23 April 2013

Wearable technology

Ever wondered when our clothes will take the next step - after all much around is starting to? Our fridges can order groceries and our phones no longer simply place calls. Beyond simply covering our bodies what can it do? With the advancements in technology inventors are asking whet our clothing can do beyond just covering our bodies.I thought I would share some of the snippets I've spotted :)

- Technology students in India have invented a bra that shocks would be attackers. It delivers a 3800kv electric shock to any would-be rapist, enough to cause severe burns. It can also send a text message to a relative or friend and the local police station, with the GPS coordinates of the victim's location, says inventor Ms Mohan.

- A California company called Machina has created a jacket that makes music. "We wanted to change that. We wanted to bring the act of performance back to life by having the musician use his/her body as an interface, says co-founder Ms. Machina.

- Machina is not the only one combining music with jackets. MIT media Lab & Levis also a a product, this one has a keyboard embroidered with conductive thread.

- A university of Colorado student has come up with a dress that not only looks kinda cool, but can help people with hearing impairment 'feel' the direction of sound. "I wanted to create something that used the landscape of the body as an interface to communicate things about the outside world, in a different medium" says inventor Ms Profita.
 - Or clothing that monitors various vital signs of the wearer such as heart rate, respiration rate, temperature, activity, and posture, like the one developed by Georgia Tech. No super attractive in its raw form, but cover it with an over layer & it could look however a designer fancied.

Where else is this technology going to take us?
Personally I'm 100% behinfd Quoc Truong, physical scientist at Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, wants to make self cleaning clothes. A world without dirty clothes, sounds like a wonderful place to me :)

16 April 2013

Food inventions

Food, glorious food!  
What wouldn't we give for  
That extra bit more -- That's all that we live for  
Why should we be fated to  
Do nothing but brood  
On food, Magical food,
Wonderful food,
Marvelous food,  
Fabulous food. -- Oliver (musical)

You guessed it the topic for today is food inventions :)

I know Mythbusters has tested the ice bullet - but what about the chocolate one?

 Then what about this for breakfast? One little robot that does it all. (link this this & rest)

Naturally after breakfast you're going to need a cup of coffee, but the last thing you want is for that to interfere with Twitter or your latest text. Trying to balance them all with out help could be disastrous.

 Then lunchtime rolls around - too busy to stop work, here's the answer. This one I want. The number of times I have to turn my keyboard upside down & shake out the crumbs (sigh)

 At last time for dinner. Want to talk, watch a movie, read... whatever, now you don't have to worry about holding your phone, your crockery can do it for you.

Finally, after all that, it's time for dental hygiene. Can't take the time to brush your teeth, why not wear one of these - it's not creepy at all.

09 April 2013

Price of a book

Very interesting article about the price of a book, and more importantly setting expectations around the price of a book. The key point of this is about perceived value. If we are willing to pay $5 for a cup of coffee, drunk and gone in minutes, why do we want to pay less for a book, potentially hours of pleasure (possibly even re-read pleasure)?

Why are there so many $0.99 books out there - shouldn't that price be reserved for deep promotion only? The more consumers see cheap, cheap pricing, the more they expect it. Also the more they perceive the product as being cheap.

"You are always educating the consumer as to what your product is worth. The regular price will come to be perceived as its true value. You don’t want to set that too low. You steal from the consumer the thrill of getting a deal, you steal from yourself the flexibility to build and expand your brand appropriately... The first and last tool of the unsophisticated sales-person is always to reduce the price. Like a chain-saw, price reduction is a powerful tool, but if it is not used carefully you can cut your own leg off."

This article made me think about what I expect both as a consumer and as writer. It reminded me of a project I worked on (mortgage paying "real" job work, not writing project).
          It was for a client who supplied a good product that they sold at an above average price (it wasn't the best or the highest price). The retailer decided that a product like that, sold as a loss-leader, would get people into their store. i.e. they would sell it at so low a price they would lose money, but it would increase foot traffic and consumers would buy other, higher margin, products while in store.
          They were right, it did seem to drive people into store, thrilled with the idea of a bargain. So, despite the fact that the supplier objected to the low price, the retailer did the promotion again... and again... and again.
         By the time I arrived on the scene the supplier had a real problem. Their product was no longer perceived as a good product that was worth paying and above average price for, it was now perceived as cheap. Consumers no longer bought the product unless they could pay bottom dollar for it.
        Worse, the retailer also realized it wasn't selling at anything except the low price - the problem was the retailer made no money at the low price (loss-leader remember).  The retailer went to the supplier and said unless the supplier sold it to them at the cheaper price (so they didn't make a loss), they would no longer stock the product.
         The problem - the supplier would make a loss if they sold it at the price the retailer demanded, but if they didn't reduce the price they lost the product. How could they overcome the price perception in the market?

That's the question booksellers (retailers, publishers & self-published authors) need to answer. How can they raise the perceived value, and therefore price of, books?

02 April 2013

Fantastic sex & writing

On a regular basis, fantasy writer Patrick Rothfuss hosts a panel. The one below is very interesting - from my point of view anyway. If I had to pick two genres in which I primarily read they would be fantasy & romance. The issue that these four fantasy writers are discussing, namely writing sex scenes, is one that writers of romance have been dealing with for a long time. It's something I struggle with as a writer, I'm not out to write sex books, I'm out to write good stories. Good stories where a high proportion of that story is about two people over coming obstacles and ending up together. Ending up together involves sex.... so what and how to writer that?
How much is too much?
And likewise is your reader going to feel cheated if too little is covered on page?  etc.
10 Tips for Fantastic Sex - The Story Board Ep. 7

On a related note, thinking of writers who did sex well, I could think off three (pre 2000) off the top of my head: Judith Tarr, Juliet Marillier & Anne McCaffrey.
However, as time passes, more of the sex is happening on page.

As an unrelated note, I thoroughly enjoyed Patrick Rothfuss's 1st book "The name of the Wind" and have his 2nd one sitting on my shelf. I've held off starting it until the next book comes out so I can have a long sit don with the series. As a writer I can understand why the next book is not out yet, as a reader I'm champing at the bit.
I also really enjoyed the first two books by Peter Brett and am off to buy his latest one after this.
Guy Gavriel Kay - The author Jacqueline Carey mentions is also very good

PS: sorry this is quite a long video