Transcript: SCiO Molecular Sensor, Uber in Google Maps, and URLs in Chrome

by Tim Wright

This is the transcript for The Dirt episode SCiO Molecular Sensor, Uber in Google Maps, and URLs in Chrome

Steve Hickey: Now, that doesn’t change the fact that you can supplant three years of study and knowledge with a fucking iPhone.

Tim Wright: I agree. I agree with that statement.

Mark Grambau: I disagree.

Tim Wright: Hello and welcome to The Dirt. I am Tim Right and I’m here with Mark Grambo.

Mark Grambau: Hey Tim.

Tim Wright: And Steve Hickey.

Steve Hickey: Hello.

Tim Wright: Hello gentleman.

Mark Grambau: Howdy.

Steve Hickey: This is one of the late recordings that we’ve ever done and I’m very happy about that because we get to drink beer.

Tim Wright: That makes all the difference. It’s hard for me to tolerate the two of you otherwise.

Mark Grambau: You could try first thing in the morning, it’s an option.

Tim Wright: Yeah, we could, we have.

Steve Hickey: Morning is for gin and tonics.

Mark Grambau: Oh, naturally. It’s getting to be summer out to spring, you know, weather that isn’t tundra. We’re getting there.

Tim Wright: It’s certainly getting warm. I wish we actually had something that we could point at our food and judge the…

Mark Grambau: The temperature of it?

Tim Wright: The caloric intake, all sorts of goodies.

Mark Grambau: There may be something like that in our future.

Tim Wright: Yes. We came across this product called SCiO on Kickstarter…

Mark Grambau: Yeah, so this is…

Tim Wright: … recently.

Mark Grambau: This is pretty cool. I found this a few days ago. SCiO is a little handled sized guy that’s, I don’t know, three inches, two inches, this little handheld device that is a molecular sensor. It’s a little pocket sized spectrometer.

Steve Hickey: Actually, to be more accurate, it’s a mother effing tricorder. Mother effing? Who are you? I’m trying to tone it down, Tim.

Tim Wright: Yeah, it’s a tricorder, right? We’re all a little nerdy, we’re pretty excited.

Steve Hickey: I didn’t know what a tricorder was.

Mark Grambau: He is nerd. Tim is not a member of the galactic federation of planets.

Steve Hickey: It’s on Star Trek.

Tim Wright: Because it’s just the federation of planets, not the galactic federation.

Mark Grambau: I wanted to see if you would correct me as someone who insisted on being a Star Wars nerd and no particular care for Star Trek for so long. Now, we have this established that Steve really, really loves Star Trek. Yeah, so it’s a little handheld sensor that shoots a light at a piece of fruit, medicine, or whatever you might be pointing it at, and when it reflects back, the sensor then reads the light again and, much like sonar being able to figure out a room, figure out a space, what this can do is figure out the molecular composition of whatever you point it at.

Tim Wright: It’s pretty incredible.

Mark Grambau: The caloric count of some food. It could point in at Tylenol and tell you the composition of the medicine, make sure it’s not tampered with.

Steve Hickey: Presuming it works.

Mark Grambau: Yeah.

Steve Hickey: I have to assume that it will work; it’s on Kickstarter, so come on.

Tim Wright: They’ve done all the vetting of this, definitely.

Mark Grambau: Yeah, so these are a bunch of scientists who’ve taken this technology that previously had been much larger, much more expensive, and I’m sure it’s not at the level of sensitivity yet, the kind in a lab that someone’s using for his experiments.

Steve Hickey: Or on Star Trek.

Mark Grambau: Or on Star Trek. But, it’s pretty neat and the crowd seems to like it thus far. It had a funding goal of $200,000 and as of the time of our recording, it’s well over a million.

Steve Hickey: That’s incredible.

Mark Grambau: Yeah.

Steve Hickey: You know what this is going to be super useful for? Exploring the galaxy with Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, and LeVar Burton.

Tim Wright: Right on. I wonder how far an object has to be with.

Steve Hickey: Wow. None of you witnessed the actual dismissal in Tim’s tone and body language there, it was amazing.

Tim Wright: I said “Right on.” Like, I wonder how far you can be away, like across a room.

Mark Grambau: I don’t believe so. Perhaps the video has a little more detail. Everything they scanned looked to be in within handheld range, something right in front of you.

Steve Hickey: How far away from something do you need to be and still have a desire to assess its molecular structure, Tim? This is specifically addressed to you.

Tim Wright: The planets, and the stars.

Steve Hickey: No.

Mark Grambau: You’d have to have really good aim. Really, really…

Tim Wright: That’s something, actually.

Mark Grambau: …like laser guided… well, you know, in any case…

Steve Hickey: What I thought was actually the best thing that I liked about this was telling the ripeness of an avocado.

Mark Grambau: Yeah. Without opening it up?

Tim Wright: Yeah. That’s incredible, because I really don’t know how to do that.

Steve Hickey: If Lord knows, learning how to squeeze through minute amounts of experience is not a suitable way for gauging it.

Mark Grambau: Well, I don’t…

Steve Hickey: We need $600 of tech in our palms.

Mark Grambau: Yeah. That is what’s impressive. This is ostensibly a $300 or so device that connects to your phone over Bluetooth. So it does the scanning, sends the data to your phone, and the phone sends that data to a server from this company, and that server can process that information and send the information back to the phone.

Steve Hickey: So, it is currently a $400 backing if you want to get this, the $200 or the $300 trail gone looks like.

Mark Grambau: Yeah. So like as you’re talking about a small, inexpensive device, it’s pretty neat and I just love seeing what the Smartphone revolution has really done for projects like this. It’s not just the fact that the software has done on the phone, but the fact that we’ve got billions and billions of phones and tablets being made these days means that all of the parts required to make these things have just been plummeting in prices over the last ten years, because, all of this is made at such scale.

Tim Wright: And this kind of goes back to our last episode about creating the focused experience and that siloed off device that’s not in the phone.

Mark Grambau: Although imagine if this were in your phone, it really would be a fucking tricorder.

Tim Wright: Well, maybe Apple can do something eventually, but I don’t know about now.

Mark Grambau: We’ll see.

Tim Wright: Well there’s always Apple, and then there’s Google, who’s actually making some innovations. That’s a good one.

Mark Grambau: Do you want to actually have a conversation, or just baits responses?

Tim Wright: It was a good one!

Steve Hickey: Mark, let it be.

Mark Grambau: That’s what I’m saying.

Tim Wright: That’s a good segue to the second topic. Google is thinking about doing away with the long URLs. And, I understand why Google would do it. From an experience design standpoint, I don’t like it. But I get them wanting to do it because they don’t really want you to be bookmarking or saving URLs or anything, they want you to search Google for what you want.

Steve Hickey: The functionality that we’re talking about is available on Chrome canary right now, if you have that, and you can enable it under Chrome flag. It basically obscures everything after the domain in this little chip on the left hand side of the omnibar, and then the omnibar is left open for you to just click in and type another website, or a Google search in all likelihood. The first thing I noticed was just it’s basically designed to use Google for everything instead of typing URLs or understanding anything. It’s kind of obnoxious, actually.

Tim Wright: We’ve seen it a little bit in Safari.

Mark Grambau: Yeah, you see it in iOS7 Safari, which again, visually just shows the domain, but when you go up to click on it, it exposes the whole URL. The difference being here, in Chrome canary, is that if you click up there into the field; you are given a search field instead of the URL. You can click on the chip, is what they’re calling this… What’s the word?

Steve Hickey: It’s just the chip.

Mark Grambau: The chip, the little chippy chip, the URL chip.

Tim Wright: I’m glad we researched all this stuff.

Mark Grambau: Well, I looked at it 20 minutes ago.

Steve Hickey: No, that is what it’s called.

Mark Grambau: It didn’t really sink in. It’s called like the magic chip, the chippy chip, the URL chip, the website chip, potato chip, regardless. You click on that, and you can see the full URL. But yeah, it’s focusing. I understand the intent. It’s focusing on users who are already not savvy, maybe not understanding URLs super well, and this and then a slash then a pound, all these various things and focusing on what they really are ostensibly using the Internet as just search. Just find another thing with search.

Steve Hickey: But one of the other claims is that it’s to aid in security and that it’ll show you just the actual domain as opposed to everything, where it’s easy, ostensibly, for somebody to use characters to fake a really short domain that really…

Mark Grambau: Right. Phishing scams. Yeah.

Steve Hickey: That sounds like a lot of horse shit to me.

Tim Wright: Well, I could see it if you have 300 characters, it’s easy to be like “uh, I’m not going to…” like whatever, it’s a huge, long, garbage URL. But if you only have I don’t know whatever, Google.com or api.google.com and the chip then…

Steve Hickey: Couldn’t they just do what they’ve already been doing, which is making the actual domain darker and the rest of the text lighter?

Tim Wright: I don’t think Chrome is doing that. Isn’t that Safari?

Mark Grambau: Chrome is doing it to a point, not to the extent…

Steve Hickey: It’s very…Yeah, it’s not much.

Mark Grambau: Yeah, Safari is higher contrast, and the difference there, Chrome, it’s subtler. Yeah, you know, I’m of two minds on it. I know where they’re going with it, but, I don’t know. I’m a little uneasy. What is the Web if not just connecting a whole bunch of files and folders and places?

Tim Wright: Links, forms, and text.

Steve Hickey: Actually, you’d be incorrect about that. The prime composition of the Web is kitten pictures and porn.

Mark Grambau: In folders, connected by links.

Steve Hickey: That part doesn’t matter. It’s mostly about the kitten pictures and the porn.

Tim Wright: I think that’s interesting. Let’s talk about kitten pictures and porn for a little.

Mark Grambau: I don’t know what kind of pornography you’re looking at here.

Steve Hickey: They’re not joined, those are discrete entities.

Tim Wright: Okay, thanks for the contribution.

Steve Hickey: Except in Rule 34 land.

Tim Wright: I think the URL thing is them trying to take a step in a slightly experienced design step, but a little questionable one, but also pushing them through their services and one back alley service for them is Uber. They’re a Google Ventures.

Steve Hickey: So, Uber is a Google Ventures company, and all of a sudden you can see a link over to Uber when you search for certain routes in Google Maps, which is new as of the update they pushed, I think two or three days ago.

Tim Wright: Yeah, I mean this is interesting because they don’t integrate other things. I guess they integrate some public transit.

Mark Grambau: Right.

Steve Hickey: Well yeah, public transit isn’t really seen as favoring a service or promoting it in anyway. It’s simply a way that people get around, and it’s up for argument whether they are considering Uber a way for getting around, or if they are pushing a Google Ventures portfolio company, which is something they historically haven’t done.

Mark Grambau: It’s also worthwhile noting that public transit; keep in mind the word “public.” You’re options to this point, in terms of getting around in Google Maps, are driving, walking, bicycle, public transit, something that’s owned by governed, by the people. Or, now, with Uber, you’re injecting a private company into there. And remains to be seen, will they also put in Lift, will they also put in ZipCar, you know.

Steve Hickey: I doubt they will.

Tim Wright: Yeah, I bet they won’t. It makes sense to me from a business standpoint that they would do this, because they want to promote their investment. I’ve never seen them do it with any other investment.

Mark Grambau: Yeah, you don’t see it with private cab companies or like suggesting “oh hey, here’s a way to get around here and by the way, here are also some link to cab companies, or phone numbers to cab companies.” You don’t see that. So, I think this is really fascinating, and I’d love to see Google just continue to add in a whole bunch of different kinds of services in here. Put in bikeshare locations; make it really clear where bikeshare locations are.

Steve Hickey: But to a point it gets to be overkill.

Mark Grambau: Well, yeah.

Steve Hickey: The way that Uber is exposed is you have to specifically be searching for a route through public transportation or walking. If you search by car, Uber doesn’t come up. So, let’s say you searched by bike and the last option was a bikeshare. That could be interesting but…

Mark Grambau: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying.

Steve Hickey: …but who knows if that will happen.

Mark Grambau: I’d love to just see that kind of context. As trying to say, “I’m getting from A to B” and acknowledging, especially now with all these services popping up, that there are other a lot of different ways to get from A to B, and I’d love to see them proliferate.

Steve Hickey: I’d love to see them add helicopters.

Mark Grambau: You know, you will. Maybe drones, Amazon Drone. You could ship yourself.

Steve Hickey: Someday I will be able to ship myself by Amazon to another location faster than I would actually be able to walk there.

Tim Wright: I thought you said “shit yourself.”

Steve Hickey: That is not funny, Tim.

Mark Grambau: Good podcasting, poop jokes. All right. Take care guys, goodnight.

Tim Wright: What was that think you sent me the other day, the Google prank? Nest. Google-nest.org.

Mark Grambau: Is that actually owned by Google?

Steve Hickey: No, it’s a prank.

Mark Grambau: I was going to say, if it’s a prank, it’s owned by somebody else.

Steve Hickey: It’s a pretty elaborate prank.

Tim Wright: I thought that was funny because they offered all these weird services.

Steve Hickey: Go there and don’t click on the “add account” button if you’re interested. It could be a scam.

Tim Wright: Yeah, we had a very Google heavy show today. We had the Chrome, the canary changes, check it out. Download canary if you want. If you don’t, I don’t really care.

Steve Hickey: Tim really does care about you, he’s just afraid to admit it.

Tim Wright: I’ve requested hugs multiple times at FI Live.

Mark Grambau: You haven’t. It hasn’t happened yet, so you don’t complain that you haven’t gotten things that are scheduled to happen in the future.

Tim Wright: Well, speaking of that, Steve and I will be in Las Vegas in June speaking at Future Insights Live. He doesn’t want any hugs, but I do, we’ve been over this many times.

Steve Hickey: It’s going to be hot and sweaty there. Of course I don’t want hugs.

Tim Wright: We’ll be inside in the Tropicana. It’s going to nice and cool, and it’s going to be a great time.

Steve Hickey: In theory.

Tim Wright: It’s going to be exciting.

Steve Hickey: The Electric Carnival is that weekend.

Mark Grambau: I was taking a look at all the lists of other speakers; you guys are in good company. Really, really good company.

Steve Hickey: We are. Carl Smith is going to be there, our friend Carl Smith. Luke is going to be there.

Mark Grambau: All friends of the show.

Steve Hickey: Yup. Friends of The Dirt.

Tim Wright: That’s probably why they’re there.

Mark Grambau: Yeah, definitely.

Tim Wright: Also we have an event at Fresh Tilled Soil global accessibility awareness day is on May 15th, that’s Thursday, you can register. There’s about six or seven registrations left. It’s at fts.io/gaad. We love it if you would come out. And I want to thank Rosenfeld Media for donating some books, that was great, so we’ll give away some of those books. Super swell of them. Yes. As usual you can get us on Twitter @thedirtshow and send your long-winded comments to thedirt@freshtilledsoil.com. Please review us on whatever you’re listening to us on right now; we’d very much appreciate it. That’s all we have for today, thank you for listening and we will try and do better next time.

About Fresh Tilled Soil

Fresh Tilled Soil is a Boston-based user interface and experience design firm focused on human centered digital design