Is a self driving car in your future?

Depending on how you define a self driving car – probably sooner than you think.

Sometimes new technology seems to come out of nowhere, but it often creeps up on us.  Legal disruptions that new tech spawns often follows the same path – usually a combination of lagging behind new technology, and getting in the way of new technology.

Current advances that come to mind include smart watches, drones, electric cars, and Tesla’s Powerwall.

Take self driving cars for example.

Its not as if we will go directly from a totally human driven car to a totally autonomous car.  They will creep up on us.  The Google self driving car gets a lot of press, and understandably so, but mainstream auto makers are rolling out these features now. We already have cars with features such as self parking, adaptive cruise control, cross traffic alerts, and lane departure warnings.  Over time these will morph from warning systems to taking control for a brief time to driving for longer period of time.  Self driving will start on highways before it moves to city driving.

Actually, self driving trucks might become prevalent sooner than self driving cars.

truck

Cross-posted to Slaw.

The smartwatch era is here

If you are an Apple fan, April 24 2015 marks the beginning of the smartwatch era – the date the Apple Watch is available. (Preorders start Apr 10th.) Smartwatches have been around for a while, but given the Apple reality distortion field, they will initially sell in large numbers, even though they are the most expensive ones available. The basic Apple watch is functionally the same as the most expensive gold watch edition that starts at $10,000. (Someone said that if you can afford a $10,000 watch, you probably don’t need to know what time it is.)

But there are alternatives, including several Android versions, the Pebble, and the Microsoft Band. Version 2 of several of these are expected soon.

Smartwatches are designed to be an interface to your smartphone. But if you want something that comes at this from a different approach, check out the Neptune – from a Canadian company that takes the intriguing approach of making the device on your wrist the main computer. There are still a few days left to take advantage of their indiegogo campaign.

Personally – as much as I want one – I’m waiting for the upcoming second gen Android versions. But then again that Neptune is rather cool…

Cross posted to Slaw

http://harrisonpensa.com/lawyers/david-canton

Is your logo favicon friendly?

A favicon is the small image that you see beside a web address in a browser tab. Similar images are sometimes used with social media names. Slaw, for example, uses as a favicon “Sl” in a particular font, Harrison Pensa uses its “HP” design (which, by the way, is a registered trademark), and my own blog uses my initials.

Because they are so small, they must be simple. If someone has a simple logo to begin with, it might be usable as is. But more complex logos won’t work. They need to be simplified, or edited so only a portion is used.

If one’s logo has been registered as a trademark, the trademark protection may not be effective if the logo is modified in any significant way. It may be necessary to register the favicon on its own as a trademark.

Anyone designing a new logo should keep favicon use in mind. It will not always be practical to design a logo that can be used in its entirety as a favicon, but that is a laudable goal. At the very least some thought should be turned to what portion of it might be used, whether people will recognize it as the same brand as the full logo, and whether there is merit to registering it separately as a trademark.

Cross-posted to Slaw

David Canton

.sucks TLD Sunrise Period Starts March 30

New TLDs (top level domains) continue to become live.  There are hundreds to choose from.  Gone is the day that there were only a handful, and a business could tie them all up for their corporate name and brands.

Also gone is the day that they are all inexpensive. Some of the new TLDs command a premium price.  A .lawyer TLD, for example, costs US$6500.  A .guru domain is a bargain at US$29.

This Yahoo article talks about the .sucks TLD, which will be in the sunrise period on March 30, and generally available 60 days later.  Some think brands should pay the US$2500 to secure their brand.sucks domain name to keep it out of the hands of others, while some think that’s a waste of time and money.

Most of the new TLDs would be irrelevant to businesses that are not in the niche intended for the TLD, such as .vacations or .guitars.  But others, such as .sucks or .help are more generic and could be used by almost anyone.  Businesses and celebrities have obtained their own names for TLDs that could be used for purposes that could be derogatory or contrary to their image simply to park them and prevent their use.  And there might be merit in getting ones like brand.help for one’s own use.

But there is a limit to what makes sense and what is affordable.

Cross-posted to Slaw

Smartwatches still in the running

I’ve written about smartwatches before. So far they have not been selling as fast as some expected.  The marketplace still hasn’t sorted out the right combinations of features and price.

Apple’s iWatch is arriving in April.  It will no doubt sell well – if for no other reason than it’s an Apple product.

The first real smartwatch was the Pebble, which broke Kickstarter records in 2012.  They announced a new version of it yesterday, called the “Pebble Time”.  They launched a new Kickstarter project yesterday morning – but this time just to take pre-orders at a discount for May delivery, rather than for funding development.

If nothing else, it proved that there is tremendous interest in smartwatches.  They achieved their $500,000 sales goal in about an hour, and the last I checked they were over $9,100,000, which translates to around 50,000 watches.

Cross-posted to Slaw

CES 2015

The Annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is under way in Las Vegas.  Its a mecca for those into the latest and greatest and biggest and fastest and most innovative consumer tech.

For example, the latest in TV’s are 4K (4 times the resolution of HD) that are impossibly thin with tiny bezels.  While the high end models are unaffordable, the improvements eventually become mainstream.

Trends include wearables (fitness still dominates) and the smart home (aka internet of things).  Everything seems to be connected somehow – even teakettles. (Some might say that an internet connected teakettle belongs to the internet of stupid things :))

So what might be useful in the office?  Getting around might be easier with the Rollkers “personal transit accessory” – essentially electric roller skates that attach to your shoes – or with the IO Hawk – which is a cross between a Segway and a skateboard.  Or perhaps a food printer for the lunch room.

The tech press has extensive coverage of the CES – check out coverage by Shelly Palmer,  CNETWired

IO Hawkrollkers

Cross posted to Slaw

Smartphone vs tablet vs phablet vs ???

I recently traded in my iPad for a Nexus 9. It has made me look at the phone/tablet thing a bit differently.

When I had an Android phone and an iPad, they felt like very different devices, each with a different role. But now that my tablet and phone work the same, and seamlessly share information, they don’t seem so different anymore. For example, if I make a note on google keep, it instantly shows up on the other device.

The only real difference is the size of the screen, and that the tablet can’t make phone calls or send texts. (Actually that’s not really true as you can make free calls over WiFi using google hangouts.)

That’s why phablets are growing in popularity. For those who can put up with carrying around a larger device, they are the best of both worlds. I want a phone I can put in my pocket though, and phablets are too big for my taste.

So what we really need is a modest sized phone with a screen that appears to be several times the size of the phone. Or better still, are we that far off from a full-fledged computer the size of a smartphone with a holographic display the size of a monitor, and a virtual keyboard? Would that be a complet? – a comphone?

Cross posted to Slaw

elegal blog marks 10th anniversary

November 16, 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of this blog – over 1500 posts since November 16, 2004.

To put that in perspective, twitter was launched in March 2006,  Facebook didn’t open to non-college students until September 2006, Linkedin was launched in May 2003, and Pinterest was launched in March 2010.

In 2004, you could count the number of lawyers who were blogging in Canada on one hand.  The frequency of posting has slowed over the years given the rise of other social media, but for anything of substance or of enduring value, a blog post reigns supreme.

We have changed the look of the blog a couple of times. An image of what it looked like in 2006 (courtesy of the Wayback Machine) is below.  That was a typical design at the time – before the trend to simpler, cleaner designs.

2006 image

Jargon

Wired magazine has a regular column called “Jargon Watch” that defines terms relevant to existing and future tech and other issues.  They are sometimes amusing, sometimes food for thought, sometimes telling of our culture.  The November issue has some definitions I thought readers might relate to, including:

Rogeting: Using a thesaurus to disguise plagiarized writing.  Such word substitution can thwart anti-plagiarism software, but the tactic becomes comically obvious when overdone, especially with contextually inappropriate synonyms.  for instance: Rogeting “legacy networks” into “bequest mazes.”

Nearable:  A smart, connected object that can share data about itself with a smartphone or computer.  Retailers will soon be creating them using sensor-laden stickers that attach to products and report on how customers react with merchandise.

If you are curious about the definitions of “card clash” and “swarmies”, check out this November Wired page.

Cross posted to Slaw

http://harrisonpensa.com/lawyers/david-canton

Internet of Things and Big Data raise big legal issues

The internet of things and big data are separate but related hot topics. As is often the case with new technology, the definitions are fluid, the potential is unclear, and they pose challenges to legal issues.  All of these will develop over time.

Take privacy, for example.  The basic concept of big data is that huge amounts of data are collected and mined for useful information.  That flies in the face of privacy principles that no more personal info than the task at hand needs should be collected, and that it shouldn’t be kept for longer than the task at hand requires.  Both of these concepts can lead to personal info being created, while privacy laws generally focus on the concept of personal info being collected.

Another legal issue is ownership of information, and who gets to control and use it.  If no one owns a selfie taken by a monkey, then who owns information created by your car?

If anyone is interested in taking a deeper dive into these legal issues, I’ve written a bit about it here and here, and here are some recent articles others have written:

The ‘Internet of Things’ – 10 Data Protection and Privacy Challenges

Big Data, Big Privacy Issues

The Internet of Things Comes with the Legal Things