The future of personal communication

Published with permission of Animal Health 2.0

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In case you have been living under a rock or just returned from your Mars trip, Apple has just launched their next iteration of personal computing: the iPad. The device is already a phenomenon from a marketing point of view, now it has to live up to its expectations.

Apple placed the bar pretty high. In a 1.5 hour presentation Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO and digital guru, exposed one feature after another. In short, the iPad is a 1.5 pounds, 9.7 inch aluminium embodied multitouch device which runs on the popular iPhone OS. Basically it’s a big ass iPod touch. Good thing is that the device will run the 140,000+ apps from the App Store out of the box. Developers can redesign their iPhone apps to make use of the screen estate, or develop apps specifically for the iPad. And now things are getting interesting.

So what does a product launch of a computer company has to do with Animal Health 2.0? For that, we need to take a step back and look at our big sister, Health 2.0.

Lack of style
The iPad -or at least we think- is trying to compete with several product categories, one of which is used pretty often in Health 2.0: the Tablet PC. The Tablet PC was already identified as a killer product by Bill Gates in 2003, but he was a bit too early. Although used a lot in human healthcare, the available devices always lacked the stylish form factor (take this one as an example) or -obviously- the polished and user friendly user interface. Some companies even designed a tablet specifically for healthcare, such as the C5 Mobile Clinical Assistant Tablet. The advantages for a tablet PC are a plenty: mobility, the ability to present something more easily, no need for a keyboard, lighter to handle.

One of the issues with common tablet PC’s is that the operating system is not really designed for touch. Most Tablet PS’s have to be operated using a stylus and interaction between the user and the software can feel a bit sluggish. Apple seems to have done their homework. As identified by MedicalTabletPC in a recent article, “it’s the Operating System, not the form factor”. They might be right. With the iPad’s multi-touch interface already field-tested by millions of users having an iPhone it sure is a breeze to use. And what about the App Store? With more than 10,000 apps for medical use in the App Store there’s no denying that the medical profession has a certain interest.

Horse manure
What about Animal Health? Are tablet PCs used here too? No doubt some forward-thinking veterinarians are making use of these devices, but to our knowledge this is a minority. Also no activity can be seen on a more commercial level, such as companies developing Tablet PC functionalities for Animal Health. This is strange, because such a device can have a significant value for the profession. Take a veterinarian for example. Many veterinarians have a rather mobile existence. Especially livestock veterinarians who sometimes drive many, many miles to a customer. Diagnosing or helping with farm management often requires access to information via a computer. But conditions are not always optimal. In a stable there are low light conditions, it can be cold and sometimes a lot of things are happening. Just popping out your new Dell laptop just doesn’t do it. Ever seen horse manure between your keys on your keyboard? But may be a iPad without keys might do the trick at those situations. But also showing the farmer the latest results of a lab test while the guy is walking around the premises would be a bit easier when you carry around an iPad.

Learning smarter, communicating better
And what about education? The iPad is already slated for the ‘next big thing’ for the K12 market. Having iTunes U (lectures in video and/or audio from many universities) within the hands of a veterinary student, instant access to the internet, specific apps for the curriculum and having all the study books on one device will have a profound impact om the way we learn.

Next up, the industry. No doubt the iPad will have to find its place between the commonly used laptop and the mobile phone. Will it cannibalize on the laptop or will it be a new product category, just as Steve Jobs is predicting? From a personal communication point of view -something the industry uses to sell their product or service- I can not think of a better device to convey a message to a customer than the iPad. Think of it as a brochure on steroids: interactive, multimedia and flexible. What else could you wish for? It’s common knowledge that the human pharmaceutical industry is exploring the use of iApps, such as J&J for example, and I have no doubt that the veterinary pharmaceutical industry will follow suit.

Talking pills – is there an App for that?
Finally a few words on the potential use of the iPad on the world of science (thus also veterinary science). It takes only a bit of imagination to realize that the ecosystem of the iPad, with the possibility to design specific apps for just about anything, will also spur innovation in this area. Many, many apps for science are already available on the App Store and more will follow now there’s more screen to use. In a recent article in the Economist Novartis invested $24 million to secure exclusive licences and options on drug-delivery technologies developed by Proteus Biomedical, a Californian start-up. According to the article the company has technology “which enables pills to relay data about a patient back to doctors after they have been swallowed”. And that data is being read by mobile devices, such as the iPad.

I personally believe the possibilities are endless. Just two days after the announcement of the iPad the nay-sayers are abundantly present. And albeit the iPad is not perfect yet, it’s pretty clear where this technology is taking us. Many clones will follow, and that’s good for innovation. I was listening to a podcast the other day, discussing the launch of the iPad. One of the guys made a remark that stuck with me: “Since this week, we officially entered the Star Trek-age”.

Here are some more articles on the use of the iPad in the health environment. Let it inspire us for the use in Animal Health.

Apple iPad: Promising Features For Healthcare Use and Medical Education

Five Lessons Apple must learn from current Healthcare Tablets if the Apple Tablet (iPad) is to Succeed in the Medical Industry

How the Apple Tablet (iPad) Could Transform the Way Patients Experience Healthcare


Yep, there it is: the iPad

Today Apple announced it’s much hyped tablet computer, the iPad. From Apple’s press release:

Apple today introduced iPad, a revolutionary device for browsing the web, reading and sending email, enjoying photos, watching videos, listening to music, playing games, reading e-books and much more. iPad’s responsive high-resolution Multi-Touch display lets users physically interact with applications and content. iPad is just 0.5 inches thick and weighs just 1.5 pounds– thinner and lighter than any laptop or netbook. iPad includes 12 new innovative apps designed especially for the iPad, and will run almost all of the over 140,000 apps in the App Store. iPad will be available in late March starting at the breakthrough price of just $499.

iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, in the press release. “iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”

iPad features 12 next-generation Multi-Touch applications. Every app works in both portrait and landscape, automatically animating between views as the user rotates iPad in any direction. The precise Multi-Touch interface makes surfing the web on iPad an entirely new experience, dramatically more interactive and intimate than on a computer. Reading and sending email is fun and easy on iPad’s large screen and almost full-size “soft” keyboard. Import photos from a Mac®, PC or digital camera, see them organized as albums, and enjoy and share them using iPad’s elegant slideshows. Watch movies, TV shows and YouTube, all in HD or flip through pages of an e-book you downloaded from Apple’s new iBookstore while listening to your music collection.

iPad runs almost all of the over 140,000 apps on the App Store, including apps already purchased for your iPhone or iPod touch. The iTunes Store gives you access to the world’s most popular online music, TV and movie store with a catalog of over 11 million songs, over 50,000 TV episodes and over 8,000 films including over 2,000 in stunning high definition video. Apple also announced the new iBooks app for iPad, which includes Apple’s new iBookstore, the best way to browse, buy and read books on a mobile device. The iBookstore will feature books from major and independent publishers.

Apple also introduced a new version of iWork for iPad, the first desktop-class productivity suite designed specifically for Multi-Touch. With Pages, Keynote and Numbers you can create beautifully formatted documents, stunning presentations with animations and transitions, and spreadsheets with charts, functions and formulas. The three apps will be available separately through the App Store for $9.99 each.

iPad syncs with iTunes just like the iPhone and iPod touch, using the standard Apple 30-pin to USB cable, so you can sync all of your contacts, photos, music, movies, TV shows, applications and more from your Mac or PC. All the apps and content you download on iPad from the App Store, iTunes Store and iBookstore will be automatically synced to your iTunes library the next time you connect with your computer.

iPad’s brilliant 9.7-inch, LED-backlit display features IPS technology to deliver crisp, clear images and consistent color with an ultra-wide 178 degree viewing angle. The highly precise, capacitive Multi-Touch display is amazingly accurate and responsive whether scrolling web pages or playing games. The intelligent soft keyboard pioneered on iPhone takes advantage of iPad’s larger display to offer an almost full-size soft keyboard. iPad also connects to the new iPad Keyboard Dock with a full-size traditional keyboard.

iPad is powered by A4, Apple’s next-generation system-on-a-chip. Designed by Apple, the new A4 chip provides exceptional processor and graphics performance along with long battery life of up to 10 hours. Apple’s advanced chemistry and Adaptive Charging technology deliver up to 1,000 charge cycles without a significant decrease in battery capacity over a typical five year lifespan

iPad comes in two versions–one with Wi-Fi and the other with both Wi-Fi and 3G. iPad includes the latest 802.11n Wi-Fi, and the 3G versions support speeds up to 7.2 Mbps on HSDPA networks. Apple and AT&T announced breakthrough 3G pre-paid data plans for iPad with easy, on-device activation and management.

Continuing Apple’s dedication to designing and creating environmentally responsible products, each iPad enclosure is made of highly recyclable aluminum and comes standard with energy-efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. iPad contains no brominated flame retardants and is completely PVC-free.

Apple today released a new Software Development Kit (SDK) for iPad, so developers can create amazing new applications designed to take advantage of iPad’s capabilities. The SDK includes a simulator that lets developers test and debug their iPad apps on a Mac, and also lets developers create Universal Applications that run on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

iPad will be available in late March worldwide for a suggested retail price of US$499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 32GB model, $699 for the 64GB model. The Wi-Fi + 3G models of iPad will be available in April in the US and selected countries for a suggested retail price of $629 for the 16GB model, $729 for the 32GB model and $829 for the 64GB model. iPad will be sold in the US through the Apple Store, Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers. International pricing and worldwide availability will be announced at a later date. iBookstore will be available in the US at launch.

So will it be worth it? What will be the use case for such a device. Skimming through various blogs and reading the comments, people are react lukewarm. That isn’t any surprising to me, since I’ve never seen any product which was so hyped prior to the introduction. There was no way Apple could ever met these expectations. Sure, they intentionally ‘leak’ information and for the most part create the hype themselves, with all the secrecy stuff. He who burns his fingers…

I must say I am not so tempered in my reaction. As with many great inventions and innovations, most people have difficulty to see the true value since they are stuck in fixed thinking patterns. Most reactions in the blogosphere relate to what’s already there (“you can buy an HP doing exact the same”, or “for $200 less I can get a netbook with a true operating system”) or find it difficult to find it’s place (“I do not see me using this, a laptop is much more convenient”).

Although I immediately admit that I don’t have all the answers either, but I try to be open and think of the use case scenarios. In my view, the device has two major advantages: it’s user interface and the app store.

The user interface is designed by Apple, and whether you like it or not, those guys just ‘get it’. Even my father can operate an iPhone without explanation. No doubt the same simplicity and ease of use will be found in the iPad. Try giving my father a netbook, even with Windows 7, and don’t explain anything.

Secondly the app store. Without a doubt a new business model (now being copied by God knows who) and readily available for the iPad. See it in this way: the iPad is just a nicely designed piece of metal with a touch screen. That’s it. The true magic lies in the software. And we can all make this software by ourselves (well, more or less…) As we have seen in the past, the true creativity lies at the people, the programmers making little apps. If you see what people can make for a tiny screen, can you imaging what they can make for the iPad?

Finally, let us not forget who Apple is targeting. Most people don’t use a computer for much more that e-mail, surfing, photo’s… How many people do you know are sitting on the couch, watching television and having the laptop in their hands, surfing the internet? This could be an ideal device. But what about business use? Detailing your product will never be the same. Compare printed paper with the iPad’s ability to go full multimedia and you know what I mean.

Anyway, there’s not much more I can say without having tested the device myself. Unfortunately I still have to wait a couple of months to put my fingers on mine. In the meantime, I’ll just come up with some more use cases in order to justify the purchase.

The heat is on: Apple confirms January 27 event

What the entire geek world already hoped for has been confirmed yesterday: Apple will hold a special event on January 27 in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. At 10am EST Apple will reveal their ‘latest creation’, according to the somewhat psychedelic invitation. Wonder what that would be. Let me think… I guess some kind of tablet? May be they call it .. eehh.. iSlate? No doubt the internet will cover this live event intensively. Keep an eye on Engadget, that usually has a live stream with texts and pictures.

Neurosurgeons without papers. But with an iPod touch

As read on Macdailynews:

“As Michael Oh watched his daughter easily navigate her iPod touch, he had an epiphany,” Stacey Burling reports for The Philadelphia Inquirer. “‘I figured if she can learn it so intuitively that neurosurgeons would be able to figure it out,’ said Oh, who is a neurosurgeon.”

“He’ll find out whether he was right when 3,500 neurosurgeons meet in Philadelphia in May for what he believes is the nation’s first paperless scientific or medical convention,” Burling reports.

“When they register at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons meeting, the doctors will be given iPod touches already loaded with everything they’ll need, including the program (165 pages last year), summaries of research presented at the meeting, advertising and information from exhibitors,” Burling reports. “Doctors will be able to use the iPods for messaging and for interacting with presenters during meetings. The convention also attracts 3,500 exhibitors and guests who will not be given the devices.”

“Not only will the iPods encourage community building, but they will save a lot of paper, said Oh, who heads a convention committee on the machines,” Burling reports. “The programs alone would have used more than half a million pages, he said, and most of those would have been left behind in hotel rooms.”

Burling reports, “AANS bought the iPod touches and added $100 to the registration fee. Apple will have people from its local stores on hand to answer questions, and members of the young neurosurgeons committee will help, too.”

Check out the original article here.

Results New Media Awareness Session Kwaliteitskring Noord Holland

My dear English readers, have no fear. ‘Kwaliteitskring Noord Holland’ just means ‘Quality Group Northern Holland’, i.e. an organization linking people together working in Quality-related functions (e.g. Quality Assurance, etc). There are several Quality Groups in the Netherlands, totalling some 2,000 people. Quite a community I would say.

I was asked to give a 2 hour New Media Awareness Session for the members of the Northern Holland Group. Good to see that also board members of other Groups participated.

Apparently the content interested the group since the two hours planned became almost three hours, without a break (actually, nobody asked to have a break). It was a nice group with enough interaction during the presentation and plenty of discussion afterwards. As usual I was not able to go through my entire slide deck.

Below the results of the little survey I did during my preso. You can find my entire presentation on Slideshare.

Better late than never

Google finally reclaimed a bit of their ‘Do no Evil’ promise and stops censorships of their search results in China.

Google was blocking certain search results on http://www.google.cn, such as the Tiananmen Square massacre on request of the Chinese government. No doubt some commercial interest was in play here.

Recently Google found out that some GMail accounts of Chinese dissidentes were being hacked on a rather sophisticated level. Although they do not claim that this was the work of the Chinese government, they did put a rather form statement online.

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

Way to go Google. Information must be free and one should always rest assure that your private data should remain free. The main downside of this strong action of course is that the Chinese people will have to bear the consquences and have to do without Google.

It’s a long way to a perfect world.

What if the Military had disclaimers like Pharma Ads?

A classic, but still a good one:

Thx Nadine, for the tip!

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