Microsoft Sphere, Apple Tablet

Fact: Today is the first public showing of “Sphere,” Microsoft’s newest multi-touch innovation: “After months of rumors, Microsoft researchers are taking the wraps off a prototype that uses an internal projection and vision system to bring a spherical computer display to life. People can touch the surface with multiple fingers and hands to manipulate photos, play games, spin a virtual globe, or watch 360-degree videos.”

Analysis:  The video tells the story, particularly when you keep in mind that Sphere (and its earlier cousin Surface) represent a new multi-touch, multi-interface platform for human use of computing power.  A year ago Surface was still just emerging from the research lab, and now a year later it’s been introduced into AT&T retail stores and is on its way to many other commercial and public environments.  Sphere will be used in similarly unpredictable ways, adopted by third-party developers as an innovative canvas on which they can project cool new uses.

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IARPA and the Virtual Long Tail

FACT: This week, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, an arm of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), launched its new unclassified website.  What’s there is initially fairly minimal, but they’ll be adding to the public information posted there regularly.

ANALYSIS:  I spent the week in Orlando, as a Keynote speaker at the IARPA “Incisive Analysis Conference.”  I’ll be writing a little more about the conference in the near future, as I saw some great demo’s and spoke to the principal investigators on many excellent and far-sighted advanced research projects sponsored by IARPA.  It was great to be there and to see so many old friends from the intelligence community, the national labs (PNNL, Sandia, Oak Ridge, Livermore), DoD, and innovative commercial R&D outfits.  Also, as the first IARPA conference since the organization’s launch, it was an opportunity to hear new director Lisa Porter communicate her vision and principles, which she did well and I’ll discuss those soon as well.  (She also kidded me about my efforts to make her a cultural phenomenon, but I blamed it on WIRED magazine.)

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From Microsoft’s Cloud – PopFly

I mentioned PopFly in my last post – many Web users are now beginning to appreciate how it enables the fun and ease of innovation for non-technical people. Go to www.popfly.com/ and set up your own account (free of course), and you’ll be able to create usable, powerful “tools” out of the Cloud, or with your own data. 

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A Roadmap for Innovation – from Center or the Edge?

Fact:   In marking its five-year anniversary earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security released a fact sheet touting the department’s accomplishments in that time, including “establish[ing] the Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) to provide a 24-hour watch, warning, and response operations center, which in 2007 issued over 200 actionable alerts on cyber security vulnerabilities or incidents. US-CERT developed the EINSTEIN intrusion detection program, which collects, analyzes, and shares computer security information across the federal civilian government. EINSTEIN is currently deployed at 15 federal agencies, including DHS, and plans are in place to expand the program to all federal departments and agencies.”

Analysis:  I’m not going to write, in this post at least, about US-CERT and EINSTEIN in particular. I will point out that some writers have been skeptical of “Big DHS” progress on cyber security up to now, and the anniversary was an occasion for much cynical commentary. 

cnet-news.jpgCharles Cooper in his popular Coop’s Corner blog on CNet wrote that “when it comes to network security, DHS appears to be more of a wet noodle than even its sharpest critics assumed… Talk with security consultants and former government officials involved with DHS and you come away wondering what these folks do all day.”

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Driving during the Super Bowl? Use a Mashup First

Fact: According to a report, “Taking Back the Airwaves” in the Buffalo News last month, “Listeners’ relationship with radio has changed in the last 25 years. Radio used to be the main source of music, … but now, like other industries, radio is fighting to reinvent itself in a digital age.”

Analysis: Let’s say you were an Air Force mission planner, and wanted to plan a particular flight over enemy territory.  Time-honored practices (and traditionally clunky but powerful software built custom for the purpose) allow you to overlay the enemy’s known radar-emitting sites, using circles or shapes to indicate the covered and non-covered areas, and to do the same with anti-aircraft missile ranges, allowing the precise planning of a safe flight route.

Now let’s look at a nifty adaptation, showing that there are much more fun and practical everyday uses of such an approach – and now new technologies make it much easier and faster to accomplish! Continue reading

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