You know what they say: “be careful who you call ugly in middle school!”, or, “be nice to the nerd, they’ll probably be your boss one day!”. Not only can they change, but so can you. And in retrospect it happens a lot more frequently, and subtly, than you’d have thought.
This is especially true of the world of technology because change in this area is possibly the fastest in terms of not only the rate of change (thanks Moore!), but also how quickly it impacts on and is accepted into our daily lives. Remember when everyone lost their shit when Facebook went from walls to streams? And then no one made any real mention of it again… Remember Windows Vista? Or does your Windows 10 help you forget that phase of your life? Or the reverse, how do you think you’d handle using a Nokia 2210 for a week instead of a modern smart phone?
You see, we all adjust so quickly to new technologies that they just become another part of our everyday lives. Certain technologies have even better enabled our lives to an extent, but we fail to notice so much and it’s very hard for advancements to resemble “the new” iPhone, or “the new” this, “the new” that… New isn’t new anymore and it certainly isn’t sexy anymore… Unless you were paying attention last week, where two things which were probably seen as rather boring, suddenly got pretty sexy all of a sudden!
Microsoft gunning for the Studio
Now when it comes to any kind of tech product being a bit sexy, I bet you wouldn’t think of Microsoft… Let alone a Microsoft desktop computer! But there has been a lot of work going into changing the perception that Microsoft is simply the producer of boring, un-innovative and market-chasing product. The fact is, Apple had left Microsoft for dust.
But you may have noticed a slight change in the past few years. It really began with the Surface Pro 3 (which fed into my decision for a Surface Pro 4) and has been culminating in the guise of Windows 10, HoloLens and, just last week, the Surface Studio. It’s big, it’s very beautiful and Microsoft is definitely upping their game with how they want it, and themselves, to be viewed:
I’m not one to think “Apple vs Microsoft – to the death!” (I just go with Microsoft because hey, that’s me!) but when you see the difference in the “new” Macs, Macbooks and iPhones as compared to their previous iterations, they can almost be seen as backward steps – Backwards not being a word that should be given to anything Apple!
And now, we have the Surface Studio, a bold and innovative piece of tactile equipment (with the Iron Man-esque Surface Dial): High powered, visually beautiful, built specifically for the creative capabilities that has been Apple’s (and Wacom’s) playground… And then some! So while Apple might be seemingly going backwards, it’s Microsoft who are stepping up as the big, bold innovators!
Is this the device which will unseat Apple and replace the Mac in creative studios across the world? Ha, No! But for a first go at a desktop for Microsoft, you can see that the path ahead is a solid one! And when you consider the Studio, combined with the functionality of Windows 10, the Surface Pro, HoloLens and their respective 3D and UI/UX capabilities, it’s not hard to see the overall architecture and corresponding Grand Plan they have for altering the way we interact with computers and, by extension, each other. That is what’s truly exciting about the Studio.
Sure they might not be king of the hill yet, but all of a sudden, Microsoft is starting to look a lot sexier… And that in itself is a surprise and something Apple should definitely be worried about!
Tesla, Solar City and a Hot Glass Roof
In terms of a large media event, even with the benefit of the Desperate Housewives set as a demonstration stage, Elon Musk managed to present the new Solar City, integrated roof tiles with a level of panache to be expected more from an underprepared uni student than a technological paragon.
But I don’t begrudge Elon’s presentation method, because, as usual, I couldn’t help but be drawn into his vision. And that’s the point with him anyway, it’s the idea that’s the star of the show. Plus, he’s a progenitor of new industries and thinking who’s modest goal is to just save the world and colonise the Solar System… So I’m not really one to judge!
But without digressing too far, who’d have thought that they’d be excited about a roof tile!? Or more specifically, a solar cell embedded within textured glass, acting as a roof tile but with (apparently) better insulation and at a lower cost of installation and electricity?
The very reason that it’s exciting is the fact that there are indisputable impacts that fossil-fueled power generation has on the planet as a whole, but to remove that infrastructure wholesale would be economically catastrophic! As with electric cars, online payments and private space exploration, leave it to Elon to have a whole-of-supply-chain vision to lead the industry!
The solar roof tiles are one part of the puzzle. They’re an extremely key part of the power generation piece of the puzzle, leveraging the whole surface area of the roof for sustainable power generation throughout the day. Add in the new Powerwall 2.0, twice as powerful and with enough storage capacity to power a standard home for a whole day, uninterrupted and you have a near sustainable home.
But as mentioned before, the impact of removing fossil fuel based generators wholesale would have ramifications for the power grid as a whole and, of course, for the economy given the impact on utilities. The utilities piece is important because even with a house that’s self sufficient for a day, what about two days? Or five? Or a neighbourhood? Again this is where the ‘visionary’ aspect comes in, because the tiles, Powerwalls and PowerPacks all work in an integrated way to support the existing electrical grid. Rooftop power generation will definitely create excess energy (are you home all day everyday to use it? No!).
Utilities will be able to use the commercially minded Powerpacks as large power storage farms and supplement their existing supply infrastructures. They’ll be able to continue to monetise it through their own generation sources. And they’ll be able to produce it more cheaply and efficiently, possibly even maintaining some existing fossil fuel generators for the unlikely event that renewables won’t be able to keep up (because we know they like their fossil fuels!).
So am I excited for roof tiles? Yeah, I am! They represent a key part of the renewable and sustainable energy future we all want to have for ourselves and our children. The added bonus is that they are actually a bit sexy too! Elegant glass design, with unique results each time thanks to the Hydrographic printing (*nerdgasm*) process, integrated photovoltaic solar panels… I would definitely take his advice and ask people to check out my kick ass new roof!
Technology still has Sex Appeal!
Maybe it’s the David Bowie I’m listening to as I write this which makes me think these are a little sexier than they actually are, but as a bit of a tech and science-loving nerd myself, I can’t help but feel like there are still a lot of amazing innovations and potential that we are just on the cusp of.
Like all things which trend, the tech industry moves in ways where the company you thought was boring, or the idea you thought was lame, surprises you in an awesome, sexy and exciting new way! Don’t catch yourself writing off any of the players in this industry. They may fail, but they can also end up being cool again and maybe you’ll find yourself wanting to get in on the action.