Downtown App

Three cafes in Palo Alto have the coolest new payment app, Downtown.

I paid Coupa Cafe a visit Friday.  The app woke up and greeted me when I arrived:


You can see I sniff for beacons too and there are a lot of them here.  They are what makes the magic happen.  Not everybody appreciates the magic of these alerts which some consider obtrusive.  You can imagine the notifications you’d get during a walk through downtown Palo Alto when everyone is using Downtown.  But, forget that for now, lets focus on the magic.

I was at Coupa Cafe to meet someone and chat about innovation; using the app was appropriate for the conversation.  It also helped us bypass the line at the counter. We settled down at a table with a Bluetooth low energy beacon disguised in a plastic case with instructions on how to order with your phone.


The check out process was simple:


And I received a text message immediately confirming the order.


As promised, the order arrived at the table soon.  The meeting went great and I’m on to the next thing.



This is the magic of technology working for you.

Hey, Mr. Blogger, What Kind of Technology Do You Like?

My last conversation last night among yet another meeting of Silicon Valley technologist minds began with this question, “Hey, Mr. Blogger, What Kind of Technology Do You Like?”

The answer: Any advancement in technology that makes life easier. I am the guy who said, “Don’t work for technology; make technology work for you.”

If you take a look at the topics I touched on last night, you’ll understand that the kinds of technology that can do this encompass a wide range.  Here is a peek at some of the things I talked with people about yesterday:

In the Bathroom: Smart Toilets, Composting Toilets, Electronic Toilets, Smart Toothbrushes

In the Car: Vehicle Safety, Microphone Sensors (Hands-free cell phone conversations in a convertible at over 140 mph with the top down), Technology solving traffic problems, Finding your parked car

In Outer Space: Searching for extraterrestrial life

In Recognition: Voice Recognition, Face Recognition, Pet/Animal Recognition (which is harder than human facial recognition because of the millions of hairs involved)

In Robotics: Factory automation, precision and cost savings, In-home/personal robotics

In Sensors: Reduced costs, millions of uses to make smart everything

In Intelligence: Artificial Intelligence, Ambient IQ, Derivative Intelligence, Intelligent Recruiting and your smart phone as a gateway to all the other things listed here and more…

There were some wild ideas out there. For innovation and idea generation you have to let your mind go to the extremes and then back off a little bit to settle on ideas that can go somewhere. The world has been changed by dreamers who think of the extreme, who mull it over in their minds, who take it inch by inch out to the far reaches, out to dreams which eventually become reality.  I like all technology that works for you and in the process I enjoy learning about all proposed technology innovations, regardless of how extreme.  Eventually ambitious applications of futuristic technologies may be working for you.