Friday, April 12, 2013

Google Glass Takes Summarization Technology To A New Level

The ubiquity of Smartphones has ushered a different way of consuming bits and bytes. Unlike on a desktop, we no longer want to read long articles, or watch a 120 min movie on our Smartphones. Grab one and we instantly transform into the 'Mobile' user. We can associate several connotations with the Mobile concept. For one, we are multi-tasking. Since we are 'Mobile,' we are going some place...walking, taking the subway, driving, shopping, doing a sales pitch, etc. In certain time intervals, we fish out our smartphone and try to complete a quick task before we continue on our journey of the task at hand.  The key here is "...certain time intervals..." Think of it as 'snacking' on your Smartphone; a quick read of a news headline, a timeline update on Facebook, a tweet or an email reply to a colleague.

Source: FreeWheel Video Monetization Report, Q3 2012

We can see the online trend in watching shorter-form videos is taking over longer-form videos.

Source: Business Intelligence Via Ooyala

Even though videos that are longer than 10 mins are watched more as a percentage of total time spent watching videos online, we tend to watch videos in the '1 to 3 min' category longer on smartphones than on any other device category. Note that the above data is not the number of times we watch videos of different length but how long we watch the videos of different length. So, inherently, videos of length greater than 10 minutes will take up more of your total time spent watching videos. Thus spending 25% of your video watching time watching '1 to 3 min' videos on your Smartphone is relatively impressive. This trend will be amplified as the number of smartphones takeover the number of desktops out there.

Source: KISS Metrics
My gut feeling is that the trend of consuming shorter-form content extends to all other content and not only video. Yahoo recently purchased a startup called Summly at a price tag of $30 million from a 17 year old, Nick D'Aloisio. Summly is an App specially designed for Smartphones (currently only for iOS) that provides summarized versions of news articles from hundreds of sources. In other words Summly is designed for the 'Mobile' snacking world. The App algorithmically generates summarized versions of news using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP). These technological concepts are powerful tools in transitioning our 'longer-form' professional and personal lives into summarized versions optimized for mobile snacking. Maybe the 'eat every 2 hours' applies in our digital diet too! OK enough geek jokes...lets get back to Summly. The former owners of the App outsourced the development of Summly to SRI International, a non-profit R&D institution with technical prowess in AI and other next-gen tech such as robotics, sensing and the likes. SRI also developed another App and sold it to another mainstream tech may have heard of. That's right Siri was developed by SRI and sold to Apple. And just as Summly does, Siri too helps summarize your life by eliminating the need to touch or look at your smartphone screen. The reason that these high-profiled acquisitions by Marissa Mayer and Steve Jobs are important ones, is because they highlight the need to gain access to SRI's cool tech. More importantly these acquisitions show the trend of summarization technology in the mobile world.

Lets take mobile summarization to the next level. We can see whats's available on the horizon.  Yep, Google Glass and iWatch. I am going to focus more on GLASS because, its a piece of technology which is closer to being commercialized. The #ifihadglass initiative is already allowing developers and advocates to get their hands on GLASS and start developing third-party services for it. Think of services for GLASS just as you would think of Apps for your Smartphones. Check out the video below about creating services for Google Glass. Skip to the 3:10 mark to see the promo video about GLASS.  If you already saw the promo video a while back then skip to 12:30 to see a live working of GLASS and the 'cards' system.  

Cards are simply the different screens on GLASS with different information. For example, weather information or a photo or a news headline. Cards on GLASS is the technological concept that takes the summarization of experiences to that 'next level.' 
Watch the video from 26:50 to 27:50 and 31:45 to 34:36 to get an understanding of how GLASS is a platform built to summarize. 

Cards rely on the Google Mirror API (Application Programming Interface), the communications protocol for Apps (or services) to communicate with the host. The Google Glass API is built on three pieces of software. Firstly, ReST is web architecture used for transporting data between services using HTTP. This is the engine for developer services to connect with the Google cloud ecosystem.  The second piece of software language for GLASS is OOF2 ('O OF 2') which is basically a way to allow third-party services to post to the GLASS timeline. Lastly, JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is simply an encapsulation for the entire third-party service. Why am I boring you with this tech mumbo jumbo? (sorry engineers). What I am trying to get at is that its relatively simple to develop for GLASS. It's not built on scores and scores of software code but rather on simple code to support the cards concept of GLASS. It's a platform that is intended to give the user quick bursts of information and content and a limited set of activities (like sharing  or replying) attached to the content. Remember 'digital snacking.'

From Desktops to Laptops to Smartphones and Tablets to wearable tech; technology is physically getting closer to you and as it does, you will only and exactly want the content, information and digital interactions that matter to you at that moment. Can you imagine Summly on GLASS...with a 'Read Aloud' feature! Folks, the summarization of your life has only begun.

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