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A cloud in our hand

A wonderful photo of a water drop, bouncing back. How was the photo taken? Leveraging on a smart phone computer … Image credit: MIOPS

Being interested in photography I subscribe to a number of groups and of course my interest is reported to companies selling photographic paraphernalia… That’s why I am receiving emails, on a daily base, with new things that -according to the message- I can’t absolutely live without.

Yesterday I received an email from MIOPS, a company developing a variety of accessories for taking photos. The mail was about a new product, MIOPS Splash, providing an easy way to photograph water drops. If you are absolutely dedicated to water drop photography I guess that is what you need.

The reason for posting this news is that it had me started thinking about my smartphone. It is no longer (for some years now) a device to make phone calls. Yes, I still use it, once in a while, to make phone calls but  most of the time I am using it as an extension of my brain, seeking information, relying on it as a memory prosthetics (just two days ago I saw the doctor and at the end I was asked to provide the insurance number. Of course I hadn’t the foggiest idea of what the number was, and apparently it was not stored on my phone under my name. I had the -bright- idea to go on the insurance web site and click on the log in button. Immediately my insurance number was pre-filled in by my smartphone app, et voilà!).

The MIOPS news made me think that now also companies are developing products taking for granted that I have a smartphone and relying on my smartphone to do some computation and provide the interface. That means less cost for them and an easier way to use the product features for me, since I am used to the smartphone interface.

For this companies my smartphone is their “cloud” to exploit in delivering their services. Indeed it would have cost MIOPS much more to create a product with the extra processing capacity to manage a graphic interface, doing all the calculations (there are plenty of them) required to synchronise the digital camera and flash to capture a drop (taking into account its volume, the distance from the splashing surface…). It would probably have set the product into a “non-affordable” space, killing it.

If you think about it the functionality you get is emerging from the combination of the device you buy (MIOPS Splash) and your smartphone (plus your digital camera). This is a common trend we are seeing in many areas and that we will see even more in the next decade. The artificial intelligence of one component gets compounded by the one of other components resulting in an emerging intelligence.

A different way of thinking to what a smartphone is!

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.