Seoul Smart Life Week - What happens in Vegas stays in Seoul?

So taking more space at CES was not enough: Seoul wants to be a match with the World's leading consumer electronics show and launch 'Seoul Smart Life Week' later this year (Oct 7-9 in COEX).

Mayor OH Se-hoon announced the event at the 640 sqm Seoul Pavilion in Tech West Eureka Park, where 81 companies exhibited their solutions and gizmos (very strong biotech and A.I. verticals behind  Seoul Biohub and Seoul AI Hub). 18 of them claimed a CES Award, but the prize OH and Seoul Business Agency are after means even bigger bucks.

Well the first edition 'only' aims at 100 cities and 200,000 visitors, but it takes time to install a big show in a crowded calendar, and COEX can't host a Barnum the size of CES.

KINTEX would gladly oblige, but Korea's biggest exhibition venue is in Ilsan, Goyang, Gyeonggi-do, with limited hospitality capacity nearby. Seoul wants to become a global or at least an Asian leader, to put for good Tokyo, Hong Kong (and its half-yearly Electronics Fair), or Singapore (COMEX- ITSHOW-The Tech Show-Consumer Electronics Exhibition) behind. 

Seoul plans to change venues after the Jamsil Sports Complex is fully transformed into the Jamsil Sports MICE Complex, with a business hub connecting the COEX, SETEC, Hyundai Motors Global Business Center, Dominique Perrault's new Yeongdong-daero, and of course the Han River in this very vegassy vision mentioned in my recent focus (see 'Seoul waterways and urbanism - the full story'):

Seoul already hosts many tech-related events, but no top-of-mind brand emerges. At least, if it may not seem very original, 'smart life' sounds definitely more human-oriented than the old-tech-y 'electronics' or 'IT'. Unlike CES with the CTA, this new SSLW will not be led by an industry but by a local authority, with city pavilions rather than national spaces. To compete with Vegas, Seoul will not only need new hardware and software, but also the power hitters Korea Inc. sends to the national pavilion. And ultimately, Samsung LG, and Co. will have to be convinced to release buzzworthy novelties 3 months earlier than usual.

mot-bile 2024


Matter Yoga at CES 2023

Over the past few years, we've seen screens that could be foldable, rollable, stretchable, pivotable, slidable, wearable, or even laughable. By CES 2024, I bet screens will be chewable and inflatable until that bubble pops*.

It's not just us who exercise with the help of our new gizmos, like our smart watches or this laptop-powering exercise bike (Acer's eKinekt BD3)...

... Our gizmos themselves are doing some serious stretching now, from the basic figures of Lenovo's aptly named Yoga Book 9i to the epic contorsions of the foldable and slidable Samsung Flex Hybrid (in one or two directions - Flex Slidable Solo or Flex Slidable Duet):

No wonder our screens look slender and fitter - not even a bikini string attached for the elegant,
97-inch LG Signature OLED M3 (still needs to be plugged to the electricity grid, but Zero Connect otherwise... goodbye meshrooms!):

Of course, as our mobile and home hubs get smarter, new devices keep popping up to feed them and our screens with even more vital data. CES 2023 even proposed to health monitoring nerds a weird game of thrones between Aetrex Albert 3DFit (get your health scanned by stepping into some kind of toilet bowl) and Whithings U-Scan (get your urine scanned as it flows)**:

How to keep this ever expanding and ever more complex ecosystem as simple and sustainable as possible? Even the most pervasive manufacturers gave up their dreams of growing their own proprietary Internet of Things a long time ago, and to cover all bases, they all need a minimum of stability and interoperability. 


For that (not necessarily fecal) matter, the industry's new standard changed its name from a very 1990s 'Connected Home over IP' to a more Millenials-friendly 'Matter' behind which all the big guys join forces, starting with Apple (HomeKit), Google (Weave), and Samsung (SmartThings). Since no significant anti-Matter emerged at CES,if an explosion shall occur, it should be a positive one (except of course regarding our most intimate data).

mot-bile 2023

* I guess 'screenable' now means 'that can be turned into a screen' 

to get their health checked (TTcare by AI FOR PET)


Metaverse Ethics (To Be Or Not To Meta-Be)

Last Monday, Korea's Ministry of Science and ICT updated the 'Expanded Virtual World Ethics Principles' it released last Summer. Now 3 core values and 8 principles are listed under a more buzzword-friendly title 'Metaverse Ethical Principles'.

As far as core values go, 'safe experience' and 'sustainable prosperity' were much more predictable than a 'sincere identity' you usually don't associate with virtual, avatar-filled meta-worlds. But remember that this is Korea, a netizen nation were you're never totally anonymous, and where most of your online experiences require a digital ID or a digital signature (often through public-private partnerships involving such platforms as Kakao or Naver) that keeps getting smarter and smarter, and wrapping around you with tighter and tighter technologies (biometrics and blockchain on the government's menu).

Likewise, if 7 of the 8 principles follow a classic playbook...

- 4 usual suspects: 'respect for privacy', 'protection of personal data', 'autonomy' (as in lack of coercion), 'reciprocity' / mutual respect

- 3 feel-good mantras: 'fairness' / equal access, 'inclusiveness', 'responsibility for the future' / sustainability

... one oddball looks disconnected from the metaverse's inherent... disconnection: 'authenticity' means that your virtual self should behave like your actual self, since the former will impact the latter.

Forget about role playing: that's you up there. The real you, even with those fangs and wings, this embarrassing cosplay, or this spectacular virtual gender correction. After all, this is Korea, where you can't escape plastic surgery, and where you can change your name on a whim. 

The metaverse is not an out of body experience: the economics of attention go 3D, and it's not only your clicks of browsing patterns that will be captured, but also the very way you move and breathe. The more you submerge yourself into it, the better you'll be decyphered, the faster your intentions and your decisions will be detected and shaped for you. 

The guidelines for users are one thing, and service providers have their own duties in that list, but it's mostly about not overdoing it, a very vague self moderation. And of course nothing about interoperability or portability, each one can lay its traps without many consequences. 

In short, the government tells users 'be responsible', but falls short of telling service providers a decent 'don't be evil'.

This is 2022, and the 2020 metaverse bubble has already kind of deflated, a bit like in the crypto / blockchain world, where the collapse of Do Kwon's Terraform predated that of FTX. Yet both remain strategic axes of competitiveness for Korea, so this wasn't the moment to clip the wings of players who were actually involved in these guidelines.

Ready, Player Won...

mot-bile 2022

(video: Naver Z / Zepeto Studio's world building teaser)


CES 2022, with real humans inside

Fourty thousands of visitors, only 30% of which from abroad, that's a far cry from the heyday, but a quantum leap from last year's virtual event. 

Anyway, you can always show off without showing up - CES 2022 simply shifted buzzwords from WFH to metaverse, and amped up everything VRtual.

If NVIDIA's Omniverse predated Facebook's Meta*, special mention to Hyundai for their branding extravaganza: Metamobility, MoT (New Mobility of Things), MobED (Mobile Excentric Droid), PnD (Plug n Drive), DnL (Drive n Lift).... Of course Boston Dynamics' tireless robots are in the loop (always willing to play with BTS members or to showcase innovation campaigns), but there's also the possibility for robots to somehow become our IRL avatars or surrogates. A bit more ambitious than just using e Ink to turn your car into a chameleon (a fun BMW concept car paint, though).

Samsung flexed once again their muscles and screens, between the curvy AI-speaker unfolding into a display to the S-and-G-shaped Flex S and Flex G, and their big browser Flex Note, a monitor that goes laptop. 


Yet I fancied even more some of their more conventional hardware: not necessarily the QD Quantum Dot) OLED, but the elegant The Frame (a collector somewhere between The Wall and an upcoming The Stamp?), and the convenient The Freestyle, which comes with Alexa as well as Bixby, but also with Tap View (just tap gently the projector with your smartphone to project what's you've been watching on it).


As usual, you can find all kinds of gizmos at CES. I have yet to wrap my head around this one, though. What went wrong at Colgate, and moreover among CTA curators? Who wasted their 20% allocated to pet projects on this slam dung?

But when it comes to relieving an itch and solving pain points, mosqitter deserves more buzz. Maybe that's because this ugly Dalek is into removing buzzing beasts: it lures all female mosquitoes within a 50 m radius indoor or outdoor. 

Maybe that was the whole plan from the start: drawing from a close range annoying innovation suckers to Vegas in order to prevent them from reproducing.

mot-bile 2022

* see "Meta-Fiction or Meta-Stasi?"

Photos: Hyundai, Samsung, CES, mosqitter.


Meta-Fiction or Meta-Stasi?

You all remember that scary picture of Mark Zuckerberg walking in a room full of unsuspecting Oculus slaves, five years ago.

Yes, yes, there's also that eerie mugshot we used two years later in our fictional "Interview with the data vampire".

When Zuck presented the new brand covering all the group's activities, it really felt like everybody was invited to submerge themselves again into a rosy virtual future, and forget all about an inconvenient present: the Facebook Papers and whistleblower Frances Haugen's confirmations that the platform contributes to human trafficking, Trump's insurrection, antivaxxer movements etc*...


'Meta' is so Facebook. That's not Google's Alphabet, the alpha and the omega, controlling the keys and tools at the source of sharing knowledge. It's all about encompassing everything, absorbing as much as possible under a gigantic, pervasive umbrella. The ultimate, self-contemplative tech blob. An infinite loop no one can escape. 

If 'Meta' opens all possibilities, the MVRS ticker 'reduces' it to the 'metaverse' flavor of the month. See? We've got the label, we made that paradigm shift, Facebook joined the dotcom club of the twenties!

The self-proclaimed 'Social technology company' will not de-merge its activities but regroup all 'Family Apps'  (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger...) on one side and 'Reality Labs' (Oculus AR, Spark AR, Novi ewallet, Portal and Co.) on the other. As if to signify that somehow, these household names are not about reality, maybe closer to fiction. The toolbox and the black box.

Facebook could be such a wonderful platform if it were run properly and responsibly. Business as usual is not an option now, and certainly not when on metaverse steroids. The name change almost makes things worse, and people are expecting more than Andrew Bosworth (a.k.a. Boz the robot) and Nick Clegg (a.k.a. Scatterlings of Meta) claiming that Meta is 'building the metaverse responsibly'. Unless Facebook truly changes, it's bound to land somewhere between meta-fiction and meta-stasi.

mot-bile 2021

* let's put in the 'etc' that ad for 'Mein Kampf' Facebook proposed me the other day as a reward for browsing Republican contents (not the best incentive for reaching across the aisle).


DMU (a.k.a. The Shadow) v. Super-GAFA

March 11, 2020 - The UK Government takes a first measure to curb the progression of a devastating global, viral phenomenon across the nation by announcing a new Digital Markets Taskforce (and that coronavirus thing, which claimed its first British life the previous week? well... let's just wait and see, keep partying, and zoom towards herd immunity).

April 7, 2021 - The Digital Markets Unit is officially launched within the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Announced last November, the DMU is pitched as a tough superhero powerful enough to tame such supervillains as Google, Facebook, or Amazon, the 'SMS' level baddies (that's Strategic Market Status).

For the moment our superhero regulator is a 'shadow' without a proper license, and without any legal weapons, that will only become operational next year. Because we're talking about a launch "in 'shadow' non statutory form ahead of legislation granting its full powers. (...) The government will consult on the design of the new pro-competition regime this year and legislate to put the DMU on a statutory footing as soon as Parliamentary time allows."

Which leaves lobbyists plenty of time to show their muscle - picture Clark David Kent Cameron entering a BT phone booth to change into Supermean (BTW the Ofcom will be a key partner for The Shadow).

We've already seen plenty of action earlier - remember Facebook's memorable move, and Australia lawmakers pledging to defend the orphan and widow news companies? Frankly, I can't wait for the Netflix version of the novels published by the Taskforce ahead of Christmas: GAFA's answers to their Call For Information. My favorite remains Amazon's - the way they dismiss the need to even define their kind, the way they use the words 'care' and 'harm' when one of the key regulatory fights will be over the expected 'Duty of Care' for harmful contents... they've got great screenwriters for this Digital Markets Universe!

'A tough new regulator' - at least according to the Government's press release (20210407)

mot-bile 2021


LG Rollable @ CES 2021

ICYMI at CES, LG announced a commercial launch of its rollable screen phone in 2021. Fascinating to see a smartphone seamlessly morph into a phablet as its screen stretches from 6.8 to 7.4 inches: 



Note that according to Nikkei Asia*, LG teamed up with its Chinese coopetitor BOE, who showcased this 12.3 inch prototype 2 years ago (a thick papyrus scroll with a gimbap roll sidekick to hang on your wall):

Smart way of making handset news without making new handsets.

Frankly, I was impressed but not really convinced by LG's rollable TV. A rollable phone seems to have a greater potential.
I always wanted to be able to carry a tablet in my breast pocket, and this solution looks more elegant than developing a king size barrel chest. Provided it comes with a stylus and the screen doesn't feel as uneven as a foldable, I might even consider switching from my dear Galaxy Note.

While we humans keep evolving at a very slow pace in uncertain directions, our personal devices are becoming shapeshifters. Some day they will wrap around our necks like scarves. And strangle us when we don't behave well enough for Big Brother.

mot-bile 2021

* "LG to release world's first rollable smartphone, developed with BOE" (Nikkei Asia 20210112)


Europe's Semiconductor Relief Fund

European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton announced a joint declaration from 17 EU members on "A European Initiative on Processors and semiconductor technologies 'to strengthen Europe’s capabilities to design and eventually fabricate the next generation of trusted, low-power processors'. 

Why now? 

In spite of the pandemic, the global market is expected to grow by 5.1% in 2020 (+8.4% next year*), but thanks to Asia Pacific and the Americas, who are clearly driving it. NXP (Netherlands-USA) and Infineon (Germany) are no match for the big guns from the States or South Korea, and Europe's biggest player, STMicroelectronics, doesn't even belong to the EU (Switzerland). 6G looms on the horizon, and China is all the more ambitious that solutions are urgently needed for Huawei and ZTE, even after Trump leaves the White House. 

Semiconductor supply is critical for global competitivity, and the joint declaration stresses some of its strengths and weaknesses:

"Today Europe has notable strengths in specific areas of the semiconductor industry, such as power electronics, RF technologies, smart sensors for embedded AI, microcontrollers, low-power technologies, secure components and semiconductor manufacturing equipment. European chipmakers enjoy a strong global presence in vertical markets such as embedded systems for automotive and industrial manufacturing. Europe also has a strong technological position in mobile networks including current 5G and emerging 6G technologies. However, Europe’s share of the 440 B€ global semiconductor market is around 10%, well below its economic standing. Europe is increasingly dependent on chips produced in other regions of the world - notably those used for electronic communications, data-processing and compute tasks, including processors."

So it looks more than a defensive move than clear and immediate danger for Samsung and Co. The memo clearly identifies an opportunity: 'some of the $145bn 20% of the European Recovery and Resilience plans should go to digital transition; this is up to 145B€ over the next 2 to 3 years.'

The local ecosystem obviously lobbied efficiently to get 17 members on board at a significant moment. And they found a powerful voice in Thierry Breton, a former Mr Turnaround for Bull, France Telecom, Thomson, and Atos,

Will it be enough? It certainly won't hurt.

mot-bile 2020

* $ 433 bn in total for 2020 ('WSTS Semiconductor Market Forecast Autumn 2020', a recent report by World Semiconductor Trade Statistics)


Bullywood v. TikTok?

So this time, India decided to ban TikTok permanently*, depriving the Chinese platform of 17% of the world population, and of a nation that will never reach herd immunity when it comes to dance and music.

The 59 Chinese apps banned by India

India will survive: it's much easier to replace an app with tens of existing rivals than, say, to dump Huawei for another 5G provider.

TikTok will survive, but that sets a disturbing precedent. Somehow, ByteDance has been exposed to this kind of risks ever since they swallowed Musical.ly two years ago, and many consider TikTok as a Trojan Horse for Beijing more subtle than WeChat. So when it spread even faster than coronavirus*, calls to flatten the curve multiplied. And when Zhang Yiming hired former Disney streaming boss Kevin Mayer to lead TikTok and to become ByteDance's COO, some saw it as - beyond the obvious reach for proven talent - a telltale sign that some sort of sheep's clothing was required to better face upcoming legal battles over US national security. Obviously, proposing distinct platforms for the Chinese market (Douyin) and overseas isn't enough.

The weeks and months to come will test many nations, players, and sectors as TikTok extends across new territories and verticals (health, education...). ByteDance could prolong its success with other assets such as Xigua Video, an even more direct competitor to YouTube: with its limit of 60' loops, TikTok itself can't go further than 2 hand washings, and you can imitate Twitter and double your core limit once, but your concept has to keep some consistency. Of course, along the way, ByteDance will further perfect its already impressive A.I. know-how (something among others that Vine didn't have).

Can TikTok's momentum be broken by this single setback? No. But if the US or the EU start weighing in, things could change.

One thing is sure: India is changing. And even before this episode, Narendra Modi was benchmarking China for online censorship***. This is not just about banning 59 apps from a coopetitor nation, but in the process, about rounding up all players in a most pervasive, theoretically open ecosystem.

mot-bile 2020

* along with 58 other apps, starting with WeChat 

** mentioning killer apps during a lockdown sounds obscene because it is, but TikTok and Zoom purely seized the moment
*** see for instance "India Proposes Chinese-Style Internet Censorship" (NYT 20190214)


Coronavirus and the end of herd impunity

Location based tracking apps, electronic ankles, drones... all technologies are being used to enforce lockdowns, quarantines and curfews, to search and destroy any will to ruin the common effort to flatten those damn curves.

At the herd level, our usage patterns brought precious insights about how both viruses (COVID-19 and STUPID-20) spread, most notably people flocking away from big cities to speed up curves across rural areas (Orange found that 17% of Parisians left the capital in the final hours before lockdown), or spring breakers sharing the fun during their spring breakout back home (see Tectonic's viral tweet below*):

When it comes to tracking individuals, Korea set the new standards very early with these alerts blaring on your phone each time a new case of COVID-19 pops up near you. You can't see the full individual's name but you know their age, their address, their nationality, and their exact path over the previous days. When on quarantine, you're tracked by GPS (three Vietnamese students were caught cheating in a Gunsan park - the truant officer found out that they left their phones home), you have to send every day your self-diagnosis on two different apps (one for the Ministry of Health, another for the Ministry of Interior), and you have to share your morning and afternoon temperatures by SMS - mercifully it's not intrusive to the point they send a drone to do it themselves.

And most of us are okay with the new safety-privacy trade-offs, because nowadays security means actual survival. Same thing with visual contacts. As we're deprived of basic liberties during confinement, we're willing to open our doors far wider than we would normally to co-workers, distant contacts or even total strangers. Somehow, as we grow our personal spheres, we're enabling more people to extend their reaches within them, break into our homes, Zoom into our interiors. Somehow, this virus has become the mother of all Troyan horses.

And when this pandemic is over, we probably won't return to normal. We won't mind when our operators charge us $5 a month for SD cards (as in Social Distancing), we won't flinch when they send electric shocks each time we come within 6 feet of other passers-by. 

As long as they let us graze on the greener side of the electric fence.

mot-bile 2020



Japan v. Japan - Artificial Belligerence v. Artificial Intelligence

In a Trumpian move, Shinzo ABE started a trade war with Korea, so far not reciprocated, except by South Korean netizens threatening to boycott Japanese products. Japan is not raising tariffs for Korean imports, but making Japanese exports to Korea more difficult for key tech components, particularly essential to chipmakers and display manufacturers*. 

Pressed by national media to explain such a masochistic move, the PM ended up saying that there was a risk these valuable technologies could end up in North Korea. Of course that's a ludicrous statement, since such trade between both Koreas would not only contravene international sanctions, but also defy logic considering the North's situation and priorities. 

The actual motive was officially to punish Seoul for insisting on reparations for Imperial Japan abuses, particularly regarding sexual slavery and forced labor**, abuses denied by ABE, his government, and the revisionist lobby Nippon Kaigi he was instrumental in founding during the nineties. This lobby that has all but taken control of Japan politics, while keeping the population in the dark regarding its highly controversial agenda (restoring State Shinto, the Imperial rule, denouncing peace treaties and human right laws, denying war crimes, rejecting postwar's peaceful constitution, returning to militarism, rewriting history textbooks...).

Today, MOON hosts LG's KOO Kwang-mo, Hyundai's CHUNG Eui-sun, and SK's CHEY Tae-won, to prepare a response that likely will pass by the WTO. Samsung's LEE Jae-yong and Lotte's SHIN Dong-bin couldn't attend since they are in Japan. A few days earlier, LEE invited his friend Masayoshi SON (Softbank) to meet President MOON Jae-in and major chaebol leaders. Even before ABE's bomb hit the ground, Samsung was expecting to lose half its profits in the second half of the year.

Korea Inc. and Japan Inc. united swiftly for good reasons. Playing a Huawei-style blame card against South Korea could backfire for Japan, and China could actually become the biggest winner. Giant tech companies on both sides of the... East Sea agree on one thing: this is the worst moment to fuel divisions between them. Regardless on how the trade war between China and the US ends, the fact is Korea and Japan are lagging behind in key technologies, particularly A.I., where scale matters.

So why would ABE take such risks? Is he still blinded by his obsession with revisionism, worried he could lose support from his base ahead of elections? Nationalism could be a welcome diversion when Japan pensioners panic about their financial future, but is it the right time to expose Nippon Kaigi's agenda, and what they are desperately trying to hide from the public?

mot-bile 2019

* fluorinated polyimides and resists (Japan produces 90% of the World's total), and hydrogen fluoride etching gas (70%). 
** South Korea's Supreme Court recently ruled that Japanese companies should compensate survivors.


5G Korea, Huawei inside

According to Pulse and other media*, Huawei will open next month its first 5G Open Lab in the world in Seoul.

Of course, earlier this month, Korea became the first country in the world to launch 5G commercially (even if for enterprise customers only at the beginning). Korea Inc precipitated the launch just to achieve that premiere, SK Telecom, KT, and LG U+ literally beating Verizon on the eleventh hour.

If local MNOs don't communicate much on their 5G network suppliers, Huawei already holds significant positions in Korea, as a recent Asan Institute focus** noticed:
- LG U+'s 4G network in Seoul, Northern Gyeonggi-do, Incheon, and Gangwon-do, in other words its most strategic areas (capital region, and all borders with North Korea)
- parts of Naver's new Internet Data Center
- KT's network upgrade for NonHyeop Bank, a big 4 player

Korea Inc does communicate on a key 5G supplier, Samsung, who clearly won the first round at the smartphone level with its Galaxy S10 5G.

Another of their groundbreaking handsets, the Galaxy Fold, received mixed reviews from the few journalists who were granted one ahead of the official launch, but the manufacturer did warn them that they shouldn't have pulled out the plastic protection away from the delicate screen.

Interesting to see what happens when the veil is lifted about Huawei's presence in the country.

mot-bile 2019

* "Huawei to open its world’s first 5G open lab in Seoul in May" (Pulse 20190422)
** "Opportunities and Challenges for South Korea in the New Era of 5G" (J. James KIM, HONG Sanghwa - Asan Institute 20190321)


Triple Play, Triple Aggregation

SK Telecom confirmed April 5 as the date of its 5G launch - as soon as Samsung Galaxy S10 5G handsets are delivered (monthly plans expected around KRW55,000 / $49 per month). 

As expected, promoting a 'Social VR' experience well ahead of 5G ("Ready Player oksusu Social VR?") turned out to be a smart move to detect the levels of bandwidth required for an optimal user experience (e.g. 4G LTE too slow for rapid eye / head movements): Korea's leading MNO intends to leverage 5G compression technologies to speed up VR sessions by 30%, and to combine 5G with 4G and wifi where available to allow the download of a 2 Gb movie in only 4 seconds, dubbing the concept 'Triple Aggregation'.

While operators work hard to make the most of their costly pipes, other players parade with seemingly effortless solutions, but will Google Stadia fulfill its category killer potential? Announced at the Game Developers Conference by Sundar Pichai himself, the cloud-based platform and its Stadia Controler would love to piggyback the kind of boosters SKT has in store, but regardless, YouTube and Google Home integration will definitely help.

Apple had to react, but could only display an Apple Arcade that smells like 1980s spirit. Yeah! exclusive games! only on iOS, Mac, Apple TV! to download from your Apple Store! 

Even if that's in a different field, Apple TV+ is also about defending the Apple creative ecosystem. Maybe they will eventually netflixize their game the Alphabet way.

Anyway, Cupertino pulled a much more interesting card with their Apple Card, which should quickly allow them to show us some money.

mot-bile 2019

* see "SKT says 5G network is tested, ready to go"


CES 2019 Who'll Pay For The Wall? And Y-brush?

At last, The Wall is up, but a bit too far from the border with Mexico: Samsung is exhibiting in Vegas the most titanic version of its monster, a whopping 219-inch, 4K microLED TV. At that level, you should measure your screens in feet (18), or yards (6), or simply dump these obsolete standards altogether (5.5 m). This wall will cost you much less than $5.6bn, and will much more easily fit your living room once it's curved. Like LG's rollable screen, which returned to CES but this time for sale, under the group's premium brand for home appliances, as LG Signature OLED TV R.

In the weird vehicles section, BMW proposes a driverless motorbike, Hyundai a walking car (Elevate), and Bell a flying car (Nexus Air Taxi) so huge, that it takes as much space as 4 cars, and probably burns more fuel than 10 - prepare to be Uber-charged for a ride on that one.

Otherwise, IBM is back to mainframe computers: it takes a 2.7 m x 2.7 m frame to host its IBM Q System One quantum computer. It only takes two of these to climb The Wall, if not to reduce it to quantum bits.

Meanwhile, the French decided not to punch below the belt, like last year (see "CES 2019 - Driverlessly nuts"), but straight at the jaw: Lyon-based FasTeesh claims its Y-brush can clean your teeth in 10 seconds.

You just have to keep a low profile for two times 5 seconds, as you chew on the thing:.

That said, this concept is also smartly proposed in a BtoB version targeting medical or retirement institutions. That's a real game changer for caretakers.

What else? Ah, yes, after all, there seem to be still some latency with 5G.

mot-bile 2019


Interview with the data vampire

mot-bile: 'Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg, for accepting this exclusive fake interview at our Agence Fausse Presse'

Mark Zuckerberg: 'Actually, I thought that was yet another subpoena, but now that I'm here, I might as well answer'.

mb: 'Well so far, you didn't provide many answers to European or American judges and committees. Apologies, yes, solutions, not really. Seriously, after all the scandals and bad press surrounding you and Facebook, do you still believe you can become President some day?'

MZ: 'Facebook helped a very despicable man get the job once, why not twice? I'm only 34, and by Clinton standards, probably 'likable enough'. Plus, if I'm using Definers Public Affairs to get at George Soros' throat, I don't need Cambridge Analytica to get into your head. By the way, you're a very troubled person.'

mb: 'Takes one to know one, thank you. You're not as publicly weird as say Elon Musk, but there's at least some cold aspergersian nerdness in you. And obviously, you don't seem to mind playing, like Bill Gates in the 80s, the role of the supreme techno-villain with pervasive reach.'

MZ: 'I learned everything from him, including the pseudo philanthropic narrative involving our best halves. While the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation helps Monsanto infiltrate Africa, our Chan Zuckerberg Initiative basically serves as a vehicle to remote control Facebook, and the human population that comes with it, while Sheryl Sandberg takes most bullets.'

mb: 'So you control Facebook, even when you say it's impossible to control it.'

MZ: 'We're working on it, and A.I. helps a lot. All humans have to do is to give up all control, so that we can ultimately get the most holistic systems to monitor them.'

mb: 'The thing is you're also giving up all moral standards. I mean, how far lower can it go now, after your latest underage bride auction?'

MZ: 'Never underestimate human lowness. You don't want to know what happens every day on Facebook.'

mb: 'But you do. And even when you don't, you monetize it. I wonder which ads ran for the bidders during that sick auction.'

MZ: 'There are bad guys out there, but we're not totally evil. If China blocks us, that's because we herald Western freedom.'

mb: 'If China blocks you, that's because they envy your alienating system, and want to develop their own blend of behavioral control.'

MZ: 'China's Social Credit system will never be as popular as Facebook. They can become even more pervasive and amoral than us if they want, it's fundamentally bad for business to let your users know how much it costs them actually.'

mot-bile 2018


Ready Player oksusu Social VR?

Introduced at the 2018 Mobile World Congress, and launched two weeks ago, oksusu Social VR provides, as the name suggests, social interactions in virtual environments by leveraging SK Telecom's 10M-subscriber-strong OTT platform oksusu. The service works with Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream headsets, and video quality is equivalent to 80-inch full HD, with potential upgrades to 8K (7,680 x 4,320) and 360-degree IMAX screens on 5G.

Of course, Social VR has a role to play to promote 5G, which SKT is expected to launch this December. From day one, the experience ticks all the boxes to fill bigger pipes: higher definition, enhanced interactivity for key verticals (music, movies, sports, games...), new mass entertainment, (social) network effect,...

Catch me if you can
What's interesting is the angle SKT used to market the new service in their PR release "From virtual reality to cinema dating reality" ("가상현실에서 영화관 데이트 현실로" - 20181011): almost a dating or date-enhancing app, for young Koreans to escape a distressing everyday life, and to become successful avatars in exciting virtual worlds.

'Second Life', meet Spielberg's 'Ready Player One'.

Granted, there are technical constraints, you'll have to wait for that sensitive suit, and for the moment, 'interactions' are basically what audiences are allowed to do IRL: discuss with their neighbors, change seats, throw popcorn at the screen. And to avoid inaudibility, only up to eight people can chat together while watching the same video contents in one of the 5 kinds of virtual spaces already available: living room, movie theater, performance hall, sports venue, and e-sports room. 

So couch potato goes VR, but that's the only the beginning. You can already watch NBA games on VR, and judging how GAFA joined the sports rights battle, more platforms will emerge. Including for amateur virtual space designers - think MySpace in the age of Google Sketchup and Google Tilt. I'm pretty sure Korea will soon have its fair share of the VR addicts I envisioned in my 1980s short story 'Lautriv'.

A couple of years ago, I was dragged to a hologram K-pop musical in Seoul, and most fans came in pairs or small groups of friends, enjoying the show almost as if it were the same thing. But you wouldn't have Beatlemania-level screams, which I think may happen in a soundproof environment many are used to: the noraebang or karaoke room they book for a couple of hours to let it go full throttle. I bet many of these facilities will add the VR experience, to spice up the karaoke (on stage with your idol), or simply for sessions of oksusu Social VR (or their likes) between friends. PC-bang may evolve differently, with smaller cells, and a focus on VR games and e-sports.

Anyway, you won't know what hits you until it's too late.

mot-bile 2018


IoT as in the 'Internet of Turds'?

If LG U+ got, as expected, the smaller chunk of 5G spectrum in this week's auctions, they sure made a splash with their connected bidet-toilets. 
Let's start with these 5G auctions, where Korea raised 3.6183 trillion won from the 3 bidders, not even 10% more than the starting point of KRW 3.3 tn; just enough to show an illusion of fight. All 3 MNOs claimed 800MHz in the 2.8GHz spectrum, and in the 3.5GHz spectrum, #3 LG U+ got 80MHz compared to 100 for #1 SK Telecom and #2 Korea Telecom
Note that SKT just announced successful tests with Nokia on 3GPP-approved 5G SA (StandAlone), a national first following last December's world first on 5G NSA (Non-StandAlone). You can expect SKT and KT to launch on December 1st (the date the regulator set to allow service) to continue their battle over 5G leadership. They'll probably start on 3.5GHz, at least in the capital Seoul, and key entry points such as Incheon. 
Now about that bidet-toilet thing. 
You first have to understand that many people in East Asia already enjoy electronic systems, complete with water noozles and seat warmers. Here, LG U+ teams up with Inus Bath to add connectivity to the Novita model:

This most essential innovation brings IoT to new territories (the 'Internet of Turds'?). From your smartphone, you can pre-warm your seats, or post-flush in case you forgot to do it. Each member of the family can instantly enjoy their preferred water temperature, pressure, or nozzle position, and you will receive alerts if you stay too long, because no one should be above the loo eternally. 
Mercifully, no cameras are connected so far, but in this over-connected country where last week, 20,000 victims of peeping toms demonstrated on the street, there were already cases of perverts installing spycams in public rest rooms...
In any case, paranoids should worry: LG U+ announced that A.I. will john later. Not Amazon's Echo (who wants more echo in this room, or Alexa sending your personal records by email?), but Naver's Clova: when it's (paper) rolled out, you can voice control this new sentient environment.
The good thing with not being the highest bidder in an auction is that you're flush with enough money to become the highest bidet. 
Will LG U+ rivals enter this fascinating Game of Thrones? 

mot-bile 2018

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