About Michael Tchong

Michael Tchong

Michael Tchong is the founder of Ubercool Inc. and a trend-tracking inspirational speaker who helps transform audiences worldwide. As the founder of five start-ups, he helped pioneer such sweeping changes as desktop publishing, personal information management, Internet research and online marketing. Michael is authoring an e-book, called Social Engagement Marketing, that will shine a bright spotlight on this market. His uncanny ability to decode the future, lead the U.K. Telegraph to label Michael “America’s most influential trendspotter.”

Michael is the founder of MacWEEK and ICONOCAST, which produced multi-million-dollar conferences, including one starring basketball legend Dennis Rodman and another featuring a Broadway musical. Michael strongly believes that the successful organizations of tomorrow will address the changing consumer lifestyles of today.


Latest Posts by Michael Tchong

Sony XBR-X950B, The Vivid Plasma With Vivid Colors

January 18, 2014 by  

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The battles fought over display IQ, or image quality, are legend. Plasma claimed better blacks. LCD offered vivid colors. But if ever there was a 4K TV panel that impressed observers at CES 2014, it was the Sony Reference Standard, Sony XBR-X950B.

The Sony XBR-X950B offers deep blacks and vivid colors, boosted by what Sony calls X-tended Dynamic Range technology, which it says leads to “unprecedented brightness” and a “truly brilliant picture quality.” We definitely saw the higher peak white and deeper blacks Sony claims its technology delivers. That red dress in the picture above literally jumped off the screen.

Available this Spring, the 85-inch XBR-85X950B and 65-inch XBR-65X950B 4K Ultra HD TVs feature full-array local dimming (FALD) LED backlighting, Triluminous quantum-dot illumination technology, HDMI 2.0 with 2160p/60 capabilities, with decoding via the HEVC codec. The Sony XBR-X950B series also offers active 3D technology, Wi-Fi, screen mirroring with NFC OneTouch, and comes equipped with MHL 3.0.

Pricing was not announced but is sure to seriously tax your wallet but then again, what price glory?

Creme De La Creme in Digital: The New Nikon D3300

January 16, 2014 by  

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In the world of digital cameras, the digital SLR (DSLR) represents the crème de la crème. But like any technology, the performance bar is rising quickly. Nowhere is that more evident than in the new Nikon D3300 ($650), which offers remarkable performance for a low price.

While the Nikon D3300 offers a minor performance increase over its predecessor, the D3200, it’s the package in toto that makes the D3300 our recommended DSLR.

Ubercool readers know that we focus primarily on mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera (MILC) cameras as the wave of the future, but there are instances when you may need the full feature set of a DSLR, in particular in studio flash applications, and that’s where the D3300 with its compact dimensions and low price shines.

The Nikon D3300 offers these key features:

  • Body – Nikon’s chief focus has been to reduce the size and weight of the D3300. The D3300’s new carbon-fiber body weighs just 655 g (1.4 lb.). When used with the new AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II retractable-barrel kit lens, the combination of camera and lens measures 124 mm wide (4.9 in.), 98 mm high (3.9 in.) and 126 mm (3 in.) deep. The reduction in size is modest, with a decrease of 0.1 inch (3mm) in width and 0.2 inches (5mm) in depth.
  • Lens – A brand-new AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II kit lens features a retractable design that helps make body and lens 30% smaller and 25% lighter than that of the 3200.
  • Performance – The Nikon D3300 offers the same 24.2-million pixels as 2012’s D3200 but Nikon removed the sensor’s optical low-pass filter (OLPF) and therefore captures sharper, more detailed images.
  • Sensor – The Nikon D3300’s DX-format CMOS sensor is coupled to an EXPEED 4 image processor, which allows for improved ISO noise reduction and auto white balance, faster burst shooting and movie capture, plus improved battery life. The D3300 can now shoot still images at 5fps, up from 4fps and also offers for full HD (1080p; 1,920 x 1,080 pixel) video capture at a 60fps rate, compared to the 3200’s 24 or 30fps. ISO now goes all the way to 25,600.
  • User experience – Nikon has added a “Guide Mode,” which lets users capture images by simply following directions displayed on the LCD monitor. In addition, the D3300 is equipped with special effects modes that can be applied to both still images and movies.

Unfortunately, the Nikon D3300 still forgoes in-camera Wi-Fi, a feature of the pricier Nikon D5300, in favor of an optional WU-1A wireless dongle ($60). But that’s just about the only downside we can find in this otherwise excellent camera.

Are You Suffering From FOMO??

January 4, 2014 by  

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When a Taiwanese tourist walked off a Melbourne pier while checking Facebook in mid December 2013 it was testament to the power of screen, which so strongly sucks users in they’re oblivious to their surrounding. But it’s also indicative of the power of FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out.

Thankfully the woman was fine, but as she was retrieved front the water, she kept a firm grip on her smartphone throughout the entire ordeal.

The fact is social media is addicting, which is largely responsible for the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) syndrome. A new survey conducted by Harris Interactive for MyLife found that 56% of Americans are afraid of missing out on events, news and important status updates if they are away from social networks.

MyLife’s study also reports that 51% of people visit social networks more frequently than they did just two years ago. And 27% of study participants check out social sites as soon as they wake up.

Although 52% of respondents indicate that they have considered taking a “vacation” from one or more social networks in the past year, only 24% say they will likely follow through. FOMO clearly is force to be reckoned with.

Wearable Technology For Travelers

December 30, 2013 by  

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As the Digital Lifestyle engulfs society, the convergence between fashion and technology is accelerating. And one Digital Lifestyle trend is one trend that’s not going away any time soon is wearable technology.

According to IMS Research wearable technology sales are expected to grow from 96 million devices in 2012 to 210 million devices by 2018, creating a $30 billion market.

ABI Research is even more optimistic, predicting a 2018 market of as many as 485 million wearable devices. Core market segments driving all this wearables growth include healthcare, fitness, infotainment, industrial and military.

Major wearable tech categories for consumers include:

  • Activity trackers – Of all wearable technology devices, 61% are fitness related. Arguably the best-known brand in this emerging segment is Fitbit, whose Fitbit Classic was launched in September 2008. That device, a clip-on, has been largely subsumed by the popularity of bracelet-type trackers, like Fitbit Force, Jawbone UP and Nike FuelBand.
  • Augmented reality – No product category has done more to propel wearables than Google Glass, a product that even at its lofty developer price of $1,500 has garnered a huge amount of publicity. The technical description for Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD). Early applications include fitness, real estate, shopping and healthcare.
  • E-wear – Smart clothing, or e-wear, as we like to call it, is exemplified by Sensoria’s Smart Fitness Socks, which is actually a clip-on that is connected to a pair of socks. As more advanced sciences begin to offer the opportunity to interweave technologies within fabrics, expect this segment to take off.
  • Smartwatches – This wearables segment was trailblazed by the Pebble Smartwatch, a project that was auspiciously supported by a $10.3 million Kickstarter project. Pebble’s limelight will not last long now that the Samsung Gear smartwatch has launched, while Apple is also rumored to be entering the marketing soon. One out of five of U.S. consumers, or 20%, are “very interested” or “somewhat interested” in buying some type of smartwatch, reports Harris Interactive.

Of all wearable technology devices, smartwatches from Apple and Google are expected to push the innovation envelope the most. A watch that includes social media updates? We’ll take one!

Latino Americans on the Rise

December 28, 2013 by  

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From 2001 to 2010, the U.S. witnessed the largest influx of immigrants than at any other time in history. By 2050, the Latino population is expected to make up the majority of the U.S. population, with a 30% share.

The emergence of a Latino majority will have a major impact on American politics, business and society.

  • Market size – Today, Hispanics make up 17% of the U.S. population and are the nation’s largest minority group at 53 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2013). Due to their relative youth (PDF) and fast-growing population, by 2050 there will be 133 million Hispanics, equal to 30% of the U.S. population.
  • Marketing – Initiatives targeting the Hispanic community will become the norm as Latino spending power increases. And with a median age of 29 versus 41 for non-Hispanic whites, Latinos are a highly desirable target for companies interested in reaching young adults.
  • Politics – More than twice as many Hispanics either identify as Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party as identify with the GOP or lean Republican (57% vs. 24%).

The fate of the Republican Party will unfold as the Latino community becomes the majority and comes of age amidst a changing American landscape.

A Growing Digital World: The Marriage Of Man and Machine!

December 11, 2013 by  

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Here’s a startling statistic: 69% of children aged 2-5 can operate a computer mouse, but only 11% can tie their own shoelaces. A Tampa 16-year-old jumps in front of a truck to save her iPod. Meanwhile, the U.K. government speculates that robots could one day demand citizen’s rights. Welcome to the Digital Lifestyle Ubertrend, the marriage of man and machine.

As technology become more tightly interwoven with the fabric of life, humankind is evolving rapidly with it. The computer is becoming us and we’re becoming the computer. Not convinced? When we get tired we “crash.” We love to multitask. And we tend to forget more, so we need “memory protection.” Those are three core traits of microprocessors, or the brains of computers.

Cadillac XTS and iPad

Slim attaché cases have disappeared only to be replaced by carrying cases with wheels and retractable handles, better suited for that 10 extra pounds of digital gear you now carry. Feet sizes have also increased over the past 20 years to accommodate all that extra weight. In the past 20 years, the foot of the average woman has grown a full shoe size to an 8 or 9, up from a 7 or 8, The Wall Street Journal reported in July 2004.

One of the most popular comedy shows on television is CBS’ The Big Bang Theory — a story about four geeks and their digital lifestyle interactions that suggests that geeks are not only winning but are transforming the media landscape in the process. CBS scored another first: a TV show based on a Twitter feed, $#*! My Dad Says.

Automobiles are chosen based on their compatibility with Apple’s iPod or iPhone. Facebook updates can now be posted via GM’s OnStar system. iPads power the Equus owner’s manuals at Hyundai.

Almost a third of U.K. smartphone users think it would be worse to lose their handset than their wallet. A study of those aged 17 to 23 in 10 countries, including the UK, had participants spend 24 hours banned from using phones, social media, the internet and TV. They could use landline phones or read books.

One in five reported feelings of withdrawal resembling addiction while 11% said they were confused or felt like a failure.

New Cadillac models, like the XTS pictured here, feature seamless dashboard and iPad integration, proving once again that the digital lifestyle is imbuing all aspects of the real world.”

More than 100 million people worldwide have donned avatars, or “digital masquerades,” to play in remarkable virtual replicas of our real worlds, such as Rexon’s MapleStory or Second Life.

Human dialog is being replaced by terminology infused by technology, from multitasking to crashing to googling to photoshoping to blirting (flirting by BlackBerry) to texting. Other activities, such as “pretexting,” depend on technology.

For many, e-mail enslavement resembles that of a cocaine addiction. In fact, the ubiquitous BlackBerry, now used by some 8 million consumers, is pointedly known as the “CrackBerry.” The result of all this digital interaction is that human relationships are being affected in ever so subtle ways.

The New York Times reported in August 2006 that “as the number of home wireless networks grows, laptops — along with Treos, BlackBerries and other messaging devices — are migrating into the bedroom and onto the bed.” In other words, technology’s most important tools are inserting themselves like a digital enfant terrible into the relationships of life.

In Jan. 2007, Kelton Research reported that 68% of Americans spend more time with their computer than with their spouse. That is easy when the computer is everywhere, it’s in the refrigerator, in your BBQ in your phone.

The BBC reported in 2006 that robots could one day “demand workers rights.” Echoing that sentiment, David Levy, an artificial intelligence researcher at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, speculated one year later that people would be marrying robots by 2050 and that Massachusetts would be the first state to allow it.

Pew found in August 2010, that four out of five adolescents slept with their mobile phones “in or near their bed.”

Robot love, anybody?

Sanyo’s New Compact Camcorder, The DMX-HD2000

December 10, 2013 by  

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Rodney King’s 1991 beating was a watershed moment in modern history. Not only was it groundbreaking because police violence was captured on video, but it also helped propel a new Ubertrend, Voyeurgasm, which points to a future where just about everything will be captured by digital cameras or camcorders.

Since then, an explosion in high-profile events have been captured on video, including Beyoncé tripping on stage (since removed from the Web with Sony’s assistance), the Concorde crash, September 11, Paris Hilton’s “sex-capade” and President’s Bush’s shoe-throwing incident, O.J. Simpson’s infamous car chase, plus countless other police-car chases, and violent teen beatings.

Voyeurgasm dates back to the beginning of humankind itself, but with the assistance of manmade tools became a force over the past few centuries. The painting was the first device to help budding voyeurs catch glimpses of others, in robes or not. Then, in 1839 Louis Daguerre came along with his daguerrotype and ushered in the photographic revolution that allowed any consumer to capture images on film.

But it was high-definition camera technology that dramatically raised the quality of broadcast television and home videos, many of which are bound to end up on mass media. Expect these concurrent trends to significantly turn up the graphic volume now produced by the world’s videophiles.

But there’s no question that digital technology, specifically camcorders; mobile phones equipped with cameras and video; webcams and surveillance cameras have helped whip this Ubertrend into a frenzy. In February 2005, the world’s videophiles gained an outlet, YouTube, that in four short years has grown into a medium that serves 14.3 billion videos each month, according to Comscore.

Sanyo DMX-HD2000

Sanyo’s new DMX-HD2000 is the latest in a series of compact camcorders that delivers “full” high-definition video, 1080p progressive video at 60 fps, using a state-of-the-art SDHC card (stores up to 32GB without moving parts). Once tools like these get in the hands of the YouTube generation, all eyes will be on us.

In fact, it’s the video camera that will be built into every mobile phone sold in the very near future that will make it possible to record virtually every live event and distribute it automatically.

The first inkling of this came on new year’s day January 1, 2009, when a bystander used a cellphone to catch a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police officer killing 22-year-old Oscar Grant. That mobile phones will soon catch every police misdeed was also underscored by a video that caught a New York police officer knocking a Critical Mass bicyclist right off his bicycle in front of horrified bystanders.

Of course, Voyeurgasm has also been a boon for the police themselves, catching an endless string of people red-handed in the midst of everyday crime. Madeline Toogood beating her daughter in 2002 was one of the earliest examples of child abuse caught on surveillance video. That has been followed by a flood of other captures, like that Orlando woman who was caught “power-washing” her child in a car wash last year.

But surveillance cameras have also done their share of spreading the good news, as when one camera on duty recorded the miracle landing of US Airways Flight 1549 for posterity.

Because video cameras are omnipresent, being among peers is no longer as safe as it used to be, as Prince Harry found out when he mocked gays and Asians in a secret video that somehow made its way to the press. Michael Phelps discovered much the same when he was caught smoking a bong during a college party at the University of North Carolina.

The Internet in particular has been a boon for Voyeurgasm, or “digital rubbernecking,” as you might call it. On President Obama’s inauguration, CNN alone streamed 21.3 videos of the inauguration.

Expect Voyeurgasm to completely remake media, as the YouTubes, Facebooks and Flickrs of the world conspire with billions of camera phones, digital cameras, camcorders plus surveillance cameras to create a brave new media experience where just about anything goes.

Our national obsession with celebrities led New Scientist magazine to conclude in 2003 that one-third of Americans were suffering from something it called “celebrity-worship syndrome” (CWS), a figure that’s probably around 50% by now, judging by the massive amounts of publicity that blogs like Perez Hilton and TMZ.com have attracted with their celebrity-peeking adventures.

Britney Spears

The “pixel paparazzi” now stand at the ready for any opportunity to capture a Britney Spears “oops I did it again” moment so treasured by a celebrity obsessed culture.

Voyeurgasm’s impact on media consumption is already well-documented. In 1992, MTV debuted “Real World,” a show about seven strangers who share a house, which started the reality show trend in earnest. “Big Brother,” created in the Netherlands by Van der Mol Studios, became a big hit in the U.K. in 2000.

“Big Brother” was buoyed by the popularity of peeping-tom webcams, like JenniCam, and was quickly followed by a series of me-too shows, such as “Survivor” and “The Bachelor,” proving that people do indeed like to watch. Today, a plethora of reality shows clog the airwaves.

The public’s fascination with celebrities combined with reality shows produced a logical fad, “celebrity reality,” popularized by the 2003 MTV show “Newlyweds,” a reality show based on a celebrity couple. That unleashed “The Simple Life,” “The Osbournes,” “Celebrity Fit Club,” “The Surreal Life,” “Hogan Knows Best” and our favorite vomit-inducing reality NBC’s “Fear Factor.”

Today, reality shows have are a standard staple among TV viewers. Our look-at-me culture has fueled a dizzying array of TV shows, ranging from the bizarre to the outrageous. VH1’s “Flavor of Love,” starring Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav, featured a “spitting” incident that defined the term “voyeurgasmic.”

Another change brought on by Voyeurgasm is the growing role of transparency in everything we do. From public disclosure to glass-walled bathrooms to see-through restaurant kitchens, society is rapidly vaulting towards a future where being able to see one’s innermost processes will become an essential element. Transparency certainly shaped the Obama presidential campaign.

The Emperor Hotel

Beijing’s The Emperor Hotel, designed by internationally-renowned designers, Graft Labs, shows how Voyeurgasm has even infiltrated hotel design: a growing number of hotels now feature transparent showers and bathrooms.

In the past few years, the video surveillance industry has experienced growth rates of 15% to 20% a year, double the rate of just three years ago, reports JP Freeman CEO Joe Freeman, a security consulting company in 2003.

London now has more surveillance cameras monitoring its citizens than any other major city in the world. In all, there are some 500,000 cameras in the city, and one study suggested that in a given day a person could expect to be videotaped at least 300 times.

The city’s highly visible cameras are posted on corners of many buildings, on new buses and in every underground station. And since 2003, the license plate of every car driving into central London during weekdays is being recorded as part of a program to reduce traffic congestion. London charges a fee to cars it records but also uses the videos to catch and fine cheats.

As “cams” become cheaper and sharper, it’s only a matter of time before virtually everything is captured digitally. Still, as Rodney King’s case proved, Voyeurgasm can often have beneficial results.

Traveler Update: The Sony DSC-RX100 II Digital Camera

December 9, 2013 by  

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If you’re wondering what happened to Canon and Nikon, so do we. In the compact, non-DSLR category, Sony certainly rules, with the Alpha 7 and NEX-5T. And here we have the Sony DSC-RX100 II Digital Camera ($748), which is the most highly regarded pocketable digicam.

Sony’s best pocket camera packs plenty of technology into one small, portable product:

  • Sensor – The DSC-RX100 II boasts a 20.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor backed by a BIONZ Image Processor which offers high sensitivity and low noise by using a back illumination technology. It also offers beautifully defocused backgrounds, with optical zoom capabilities of up to 3.6x.
  • LCD display – The DSC-RX100 II features a 3.0-inch 1.2-million-pixel LCD screen that displays your images clearly, even in direct sunlight.
  • Optics – A 3.6x optical Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 10.4-37.1mm f/1.8-4.9 lens provides a flexible 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 28-100mm.
  • Wireless – You can connect the DSC-RX100 II to your Android smartphone or tablet using the PlayMemories Mobile app, either via wireless or NFC connectivity.
  • Interface – The multi-interface shoe lets you attach accessories, including a viewfinder and a remote control.

Accolades usually reserved for SLR cameras have been showered on the DSC-RX100 II. You don’t need to turn a control ring to know why.

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