Category Archives: Mobility

Wireless Japan 2012 Report: Lucy and her football

Call me Charlie Brown. Every year I fall for it.

A decade ago, the first trade show I ever visited in Japan was Wireless Japan. I was dying to see the new 3G network phones and cutting edge wireless technology that was the envy of consumers around the world. Ostensibly my main goal revolved on finding out when Japan would add Blackberry service or what alternatives there were in the works. Oh what an absurd rabbit hunt into Wonderland that turned out to be.

This year, as is tradition, I made the trek to Tokyo Big Site to see what I could see. At first, I wondered if the malaise I felt was because things had changed. The venue seemed less full, less energetic. But now I realize the problem is not what has changed, but what has not changed.

Here’s an example. Casio was there with, I kid you not, a Cassiopeia branded barcode scanner running Windows CE.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Had a nice chat with an engineer at the booth about how sad I was that the once revered Casio PDA brand had been completely wiped out years ago and how it would be great if they could find a way to revive it with something new and innovative like the old days.

I spotted the Brother booth showing off their new Air Scouter glasses type display system. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release next month to learn more about this device which looks like a slightly more dorky version of Google Glasses.

Indeed, the device was very shiny. While the look made me feel like a 1980’s era science teacher, the display was crisp, and seemed by usable, creating a floating screen that felt like a monitor about a foot away from my left eye.

“How’s the power requirements” I asked. “It draws from the USB port so as long as your computer has charge it works” the rep replied.

“ah, cool… Wait… Huh?”

After some roundabout answers we come to the point that there is only one interface available. USB to Windows OS. When I asked by there was no HDMI/VGA/Composite Video interface the rep said, “this was the easiest way”.

Stupid football…

It’s like no one there was even trying. Well, one group was. NTT had a huge booth pitching its mobile VOIP solution 050+ which is kinda like Skype where you pay lots of money. But what they lack in ethics or originality, they more than made up in audacity with booth attendants dressed up like idol singers, one of which kept flashing her knee tattoo of the brand logo to me so much I think she must be a soccer player.

Sure there were plenty of Android phones and Apple accessories, but nothing new, nothing interesting. It feels like walking around a 5th grade science fair. Everyone showing off a potato battery and looking at you to praise them for making something so cool.


Meanwhile no one official seems to take this event remotely seriously. While Docomo and Au were there, they mostly had leftovers and hand me downs from other shows and events. Despite its recent launch, there was practically no presence by Docomo’s NotTV, the Nth iteration mobile TV boondoggle that they have spent a fortune marketing. While they had a giant booth with a live TV studio at CEATEC last year, they were happy with a small table in a corner of the Docomo booth here. SoftBank of course boycotts most of these trade shows in Japan, and even OEM giant Huawei just has a tiny booth in a corner of the floor where it looks like they just handed out business cards to anyone curious enough to stop by their spartan space.

I can’t stress enough how wrong this feels. This is Japan. Japan pushed the boundaries of consumer mobile tech to mythical levels before the iPhone showed up. While Americans were excited over a Color LCD screen on their Nokia, Japanese consumers had Digital TV sets in their handset. Sharp made the first mobile Cellular PDA, J-Phone introduced the camera phone, Docomo had the first active 3G network. While the world media was glued to Tim Cook’s speech at D10 today, no one was watching for Japan’s premier wireless technology expo, not even here in Japan.

Except me. Sitting here in the dirt, watching Lucy laugh as she walks away with that football.


Mobile Office: Power Up Version

Ever hunting for the ultimate mobile setup, I’ve just put the finishing touches on my latest revision of my mobile workstation. This time around, I’m aided with a new MacBook Air 11 inch laptop for a “Pro” configuration.

With the new Sandybridge 1.8ghz i7 chip, this tiny netbook size computer packs some big-boy scale power, enough to let me tether the iPad 2 as a second monitor using the Avatron Air Display app. This way I can run the system as either a dual monitor computer or as two separate machines. I can also add a Bluetooth keyboard and a wireless trackpad to the mix to get that full desktop experience.

Throw in the iPhone for video chatting and etc, and I have three powerful computers that can work together and have enough power to run a small TV station or two Japanese nuclear power plants.

The scary part about this is that including the stands and a wireless cellular router for Internet anywhere, the entire setup weighs just over five pounds, or less than a 15 inch MacBook Pro laptop and it all fits inside the smallest laptop bag I own. Of course I expect a few stares if I set the whole thing up in a cafe and start coordinating an orbital launch while munching a scone.

Progress has allowed us to make computers lighter, smaller, more powerful, and even cheaper at a frightening pace. I expect in just a couple of years I’ll look at this setup and scoff at it’s pitiful specs. But I figure this should last a few months or so.

Would you go out in public with a rig like this? Post a comment below and let me know.

A Proposal: Steve 2.0

CEATEC 2009 - 001

So it’s been a pretty interesting week. A bit of a perfect storm in terms of my meta-life, with mini-crashes, new data influx, changing environment and my typical neurotic breakdown. The result being that I have decided that I need a good cleanse/redesign/rebuild of my information otherself.
Trying to attack this a piece at a time has not yielded any good results, so I dusted off my Project Manager cap and am going to attempt to deal with this the old fashioned way.  When in doubt, reboot, reformat, reinstall.

Warning. This is super dorky technical junk.

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Test post via Blogsy

Posting from an iPad 2 with the Blogsy app. Here are some pics from today’s wireless Japan expo.

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Social Technology “Expert” in Japan

On more than one occasion I have been billed as a Social Media or Technology “Expert”.  To be completely honest, most of my internal organs cringe whenever I hear this title.
The reason is that to me, there is nothing special about it all.  There are no real definitions or qualifications, pretty much anyone with a twitter account qualifies.  To me introducing yourself as a Social Media expert is like saying you are a real estate agent, just with less qualifications. 
I say this mainly because the field right now is simply too undefined and while there are some amazing individuals in the field, most of the people who claim this title are just unemployed wannabes with too much free time on their hands.  (yeah, I know which group I belong to)

I am however a proud and I believe very qualified gearhead.  I have worked for many years and spent countless dollars and yen to achieve this title, and while it is equally useless, I am more than happy to accept this badge.

So what is a gearhead good for?  Well, I am often asked to help cover or publicize an event.  Sometimes I do it even without being asked.  What I bring along is an understanding of current social media tools, and even more importantly a bag full of electronic gadgets and gizmos.  Here is an example of a bag I brought along with me to the last CGM Night hosted by Danny Choo.


Pictured here is
1 Macbook Air
1 Sony Vaio P series ultralight laptop + Large stamina battery pack
1 LCD projector
1 Portable 32inch projector screen
1 Sony Alpha 300 DSLR + 2 lenses
1 Logitech Orbit webcam
1 Gorillapod DSL tripod
1 Logitech Laptop Pro webcam
1 EMobile Pocket Wi-fi portable hotspot.
1 Plantronics Pro bluetooth headset
1 Buffalo Multi Memory Card reader
1 Power strip
2 Sanyo Eneloop Mobile Power Batteries
2 Poken Digital business cards
Lots of paper business cards and Moo cards
Power adapters, cables, and wires for all stuff above

And I fit it all into a small roller bag that I can drag along to the event.  Now how many people can put together a kit like that?

A setup like this enables me to livestream broadcast and create a two-way portal for online interaction in realtime for pretty much any activity or event. 
Now I don’t carry all this stuff around with me wherever I go.  I tend to customize my kit each time I go out to compliment the event and the environment I expect to work in.  Believe it or not, weight and portability are usually the most critical considerations I have when planning out my equipment load.

Understanding the capabilities of all this equipment and finding ways to combine technologies are what I feel are my true areas of expertise.   And as much of a dork as it makes me, I’m pretty proud of my abilities.