Ben and I (H2) in collaboration with KPMG have released the Fintech 100 report for 2015. It covers the top fintech startups from around the world. You can view the report online here or download the PDF version.
My brother Ben and I announced today that we have established the H2 Accelerator, a dedicated fintech accelerator that will invest in 100 early stage ventures over the next three years. Any one of these investments has the potential to fundamentally disrupt the financial services sector.
Application for the H2 Accelerator program opened today, and will close on 30 June 2015. For more information or to apply please visit H2 Ventures
Having previously established one of the world’s first and Australia’s only fintech accelerator, we know that an accelerator is the best way to help fintech entrepreneurs turn their ideas into viable startups that can attract serious funding.
H2 Ventures will be located in the Stone and Chalk co-working space.
So if you’re a fintech entrepreneur go to h2.vc for further details.
If you have stumbled upon my blog you will have noticed that I don’t post often (about once a year) but when I do it’s usually because I foresee a convergence of technologies that will profoundly change the way we do things. This post is no exception.
In recent months I have been playing around with two new photographic technologies that will each cause step changes in the way we take, view and share photographs and videos. The convergence of these two technologies could completely revolutionize the way we experience TV and communicate.
The first technology is called light field photography. It has been around for a while in medical imaging applications but a new start-up called Lytro is going to propel it into the mainstream with the introduction of consumer light field cameras. I have ordered one and it should arrive in the next few months. I will be sure to post some examples of living photos when it arrives.
The amazing thing about light field cameras is that their photos are focused by the viewer after the photo has been captured. As you view, you choose what interests you and focus on that part of the photo by touching it. This makes viewing photos a personalised interactive experience and with no need to focus, light field cameras can take very fast photos, so you won’t miss that memorable moment (as so often happens with consumer cameras). To top things off, any light field image can be converted to 3D after it has been taken.
One of the most expensive parts of a camera is the mechanics and computer processing required for auto-focus. Light field cameras do away with this completely, making them less expensive to produce. The first batch of Lytro cameras are selling for $400-$500. Like most things, the price point will lower as the economies of scale in this start-up get going.
Because the photos are focused post-capture, light field cameras can have large aperture lenses which result in nice narrow depth of field photos without any fear of missing the critical focus point. The large aperture lenses mean fast photos, so no more camera shake or low light issues.
The second technology is being popularised by Kōgeto with their Dot attachment for the iPhone. This device, combined with the Dot app, allows you to record 360 degree video with your iPhone. Then you can pan left or right while the video is playing back to see anything that happened in the full 360 degree space around the camera. Again, this makes watching video an engrossing interactive experience and it is at a consumer friendly price point of $79 for the attachment (the app is free).
Both of these technologies are amazing on their own, but what gets me excited is the possibility of bringing them together, along with other existing technologies, to create new immersive entertainment and communication experiences. Let me paint two pictures of what could be possible in the near future.
Imagine a television controlled by an Xbox-Kinect-like sensor that recognizes you and responds to your gestures. You stand in front of your TV watching your favourite football team in 3D. The cameras around and suspended above the field are all 360 degree light field cameras. Each player also has a 360 degree light field camera built into the top of his helmet. As you watch the game you can control which camera your want to view using sideways arm gestures. You can also pan the camera you are currently viewing by turning your head from side to side, and you can alter the focus by pointing. Watching a game like this would make you feel like you were a part of the action, and it would be quite a workout! Finally, you could allow other people to subscribe to your ‘directors cut’ so that they could view the action through ‘your eyes’. A ratings system of all lounge room directors could rank you so that people who just want to watch the game can choose to follow the most talented directors or perhaps a director who likes to view the game in a way that resonates particularly well with them.
Imagine another scenario, in which you are travelling for work and your spouse and 18 month old daughter are at home. You call them on Skype/FaceTime and up pops a 3D image of your spouse. You can hear your daughter in the background. Rather than requiring your spouse to move the camera you simply turn your head to the left and the image you are viewing pans left until you see your daughter playing. You point at her and the focus sharpens on her face.
These scenarios give a glimpse of the possibilities of these two technologies in the very near future. I look forward to this becoming a reality. What do you think?
Here are two idea’s I have been thinking about for a while. They would be great additions for any phone or tablet.
Idea 1 – Dual technology displayAnyone who has used a Kindle (or similar e-ink based device) will understand the importance of the passive display principle. Passive displays do not use any power unless you are changing the page and they do not strain the eyes because they do not have a back light like most other display technologies (of course you can adjust the back light, but who does that regularly). Electronic paper reflects light like ordinary paper and does not have any electronic back light flicker (reflective LCD is another interesting technology that makes use of reflected light). The major disadvantage of e-ink is that it has a slow refresh rate so it does not provide a good user experience for interactive applications (using menus or scrolling) or playing video. I would like to see someone to make a dual technology display that has a transparent LCD overlay on an e-ink display. This would give the screen the low-power passive capabilities of e-ink with the high refresh rate capabilities of LCD.
Idea 2 – Personal interrotron display
Have you ever thought about why communicating over webcam doesn’t feel the same as speaking in person? A big part of the problem is that you are generally looking at the forehead of the personal you are chatting with and they are looking at your forehead. The reason for this is that you are both looking at video’s of each other on screen while your camera’s sit above your screens. Eye contact is critical for effective communication. Television networks understand this, which is why news readers use a teleprompter that projects the news script right in front of the camera lens so that the news reader can read the script and be looking right into the viewers eyes. The interrotron is like a teleprompter but was designed so that the person in front of the camera can see into the eyes of the person they are interviewing.
Apple should make an iPhone/iPad screen that has a camera behind the display so that users can remotely communicate with each other with eye contact for the first time. One screen pixel would need to be transparent about 2/3 of the way up the screen with a tiny camera placed behind it. Software would recognize the other persons eyes in the video image of them and would reposition the video image so that their eyes were centered on the camera behind the screen. That way, when you look at their eyes you would also be looking at the camera and they too would be able to look at your eyes. Of course this system would only work if both users were using devices with the interrotron technology so it would encourage viral take up of interrotron enabled devices.
I hope you like my ideas. Let me know what you think. I think the second idea in particular would revolutionize personal communications.
The next major Apple product should be a universal entertainment device for the living room.
Apple already has 30 inch cinema displays that can be used as de facto televisions, but they are not priced for this market. They also have Apple TV with access to iTunes for music and movie downloads.
Apple TV version 2 should transform into a 30 or 40 inch cinema display with built in 160GB hard disk and WiFi for access to iTunes.
This device could include a CD/DVD drive in the side, like on the iMac. Although Apple may prefer to encourage the purchasing of digital music and movies through iTunes.
Apple could also extend the Apps Store to this new device, which would no doubt be very profitable as it has been for the iPhone.
Google is preparing to launch facial recognition for its image search. The feature will be an advanced search option when conducting image searches. This will make the popular activity of vanity searches available in image search. Initially this service will only allow users to distinguish between images of faces and those of objects, logos etc.
You can try out the new facial search by “&imgtype=face” to the end of the image search results URL, or try following the links bellow for a search for FORD with and without facial search.
One has to wonder when Google will look to monetize image search and how it will go about do this? If it is looking to improve and therefore drive more traffic to the service then surely it must be thinking about a business model. Perhaps it could put small image based ads down the right hand side of the results screen to fit in with the layout of the page…
Blackle is now back in action. We had some server issues to do with the sudden jump in visitors that we recieved recently. As a result our server had to be taken off line, but we are now back and we have taken measures to prevent this from happening again.
Thanks all of you for your support and patience. Remeber to set Blackle as your home page so you are reminded of the need to take small measures to save energy each time you go online.
Many of you have noticed that Blackle has gone down and are wondering why. First of all I want to thank all of you for showing interest in Blackle and supporting the energy saving search engine.
For anyone reading this that doesn’t know what Blackle is, it is an energy conscious search, based on the theory that a black screen uses less energy than a white screen. The real point of Blackle is to help remind everyone of the need to save energy in small ways every time you do a search (or access the web, if you have set Blackle as your homepage).
So why are you getting a 403 error page when you try to visit blackle.com?
Blackle has been crashing our servers due the number of people trying to visit it in the last few days. We are adding server capacity to get it back up ASAP.
I hope to get this sorted out very soon. Thanks for supporting Blackle.
A new computer game developed by Media Molecule for Sony Playstation has been unveiled at the Game Developers Conference 2007. The game called Little Big Planet is seemingly very simplistic with a cute rag doll character called ‘Sack Boy’ and retro 2D style game play.
There are three things that make Little Big Planet stand out and provide a glimpse into the future of gaming.
First is a real time physics engine that the game is built on. This allows every object in the game to act in the way that you would expect in the real world. So balls roll if pushed, and big balls take more effort to push than small balls. This makes use of the Playstation’s very powerful cell processor.
The second defining factor is that every level in Little Big Planet is built by players using virtual physical objects without requiring any programming skills.
The fact that the game is built by players and is thus constantly evolving makes it a social experience, but the final differentiator for Little Big Planet is that it takes social gaming to a new level. Again making use of the physics engine players can interact with the objects in the game and with each other by grabbing, pulling and pushing. The game requires players to work together to get through stages and it also encourages players to compete with each other in collecting the resources necessary for building their levels.
This constant interplay of co-operation and competition (sometimes called co-opetition) helps the game replicate real world social interaction.
By combining physical and social interaction Little Big Planet is making use of the power of the latest generation gaming consoles and is leading the way into a future of ever more immersive game play.
Game Developers Conference presentation – Little Big Planet
Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, talks about big media’s scramble to be relevant in a new media world. Arianna is a very skilled and entertaining presenter and has a unique ability to understand and bring together new and old media people and business models. This was a presentation at the OMMA Hollywood 2007 Presentations.
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