Digital Tech Trends

  • Recently, the US Department of Justice levied an indictment against three North Korean military hackers for their role in cyber-related crimes (see video below). These included (but not limited to): Targeting of and Cyberattacks on the Entertainment Industry: Such as the destructive cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in November 2014 in retaliation for the farcical movie The Interview. Cyber-Enabled Heists from Banks: Attempts to steal more than $1.2 billion from banks in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Mexico, Malta and Africa. Creation and Deployment of Malicious Cryptocurrency Applications: Development of multiple malicious cryptocurrency applications including Celas Trade Pro, WorldBit-Bot, iCryptoFx, Union Crypto Trader, and more, which would provide the North Korean hackers a backdoor into the victims’ computers. Spear-Phishing Campaigns: Multiple spear-phishing campaigns that targeted employees of United States cleared defense contractors, energy companies, aerospace companies, technology companies, and more. Ransomware and Cyber-Enabled Extortion: Creation of the destructive WannaCry 2.0 ransomware in May 2017, and the extortion and attempted extortion of victim companies involving the theft of sensitive data and deployment of other ransomware. And it is to that last point that I thought a brief discussion on Ransomware would be warranted. Even Digital Batman’s own father was a victim of a ransomware attack that left him $400 poorer! In 2019 over 187.9 million users were affected by this bold malicious threat to online activities such as web‐surfing, e-commerce, gaming, and more. Put simply, this highly‐disruptive form of Internet‐viral malicious software (malware for short), not only infects your computer but holds all of your most precious files (i.e. photos, documents, apps, etc.) completely hostage—via permanently encrypting such files—until the victim is forced to pay a “ransom” to the criminal entity behind the attack for a decryption key to unlock the files. Usually to the tune of $100 ‐ $400 or more for...
  • February 15, 2021

    Men of the Line———

    In honor of Super Bowl LV and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ win over the Kansas City Chiefs (and former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s 7th Super Bowl ring as the QB for the Bucs), I thought it would make for an interesting post about how that magic 1st and 10 yellow line is created on our TV screens every February at “The Big Game!” And, during every game in the NFL among other sports broadcasts. The names of: James R. Gloudemans, Richard H. Cavallaro, Jerry N. Gepner, Stanley K. Honey, Walter Hsiao, Terance J. O’Brien, and Marvin S. White are the Men Behind the Yellow Line. That is, the yellow First Down Line you see on NFL broadcasts! What started out as project for Fox Sports to aid viewers watching NHL games over the airwaves blossomed into a new company called Sportvision, Inc. And in 1998 they debuted the First and 10 Line on ESPN. Using a combination of field cameras, 3D models of the field, powerful computers and algorithms, and the field itself as a kind of green screen, they are able to draw the line in virtual real‐time as the players move up and down the field; as well as, simultaneously remove parts of the line to make it appear that it is literally underneath the players. It’s truly digital magic! It was a such a huge success that Sportvision won an Emmy for its technology. “Winning our 10th Emmy Award is a great honor, and truly validates the impact our technology has had in the growth and popularity of a wide spectrum of sports. We are thrilled to share this Emmy with the America’s Cup Event Authority, who has been a wonderful and inspired partner throughout this effort.” Mike Jakob, President, Sportvision, Inc., 2012 They then...
  • January 30, 2021

    Wearable Tech Trends

    With the recent acquisition of Fitbit by Google (for $2.1 billion!), in order to break into the highly lucrative “wearables” market, I thought it might be interesting to explore this topic a bit here. However, since we’re talking about Google attempting to compete directly with Apple, Xiaomi, Garmin, Huawei, and Samsung, this is a tough nut to crack. Here are some quick stats* from Statista: Connected wearables worldwide (2019): 722 million Wristband wearables (2020): 67.7 million Marketshare of wearables (Q3, 2020): Apple 33.1%, Xiaomi 13.6%, Fitbit 2%, Hauwei 11%, Samsung 9% (Other, such as Garmin 28.2%) Apple and Samsung hold the highest percentage of most recognizable smartwatches (2020): 47.9% and 13% respectively Wearables, from fitness trackers (like the Fitbit Charge 4) to smartwatches, are no longer the stuff of science‐fiction. They have evolved even quicker than smartphones. Up until 2006 when the LG Prada first appeared on the market (followed by the iPhone in 2007) there was virtually nothing like modern wearables available. Though it took a confluence of technologies from touchscreens, 3G/4G/LTE cellular service, and Bluetooth to name a scant few to make wearables a reality, they quickly evolved into what we are seeing today. And these are not only connected extensions of our smartphones on our wrists or other parts of the body (e.g. Google Glass for Enterprise AR), but also as stand alone devices that house whole operating systems, UIs, and bio‐feedback sensors on their own. The Apple Watch is obviously the go‐to example but more and more diverse devices are beginning to flood the market. Devices such as: implantables (from biosensors, super small pacemakers, to birth‐control), smart jewelry (to discreetly take calls and texts, or track menstrual cycles), smart clothing (with sensors that monitor everything from footfalls for runners to providing haptic feedback for yoga poses),...
  • November 5, 2020

    Emojis for Life😀

    With Apple, Inc. adding 117 new emojis for iOS 14.2 update, I thought it might be interesting to look at some cool emoji facts for a change:🎉 Fact 1: World Emoji Day is Saturday July 17, 2021🌎 Fact 2: Emojis were created in 1998👍🏻 Fact 3: Emojis originated in Japan🇯🇵 Fact 4: Over 48% of adults use emojis👫 Fact 5: Most tweeted emoji is Tears of Joy (14.5 billion mentions)😂 Fact 6: Number of emojis sent by brands – 145 million messages📱 Fact 7: Number of people/smiley emojis – >2000😎 Fact 8: Number of animals & nature emojis – 212🐕 Fact 9: Average number of emojis sent on Facebook each day – >60 million🦄 Fact 10: Amount of money earned at the box office for The Emoji Movie ‐ $217 million😐 Fact 11: Apple’s iOS 14.2 update now supports 3,292 emojis, including one with a medical mask (appropriate in this time of the Global COVID-19 Pandemic)😷 Fact 12: Emoji 13.0 is the set of emojis approved for release in 2020 (3,304 emojis supported all or in part on iOS 14.2, Android 11, Samsung, and soon Windows)👏 Fact 13: There is an entire website dedicated to tracking and cataloguing everything there is to know about emojis: The Emojipedia📔 Now we just need an emoji of 2020 and Satan, that’d be great way to convey via text how everyone feels right now!😱
  • June 14, 2020

    Going Pro!

    I’m sure that you’ve all seen those crazy videos on YouTube of dogs being left alone in their homes with a GoPro camera attached to them. They invariably end up getting into all kinds of mischief while their owners are away. And of course, the dog gives a, “I didn’t do it…” look that always melts their humans’ hearts. GoPro, Inc. themselves is one of those hugely successful companies that were borne out of a simple idea from a completely unrelated event. A guy by the name of Nick Woodman (hmm, Digital Batman’s alter ego’s name is Nick) back in 2002 was out surfing one day in Australia. He was hoping to capture some awesome action photos while riding the waves but was unable to because no amateur photographer had neither the affordable equipment nor the experience to get close enough for the really good shots. So was borne the idea of a high resolution, incredibly compact, and easy‐to‐use camera that could go anywhere and take any kind of action shot—and eventually action video. Not only have GoPro’s have been put on mischievous dogs but they’ve been everywhere from attached to flying drones getting impossible aerial shots (now used in motion picture productions), to spelunking and sky diving, and even into space—as one little girl did a few years ago onboard a Hello Kitty‐crewed rocket (see the Best of them All vid to the right)! This company has grown incredibly fast since 2002 and sports a huge line of products that have literally transformed the digital photography and videography landscapes! We’re building solutions that enable people to capture and share life experiences…and as a result GoPro is growing virally via content creation and sharing. ~ Nick Woodman, CEO of GoPro, inc. GoPro, Inc. received the Technology Emmy for 2013 from...
  • May 5, 2020

    Keep on Trucking!

    Ah, the Cybertruck! Elon Musk’s newest offering in the vast untapped market of electric vehicles. Someday, not too long from now, we will all be driving EV cars. Telsa, Inc. is a true market disruptor when they introduced their first fully electric vehicle on the automotive market the Tesla Roadster in 2008, soon followed by their Model S, Model X, Model 3, and there more recent Model Y—with prices ranging from a whopping $135K+ for an original Roadster, down to a more affordable $35K for the Model 3. Tesla delivered a whopping ~500K units in 2020 according to Statista. It may have taken a little over a decade but now a good deal of the major automobile manufacturers are either rolling out or planning to roll out their own EVs. However, it is the $39K+ Cybertruck that we’re looking at here. Telsa is trying to disrupt the market again with the Cybertruck, as it did with the Roadster. This is an all electric battery-powered light commercial vehicle with an estimated range of 250-500 miles on a single charge, and a purportedly 300K lb towing capacity. It will come in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive variants. The Cybertruck’s most notable feature is its unique oddly-shaped unibody design made from the same stainless steel material as Musk’s SpaceX is using for its interplanetry vehicle, Starship. However, what’s really got the media buzzing is the spectacle that Musk put on last month announcing the Cybertruck. It included a demonstration of its armor-plated body withstanding blows from a sledgehammer. However, Tesla had a little mishap when they tested how “bulletproof” the Cybertruck’s windows were. However, the Cybertruck’s unveiling was still a huge success with Tesla taking over 200,000 initial pre-orders! And now on to the real challenge for the Cybertruck… The Cybertruck’s chief competitor is...
  • Recently, Jim Heppelmann (President and CEO of PTC, the company I currently work for) was featured in an article in the Boston Globe talking about PTC’s exciting move to the Boston Seaport, A.K.A. The Innovation District. The article also featured the story of how Boston’s Mayor, Marty Walsh, came to PTC for a visit and spoke to the employees at one of our famous socials. He praised the company and the employees for making the move to Boston’s newest up and coming hub for business and cultural innovation! And the seaport is pretty much an amazing new innovation district at that—especially with all the incredible simultaneous construction projects going on down there. However, it might be interesting to take quick walk down memory lane to reminisce about Boston’s other innovation districts, of the past. Let’s go all the way back to Colonial times. Over by where North Street meets Moon Street is Paul Revere’s House. This historical landmark is located in Boston’s North End district, now synonymous with the Italian-American community. However, back in the late 17th Century, this area was well known for it’s silversmiths (like Paul Revere, an innovator of his time), blacksmiths, artisans, journeymen, and laborers. For a city that was founded in 1630, this part of Boston became its innovation district of that time. Fast forward through the Industrial Age which affected the entire world, Boston included, and you will see that another innovation district presented itself. This time on the Boston waterfront known as Boston Harbor—part of which is where today’s Boston Seaport Innovation District now resides. For over two hundred years, Boston Harbor, which compromises all the famous Boston wharves such as Long Wharf, Rowes Wharf, Fish Pier, Commonwealth Pier, and Union Wharf to name a few, were the gateways to shipping, railroads, international commerce, jobs, markets, construction, and of course innovation. Without the wharves of the 18th and 19th Centuries, Boston could not have grown...
  • February 10, 2020

    Every Vote Counts and Counting

    Counting every precious vote accurately in a Democratic society has been a challenge that goes as far back to ancient times. Since The Tenth Sphere covers the latest trends happening in Digital Tech & Industry (among many other trendy topics), I thought it would be interesting to give my readers a brief history and discussion of voting machines, voting apps, and voting tech in general. Let’s begin with the earliest of voting machines, paper ballots, which existed as far back as the Roman Empire, ca. 139 BCE. The first use of paper ballots in the United States was in 1629, and was used in selecting a pastor for the Salem Church during the founding days of the Salem Massachusetts community. Fast forward to 1838 England. The Chartists (a working-class suffrage movement) demanded responsible election reforms. And in so doing, Benjamin Jolly of Bath invented arguably the very first voting machine. It worked like this: each voter was to cast his vote by dropping a brass ball into the appropriate hole in the top of the machine by the candidate’s name. Each voter could only vote once because they were given just one brass ball. The ball advanced a clockwork counter for the corresponding candidate as it passed through the machine. And then the ball fell out the front where it could be given to the next voter. Then came Henry Spratt (a British national) who in 1875 received the first US patent for a voting machine. It presented to the voter an array of push-button ballots. Next came American inventor Anthony Beranek of Chicago in 1881. His voting machine was specifically designed to meet the requirements of the United States general election cycle. It was another push-button style voting machine but with a twist: Interlocks behind each row prevented voting for more than one candidate per race, and an interlock with the door of the voting booth reset the machine for the...
  • January 24, 2020

    Long Live the Browser Wars!

    Google recently announced that it was going to strip cookies from its Chrome web-browser. This is a big deal for a lot of people, namely advertisers. In case you weren’t aware of what a cookie is (not the yummy kind you eat), let Digital Batman tell you. A cookie is a bit of third-party data that gets stored on your system when you access a website. This data is used to track your online activities such as product browsing history, location, etc. Advertisers can then use this data to target ads specifically to what they think you’re interested in. And furthermore, advertisers can “retarget” ads after you as you browse around the Internet from site to site. Ever wonder how a random website you visit seems to know that you were looking at plushy chairs on Amazon? Well, that’s retargeting and that’s powered by cookies. Which leads to a lot of privacy issues that have been debated for as long as the Internet has been around. Therefore, Google is trying to assuage users’ concerns about privacy by eliminating cookies. What will advertisers do? Well, they’ll probably have to come up with more transparent ways to gather your information, with your permission. Now I mention this because it reminds me about how things have both changed and remained the same over the last 25+ years of browsing the Internet. Back in the heyday of the World Wide Web (mid-to-late 1990s), we had a whole battlefield of web browsers all vying for dominance in The Browser Wars! It all started with Netscape Navigator (technically Mosaic in its initial form), invented by Marc Andreessen founder of Netscape. [Digital Batman had done a previous Progressive Pioneers profile on Andreessen back in July.] Navigator was initially released in December of 1994. It sported a simple interface with a few oversized navigation buttons (like Back, Home, and...