How Long Can Faster, Thinner, Smaller, Bigger than Bigger, … Be Innovative?

Yesterday, I experienced the Apple keynote 2014 on my iMac. It is amazing, how perfect its was staged again.

Apple wants to make things for those, who see things differently. Again and again and again …

In search of perfection?

And this made me brooding. Industrial work does what it did yesterday tomorrow, but faster, preciser, thinner, smaller, bigger, ... cheaper. Only at the lab we are striving to find a breakthrough, new ways to solve new problems, and do new things.

The "iPhone 6" is bigger and thinner? Is this important for those who see things differently? To be honest, although expecting it, I was bit disappointed (at the beginning).

A Watch is not a tool

"Apple Watch". I don't wear a watch, because there are watches all around.

I own the WATCH by Femming Bo Hansen. It's minimalist. It's represented at the Museum of Modern Art, NY. And, what a shame, I have put it into a drawer (and nearly forgot it).

A watch is not a tool - it clocks our life.

A computer is not a tool either

Hold on, Apple Watch is a computer on a wrist, and a computer is not a tool either - it is a universal machine to build tools for many usages.

I started my professional work at the stone age of IT. Since then people said subsequently:

"Only a mainframe is a computer" - and then the mini computers entered the market
"Only a mini computer is a computer" - and then the micro computers entered the market
"Only a micro computer is a computer" - and then the workstations entered the market
"Only a workstation is a computer" - and then the PC entered the market
"Only a PC is a computer" - and then the tablet computers entered the market
"Only a tablet computer  is a computer - and then ….?

My first professional work challenge was the migration of an mainframe based system for offline CNC machine programming ("APT") to the first mini computer ("General Automation"). But I quickly realized: this is crazy - and I built a completely new system instead. Exploiting the capabilities of a mini computer. Like the first computer graphics tools … I built a new CNC programming language and all the algorithms to implement it.

And this kind of reinvention's happened again and again and again.

When things became smaller, connectivity became more important. "Sun" said: the network is the computer. And now we have entered the "cloudy" days.

But still front-end devices become smaller and more intelligent. In a not so far future we may have beer glasses, ... that are computers?

However, one of the challenges for a "wrist computer" is the interaction paradigm … that at the other hand - if solved adequately - enable

New uses

It seams Apple wants to take the watch to occupy new market segments, like Health and Fitness. By making things computational - transforming information into knowledge - they can provide better real time advice. If you are running, bicycling, climbing, … you don't want to wear a tablet computer (a bigger than bigger  smartphone), in a race you want to optimize your risk: go to the limit but not across.

Summarizing, I think, this Apple announcement has been underestimated. It may be the begin of making massive information computational - first on a smaller scale.

Maybe, it was not a keynote that shook the tech industry, like those with the announcements of  iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, …

What has this all to do with quant finance?

IMO, the quant finance platform and system providers have developed powerful technologies that all are tied together to more or less comprehensive valuation-, portfolio- and risk management solutions or development systems. From professionals for professionals. Following the regulatory framework that reduces the optionality and introduces immense complexity to the valuation and data management  space.

Less effort is applied to explain, say, complex financial concepts to non experts. Using new description and visualization techniques explaining when (and why) an investment will become unhealthy. In an offline (or semi-online) simulator to get more insight into the possible optimization of risk and in the real investment and capital management cycles.

It's not so much about the innovativeness of the smart devices, but their paradigms of interaction …

I confess, this is also challenge for us UnRiskers. Health and Fitness of the financial system … Nothing for the wrist, but for a tablet compute and a bigger than bigger smart phone. We have implemented quite complex mathematical schemes on them … and we have clients and partner who use them for tailored solutions, but ….

p.s. I did not take in account the marketing here: is Apple Watch placed as a form of identity? I would not do it that way. It was producing too less volume and no change. However, the reaction on the announcement was quite surprising ….