“Not too far away from wearable computers”

| Updated on October 11, 2012 Published on October 11, 2012

Howie Lau, Vice-President, Marketing & Communications, Lenovo APLA

Which is the latest gadget you picked up?

I’m a geek at heart and ever so often, I'd go gadget hunting. Recently I bought a 4-bay NAS (Network Attached Storage) with RAID technology and functionalities, to set up a private cloud for remote access to my data. I've three desktops and four laptops (ThinkPads and IdeaPads) in my family. Currently we backup our data, especially our photographs and videos, to four standalone hard-disks. I am now working on setting up the NAS to be a dynamic backup for all the devices at home and this includes an additional three tablets! I’m paranoid about data failure hence this solution should provide an extra layer of protection.

What is your dream machine?

I believe that we're not too far away from affordable wearable computers. Instead of carrying multiple devices, imagine if you have seamless access to your computing requirements as part of your daily attire. I travel with too many devices - a ThinkPad as my primary laptop, a Lenovo S880 smartphone and another smartphone and tablet for personal use. It will be great to have computing resources built into your watch or belt buckle, have data stored in the Cloud, be able to have gesture and speech-based inputs or outputs via your spectacles, earpiece or remote projection to any nearby screens. A bionic man, if you will!

What do you not like about technology?

Some years back, I went on holiday with my wife to Vietnam and we took a long boat down the Mekong delta. Picture this – we were cruising along the Mekong delta, with the sound of the outback motor in the background, there was beautiful lush greenery on both banks with the occasional sightings of birds and other wildlife, and no sign of civilization. All was serene and peaceful... but then my phone rang and ruined the entire mood. It was a work call about a non-urgent matter. I like technology, a lot. However, I don’t appreciate how pervasive and intrusive technology can be, such as like the interruption during the Mekong cruise. Note to self -- on my next Mekong trip, I will switch off the phone.

Which apps are you addicted to?

There's quite a few I use regularly - too many if you ask my wife. For news and updates, I use a number of app consolidators like Flipboard, Pulse, Huffington Post, CNN and BBC. For social communities, I use Facebook, as well as WeiBo and WeChat with my Chinese friends. For travel, I use FlightTrack to monitor my flight status, TripAdvisor for local country recommendations and Hanping Classic for English-Mandarin translations. For exercise, I use Endomondo to track my jogs and walks, as well as a “PushUps” app and a “Daily Yoga for Back” app (I have a bad back unfortunately). Above all, I use WhatsApp the most often. It’s especially useful when I travel as it allows me to stay connected with colleagues and family.

One funny anecdote relating to tech (or the lack of it).

When I was 13, I wanted to join a very popular extra-curricular activity group in school. Because registrations were over-subscribed, we were required to meet on a Saturday at 9am for the selection process. I arrived early at the venue, all prepared and eager. However, 9am came and there was not a single soul. Before I knew it, it was 12 noon and still no one had turned up, so I gave up and went home. When I went back to school that following Monday, I asked furiously about the no-show only to find out that there was a last minute reschedule of the 9am meeting to that Friday afternoon instead. The school had managed to call up and inform all the other students except me. Why? My family did not have a telephone at home then, so the school didn't know how to reach me! My family eventually got a phone only when I turned 15.

What’s the biggest tech disaster according to you?

An unexplained cosmic event creating a large electromagnetic transmission, destroying all electronic devices and data on earth. In a blink of an eye, computers stop working, data disappears, the world experiences a communication breakdown, shutdown of transportation systems, a meltdown of banks ensue, and there is no more Facebook. That will be a good time to go back for a Mekong delta boat ride.

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Published on October 11, 2012
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