TechWeek New York #2 – Innovators


Zonoff – Making your home more interactive

What does the future hold for the Information Age?

How will advances with specific technology help us in our day to day lives and how we interact with our products. Stefan Weitz, Senior Director of search for Bing came to TechWeekNYC to converse with the audience his, and Microsoft’s idea of where ‘Search’ will be in the near future.

Mobile is taking over, and Weitz believes that by January 2014 more search enquiries will take place on mobile devices than desktop PC’s for the first time ever.
“The tools are developing and search is no longer an index of information. We are trying to recreate the entire physical world in the digital world.”

He explains how search has developed since it’s very early stages of typing in keywords and sifting through the links until you find what you are looking for. The process is a mundane and tedious experience which takes up a lot of time and he feels that the evolution of search is changing everyday. He breaks down how the modern search engine works but also how the future is going to change it forever. The internet is now extremely vast, if you wanted to find out how an aeroplane works for example, a few years ago you would type in ‘how does an aeroplane work?’

Stefan Weitz – Bing Director of Search

The “search box” as he calls it would then take you to one website which conglomerates all of the information on one page and you have to work your way through all of the information to find out what it is you want to know. The future of search however takes advantage the sheer wealth of information online and takes all the information from all the websites available such as all the characteristics of flight and they work together to enable aeroplanes to fly and combines it to give you all the information you need without having to go to an actual website and finding it out for yourself by navigating the pages.

Geospacial knowledge and context of where you are and what you are searching is what Bing are trying to do with their search engine, this means that they are mapping and digitalising every square inch of the planet to give the user 100 percent control over their search enquiries. Weitz gives and example of going on holiday, before you decide on where exactly you may want to check out some interesting facts and places to go in specific cities.

Microsoft travel companion is everything you need to make going on holiday completely stress free.Valencia for example is a beautiful city full of culture and interesting unique places to see, Weitz talks into his windows phone and says, “Travel companion, show me Valencia” in a matter of seconds the display zooms into a 3D view of the city centre with buildings jumping out of the screen, he takes us to a large building in the centre and then asks his travel companion, “who designed the building I’m looking at”? using the longitude and latitude of the map the companion knows exactly what he was looking at and gives him a break down of information about the history of the building and who designed it.

He then holds up a Spanish menu and asks his travel companion to translate it for him, the companion highlights every word it recognises on the menu and in under five seconds everything is translated to English, “rather than just translating it word for word in a staccato fashion, Travel Companion understands that contexts of all the words and is able to translate them accordingly to make more sense that just block words… Travel Companion, make a reservation for two tonight at 8 at this restaurant please.

“This technology is already available in the new Microsoft phones and works wherever you are in the world, so if you are in the street and want to know some information about you location, your Travel Companion is only a click away.

“Search boxes are now no longer relevant. We can build experiences and interactions through our devices”

All of my Apple bias aside, this technology blows Siri out of the water.


Everything in this world is becoming connected and everything has to be fast, the final talk of the day was from the company Zonoff, they are a company who is bring your house together, literally. The company itself is bringing together all of the electrical appliances together into your handheld device and letting your control them wherever you are in the world. Lights, doors, blinds, cameras, alarms, plugs and even thermostats can be controlled by one app on your phone or iPad, it’s the current generation personified in an app, the lazy culture is taking over and every wants a piece. The team from Zonoff give the audience a demonstration of their products, the camera is connected to the doorbell and whenever it is pressed the camera captures an image and send it as an SMS to a device. This may seem like a novel idea, but image if you have an elderly relative who lives alone and has trouble walking or even getting up at all, if a carer comes on a regular basis then as soon as they ring the doorbell you can see who they are and then remotely unlock the door for them all in real time without he elderly person having to worry. Simple things like closing the blinds remotely and putting the coffee machine on before you arrive home are one of the biggest attraction to the app but also the really productive purposes such as locking your door and activating alarms when you forget are imperative when it comes to safety.

Zonoff - Making your home more interactive
Zonoff – Making your home more interactive

It’s strange to think how far the world has come in such a short period of time, some people may say we have peaked too early and now society expects far too much of their tech, but they have been proved wrong by the excellent speakers at TechWeekNYC. I believe that technology is still in a very exciting era, we have gone through the childhood and puberty with all the radical changes, issues and problems and now we have begun an exciting age of ‘who knows’ because none of us really have any idea where we will be in the next 20 years.

Are you excited?