will bring. The old body part + photocopier will hopefully avoid a modern update.

Get out the popcorn, they’re still at it

The ongoing saga of Apple v. Samsung continues as they fight over royalties and damages for patents infringed by Samsung devices since the first court case brought in early 2011. Apple attorney’s are seeking $380m in damages for a profit loss of $114m, estimating it would have sold an extra 360,000 devices if Samsung hadn’t released infringing rivals. Meanwhile in the Samsung corner, there are claims that Apple’s patents are set to prevent other companies producing devices that are ‘attractive’ and easy-to-use. However, with limitations on those patents Samsung say they should owe a mere $52m as a share of Samsung’s profits and approximately $28,000 in royalties; this is on a revenue of $3.5billion. The saga continues and the battle to lead in the mobile market shows no sign of abating.

Google Glass in the operating theatre

A Trauma surgeon in Seattle has stepped into the operating theatre wearing her Google Glass. The reasons are these: If, in the middle of surgery she encountered something unexpected, the real-time video could be used to show it to the world’s experts and receive advice and help. She goes on to state that, as a teacher, it’s a valuable tool for teaching surgical techniques; seeing exactly what the students see and providing the most accurate guidance. There is also talk elsewhere on the web of the potential benefits of issuing the technology to paramedics, to capture events for training, review and just for the record (read: potential for evidence used in litigation). Is this too much too soon? Google Glass and its concept is still in its infancy; implementation, regulation, security, privacy and of course reliability questions and issues still need resolving. Will it become routine for medical staff to wear Glass? Will videos captured become an accepted part of a patient’s medical record? Will they be used to hold doctors to account if complaints are made? These practitioners at the front line accept the current restrictions but evangelise about the potential for Glass or a similar system/future iteration that addresses the difficulties and privacy concerns. For now it’s an exciting idea with a lot of potential, definitely, but I feel it needs to be treated with a good dose of caution.

Is your TV spying on you?

A brand of smart TVs has been criticised for logging and tracking users viewing habits both TV, and video files played from PCs. Worse than this, the data appears to be being transmitted in plain text, leaving data open for monitoring on local networks, but also the wider web. With the recent uproar regarding the NSA, spying and leaked documents by Edward Snowden this is, to put it mildly, concerning. It isn’t the first time that these devices have been shown to almost be too smart for their own good. Last year a vulnerability was uncovered in a different brand of smart TV that allowed, in the right (or wrong) hands, remote control of connected devices, and even using the microphone and video camera to spy on users. The consumer market seems geared towards functionality, functionality, functionality and more of it, please. User demand doesn’t abate and the consumer market is more than happy to provide, yet the potential consequences of smarter devices are not widely considered, nor broadcast (unsurprisingly). Where is the caution? Where are the questions? Hopefully, this internet spying malarkey has sparked a demand for regulation and caution surround the devices that are now filling UK homes. For now, my home remains devoid of ‘smart’ devices and the internet on my PC and iPad, where I can keep an eye on it.