Weekly Tech Views – 14

Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Welcome back to the Weekly Tech Views, where thoughtful analysis is for suckers.

For the week of October 12-16, 2015:

That's So 2014
Acer is coming out with two completely separate mobile devices, a laptop and a tablet. Haha! No, of course they aren't. Acer is, of course, introducing a hybrid computer, as mandated by the computer industry's new HYBRID policy (Here's Your Best Revenue-Increasing Device).

How About You Back Up That "Like" With Some Cash?
Facebook is testing shopping features in their mobile app with a Buy Now button. This will allow retailers of virtually any product, from clothing to auto parts, books to handmade crafts, to sell to you, with just the click of a button, a hybrid computer.

Avoid The Origami Setting
Laundroid is a robot capable of folding clothes. While the five minutes required to fold a T-shirt may seem excessive, the time, like everything, is relative. For testing purposes, I performed a time trial measuring my speed at folding a t-shirt, and completed the relatively foreign task in ten seconds. While not necessarily up to the precise standards you might encounter on the shelves at Neiman-Marcus, it was satisfactory for my needs (a low bar, true, as "worn for two days and hanging inside-out from the bathroom doorknob" is satisfactory for my needs). At that pace, I could theoretically fold thirty shirts in that same five minutes. Theoretically. But that little experiment took place in a controlled, distraction-free environment of our laundry room.* In the real world, I have been known to remove a t-shirt from a laundry basket as the Browns kicked-off against the Steelers and had that same shirt in my hand at half-time. So, assuming the Laundroid has no interest in football, I'm willing to give it a whirl.

On This Week's Episode Of Cute Or Creepy…
Also on the robot front this week is RoBoHoN,** a small robot from Sharp that walks, talks, dances… and is a phone. The default mode for calls is speakerphone, with the cute little robot standing on your table and moving and acting like he's talking when the person at the other end speaks. There is also the option to pick up the robot and hold it to the side of your head, wherein RoboHoN will whisper in your ear. And you will talk into… well, there's some debate about that.

There is no word on pricing yet, but to purchase one you will have to pass an extensive psychological evaluation. No, not really, but it would be a damned good idea. I have a friend, let's call her Jane, who really likes her current phone. Really likes it. It's covered in stickers, she won't let anyone else touch it, and she calls it Phonebert. An iPhone 4s. She could easily afford a newer one, but she is attached to Phonebert. Somehow, despite a protective case and the additional padding of half-inch of stickers, she cracked a corner of the glass, and was bed-ridden with depression for days.

Imagine if she gets a RoBoHoN. At first, she'll be in heaven. She will be the catalyst for third-party RoBoHoN outfit designers. Her RoBoHoN-ey will have a crib, a changing table (let's face it, version 2.0 is going to drink from a bottle and wet itself), and a spinning, lighted disco ball and dance floor. Jane will be in her glory. Until she drops him. On his head. Because this phone HAS A HEAD! And it will happen. Jane will be ending a call, RoBoHoN's hand will catch in her hoop earring, he will slip from her hand, and crash to the floor.

So let's be careful, Sharp, about who you sell these to. Because I can't handle that memorial service.

It Rhymes And Has A Laser, Does It Have To Work, Too?
Kickstarter suspended funding for the Laser Razor because there is no working prototype for the device that its creators claim will remove facial hair with a laser beam. The public's reaction, of course, is, "Whew."

Sure, the idea is cool-anything with lasers is cool-but, inevitably, RoBoHoN would arm himself with one of these, and, when you're on the phone while eating and you drip mayonnaise from your Italian sub on RoBoHoN's legs one time too many, he aims his modified laser up your nose and Swiss cheese-ifies your brain. Granted, he gets rid of that one nose hair you can never cut because it curls up somewhere inside your nostril until you're out in public when it extends to its full length and it looks like a spool of thread you keep up there has started to unravel, so, silver lining and all that, I guess, but still.

Maybe I'm Planning Her Surprise Party; Did You Think Of That?
HP and 3M are going to build privacy protection screens into some laptops. These will be in HP's new line of business laptops, protecting sensitive data from prying eyes, particularly useful when the user is in crowded public spaces, as viewing will be restricted to the person looking at the screen head-on.

Said an HP spokesperson, "It is certainly not designed to enable you to watch porn while your significant other is in the same room. Why would you even think that? That would be crazy. We would call it a porn screen, if that was the case, and we didn't, did we? For our line of funny business laptops. But that's not even a thing. So everyone get that idea out of your head right now. Don't look at me like that."

What Was Plan B, Again?
There is a theory being advanced that our need for screen interfaces is on the decline, in favor of voice commands and gesture controls. "Ain't that a kick in the head?" said HP and 3M.

Can I Get A Discount If I Only Need Three Games?
Valve's new SteamOS gaming system, the Steam Machine, will launch with 1,500 games available, a huge library providing plenty of variety, which is probably great news for all of you who didn't just finish the first Portal, eleven months after starting it.

Unleash The Next Wave Of Lawyers!
A jury found that Apple had infringed on a patent held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. Damages could have been as high as $862 million, but came in at $234 million. Apple responded by saying, "Okay, sorry about that," and cutting a check on the spot. Hoho! No, Apple will appeal faster than Packer fans can say "Cheesehead."

*  Now that I think of it, why don't we have a TV down there?

** Current leader in the "Most Annoying Name To Type" race.

Hope you enjoyed this robot-heavy edition of the Weekly Tech Views. See you next week for another dose of the premium misinformation you can't find anywhere else.

Mike Range

Weekly Tech Views Blog by Mike Range is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.