19 February, 2007

The Human Factor in Gadget / Web Design -cNet

"Design is starting to change who succeeds and who fails. A few years ago that wasn't true. If I had a better algorithm, I would win."
-Alonso Vera, senior research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center

NASA, which has faced cutbacks in recent years, has a human-computer interaction group that's grown to 10 people since it was started in 2002. It recently worked with Google and the Firefox browser team on a new iteration of Firefox. NASA used its cognitive modeling tools or computer algorithms that simulate how people will respond to new products to help Firefox and Google develop more intuitive browser tabs.

NASA's Vera has also worked on new design for the Mars rover expedition, creating a better interface for scientists programming the daily activities of the rover. It used to take the scientists 90 minutes to plan the rover's activities, but Vera's design team cut the process down to just 10 minutes. Its latest design for the Phoenix rover, which will launch in July, cuts the routine time to three minutes, according to Vera.

The future of design Industry, experts say designers will have to be mindful of human attention spans in an age of information-overload. and the technology's become so good that it's not the differentiator between products, it's the user interface that is becoming a huge differentiator.

14 February, 2007

Online Video Industry Index -ReadWrite Web

There are now so many companies vying to be the next YouTube, it's easy to lose track of them all. So let's take a look at the entire online video industry and categorize the major players.
In this post we've summarized the latest video industry innovations under the following categories:
  • Video Sharing
  • Intermediaries
  • Video Search
  • Video eCommerce
  • Video Editing & Creation
  • Rich Media Advertising
  • P2P (Peer To Peer)
  • Video Streaming
  • Vlogosphere
Video Sharing
Video sharing - and particularly YouTube - have been the poster boys of the online video industry so far. Video sharing sites allow you to upload your videos and share them with others. But even if you are not a content producer, you can watch others movies. So this is a very consumer-oriented industry that has been popularized via blog-based viral marketing.
Some of the players in this category are youtube, yahoo video, soapbox, grouper, gofish etc

Do you think you can legally host your commercial videos on YouTube or MetaCafe? The short answer is no. For professional use, you'll need to contact intermediary companies to do this job for you. Their main duty is to connect publishers, video creators and advertisers. Examples - videoegg, nbbc, brightcove..

Video Search
Google Video - after the acquisition of YouTube, Google now focuses its Google Video property on video search. This is a smart strategy, because the Google brand largely means search. YouTube was already the number one video sharing site and Google Video has exclusive access to all YouTube and Google Video data - which makes Google Video search much superior to others like blinks, pixsy, aol video search etc

Video eCommerce
Video eCommerce sites allow you to legally stream the latest cinema movies and TV shows from your computer. This is another crowded market. Players include movieflix, cinemanow, marketbeam, guba and many more.

Video Creation & Editing
You have videos, but how do you edit them? Are you willing to stick with desktop apps and pay hundreds of dollars in license fees? The Web is the answer again. One such site Jumpcut was acquired by Yahoo right after it got to its public beta status. Others include eyespot, mojiti, lycos mix etc.

Rich Media Advertising
Another hot area is rich media advertising. This is the field that will pump money to all other services. Rich Media Advertising can consist of advanced computer science techniques like voice recognition (speech to text) and visual object recognition. Most of the companies in this class are in early stages. Google and AdBrite are the major players.

Peer to peer is taking an important place in video sharing. Video sharing requires large bandwidth, which is why the burn rate of these sites is very high and only the VC backed ones survive. P2P is an answer to this problem, by spreading the bandwidth weight to clients using this system. There have been some recent large investments in companies working in this field. Bittorrent, Azureus and Kontiki(a Verising company).

Video Hosting
So who do you think serves you all these videos? Video hosting is not an easy job! Akamai is known as the world leader and serves big customers including Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. The company is traded on NASDAQ and has a market cap of $9B. Limelight is the site that powers YouTube, MySpace, iFilm and many others.

Blogs and photologs have already taken over many peoples lives - being an excellent way to share, communicate and self-express. And now with the commodization of digital cameras, comes the vlogs - a.k.a. video blogs.. They are either for fun or self expression, but a big industry can blossom here - there are a lot of opportunities. Tomorrows vlogs, for example, are candidates to replace your favourite daily TV shows. And popular vlogs don't just attract ads, but they also hold the potential to sign partnership deals with video sharing sites. Examples:

Ask A Ninja - this surprise hit recently become a member of Federated Media, John Battelle's directory of popular blogs.

Rocketboom is the best example of how far vlogs can go. This vlog is dedicated to reporting the latest developments in internet culture, in an original and entertaining way. It looks so professional that you may not able to differentiate it from TV shows you watch.

The list is certainly not complete. And this categorization is subject to change, for example with upcoming stealth mode startups. The innovation and opportunities in the online video industry are endless.

New Web safety institute unveiled -ReadWrite Web

The people behind the 7-year-old Internet Content Rating Association, a nonprofit aimed at labeling adult Web sites, have launched a new institute to promote kids safety on the Web.

Called the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), the group said that it will broaden its work from the ICRA rating system to include the development and support of other kid-safe technologies, educational programs and public policy work.

Every day, there's a story about how people are finding new ways to access pornography and other inappropriate content on the Internet... we need new tools and methods to reach parents and children alike with a new safety awareness.

13 February, 2007

Web Apps going Offline in 2007 -ReadWrite Web

Firefox 3 will offer support for running web applications offline. Though it’s not yet clear on which level this might happen, this is major news for SaaS providers (Software as a Service). Of course, Firefox isn’t alone in trying to move web apps offline - Adobe’s Apollo framework promotes offline-services on top of their successful Flash platform.

Besides Adobe, several open source projects are working on solutions for the offline-dilemma: the Dojo Offline Project and POW (Plain Old Webserver) both implement a proxy http-server for running local copies of web-applications. While Dojo Offline isn’t available yet, POW - a firefox plugin (which means basically a web-server implemented in Javascript!) - is ready for download.

Related: How Firefox 3 will deliver support for offline applications...

This is significant because you'll be able to use your web apps - like Gmail, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Google Calendar, etc - in the browser even when offline. I deliberately mentioned all Google web apps there, because of course this plays right into Google's hands.

Although Mozilla is an open source organization, some of its top workers are employed by Google. So it's a very cozy relationship. We've discussed before how Firefox 3 as information broker suits Google very nicely, because the Mountain View company has a number of best of breed web apps - and if it's not building them, it's acquiring them (YouTube, JotSpot, Writely, etc).