The Future is Listening – Voice Recordings

Have you ever wondered if your phone or electronics are listening to your conversations? You talk about something new, for the first time, and then suddenly the ads on Facebook mobile are for what you just talked about? Maybe you plan an event and without scheduling it your phone already knows about it?

Voice Recordings and Software Listen to your Conversations

The digital age has introduced a new world of personal voice listening devices currently ranging from ones Xbox, Amazon Echo, smartphone, and even your Samsung smart TV. Most recently, in November of 2015, police began investigating a death where incriminating evidence was possible to be found near the crime via an Amazon Echo located inside the house. The Echo could have possibly picked up key information as it recorded. The police filed a warrant, but Amazon fired back with a motion which stopped them from using Amazon recordings on the ground that is going agents the first amendment and broke privacy laws.

The Amazon Echo is like a personal assistant and is constantly tuning into surrounding conversations which can spark the question of where all that personal information is stored. With this information, if you are in the privacy of your own home, is your voice recordings on the Echo protected by the first amendment? Could the device be impacting free expression and what ones says out loud in private? These are the kinds of questions that are coming up more frequently as listening devices enter in as evidence in a courtroom.

While it’s very possible that our devices are listening into conversations and making advertisements on the web related to those subjects, companies such as Google and Facebook deny giving information out to third parties. It could be from other methods such as when you download a new app and it asks for microphone privileges or the idea that we are searching for connections when we see advertisements. Looking for connections in everyday life is a human trait that could be making the digital generation more paranoid of possible coincidences.


Learning to Code is the New Requirement for Jobs in Design

Designers who can create beautiful and trending concepts are in high demand. Their skills can take an amazing product and make it understandable and desirable to customers. But a new wave of designers and developers have started to change jobs in design. Designers are learning to code, and developers are learning to design.

Design + Coding

Companies have started looking for designers who can also code. They want people who can come up with a concept, and be able to execute it too. People who can fill these roles are becoming highly desirable. Learning HTML, CSS, and/or JavaScript is showing to have its advantages by giving designers a better understanding of their limitations and where you can push bolder concepts. These concepts were often needed to be relayed by developers, but if a designer is already aware, time lost on project iterations may be eradicated.

With this information, designers have begun to take charge. New workshops are opening up for designers who want to learn to code. ( This workshop linked takes place in San Fransisco and helps get one ready for transitioning into three types of coding. These skills can also be transferred into jobs in the web development field and UX careers.


Recently, at SXSW in March 2017, John Maeda delivered a “Design in Tech Report” where he explored new trends on jobs in design and coding that you can watch here,


Coding is something worth considering for designers in the tech field. Developers are quickly becoming more style savvy and integrated into design meetings. While technical skills are a great addition to any resume, they may just be the next thing that gets you hired in the tech designer industry.


Wearable Technology – Project Jacquard

Recently at South by Southwest, Levi and Google showed off their collaborative wearable technology, Project Jacquard. They’ve eliminated the bulky, awkward, wearable tech that we’ve become used to seeing and replaced it with a jacket that looks and acts like a jacket while having washable conductive fibers running through it. With the jacket comes with a detachable non-washable cufflink that makes the fibers come to life.

“Jacquard yarn structures combine thin, metallic alloys with natural and synthetic yarns like cotton, polyester, or silk, making the yarn strong enough to be woven on any industrial loom. Jacquard yarns are indistinguishable from the traditional yarns that are used to produce fabrics today.”


Project Jacquard is developed in Googles division in the Advance Tech and Projects Group. The jacket, cut in Levi’s Trucker Jacket style, uses conductive yarns that are able to make gestures translate into actions woven into precise places. Sensor grids and interactive surfaces are also an option with how the technology is woven into the fabric.

The jacket currently allows wearers to get map updates and navigation without a screen, track destinations of interest as you pass by, and answer calls. The features are limited at the moment but more apps are in route to come in the future. Apps such as the ones you download on your phone may one day be downloadable to your tech jacket.

The jacket is currently listed at $350 retail and you can find more video information on this new tech online at


Passenger Drones Ready for Customers in Dubai

Are you ready for not only self-driving cars but self-flying limo services? Starting in July of 2017, Dubai plans to start offering drone passenger services using China’s Ehang 184. The drone was announced by The Roads and Transportation Authority of Dubai at the World Government Summit and has been working to become ready for transport following the summit. It was created by Beijing Yi-Hang Creation Science and Technology Corporation and can currently fly 30 miles with a recharging time of 2 hours.

The drone has a 220-pound limit, can fly up to 100 mph, and all runs on auto pilot. The company has also stated that cyber-security measures have been taken to block unwanted forces from taking over the drones flight control. China’s development in drone technology is on the rise in the recent years. In 2015, successful test on amphibious drones was done and within one year, the testing for Ehang 184 had begun.

Drone transportation is an inevitable future for Dubai but it will not go unregulated. Penalties upwards of $5,400 have already been enforced to illegal drones flying without proper licenses or registration papers. Owners of drones also need to obtain licenses in the aviation sector from the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority which only last one year per sign-up. This can also apply to particular heavy duty fireworks, drone photography, hover lighting, and laser light shows.

Dubai it taking the lead in futurism! Their next goal is to have 25% of all vehicles automated and with the news on the Ehang 184, they don’t seem far from their goal.


Electronic Waste on the Rise

Each year the want and need for electronic devices, ranging from small appliances to huge industrial machines, rises and rises. We are all officially living in the electronic age, which is resulting in a lot of electronic waste.

While a rise of production in electronic equipment can be a great boost for a countries economy, if the disposal of the products are not decided on, the buildup can accumulate quickly. Many companies look to make a quick turn around product with a short lifespan, resulting in no time to consider how to repair, or recycle the product.

In 2012, (“Regional E-Waste Monitor”, Schunuchi Honda) there was an estimated 56.56 million tons of electrical and electronic equipment put on the market. With Asia being the world’s largest manufacturer and market for electronics, things must be considered when they also create (2014) 16 million tons of E-waste in a years time. Japan is the leader in digital technology development and houses some of the worlds largest manufacturers. They have worked to execute strong frameworks for E-waste management and support country wide E-waste activities.

To solve any situation first you must assess the problems. Some of the major E-waste concerns are a lack of information and awareness, inadequate reporting on E-waste data, unclear definitions of E-waste country to country, and lack of support to make legislation. While small personal steps can be taken at home like reusing old products, refurbishing, and recycling, countries must assess the increasing E-waste volumes. There is an increasing lack of recycling facilities per region volume, lack of recycling knowledge, and minimal global effort to help the environment.

There will always be new bigger and better gadgets, but next time you dispose of an old electronic, consider the best method for its future and the future of the environment.

*Stats from “ Regional E-Waste Monitor, by Shunichi Honda, Deepali Sinha Khetriwal and Ruediger Kuehr, 2016.