Written By: Jason Dorrier
Posted: 05/17/13 8:17 AM
DARPA’S ROBOTIC HAND CAN UNLOCK AND OPEN YOUR DOOR
Engineers often turn to nature for inspiration, but working from evolutionary blueprints isn’t always necessary. The Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) recently showed off a dexterous robotic hand that uses three fingers, instead of a human-inspired four fingers and opposable thumb configuration. And the thing can unlock and open doors. Yikes.
The hand, developed by iRobot with support from Harvard and Yale, is part of DARPA’sAutonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program. ARM aims to move beyond “remote manipulation systems that are controlled directly by a human operator.” The goal is to build systems that are robust, dexterous, and low-cost.
The DARPA hand uses Kinect to zero in on the object’s location before moving in to grab the item. It can pick up thin objects lying flat, like a laminated card or key. The hand’s three-finger configuration is versatile (can pick up a wide range of shapes, textures, and sizes), tough (used as a baseball tee), and strong (maintaining its grip on 50-pound weights).
Although its Kinect sensor begins to incorporate some autonomous capability, the hand still requires an operator for manipulation of objects in its fingers. But the ARM project is divided into hardware and software. The displayed tech is in the former category, and presumably, the latter category is still being developed.
The hand isn’t yet cheap by everyday standards, but the production cost has been dramatically reduced. Hands fabricated in batches of 1,000 or more can be produced for $3,000 per unit. According to DARPA, that’s an order of magnitude less than the current cost of $50,000 per unit for similar technology.
While such tech may find use in hazardous situations on the battlefield—defusing IEDs, perhaps—it’s not hard to see how there may be as many or more peaceful applications in factories or even at home. And it’s nice to see robot hands evolving. Three fingers are an improvement on all those clunky two-fingered pinchers robots always seemed to sport in the 50s and 60s. (Yes, there might have been humans in those robots—but still.)
Written By: Jason Dorrier
Posted: 05/15/13 8:55 AM
MOSHE VARDI: ROBOTS COULD PUT HUMANS OUT OF WORK BY 2045
Robots began replacing human brawn long ago—now they’re poised to replace human brains. Moshe Vardi, a computer science professor at Rice University, thinks that by 2045 artificially intelligent machines may be capable of “if not any work that humans can do, then, at least, a very significant fraction of the work that humans can do.”
So, he asks, what then will humans do?
In recent writings, Vardi traces the evolution of the idea that artificial intelligence may one day surpass human intelligence, from Turing to Kurzweil, and considers the recent rate of progress. Although early predictions proved too aggressive, in the space of 15 years we’ve gone from Deep Blue beating Kasparov at chess to self-driving cars and Watson beating Jeopardy champs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.
Extrapolating into the future, Vardi thinks it’s reasonable to believe intelligent machines may one day replace human workers almost entirely and in the process put millions out of work permanently.
Once rejected out of hand as neo-Luddism, technological unemployment is attracting commentary from an increasingly vocal sect of economists. Highlighted in a recent NYT article and “60 Minutes” segment, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee of MIT also discuss the impact of automation on employment in their book, Race Against the Machine.
The idea is we may be approaching a kind of economic singularity, after which the labor market as we know it will cease to exist.
The theory is tempting for its simplicity but hard to prove. In my opinion, though you can list anecdotes and interpret select statistics showing the negative effects of automation—the qualitative historical record, that the labor market will evolve and adapt, remains the weightier body of evidence.
Relying on modern statistics to prove something fundamental has changed is troublesome because you can’t do rigorous, apples-to-apples comparisons with most of the technological revolutions of the past centuries. The data get dodgier and the statistical methodologies change the farther back you go.
Are machines really replacing humans faster now than say in the early 19th or 20th centuries? And are workers really falling behind at a greater rate? We can’t say with certainty.
However, we can say that accelerating technology over the last few centuries has consistently erased some jobs only to replace them with other jobs. In the short and medium term, these transition periods have caused discomfort and vicious battles in the political arena. But the long-term outcome has been largely positive—that is, improving living standards thanks to cheaper, better goods and services.
By dismissing qualitative historical evidence as newly irrelevant, you’re left with a quantitative vacuum into which you can inject any number of competing theories, fascinating but as yet impossible to prove or disprove.
As you may have gathered, I fall into the boring mainstream on the subject. To me, the technological unemployment thesis is too dire and what humans will do too hard to imagine. But just because we can’t imagine something, doesn’t mean it won’t exist.
While microchips are just now beginning to replace human brains, machines have been replacing human brawn for years. And yet workers are still paid to perform many physical jobs that were automated long ago and a number of new ones to boot. Why is that?
Assembly line products are cheaper, but folks still place a premium on and desire “handmade” items. Some people feel good about supporting an artisan; others believe the products are better quality; many value something’s distinctiveness, looking down their nose at assembly line monotony. None of these reasons are perfectly rational, but the economy is seldom rational on the level of the individual.
Further, physical activities that used to be classified as leisure activities now command an income. In the past, sports were at most an amateur activity for those who could afford the time to play them. However, in the 19th and 20th centuries, as countries industrialized, a giant new market in athletics popped into existence.
I imagine a futurist at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution finding the idea preposterous. But today’s best pro athletes collect paychecks that would make an investment banker blush. And it’s not just the top athletes getting paid. There are lower tiers for the less skilled too—utility players, backups, smaller market pro leagues, or feeder leagues all pay modest but livable incomes.
Why shouldn’t the same hold true for activities of the mind?
Perhaps in the future, while some of us work hard to build and program super-intelligent machines, others will work hard to entertain, theorize, philosophize, and make uniquely human creative works, maybe even pair with machines to accomplish these things. These may seem like niche careers for the few and talented. But at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, jobs of the mind in general were niche careers.
Now, as some jobs of the mind are automated, more people are doing creative work of some kind. In the past, not many writers earned a living just writing. But the Internet’s open infrastructure and voracious appetite for content allows writers of all different levels of skill to earn income. The same holds true for publishing—50 Shades of Grey isn’t exactly literature, but it’s sold millions—and music, film, design, you name it.
How will the economy make the transition? The same way it has for the last several hundred years—with a few (or more than a few) bumps. But maybe these job-stealing exponential technologies are also empowering humans with exponential adaptation.
Online courses from Coursera and edX and Udacity make education more specialized, shorter in duration, and either cheap or free. This model may allow for faster more affordable acquisition of new skills and smoother economic adaptation. The belief many people are only capable of unskilled labor is elitist to the extreme. The problem of acquiring new skills is largely one of access not intelligence.
There are those who think our great grandchildren simply won’t work. But I can’t imagine such a future. The developed world could have rested on its laurels years ago, having automated the means of production for essentials like food or clothing or cars or televisions (the essentials change as they get cheaper).
But we’re working harder than ever. Why? Work lends meaning to life and leisure. When one kind of work goes away, we tend to create something productive to replace it. And life is richer when we get to trade the fruit of our labors for the vegetables or lines of code or smartphones of other people’s labors.
Vardi says, “The world in 50 years…either will be a utopia or a dystopia.” But history is littered with dystopic and utopian visions, even as the world has consistently muddled along the middle path.
- Moshe Vardi: Robots Could Put Humans Out of Work by 2045 (singularityhub.com)
- Robots might replace human brains by 2045 (news.techeye.net)
- Rice Professor Predicts Humans Out of Work In 30 Years (Slashdot) (slashdot.org)
- [tt] MOSHE VARDI: ROBOTS COULD PUT HUMANS OUT OF WORK BY 2045 (stirling-westrup-tt.blogspot.com)
- Humans Fully Outsourced to Robots by 2045? (activistpost.com)
- I, ROBOT? Humans Fully Outsourced to Robots by 2045? (secretsofthefed.com)
- Humans Fully Outsourced to Robots by 2045? (libertycaucus.net)
- Robots Could Put Humans Out of Work by 2045 (aworldchaos.wordpress.com)
- Will robots take all the jobs? (boingboing.net)
- Robots Are Not Killing Jobs, Says a Roboticist (spectrum.ieee.org)
Robotic bartender assembles personalized drinks, monitors alcohol consumption, and takes social mixing to a whole new level | Robohub
Robotic bartender assembles personalized drinks, monitors alcohol consumption, and takes social mixing to a whole new level
You’re at a busy bar. You order your personalized cocktail through a smart phone app; a drink dispenser measures out the beverage according to your instructions and a Kuka robotic arm give it a shake (or stir), while another garnishes it with a slice of lemon; the made-to-order concoction is delivered to your waiting hand via a slick little ten-lane conveyor belt.
Makr Shakr Kuka robotic arm holding a martini shaker. Photo credit: Lucas Werthein.
The ‘mixology system’ tracks your order from start to finish: a large display behind the bar shows you the number of drinks ahead of yours in the queue, the current wait time, and lets you know when your drink is ready to be picked up. It also shows you what’s popular to drink tonight among both the ladies and the gents in the crowd, and lets you influence drinking trends in realtime by incorporating your suggested tweaks on popular recipes.
This clearly isn’t your parents’ neighbourhood watering hole, but it could be your kids’ — or even yours if you are lucky enough to be at the After Hours event tonight in San Francisco. Welcome to , a bar for the ‘sense-able city’ of tomorrow.
Makr Shakr is one of MIT’s projects, where the goal is to study and anticipate how sensor technologies can inform and transform our built environments. The project’s creators say that it’s not about trying to replace bartenders with robots, or even about drinking; it’s about exploring the dynamics of consumption and social networks in the context of sensor and digital fabrication technologies. In other words, its a mini-lab for learning about how we, the social creatures that we are, might interact with each other and our environments in the sensor-augmented cities of tomorrow.
According to project leader Yaniv Turgeman, Makr Shakr was conceived as part research project, part art installation, part social experiment: ”It is a research platform aimed at the , where anyone can design, produce and influence culture. It’s also an installation meant to provoke and question our relationship with technology and creation … we’re experimenting with the idea of social co-creation and consumption.” Given Makr Shakr’s fundamental connection to crowdsourcing and social networks, it’s no wonder, then, that the project was invited to this year’s Google I/O event as a feature project.
As I write this article, Turgeman is busy with last minute preparations for Makr Shakr’s official launch at tonight’s Google I/O After Hours party, but I managed to track him down for a phone interview earlier this afternoon. He explained to me that point of the project was to take the phenomenon of and learn whether (and how) we can leverage it to socially create “bottom up culture”.
The SENSEable City Lab has many social and sensor networking projects at various stages of development (including elaborate plans for a project that will explore how social connectivity can be used to influence the production, distribution, preparation, consumption and recycling of food), but when Google first approached the lab about developing a project specifically for the 2013 I/O event, the team chose Makr Shakr because drinking is a social and relatively discrete (and therefor easy to parameterize) activity; in other words, it’s an ideal context for studying how people interact with digitally-mediated social networks.
“Drinking happens to be a very social activity,” Turgeman said. “At a bar, you’re looking to meet people. You might think ‘hey that’s a great drink I just invented’ and want to share it or iterate on it … by exploring the realtime behavioural dynamics in this situation, maybe we can learn something about how people interact with and influence each other’s consumption habits.”
Makr Shakr’s data visualization, showing the number of drinks in the queue, current wait time, drinks made and other details. Credit: Superuber Visualizations.
Digital fabrication is an important theme at the SENSEable City Lab, which regularly partners with industry in order to contextualize researchers where they can conduct real-world experiments. The kind of personalized, just-in-time digital fabrication and delivery exemplified by Makr Shakr (the ‘third industrial revolution’ Turgeman refered to earlier in our conversation) is one that demands that big time players from the food and beverage sector take note. And some already have — in 2009 Coca-Cola launched , a touchscreen-operated beverage dispenser that offers more than 100 of the company’s brands in a single dispensing device. But the big idea of Turgeman’s project is not to study delivery systems for custom drinks, it’s to study how cultural memes are created and promoted, and this is surely of interest to major brands like Coke and Bacardi, which are the main sponsors of the project.
In this context, Makr Shakr takes personalized branding to a whole new level. Says Turgeman: “The magic moment will be watching the formation of a bottom-up bar culture, as we close the loop between co-curating and co-producing in real time.” It’s not hard to imagine that, if Makr Shakr one day goes mainstream, advertisers and big brands will want a piece of the action. But as top-heavy players in a bottom-up world, the question that lingers is, will we let them?
Makr Shakr beverage ready for pick up. Photo credit: Max Tomasinelli.
It’s not clear to me during our phone interview whether Turgeman sees the pun in his ‘bottom up’ approach to influencing drinking culture, but it does get me prodding him about the claims on the Makr Shakr website that the system promotes responsible drinking by allowing people to self-monitor their alcohol consumption.
While this feature won’t be operational during the Google I/O event (they are expecting a crowd of 5000+ and didn’t want to overextend the system tonight) Turgeman explained that, yes, Makr Shakr can be used to track a person’s alcohol consumption. There’s no breathalizer unit to blow into (too uncouth, I imagine, not to mention the privacy issues and ick-factor); instead the system estimates your blood alcohol levels based on weight and height information you provide when you install the app on your phone, and the number of drinks that the system has served you.
The Makr Shakr phone app displays your blood alcohol level over time in a chart, but it also uses three simple icons to tell you whether you are safe “to drive, to walk or to talk,” because, as Turgeman points out, numbers might be meaningless to you, especially after a few drinks. “Sometimes you think you’re safe to drive when you’re not. When you’re being social, it’s hard to keep track of how many drinks you’ve had,” says Turgeman, and since that data is so easy to capture, “it’s a no-brainer that of course we should let people know.” He also assures me that, as discretion is a must for bartenders, all data from the Makr Shakr app is anonymous (though users are able to share their age, gender, nationality, nickname and photo or avatar for social networking if they want to).
Though Makr Shakr will not demand that you turn over your car keys and order you a taxi if you’re over the legal limit, Turgeman says that it’s not a stretch that future iterations could interface with taxi-service apps like .
I’m told that Makr Shakr doesn’t take tips, but I’ll tip my hat to its makers all the same.
Makr Shakr at it’s unveiling in Milan. Photo credit: Max Tomasinelli.
- Robotic bartender assembles your drink and takes social mixing to a new level (robohub.org)
- Robotic Bartender Assembles Your Drink, Monitors Alcohol Consumption (tech.slashdot.org)
- Drinks-On With the World’s Biggest, Baddest Bartending Robot (gizmodo.com)
- Makr Shakr app-controlled robot bartender is boozing up Google I/O (digitaltrends.com)
- Watch: MIT and Coca-Cola make a robot bartender that takes smartphone orders (Video) (bizjournals.com)
- Makr Shakr: Your Robot Bartender Part 2 (winedeposit.wordpress.com)
- Robot bartender serves up cocktails (bbc.co.uk)
- Makr Shakr by Carlo Ratti and MIT Senseable City Lab (dezeen.com)
- I need this Makr Shakr Robot Bartender thingy and I needed it yesterday! (theoriginalwinger.com)
- App-controlled robot bartender debuts at Google I/O (news.cnet.com)
Bright Explosion on the Moon
For the past 8 years, NASA astronomers have been monitoring the Moon for signs of explosions caused by meteoroids hitting the lunar surface. “Lunar meteor showers” have turned out to be more common than anyone expected, with hundreds of detectable impacts occurring every year.
They’ve just seen the biggest explosion in the history of the program.
“On March 17, 2013, an object about the size of a small boulder hit the lunar surface in Mare Imbrium,” says Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “It exploded in a flash nearly 10 times as bright as anything we’ve ever seen before.”
Anyone looking at the Moon at the moment of impact could have seen the explosion–no telescope required. For about one second, the impact site was glowing like a 4th magnitude star.
Ron Suggs, an analyst at the Marshall Space Flight Center, was the first to notice the impact in a digital video recorded by one of the monitoring program’s 14-inch telescopes. “It jumped right out at me, it was so bright,” he recalls.
The 40 kg meteoroid measuring 0.3 to 0.4 meters wide hit the Moon traveling 56,000 mph. The resulting explosion packed as much punch as 5 tons of TNT.
Cooke believes the lunar impact might have been part of a much larger event.
“On the night of March 17, NASA and University of Western Ontario all-sky cameras picked up an unusual number of deep-penetrating meteors right here on Earth,” he says. “These fireballs were traveling along nearly identical orbits between Earth and the asteroid belt.”
This means Earth and the Moon were pelted by meteoroids at about the same time.
“My working hypothesis is that the two events are related, and that this constitutes a short duration cluster of material encountered by the Earth-Moon system,” says Cooke.
One of the goals of the lunar monitoring program is to identify new streams of space debris that pose a potential threat to the Earth-Moon system. The March 17 event seems to be a good candidate.
Controllers of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have been notified of the strike. The crater could be as wide as 20 meters, which would make it an easy target for LRO the next time the spacecraft passes over the impact site. Comparing the size of the crater to the brightness of the flash would give researchers a valuable “ground truth” measurement to validate lunar impact models.
Unlike Earth, which has an atmosphere to protect it, the Moon is airless and exposed. “Lunar meteors” crash into the ground with fair frequency. Since the monitoring program began in 2005, NASA’s lunar impact team has detected more than 300 strikes, most orders of magnitude fainter than the March 17th event. Statistically speaking, more than half of all lunar meteors come from known meteoroid streams such as the Perseids and Leonids. The rest are sporadic meteors–random bits of comet and asteroid debris of unknown parentage.
U.S. Space Exploration Policy eventually calls for extended astronaut stays on the lunar surface. Identifying the sources of lunar meteors and measuring their impact rates gives future lunar explorers an idea of what to expect. Is it safe to go on a moonwalk, or not? The middle of March might be a good time to stay inside.
“We’ll be keeping an eye out for signs of a repeat performance next year when the Earth-Moon system passes through the same region of space,” says Cooke. “Meanwhile, our analysis of the March 17 event continues.”
The Moon has no oxygen atmosphere, so how can something explode? Lunar meteors don’t require oxygen or combustion to make themselves visible. They hit the ground with so much kinetic energy that even a pebble can make a crater several feet wide. The flash of light comes not from combustion but rather from the thermal glow of molten rock and hot vapors at the impact site.
- Bright Explosion on the Moon (science.nasa.gov)
- Massive Moon Meteor Explosion Was Visible to Naked Eye (astronaut.com)
- Moon explosion: ‘No telescope required’ (smh.com.au)
- Moon Explosion Sparked By Meteorite Crash On Lunar Surface, NASA Says (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)
- Meteoroid impact triggers flash on moon (news.yahoo.com)
- NASA reports giant moon explosion after meteor slams into surface at 90,000 km/h (news.nationalpost.com)
- Moon asteroid in mare imbrium (tonynetone.wordpress.com)
- Lunar meteor explosion – ITN (itn.co.uk)
- NASA Records Brightest Lunar Explosion Ever [VIDEO] (hngn.com)
- Earth and Moon pelted by meteors – Impact causes bright explosion on the Moon (familysurvivalprotocol.com)
‘Star Trek’ Spaceship Model Soars Into Stratosphere
by ELIZABETH HOWELL on MAY 17, 2013
It was billed as the U.S. S. Enterprise’s first “real” flight in space, but the spaceship didn’t get quite that far.
A group of Star Trek fans launched a model of the famed fictional vessel to an altitude of 95,568 feet (29,129 meters) above Canada, or about 18.1 miles (29.1 kilometers), they told media.
The Karman line — a commonly accepted threshold for the edge of space — is at about 62 miles, or 100 kilometers, above sea level.
Still, the high-flying feat made the Canadian group quite happy, even though the ship made a suicidal crash landing at the end of its flight.
“We lost our engines,” said Steve Schnier, a member of the group that set Enterprise aloft with a weather balloon from Stayner, Ontario, in an interview with Canada AM.
The Enterprise takes flight in a Star Trek showing. (Image: Paramount Pictures/CBS Studios)
“It wasn’t a smooth ride,” Schnier added concerning the ship’s final minutes. “It was moving, at one point, at 117 kilometres [72.7 miles] an hour.”
Enterprise smashed into the water near a Georgian Bay island in an area roughly 2.5 hours’ drive north of Canada’s largest city of Toronto. Searchers found it using a GPS signal.
The launch at the end of April came just weeks before Star Trek: Into Darkness, the next installment of the nearly 50-year-old franchise, zoomed into theaters in Canada and the United States this week. (Read our full review here.)
Weather balloon flights are used in science to collect information about the upper atmosphere. Other amateur groups have had fun using the idea, flying tokens ranging from teddy bears to Lego figurines.
- Man launches Star Trek spaceship model into atmosphere (thestar.com)
- ‘Star Trek’ model ship launched into stratosphere, crash lands north of Toronto (canadaam.ctvnews.ca)
- ‘Star Trek’ Spaceship Model Soars Into Stratosphere (universetoday.com)
- Man Sends First Model Of U.S.S. Enterprise Into Space (Almost) [Video] (geekosystem.com)
- Matt Yslesias on What Makes Star Trek Great (diodatilodge.wordpress.com)
- Big (cinemagalaxy.co.uk)
- Why You Should Go See ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ (theindustrycosign.wordpress.com)
- Could STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE Return? (comicbookmovie.com)
- Review: Star Trek Into Darkness (lebeauleblog.com)
- Hop aboard the spaceships seen in ‘Star Trek’ (news.cnet.com)
How BlackBerry is riding iOS and Android to power its comeback
The very factor that decimated BlackBerry over the past five years is now becoming one of the most important catalysts in its turnaround.
While a fresh new generation of BlackBerry phones fight a ferocious battle for third place in the smartphone race, BlackBerry’s other big business remains in a great position in its red-hot market, Mobile Device Management (MDM). At BlackBerry Live 2013 in Orlando this week, the company rolled out a major update to BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) and deepened its commitment to making BES a multiplatform solution that now deeply secures its two leading smartphone competitors.
Ironically, the trend that brutally undercut BlackBerry phones during the past five years—the ”bring your own device” (BYOD) movement—is now driving significant sales of BES, the company’s backend software. At BlackBerry Live, the company released version 10.1 of BES. BES 10.1 will support a powerful new module that will launch at the end of June called Secure Work Space, which brings BlackBerry’s high security mobile solution to Android and iOS.
“Our customers have been asking, ‘Can you just take what you’ve done on BlackBerry and put it on iOS and Android?’” said Pete Devenyi, BlackBerry’s SVP of Enterprise Software.
While older versions of BES could do some basic administration of non-BlackBerry smartphones like iPhone, Android, and other types of devices, the solution was limited to the basics, including a full remote wipe of devices when those employees left the company. But, that’s obviously not a great solution with BYOD where employees own the devices. With Secure Work Space, BlackBerry will manage iOS and Android devices in a much more sophisticated and secure way.
Part of that is due to the fact that BES 10 not only does mobile device management, but also does mobile application management, and secure mobile connectivity as well. This triple play raises the bar on manageability. One of the key factors that makes all of this happen in BES 10 is a module called BlackBerry Balance that cleanly separates work and personal data and applications. For example, you can’t copy and paste between work and personal data and in a BYOD situation where an employee leaves the company and IT needs to wipe the business data off the device then it can wipe the work side of the phone without affecting the former employee’s personal data.
However, BlackBerry Balance is limited to BlackBerry devices because they are designed from the ground up to function this way and to adhere to this security model. Because of that, BlackBerry can’t bring Balance to Android and iOS because those operating systems are simply architected differently. But, BlackBerry is doing the next best thing by bringing a lot of these same features to iOS and Android with Secure Work Space.
“With Secure Work Space, it really is a secure container,” said Devenyi.
Image: Jason Hiner
Secure Work Space will be an app in the Apple App Store and Google Play, pending approval from Apple and Google, respectively. It will include secure email, calendar, contacts, tasks, and document editing. It won’t allow data leakage including copy and paste between Secure Work Space and the rest of the device. IT will be able to remotely wipe everything in the Secure Work Space without affecting any of the other apps or data on the person’s device, in a BYOD scenario.
“It really is about the separation of work data and personal data,” Devenyi said. ”It supports a BYOD model much more directly.”
Another thing that Secure Work Space does is to create a fully encrypted tunnel back to the BES 10 server so that all communications from it are secure, even if you’re on an insecure connection such as an Internet cafe or public Wi-Fi. In the past, you’d typically need to launch a VPN tunnel in order to accomplish that, but Secure Work Space does it automatically and at all times.
Devenyi said, “There’s no need for a VPN. It’s a [continually] secure outbound port”
The combination of secure data and apps and a secure connection turns BYOD Android and iOS smartphones and tablets into highly secure business devices. That’s what BlackBerry is bringing to market at the end of Q2, built on top of BES 10.1.
“For the first time, a solution on Android and iOS can benefit and take advantage of the BlackBerry infrastructure and BlackBerry security model,” said Devenyi.
BlackBerry does not split out BES revenue from its revenue from smartphones, but clearly it’s a much more attractive business than the commodity mobile hardware business. And, Devenyi said that BlackBerry is seeing “exploding” demand for MDM solutions to manage BYOD.
In its latest analysis of the MDM market, Gartner corroborated that perspective saying, “MDM is the fastest-growing enterprise mobile software ever (in terms of number of suppliers, revenue growth and interest from Gartner clients).”
That growth is fueling a crowd of companies to jump into MDM, but BlackBerry is one of the creators of the category and one of the most trusted names in mobile security. The fact that many of the companies that need MDM for BYOD have previously relied on BlackBerry and BES to manage their mobile devices provides the company with an excellent opportunity to become a market leader in securing for iOS and Android for BYOD. The irony is obvious, but don’t underestimate how much this could potentially fuel BlackBerry’s comeback, no matter what BlackBerry devices do.
Opportunity Breaks NASA’s 40-Year Roving Record
MAY 16, 2013 09:14 PM ET // BY IAN O’NEILL
After nine years of hard Mars roving, Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity has broken a 40-year-old extraterrestrial distance record.
On Thursday, the tenacious six-wheeled robot drove 80 meters (263 feet), nudging the total distance traveled since landing on the red planet in 2004 to 35.760 kilometers (22.220 miles). NASA’s previous distance record was held by Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt when, in December 1972, they drove their Lunar Roving Vehicle 35.744 kilometers (22.210 miles) over the lunar surface.
“The record we established with a roving vehicle was made to be broken, and I’m excited and proud to be able to pass the torch to Opportunity,” Cernan told Jim Rice of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Opportunity team member in a conversation about the possibility of the rover exceeding the 40-year-old record a few days ago.
Opportunity may be NASA’s record-breaking hot-rod, but it has a few hundred meters left to go before it smashes the international extraterrestrial land-distance record.
In 1973, the Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 2 remote-controlled moon rover roved 37 kilometers (23 miles) across the lunar surface and, so far, remains the undisputed champion of distance driving on an extraterrestrial surface.
But Opportunity is nearly there. Until recently, the NASA rover has been investigating the “Cape York” area of Endeavour Crater’s rim at Meridiani Planum. It is currently en route to a new location called “Solander Point,” 2.2 kilometers (1.4 miles) away, so we can expect the international roving record to be smashed within weeks.
Sadly, Opportunity’s sister rover Spirit wasn’t the distance-runner like her sibling. Spirit, although still a highly successful rover mission, conked out at a respectable 7.7 kilometers (4.8 miles) after becoming stuck in a sand trap in Gusev Crater. Spirit was declared lost in 2010. Both rovers have surpassed all expectations, considering their primary mission was only supposed to last three months.
How Far Has Opportunity Really Traveled?
In July 2012, shortly before the exciting landing of NASA’s newest and most sophisticated rover, Curiosity, inside Gale Crater, the MER team wanted to point out that their veteran rover hadalmost rolled a marathon. It still hasn’t quite reached the magic 26.2 mile mark (the official distance of a marathon), I thought it interesting to compare Opportunity’s odometer with some other, more familiar distances.
So, in honor of Opportunity holding the NASA distance record, here are those distances, updated:
Opportunity has traveled…
…almost nine laps of the Daytona Motor Speedway NASCAR track (one lap = 2.5 miles)
…178 furlongs. Which is nearly five-times the distance a horse will run during the British Grand National.
…four-times the distance an active basketball player will run during a game.
…from the coast of South England to the coast of France across the Strait of Dover (21 miles), plus a short detour for a croissant.
…from my house to Hollywood (the scenic route — avoiding the 101 freeway).
Image: On the 3,309th Martian day, or sol, of its mission on Mars (May 15, 2013) NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity drove 263 feet (80 meters) southward along the western rim of Endeavour Crater. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech