Tech Corner – Hurricanes and Technology

By Louis Arias
In Motion Staff Writer

As hurricane Irma finally left Florida, out West in in Cupertino, Calif., the brand new 120,000 square foot Steve Jobs Theater set the stage for Apple’s 2017 carefully planned fall event.  If the launch of the iPhone a decade ago took the world by storm, this year’s product showcase is akin to geo-engineered climate change.

Louis ImageThe company presented solid incremental iPhone updates in its  8 and 8S models, introduced the iPhone X with biometric face ID security and animated emojies, revealed its iWatch and AppleTV upgrades, and announced changes to the Apple Stores.

Product enhancements, pricing and marketing decisions reflect the company’s solid management style that seeks to maintain the company at the forefront of the electronic gadget industry.

The extra $300 for the iPhone X will allow Apple to subsidize its previous models, while challenging Android’s grip on the mid-range smartphone market. The 4k AppleTV, with A10X fusion chip, makes it more of  a smart-home server and possibly will begin competing with Alexa, Amazon’s intelligent home assistant.

The most significant revelation of the Sept. 12 event, however, is that it unequivocally indicates where Apple believes the industry is heading. Although product lines featured enjoyed the highlights, the bottom line is that Cupertino’s tech giant has upgraded its hardware to remain in step with Augmented Reality, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

Greg Nichols, a journalist and author who covers robotics for ZDNet, wrote an article about the new technologies Americans fear the most. He points out that in a study by CBT Nuggets, an online training platform for IT professionals, though baby boomers and generation Xers are more concerned about other areas of life, millennials fear computers that teach themselves.

The iPhones’ Augmented Reality apps and other advanced features are powered by machine learning algorithms. Asked why he believes Apple positions these technologies as a competitive advantage, Nichols replied in an e-mail that, “Apple’s AI is far from the doomsday, self-realized technology people seem to fear. I think there’s also just a general paranoia around increasing reliance on technology.”

At the end of the day, there is only so much functionality that can be added without compromising weight or battery life. To extend the iPhone’s life cycle, Cupertino’s tech-colossus dove into Augmented Reality.  According Global Market Insights, a market research and consulting service headquartered in Delaware, the worldwide market for AR will surge to an amazing $165 billion by 2024, a whopping 80 percent increase.

Apple knows that enterprise will follow where developers lead and therefore launched ARKit, designed to blend its hardware, support for third-party frameworks, natural language, and vision application program interfaces, or APIs, in hopes of creating the largest AR platform in the world. The significant transformation of the retail outlets is another move to lure modern startups and developers.

Hurricanes don’t just magically appear over warm waters.  Months before the first signs are noticed in the Atlantic, African Easterly waves appear. Could Steve Job’s 2007 iPhone be one of those waves? Are Machine Learning and AI the conditions that ignite a technological hurricane that will send us into a world hard to predict or protect ourselves from?