SAN JOSE — Acquiring gadgets, apps and new driving technology are high on the list of several Bay Area residents’ resolutions for 2017, suggesting the region’s appetite for tech’s latest and greatest remains healthy.
Interviews with a lawmaker, technology and economics experts and other residents across the nine-county region about their New Year’s resolutions show they’re interested in exploring the many ways tech can make their lives easier, though one resolved simply to switch off his devices more often.
State Sen. Jerry Hill, whose district includes San Mateo County, wants to upgrade his car technology and get more from his virtual assistant.
“I’m looking forward to getting a car with autonomous driving,” Hill said. “I drive a Tesla, but it doesn’t have that feature — it doesn’t have the hardware or the radar.”
Sen. Hill also wants to learn how to use more features of his Amazon Echo, which can provide real-time information such as weather and traffic, and is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts and playing audio books. Amazon Echo also can function as a hub that can control other smart devices and systems.
“We can turn out or turn on the lights, adjust the heating — it can do so many things, and can be accessed remotely,” Hill said.
The Amazon Echo and other gadgets are part of the emerging internet of things, which is a group of technologies that has caught the eye of Fremont resident Kirk Lesser, owner of Newark-based Renaissance IT Consulting.
The internet of things includes everyday devices like cars, watches or refrigerators to which manufacturers have added sensors, microchips and the ability to connect to smartphones, PCs or the internet. Internet of things gadgets can typically collect data and be remotely controlled.
“I’m hoping that 2017 will bring updates of the Fitbit technology,” said Lesser, who currently uses the Microsoft Band 2, a wearable device that can track his health in multiple ways. The Microsoft device that Lesser owns is being discontinued, so he hopes that new Fitbit gadgets will satisfy his hankering for an advanced wearable gizmo.
Lesser, who is a long-distance runner, covets a gadget with health-related capabilities that can run other applications in the background.
“I want a sports band that can track my runs, heart rate, calories burned, but that also can show me when I have new email,” Lesser said.
Some Bay Area residents seek modest upgrades in their devices and services.
Sylvia Perry, a Berkeley resident, wants to upgrade her iPhone 5 and her laptop.
“I would love to get an iPhone 7, but I would settle with an IPhone 6,” Perry said. “I cracked the face of my iPhone 5, and every day I look at that and I know I want a new phone,” Perry said. “I got a Toshiba laptop, but it seems very old school and boring. It would be nice to get a new MacBook Pro.”
Tech analyst Michael Tchong, founder of Las Vegas-based Ubercool Innovation, recently got the newest version of the MacBook Pro and wants to figure out all the ways he can use the USB Type-C ports on the computer.
“The USB C world opens up a landscape of opportunities that I want to test,” Tchong said. “It will be a fantastic interface.”
Others are seeking practical apps.
“I really want to get a good fact-checking app for the iPhone,” said Stephen Levy, director of the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. “Donald Trump has been making a lot of statements about technology and Silicon Valley, so I want to be able to use those.”
Rachel Golden, a spokeswoman for Redwood City-based tech company Box, has been home on maternity leave. She is interested in apps that are associated with taking care of her second child.
“I’m downloading apps that relate to tracking the sleeping patterns and eating patterns of newborn babies,” Golden said. “I was happy with how many apps I found. And the great majority of those are free.”
Apps related to lifestyle and personal health also are on the mind of Tim Bajarin, principal executive with Campbell-based Creative Strategies, a tech market researcher.
“I was looking at a little device that goes on the back of your phone. You can put your finger on it, and it gives you information about your heart,” Bajarin said. “I had a triple bypass, and so I’m very conscious of my heart health.”
Due to the nature of Bajarin’s job, he isn’t keen on distancing himself from using tech gizmos.
“I’m a gadget freak, so I’ll play with just about anything,” Bajarin said. “Ultimately, I would like to have more gadgets or tools that give me more personal time.”
Bajarin particularly would love to play with revolutionary augmented reality technology developed by Florida-based Magic Leap. The secretive startup has raised nearly $1.4 billion in venture financing and amassed enough investments to achieve a $4.5 billion valuation.
“Based on the hype and rumors so far about Magic Leap, that … system would be high on my list to see or get a demonstration,” Bajarin said.
Rob Enderle, a tech industry analyst who recently moved to Oregon after being a longtime San Jose resident, has the Microsoft Surface technologies on his must-learn list for 2017.
“Microsoft Surface is pretty cool,” Enderle said. “It’s a big screen, a touchscreen, it can fold flat. I’m also looking for the next generation of DJI drones.”
Some people want to discover more capabilities from applications they already have.
“If there is anything I’m resolved to do this year, it is to figure out ways to get more out of Windows 10,” said Mark Vitner, a senior economist with San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Bank. “It seems to have all sorts of capabilities that I don’t know how to use.”
“One of the features that I really like is the Microsoft One Drive,” Vitner said. “I want to keep all of my research in one place, and Microsoft One Drive seems to be a great way to access it.
Still, Vitner wonders if he and his family may already own more gadgets these days than they can realistically use.
“My wife and I have too many devices that we bought,” Vitner said. “I have a Fitbit that’s still in the gift box” from Christmas 2015.
Not everyone wants to rush to embrace the go-go pace of Silicon Valley and its bewildering array of new gadgets and apps.
Robert Chhabra, a San Jose resident, has worked as a chief financial officer in numerous tech companies in the Bay Area. He’s become weary of seemingly endless hours spent connected to the cloud and work.
“We don’t have any personal life anymore with all of these devices we constantly use,” Chhabra said. “We are getting like robots. We are becoming machines.”
Chhabra is seeking more balance in his personal and work life in 2017.
“We need to take time off, instead of working, working, working until midnight,” Chhabra said.
Published at Thu, 29 Dec 2016 15:00:11 +0000