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Mr. Woo is the founder and Managing Director of Neuralytix, Inc. He is a recognized, celebrated, provocative market visionary and thought leader. Mr. Woo frequently speaks at industry and customer events worldwide and is often quoted by leading business and technology press.Mr. Woo has dedicated... More
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  • The Courts & Computers ... Why The Courts Are Under Utilizing Technology

    I was speaking to an attorney last week. In fact, given that the annual New York Legal Tech conference was in town, I had an opportunity to speak to multiple attorneys and judges.

    One of the questions that I asked of this attorney was why the Courts seem to be so overwhelmed. This savvy lawyer observed that the Courts still require certified documents.

    The following example was cited: for those cases, such as matrimonial cases, where individual incomes need to be assessed and validated, the Courts still require certified copies from the IRS.

    This seemed odd to me. The IRS provides a quite convenient on-line service that allows individual tax payers to get the necessary documents via its Get Transcript portal. Surely this information would be more up-to-date than requesting, certifying and getting a mailed copy. No doubt, calculating attorneys and litigants could take advantage of delays at the IRS to get out-of-date information to game the system.

    It seems that although the Courts have been making progress in terms of documenting cases, electronically scanning documents submitted for evidence, some Courts still depend on the old fashioned way of validating information.

    This is odd to me.

    There is more data on the web that is available securely than ever before. Here's a start-up idea: a Court certified escrow for log in information! This is not so far off. Companies like Yodlee already act as escrow for login information for bank accounts. Intuit's (NASDAQ: INTU) Mint.com has a similar system for tracking personal income and expenses to provide a single dashboard view of one's net worth. H&R Block's (NASDAQ: HRB) tax software helps individual tax payers to electronically file and subsequently track one's tax returns.

    It has often been said, governments and the Law are too slow to catch up with modern technology. There are so many government services that are offered online, from checking the status of a parking ticket, to submitting tax returns, payment of the said tax return, unemployment and other social security benefits that provide up-to-the-minute authoritative information, Courts should leverage the availability of this data and information and other forms of electronic discovery to speed up cases, and not have to adjourn or delay trials based on getting the necessary evidence via slow, antiquated and analog methods.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Tags: INTU, HRB
    Feb 10 12:49 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Grin And Wear It (Early Experiences With Wearables)

    I've been very fortunate in my job. Apart from getting exposed to upcoming technologies, I sometimes get to playwith new technologies. This was the case recently, when I had the opportunity to try a new Pebble Steel smartwatch for a few days.

    Let me start out by saying that my expectations of the watch, despite reading independent reviews, etc. was somewhat too high. I may have considered the watch in a superhero context: making phone calls with a single button, leaping tall buildings using wifi, and creating the bat signal in my beloved Gotham New York City.

    Nonetheless, the outcome was not disappointing.

    The watch is a balance between a sports (read: guys) watch and a dress watch. It does not a super-duper color touch screen. It is a black and white e-paper display (like a Kindle). It is not a touch screen. Everything is controlled by the four buttons that line both sides of the watch.

    One (potential) negative is the reliance on Bluetooth. In order for the Pebble to function beyond a watch, a persistent Bluetooth connection must be present between a smartphone and the smartwatch. This part, I must admit, was the biggest disappointment for me. I did have imagination of this all-purpose mobile gadget that would sit on my wrist. (Think of Batman's utility belt!) But this is certainly not a deal breaker, since the smartwatch is a smart-accessory for my smartphone.

    Using the Pebble Steel has been a very meaningful experience.

    While I am generally terrible at answering a phone to begin with, over the twenty years I have owned a mobile phone, I have gained the superpower of being able to tune out all ringtones (including my own). This selectivity extends to calendar reminders, incoming SMS and IM, and generally any electronically generated alarm signal. The Pebble changes this. My wrist is now gently stimulated with the vibration of all these notifications. (With less than a week's use, I cannot tell whether I will mutate a new superpower to ignore these gentle vibrations either!)

    This may not seem significant. But reader, it is!

    As I pride myself on being one of the better dressed analyst in our industry, the mobile phone has become somewhat of a sartorial boat-anchor inside my suit jacket. With the smartwatch, all that disappears.

    I can now feel someone calling me. I can now accept the call with the touch of a single button, and with my sub-ounce Bluetooth earpiece, I can communicate with the world again without ever being yelled at again by my tailor! (Digression: my tailor is a Chinese man, and speaks to me in Cantonese. For some reason, it feels like my father yelling at me!)

    Of course, it has taken me several paragraphs (and no doubt minutes out of your life) to tell you what seemingly little the Pebble smartwatch actually does; and, honestly, it really does not yet do too much other than being a $250 extension of an already expensive smartphone (the original Pebble is less expensive, and comes in many more colors than steel and black).

    But, like the Bluetooth or wired earpiece, the crazy smartphone covers and accessories into which we invest into our mobile devices, the Pebble is an investment in convenience.

    In my case, I expect that extended wearing of the Pebble watch will probably be a revenue generating exercise (or a least a cost avoidance exercise), whereupon clients will no longer question why I never pick up my phone!

    What I do see the smartwatch market doing, is pushing the usefulness of phablets and smaller tablets. While my fingers are not bulging, I tend to fat-finger a lot of words. I prefer using a 7" or 8" tablet as the touch keyboards are laid out better for my hand size (and I would think for many others).

    When it comes time for me to change smartphone, having a smartwatch would probably weigh into the consideration for a larger, heavier smartphone that I can keep in a bag, rather than in a pocket.

    So, in conclusion, would I recommend the Pebble smartwatch to everyone? The answer is a non-conclusive, it depends! Like all smartphone accessories, it is just that, an accessory. The smartwatch (at least in today's iteration) is not a smartphone in a watch form-factor.

    That said, for those like me, who has wandered into the proverbial multi-tasking wilderness, driven only by electronic stimulants, it is a wonderful accessory, albeit a somewhat expensive one.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Feb 10 12:49 PM | Link | Comment!
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