3D scanning is fast becoming an affordable option for realtors who want clients to get the best look possible at properties. And as the first 3D scanning business in Moscow, Idaho, Inhouse 3D is an exciting new addition to our ever-burgeoning business landscape. They recently scanned the Wovax office as part of their first wave of projects. Whether you’re a realtor looking to give a home listing that extra pizazz or a business owner with a great space to show off, we give them two enthusiastic thumbs up for any virtual tour needs you might have! Check out their growing portfolio here.
Real Estate Tech News Reviews Wovax IDX and Apps for Real EstateJanuary 22nd 2016 in Blog, Technology, Wovax
The good folks over at Real Estate Tech News gave us a great review this morning.
Check it out here! If you’re interested in learning more about our IDX and app services for real estate agents, feel free to chat with one of us in the talk window at the bottom of the page.
About a month ago, Google made a pretty big search algorithm change. (Yeah, get your coke-bottle glasses and pocket calculator ready; this is one of those posts). Mobile traffic is where the greatest amount of search engine traffic arrives from but most website owners have (either through ignorance or stubbornness) refused to get with the times and launch a mobile-friendly website, much less a mobile app. You know how many small businesses are without a mobile friendly website? 90% percent. Now factor the 60% of adults who use a mobile device when researching a potential purchase. Getting your online presence optimized for mobile is not a luxury – if you want your business to survive online, you need to get on this right away.
And here’s why it matters now, more than ever. Here comes the mobilegeddon!
Google realized that not only are most websites are not optimized for mobile access, more than half of their searches were coming from a mobile device. This was beginning to result in a number of frustrated (and therefore unhappy) Google users. And as a heavy mobile user, I can relate to the frustration of trying to find some kind of information and being impeded by Flash or a cascade of jumbled HTML. Google is by far the largest online search engine in operation and you can bet they want to keep it that way. And if their largest user demographic (mobile users) keeps getting the top of their search results flooded with junky websites that can’t work on a smartphone, that top status could eventually be put in jeopardy. Something had to be done.
That something was what bloggers have dubbed Mobilegeddon, a name presumably concocted during a 3AM Red Bull-and-vodka-fueled brainstorming session. Mobilegeddon would completely change the way Google returns search results entered on mobile devices by preventing any site that wasn’t mobile friendly to become excluded from mobile search queries. Now, this is obviously a drastic measure to take. This would be like a shopping mall building a wall around stores that weren’t revamped to better serve shoppers. If those people want to continue getting hits, they have no choice but to listen to Google and do the work necessary to stay in the top listings.
Google’s reason for doing this is twofold. One is the aforementioned; to keep Google users happy with their results. But it also is a way to force website owners to take the plunge (which isn’t actually a very difficult thing to do) and make a mobile option available. The other is this: to get everyone on the same page and up to speed, mobile-wise. By unleashing Mobilegeddon, Google has been able to send a powerful message. If you aren’t willing to change with the technology, then you are going to be left behind. And lest you think this is just big bad Google picking on small business owners, the Fortune 500 guys aren’t exactly keeping up with the times either as 44% of their sites fail to be mobile friendly.
Google saw itself getting into a position where, as the messenger, it would start to get shot by people unhappy with the results they were getting using the search service. As the top search engine in the world, they also saw it as a chance to give everyone that one last push. Google is doing everyone a favor. Smartphone sales are rising every year. 2014 saw 1.3 billion smartphones being shipped, up from just 1 billion in 2013. People aren’t going to ditch their smartphones because websites aren’t keeping up with them. They’re going to ditch the websites that don’t work with their smartphones and find newer, better ones.
When you think about Disney, you probably think Mickey Mouse and fairy dust. But Disney has been doing pretty well for themselves lately, and that’s partially because they’ve been reinventing themselves not only as a brand, but as a business. A very tech-savvy business.
Disney’s current technology kick can be traced back to the 1980s, when computer generated imagery (CGI) was just taking off. One of the biggest supporters of CG in filmmaking was George Lucas himself, the creator of Star Wars. His company Lucasfilm had a small computer division called the Graphics Group (later Pixar) that mostly justified its existence by selling high-end graphics software and computers to medical imaging companies. Lucas was supportive of the team and could see the future of CGI but in 1983 he and his wife Marcia went through a particularly disastrous divorce. The same year also saw the original Star Wars trilogy come to a close (and thus the merchandising sales drying up). Lucas no longer had the financial stability to support Pixar, so he began looking for a buyer. Specifically, someone who could afford to let them keep working away until good things came about.
Pixar’s savior came in the form of Steve Jobs, who had just gone through a divorce of the corporate kind that saw him ousted from the company he created, Apple. Jobs had money to invest and saw a kindred spirit in John Lassetter, the leader of the Pixar crew. For almost ten years, Jobs funded the Pixar team as they honed their technology on corporate commercials as well as short films. He was surprisingly hands-off, realizing that animation wasn’t his forte. He knew the Pixar team was passionate and didn’t need his infamous micromanagement. Jobs was always willing to back Pixar with his vicious boardroom manner whenever Disney, who was producing Pixar’s first film Toy Story, wanted to pull the plug on the seemingly doomed project. Pixar prevailed and Toy Story became the first fully computer animated feature film in cinema history which led to a film distribution deal at Disney.
Jobs also found something of a Bill Gates equivalent in hotheaded Disney chairman Jeffery Katzenberg. Katzenberg is often credited with leading the studio out of its 80s slump into what has been dubbed the “Disney Renaissance” (he was responsible for hits such as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King). Katezenberg left Disney in a rage just when Pixar was getting its footing; he was passed over for a top position after Disney’s president Frank Wells was killed in a helicopter crash. Shortly thereafter Katzenberg rushed his newly-minted Dreamworks (co-founded alongside Steven Spielberg and record mogul David Geffen) to their first CG film. This project was Antz, a none too subtle effort in undermining A Bug’s Life, which Disney and Pixar were developing when he made his loud exit.
Throughout the next decade, Pixar grew unhappy with Disney. Though Katzenberg had often been frustrating to deal with, there was no denying that he was an animation guru. Under CEO Michael Eisner, Disney was not only unable replicate the string of hits that Katzenberg had produced, they also began to focus heavily on low-rent sequels to hits from decades prior. Eisner became so unpopular that Roy Disney (Walt’s nephew) began a shareholder revolt to have Eisner ousted from the Mouse House. Pixar and Jobs were also frustrated with the new Disney and made it known that they would be seeking out a new distributor for their productions once their contract was up.
This was when Bob Iger showed up. Iger, who had been the president and COO at Disney for a few years at this point, was a problem-fixer who had great aspirations. Iger and Jobs became such fast friends that when he eventually sold Pixar to Disney, Jobs gave Iger a chance to back out of the $7.4 billion deal by confiding something that not even his family knew of – his cancer had returned and he only had five years left.
Under Iger’s drive, Disney acquired Marvel and Lucasfilm (for a cool $4 billion each) which gave him access to some of pop culture’s most iconic characters. The acquisition-based business model of the tech world that Jobs hailed from was undoubtedly rubbing off on him. (The two would have meetings to talk about who they could buy and revamp into something greater. Yahoo was in their sights at one point).
Now Iger is looking a little smaller, but with just as much enthusiasm and potential for growth. Last year saw Disney jump into the startup incubator pool with the Accelerator Program. Each year, ten startups from around the world are selected to come spend three months working with entrepreneurs and tech-minded Disney executives to bring their ideas to full potential. The ideas that Disney has shown interest in are ideas are those driven by technology or software that has interactive and entertainment capabilities. The companies still own their intellectual property when they leave the accelerator in three months and are free to continue on their own, usually wiser and richer with the experience and spotlight. Disney seems to see this as an opportunity to have the first crack at new and emerging technologies before other competitors, as well as a way to encourage growth beyond the typical startup avenues. There’s very little fine print.
The Walt Disney Company seems to be taking a leaf out of Apple’s book. Like Apple, they have had a very successful run after a period of less than desirable results, and a good portion of that has been in smart buying (they also own ESPN and ABC in addition to Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm). Since the earliest days when Walt himself was crafting the first animated feature with color and sound, the Disney mission has remained the same: explore the bleeding edge of new technology with the ultimate purpose of creating compelling characters and telling a satisfying story.
The tech world is full of movers and shakers, but most of them are behind the scenes. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have long been household names but mostly as nebulous icons known for warring personalities. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good “Amadeus” style rivalry? Beyond that you’ll still find quite a few people who know about Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Mark Zuckerberg. But once you get past half a dozen or so of these names, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who knows that there’s a guy named Michael Dell who started building PCs in his dorm room. For the most part, these guys are invisible. That makes sense; they’re busy working, and if something is functioning well, why peel back that curtain?
Most people who are out accomplishing great things don’t care as much about recognition as the general public assumes. At the end of the day, Steve Wozniak doesn’t actually care as much about the fact that most people assume Steve Jobs did all the work because he knows that’s not really the case. There’s also the fact that any smart person knows that anything worth building on huge scale isn’t going to just blossom because a goofy nerd had a neat idea. There’s so many components to making a viable product and turning it into a profitable business that anyone going to it alone is going to faily miserably. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak both freely admitted that without the other, there would be no Apple. Jobs wouldn’t have been able to build the computer infrastructure he dreamed up on his own; Woz wanted to give it away for free.
Today, one of those men behind the curtain announced a new startup. And he’s interesting. Let’s meet this guy.
You’ve never heard of him, but if you’re reading this blog it’s probably a given that you’ve been inside a building he is responsible for. This man’s name is Ron Johnson and for ten years, he was the senior vice president of retail operations at Apple. The close ties between Apple and Disney led to Apple taking a cue from the Mouse House and taking the leap of creating its own retail stores. Apple Stores were a hit, and in two years, they had made a cool billion dollars, ousting GAP as the king of retail records. The CEO of GAP and Apple shareholder Mickey Drexler was also responsible for much of Apple’s retail success by insisting to the hotheaded Johnson/Jobs duo that they needed to test their unproven idea before blindly launching it.
Not only did the addition of a retail arm add another money hose directly into Apple’s seemingly infinite coffers, the wildly popular retail presence injected life into the dull sterility of computer showrooms everywhere. And the Apple Stores themselves became a must-see destination for any cool kid’s trip to the mall. With their soft bright lights, smooth wood tables, and lots of open spaces, the stores themselves are just plain fun to just be in. You could argue that certain OS X programs, like Photo Booth, were partially intended as a means of in-store entertainment and a way to get some good word-of-mouth advertistment going.
With Apple as his most obvious success, Ron Johnson has had an intriguing career with only one major hiccup. His first career highlight was as the vice president of merchandising for Target and as you’ll see, things here were already paving the way for Apple. Ron Johnson became intrigued by clean design, and the mark he left on Target was major; he successfully secured famed postmodern and New Urbanist architect Michael Graves’ revolutionary brain to design low-cost, pleasant, and even elegant household wares. Graves, who passed away in March, was one of the original superstar designers whose name was respected outside of the architecture community he dominated. (After health issues left him wheelchair bound as well as a frequent hosiptal guest, he became an advocate for less austere design in medical facilities). With Johnson’s direction and Graves’ design, Target has consquently become established as something of a Braun in the world of boring-ass grocery stores, always aiming just a bit higher than its Wal-Mart and K-Mart siblings.
Then came Johnson’s Apple years. Leading a team that had experience with the Disney Stores, Johnson worked thrived under Steve Jobs’ high standards of efficiency and design to create a model so successful that other tech brands like Micrsoft and Sony tried to emulate it, albeit unsuccessfully. Johnson doesn’t seem like a guy who coasts on success. With his successful impact at Target and Apple, he decided to go for the impossible. Remember JCPenney? (Ya’know, your mom’s favorite place to buy all your school clothes?) JCPenney was stagnating at best and wanted to change. So Johnson, eager for another challenge, and JCP, expecting the most fabulous makeover that retail money can buy, decided to make some CEO magic happen. It….uh…didn’t go well.
You’ve probably noticed that every time you go to a department store that there is always a sale and there are coupons everywhere. If you’re like me, you think it’s messy, confusing, and redundant. The way the pricing model works in a store like JCP is designed around overpricing the merchandise and always offering deals and sales so that people feel like they’re getting a great bargain. One of Johnson’s changes was to do away with coupons and sales, and approach pricing the same way Apple does. One price everywhere. But instead of testing in a few stores as retail giants usually do, the change was instant and wide. Johnson’s leadership style had been developed and honed for over a decade at Apple. Like many tech companies, Apple never really left startup mode. As a tech startup that hit big, Apple is able to veer in new directions much faster than a 110-year old mall fixture that’s known for khakis and bedsheets.
Going from working at one of the world’s most successful companies to one of the most fastest-sinking was likely a bit of a shock for Johnson and his 14-month stint as Penney’s CEO would make John Sculley blush. Twenty-one thousand people lost their jobs, sales fell 25%, stock prices plummeted, and a billion dollars was lost (half of it in the final quarter). While many think that Johnson at worst may have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time, some have harsher words. Columbia professor and former Sears Canada CEO Mark Cohen told The New Yorker, “There is nothing good to say about what he’s done. Penney had been run into a ditch when he took it over. But, rather than getting it back on the road, he’s essentially set it on fire.”
Retail is a different beast than a billion dollar Silicon Valley empire, and Johnson’s hindsight shows that he understands that now. Johnson is now combining his more successful retail and tech experience, one that caters to the rising instant/mobile-influenced generation of shoppers. The company is Enjoy Technology. When a purchase is made, an expert will deliver your item and show you how to use it. Aspects of the business are reminiscent of the Apple Store experience. Just as Mac owners can visit the Genius Bar for friendly tech support, Enjoy customers can hire an expert for $99 to visit them for approximately an hour and give them a hands-on lesson regarding a product. Conceptually, Enjoy seems like a much better fit for Ron Johnson. Instead of trying to fit a radical new idea into a hardened out-of-date mold, Johnson will have the freedom he did at Apple to experiment radically with less repercussion. And with potential competitors like Amazon trying to get consumers excited about a freaking button, Johnson’s blend of instant gratification and human interaction may prove to be the start of an entirely different shopping experience.
Wovax is a mobile app developer, so it makes sense that we all like technology. That’s why we use our blog to talk about it every week. We’ve enjoyed doing that so much that I was given the task of starting a weekly podcast. Now we’ve got Tech Blitz up and running to bring you even more tech news every week. One of the major topics I discussed yesterday was John Deere’s recent copyright fiasco.
Because of the computer software so prevalent in their equipment – and just about any piece of automotive machinery these days – it’s become nearly impossible for the people who bought these machines to fix problems when things break down. Farmers are some of the most industrious and hard-working people around (they kinda help everyone stay well-fed and alive) so these guys are gonna roll up their sleeves and do it anyway. This article’s author talks about his friend Dave who was prevented from working his field – his cash crop – for two days because he had to wait for John Deere’s Official Part And Technician to get to him. Now imagine this happening every time you every time your car battery or tires needed to be replaced. Because if these companies could figure out how to prevent you from replacing those without their paid assistance, they most certainly would. GM has taken the same stance, arguing that people shouldn’t be able to modify their cars or make them faster, which is something that kind of defines the word “car” for most people.
Computer software integrated into products should make life easier for the consumers who purchase them, not make their lives more frustrating and expensive. These aren’t new startups trying to change the rules that people are switching over to, either. These are established and trusted brands. John Deere is the world’s largest manufacturer of agricultural equipment and at this point their yellow and green is classic Americana.
Here’s why this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed now instead of later. The Internet of Things – a world with “smart” computerized appliances everywhere – is the hot new tech trend at the moment. But if all that’s accomplished is loading everyday objects down with so much unfixable code then things will be a mess. Let’s use houses as an example. For most people, a house will be their main asset. And unlike a car, the value of a home has great potential to increase greatly with repairs and remodels over time. But if, in the near future, the components of your smart house are for all intents and purposes DRM-locked, then the simplest of repairs are going to spiral out of control cost-wise.
Spinning off of this, it is interesting to look at how much in the way of tech is based in the cloud now. I personally have mixed feelings about it. I have a Kindle Touch and I really dig it. I’m admittedly part of a generation that processes information quickly over a screen, and I can actually read a book faster that way. (No shame!) I also like the fact that it’s less clutter in my house. I don’t like having a lot of stuff to deal with. But what happens if Amazon ever goes out of business? Sure, it’s unlikely at this point, but no one lasts forever. It’s a question I wonder whenever I download another e-book.
When your media collection is comprised of digital files then backing up your books, music, and movies is a necessary safeguard. That takes time and money for hard drives. I’m more comfortable with e-books than e-movies primarily because of the quality difference that still exists between a digitally downloaded file and a Blu-ray disc in true 1080p HD as well as the fact that it’s physically on my shelf and not in danger of being zapped if something goes wrong. And if I do ever feel a weirdly strong need to watch them on my iPhone there are, uh, ways to do that.
There’s also the subscription model that’s been taking hold over the software industry, including two very popular titles; Microsoft and Adobe’s respective suites of productive and creative software. With Microsoft’s Office 365 and Amazon’s Creative Cloud, you no longer buy the software outright; instead you pay a monthly fee to access as little or as much as you like. There are some advantages and disadvantages to this. On the one hand, updates are included in this fee, so you always have the newest software. For professionals who have a budget for these expenses, that’s great. On the other hand, when your needs are basic, paying for somewhat updated software over and over isn’t ideal for most. Ramen-feasting college students don’t want or even need to plunk down an extra hundred bucks every year to keep Word working.
A fairly common bit of advice is to buy rather than rent. This is because at some point, the amount of money that you’ve spent on something large, like a house, is equal to what you would have spent in buying it outright. There are some great advantages to be had in cloud-based software. A few inconveniences, but nothing too terrible. Personally, I love having Adobe Creative Cloud and use a variety of the programs on a daily basis. But when the restrictions are applied to physical real-world products like cars and farm equipment, it gets impossible to defend. John Deere is already losing customers over its new way of dealing with things. People are more aware of copyright law than ever before, and it’s going to make it harder for these companies to pull crap like this in the future. And for those of you who don’t want to wait three days to change a lightbulb, that’s a good thing.
Here at Wovax we love our tech. So yesterday we launched a podcast to talk about it – Tech Blitz. The format Tech Blitz takes is fast-paced news. Every week, ten topics from tech news that week are covered with only 30 seconds to get through each one.
We’ve already had a tremendous response to the first episode despite some quiet audio issues that we’ve already figured out how to prevent next time. It looks like everyone is just as enthusiastic about tech as we are! We’re working on getting set up in iTunes as well so you’ll be able to access a video and audio version on all of your devices as well.
Tech Blitz will be released every Tuesday at 5 PM PST on the Tech Blitz YouTube channel and Facebook page. Check us out and be sure to subscribe on YouTube and like us on Facebook so you don’t miss the latest episodes!
As devices become smaller and more powerful, one of the things that has been taking a hit is the battery life. Apple for example has enjoyed success and invited scrutiny with their latest iPhone models and their Watch respectively. What we have is great, but it’s being pushed about as far as it can as electronics become thirstier that ever. Even the new MacBook had to sacrifice space for computing power to fit what ended up being a multi-compartmentalized battery, rendering it even less powerful than a MacBook Air. The quest for thinner is now at the impasse of choosing between sleek looks and computing muscle.
Some of the most interesting battery innovation right isn’t coming from trying to squish something into a smartwatch. It’s in the electric car industry. Tesla, the company that made electric cars both practical and cool, is working to bring an enhanced model of their car batteries into homes. They’ll probably be announcing them at the end of the month. Combining these batteries with solar power will be a boon to anyone trying to cut costs on their electric bill. That’s pretty cool, but how does that help your smartphone battery?
Let’s take a step back for a second ask ourselves, what if we applied the same thinking to power sources that we do to other areas of computing? Take cloud technology for instance. At this point, it’s ubiquitous. Wireless networks are omnipresent and it’s rarely inconvenient to rely on them. Computers are increasingly just windows to the troves of information that we store elsewhere.
Now let’s take these building-powering batteries a step further with wireless charging. No more dangerous sockets for kids to zap themselves with. Whether you’re at the office or a coffee shop, your seating options won’t be limited by a dying laptop battery. You’ll even notice a difference with the extra freedom you’ll gain in arranging your furniture where you want. Oh, and guess what? Wireless charging is totally real. Starbucks has been testing wireless charging mats in their stores, IKEA is working it into their products, and numerous products such as the Vessyl come with wireless pads that can charge the device when placed on top.
So, yeah. Wireless charging! How does this affect your device’s battery life? The most likely way seems to be similar to how your smartphone’s internet access works. To get faster speeds that don’t munch into your data plan (and to save precious battery life) you probably use a wi-fi connection whenever one is available. Wireless charging would work the same way. Your devices, as long as they are in range of a battery that is broadcasting power, will be connected and charging. Once they are out of range, they revert to the onboard battery. And wireless charging is safe; no more dangerous than a cell phone.
Wireless charging is likely to first take off with electric cars as well. Tesla knows that plugging in a car is a monotonous task that will become easier and easier to forget. Think of how many times you forgot to charge your phone before bed. Now imagine that you ride your phone to work. Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO (and 007 villain in the making) is experimenting with robotic snake plugs that attach themselves to your car, but you can bet they’ll go wireless as soon as they can.
This will be an unusual article for me to write. I’m a pretty excitable guy when it comes to new technology and such. I like interesting stuff and seeing all the new and efficient ways of doing things that people are coming up with. Thus, we present the Amazon Dash; a new concept so simple it becomes convoluted again and essentially negates itself. Amazon Dash is a plastic button that is brand-specific. You press the button and preset quantity of said thing appears on your doorstep within a day (it’s by innovation only for Amazon Prime users). It uses a very low-powered wi-fi chip and is small, if loudly branded. Users receive a notification their phone when the button is pressed and have a 30 minute time window to cancel an order. As many of the products offered target people who have young children or pets, the button has a measure in place that only allows one order to be processed at a time (so pressing it fifty times in a row will only order your preset amount once).
It’s actually so weird and hilarious that everyone understandably thought was an early April Fool’s Day gag product (it was announced on March 31st). But it’s not. It’s a real product made by the company that perfected large-scale commerce and also wants to bring drones into play as a delivery system. Dash actually started its odd life cycle as a handheld wand-like device that let you scan products as you ran out of them. It featured voice recognition as well, presumably so you could finally fulfill your dream of ordering Kraft products in the most magical way possible.
The idea behind Dash is seemingly simple. But why go to all that trouble of making zillions of little physical buttons if you can just make an app that does the same thing? This is where it starts to get needlessly convoluted for consumers. Right now there are about 270 products available for use with Dash (most of them are trash bags, diapers, and granola bars). Do you really want dozens of little buttons scattered around your house for all the things you want to have replenished on a regular basis? Or, do you want to have to decide what three items (the current button limit) are worth having buttons for? That’s a lot of overthinking for something so supposedly simple. Dash is likely not the final form of whatever product is at the end of the tunnel. One of the newest category that the Internet of Things has created is “smart appliances.” Refrigerators that order food when running low, coffee makers that order more filters or beans, washing machines that order more detergent…that sort of thing. That is a bit less convoluted than an individual button for everything but the bigger question looming behind all of this seems to be “is going to the store really that big of an inconvenience?”
I don’t think the Dash necessarily represents a bold new step in the temple of laziness that many bemoan the modern world has become, but the concept is something ponder. Big brands are going to love the tighter bond between product and consumer that Dash buttons or smart appliances create. Instead of constantly being confronted by fifty choices when you go shopping and weighing your options every now and again, the order-it-for-you technology encourages you to make a choice once and theoretically never again. Digital music and movies and even books are one thing; the physical presentation of those products is arguably less important as long as the delivery of that content doesn’t impede on the integrity of the audience experience. At the risk of sounding a little “get off my damn lawn,” do we really want to live in a world where you can theoretically go through life without actually interacting with other people in a direct physical sense, much less leaving your house? The reason allergies were uncommon before the 20th century is because people didn’t live in sealed airtight houses. As bummerific as it may be to consider, for many people going to the store may be the only time they get out and about in a non-work environment.
The Dash isn’t a dumb product. It’s intuitive enough; I could foresee a future where a button with a logo on it is naturally assumed to be a “get more of this” device. Is it efficient? For the end user, it can be. But in the long run, Dash drives against the current zeitgeist in the acquiring of foodstuffs. The Dash in its current state seems to be a sevice people in the late ’90s would have dreamed of using the internet for. In a new millennium that prides itself on being aware of where your food is coming from and farmer’s markets are on the rise? Not so much.
Periscope: The Most Important App Release In YearsApril 1st 2015 in Blog
Twitter’s newest app, Periscope, is one of the the most important apps that has ever come out. If you have a smartphone and you haven’t tried it out, you need to get yourself to the App Store and tap the download button. Right now. There’s also Meerkat, but everyone seems to be on Periscope. They aren’t paying me to write this. I am genuinely very, very excited for the new territory being opened by these apps.
So what do they do and why are they so exciting? These are apps that stream live video from a smartphone. Connecting to Twitter lets you send out a link to your live broadcasts. If you have a smartphone you have your own little TV network. I popped open Periscope while I was walking around town the other day and in less than a minute I had 40 people from all over world watching. (I currently live in an Idaho town called Moscow, so most of them were confused Russians).
What’s so great about it then? For average everyday use, it’ll just be a fun diversion because most everyday tasks are boring. If you’ve ever wanted to watch people eating their food instead of Instagramming it and you have gross friends then you’ll be in luck. But creativity will bring new ways of using our smartphones to connect with world around us. One of my writer friends texted me the day it came out, “I’m trying to figure out how to use Periscope for storytelling.”
One of the first ways we’ll see Periscope used for storytelling will be in journalism. Periscope’s first day in the wild saw it being used to cover an incident in New York City that ended with three buildings collapsing and 25 injuries. Hundreds of people were watching across several feeds from Persicopers in the area.
When people started using weblogs (colloquially shortened to “blog”), they were usually regarded as a form of recreational writing. But in 2004, bloggers gained respect – and fear – from the press when they exposed CBS news anchor Dan Rather’s use of falsified documents relating to then-president George W. Bush’s previous service in the military.
Last year, most of the honest reporting from places like Ferguson wasn’t coming from CNN or Fox News; it was coming from journalists who were live-tweeting from the streets. Imagine a world where everyone can broadcast their own live, unfiltered views of events as they unfold. Periscope isn’t for journalists. It’s for everyone. It turns any smartphone user into a journalist. People like you and me. Anyone who wants the world to see things from their point of view. That world is here now and we will soon see it aid us in bringing greater transparency to many pressing issues.