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Weird and/or Overused Tech Lingo Roundup

Weird and/or Overused Tech Lingo Roundup 1/27/2013 7:00 PM Eastern

Usually, the International CES serves up at least a few new buzzwords.

Last year, Samsung coined “phablet” to describe a device that’s half-phone, half-tablet. The “superphone” entered the tech lexicon, briefly, but never really stuck. Apparently it’s better to be “smart” than “super.”

This year, only one new term popped out of CES — but plenty are venturing out from the world of Wi-Fi. This week’s translation is a roundup of weird, overworked, and new tech lingo.

The new one from CES: “Ten-finger touch,” to describe large-scale tablets upon which you can use all 10 digits.

(Not sure what happens if an 11th finger ventures onto the screen.)

At CES, “10-finger touch” talk involved tablets the size of a coffee table.

The latest in overworked lingo: “curation.” This one seems to show up as a classier twist on “aggregation.”

Think of it in terms of news websites (industrial and mainstream), which populate themselves with stories researched and written by other news sites.

We used to call this plagiarism. Now, it’s “curated content.”

The new Wi-Fi lingo: “SON,” which has nothing to do with male offspring (although it’s pronounced as such), and everything to do with “self-organizing networks.” (Some also call them “self-optimizing networks.”)

Here’s why we’ll need SON: Wi-Fi spectrum is largely unlicensed, meaning unmanaged, and more and more of our dumb stuff will want to jump onto it to get smart. SON is part of “the Internet of Things,” which affixes sensors to our stuff , thus making it “smart.”

At CES, the “Internet of Things” showed up big time at the ZigBee Alliance, which serves the industry segment making low-power, low-cost radios (“the Clapper” is an early example; most of today’s home-security systems use ZigBee.)

One ZigBee participant (and heavily Kickstarter-funded outfit), “Smart Things,” characterized today’s Internet at the third phase in its evolution. Phase one was knowledge/search. Phase two was social. Now, we’re entering the physical Internet, which controls our formerly dumb stuff .

But back to “SON,” a cousin of machine-to-machine (“M2M”) computing and near-field communications (“NFC”). It exists to coordinate between multiple radios, so that, say, your Skype call doesn’t get stepped on by your smart house. Because it turns out that Zigbee-based gear, Wi-Fi, and lots of other stuff run in the 2.4-GHz range. SON keeps Wi-Fi’s many occupants clear of each other.

For me, any mention of “self-organizing” is alluring. Like maybe a physical Internet with sensors to self-organize closets and junk drawers. That’d be good.


Stumped by gibberish? Visit Leslie Ellis at www.translation- please.com or www.multichannel.com/blog.

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