Look Ma, No Hands!

Throughout the past few months, I have posted a variety of blog posts that focus primarily on technology and the digital era entirely. I am pretty sure it goes without saying, technology has evolved… and quite dramatically. My goal in this post, however, is to discuss how technology has evolved in traveling, specifically in cars. Airplanes are cool, trains are convenient, subways, well there isn’t even cell phone service on subways (lol), but cars… Cars are everywhere! It is insane to consider a time when carriages on horseback carried our ancestors around town. Well, what is even crazier to ponder is what we might see in the future of cars!

To start us off slowly, (I don’t want your jaws to drop too quickly now) let’s take a blast into the past. In order to stay on topic, that is the future of technology in automobiles, here is a brief black and white image of the history of cars, alongside a timeline of key automobile innovations and a spectacular infographic of the history of cars.

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Starting with just blueprints in the 1800s, perfected in Germany and France, Americans soon took over the automobile industry in the twentieth century. Henry Ford is a big deal in all this, because he was the man who innovated mass-production techniques, eventually being the “standard” for automobile manufacturing. Have you ever heard of “The Big Three” auto companies, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler? Well, look how far we’ve come! An article on History.com, found here gives an in depth description of how the automobile industry really evolved and a cool video. Henry Ford’s Model T, anticipated to be a “farmer’s car,” grew in popularity. Because this industry played a large role in producing military and war vehicles during World War I and II, the automobile industry went international! According to the article, as of 1980, 87.2% of American households owned one or more motor vehicles. It was official, Americans became truly auto-dependent.

CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO: HISTORY OF AUTOMOBILES

Enough about the past, let’s talk future, lets talk technology! As almost all Americans will agree, Google is a powerful source, especially in the digital world. People use Google to find out anything they want to know and Google will do it quickly. They also provide our nation with tons of useful products like Google Maps, Google News, Google Alerts, Google Books, YouTube, and so many more applications we don’t even realize Google takes part in. But, did you ever think Google would be driving your cars, well technically now they can.

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The Google Self-Driving Car has been working to create technology for autonomous cars (specifically electric cars). An important person in this process, Sebastian Thrun, a Google engineer, is leading the Google Self-Driving project. Currently, four states (Nevada, Florida, California, and Michigan) and Washington D.C. are allowing driverless cars.

Below you will find a visual of the key parts of the Google driverless car.

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The LiDar, a Velodyne 64-beam laser, provides the vehicle with a detailed 3D map of its surroundings. Using these maps coupled with maps of the world, the Google driverless car produces types of data models that allow it to drive itself.

driverless-car This futuristic vehicle is outstanding! In an article written on Daily Mail News, Caroline Graham writes “Its curved edges are practical as well as visually appealing, designed to allow the lasers, sensors and cameras mounted on top of the car in a rotating casing known as a ‘lidar’ to have optimal vision around the vehicle.” (SOURCE)

As unsafe as this project sounds, there are awesome technologies involved that help ensure the drivers’ safety. The car will always drive at the speed limit that it has stored on its maps and will maintain a safe distance away from other vehicles with the help of its distance sensors. If the driver decides that they want to take the wheel, all they have to do is literally take the wheel. By stepping on the brakes or turning the wheel, the human driver takes control of the car. Let’s be a witness to this project: 

It might seem quite surreal, but on May 28th, 2014 Google presented their prototype of the driverless car that did not include a steering wheel nor pedals. This prototype followed the announcement of almost 700,000 accident-free autonomous miles in test drives of the Google driverless car.

Take caution: The latest prototype cannot handle heavy ran or snow-covered roads and often moves incredibly slow during 4-way stops. Another limitation includes their ability to avoid discerning objects (trash and debris). The biggest limitation I think, the LiDAR cannot spot humans or potholes.

I created an infographic to display the public opinion about the driverless automobile.

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Here is an additional infographic that I did not create myself!

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Be honest, you are so excited to give this thing a try! Well, Google founder Sergey Brin stated in 2012 that the Google Self-Driving car will be available for the public in 2017… We’ll just have to wait our turn.

According to an article in The New York Times, soon enough new laws will be required if driverless cars become a reality. This is because “the technology is now advancing so quickly that it is in danger of outstripping existing law, some of which dates back to the era of horse-drawn carriages.” (SOURCE)

Here is a great article with some videos of this new technology in action! Also, if you want to see some of the cars that have tried this new technology, as well as each cars’ letter grade… take a look here!

On the contrary, Chunka Mul released an article on Forbes.com that reveals five reasons why automakers should be afraid of the Google Driverless Car. This point of view is evidently from a business prospective, but I think it is extremely important to consider. Below are some images of the 5 reasons that Chunka Mul gives to his readers… but I advise you read more here.

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Mark Harris also provides some good evidence for why the Google Driverless Car could be quite dangerous for our society. In his article titled, FBI warns driverless cars could be used as ‘lethal weapons,’ he tells his readers why the FBI is afraid of this “spectacular” ability to multi-task while driving. He writes, “One nightmare scenario could be suspects shooting at pursuers from getaway cars that are driving themselves.” (SOURCE) The FBI is deeply afraid of the many ways Google’s driverless car can be used as lethal weapons by criminals all over the globe. They fear the ability to override safety features and avoid traffic lights/stop signs or even the far-fetched fear of terrorism being able to create self-driving bombs!

Nevertheless, the Google team strongly believes that driverless cars will eventually cut the number of road deaths in half!

After discovering so much about how advancing technology can actually make automobiles drive themselves, I looked further into the future of cars! I spoke with Raymond, a sales person at the Mercedes Car Dealership in New Rochelle, New York.

In this nonstop growing digital era, we find that large portions of our lives are spent on social media. Because it is clear that social media is growing at a rapid rate, I was curious about how cars might become “socially connected.” In pursuing my curiosity about this, I found out that cars are going to be social vehicles in the near future.

A blogpost on Gigaom, titled Social Networked Cars: The Future of Connected Vehicles?, reveals work created by students at the University of Michigan teamed up with Ford, Microsoft and Intel, that indicates “there will be as many innovative social applications connected us in our vehicles as there are on our Internet-connected laptops.” (SOURCE)

images copyThe future of cars being socially integrated can best be supported by a recent technology, one that will soon be available in most cars, Apple CarPlay. The future of technology is turning a simple music-making machine into an infotainment console. Technology has allowed drivers to use touch-screen capabilities, navigation systems, backup camera monitors, Bluetooth speakerphone, and some more similar features. An article on Digital Trends says, “for as fancy as today’s car stereos are, however, there’s one nut they’ve yet to crack: how to keep drivers’ eyes off of their phones and on the road.” (SOURCE) Apple CarPlay is iOS for your cars’ dashboard. This technology will place popular iPhone functions on the screen in your dashboard, integrate voice control and Siri activation codes and create a safe, socially capable drive. Check out this demo on YouTube to get an idea how it really works.

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An article found in the New York Times titled “Social Networking for Cars,” demonstrates how an app called the “Auto”matic Blog can tap into available data on a car so that the car can actually send out its own tweets. Using data such as location, speed, acceleration and braking as well as information from windshield wipers, steering input, live web and GPS data, a car can now send out a Twitter entry. For instance, with real-time traffic information such as stop-and-go braking and weather forecasts, like rain ahead, a twitter entry can be sent that reads: “Stuck in traffic; not looking forward to next 50 miles, either.”

EMarketer released an interview with Michael Deitz, Senior Group Manager of Connected Car and Owner Marketing for Hyundai Motor America.

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It is clear that the connectivity of cars in various networks will grow to become part of our everyday lives. Well, I don’t want to go on for too much longer… Because, as you all know, technology is growing faster and faster each and every day!

Social Media: What an Oxymoron!

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Although the definition may lead someone to believe that this digital world has been created for and by people “socializing” on the internet, these platforms do just the opposite. While giving people the opportunity to network and meet new people, reconvene with old friends, and the like, this only applies to interactions through a thin screen, with no real human on the other side of it. In fact, it is sad and disappointing if you ask me, that social media has led society to develop a syndrome, that is, we are all socially awkward.

On these social media websites, the term “friends” suddenly expands to mean any person that you are allowing to check out your page, whether it is facebook, instagram, twitter, your blog, etc. A title of a blogpost by blogger XoJane (www.xojane.com) reads, “I have 788 Friends on Facebook, but Only Three in Real Life”: ain’t that the truth?!

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According to an article in The Houston Chronicle, The Negative Effects of Social Media on Society and Individuals by Brian Jung, explains that as a result of the hundreds of casual relationships we have formed via the internet and networking, we do not spend nearly enough time anymore invested in the stronger, more meaningful relationships we have formed in real life. It is as if the screen in our hands and on our laps that reveals surface level information about our “friends” has made society blind to those who you used to sit with at dinner tables and meet in classrooms, face to face.

Not only are we becoming less social in real life situations, but our intelligence as a group is dropping significantly! Wired.com posted two studies to share the level of damage that has been done to productivity because of social networking. Nucleus Research revealed in their study that “companies that allow access to Facebook lose an average of 1.5 percent in total employee productivity.”( Found Here ) Intersetingly enough, one out of 33 employees have built their ENTIRE profile during work hours.

The next thing I will reveal to my readers will confirm that social media makes human beings both socially awkward and, not sure how to put this lightly, just dumb. Social networking sites have actually encouraged users to be much more public about their personal lives, given the simplicity of clicking a button and WAH-LAH: a picture of me taking shots with my friends! Users are evidently much less likely to filter some of the things they would normally leave out in person.

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Here is the Pew Research Study!

The Huffington Post discusses that because we rely on technology and social media we are unable to carry on normal, face-to-face conversations and interactions. These common “miscommunications” that occur during conversations on social media due to lack of tone, context, and just general contact through a computer screen are actually reflecting in our everyday face-to-face interactions. Justine Harman, Elle.com features editor, and Tara Kennedy-Kline, author of Stop Raising Einstein, agree with the notion that social media makes us socially awkward, as they stated on the Huffington Post article. Watch The Huffington Post Video Here! Because we learn so much about people through social media (status updates, tweets, instagram posts, etc.), when we finally see them in person it is as if nothing is new and it is harder to create conversation. Harman tells us, “I think it’s the death of an actual civilized conversation.” I think it’s skipping a lot of steps. You don’t know people the way you would if you actually spent time with them. It feels inherently wrong to make those leaps, but at the same time, it’s inauthentic to say that you don’t know.”

Do you want to be a better person? Slowly move away from this contagious “social media syndrome”

Here’s Some Help With That!

Good Morning, America!

It’s really interesting you know, people today really enjoy getting their information in the quickest ways possible. At least for me, if I were to pick between a 5 minute video on breaking news or a 60 minute video, the answer is obvious (5 minutes). That said, I honestly rarely find myself watching a full news broadcast, but on Sunday November 16th, 2014, I decided to watch Good Morning America on ABC. I thought I would start by giving you a visual of the set. I found that the curving of the edges of the table made the newsroom slightly less formal, creating both an audience-presenter format, as well as a group discussion that we are just eavesdropping on, this was an interesting way to try and set a tone.

The Set!

The Set!

As a millennial, I noticed the target audience was definitely not the 18-34 demographic. Rather, ABC’s Good Morning America speaks to the affluent 40-60 year olds because of its repetitive and overly dramatic content and because of the particular stories. Let’s just say, there were no stories about Kim Kardashian or Lindsay Lohan, very little humor (any attempt at humor was a little weak), and pretty heavy on politics.

The most detailed excerpts of this broadcast were about Peter Kassig (an American captured and beheaded by ISIS in Syria), a doctor who contracted Ebola, the heavy snowfall in the U.S., and Bill Cosby being accused of sexual assault. Aside from these top stories, there were a few short news excerpts in between. See previous excerpt on arctic blast here: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/arctic-blast-snowstorms-26827818

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If I had to pick one word for the tone of this news broadcast, that would be: dramatic! For starters, the opening excerpt portrays fast-paced music that is set up to be suspenseful and quite nerve wrecking as the reporter briefly states the breaking news that will be discussed. Interestingly though, this opening excerpt ends with uplifting background music as the newsroom is brought into picture. This is slightly contradicting and my assumption is that by starting with a dramatic tone, ABC aims to keep the audience engaged and by ending it with an uplifting tone, the audience is more comfortable with what they are about to see.

The vocabulary that the Good Morning America crew chooses to use helps to create this extremely dramatic environment. Some examples include terms like “this chilling video, slam the country with snow, Bill Cosby under fire, gruesome images, and arctic blast,” which were used to describe some of the events. The choice of images added to the drama, for instance when they displayed a photograph of the doctor who contracted Ebola being carried off the plane in something called a Isopod, a protective enclosed structure. They continuously showed this image while describing how critical his condition is, which I find to be unnecessarily dramatic. He is not nearly the first patient to be placed in an Isopod, but they made it seem as if his condition was so critical that it was a rare occasion to be in this structure. I mean, this is simply protocol.

I found the story angles to be quite interesting and note worthy for my readers to hear. Often times, the broadcasters would subliminally take a side in a situation without blatantly stating it. For example, the story about Peter Kassig discusses the “awaiting confirmation” about whether he is indeed the third American to be buried from ISIS acts, yet the broadcasters are taking angles that are basically confirming this very situation; “Gruesome images leave little doubt about what happened” implying their personal confirmation without even showing the images.

In the Ebola story, the news reporter discussed an interview with the son of the Ebola patient. He mentioned how his father is a heroic and brave man that will overcome this experience. This is taking an angle that creates a more relatable circumstance and to invoke more sad emotions in the audience versus disgust and fear.

The OOH Experience! Remember that billboard…

My father, Jesse London, is a man of many experiences in the advertising industry. I thought long and hard about who I can present to my readers that would have some impact on their understanding of the digital world. Now, I know I could have found a well-known blogger or journalist on the web and sifted through the many resources offered on Google and other search engines and then presented these details to my readers. But, that wouldn’t be too fun because they could go ahead and do that themselves! So, I am introducing to you, someone you probably haven’t heard of, but someone you should hear of, Jesse London.

As of the Spring of 2013, Jesse has been the Vice President, General Sales Manager of Clear Channel Outdoor (specifically the NY outdoor operation), a company that deals with innovative out of home advertising solutions. He is in charge of a WHOPPING 1,600 NY market faces, which include displays in Manhattan and New Jersey.

Because this blog focuses on experiences in travel, I present the career of Outdoor Advertising. Jesse London is actually responsible for selling Clear Channel opportunities nationwide. Clear Channel’s Outdoor advertisements reach the audience during travel, (driving, walking, even flying!)

So I asked: “In what ways do you find the theme of travel, pertinent to your career?”

Jesse says: “Well, in order to make a sale, I must satisfy the client. In doing so, my team and I work hard to understand their culture and what it is that will attract their consumer. We also work a lot with Peru tourism and many cruise companies. The digital ads we display have a large impact on the travel industry. For instance, Peru will send us a digital ad to display about traveling to Peru, as soon as the tickets for flights seem to be gone; they will call me up and say, “take down the ad!” And we just throw up the next advertisement.”

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I decided to venture into the topic of digital technology and how it has impacted his career…

“Digital is good for business, the reality is that we work as fast as we can to convert traditional billboards to digital billboards because we can realize 3 times as much revenue in digital than we do on static board.”

We discussed the many reasons for why this is the case. A few I will highlight from the wise words of Jesse London include: “on a regular board we only put one ad a month, but on a digital board we put a lot more advertisements on a single digital board.” He told me that as opposed to the one, quite expensive, vinyl artwork wrap we used to see on billboards, Clear Channel can now display 8 ads on one face, which will circulate throughout the day.

It is really wild! It used to take weeks to create the artwork and tons of money, now all it takes is a tech guru from the advertising company to make the ad on his computer, click a button, and there it is sent to my dad who just throws the ad on the billboard for everyone to see. This speed is incredible, especially in examples like displaying the score of an NFL football game!

Like all careers, everything is not all glorified. Jesse told me that they often run into troubles with the government; because they believe that digital ads are a distracting device that will lead to more car accidents. Check out this article, where Jesse London and his team demanded that the LA government pay for their accusations. http://articles.latimes.com/2013/feb/23/local/la-me-billboard-threat-20130224 

Jesse explained: “We use billboards to announce crimes when the FBI are trying to catch someone, this way the community can respond quickly and affectively!”

A Cultural Tradition Exposed: R-Rated Version

Don’t get too excited! This portion of my blog is going to reveal the important aspects of a weekly tradition in the Jewish religion, known as Shabbat. Every Friday night, starting at sundown, the full day of rest begins, which is Shabbat or Shabbos. On this day, the Jewish people remember, appreciate, and celebrate the the Biblical creation of the world around us and the Exodus of the Hebrews. The R-Rated portion- well that’s just because this is the Reformed version; a more modernized version.

Well, Let’s Begin!

On this holy day of the week, spent in prayer and celebration, the Jewish people must not exert any work. Because turning on and off a light switch activates an electrical process, we avoid using light switches. Therefore, just before sundown, when Shabbat starts, we turn our bedroom lights off so we don't find ourselves sleeping in the light.

On this holy day of the week, spent in prayer and celebration, the Jewish people must not exert any work. Because turning on and off a light switch activates an electrical process, we avoid using light switches. Therefore, just before sundown, when Shabbat starts, we turn our bedroom lights off so we don’t find ourselves sleeping in the light.

Many Jewish people spend part of Shabbat in temple or synagogue to pray.

Many Jewish people spend part of Shabbat in temple or synagogue to pray.

This day is spent relaxing. Most importantly, relaxing with family. These are the Krakowskis, the nice family that invited me to their Shabbat this past weekend.

This day is spent relaxing. Most importantly, relaxing with family. These are the Krakowskis, the nice family that invited me to their Shabbat this past weekend.

After spending the entire day relaxing, appreciating life, and spending time away from electronics and work, we set the table for the meal that will break Shabbos! The BEST meal of the week.

After spending the entire day relaxing, appreciating life, and spending time away from electronics and work, we set the table for the meal that will break Shabbos! The BEST meal of the week.

But, before we eat, we must light the candles.

But, before we eat, we must light the candles. One candle is lit for harmony in the home, and the other is to represent Sabbath joy. They must be lit and stay in the room that the Sabbath meal is to be eaten in.

After we light the candles, we pour the wine, or the Kedem (Grape Juice) for those who prefer it.

After we light the candles, we pour the wine, or the Kedem (Grape Juice) for those who prefer it.

Lastly, we cut the Challah which determines the end of Shabbat, and the lovely feast begins!

Lastly, we cut the Challah which determines the end of Shabbat, and the lovely feast begins!

Thank you Rachel Krakowski, for inviting me to your family's Shabbat! This challah that she made herself, was DELICIOUS!

Thank you Rachel Krakowski, for inviting me to your family’s Shabbat! This challah that she made herself, was DELICIOUS!

Well, hope you got a taste of this delicious Challah, I mean… Challah-day (Holiday).

Remember When “Time-Traveling” Was a Fantasized Superpower? Well, Not for Long!

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Are you someone who finds themselves wanting to see the world, but not having the time, money, resources, or good company to do so? Do you open up a few competing Internet-based travel websites such as Expedia, Travelocity, StudentUniverse, etc. and find all the possible combinations of layovers and red eye’s just to find the “cheapest” way to get to where you want to go, and then decide it just isn’t worth it?

Well, luckily with technology improving and the digital world emerging at what seems like the speed of light, there is a solution to these uneasy feelings about being stuck in your hometown. One incredible technology innovation will provide a truly immersive and startling experience and create a world of virtual tourism. The Oculus Rift is a piece of technology due in 2015 that will turn virtual reality from an oxymoron to a real thing. Although the focus of this product was for gamers who thrive off the thrilling experience of video games, the Oculus Rift will give all people an affordable chance to step into the Swiss Alps or maybe the beaches of Honolulu, what ever your heart desires! This piece of innovative technology is so advanced that the headset rest on your face like a set of goggles, yet the field of view can stretch beyond our own peripheral vision. The Oculus Rift is designed to be extremely comfortable and lightweight in order to provide the most “realistic” experience.

According to this interesting article about the potential reality this headset will provide, Cory Haber (president of Rubicon Media) told the Daily News, “You’re tricking your brain to make it believe you’re somewhere else.” Interestingly enough, this statement was used in the context of future home-owners having the ability to walk through a tour of their homes just by placing the headset on their faces. This statement made by Mr. Haber confirms the incredible reality that this headset creates and the potential this innovation will have for virtual tourism! To read more about this concept in The Real Deal Blog about New York Real Estate News, check out this link!

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This rift granny might even experience horse back riding in Brazil, from the comfort of her own home!

Even CNN is reporting the ability new technological innovations, like the Oculus Rift, will have on creating a virtual reality that will significantly change travel! Read this!

Technology innovations being made each and every day will completely change the world of travel, some for the better and others for the worse. But, now there is certainly no reason to feel trapped in your home without “seeing” the world around you!

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Why You Can Always Count on the Czechs to Enjoy a Cold Beer With

Before embarking on a trip, it is important to do some research! The term research sounds boring and time consuming to many people, but luckily, with an influx in digital modes of communication, people can now reading an entire article condensed into an aesthetically pleasing and detailed data visualization.

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https://www.finedininglovers.com/blog/food-drinks/czech-beer-infographic/

I found an infographic that displays tons of information, in simple charts! This infographic revolves around the Czech Republic’s LOVE for BEER! It is effective in communicating that the Czechs love their beer and some details about the beer itself. This chart is effective because it is both visually appealing and informative. It is set up in an organized and chronological manner. This infographic clearly shows that compared to other countries in Europe, the Czechs consume more beer on average. It begins with history and some facts about the country AND the beer, followed by the beer consumption in the Czech Republic compared to other countries in Europe, and lastly provides important information about the varying types of beer consumed in this country. It effectively engages readers to follow a timeline of facts that can be presented in a visual format to make it easier to understand.

Bar graphs, pie charts, visual male/female ratio scales, and relative images (like a map) are used, along with the facts. Infographics have an extreme advantage over traditional journalism because while journalism relies on keeping readers engaged through compelling word choice and the right tone of voice, infographics have aesthetically pleasing additives that can keep a wide variety of audiences engaged. It is easier to appeal to more audiences through data visualizations rather than having to select the appropriate “story” and tone of voice for your targeted audience.

However, some shortcomings include audiences becoming so distracted by the visual charts that they lose sight of the information being provided. I find that this infographic could have provided more depth. For instance, rather than one date (993 AD), adding an entire timeline to show more information and detail.

Here is Analise Polsky and why she agrees that data visualizations are effective tools of digital communication.