Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ideas! Innovations! Will we keep on inventing?

I first introduced the inventor Kevin to this readership several years ago – from my coffee shop days while visiting Simi Valley. Little did I know then that he would deliver technology that would change the way we think of internet access!

I may have avoided the cold and snow of Boulder for a couple of weeks, but it was only temporary and Margo and I have returned to find the temperatures dropping much lower than we have seen in quite a while. The cold, or flu bug, we picked up 16 days ago, despite the steps we took to be vaccinated, still has us in its grip and for much of the time we have been back home, we have felt miserable. From emails we have received from colleagues it seems we aren’t alone in our misery as much of North America is suffering, but at least, it has given us both an opportunity to catch up on work we put to one side as the holidays arrived.

As a writer, commentator, and more often these days, an analyst, getting to the latest headlines of publications I follow is a priority for me and no day starts without trolling many publications to see what is topical and what looks to be shaking up the planet. While I spend most of my time bent forward, reading articles directly from my monitor, on occasion I will pick up traditional magazines as I continue to maintain subscriptions for several publications I just like to read in depth, and among my favorites continues to be The Economist.

There may be readers who think it is just Road and Track or Motor Trend that are more to my taste but no, I subscribe to several business publications simply because I remain old-school, after a fashion, with a preference for turning real pages. In so doing, it gives me the opportunity to quickly flip past annoying ads for products and services I have no interest in as I stay focused on a feature or column that has caught my attention. And so it happened this week that I found the heading on the front page of January 12th – 18th, 2013, The Economist inescapable – the thought Will we ever invent anything this useful again?, coming from Rodin’s, The Thinker, seated atop what The Economist describes as “the humble loo”.

“With the pace of technological change making heads spin, we tend to think of our age as the most innovative ever. We have smartphones and supercomputers, big data and nanotechnologies, gene therapy and stem-cell transplants,” the editorial column opens. “Yet nobody recently has come up with an invention half as useful as (the humble loo) depicted on our cover … and this is why a growing band of thinkers claim that the pace of innovation has slowed.” The editorial then makes the observation “if the pessimists are right, the implications are huge … to raise incomes and welfare entail(s) using the stuff we already have in better ways – innovating in other words.”

By chance, I was passing through Simi Valley where I was able to catch up with my good friend, Kevin McGushion, who can only be described as an inventor extraordinaire. Readers of my NonStop community blog, Real Time View, may recall the post of June 2, 2010,
What’s in your garage?, in which I first introduced Kevin and the products he had invented. Recall the recent success of the SpaceX Dragon docking at the International Space Station? Well, every weld on the propulsion system of that space ship was courtesy of one of Kevin’s most successful inventions in the esoteric field of orbital welding. An invention which he developed at age 24 in his Santa Monica apartment before starting Exel Orbital Systems . However, Kevin has now turned his skills to IT and to the Internet and he may have really come up with something that’s truly unique and potentially a game changer. And it all has to do with using the stuff we already have in a much better way – something I was able to cover exclusively for clients in my weekly email update last week.

Like me, Kevin explains, “I had started my day pretty much the same way as always, logging on to my computer for updates on events that had happened during the night and to see what the day may bring and as always, I was in a hurry. After the ads and animation ran, I quickly read the headlines and then any stories that grabbed my attention but sadly, that day I never made it past the first news story because I had run out of time. It was hard to go to the Internet!” Kevin then went to Starbucks where we first had met and where the story continues “while waiting in line for my coffee, I tried to navigate to just one of my favorite sites which took so long to load, my coffee was ready before I could even see the first story – never mind getting to all the cool sites I really wanted to see. And picking up where I left off on my desktop with my smartphone well, it just takes so long to load it’s almost not worth trying. I needed a way of putting the best of every web page I wanted in one spot so I could view it any time I wanted to and (it needed to be server based) as I switched to my smartphone, it had to load really fast.”

Welcome to InkaBinka – Kevin’s latest invention that now does exactly what he was looking for. Or, as the headline in Monday’s issue of BusinessWire, A Berkshire Hathaway Company, more succinctly
expressed it “Revolutionizing Web Browsing: InkaBinka Introduces an Online Tool that Brings the Internet to You”. BusinessWire then adds how “With InkaBinka, users can capture and frame any portion of any Website into a tile on their personalized InkaBinka canvas. IB’s rapid refresh technology allows users to stay current and up-to-date by detecting any changes on the actual Web pages and updates the tiles on the canvas. InkaBinka’s Time Slider is basically an Internet time machine that allows users to go back in time to view what happened on any tile that they created. With multiple patents pending, InkaBinka is rapidly changing the way users browse the Internet. Viewable on any smartphone, tablet or computer, IB enables users to create their own unique online experience. InkaBinka makes it unnecessary to continuously surf and navigate through Web sites and takes everything each user loves about the Internet and puts it all in one place; InkaBinka brings the Internet to you.”

If you would like even more information about exactly how it works and how it will bring the Internet to you, you can check out the YouTube clip “
InkaBinka Launch Animated Video”, and if you are wondering about the relevance of InkaBinka for us all, then rest assured, there is one. So much so that right from the outset, Margo and I have been part of the early adopter team with Margo also actively engaged in some of the early QA. Again, this too was addressed in my client update email of last week, a portion of which follows here.

For the enterprise business user the ubiquitous browser interface has overtaken almost every GUI developed, no matter how spiffy they looked. Pretty much any client device we have today comes with a browser. However, at the end of the day, it’s still a daunting task getting everything we need via just a single internet connection – imagine if we could see, in just one page, what a customer has bought, what the internet has been saying about them and what they have been buying, and perhaps where they stand financially in terms of credit scores, etc. And oh, yes, what if you could also see what they have posted to Facebook about what they wanted to get … the “picture painted” is almost limitless and it will open up new ways for access to server applications. F
or more on InkaBinka, check out the web site where a free trial is offered.

Whether you find any of this of interest or not – but I hope you do – what really gets me excited is to see that yes, ideas are still being nurtured and innovation is still being actively pursued. Pessimists may indeed rue the notion that the ideas machine has broken down, as The Economist suggested. In its closing remark, this publication noted that “in the end, the main risk to advanced economies may not be that the pace of innovation is too slow, but that institutions have become too rigid to accommodate truly revolutionary changes”  and I suspect that this is much closer to the truth than many of us may want to acknowledge. It may have come from a garage in Simi Valley and it is still in its very early days but who knows! This may just be something we find we really can’t do without!  

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