Soon we’ll remember the good old days when our watches were ad-free


Smartwatches, including the Moto 360 shown here, are another potential advertising platform. (Motorola Mobility/Reuters)

Here are five ideas that could have an impact on the way we live, work and play.

1. Ads take over the world. Everywhere we turn there are advertisements. You can now be hit with ads simply by reading a book if you purchase an Amazon Kindle that comes with what the company calls “special offers.” Video games have been overrun with ads. The world’s most popular Web sites, such as  Google and Facebook all rely on ads. We’re constantly being marketed to. When is enough enough? No one has figured out a way to beam ads directly to our brains, fortunately. But the next frontier for advertising may be your wrist, writes Mashable:

Some 15  percent of consumers are currently using wearable technology, a category that includes fitness bands and smartwatches, according to a recent study by Nielsen.

Historically, such interest has meant Madison Avenue can’t be far behind. “It’s always app development followed by ads,” said Jefferson Wang, head of wireless and mobility at the IBB Consulting Group. That doesn’t mean your Pebble or Sony SmartWatch will start hitting you with banner ads this year. As manufacturers try to sell consumers on smartwatches, they’ll keep ad efforts at bay. After that period, however, smartwatches could be a new frontier, one in which advertisers will need to be heavily restrained, but potentially reap big rewards.

2. Apple and Comcast to team up? Via Gail Sullivan:

Apple and Comcast are talking about joining forces to offer a new streaming TV service, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The service would be delivered to customers with an Apple set-top box over a low-traffic portion of Comcast’s cables to ensure a viewing experience comparable to watching regular TV i.e. no waiting around while the video is “buffering.”

3. Put black boxes in the cloud. Via GigaOm:

As searchers from more than two dozen countries continue to look for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, some transportation experts are calling for a revamp of the traditional black box flight recorder, recommending that at least some key flight data be transmitted from aircraft to the cloud.

Clearly there are expenses and technology hurdles to be overcome. Streaming all that data from planes to some sort of database would be expensive, but periodically sending key snippets might not be cost prohibitive.

4. The best of TED. There are plenty of great ideas that surface at TED. Here’s a collection of great quotes from last week’s conference in Vancouver.

5. Silicon Valley’s age problem. Via the New Republic:

In talking to dozens of people around Silicon Valley over the past eight months — engineers, entrepreneurs, moneymen, uncomfortably inquisitive cosmetic surgeons — I got the distinct sense that it’s better to be perceived as naïve and immature than to have voted in the 1980s. And so it has fallen to [cosmetic surgeon Seth] Matarasso to make older workers look like they still belong at the office. “It’s really morphed into, ‘Hey, I’m forty years old and I have to get in front of a board of fresh-faced kids. I can’t look like I have a wife and two-point-five kids and a mortgage,’ ” he told me.

Matt McFarland is the editor of Innovations. He's always looking for the next big thing. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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Larry Downes · March 24, 2014