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Hack’n’play: now for you to enjoy!

Some of us in Jolla spend more time living in the future than the present – we’re the ‘hack’n’play’ group – in other companies we might be called the people constituting the CTO office.

We do this work to help better understand what ‘comes next’ and as part of that, we collect impressions, news, websites of interest and such together on a regular basis and share it with the rest of the company.

In spirit of transparency, we’re now starting to share these every 2nd week here on Jolla Blog for the enjoyment of our community too.

The links in these posts do not in any way reflect the opinion or endorsement of Jolla, indicate any kind of future or directions of Jolla products, except to summarise more or less interesting happenings in the industry, tools or websites.

We hope you enjoy this content!


Stefano’s TED talk pick: Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are

“Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.”

A brief history of MediaTek, and how they came to take on Qualcomm (July 2014)

“When I found out about the MediaTek press conference, I immediately picked up a ticket and made plans to spend a few days in one of my favorite cities on earth, Shenzhen. MediaTek is one of the fastest growing companies in mobile. But where exactly did this Taiwanese company come from, and how did they come to challenge a company the size and scale of Qualcomm? Mobile Geeks reveal all”

Our Father, Who Art In The Apple Store: The Decline Of Christmas And The Looming Tech Nightmare

“In the past, this season was marked by a greater interest in divinity, the family hearth and the joy of children. Increasingly our society has been turning away from such simple human pleasures, replacing them with those of technology.”

DragonBoard 8094 Development Kit Based on the Snapdragon 810 Processor (APQ8094)

“The DragonBoard 8094 is based on the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 810 Ultra HD processor, which includes a 64-bit octa-core CPU, Qualcomm Adreno™ 430 GPU and the newest Qualcomm Hexagon™ DSP, products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.,”

Boing Boing: Why “smart cities” should be an Internet of People, not Things

“Adam Greenfield proves again that he’s one of the best writers and thinkers on “smart cities,” explaining how the top-down, expensive, tech-centered approach produces unlivable corporate dystopias in which people are just another “thing” to be shuffled around — and showing that there’s an alternative, low-tech, high-touch, human-centered version of the smart city that makes resilient, thriving communities.”

Talk: Building the Physical Web together – Scott Jenson

“How can we, as the web community, build the next generation of the web, the Physical Web, together?”

Concept: The Orb (2011)

“This is the future folks. Check out this thing called O.R.B. It is a wireless mobile communication device. Pretty much a cell phone that is an ear piece, but can turn into a ring. Get this, it provides bone conduction audio, so that you can hear it without putting it in your ear. It also has military grade seals and gaskets so that it is waterproof and can be worn anywhere!”

Cruel Headset Makes Video Games Harder The More Frustrated You Get

“The Immersion is an organic piece of plastic that snakes around your head like a pair of wrap-around headphones. Rather than play music, it injects itself into your ears to track your pulse through the thin capillaries in your skin. From here, it can read your frustration levels like a book, and adjust a video game to get harder, adding more and more bad guys, the madder you get.”

This Ring Scans Text And Reads It Aloud For Visually Impaired People

“No braille? No problem! This FingerReader by the Fluid Interfaces Group at the MIT Media Lab is a high-tech way to help visually impaired people read; it actually scans printed text and narrates it aloud.”

Huawei’s smartphone sales shoot up after copying Xiaomi’s online strategy

“(Reuters) – China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] has taken sales of its low-price Honor brand of smartphones to 20 million from 1 million in just one year, hitting pay dirt with the disruptive online-only strategy it copied from smaller upstart Xiaomi Inc [XTC.UL].”

Inadvertent Algorithmic Cruelty

I didn’t go looking for grief this afternoon, but it found me anyway, and I have designers and programmers to thank for it.  In this case, the designers and programmers are somewhere at Facebook. I know they’re probably pretty proud of the work that went into the “Year in Review” app they designed and developed, and deservedly so—a lot of people have used it to share the highlights of their years.  Knowing what kind of year I’d had, though, I avoided making one of my own.”

Powering the Internet of Humans

“The Internet of things. IoT. Its the latest, hottest buzzword du jour. But if you think about it — why are we so concerned with connecting the Internet to Things? Isn’t it really about connecting to humans? Social Media has shown that when you connect humans together — almost anything is possible.”

Smartphone Use Makes Your Brain More Sensitive to Touch

“New study finds that brain activity is enhanced the more we thumb our devices Swiping fingers across a smartphone screen can make the brain more sensitive to the touch of the finger tips, a new study suggests.”

Uber CEO Indicted in South Korea as Car Service Is Challenged in Asian Rollout

“San Francisco-based Uber is facing growing legal challenges as it expands in Asia amid mounting protest from taxi operators. Seoul Metropolitan Government said this year it may ban Uber’s service and similar applications on grounds they’re unsafe and compete with licensed taxi services, and from next week will offer rewards of as much as 1 million won ($905) to people who provide information on Uber’s services.”

The transparent Fx0 will finally make you want a Firefox OS phone

“Firefox OS is coming to Japan and doing it in style. Announced at a KDDI press event in Tokyo today, the Fx0 is a striking 4.7-inch smartphone with a transparent shell and a home button decorated with the golden Firefox logo embracing the Earth. It runs the latest version of Mozilla’s web-centric mobile OS and was designed by noted Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka”


“If you were to place bets on which companies will win the smartwatch wars, the safe choices would be Apple, Google, and Samsung. They’ve got massive marketing budgets, large-scale manufacturing resources, and billions of dollars to invest in research and development. Just as importantly, their success in smartphones gives them built-in armies of third-party app developers to work with. But for now, the watch that’s winning—at least in terms of developer support—is Pebble.”

OnePlus gets the all-clear to sell phones in India, for now

“OnePlus’ plans for world conquest hit a roadblock when Micromax had the company’s smartphones banned in India. It’s reasoning was that they allegedly infringed on its exclusive right to use Cyanogen’s custom Android software. However, it looks like the little phone maker that could is getting a reprieve — Delhi’s High Court has lifted the preliminary injunction that kicked OnePlus out of the country”

Multitasking on Google Lollipop: A closer look at how Material Design improves productivity

“Despite the common refrain that multi-tasking means not doing anything well, it’s a critical function of mobile app performance. Users expect to be able to jump quickly between tasks, and can get frustrated if they have to wait for content to re-load when moving from one application to another.”

Look, no hands!

“The website “Look, No Hands” tells the story of a designer who works in the most unconventional of ways.”

Old but goodie: Microsoft Office future visions videos

Productivity future vision (2011):
Productivity future vision:
Retail future vision:
Manufacturing future vision:
Future vision montage:
Banking future vision:
Health future vision:

A Nation of Smartphone Junkies

“Ultra-wired South Korea takes smartphone addiction more seriously than any other country. Should we listen?”

Lifehacker: Build Your Own Bone Conducting Headphones

“Bone conducting headphones sound like strange gadgets, but they’re surprisingly easy to build. This video from Tinkernut walks you through the basics of speaker technology, and in the first minute or two tells you how to build a bone-conduction speaker you could easily house in a hollowed out pair of on-ear headphones or earmuffs.”

31C3: Various talks

“Leading hackers and researchers from the worldwide hackerspace, universitiy, and DIY artist community, explain current technological possibilites in BCI, and show ways to use open source hardware and software for hackers, makers, artists, personal development, citizen science, providing a framework for alternative culture and free expression balancing the soon coming commercial expansion in “Neurogaming”, “Neuromarketing” and “eHealth” talk will illustrate the mutually beneficial relationship between “hacking” and science, with the example of hacking BCIs, as well as an overview into the new field of “BCI Mind-Hacking”, such as exploiting remote consumer Neuroheadsets, and Data-Mining the human-brain for sensitive data during casual use.”

“The Maker movement and patent law are like two planets moving on the orbit of innovations. Occasionally, they collide … because the Maker planet moves too fast. But, back on the Earth. Encounters with patent law can be of many reasons, e.g. filing a patent application or being blocked in making by a patent (or much worse, being accused of a patent infringement). The latter motivated the question of the permissible uses of patented inventions. The talk explains which activities on patents are lawful and keep Makers safe in their making.”

“The talk gives an overview about the emerging field of smart glasses and how they can be used to augment our mind (e.g. how to improve our brain with technology). The talk will focus mostly on how to quantify cognitive tasks in real world environments. I also present a first application scenarios on how to use smart eyewear (e.g. google glass or JINS MEME) for short term memory augmentation and cognitive activity recognition.”

“Stylometry is the study of linguistic style found in text. Stylometry existed long before computers but now the field is dominated by artificial intelligence techniques. Writing style is a marker of identity that can be found in a document through linguistic information to perform authorship recognition. Authorship recognition is a threat to anonymity but knowing ways to identify authors provides methods for anonymizing authors as well. Even basic stylometry systems reach high accuracy in classifying authors correctly. Stylometry can also be used in source code to identify the author of a program. In this talk, we investigate methods to de-anonymize source code authors of C++ and authors across different domains. Source code authorship attribution could provide proof of authorship in court, automate the process of finding a cyber criminal from the source code left in an infected system, or aid in resolving copyright, copyleft and plagiarism issues in the programming fields.”

“The internet may be the nervous system of the 21st century, but its main business purpose is helping marketers work out how to make people buy stuff. This talk maps out a possible alternative, where consumers co-ordinate online, pooling their data and resources to match demand with supply.”

“The Novena open source laptop contains a FPGA, but free software support for FPGAs is lacking and requires root access to the hardware.”

ARJWright: Gestures and Notifications as the Interactive Operating System

“My thinking here, if I am going to utilize devices that say that they are smart, then why don’t I begin to take away the perception of what made them smart (touch, lots of apps, connectivity), and start adding intelligence with gestures, voice, and context to augment the equation “smart” mobile device? As stated in article along time ago that I wrote, if our devices are so smart, why are we adapting to them instead of them adapting to us?”

D-Link’s latest smart home hub lets you add devices with a scan

For the first time, D-Link is also set to release new Z-Wave sensors, several of which are shown in the diagram above. The hub will work with WiFi and Z-Wave devices at the same time and connect with a WiFi router. The whole thing is controlled by a smartphone, which you can use to add devices either manually or by scanning their QR codes.”

LED mask concept lets you smile through the pollution

“There are myriad reasons for wearing a face mask. In China and parts of South East Asia, they’re commonly used as protection against alarmingly poor air quality, while in Japan and elsewhere they help reduce the chance of catching airborne diseases such as flu. Helpful as they may be, they’re not the most conducive to maintaining everyday social interactions. Designers Simone Rebaudengo and Paul Adams’ Unmask is an experimental prototype that aims to change that by allowing wearers to show emotions through their masks.”

Cory Doctorow: War on General Purpose Computers is the difference between utopia and dystopia

My Wired op-ed, How Laws Restricting Tech Actually Expose Us to Greater Harm, warns that we’ve learned the wrong lesson from the DRM wars: we’ve legitimized the idea that we can and should design computers to disobey their owners and hide their operations from them in order to solve our problems (and that we should protect this design decision by making it a felony to disclose flaws in devices, lest these flaws be used to jailbreak them).”

We’re all communication hoarders

In April of 2004, Google announced that its Gmail product would give users 1 gigabyte of free storage. At the time, Hotmail offered users 2 megabytes and Yahoo offered 4 megabytes. I’m guessing I initially accessed my invite via PINE, and found the idea of using a full gig of storage for email to be crazy. Unsure what I’d ever do with all that space, I initially used it as a remote backup for my thesis.”

rr project

“rr records nondeterministic executions and debugs them deterministically. rr aspires to be your primary debugging tool, replacing — well, enhancing — gdb. You record a failure once, then debug the recording, deterministically, as many times as you want. Every time the same execution is replayed.”

Video: The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out

“THE PLEASURE OF FINDING THINGS OUT was filmed in 1981 and will delight and inspire anyone who would like to share something of the joys of scientific discovery. Feynman is a master storyteller, and his tales — about childhood, Los Alamos, or how he won a Nobel Prize — are a vivid and entertaining insight into the mind of a great scientist at work and play.”

I can’t stop comparing everything to Black Mirror

“A friend recently told me that his favorite thing about the show Black Mirror is that he finally has a term for a certain type of technological anxiety. It’s a type of anxiety that seemed everywhere this year. The Sony hack could have been an episode of Black Mirror, as could Gamergate. In the same way that we refer to Blade Runner as shorthand for gritty dystopian cityscapes, Gattaca for worries about corporate use of genetic information, and Terminator for ominously powerful AI, Black Mirror has become shorthand for a certain type of contemporary internet-age creepiness.”

Xiaomi 15 inch laptop with Intel chip leaked in photos

Xiaomi is reportedly foraying into PC market. The Chinese company is working on a 15 inch laptop which has a design similar to Apple’s MacBook Air.”

Fernvale: An Open Hardware and Software Platform, Based on the (nominally) Closed-Source MT6260 SoC

“We introduce Fernvale, a reverse-engineered, open hardware and software platform based upon Mediatek’s MT6260 value phone SoC. The MT6260 is the chip that powers many of the $10 GSM feature phones produced by the Shanzhai.”

Generation Javascript

I’ll start by saying that this is not a rant, but rather a cry of despair that I’m repeating and that slowly – but steadily – seems to come to consciousness in our industry, like this one. The phenomenon I’m about to describe is not only limited to the Javascript community either, that community seems a lot more affected than others.”

Smart ring: Nod (pre-order)

“Nod seamlessly transforms your movements into commands. It brings the world around you to life, as you control everything from your laptop to your living room lights with a wave of your hand. Just like magic.”

Folklore: Bicycle

“Apple had recently taken out a two page ad in Scientific American, featuring quotes from Steve Jobs about the wonders of personal computers. The ad explained how humans were not as fast runners as many other species, but a human on a bicycle beat them all. Personal computers were “bicycles for the mind.””

It looks like Alcatel Onetouch purchased the Palm trademarks from HP

“We’ve been wondering for a while what is up with domain, and it’s looking more and more certain that HP sold the brand and trademarks to Alcatel Onetouch. The first hints of this came from the teaser when the website started redirecting to, with a looping video of the Palm logo with the text “coming soon” and “smart move” beneath. “Smart move,” as it would be, is the slogan of Chinese smartphone manufacturer Alcatel Onetouch (a brand of Chinese electronics firm TCL). That’s not exactly a lot to go off of though, but it was enough to raise suspicions.”

Android Hardware Profits Tanked in 2014

“While Android continued to gain market share in the global smartphone market, it saw a significant drop on another key metric: Profits. Analyst Chetan Sharma estimates that global profits in the Android hardware market for 2014 were down by half from the prior year — the first year that there has been any significant drop.”

New Questions in Mobile: An Asian Perspective

“Recently, Benedict Evans wrote a piece entitled “New Questions in Mobile” where he reset the conversation on mobile platforms. Rather than rehashing his thoughts and arguments, my purpose for this post is to provide some insight to three of the five questions with an Asian perspective.

This Is The Only Smartwatch That Matters

“here is no touchscreen or Apple logo. You’ve never heard of the designer. Its icons look straight out of 1992. And in fact, we found it in the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog—yes, that living fossil of technological innovation from a time when plug-in shoe-shiners were all the rage.”

Could Android Survive Without Google?

“Android is still seen as an open operating system with communal benefits for all, but it is also still closely associated with Google. How important is Google to the Android ecosystem? The instinctive answer is ‘very’ but let’s question that for a moment and consider how much Android needs Google.”

The Hidden Costs That Engineers Ignore

““It’ll only take me a few hours to implement the feature,” we sometimes say. But after finishing, we find that every few weeks, we’re either fixing a bug with the feature, explaining it to another engineer, or helping answer a question from customer support about how it works. The total investment of time to maintain the feature far exceeds the initial few hours of development. One of the hardest lessons to internalize in software engineering is the hidden costs of additional complexity”

An exclusive look at Bragi’s ambitious headphones, the Pebble of personal audio

“Eleven months ago an audacious Kickstarter campaign promised a sports headphone like nothing we’d ever seen before. Bragi’s spec sheet for “The Dash” read like a ridiculous wish list. There was touch control, two separate ear buds (that connect to each other wirelessly, as well as to your phone), 4GB of onboard storage, 3.5-hours battery life and a self-contained media player. That’s impressive enough, but Bragi didn’t stop there. “

Sony’s prototype headphones put a digital running coach in your ears

“Tech giants across the world are having to do something they probably never thought they’d have to: cook up a wearables strategy. Sony’s is still very much in flux, but until now it’s mostly centered around gadgets that go on your wrists and — in one crazy case — a pair of Google-esque smart glasses. This time though, Sony’s wondering out loud about the future of gadgets that go in your ears (earables?), and to that end it’s cooked up a kooky prototype it calls the B-Trainer.”


“WikiHouse is an open source construction system. A design commons for high-performance, low-energy homes that can be customised, printed and self-assembled. We are collaborating to put design tools and knowledge into the hands of everyone.”

CES Kicks Off With a Smart Belt, Face-Recognition Cameras and Other Crazy Gadgets

Then, on the other end of the spectrum, there was the “smart” belt Belty. It has come to this. Belty is a motorized belt that adjusts to your needs, or rather, the needs of your bulging belly, depending on how much you’ve eaten, whether you’re sitting down, and so on. It also — wait for it — shares information via Bluetooth to a smartphone app.”

Microsoft Announces Nokia Branded Nokia 215, $29 Phone With Internet Connectivity and Messaging Apps

“Microsoft have carried on Nokia’s tradition of making affordable phones to help connect with the “next billion” users. The latest of these budget phones is the Nokia 215, a $29 “feature phone” with internet connectivity and messaging apps such as Facebook messenger, Twitter, Bing searches, MSN weather and more, this all comes with a 29 day standby battery (a dollar a day).”

Sony’s head-mounted display will turn spectacles into smart glasses

“It’s no secret that Sony’s been working on a sort of Google Glass analog, but the fact that the company’s also got a bolt-on display that can (ideally) turn any pair of glasses into a savvy wearable is nothing short of impressive. After Sony wrapped up this year’s CES press conference, we got the chance to yank a pair out of some poor spokesperson’s hands and strap them on for ourselves. Long story short: Sony just might have a winner on its hands”

Parrot’s new dashboard wants to turn your old clunker into a smartcar

“This is unit meant to upgrade a dumb car into a smart one, a fresh take on the Asteroid Parrot has been selling for years. The company says the new system is compatible with 90 percent of the cars on the road today, anything that can fit a double DIN sized CD player. but the big selling point they pushed was that it makes it effortless to switch back and forth between the competing operating systems coming to market: Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s Carplay. Just connect your phone, push a button, and all your apps are pushed to the dashboard, where you can interact with them using voice controls and generally stay a little safer on the road.”

Carsten Munk

Carsten Munk

Chief Research Engineer at Jolla. Works with all sorts of strange things to bring you future SailfishOS devices and innovation for them. Passionate about open source and transparency in development.

1 Comment

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    That’s quite a lot of material really. I may only have followed a little more than a quarter of all these links so far, but I really enjoyed Amy Cuddy’s talk about body language and the ring for visually impaired people. (When you have someone in your family who gradually loses his eyesight and watch him struggle with this fate, using all sorts of technology to stay independent and keep some dignity, you become very interested in this topic. Will I be able to operate Sailfish powered touch screen devices if maybe I’ll some day suffer from age-related macular degeneration, too?)

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